Mr. Andrade to Mr. Gresham.


Sir: In our interview of the 8th of last January, the subject of which was the endless and vexed boundary controversy between Venezuela and Great Britain, your excellency expressed his wish that I should explain to him by writing certain especial points connected with it. This I have endeavored to do so far as it has been in my power to interpret your excellency’s purpose in the memorandum which I have the honor to send to your excellency herewith, and which is only a brief history of the discussion between the two parties, from its commencement up to the present day.

Your excellency will see by that document, in the first place, that although the question has not yet been adjusted, Great Britain has departed from the agreement concluded with Venezuela, by which the contested territory was declared neutral so long as the controversy remained unsettled, has taken possession of the said territory, and exercises over it all the rights of exclusive domain.

In the second place that, all the diplomatic means having failed by which she could obtain the acknowledgment of her right and a reparation for the offense received from her opponent, Venezuela has invited the latter for years past to submit the contest to arbitrament, and Great Britain has inflexibly declined her just demand.

Vainly have the Government of the United States, on different occasions and under various forms, expressed their wish to see the difficulty settled by award of arbitrators, and vainly also have the Governments of Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, Argentine Republic, Guatemala, Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Haiti interposed in that direction their friendly recommendations to the foreign office. Her Britannic Majesty’s Government have insisted on their refusal.

The precedents established by Great Britain herself in various cases of similar differences with other nations have proved equally powerless to influence her mind and to persuade her to adjust in the same way her conflict with Venezuela.

In 1829 she consented to submit to the decision of the King of Holland a boundary question with the United States; a similar one with Portugal, in 1872, to the judgment of the President of the French Republic, Marshal MacMahon, and recently, in 1893, to the Court of Arbitration of Paris the difference concerning the sphere of action and jurisdiction in the Bering Sea, which can be properly called a boundary question.

If Her Britannic Majesty’s Government believes that in the cause, [Page 811] nature, and object of their dispute with Venezuela there is something to make it differ from the disputes just mentioned, and to sufficiently legitimate her obstinate resistance; if they consider their titles to be so unquestionable that it is useless to ascertain on whose part justice is; if they are afraid to abandon a right which, in their opinion, is certain and perfect, and to expose the dignity and independence of their country by allowing an authorized and impartial court to tell them whether or not their pretensions are fully justified, then those motives themselves could be submitted to the judgment of arbiters, under this form: Is Great Britain right in refusing to surrender to arbitration her boundary controversy with Venezuela? If what she seeks is truth, why does she object to its being established and proved by the arbiter or arbiters?

International law does not offer at the present time any better means of solving a controversy, specially when relating to frontiers, in accordance with the principles of equity and justice, than the reference of it to the decision of an umpire; neither does it admit that such reference can in any way affect the dignity or independence of a State. In proof of this assertion it would be difficult to cite a fact of greater consequence and authority, as England herself must avow, than the famous arbitration of Geneva, which decided the question of the Alabama; and, but for fear of importuning your excellency, the undersigned could recall for further evidence many subsequent cases, equally decisive, to demonstrate the tendency of all the civilized Governments of our days to impose upon themselves voluntarily, rather than to shun, the obligation of subjecting to arbitration all controversies of whatsoever kind they may be.

The authority of the law of arbitration is so generally acknowledged to-day by all civil States that any resistance to submit to it is esteemed by the most renowned writers on international law as sufficient reason to justify, on the part of him who claims, the employment of coercitive means for the purpose of forcing the other party. Venezuela can not successfully resort to this expedient, from which she would probably not derive, on account of the very same reason, any other result than that of hastening the cessation of the state of peace in which, by dint of self-control, she has maintained herself in regard to her powerful opponent. She certainly desires a reparation for her trampled rights and interests, but so far, as it has been seen, through the judicial proceeding that modern civilization endeavors to establish as a regular and ordinary means of preventing war.

Conformably to their custom of seeking and obtaining the help of the United States for the better adjustment of this same conflict, the Government of Venezuela have instructed me to explore and ascertain the mind of the Government of this Republic as to their present disposition to tender their aid in the peaceful design of procuring the final acceptance by England of the civilized recourse proposed by Venezuela for the honorable settlement of the question.

