No. 72.
Mr. Hall to Mr. Bayard.

No. 601.]

Sir: With reference to * * * correspondence relating to the difficulties pending between Nicaragua and Costa Rica concerning their boundaries, I have the honor to inclose herewith a copy and translation of a convention signed on the 24th instant, by the commissioners of those Governments with the mediation of Señor Cruz, the minister of foreign affairs of Guatemala, to whose efforts as a mediator, I am informed, it is due that the commissioners came to terms.

The object of the convention, as stated in the preamble, “is to submit to the arbitration of the Government of the United States the question between them in regard to the validity of the treaty of the 15th of April, 1858.”

Article 11 stipulates for an exchange of ratifications on the 30th of June, 1887, or sooner if possible. This postponement is precisely what the Nicaraguan Government wished to avoid; it has been conceded on the ground that the Costa Rican Congress does not meet until the 1st of May next. It is no unusual event in any of these states that a special session of Congress is called at a few days’ notice for matters of much less importance.

Within sixty days after the exchange of the ratifications the two Governments will solicit of the arbitrator his acceptance of the appointment. It is probable, therefore, that this solicitation will not reach the Department before the month of July next.

In the interval the Costa Rican Government consents, as stipulated in Article 9, to suspend the effect of its decree of the 16th of March last, concerning the navigation of the San Juan River by a Costa Rican steamer. I inclose a translation of the decree referred to, which has been the immediate cause of the present difficulties.

I have, etc.,

Henry C. Hall.
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[Inclosure 1.—Translation.]

Convention between the Governments of Nicaragua and Costa Rica to submit to the arbitration of the Government of the United States the question in regard to the validity of the treaty of 15 April, 1858.

The Governments of the Republics of Nicaragua and Costa Rica ‘desiring to terminate the question debated by them since 1871, to wit:

Whether the treaty, signed by both on the 15th day of April, 1858, is or is not valid, have named, respectively, as plenipotentiaries, Señor Don José Antonio Roman, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of Nicaragua, near the Government of Guatemala, and Señor Don Ascension Esquival, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of Costa Rica near the same Government, who having communicated their full powers, found to be in clue form, and of conference with the mediation of the minister for foreign affairs for the Republic of Guatemala, Dr. Don Fernando Cruz, designated to interpose the good offices of his Government, generously offered to the contending parties and by them gratefully accepted, have agreed to the following articles:

(1) The question pending between the contracting Governments, in regard to the validity of the treaty of limits of the 15th of April, 1858, shall be submitted to arbitration.

(2) The arbitrator of that question shall be the President of the United States of America. Within sixty days following the exchange of ratifications of the present convention the contracting Governments shall solicit of the appointed arbitrator his acceptance of the charge.

(3) In the unexpected event that the President of the United States should not be pleased to accept, the parties shall name, as arbitrator, the President of the Republic of Chili, whose acceptance shall be solicited by the contracting Governments within ninety days from the date upon which the President of the United States may give notice to both Governments, or to their representatives in Washington, of his declination.

(4) If, unfortunately, the President of Chili should also be unable to lend to the parties the eminent service of accepting the charge both Governments shall come to an agreement for the purpose of electing two other arbitrators within ninety days, counting from the day on which the President of Chili may give notice to both Governments or their representatives, in Santiago, of his non-acceptance.

(5) The proceedings and terms to which the decisions of the arbitrator are limited shall be the following:

Within ninety days, counting from the notification to the parties of the acceptance of the arbitrator, the parties shall present to him their allegations and documents. The arbitrator will communicate to the representative of each Government, within eight days after their presentation, the allegations of the opposing party, in order that the opposing party may be able to answer them within the thirty days following that upon which the same shall have been communicated.

The arbitrator’s decision, to be held valid, must be pronounced within six months, counting from the date upon which the term allowed for the answers to the allegations shall have expired, whether the same shall or shall not have been presented.

The arbitrator may delegate his powers, provided that he does not fail to intervene directly, in the pronunciation of the final decision.

