Mr. Shannon to Mr. Foster.

No. 235.]

Sir: Referring to my No. 195, of September 28, which inclosed copy of a note addressed by the minister for foreign affairs of Nicaragua to Her Britannic Majesty’s minister resident at Guatemala City, urging the withdrawal of the English protectorate from the Mosquito Reservation, I have the honor now to inclose herewith another note from Dr. Bravo, transmitting copy of the English minister’s reply.

From the terms of this reply it would seem that Mr. Gosling disagreed with Dr. Bravo in regard to nearly every point touched by the correspondence.

Your attention is especially invited to the interesting and significant statement quoted from the dispatch written by Mr., now Sir Charles, Lennox Wyke (who negotiated the treaty of Managua) to Lord John Russell, dated January 10, 1860.

I have, etc.,

Richard Cutts Shannon.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 235.—Translation.]

Señor Bravo to Mr. Shannon.

Mr. Minister: I have the honor to inclose herewith, for your excellency’s information, copy of the reply which the British legation in Central America has given [Page 173] to the note of this ministry calling attention to the increase of port charges to which the steamers of a New Orleans company have been subjected by the authorities of Bluefields in the Mosquito Reservation.

With assurances, etc.,

Jorge Bravo.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 235.]

Mr. Gosling to Señor Bravo.

Mr. Minister: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your excellency’s note of the 13th ultimo, in which you inform me that, acting” under the orders of the Secretary of State at Washington, the United States envoy to the Republic of Nicaragua has appealed to your excellency’s Government against the excessive dues levied at Bluefields on the vessels of a New Orleans steamship company.

By this mail I am transmitting to the Earl of Rosebery, Her Majesty’s principal secretary of state, a copy of your excellency’s note; in the meanwhile, and before his lordship’s opinion thereon can reach me, I desire to make a few observations, having reference to certain remarks made by your excellency.

Your excellency states your inability to give a categorical reply to the United States representative, because, if the British protectorate over the Mosquito Reservation no longer exists de jure, it does exist de facto, inasmuch as in every measure dictated by the Government of Nicaragua as sovereign over the Mosquitian territory, a sovereignty recognized by the convention of Managua and the arbitral award of the Emperor of Austria, the Crown of England intervenes, notwithstanding that the measures referred to have never had for their object the restriction of the local autonomy of the Mosquito Indians, and notwithstanding that Great Britain undertook to use its good offices with the chief of the Mosquitians to the end that he should accept the stipulations of the above-named convention.

I am quite at a loss to understand on what grounds your excellency assumes that, de facto, the British protectorate over the Mosquito Indians still exists; nor am I able, after careful reference to the correspondence which has taken place between our respective governments, to point to any one instance when England has intervened in favor of Mosquitia, otherwise than in her character of one of the two high contracting parties to the treaty of Managua.

I can best illustrate what in my opinion are the sentiments of Her Majesty’s Government in respect to the treaty rights of the Mosquito Indians by quoting an extract from the” dispatch written by Mr. now Sir Charles Lennox Wyke (who negotiated the treaty of Managua) to Lord John Russell, Her Majesty’s minister for foreign affairs, dated Nicaragua, January 10, 1860.

Referring to his conferences with Don Pedro Zaledon, the Nicaraguan minister for foreign affairs, with whom he was negotiating, he wrote:

“He told me that the general impression here was that I had come to make an unconditional surrender of our protectorate without making any stipulations whatever for securing the rights either of the Mosquito Indians themselves or of British subjects who may have obtained grants of land or other advantages from them.”

“I at once told Don Pedro Zeledon that if his Government seriously entertained such an idea as this, all negotiations between them and myself would become impossible, as Her Majesty’s Government would never consent to surrender their protectorate over Mosquitia, except on certain conditions, which had been made as little burdensome to the Nicaraguan Government as was compatible with our honor and the rights of others which we were bound to defend.”

Your excellency writes that neither the convention of Managua nor the arbitral award entitles the Mosquito Indians to levy pilotage, light-house, wharfage, or anchorage dues, but solely duties on imports of merchandise destined for use in the territory forming the reservation.

