No. 451.
Mr. Phelps to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 9.]

Sir: It seems probable that General Iglesias will reach here by or before the end of this month, the coming from Chili of Mr. Aldunate., with full powers, having quickened the march of events so for as they are dependent upon the Chilians, and that the recognition of Iglesias by nations represented here will be proposed and, at the least expected. I desire to ask instructions and may find it necessary to cable you, but in that event trust this letter will have reached you, as it should be in, Washington by the 24th instant.

With this purpose in view I will endeavor to place before you a statement of the present condition of affairs, and in the same connection invite your attention to the inclosed memorandum of a private conversation with Mr. Aldunate.

Preparations are being made for the evacuation of Lima so soon as the delegate of General Iglesias shall have succeeded in organizing a force of 1,000 men at Ancon, a place upon the sea-coast a few miles north of this city, which has been declared neutral for the purpose. When these men are armed and ready the Chilians will evacuate the city, moving out to Barranca, Chorillos and other neighboring places, and relinquishing the capital to this Peruvian force.

Meanwhile preparations are so far advanced for the movement upon Arequipa that the division to proceed hence by sea to disembark near Mollendo will leave Callao to-day. The total force is to consist of about 9,000 men, moving in three columns, but it is not anticipated that a battle will be necessary, nor is it the purpose to push the movement to that extremity unless the attitude of Montero should make an attack inevitable.

Should Bolivia be disposed, however, to support Montero by sending troops to Arequipa, with which place there is railway communication from Lake Titicaca, the situation would become grave; but such action is not thought probable. There are stories of arms and munitions of war reaching Montero through Bolivia and by way of the Argentine Republic.

The force I have before reported as moving over the Andes upon Ayacucho had arrived in that city. A small force under Caceres is reported to have disbanded on the approach of the Chilians, and the march on towards Cuzco can apparently be continued without molestation by a regularly armed Peruvian force.

The delegate sent by Montero ostensibly to treat with Iglesias will arrive here to witness the energetic preparations for an attack upon Arequipa, and it is presumed the people of that city, learning of this, will revolt, should Montero make it necessary, the feeling there undoubtedly being much in favor of peace, while much discontent is reported on account of Montero’s conduct.

[Page 718]

In the department of Junin the people recently rose upon the leaders of a small force, operating ostensibly, and so recognized by the Chilians, in favor of Iglesias, driving them out of the department, the people declaring they did this because the robberies and outrages committed had become insupportable; that they had desired peace and were willingto sustain General Iglesias in his endeavors to secure it; but they had been robbed by Cáceres and other of Montero’s chiefs, then by the enemy, and were now being despoiled of what remained to them in the name of Iglesias.

It is understood that Mr. Aldunate has had frequent interviews with leading citizens here, and he himself informed me that he is much en couraged, while it appears that the peace movement is gaining ground elsewhere.

The Peruvians have been exceedingly slow to learn the lessons of the war or to recognize that they must submit to its results. A change in this respect is apparent, and Mr. Iglesias is likely to come, with a fair proportion of the intelligent people in favor of his movement, but his status will be peculiar and embarrassing. In some towns circular declarations have been signed in favor of the regenerator President, as Peruvian supporters style him. The northern departments generally have apparently submitted to his assumption of governmental powers, but he has there had the Chilian power to support him, making it very doubtful how far the people would have been with him, or how far they would submit to prefects of his appointment, were there no troopsof the enemy near at hand.

Bands of Montoneros still operate in that section, these are unimportant in number and may be set down as engaged in plunder.

The Indian (Inca) population of the interior are firm adherents of Piérola, who styled himself not only dictator, but also protector of the Indians. His partisans support General Iglesias. I infer that the Indians, in number forming the majority of population, so far as their very low degree of intelligence admits, are to be classed as adherents also; at least they have been plundered by Caceres and by Chilians, and can hardly be counted as friends of either. There are many Peruvians who still insist that Chili has no real purpose of making peace; that this determination in favor of Iglesias is only a move to further distract the country and make peace impossible. Many declare an unyielding opposition to a Government thrust upon them by their enemy, and which, so long as it can maintain itself, will be under Chilian domination. Some very old and much esteemed men, as General Echunque, ex-President, and for half a century a leading man of the nation, Dr. Arenas, for many years a noted lawyer and man of public affairs, and others, have visited me, expressing their support of the peace movement.