(6) If the arbitrator’s award should determine that the treaty is valid, the same award shall also declare whether Costa Rica has the right of navigation of the river San Juan with vessels of war or of the revenue service. In the same manner he shall decide, in case of the validity of the treaty, upon all the other points of doubtful interpretation which either of the parties may find in the treaty, and shall communicate to the other party within thirty days after the exchange of the ratifications of the present convention.

(7) The decision of the arbitrator, whichsoever it may be, shall be held as a perfect treaty and binding between the contracting parties. No recourse whatever shall be admitted, and it shall begin to have effect thirty days after it shall have been notified to both Governments or to the representatives.

(8) If the invalidity of the treaty should be declared both Governments, within one year, counting from the notification of the award of the arbitrator, shall come to an agreement to fix the the dividing line between their respective territories. If that agreement should not be possible they shall, in the following year, enter into a convention to submit the question of boundaries between the two Republics to the decision of a friendly Government.

From the time the treaty shall be declared null, and during the time there may be no agreement between the parties, or no decision given fixing definitely the rights of both countries, the limits established by the treaty of the 15th of April, 1858, shall be provisionally respected.

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(9) Meanwhile, the question as to the validity of the treaty shall not be decided. The Government of Costa Rica consents to suspend the observance of the decree of the 16th of March last as regards the navigation of the river San Juan by a national vessel.

(10) In case the award of the arbitrators should decide that the treaty of limits is valid, the contracting Governments, within ninety days following that upon which they may be notified of the decision, shall appoint four commissioners, two each, who shall make the corresponding measurements of the dividing line, as provided for by Article 2 of the referred to treaty of 15th April, 1858.

These measurements and the corresponding landmarks shall be made within thirty months, counting from the day upon which the commissioners shall be appointed. The commissioners shall have the power to deviate the distance of one mile from the line fixed by the treaty, for the purpose of finding natural limits or others, more distinguishable. But this deviation shall be made only whoa all of the commissioners shall have agreed upon the point or points that are to substitute the line.

(11) This treaty shall be submitted to the approval of the Executive and Congress of each of the contracting Republics, and their ratifications shall be exchanged at Managua or San José de Costa Rica on the 30th of June next, or sooner, if possible.

  • J. Antonio Roman.
  • Ascension Esquivel.
  • Fernando Cruz.

A true copy:
J. A. Roman.

[Inclosure 2.—From the Gaceta Oficial of Costa Rica of March 12, 1886.—Translation.]

Decree of the Costa Rican Government relating to the navigation of the San Juan River.

By decree No. 46, of this date, a maritime and customs guard at the mouth of the river Colorado on the Atlantic having been established, his Excellency the President orders:

That the customs guard referred to shall have at its disposal a national steamer, with the necessary crew, comprising a captain, mate, an engineer, a fireman, and assistant.

The duties of the customs guard are the following:

To watch for smuggling in the waters and territory assigned to its inspection.
To give information to the customs guards established on the San Carlos and Sarapiqui, or to the inspector-general, according to circumstances, for the prosecution of smugglers.
To ask and to obtain the assistance of the guards at San Carlos and Sarapiquí, whenever in the opinion of the commandant of Colorado it may be necessary.
To make at least one voyage a month from Puerto Limon to carry correspondence to and from Colorado.
To reconnoiter at least once a month the rivers San Juan, Colorado, Sarapiquí, and San Carlos; the first named in the whole extent that it is navigable for Costa Rica, the second in its entire extent, and the two others so far as navigable by steamers. The itinerary shall be reserved, so that the movements of the guard be not eluded.
To institute preliminary proceedings and to, report seizures to the fiscal authority at Limon.
To carry out the duly communicated orders of the superior fiscal authorities, the inspector-general of the treasury, with the approval of this department, shall issue suitable instructions in regard to regulations to be observed by the customs guard of Colorado.

Let it be published.

His Excellency the general, the President of the Republic: