Mr. Egan to Mr. Blaine.
Santiago, August 15, 1890. (Received September 25.)
Sir: I have the honor to inform you that His Excellency the President of Chile has accepted the resignation of the ministry in which Señor Don Enrique S. Sanfuentes held the post of minister of the interior and Don Juan E. MacKenna that of foreign relations, and has appointed in its stead a new ministry, of which the following is the personnel: Don Belisario Prats, minister of interior; Don Gregorio Donoso Vergara, of justice and public instruction; Don Manuel Salustio Fernandez, of treasury; Don Federico Errazuriz Echaurren, of war and marine; Don Macario Vial, of industry and public works; and Don José Tocornal, of foreign relations and culture.
For some months past a very serious struggle has been in progress between the executive and legislative powers here, arising in the first instance from the belief on the part of the opposition that the influence of the Executive, which is very great, was being exercised in favor of a candidate for the Presidency who was not acceptable to the majority in Congress.
Under the constitution of Chile, adopted in 1833, the President has the power to appoint and remove, at his own will, the ministers of state and most of the public officials; but, as a check upon this power, Congress may, should the ministers not have its confidence, censure them; and such action on the part of Congress has heretofore been followed by the resignation of the ministers. In more extreme cases Congress can refuse to vote supplies.
In January last the President, without reference to the opinion of the majority in Congress, appointed a new ministry, and later on the fullest assurances were given that all idea of an official indorsement of any Presidential candidate had been abandoned. Upon the meeting of Congress, on the 1st of June last, the first step taken was to pass a vote of censure upon the ministry, without even according them a hearing. The ministers declared that this action of Congress was hasty and unjustifiable, and upon those grounds determined, with the approval of the President, to continue to hold their offices; whereupon both houses of Congress resolved that they should not vote the “contribuciones,” or supplies, and, as the law empowering such collection lapsed on the 30th of June, this action left the Executive without power to collect import or export duties or revenues after that date.
During all of last month political party feeling ran very high, and for some time it looked as if the more extreme adherents of one party [Page 91] or the other might resort to violence; but the good sense and patriotism which have always so strongly marked the Chilean character prevailed, an honorable compromise between the contending parties has been arrived at, and with the appointment of the present ministry by the President and the voting of supplies by Congress—which latter has just taken place—entire harmony has been restored.
I have, etc.,