Mr. Bartleman to Mr. Gresham.

No. 150.]

Sir: Referring to my Nos. 112 and 145, of the 3d ultimo and 9th instant, with regard to the question of navigation of the bayous Macareo and Pedernales of the Orinoco River, and the detention at Ciudad Bolivar of the American steamer Bolivar for an alleged violation of the navigation laws regarding these channels, I have the honor to inform you that up to this time I have received no further communications from the consular agent at that place.

I have called upon the minister of foreign affairs on several occasions with the hope of obtaining a special permit for the steamer’s return through the Macareo channel, but since she has changed her flag the desired permission seems difficult to procure.

On the 14th instant I received two letters, dated Trinidad the 9th instant, from the manager of the General Steamship Company, in which he states that he is leaving that day for Ciudad Bolivar; that on his arrival there he proposes to ask for a regular clearance, and if refused he will bring the steamer away unless detained by force. Fearing that further complications might arise from such action, I sent him a telegram on the same day, advising him to act with discretion. Later the same evening received a telegram from Mr. Carpenter, dated the 12th, stating that the steamer was still illegally detained, and requesting me to ask you for instructions to demand the release of the vessel, which I thought was unnecessary, as she is not detained except by the agent, who either can not or will not give the bond of 10,000 bolivars required, [Page 791] and who insists upon returning through the channels. The steamer is at liberty to depart through the “Boca Grande” when this is done.

I have refrained from any discussion with the minister of foreign affairs as to the right of navigating these channels, having in mind the Department’s No. 308, of November 4, 1892 (Mr. Foster to Mr. Scruggs), in which is asked “whether the bayous of that river were open to the flags of all nations, especially our own.”

I know that the public sentiment is against the decree of July 1, 1893, closing these channels, and that such a regulation is most unjust to ourselves; but in the absence of any instructions from you I have not felt at liberty to protest against it.

Awaiting your instructions,

I have, etc.,

R. M. Bartleman.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 150.]

Mr. Carpenter to Mr. Bartleman.

My Dear Sir: The General Steamship Company’s steamer Bolivar is still being detained at Ciudad Bolivar by the Venezuelan authorities; and by the arrival at this port this a.m. of the Venezuelan gunboat Gen. Rivas, direct from Ciudad Bolivar, I received information that the telegraph wires between Ciudad Bolivar and Caracas were broken and all communication cut off.

I am informed that a treaty exists between the United States of America and Venezuela which grants to vessels of the United States the free navigation of all Venezuelan rivers flowing into the sea.

The steamship Bolivar having been refused a clearance by the collector of the port of Ciudad Bolivar, who claims he is acting under instructions from Caracas, would it not be proper to sail without a clearance, unless forcibly detained? Our case seems to me to be similar to the case of the Red “D” steamship Philadelphia. The Philadelphia was refused a clearance last year at La Guayra for refusing to surrender a passenger, General Mjares, who was a political refugee, and proceeded to New York without a clearance.

This detention of the Bolivar is causing serious damage to our business, and if continued longer will result in great pecuniary loss to the General Steamship Company, even threatening tototally destroy the business which they have been carrying on for sixteen years.

Hoping your efforts in our behalf may be successful, I remain,

Yours, &c.,

Geo. F. Carpenter,
[Inclosure 2 in No. 150.]

Mr. Carpenter to Mr. Bartleman.

My dear Sir: After writing you this morning I consulted Mr. William P. Pierce, United States consul, and acting on his advice I have decided to go to Ciudad Bolivar myself by the steamer leaving to-day. [Page 792] On my arrival there I propose to ask for a regular clearance from the collector of customs, and if it is again refused, I intend to bring the steamship Bolivar away from Ciudad Bolivar at once, unless detained by force by the authorities. Our detention is illegal and without reason, and the line of procedure at present marked out may bring matters to a crisis.

I write this to prepare you for anything you may hear from Ciudad Bolivar.

Yours, etc.,

Geo. F. Carpenter.
[Inclosure 3 in No. 150.—Telegram.]

Mr. Carpenter to Mr. Bartleman.

Bolivar still illegally detained. Full particulars of the case already in possession of State Department, Washington. If you can do nothing, ask for instructions from Washington. Demand immediate release, Please wire answer here to me at this place at once.

Geo. F. Carpenter,
[Inclosure 4 in No. 150.—Telegram.]

Mr. Bartleman to Mr. Carpenter.

Your letter dated Trinidad May 9 received to-day. Read my telegrams to your agent at Ciudad Bolivar. Act with discretion and do not complicate matters.

You are in error as to treaty.

Richard M. Bartleman,
Chargé d’Affaires.