Mr. Scruggs to Mr. Blaine.

No. 63.]

Sir: I have just received from the Venezuelan minister for foreign affairs the note and copy of protest which I inclose, from which you will see that the British colonial government of Demerara has taken formal possession of the principal mouth of the Orinoco River and declared the town of Barima a British colonial port.

I have, etc.,

William L. Scruggs.
[Inclosure in No. 63.—Translation.]

Mr. Casanova to Mr. Scruggs.

Mr. Minister: A new act of usurpation of Venezuelan territory consummated by the governor of Demerara has obliged the Government of the United States of Venezuela to make the accompanying protest, which I have the honor to transmit for Your Excellency’s information and that of the Government you so worthily represent in this capital.

I improve, etc.,

P. Casanova.

In the periodical called the Daily Chronicle, of Demerara, British Guiana, is a decree by the colonial governor, Sir Charles Bruce dated the 4th December, 1889, in which Barima, or the great mouth of the Orinoco River, is declared to be an English colonial port, and the line known as “the Shomburgk survey” is assumed to be the boundary between British and Venezuelan Guiana.

Now, according to the declaration of Lord Aberdeen, made to Señor Fortique, Venezuelan minister in London, Shomburgk was never authorized to occupy any portion of our territory—not even that inhabited by tribes of wild Indians; that the stakes and signals setup by him were intended merely to indicate a line which should be the object of future discussion and negotiation between the two nations; and that it was not known that any stations or military posts had been established or that the British flag had been raised over the disputed territory. This was in 1841, and the Venezuelan Government soon procured the removal of the marks and posts indicated.

Now, however, following up its system of former usurpations, the Government of Demerara does not hesitate to declare Barima a colonial port, to create a police station there, and to take possession of the neighboring country; all without leave or license and in open contempt of all those principles of justice which govern the international relations of civilized nations.

Therefore, the Government of the United States of Venezuela is under the necessity of protesting, and it does hereby formally and solemnly protest, against the acts of the government of Demarara in declaring Barima a colonial port; and it does this in the same manner and form expressed in its protest of February 27, 1887, and of the 15th June and 29th October, 1888, against former usurpations of Venezuelan territory.

[Page 777]

It protests, moreover, against the act of jurisdiction which the same colonial government has recently pretended to exercise over the territory of Venezuela by authorizing the construction of a road which shall put Demerara in communication with the federal territory of Yuruary. That territory belongs exclusively to the Republic and is under its sole and exclusive jurisdiction, it having never been considered disputed territory between Venezuela and Great Britain. Moreover, the last-named power is prohibited from claiming or occupying it by the very terms of the agreement which it itself proposed and entered into with Venezuela in 1850 through Mr. Bedford Hinton Wilson, then chargé d’affaires of Great Britain in this capital.

P. Casanova.