Your excellency can not fail to be aware, however, that by Article III of the treaty of Managua it is distinctly laid down that within the limits of their territory the Mosquito Indians “shall enjoy the rights of governing themselves according to their customs and according to any regulations which may from time to time be adopted by them, not inconsistent with the sovereign rights of the Republic of Nicaragua, themselves and all persons residing within such district. Subject to the above-mentioned reserve, the Republic of Nicaragua agrees to respect and not to interfere with said customs and regulations so established within the said district.”

This article, to which no exception was taken by the arbitral award, clearly gives to the Mosquitians the right of self-government, and surely such self-government [Page 174] would cover the framing by them of port regulations whereby to insure the due maintenance and safety of the harbor at Bluefields, the providing of lights and beacons and the defraying of expenses of the police of that port.

According to my view the question to be considered is whether the levying of port dues referred to is inconsistent with the sovereign rights of Nicaragua; whether or not the collection of the said dues is not absolutely necessary for the safety of navigation, and whether the supreme Government has, in virtue of the treaty of Managua, the right to repudiate them.

It appears to me that, if these port dues are excessive, or, as is stated by your excellency, illegal, the matter might be adjusted by the commissioner, which Article III of the arbitral award entitles the Republic of Nicaragua to appoint, for the protection of its sovereign rights; but the adoption of any such constitutional step is not alluded to by your excellency. After stating that your excellency’s Government could give no categorical reply to the United States representative relative to the complaint made by his Government against the levying of harbor dues at Bluefields, your excellency remarks further on that your Government has represented to the United States envoy that they can not sanction such taxes.

I fail to see, Mr. Minister, any clause, either in the treaty of Managua or in the arbitral award, which would give, as your excellency assumes, the right to the Republic to revise any laws made by the Mosquito court. Article II of the arbitral award prescribes clearly that the Republic of Nicaragua is not entitled to regulate the trade of Mosquito Indians, such right belonging to them.

Your excellency complains of Her Majesty’s Government for assuming that Mosquitia is imperium in imperio. But such, your excellency, is actually the case; for in Article I of the arbitral award the Emperor of Austria lays it down that “the sovereignty of the Republic of Nicaragua, which was recognized by Articles I and II of the treaty of Managua of January 28, 1860, is not full and unlimited with regard to the territory assigned to the Mosquito Indians, but is limited by the self-government conceded to the Mosquito Indians in Article III of this treaty.”

There is another point on which I am unable to agree with your excellency.

Your excellency writes that the treaty of Managua gave to Nicaragua the right of bringing about and the rendering effective of the incorporation of the Mosquito Reserve.

Article IV of the treaty of Managua says:

“It is understood, however, that nothing in this treaty shall be construed to prevent the Mosquito Indians at any future time from agreeing to absolute incorporation into the Republic of Nicaragua on the same footing as other citizens of the Republic, and from subjecting themselves to be governed by the general laws and regulations of the Republic instead of by their own customs and regulations.”

But this, Mr. Minister, allow me to remark, does not appear to me open to the interpretation assigned to this article by your excellency; on the contrary, the incorporation of Mosquitia into the Republic is a matter for voluntary arrangement between the supreme Government and the Reservation.

Your excellency refers to the Clayton-Bulwer treaty and to the undertaking entered into by Great Britain to abstain from all intervention or claim in matters referring to the Mosquito court.

Herein, Mr. Minister, I venture again to disagree with your excellency.

Through the whole of the negotiation which took place between Her Majesty’s Government and that of the United States during the period of 1856–1860, Great Britain insisted upon the maintenance of the arrangements then existing in regard to the Mosquito Indians, as apart from the Clayton-Bulwer treaty.

In conclusion, allow me to assure your excellency that Her Majesty’s Government is fully alive to, and solicitous of, the material progress being made by Nicaragua, and that they would be the last to pursue any policy antagonistic to such development, or which might interfere with the flow of emigration into Nicaragua.

I avail, etc.,

Audley Gosling.