No. 54.

Mr. Hall to Mr. Bayard .

No. 322.]

Sir: Late in the evening of the 6th instant, at Corinto, Nicaragua, while waiting for the steamer by which I had engaged my passage to Guatemala, I was requested to go to the telegraph station to receive a verbal communication from President Cardenas. It proved to be with reference to a telegram which had been received at Managua from Salvador a few moments before I was called, and to the effect “that information had been received at Salvador that on the previous night, the 5th of March, the National Assembly of Guatemala had ratified a decree of President Barrios, declaring the union, or rather the reunion, of the Central American States under one federal Government, he (President Barrios) assuming the command of all their military forces.”

On my arrival at La Libertad (Salvador) on the 9th instant, I found awaiting me a telegram from President Cardenas, from which it appears that President Barrios had officially communicated the above-mentioned decree to the Governments of the several states. The answers of Nicaragua and Costa Rica are given in the message, and leave no doubt as to the attitude of those Governments.

While at La Libertad I was informed that the Guatemala decree had awakened a feeling of indignation and resistance in Salvador, and reported the same to you from there by the cable. Later in the day, President Zaldivar, hearing that I had gone ashore at La Libertad, sent me a pressing request to visit him. I complied, hoping thereby to obtain some definite information concerning this extraordinary movement.

After a journey of eight hours I reached the capital, San Salvador, about midnight. Here I found a great commotion. I learned also that there had been popular demonstrations of an unmistakable significance, and that the sentiments of all classes, apparently without exception, were intensely hostile to any union with Guatemala.

* * * * * * *

The following day, the 10th instant, President Zaldivar telegraphed me, at the port of Acajutla, a transcript of a telegram he had received from President Diaz, of Mexico.

* * * * * * *

[Page 84]

Upon my return to Guatemala on the 11th instant, I received your telegram of the same date in reply to mine of the 9th from La Libertad.

* * * * * * *

On the 12th instant, the day following my return, in response to a courteous request of President Barrios, brought to me by the minister for foreign affairs, Señor Cruz, I called on him and availed myself of the opportunity to make known the purport of your above-mentioned telegram. I inclose a memorandum of our interviews, as dictated by himself to his private secretary. He said, subtantially:

That the concentration of forces on the frontier of Salvador is not with the intent to invade unless in danger of being invaded.
That the object is to protect and sustain operations and movements directed to promote the union of Central America.
That as to the attitude of Mexico, should the Mexican Government interfere, he will accept the challenge.
That Honduras will assume the same conduct towards Nicaragua that Guatemala assumes toward Salvador.

In consonance with your telegram referred to, I urged upon President Barrios the necessity of carrying out these measures by peaceful means that any other would certainly fail to accomplish his object. Although he made no definite promise or declaration beyond what is expressed in the memorandum, I came away satisfied that he will, if possible, avoid a conflict with Salvador. Whatever influence I may be able to use will be directed to that end; the menacing attitude of Mexico may, however prove an embarrassment.

I further inclose a copy of a circular note from the minister for foreign affairs, received last evening 5 he refers to a telegram from President Diaz of Mexico, which he considers an uncalled for menace of intervention in Central American affairs. The note also contains the first reference I have seen to the agreement which appears to have existed between the Presidents of Guatemala, Salvador, and Honduras.

* * * * * * *

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 322.—Cablegram.—Translation.]

President Cardenas to Mr. Hall .

I have communicated to Congress the unaccountable intimation of Barrios, and their answer was the following decree:

  • Article 1. Nicaragua does not accept the military dictatorship which the President of Guatemala pretends to impose on Central America, and repels energetically whatever attempt (may be made) to carry it out. In consequence the executive power is authorized in all ways in order that alone or allied with the states that desire to defend their independence, their dignity and liberties, they may provide for the national defense without omitting for this end any effort or sacrifice.
  • Art. 2. Nicaragua declines on behalf of those in power the consequences of the war to which they are provoked, and protests before the civilized world against the scandalous usurpation which it is attempted to accomplish.

  • A. J. PASOS,
  • P. Y. LUIS VEGA.
    S. al P. E.

Given in the Chamber of the Senate, Managua, March 8, 1885.

[Page 85]

At the same time I made known to the Government of Costa Rica the resolution of that of Nicaragua to struggle to the last stage defending the national dignity and independence, and the answer of President Fernandez is the following:

“Doctor Cardenas: The assembly of influential men, composed of more than one hundred persons, resolved unanimously that a minister should immediately be sent to that Republic, in order that, in unison’ with its Government, we may resist until we triumph or until the last Costarican disappears; this is the opinion of the country, and this is my opinion. I await yours.

