Mr. Souza Boza to Mr. Gresham.
Washington , May 29, 1894 . (Received June 12.)
Sir: Referring to the different interviews I have had with you in regard to the question that has been raised between the Brazilian and Portuguese governments, I note the following points as the principal ones, which will give an exact idea of the question referred to:
The intervention of Vice-Admiral Castilho, commander of the Portuguese naval force at Rio de Janeiro, as a mediator in the capitulation of the insurgents, and the asylum which was afterwards given to them, were effectuated without the authorization of the Portuguese Government. The instructions given by the Portuguese Government to Mr. Paraty, its representative in Brazil, were, with respect to the mediation, that it should be authorized only if it were accepted by the Brazilian Government; and, with regard to the asylum of the refugees, that it could be given only in concert with the commanders of the other foreign vessels. (Docs. Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4.)
As soon as the Portuguese Government knew that the Brazilian Government declined to accept the capitulation of the rebels it gave positive instructions to Mr. Paraty not to have anything to do with this act. (Docs. Nos. 5 and 6.)
Asylum was finally granted by Admiral Castilho on the 14th of March, the Portuguese Government being ignorant that all the insurgents had taken refuge exclusively on board of the Portuguese ships. (Docs. Nos. 7, 8, 9, and 10.)
The Brazilian Government protested against the right of Portugal to give asylum to the insurgents; but on March 17, by amicable agreement, it consented that the vessels might depart from Rio de Janeiro. (Doc. No. 11.)
On March 19 the Portuguese corvettes Mindello and Alfonso de Albuquerque did depart for Buenos Ayres, carrying on board all the refugees. The question raised by the Brazilian Government over the right of asylum remained pending, the Portuguese Government declining to deliver up the insurgents, guaranteeing, however, to the Brazilian Government that they should be disembarked only on Portuguese territory, subject to the vigilance of the proper authorities, so as to prevent them from intervening in the political struggle of Brazil. (Docs. Nos. 12 and 13.)
On March 24 the corvette Alfonso de Albuquerque arrived at Buenos Ayres, and on the 26th the Mindello, and the Portuguese Government insisted upon its orders to the commanders not in any event to disembark the refugees, who were to be conveyed to Portuguese territory on [Page 514] a transport of war expressly sent from Lisbon for this purpose, since the commanders of the two corvettes declared most positively that it was impossible for them to put to sea, from lack of accommodations and from the condition in which the vessels were found to be. (Docs. Nos. 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, and 21.)
As it would take a long time for a transport to arrive, and the Portuguese Government wished to convey the insurgents to Portugal as speedily as possible, it endeavored to charter a special steamer for this purpose in Buenos Ayres. (Docs. Nos. 22 and 23.)
Meanwhile the hygienic conditions resulting from the accumulation of so many persons on board of the Portuguese vessels became extremely bad, and cases of yellow fever were not slow in appearing. A lieutenant who was asylumed on the Alfonso de Albuquerque died of this disease, and two soldiers of the Mindello were sent to the hospital. The Argentine Government, in consideration of the danger, urgently besought the Portuguese representative at Buenos Ayres to solicit instructions from the Government at Lisbon to disembark the refugees at the lazaretto, or that the corvettes would leave the Argentine waters immediately. The situation on board was extremely grave, the Portuguese representative declaring that it was impossible to await the arrival of the transport. (Docs. Nos. 24 and 25.)
This situation, already of itself so difficult, was aggravated by the circumstance of its being known that the friends and partisans of the insurgents were planning to bring about their disembarkation, which, being known to Admiral Saldanha da Gama, led him to beg for the disembarkation of the refugees by telegram directed to the Government of His Majesty. (Docs. Nos. 26 and 27.)
In spite of all these difficulties and demands, the Portuguese Government, faithful to the promise it had made to the Brazilian Government, declared most positively that under no circumstances whatever would it permit the disembarkation of the refugees, not even the sick; and it insisted that every endeavor possible should be made to charter a vessel which should carry the refugees to the territory of Portugal, under the Portuguese flag, as quickly as possible. (Docs. Nos. 28, 29, and 30.)
