Mr. Bartleman to Mr. Gresham.
Caracas, May 18, 1894. (Received May 28.)
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.,