“Your affectionate friend,


Be pleased to make known both these communications (instrumentos) to the Spanish minister and your other colleagues, and, should you deem it well, to Dr. Zaldivar. Central America is about to embark on a war which will cause her total ruin, and you and the other members of the diplomatic corps can exercise your important influence to prevent Barrios from accomplishing this wicked and criminal attempt, which; will scandalize all civilized nations. I beg you to advise me immediately what the Government of the United States says.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 322.—Telegram.]

Mr. Hall to Mr. Bayard .

Mr. Hall telegraphs to the effect that much wanton bloodshed, and perhaps anarchy, will undoubtedly follow the decree of the President of Guatemala in respect to a union of the Central American States and his assumption, without invitation, of the command of their military. His action being taken without either consent or consultation is considered an unwarranted usurpation.

While it is rumored that Honduras adheres to the movement, it will be resisted by Costa Rica, Salvador, and Nicaragua.

[Inclosure 3 in No. 322.]

Memorandum of a conference with President Barrios.

Concentration of forces on the frontier not with intent to invade unless in danger of being invaded.
In accordance with article 1 of the decree of February 28, I will begin to protect and sustain all works, operations, and movements directed to promote the union of Central America.
Having received a cablegram from the President of Mexico, in which he tells me his Government will take action, and I am disposed to repel force by force should it be carried out.
Honduras will assume the same conduct, and if the Nicaraguans ask for arms, they will be given them as well as money, in accordance with same article 1 of said decree.
[Inclosure 4 in No. 322.—Translation.]

Señor Cruz to Mr. Hall .

Sir: I have the honor to bring to your notice that General Barrios, having communicated to the President of the United States of Mexico the proclamation made in the decree of the 28th February of the union of Central America, he received from him in reply the cablegram which literally reads:

Mexico, March 10, 1885.

“General J. Rufino Barrios: Your telegram received 7th instant. The resolution taken exclusively by assembly of that Republic is repulsed with energy by the [Page 86] Government and peoples of the other Central American Republics, according to telegrams which I have received from Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Salvador.

“This circumstance and the growing impression which the news causes with the Mexican people will influence the action which the Government under my charge has to take before an emergency which is a threat against the independence and freedom of the nationalities of this continent.


By a telegram, after the 7th instant, the Congress of Honduras agreed with the Government, and, seconding the wish of that people, proclaimed the Central American Union, adhering in full to the proclamation of Guatemala. Dr. Zaldivar, in a telegram of March 6, which has already been published, congratulated General Barrios and the nation for the decree which he has issued concerning nationality. He confirmed what he had said to him, and then repeated it, that they were influenced by the same fate, and assured him that with the means which he could dispose of he would find him fully agreed to second this great idea.

Up to date no answer has been received from Costa Rica, and only the Government of Nicaragua has manifested its declared opposition to the union which is proclaimed; but it is certain that the people of that State as well as those of the others are openly decided for the union, so that any resistance will be from those who figure in those Governments.

On the other hand, Guatemala does not admit, neither can admit, that any other Government shall arrogate this attitude of intervention which the cablegram supposes, in a matter purely Central American, and which has for object to re-establish the union and the nationality which formerly existed, and to which the people desire to return.

Considering the above, if there be really constituted a threat against the independence and the freedom of the nationalities of this continent, and against which it is protested forthwith, it would be the deed of intervention and a hostile attitude toward the Union which it is desired to realize, and the wish to dictate what should or should not be done.

Fully assured that your illustrious Government will agree with that of Guatemala on the subject, and deeming it indispensable and fitting to give it notice of it, I beg of your excellency to communicate it, and I would esteem it greatly that you, should it be possible, would do so by means of the cable.

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure 5 in No. 322.—Translation.]

Señor Cruz to Mr. Hall .

Mr. Minister: I have the honor to transcribe to you the telegram, dated 7th instant, which the minister of foreign affairs of the Republic of Honduras directed to this office:

“I hasten to bring to your notice that the National Congress, after much consideration, has to-day decreed the following:

  • “‘Article 1. The Honduranian people, through the medium of their national representation, proclaim the Central American Union, adhering to the revolution begun by the President of Guatemala.
  • “‘Art. 2. To aid in every way the executive power in order that it may take active part in the revolution of the Central American nation.
  • “‘Art. 3. The National Congress and the President of the Republic shall communicate to the people a frank and explanatory manifesto concerning the great project of the revolution which has been proclaimed.

“‘Given in Tegucigalpa on March 7, 1885.

“‘M. VIGIL, D. P.



“Renewing to your excellency the assurances of my esteem, I am your obedient servant,


I offer you, &c.,