These orders of the Portuguese Government could have been carried into effect finally, the steamer Pedro III being chartered at Buenos Ayres on April 8 for £8,000 to carry the refugees to the Island of Ascension. (Docs. Nos. 31 and 32.)
At this juncture the Portuguese Government was informed that 110 refugees had escaped from on board the corvette Mindello, in view of which it immediately gave orders that an urgent request for their restitution should be made to the Argentine Government. This Government, however, not only declined to deliver them up, but protested against the fact of some of the fugitives having been recaptured at the time when they escaped on board of the schooner Pepito Donato, with the Argentine flag. (Docs. Nos. 33, 34, and 35.)
The Brazilian Government having been informed of this escape, protested, and the Portuguese Government explained the circumstances, and proved that it had been solicitous to comply with its promise to the Brazilian Government, employing to that end all means within its reach, and that no responsibility could be attached to it for what had happened.
On the 15th of April the Portuguese Government received exact and circumstantial information about the escape of the fugitives at Buenos Ayres, and the communication that the two Portuguese corvettes had departed for the coast of Montevideo, where the steamer Pedro III [Page 515] was soon going to meet them to carry the refugees to the Island of Ascension. (Docs. Nos. 36, 37, and 38.)
On April 16 the Government of Uruguay asked for the disembarkation of a refugee severely attacked with beriberi on board of the corvette Alfonso de Albuquerque, promising to be responsible for his restoration to the Portuguese Government dead or alive, a petition supported even by the minister of Brazil in Uruguay. The Portuguese Government answered this with a formal declination, because it had promised the Brazilian Government to allow the disembarkation of the rebels only in the territory of Portugal. The Portuguese Government informed its representative at Bio de Janeiro of this resolution, but in view of the certification of the physicians, transmitted by the chargé d’affaires of Portugal at Buenos Ayres, that the individual in question would die on the way if he went to sea, the Portuguese Government granted that he might remain a prisoner on board the corvette Mindello, under the responsibility of the commander thereof. (Docs. Nos. 39, 40, 41, 42, and 43.)
Various complications with the Argentine Government followed, in consequence of the diligence which was employed in the capture of fugitives at Buenos Ayres, so that the Portuguese Government decided to leave the refugees about whom there had been contention with the Argentine Government on board the corvette Mindello at Buenos Ayres, taking the remainder to sea on the Pedro III, convoyed by the corvette Alfonso de Albuquerque. (Docs. Nos. 44 and 45.)
Nevertheless, in spite of all the precautions and good will of the Portuguese Government yet new complications arose. On April 28 the Government at Lisbon received word that 133 refugees had escaped from on board the steamer Pedro III, who had been placed upon it to be taken to Portugal, and amongst them was Admiral Saldanha da Gama. The Government immediately charged its representative at Rio de Janeiro to testify to the Brazilian Government the great regret with which it received this entirely unexpected news, and to declare that the commanders of the two corvettes had been deposed from their commands immediately, and would be court-martialed, so that those who were responsible for failure to carry out the promises so many times given and so often insisted upon should be punished. (Doc. No. 46.)
After so many mishaps and complications, the steamer Pedro III finally left Buenos Ayres for Portugal with 170 refugees, being convoyed by the corvette Alfonso de Albuquerque. After this, on May 14, the chargé d’affaires of Portugal at Bio de Janeiro received a note from the Brazilian Government, complaining that the Portuguese Government, had taken the responsibility of asylum granted to the refugees, and had let them escape, and at the same time sending to the personnel of the legation of Portugal its passports. (Docs. Nos. 47 and 48.)
This note caused the greatest surprise to the Portuguese Government, because no communication had been made to it by the Brazilian Government after the most complete explanations had been given by it about the escape of the refugees, the endeavors made to keep the promises it had given, and the steps taken to punish those who were responsible. (Doc. No. 49.)
This is the explanation which I outlined to you, and submit to your appreciation. In view of the short time that I have had to make this résumé, I have been obliged to pass over entirely some circumstances which it would have been fitting to mention.
Nevertheless the main facts are here sketched, and from the careful reading and consideration of these I have not the least doubt that you [Page 516] will be convinced of the extreme fidelity and complete rectitude with which the Portuguese Government has acted throughout this lamentable occurrence.