Mr. Osborn to Mr. Bayard.
Buenos Ayres, May 8, 1885. (Received June 27.)
Sir: The annual session of the Argentine Congress was formally opened on the 7th instant by President Roca, when he read his message to both houses, assembled in the Chamber of Deputies.
The message of the President is shorter than usual, but is a plain, concise statement of public affairs, and I think it will be well received by the public.
The President opens his message by stating that the country is at peace, both at home and abroad, that the diplomatic difficulty with the Papal Nuncio had been settled according to international law, and that the country continues to progress prosperously in its material, moral, and intellectual forces.
Under the head of balance of trade the President says that until 1882 the balance was in favor of the country, although there was no decrease in exports in 1883, but there was an excess of imports to the amount of $20,000,000, and in 1884 $26,000,000. The exports show an increase of 13 per cent, over 1883, and the first three months of 1885 the exports advanced to $23,000,000 and the imports to $19,000,000.
The general revenue for 1884 was estimated at $33,000,770, and over $37,000,000 were actually received, being 20 per cent, more than in 1883. The actual expenditure was a little over $32,000,000, leaving a surplus of over $5,000,000.
The custom-house receipts for the first quarter of the present year show an increase of 15 per cent.
It is affirmed in the message that the national engagements are faithfully performed, no delay having occurred in the service of either internal or external debt, and that the Argentine Government will continue most religiously to pay the public debt.
Under the head of public works executed, it is stated that railways are advancing in every direction, and that the country now possesses 4,128 kilometers of railways in working order and 1,978 in the course of construction, which will all be finished by the end of 1886, by which time the railways will have cost $120,000,000.
The revenue of the post-office during the year 1884 was $638,675, an increase over 1883—$61,504. Within the last year 3,200 kilometers of telegraph lines were constructed. The telegraph revenue was $288,450, but in consequence of a reduction of tariff the receipts were less than in 1883.
Immigration continues to increase, and although the ports were closed for a time during the year through fear of cholera, 81,541 immigrants arrived here and found employment. During the first of this year the number of immigrants landed was 46,415.
Under the head of public schools it is shown that the number of pupils attending national colleges is 3,700, being an increase over 1883 of 658.
The normal schools show a total of 6,379, or 958 more than in 1883. The attention of Congress is especially called to the fact that only one-fourth part of the children of an age for education actually attend school.
The President closes his message by referring to the approaching presidential contest, and says the Republic is now entering upon a period of activity in its politics in reference to the next presidential election, [Page 4] that it is the most difficult moment for every government, and the touchstone for proving the solidity of its institutions; that the public Argentine mind, he believes, has made much progress in the last few years, and painful experience has taught the people that the greatest of all benefits are peace and liberty, and that while he has the profound conviction that no one will attempt to bring to the question discussed insane elements and anarchical passion, still he owes to the entire country in these solemn moments the loyal and frank promise to be, up to the last moment of his administration, faithful to the constitution, to give, in his character of first magistrate of the nation, complete liberty to all ambitions and to all parties without any exception, and without throwing into the scale in favor of any one the weight of the power which his fellow-citizens conferred on him for accomplishing the object of the Government, to preserve order, and to enforce obedience to the laws.
I have, &c.,