No. 194.

Mr. Becerra to Mr. Bayard.


Sir: I yesterday bad the satisfaction to receive a telegram from the President of Colombia, dated at the capital city of the Union on that same day, whereby that magistrate informs me that the entire Republic is now pacified, with the exception of the ports of Panama, in the State of that name, and those of Sabanilla, Santa Marta, and Barranquilla, in the States of Bolivar and Magdalena. Active military operations, however, were still in preparation against the rebels who hold those points in our territory, and with a view to making them more efficient various measures of a highly important character had been adopted, two of which I have the honor, in obedience to special instructions, to bring to the knowledge of this Government.

By a first decree, the Colombian Government, in the exercise of its authority, and expressly enforcing pertinent provisions of its commercial and revenue laws, declares the ports of Sabanilla and Santa Marta, in the Caribbean Sea, and the fluvial port of Barranquilla, which is very near to Sabanilla, closed to foreign commerce. All attempts to import or export goods through the aforesaid ports, after this decree is known, will therefore be considered as illicit; any trade thus carried on will be considered contraband, and the vessels, crews, &c., engaged therein will be liable (besides forfeiting the goods) to the penalties in such cases provided by the Colombian laws.

By a second decree the Government of Colombia declares that the vessels which are now stationed at the entrance to the bay of Cartagena, in the port of that name, in the Caribbean Sea, and which are there embarrassing and even making war upon international commerce, carried on under the flags of various friendly nations and by means of the vessels of the lines of regular communication which have long been established, do not belong to the United States of Colombia, and that they have no right to fly, as they nevertheless do fly, the flag of that nation. As a consequence, both their existence and their action, which are wholly irregular, put them beyond the pale of international law, and their proceedings, which are hostile to the peaceful operations of commerce at the entrance to a commercial port belonging to a nation which is at peace with the whole world, may, in all cases, be repressed by the vessels that are charged in those waters to watch over the interests of commerce in general and over the special interests of the nations to which they respectively belong.

In informing you, Mr. Secretary of State, as I hereby have the honor to do, of the restoration of peace throughout almost the entire territory of Colombia, and of the measures adopted with a view to its restoration in the ports which are still held by the rebels, I entertain the hope that this information will be gratifying to you, and that the decrees in question will have, in your estimation, the weight necessary to cause them to be considered as important to American commerce.

I offer you, &c.,