The United States has asserted as a principle in which it considers its own rights and interests to be involved, that the nations of the American Continent, after having acquired the liberty and independence which they enjoy and maintain, were not subject to colonization by any European power; and the Government of the undersigned entertain the hope that in the aforesaid declaration and in the judicial guardianship of international law which, to a certain extent, the United States assumed in the same continent by virtue of that declaration, and which it has actually exercised hitherto, the Government of your excellency will find sufficient reasons of political convenience, and even [Page 812] of moral obligation perhaps, to allow them to adopt such a tone in their new representations as may convince Great Britain, without affecting her inviolableness nor that of anything lawfully pertaining to her, of the necessity of granting to Venezuela what Venezuela has an undeniable right to demand of her.

I beg to offer to your excellency the renewed assurance of my highest consideration,

José Andrade.

Memorandum on the boundary question between Venezuela and British Guiana, communicated to the Honorable W. Q. Gresham, Secretary of State.

Venezuela’s rights over the territory in dispute are, as it is known, derived from Spain, whose sovereignty, titles, and actions, which she inherited by the event of her independence, were afterwards ratified by virtue of the treaty of recognition, peace, and amity concluded between the two nations on the 30th of March, 1845.

The sovereignty, titles, and actions which, in this solemn instrument, were renounced by His Catholic Majesty, in his name and in that of his heirs and successors, are the same which the Spanish sovereign possessed, until 1810, over the country formerly known as Captaincy General of Venezuela. This being subsequently constituted as an independent Republic, included thirteen provinces, that of Guiana among them.

By that time the Captaincy-General of Venezuela had the following geographical boundaries: On the north, the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean beyond the eastern bank of the Essequibo; on the south, the Maranon or Amazon River; on the west, the viceroyalty of Sante Fé, and on the east, Dutch Guiana, which, by the convention of August 13, 1814, signed in London by His British Majesty and the United Provinces of Netherlands, came to be the British Guiana of the present time.

Such, at least, had been the allegation of the Spanish Governments ever since 1648, and such the position which they considered themselves entitled to maintain, founded on treaties of peace and friendship, and of boundaries with Portugal, Holland, and England; and the fact is furthermore attested by countless schedules, ordinances, instructions, and other official deeds of the Kings of Spain, together with no smaller a number of historians, travelers, geographers, and hydrographers, that it is not within my scope to specify here.

Apart from the limits referred to, the territory lying west and south as far as the Portuguese possessions of Brazil, belonged in its entirety to the Crown of Spain in 1810, notwithstanding any transitory or not well asserted occupancy of some spot on the seashore on or about the Orinoco River, or along the rivers in the interior with posts, barracks, forts, stores, or other settlements of the West Indies Company not legally authorized, or of the Dutch smugglers who, from an early date, had often infested Spanish Guiana. The regions thus occupied had their lawful owner, who had never relinquished them, and without whose consent they could not be appropriated for any use, he having at all times looked on the settlers as usurpers of his dominions, from which he would expel them even by force of arms.

Venezuela, furthermore, has never confirmed such usurpations by [Page 813] any consent, law, treaty, cession, or act whatever of voluntary abandonment.

Out of moderation and prudence, however, she has contented herself with claiming the Essequibo line as that dividing Venezuelan Guiana from British Guiana. Starting from the mouth of said river, this line runs southward upstream as far as 4° 12ʹ north latitude, halfway between the mouths of the Sibarona and Rupumuni; thence eastward across the Essequibo, and one-fourth to the southeast over the Tumucuraque Mountains, and finally bends to the southeast until it reaches 2° 10ʹ south latitude and 56° 4ʹ west longitude, where it meets the mountains of Acaray, inhabited by the Chiriguana Indians.

As regards her right of possession, as heiress to Spain, over the territory inclosed within the aforesaid bounds, she has never entertained the least doubt; she considers such right to be clear, historically evident, and easily demonstrable. In her opinion, the vast tract of land occupied by the settlers from Demerara and Berbice has been unquestionably usurped, but the necessity of devoting herself, as she naturally did, to the supreme struggle for her independence first, and afterwards to the absorbing work of her internal organization when she separated from the old Republic of Colombia, thus neglecting all questions not essential to her existence, prevented her from seeking a definitive adjustment of the matter with England.

