No. 39.
Mr. Bayard to Mr. Hall.

No. 329.]

Sir: I inclose, for your information, a copy of a letter from Mr. Fernando O. Valentine, consul-general of Guatemala at New York, dated the 13th instant, touching the alleged violations of the United States neutrality statutes by the enemies of Honduras and Salvador, and asking the assurances of this Government, conjointly with those of Guatemala, to insure the peace of the Central American Republics. I add also my letter, in reply, of the 19th instant, declining to give such assurances, but saying, at the same time, that no effort would be spared in case of proper application by any one of those states to prevent and punish any violation of our neutrality acts.

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 329.]

Mr. Valentine to Mr. Bayard.

Sir: I have the honor to translate the following letter I have just received from Guatemala, which I believe to be of sufficient international interest to warrant my calling your attention to it, demonstrating as it does the marked amity that exists [Page 57] between the Central American Republics, and clearly evincing that such North American interests as are vested in the Republics of Central America are by no means menaced by such filibustering projects as have recently been discussed by the press of the United States, and further showing that if ever a project of any noteworthy dimensions should be put on foot to overthrow either of the Governments mentioned, they would be staunchly met by the combined forces of the interested Governments, who are determining to preserve peace at all hazards. I communicate the subjoined letter to you with a view that you may, if you deem proper, make public my assurance that those who have interests of any kind in Central America need cherish no fears as to their safety; and, further, I would remind all that the dissemination of rumors of war, which I assure you are but rumors, will by no means act as a remedy for the fact that still six-sevenths of the trade of Central America is done with Europe, whose merchants are not at all alarmed by what might prove an impediment to the increase of the trade of the United States, if such assurances did not exist as are portrayed by the following letter:


Department of Foreign Relations,
Guatemala, January 18, 1886.

Doctor Fernando C. Valentine,
Consul-General of Guatemala in New York:

It has come to the knowledge of this Government that some persons residing in New York City are endeavoring to send filibustering expeditions intended to disturb the peace and order of the Republics of Honduras and Salvador.

Inasmuch as the perpetuation of peace in Central America particularly interests Guatemala, and actuated by a desire to preserve the sister Republics from any disturbance, the President commissions me to charge you to employ all of your zeal and activity in the discovery of such steps as are taken in the United States to the above ends, and that you do all in your power to impede the said expeditions, and that you will take the same interest in these matters as if they concerned this Republic (of Guatemala) exclusively.

You will inform me by cable of any matter that you may deem important in this connection.

* * * * * * *

I am, &c.,


In view of the foregoing facts that are borne out by the above letter, and in evidence of the friendship of the United States of North America towards the Republic of Guatemala, do you authorize me to cable my Government as follows:

“Secretary State this Government assures me that its assistance is at our command to prevent expeditions against Central America, should any arise.”

While Guatemala has no fear of such expeditions as have recently been mentioned, and while the letter I have transmitted expresses only a desire for positive information, the cablegram above suggested will counteract the unfavorable impression that cannot fail to be created in Central America by some of the matter that has recently been published in papers that will shortly reach our countries, and the context of that matter may, I fear, produce in the minds of many a misapprehension of the feelings of the Government of the United States towards Central America, inasmuch as several of the reports make it appear that your Government allows filibustering expeditions to be equipped and armed undisturbedly against friendly nations. The cablegram I suggest will at once annul any such erroneous conceptions.

Assuring you, sir, that the Government of Guatemala, under the Presidency of General Manuel Lisandro Barillas, cherishes the most profound respect for its great sister, the United States of America,

I have, &c.,

Consul-General of Guatemala.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 329.]

Mr. Bayard to Mr. Valentine.

Sir: I have received your letter of the 13th instant transcribing a note addressed to yourself by the minister for foreign affairs of Guatemala, wherein he apprehends that filibustering expeditions are about to be dispatched from New York against the peace [Page 58] of Honduras and Salvador. You thereupon ask to be authorized to cable your Government that you have received the assurances of the United States that its assistance is at the command of Guatemala to prevent expeditions against Central America should any arise.

Although the Government of the United States has given heretofore abundant proor of its determination to uphold its neutrality statutes in respect to the Governments of Central America, as well as in respect to all other Governments which may be involved in wars, domestic or foreign, I am unable to comply with your wishes as expressed. Violation of our neutrality statutes is an offense against the domestic sovereignty of the United States and is to be punished on competent proof that the wrong complained of was done contrary to our laws and within their jurisdiction.

This Government is disposed to take every possible means within the power of the United States to prevent hostile attempts being set on foot within their jurisdiction against the peace of the Republic of Guatemala, should occasion arise. The same is also true as regards either of the other Central American states. But to give assurance that the power of this Government will be allied with that of Guatemala to prevent alleged violations of our neutrality against the peace of the other Central American Republics is a step which this Government cannot take. In the event, however, of evidence of such violation being presented in the proper way as respects any one of those States, no effort would be spared to prevent and punish to the fullest extent of the law any persons charged with the violation of the neutrality statutes of the United States.

In this connection I take occasion also to acknowledge the receipt of your telegram of the 19th instant upon this subject.

I am, &c.,