to Mr. Bayard.
Carácas , September 3, 1887. (Received September 21.)
Sir: I have received information from a reliable source that Venezuela contemplated closing her ports against Curaçao for a supposed grievance sustained in the latter harboring Venezuelan refugees, and permitting them to issue publications assailing the character of General Guzman Blanco, President of Venezuela.
It seems that about the first of August last the Venezuelan Government asked the Curaçao Government that the three Venezuelan refugees, Silva, Goda, and Diaz, now residing in Curaçao, should be expelled from the island, and this demand was accompanied by the declaration “that should no attention be paid to it the Government of Venezuela would be obliged to suspend all sort of commercial relations between its territory and that of the neighboring Dutch colonies.”
Governor Van der Prandhoff, of Curaçao, replied to this demand of Venezuela in a courteous and moderate manner, stating “that Curaçao had never been wanting in its international relations with the Republic of Venezuela, and that in regard to the publications of Silva and Diaz, although insulting towards the President of the Republic of Venezuela they could not be considered as calculated to create a revolution in Venezuela, nor as likely, in any respect, to disturb the peace of the country; that, in accordance with the penal code of the colony of Curaçao, the President could bring a suit against them for these publications, but they in no wise made them liable to expulsion. That in regard to the arguments on the obligations imposed by international laws, the governor says that the colony of Curaçao has in nowise been wanting in its international obligations, and considers and treats Venezuela as a neighboring friend, with whom it desires to live in perfect harmony, and to whom it will always extend the most cordial treatment. That, acting on this principle, measures had already been taken to put an end to the lampoons of Silva, Diaz, and others, which he, the governor, entirely disapproved; but that, on the other hand, he thought he had a right to expect the reciprocal courtesy due by one state to another, and more especially that the Government of Venezuela should neither put forward nor insist upon demands which were perfectly untenable before modern international law, and which the government of the colony can not comply with;” but, that while he is obliged to refuse compliance with the demand of Venezuela as regards Silva and Diaz, the governor acknowledges that Goda, whose case had been carefully examined, is by his own declaration before the attorney-general of the colony differently situated, and had been accordingly ordered to leave the island before the 1st of September next, and would have been so ordered previous to the demand of Venezuela for his expulsion.[Page 1637]
The governor of Curaçao concludes his note to the Venezuelan Government by firmly but respectfully declining to accede to the request of Venezuela to expel Silva and. Diaz from the island of Curaçao.
Thus briefly I have given you a synopsis of the condition at present of the pending difficulty between Venezuela and Curaçao; and the reason why I have invited your consideration to this particular matter is, that if Venezuela carries out her threat and closes her ports against all traffic between them and Curaçao it will seriously affect and damage American commerce, as the “Red D Line,” an American enterprise, does nine-tenths of the carrying trade between this country and the United States. This line is composed of three fine steamers, the Philadelphia, Carácas, and Valencia, which make monthly trips each from New York to Laguayra, stopping at Curaçao both coming and going. The departures and arrivals of these United States steamers at the island of Curaçao are tri-monthly, and there they connect with the “Red D Line” steamer Maracaibo, which takes its cargo from either one of these steamers on its arrival at Curaçao and transports it to the port of Maracaibo.
This line of steamers is owned by Messrs. Boulton, Bliss & Dallett, No. 71 Wall street, New York, and the house of H. L. Boulton & Co., Caraáas, and since this line of United States steamers was started the trade between the United States and Venezuela has been doubled, for statistics show that the trade between the two countries in 1879 was $1,793,000, but after the establishment of the “Red D Line” it increased in 1884 to $2,953,000, in 1885 to $3,043,339, and must be now, in 1887, over $4,000,000, and this increase has been produced by this line of steamers, which entitles them to consideration and protection.
Besides, it is reported that Holland will not submit to the imposition on one of her colonies and may retaliate by blockading the ports of Venezuela, and that England, irritated and provoked at the suspension of diplomatic relations on the part of Venezuela, may aid Holland in the movement. I give you these reports and rumors for what they are worth, but there may be complications and difficulties in the coming future arising from the arbitrary acts of General Guzman Blanco, that will call for the serious attention and consideration of your Department. I am well aware of the policy of non-intervention in foreign affairs adopted by our Government, but the national interest of American citizens may be involved in this action of the Venezuelan Government in closing its ports to all trade between this country and Curaçao, and whatever course you may conclude to pursue, after investigating this subject, will be strictly adhered to by this legation on receiving instructions in the premises.
I have, etc.,