Great Britain, on the other hand, had herself shown no interest in discussing it, apparently satisfied with possessing de facto the Pomaron district, which the force of events had allowed her to retain. For the first time in 1840 she evinced greater pretensions. At the latter part of said year she commissioned Sir E. H. Schomburgk, without the knowledge or acquiescence of Venezuela, to examine and lay down the boundaries of British Guiana, and directed the governor of this colony to withstand all aggressions on the territories adjoining the frontier, until then inhabited by independent tribes.

The Venezuelan department of foreign relations was kept ignorant of such measures until informed by Her Majesty’s consul at Caracas, when they had already been, or were unavoidably to be, carried out. Thus the English engineer was enabled to reach the mouths of Barima and Amacuro, on the Orinoco, where he erected a sentry box, hoisted his nation’s flag, and set up royal monograms and other emblems. He then proceeded to the interior of the country, made surveys, delineated metes and bounds, and drew out maps. Such was the origin of the so-called Schomburgk line.

Venezuela, however, did not tolerate the action taken by the British Government, for she immediately complained and remonstrated until due satisfaction was obtained. According to explanations given by the governor of Demerara, the commission intrusted to Schomburgck was only a part of a project which Lord Palmerston had recommended to the secretary of state at the colonial office of the United Kingdom, to the effect that a map of British Guiana should be figured in accordance with the bounds described by the aforesaid engineer, to which was to be appended a report illustrative of the natural features defining and constituting them; that a copy of both the map and report should he sent to the Governments of Venezuela, Brazil, and Netherlands, as a statement of the British claims, and that, meanwhile, commissioners should be dispatched for the purpose of establishing posts on the land intended to represent permanent marks of the boundaries which Great Britain pretended; which being done, and after each of the three Governments interested had offered their objections, stating the arguments [Page 814] in support of their assertions, the British Government would present the reasons they deemed proper and just.

Consequently, Sehomburgk’s marks were to be regarded as a measure conformable to Lord Palmerston’s purpose, not as symbols of possession capable of becoming, later on, titles of sovereignty for any of the four states, exclusive of all other nations that could lay claim to the region thus bounded. And as though to dispel all doubts regarding the real intention of Her Britannic Majesty’s Government, Lord Aberdeen added to the above explanation an order, which was actually executed, to remove all the marks.

Considering the occasion favorable for the full and decisive establishment by treaty of the boundaries between the two Guianas, the Venezuelan Government had resolved to profit by it, and to authorize to that effect their diplomatic minister at London, Señor Fortique, who, unfortunately, died before he had succeeded in securing to his country the fruit of the negotiation with which he had been intrusted. He had time, however, to induce Great Britain to admit the supremacy of the Venezuelan titles over the territory between the rivers Moroco and Orinoco, as it appears by the line lastly proposed by Lord Aberdeen, viz:

Beginning on the coast at the mouth of the river Moroco, it runs straight to the point where the river Barama joins the Guaima; from there up the Barama as far as the Aunama, which it follows upward to the place where this creek reaches its shortest distance from the Acaribisi; then it descends the said Acarihisi as far as its confluence with the Cuyuni, following afterwards the latter river up stream until it reaches the high lands in the immediate neighborhood of Mount Roraima, which divides the waters flowing to the Essequibo from those running into the river Branco.

Great Britain [finally said Lord Aberdeen] is disposed to cede to Venezuela the whole of the territory situated between the line mentioned and the Amacuro River and the chain of mountains where it takes its source, on condition that the Government of the Republic shall bind themselves not to alienate any portion of said territory to any foreign power, and also that the Indian tribes at present residing in it shall be protected against ill-treatment and oppression.

This was simply a resumption of her positions in 1836, when the British legation at Caracas admitted that the Venezuelan Government had a legal power to pass decision in matters relating to the construction of light-houses at Punta Barima and the setting of beacons at the large mouth of the Orinoco, and when the governor of Demerara expressed his opinion, in an official dispatch dated the 1st of September (Parliamentary Papers), that the Poinaron River, west of the Essequibo, could be accepted as the limit of the English colony.