Besides furnishing arms, &c., to General Iglesias, I am satisfied that Chili is supplying money, but” it is likely this is derived from customs and other dues collected by her officers in Peru. Mr. Aldunate told me, “Iglesias would have plenty of money to come with.”

The situation of Peru itself is that of a state without credit, without arms, and without resources. * * * The entire force of the enemy in the country does not exceed 18,000 men of all arms, a force so small that the weight of numbers, armed only with machetas, would overwhelm it were the Peruvians united and determined, but they are sadly divided, while anarchy and lawlessness has possession over large areas of country.

Under such circumstances, what would be considered sufficient evidence [Page 719]that General Iglesias is so far supported by intelligent Peruvians as to entitle him on taking possession here to the recognition of the United States?

The Chilian authorities will recognize him as the provisional President, and it is expected he will take measures to convene a constituent assembly elected to make peace and establish a Government. A general holding of elections in conformity with this invitation would constitute a direct recognition by the people. It is not improbable that by the time he has reached here there may be evidence that most of the towns have in some manner recognized his authority.

For example, the people of Moquequa pronounced for him when a Chilian force passed beyond their city toward Arequipa. Yet, there the enemy may have exerted pressure. It is expected the citizens of Arequipa will drive out Montero’s adherents, and Cuzco and other towns in the southern and central departments will follow with measures evincing recognition of the general in his efforts for peace.

It is my conviction that, being unable to make war, the only assured way to peace for Peru is by support of Iglesias. As before stated, it is apparent to me the Peruvians, if left free to elect, could not organize a Government for that purpose. Their party antagonisms and personal feuds are too bitter. Peace is the first necessity for them. Under existing conditions, the country is going from bad to worse; it is being utterly destroyed in its industries as well as in its ability to pursue or to protect the ordinary vocations of peace. I feel that what support can be properly given to General Iglesias should be rendered, but I am greatly embarrassed in the expression of an opinion as to how far the United States should go in recognizing him. In the ordinary civil broils of the country it has been the custom to recognize any actual occupant of the palace to whom the people of Lima submit, without too close an inquiry as to how the Presidential chair had been reached. In this instance General Iglesias could not have sustained his undertaking any time had it not been for the military support of the Chilians, and but for their protection it is probable Caceres would have shot him months ago. He is to-day largely sustained by the same power, and will come here because of that support. So far as I hear, he would have been far from the choice of the larger part of the people had there been an opportunity for an election, and this while his integrity of purpose is very generally admitted. Many, however, criticise severely the leaders who are with him.

But two forms of recognition by the people appear to be practicable now—one by declaration of towns in favor, made by signature of leading citizens, or by putting Iglesias men in office; and the other, by an election of an assembly and the choice by that body of Iglesias as the Executive. While it is hardly in accord with Peruvian methods for men in power to do so, it is said to be his intention to resign all power on the assembling of the convention.

The telegraph can therefore be readily used, if necessary, to convey to me your instructions.

I told Mr. Aldunate five days ago that I could not advise the recognition of General Iglesias from what was then known of the circumstances under which he would probably reach here, but that great changes would be imminent at all times now. In the few days since elapsed I have had occasion to verify this statement.

I have, &c.,

[Page 720]

P. S.—Since writing the above a newspaper editor states that Iglesias will teach here on the 15th instant, and gives it as official. The general is to land at Ancon.

[Inclosure in No. 9.]

[Minutes of a late informal convention held with Mr. Luis Aldunate, minister of foreign affairs in Chili.]

Mr. Aldunate stated that he had come up from Chili to Lima for the purpose of hastening the formation of Government with which to make peace; that he intended to hurry the arrival of General Iglesias in Lima; that Montero at Arequipa would be at once an object of attack; that the column of troops now pushing on the way hence to Ayacucho would proceed towards Arequipa; that a column moving from Tacna had already passed through Moquequa, and was camped at a point about 30 leagues from Arequipa; that another column would advance from a small port near Mollendo, the troops being sent by sea hence, and thence to march in conjunction with the other columns; that this attack was considered necessary, because so long as any force remained under arms the Peruvians had something on which to found hopes; that they were slow to accept the lessons of the war and needed to be convinced of the necessity of making peace. He said that Chili had furnished Gent ml Iglesias with 1,500 stand of arms for the troops he was raising, and that he would, endeavor to come here with 2,000 men.

