to Mr. Roberts.
Washington, May 26, 1888.
Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt, on the 12th of March last, of Mr. Seibert’s No. 181, of the 24th of the preceding month, in which he informs the Department that a protocol has been signed by the representatives of Chili and Italy by which all the claims of Italian subjects against Chili not acted upon by the international tribunal, 261 in number, were settled for the lump sum of $297,000, causing a saving to the Chilian Government of $138,000, compared with what it would have [Page 198] been required to pay had the cases been decided by the tribunal. It is also stated that with the settlement of these claims the international tribunals established by the various European Governments have ceased to exist, leaving the claims of the United States and Spain the only ones still unsettled.
The decisions and awards of the tribunals in question appear to have been highly unsatisfactory, many of the claims before them having been withdrawn to be settled elsewhere, and unfinished cases, or those not yet reached, being settled by a lump sum. In a previous dispatch you state that there would have been a general protest against the action of the tribunals had it not been for the course of the German Government, which was the first to accept a lump sum in liquidation of its claims, and which is supposed to have done so to the advantage of the claimants, though definite information as to the terms of settlement has not been received.
As I informed you in my No. 73, of the 5th of December last, this Department is receiving constant complaints from claimants, who are not content with our answer that the appropriate moment for pressing their claims to a settlement has not yet arrived. To the suggestion made in your No. 96, of the 15th of October, 1886 (which in view of all the circumstances was adopted by the Department), that this Government would be in a better position for urging such claims after the work of the unsatisfactory international tribunals then in existence had been completed, reply is made that these tribunals are now defunct, and that there does not appear to be any good ground for further delay on the part of this Government. The first point to be considered is whether it would be more advantageous to American interests to submit the claims to an international commission, or to accept a lump sum to be paid to Chili in full discharge of all claims against her by citizens of the United States.
In the list of claims in your No. 42 of 14th January, 1886, there may be some susceptible of individual settlement, while others might be left to arbitration or settled by a lump sum.
With your knowledge of the character of the claims in question, it is hoped you will be able to agree with the Chilian Government on some acceptable plan of settlement free from the defects of the late tribunal.
It is desirable that this question be taken up and pushed to an issue as rapidly as possible.
I am, etc.,