As, however, the delineation proposed dispossessed Venezuela of the territory comprised between the rivers Pomaron and Essequibo which she claimed to be her dominion, she did not esteem convenient to admit it without certain modifications which she sent to London, but which were never submitted to Her Majesty’s Government, owing to the discontinuance of the negotiations, consequent to the decease of the Venezuelan minister. In her opinion, however, Lord Aberdeen’s proposal has lost nothing of its import as a proof that she never accepted Schomburgk’s line, and that Great Britain herself had formally desisted, not only from upholding said line, but from Lord Palmerston’s design, and, after a renewed and more conscientious consideration of her titles, had renounced all dominion over the land between the Moroco and Amacuro. Such was the state of affairs about the middle of 1844.

A few years later, in 1850, a rumor spread that Great Britain intended to take possession of the Venezuelan province of Guiana. This gave rise to a public feeling of indignation, which manifested itself in the organization of patriotic societies all over the country for the purpose of opposing and repulsing the aggression. The Government directed [Page 815] the authorities of the province especially menaced to prepare it for defense and to repair and fit out all the forts, until then dismantled and abandoned, and a bill was introduced in the House of Representatives authorizing the Executive to have a fortress immediately erected on the spot held to be the boundary between Venezuela and British Guiana, without indicating it.

The intense excitement of the public feeling already referred to did not fail to attract the notice of the English Government, who, foreseeing the possibility of hostile acts on the part of the Venezuelan authorities of Guiana, anticipated them by communicating to the lords commissioners of the admiralty the instructions they deemed convenient to transmit to the vice-admiral of Her Majesty’s naval forces in the West Indies, to be carried out in case the aforesaid authorities should insist upon fortifying the territory in dispute between Great Britain and Venezuela. On the other hand, they authorized their chargé d’affaires at Caracas to deny the popular report attributing to Her Majesty’s Government certain intentions, in every respect unfounded and contrary to the truth, and likewise to declare that, while his Government did not intend to occupy or encroach upon the territory in dispute, nor would order or sanction at any time such occupancy or encroachment by British authorities, they could not see with indifference the aggressions of Venezuela upon that territory.

They accordingly expected that the Venezuelan Government would make a similar declaration and would consent to send to their agents in Guiana positive orders to refrain from taking any steps that might justly be regarded as aggressive by the English authorities.

In reply Venezuela likewise manifested that she entertained no intention whatever to encroach upon or occupy any portion of the territory the possession of which was controverted by the two states, neither would she look with indifference upon a contrary proceeding on the part of Great Britain, and that, moreover, she would enjoin her authorities in Guiana to take no steps that might violate the obligation which that agreement imposed upon the Government.

Such was the status quo of the question in 1850.

In 1848 and 1849 Venezuela had just started on the path of internal disturbances and armed revolutions, which afflicted her during more than a quarter of a century, and prevented her from attending to the boundary question with Great Britain, no action either having been urged by the latter country during that period.

It was scarcely on two occasions, and perhaps only in a dissembling way, that Great Britain was seen to take any steps in regard to Venezuelan Guiana. I allude to the steps she took in 1857, through her chargé d’affaires at Caracas, intended to obtain a permission of the Executive, by virtue of which scientific expeditions composed of British subjects might visit the mining region of Venezuela, with the purpose not of infringing her rights but simply of ascertaining the situation and prospect of the gold deposits, and report about them.

The Government replied that they would admit without objection the announced expeditions, and would treat them with the benevolence due to their object, provided they entered through the capital of the province of Guiana. The other occasion occurred in 1874, when the English subject, Thomas Garret, suspected of homicide, was captured in Venezuelan territory by agents proceeding from Demerara. Venezuela demanded his delivery and obtained the suspension of the trial, though later on the case was taken up again by order of Her Britannic Majesty’s Government, on the ground that, as asserted by the British resident [Page 816] minister at Caracas, the arrest had been made in places claimed by both countries, and that it was improper that such places should serve as a refuge for criminals of either nationality, under protection of the agreement of 1850, since nothing was more distant from the mind of his Government than to sanction any violation of the territorial rights of the Republic.