I said to him that my judgment, viewing the matter from their side, fully approved of the course Chili was adopting in pressing Mr. Iglesias’s government upon the country; that I thought it the only course promising peace, and that the Peruvians, in my judgment, were not capable of creating a Government to make peace; that the reputation of Iglesias was evidently good in the country in contrast to that of most of the public men, and that I sympathized with his movement, but at the same time saw that there were many serious difficulties to be overcome; that the people have not so far accepted Iglesias very generally, at least not by any evidence which could be considered satisfactory.

Mr. Aldunate said that Chili was determined to crush out Montero, bring Mr. Iglesias here, let him call a constituent assembly, and make peace if possible; if not, then let the country beware of the consequences.

I said to him that there was a matter to which I desired to call his attention, as upon the decision would depend much of my ability to assist the ends which Chili proposed, and that I did so because I felt that the removal of the objection I should indicate would be of great advantage, as it would bring to the support of General Iglesias many Peruvians who now regard that feature as leaving no hope for the country. I then read to him the letter of the Department of August 25, relating to the third article of the treaty protocol signed by Iglesias. I said at the proper time this protest will be made, and in my judgment Chili could offer no reasonable and valid objection to the position taken by the United States. Moreover, that I knew the French minister has similar instructions, and no doubt the English representative when he returns may also receive like instructions. It seemed to me that it would be-wise for Chili to recede from a false step as of her own volition, and not await protest of any nation against her exactions, especially so as the effect of such action in Peru would be to rally Peruvians to the support of the programme of Chili for peace, and make the other hard feature of the treaty appear less onerous. I suggested submission of the question of the proportion of debt that should fairly go with Tara-pacá to arbitration. He argued that Chili had better relinquish all question of indemnification from war expenses rather than undertake to pay the debts of Peru, and that as Peru was paying nothing on the debt when the war broke out, the bondholders-were better off with the receipts of half the net returns of one million tons of guano secured to them by Chili than they were before. I replied that whatever might be said pro and con would be taken into consideration by the arbiter. Then I said the clause-relative to all future discoveries of guano violates a condition of the mortgage, as I understand that the entire guano deposits of Peru, discovered or not discovered, were pledged. Mr. Aldunate said that what had not been discovered could not be pledged.

I replied that as all deposits of this kind were the property of the Government, it certainly could pledge as security whatever its possessions might be; that in the nature of things the pledge was indefinite as to amount. He asked for a copy of that part of the letter setting forth especially the obligation regarded as resting on Chili in its treatment of Peru, being the three last paragraphs of the letter.

In further conversation about the coming of Iglesias to Lima, I stated that in my judgment when Mr. Iglesias should come here and issue an invitation to the country to elect delegates to a national constituent assembly convened for the purpose of [Page 721]making peace and of establishing a government, Chili having recognized Iglesias on his coming here as the provisional President, the forces of Montero at Arequipa would revolt or disperse; that Montero would escape into Bolivia, and Arequipa would then send delegates to the convention, thus evading further bloodshed and suffering from war.

He promptly asked, would the United States recognize Iglesias on his coming to Lima? I as promptly said, not until there had been proof that the country accepts him as its representative. He said, “There are foreign ministers prepared to acknowledge him on his entry, and the United States not doing so would lose its prestige in South America.” I replied, “So let it be”; for, in my opinion, the first necessity is that the country should evince its readiness to accept the pretensions of Iglesias; that what would constitute such proof I could not now indicate; that a people so changeable and impressionable were liable to shift position suddenly and to run off into enthusiasm where indifference or opposition before existed.

The next day Mr. Aldunate informed me that he could not say what would be the decision of Chili in respect of the objectionable clauses in the protocol, and that it would doubtless be submitted by Mr. Logan in Santiago.

I shall at our next interview, not caring to do anything official in reference to it at present, simply say that when the treaty shall come up for discussion in the proposed assembly I shall present the protest of the United States to the third article.

I may add that Mr. Aldunate was evidently greatly disappointed to learn that I thought there would be hesitation in recognizing Mr. Iglesias until the country had shown its disposition to do so by electing delegates in response to his call.

In a later interview Mr. Aldunate told me that he had on that very day written a lengthy communication to his Government concerning the matter brought as above to his attention.