No. 69.
Mr. Hall to Mr. Bayard.

No. 716.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith a printed copy of the message of the President of Guatemala to the national constituent assembly of that Republic, on the 1st day of October, 1887, with a synopsis of its contents.

You will observe that the President opens his message with the enunciation of the principle of popular sovereignty, and declares that the legislative authority during the past two years dictated laws in opposition to the interests of its constituents, and in nihilation of branches of the Government, especially in that of the department of finance. It was, therefore, on account of the restrictions imposed upon him that it became impossible to save the national credit, unless with a firm hand, and by change of advisers in his cabinet he should assume, for a time, supreme executive power. Hence his decree of June 26, 1887. That his course of conduct met with popular approval was illustrated by the demonstrations of good will and enthusiastic reception throughout his tour of visit to the eastern departments of the Republic. And, although at first the representative of Mexico refused to recognize the new order of things, that now an arrangement has been perfected by which the Republic of Mexico, in common with all other powers represented at this capital, renews its friendly attitude in harmonious recognition of a firm, existent fact.

The other portions of the message refer, as you will note, to the domestic affairs of the Republic, of which, from time to time, you have been advised, so far as the same relate to the interests of our fellow-citizens resident here.

There seems to be perfect accord between the national administration and the legislative assembly, presaging unity of action and a harmonious execution of the laws.

I have, etc.,

Henry C. Hall.
[Inclosure in No. 716.]

Synopsis of message presented to the national constituent assembly by General Manuel Lisandro Barillas, President of the Republic of Guatemala, the 1st day of October, 1887.

It opens with a declaration of popular sovereignty, and its recognition by the executive as co-operating in the executiou of the laws.

But in the experience of the past two years, owing to the faithlessness of the legislative assembly towards its constituents by hampering the action of the administration, [Page 81] and imposing restrictions upon the department of finance, and thus seriously impairing the national credit, it became necessary for the President to issue a decree on the 26th of June last, by which the executive power assumed supreme authority.

The people sanctioned this decree by loyal manifestations of good will and enthusiastic reception of the President on his visiting tour through the eastern department of the Republic.

Foreign representatives acquiesced in the new condition of things, including an entire change of cabinet, except the minister from Mexico, who stated that he would refer to his Government in the matter.

Subsequently, however, owing to the “kind and spontaneous initiative” of the German minister, an “arrangement” has been made by which the “Mexican flag salutes” the assembly, “together with the flags of all the powers which are represented here.”

A minister has been sent from Guatemala to Washington, where he has received the cordial and kind reception characteristic of the great and intelligent people of the United States of America.

The President regards the establishment of a permanent legation in the United States as indispensable.

Pardons for political offenses were promulgated by decree from the 30th of June to the 15th of September, so that the punishment inflicted would not be more than the prison confinement. The executive power, however, reserved the right to grant or refuse pardon according to circumstances.

In relation to action upon the ecclesiastical authority, and to avoid controversies between church and state, and in conformity with the practice of monarehs in Catholic countries, it was found necessary to apply article No. 92 of the penal code, punishing with imprisonment, or a fine from $300 to $3,000, every person in this Republic who would execute briefs, receipts, or orders from the Roman curia, publish or circulate same.

The archbishop, counsellor at law, Don Ricardo Casanova y Estrada, disobeyed article 92, and was exiled from the country.

The habeas corpus act will continue in force, as a constitutional guarantee, as now defined by the penal code, but its regulation is to be more clearly defined by an initiatory sketch which will be at a future day sent to the assembly.

Agriculture is to be protected in a decided and well considered manner.

Inasmuch as “it is a principle in economy that competition betters and cheapens everything,” the President has thought proper to utilize several lines of steamers for trade and agriculture. The line of the Marquis de Campo has been opened to traffic, and in order to prevent the enjoyment of invidious privileges an abatement of 3 per cent, was ordered on the duties for articles imported by steamers of regular and direct lines, and another rebate of 29/10 per cent for the merchandise brought by regular steamers running between San Francisco, Cal., and Panama.

The German Kosmos line has received a subvention of $1,000 for every direct trip between Europe and the ports of Guatemala.

The railway line between Escuintla and the capital, although put in public service on the 15th of September, 1884, has never been officially received. Differences and deficiencies in the details of the contract, as to the execution of the work, were to be submitted to the decision of official engineers, chiefly as to the construction of bridges, wooden ones being used temporarily, instead of iron ones for a permanency. These differences and deficiencies are to be reconciled and the road to be received and the subvention regulated by mutual agreement. This has been accepted, and the executive power proclaimed the contract of July 13, 1880, to be in force and agreed that the payment of the stipulated subvention should be “effectuated” in a term of thirty years instead of twenty-five, which had been previously fixed, deducting $50,000 annually during the first six years.

A railway communication to the Atlantic coast is expected to open next year.

Articles of necessity have been imported from California to be sold at a price so that the poorer classes would not suffer.

Steps have been taken to improve the condition of the army and replenish the stores of arms and ammunition; the militia is to be reorganized on the Prussian basis.

Great attention has been paid to public instruction; 25 primary schools have been opened; 7 have been re-established; 16 have been declared national schools, and subventions have been granted 26. The nurseries of instruction have been increased by 85, and the pupils by nearly 4,000. The sum of $19,543 has been expended by the present Government in buildings and repairs to schools. Inspectors of primary instruction have been appointed.

It was found necessary to abolish the syndicate, owing to the irregularity and neglect in book-keeping, and to regulate the way by which the national treasury would be enabled to replace the abolished establishment.

The decree with regard to pensions was abolished as having a retroactive effect.

[Page 82]

A transitory duty has been established on the exportation of coffee, the deeree stating that as long as high prices were maintained in the foreign markets $1 would be charged for every hundred weight of the berry exported.

The premium in favor of exports of sugar has been abolished.

A reduction has been made upon the excessive duties charged upon tobacco imported.

Stringent regulations have been enforced to prevent frauds on the revenue, both as to imported and manufactured liquors at home.

A decree which rendered the working of coal mines difficult has been abolished.

Finally, the executive has ordered the settlement; of the public debt, appointing a fixed sum for the payment of interest and amortization, as well as a method to collect and verify the payments.