In 1876 new indications of a decided purpose to carry onward the discussion were evinced by the Venezuelan foreign department. Such may be considered the note, dated November of the same year, which it addressed to the British foreign office, and was subsequently communicated in form of memorandum, bearing the same date, to the Honorable Mr. Fish for the information of the Government of the United States; the appointment of Dr. José María Rojas as resident minister in London, and, finally, the President’s message to Congress in 1877.

Though Señor Rojas acted diligently from the outset to the effect of promoting the issue of the negotiations interrupted in 1844 by the death of Señor Fortique, he did not succeed any better than his predecessor.

The ground of strict right having been abandoned by mutual accord, Señor Rojas entered upon that of compromises, and suggested that Venezuela would willingly accept the Moroco line, which had been spontaneously offered by Lord Aberdeen thirty-seven years before. Lord Granville this time refused to concede it, without stating any reason for his refusal, and, after rejecting another line devised by the Venezuelan negotiator, proposed the following, which, in his opinion, was not very different:

The starting point will be a spot on the seashore, exactly 29 miles longitude, east of the right bank of the Barima River, Whence the line would be carried south over the mountain or hill of Yarikita to the eighth degree parallel of latitude; thence westerly along this parallel till it crossed the boundary line drawn by Schomburgk; then to the Acarabisi and along this river until it entered the Cuyuni; along the left bank of the latter river up to its sources, and thence, in a southeastern direction to Sehomburgk’s line, as far as the Essequibo and Corentin rivers. That indicated by Mr. Rojas, referred to at the commencement of this paragraph, was to start from the coast, 1 mile north of the mouth of the Moroco, where a post would be planted; then run directly southward as far as the boundaries of both countries, along a vertical line beginning at the aforesaid post and extending between the fifty-ninth and sixtieth degree meridians, west of Greenwich.

Lord Granville, consequently, stood considerably apart from the minister of Venezuela, still more from Lord Aberdeen, his predecessor in 1844, and still more even from Señor Fortique, the opponent of Lord Aberdeen, who had advocated the historical line of the Essequibo River. Moreover, he made reference in various points to Sehomburgk’s uncertain and capricious demarcation; he did not comprehend in his proposal the whole extent of the frontier to be designated, and, above all, he conferred upon Great Britain, without any valuable reason, a vast tract in regard to which she appeared to have renounced her vague intentions through Lord Aberdeen. In consequence thereof the Government of Venezuela determined to refuse their assent to the proposal and to discontinue the interchange of projects of adjustment which so far had only succeeded in convincing them how difficult it was to conciliate the rights and interests of the antagonistic parties through direct negotiations between them.

Four years, from 1841 to 1844, had been wasted away by the Republic in fruitless attempts to bring about an understanding with her [Page 817] neighbor, while Dr. Rojas’s mission, equally unsuccessful, had already lasted a longer period, from 1877 to 1881. The colony of Demerara, profiting by the interval between this mission and the previous one, had silently advanced its settlements on the Orinoco and Caroni, projected the opening of roads into Venezuela, sent expeditionists to the mining regions of the country, etc. And finally, at the close of 1880, while Dr. Rojas was still negotiating in London, the press of Ciudad Bolivar, the capital city of the State of Guiana, had reported the appearance of a man-of-war and merchant vessel, both British, at the mouth of the river Orinoco, provided with posts, wire, and other telegraphic articles.

Notice of the occurrence was given to the Government of the United States by Señor Simon Camacho, resident minister of Venezuela at Washington, in his note dated the 21st of December of the same year, 1880, to which the Honorable Mr. William M. Evarts returned the following answer on the 31st of January, 1881:

In reply I have to inform you that in view of the deep interest which the Government of the United States takes in all transactions tending to attempted encroachments of foreign powers upon the territory of any of the republics of this continent, this Government could not look with indifference to the forcible acquisition of such territory by England, if the mission of the vessels now at the mouth of the Orinoco should be found to be for that end. This Government awaits, therefore, with natural concern the more particular statement promised by the Government of Venezuela, which it hopes will not be long delayed.

