Mr. Baker to Mr. Gresham.
Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Salvador,
Managua, May 31, 1893. (Received July 6.)
Sir: I have the honor to report to your excellency further upon the condition of public affairs in the Republic of Nicaragua. In a preceding dispatch, No. 8, dated May 23, I mentioned my agreement, at the urgent request of many foreign citizens as well as the solicitation of public men on both sides of the military lines, to act as a mediator between the Government and those in rebellion against its authority.
Accordingly on the morning of the 24th instant, at 6 o’clock, I started from this city for Granada, the capital of the revolutionists, at which point they have set up all the machinery of a civil government, which is presided over and directed by a junta composed of three citizens of high character and intelligence, viz, Gen. Joaquim Zavala, Eduardo Montiel, and Santos Zelaya.
I arrived after a hard ride, much of it on horseback as the railroad track has been destroyed by the military. To add to the discomfort the heat was intense and for three hours while in the saddle the rain poured in torrents. I was accompanied by Mr. William Newell, the U. S. consul [Page 190] at this city, Mr. H. E. Low, the vice-consul, and Mr. J. F. Medina, the latter a native of Central America but an adopted citizen of the United States. His wide acquaintance, general intelligence, the high respect in which he seems to be held by the leading men on both sides, and his fine social qualities combined to make him a most agreeable traveling companion and valuable assistant in the proposed negotiation.
During the two and a half days which we remained we had several conferences with the members of the junta and such of their military officers and distinguished citizens as they cared to call into their councils. They were all polite and profuse in protestations of their desire for the peace and prosperity of Nicaragua, but they were firm in their assertion that these desirable objects could be attained only by a change in the administration of the Government; and they were equally firm in the expression of their belief that the great majority of the people of the country not only were in full sympathy with the views held by them, but were full of enthusiasm in the cause of the revolution; that their armies were more powerful and better handled than were those of the Government; that they would certainly be triumphant in the field and that at an early day; and, therefore, while desiring peace, prosperity, and good order, they would yield nothing in order to gain these desirable ends except a guaranty of protection to the life and property of President Sacasa if he would promptly abdicate. No compromise seemed possible. Nothing short of the complete abdication by the Government and the handing over of all power to the revolutionists.
On my return to Nicaragua I had a lengthy conference with the President. I found him in a reasonable and conciliatory frame of mind. I conveyed to him the kind impressions toward him personally indulged in by the revolutionists; and I explained to him their professions of a desire for peace. While I had no authority from them for saying that they would meet a commission from the government by commissioners from themselves, yet I would advise him to authorize me to express to them the willingness of the Government to refer all differences between them to a commission with fall powers to arrange an honorable peace. This proposition the President patriotically acceded to, and I prepared and promptly forwarded by special messenger to the members of the junta (inclosure herewith, marked No. 1), a copy of which I sent to the President.
The junta accepted the terms set forth in the letter, advising me of their action on the forenoon of the 29th. On my notifying the President of this fact, he appointed the three commissioners to act on the part of the Government. (See inclosures Nos. 4 and 5.)
By request of the President I accompanied his commissioners, taking with me Mr. Medina, on a special train to Sabana Grande, where the commissioners from the junta met us.
After calling the members of the commission to order, having read to them in Spanish my letter which formed the basis of the agreement for the creation of the commission, and having impressed upon them the magnitude of the duties devolving upon them as patriotic citizens and statesmen, and cordially thanking them and the respective appointing powers for the ready and courteous responses made to my offers as a peace mediator, I withdrew.
The commission first tendering me a cordial vote of thanks for my efforts in favor of peace, unanimously asked me to preside over their deliberations. * * * I asked in most deferential language to be excused from the honor, giving as reasons my lack of familiarity with their laws, modes of procedure, customs, habits of thought, language, [Page 191] etc., but I was overruled. Mr. Medina was named as honorary secretary and the serious work began. The proceedings and the conclusions are set forth in the protocol, marked inclosure No. 11.
On the 30th instant I cabled you as follows:
Sabana Grande (via Masaya
and San Juan del Sur).
May 30, 1893.
Peace commission, composed of three revolutionists and three for Government, American minister presiding, in session here.
The sessions lasted three days. The discussions were, as a rule, in excellent temper, and much learning and ability were displayed. Every effort was patriotically made to find a basis of permanent peace, and so far as I have been able to gather public sentiment, I believe a fair success has been achieved. The people of Nicaragua are naturally a peace-loving, well-meaning people. They are neither turbulent nor restless. The country has enjoyed a long period of peace, and during the recent years its prosperity has been great and general. This prosperity has been interrupted by the recent military disturbance, and the people have felt the business paralysis keenly. All classes so warlike yesterday, now that peace seems in sight, welcome its coming with joy, and they exhibit many signs of gratitude toward those who were chiefly instrumental in bringing it about.
I have, etc.