No. 587.
Mr. Baker to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 657.]

Sir: I inclose herewith a copy and translation of a verbal note of date 26th instant from Mr. Seijas, inviting me to a conference the next [Page 905] day at 2 p.m. It happened that I saw Mr. Seijas on the afternoon of the 26th, before receiving the note. He alluded to having sent it, and indicated that the matter which he wished to see me about was the view which the President was taking as to the effect of the recent action of our Government respecting the awards of the Mixed Commission.

He presented the idea that the President was thinking of stopping the monthly payments; that he thought he was justified in doing so by the recent action of our Government, but I understood him to indicate that a determination was not reached. He asked me what I thought about it. I answered to the purport that I had no official information on the subject 5 that I did not know what the terms of the new act as passed were. He said he had official information that the act was, as I understood him, the same that passed the House of Representatives; and he reminded me that he had loaned me the Congressional Record containing it as it passed the House.

I further said to him, in substance, that his question was a delicate one; that, on the one hand, I did not like to ask Venezuela to do anything which was not her duty, and, on the other, my Government would expect me to be vigilant in guarding American interests; that I was not then prepared to say anything on the point; that I would examine the act in the Congressional Record. I said, moreover, that it was desirable that nothing should be done in the matter which would be displeasing to the Government of Washington—a sentiment in which I understood Mr. Seijas to concur.

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I saw Mr. Seijas again on the 28th ultimo. The result of this interview was as follows: Mr. Seijas said the President had come to the resolution to stop the monthly payments, in view of the action of our Government in regard to the awards of the Mixed Commission; that it is the opinion of the President the money already paid will be sufficient to pay all-awards that are likely to be made under the new Commission, his reason being that the first awards were enlarged by corruption, and that he thinks this will not be repeated under the new Commision; and, moreover, that there are many claims which are quite groundless, and will be rejected.

Upon reminding him of the inquiry he had made of me at our previous interview respecting what I thought about the stopping of the monthly payments, he said he was waiting for my answer; whereupon I said to him that I thought the most prudent and proper course for me was to give the Government of Venezuela no answer, but to leave that question to my Government.

In our previous conversation I had understood Mr. Seijas to say something about placing the monthly payments on deposit. Upon reminding him of this, he indicated that I had misunderstood him, and that in stopping these payments his Government did not contemplate placing them on deposit.

I believe the foregoing will give you an accurate idea of the attitude of this Government in the premises of which I write, and the matter is left wholly to the consideration and judgment of the Department.

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I am, &c.,