No. 174.

Mr. Becerra to Mr. Frelinghuysen.


Sir: A citizen of Colombia, named Benjamin Gaitan, arrived in the city of New York four days since, having been commissioned by the rebels, who now control a part of the Atlantic coast in Colombia, to purchase arms and munitions, and even to fit out vessels for the purpose of carrying the war into the interior of the country.

Mr. Gaitan brings funds for this purpose which were forcibly taken from the custom-house at Barranquilla, and the firm that is acting as agent for the purchase of the elements of war is the commission-house of Mr. Santiago Perez Iriana, No. 16 Beaver street, New York. Mr. Perez Iriana is likewise a Colombian.

The purpose of these parties may be either to dispatch a vessel directly to Barranquilla, or to send the elements of war via Curasao on board the Valencia, of the Bliss & Boulton line, or else to fit out some vessels at San Francisco, Cal., and to send them to the Colombian ports on the Pacific coast, which are also held by the rebels.

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At all events, I trust that the United States Government, conformably to its own laws, and to the lofty spirit of honor which has always characterized it in cases similar to the present, will issue, with the promptness that is required, the most stringent orders for the purpose of preventing the departure from its ports of warlike expeditions or of elements intended to foment armed discord, of which the territory of Colombia is, unfortunately, now the scene. I most respectfully make this request of the chief authorities of the United States through the honorable Secretary of State, whose obedient servant.

I have, &c.,