No. 185.

Mr. Becerra to Mr. Bayard .


Sir: In accordance with the promise which I had the honor to make to you on the occasion of our pleasant interview of to-day, I hasten to communicate to you the latest news that I have received, through reliable channels, concerning the state of affairs in Colombia.

The rebels in the interior of the country, who for a short time even threatened the city of Bogota, the seat of the federal Government, were speedily checked, and have since been compelled, after meeting with no small number of reverses, to take refuge in the national territory of Casanare, which, as a theater of war, possesses no importance whatever. As a consequence, the three central States of Cundinamarca, Boyaca, and Santander, which embrace a vast extent of territory and contain a population of more than a million and a half, now [Page 243] obey the authority of their lawful governments, and are in the enjoyment of peace and tranquillity.

The rebel governments of the States of Tolima (on the Magdalena River) and Antioquia, which is perhaps the richest State in the Union, have also been put down, and those States are now under the control of the federal forces and authorities.

In Cauca the rebels who made an armed uprising have been beaten, and the national forces have just retaken Buenaventura, a port situated on the Pacific Ocean, forty hours’ sail by steamer from Panama.

The rebellion, therefore, which at first appeared formidable, has been suppressed everywhere, except on a portion of the Atlantic coast in the State of Bolivar (the said portion including the ports of Barranquilla and Sabanilla, the former of which is a river and the latter a sea port), and one other portion, less extensive and important, in the State of Magdalena.

As soon as the central Government shall have procured vessels suitable for navigating the Magdalena River from the coasts of the States of Tolima and Cundinamarca as far as those of the Atlantic States of Bolivar and Magdalena, it will send considerable forces to the latter States, which forces will, I am sure, conquer the rebels without any great difficulty.

I think it altogether likely that troops designed to re-enforce those at Panama and Colon, and to restore peace, tranquillity, and confidence, which, for a brief period, have, unfortunately, been interrupted in that important part of our territory, have already sailed, or will soon do so, from the port of Buenaventura.

It is proper for me here to state, as I do, to the estimable Government of which you, Mr. Secretary of State, are the worthy representative, that there is not the slightest connection or solidarity between the unprincipled agitators on the Isthmus, whose exploits have ended in the cowardly burning of the city of Colon, and the political rebels in the interior of the country. The latter are the actors in a political drama in which eminent citizens are engaged, including not a few of those who, when a constitution for the country was adopted in 1863, introduced into the public law of Colombia the humane provision that all the usages of the law of nations should be observed in civil wars. The former are, according to my latest advice and their own acts, common criminals of various nationalities, whose sole object is pillage, and some of whom have been seen to fight and even to fall wounded with the chains or fetters of the prison on their legs. When the rebels in the interior learn that these wretches have dared to rally under their flag, I am certain that they will deplore that fact more than the overthrow of their own cause.

I take the liberty to beg, Mr. Secretary of State, that, in taking note of the foregoing information (which I gladly hasten to furnish to you in compliance with your verbal request), you will bear in mind this radical distinction, since that will save my country from the disgrace and responsibility consequent upon the erroneous belief that there are political men in it who are capable of resorting to such barbarous and wicked means as the intentional burning of towns in order to secure the success of their cause.

I beg you, Mr. Secretary, &c.,