On the 28th of February, 1881, when he was on the point to retire from office, the Honorable Mr. Evarts wrote:

Referring to your note of the 21st of December last, touching the operations of certain British war vessels in and near the mouth of the Orinoco River, and to my reply thereto of the 31st ultimo, as well as to the recent occasions in which the subject has been mentioned in our conferences concerning the business of your mission, I take it to be fitting now, at the close of my incumbency of the office I hold, to advert to the interest with which the Government of the United States can not fail to regard any such purpose with respect to the control of American territory as is stated to be contemplated by the Government of Great Britain, and to express my regret that the further information promised in your note with regard to such designs had not reached me in season to receive the attention which, notwithstanding the severe pressure of public business at the end of an administrative term, I should have taken pleasure in bestowing upon it. I doubt not, however, that your representations, in fulfillment of the awaited additional orders of your Government, will have like earnest and solicitous consideration at the hands of my successor.

The information announced by Mr. Camacho did not reach the Department until November, 1882, at which time Mr. Frederick T. Freling-huysen was already Secretary of State. It contained, besides other documents, a copy of a “memorandum” by Mr. Seijas on the boundary question with British Guiana; a copy of the note, dated September 15, 1881, wherein Lord Granville communicated to Mr. Rojas his proposal above mentioned, and of the memorandum subjoined to it, and a copy of the minute of the negative response the Venezuelan Government intended to give to that note, resorting to arbitration as the only resource available in future for the satisfactory arrangement of the difference. The President of the Republic thus submitted the matter to the Government at Washington, “hoping that it would give him their opinion and advice, and soliciting such support as they esteemed possible to offer Venezuela in order that justice should be made to her.” I beg to present an extract of Mr. Frelinghuysen’s reply, as set forth in his dispatch dated January 31, 1883, to Mr. Jehu Baker, who was then the United States diplomatic representative at Caracas:

This Government has already expressed its view that arbitration of such disputes is a convenient resort in the case of failure to come to a mutual understanding, and [Page 818] intimated its willingness, if Venezuela should so desire, to propose to Great Britain such a mode of settlement. It is felt that the tender of good offices would not be so profitable if the United States were to approach Great Britain as the advocate of any-prejudged solution in favor of Venezuela. So far as the United States can counsel and assist Venezuela it believes it best to confine its reply to the renewal of the suggestion of arbitration, and the offer of all its good offices in that direction. This suggestion is the more easily made, since it appears, from the instruction sent by Señor Seijas to the Venezuelan minister in London on the same 15th of July, 1882, that the President of Venezuela proposed to the British Government the submission of the dispute to arbitration by a third power.

You will take an early occasion to present the foregoing considerations to Señor Seijas, saying to him that, while trusting that the direct proposal for arbitration already made to Great Britain may bear good fruit (if, indeed, it has not already done so by its acceptance in principle), the Government of the United States will cheerfully lend any needful aid to press upon Great Britain in a friendly way the proposition so made, and at the same time you will say to Señor Seijas (in personal conference, and not with the formality of a written communication) that the United States, while advocating strongly the recourse of arbitration for the adjustment of international disputes affecting the States of America, does not seek to put itself forward as their arbiter; that, viewing all such questions impartially and with no intent or desire to prejudge their merits, the United States will not refuse its arbitration if asked by both parties, and that, regarding all such questions as essentially and distinctively American, the United States would always prefer to see such contentions adjusted through the arbitrament of an American rather than an European power.

The response of Venezuela to Lord Granville’s proposal, adverted to by the Hon. Mr. Frelinghuysen, had not yet been sent to its destination nor could it be sent after the opinion of the United States was communicated, as Dr. José María Rojas had meanwhile retired from his post by resignation, and no one had been as yet nominated in his place. This, however, did not prevent the questions pending between Great Britain and Venezuela from becoming soon again the subjects of candid discussion, through the initiative of Great Britain. These questions were three, relating severally to boundaries, discriminating duties on merchandise imported from the West Indies, and pecuniary claims. Great Britain solicited that they should be treated and resolved conjointly, and thus brought on a long and amicable correspondence between her representative at Caracas and the department of foreign affairs, which was in proper time communicated to the Government of the United States, as also the appointment of Gen. Guzmán Blanco, ex-President of the Republic, as envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary near Her Britannic Majesty’s Government.

The new diplomatic agent of Venezuela visited this city on his way to England, and held several conferences relating to the various objects of his mission with the honorable Secretary of State, by whom he was recommended to Mr. Lowell in a confidential note dated July 7, 1884, the two last paragraphs of which read as follows:

It will necessarily be somewhat within your discretion how far your good offices may be profitably employed with Her Majesty’s Government to these ends, and at any rate you may take proper occasion to let Lord Granville know that we are not without concern “as to whatever may affect the interests of a sister Republic of the American continent and its position in the family of nations.

If General Guzmán should apply to you for advice or assistance in realizing the purposes of his mission you will show him proper consideration, and without committing the United States to any determinate political solution you will endeavor to carry out the views of this instruction.

This time Venezuela could for a moment cherish the belief that she had reached the desired close of her boundary dispute, for, in spite, of the adverseness of Great Britain to arbitration, as manifested beforehand by her resident minister at Caracas and now steadily maintained in London by Lord Granville, Gen. Guzmán Blanco had succeeded in obtaining his assent to sign a treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation, [Page 819] substituting that of 1825, wherein an article (XV) was admitted in the following terms:

If, as it is to be deprecated, there shall arise between the United States of Venezuela and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland any difference which can not be adjusted by the usual means of friendly negotiation, the two contracting parties agree to submit the decision of all such differences to the arbitration of a third power, or of several powers in amity with both, without resorting to war, and that the result of such arbitration shall be binding upon both Governments.

The arbitrating power or powers shall be selected by the two Governments by common consent, failing which, each of the parties shall nominate an arbitrating power, and the arbitrators thus appointed shall be requested to select another power to act as umpire.

The procedure of the arbitration shall in each case be determined by the contracting parties, failing which, the arbitrating power or powers shall be themselves entitled to determine it beforehand.

Lord Granville’s acceptance, as given in his note to General Guzmán, dated the 15th of May, 1885, reads thus:

M. le Ministre: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt, on the 12th instant, of your note dated the 6th instant, respecting the proposed new treaty between Great Britain and Venezuela.

In reply I have the honor to inform you that Her Majesty’s Government agree to the substitution of the phrase “power,” to be chosen by the high contracting parties, instead of “arbitrators,” in the article respecting arbitration, and that they further agree that the undertaking to refer differences to arbitration shall include all differences which may arise between the high contracting parties, and not those only which arise on the interpretation of the treaty.

And in a subsequent note, dated June 18, 1885, he said:

M. le Ministre. I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 8th instant, forwarding the draft of a new treaty of friendship, commerce, and navigation between Great Britain and Venezuela, to replace the treaties of 1825 and 1834, founded on the text of the treaty recently concluded between Great Britain and Paraguay, and on correspondence that has passed between us.

The clause in italics at the end of Article XV would seem to render that article more explicit and to be useful for this purpose.

To which General Guzmán replied on the 22d of June, 1885:

My Lord: I have had the honor of receiving your excellency’s dispatch of the 18th, accompanying a copy in print of a draft treaty of friendship, commerce, and navigation between the United States of Venezuela and Great Britain, with certain corrections to which your excellency asks me to express my consent in order to avoid any misapprehensions.

I proceed accordingly to reply that I see no objection to adding to Article XV, “the award of the arbitrators shall be carried out as speedily as possible in cases where such award does not specifically lay down a date.”

Shortly after a change occurred in Her British Majesty’s Government, by virtue of which Lord Salisbury entered upon the duties of chief secretary of state at the foreign office, and so it was incumbent on him to finish the negotiation that Lord Granville had left close to its conclusion.

On the 27th of July Lord Salisbury addressed a note to General Guzmán, stating in regard to the clause on arbitration, which had already been accepted by Lord Granville, that—

Her Majesty’s Government are unable to concur in the assent given by their predecessors in office to the general arbitration article proposed by Venezuela, and they are unable to agree to the inclusion in it of matters other than those arising out of the interpretation or alleged violation of this particular treaty. To engage to refer to arbitration all disputes and controversies whatsoever would be without precedent in the treaties made by Great Britain. Questions might arise, such as those involving the title of the British Crown to territory or other sovereign rights which Her Majesty’s Government could not pledge themselves beforehand to refer to arbitration.

[Page 820]

He accordingly inclosed a printed copy of the draft treaty, wherein the said clause of Article XV appeared thus amended:

If, as it is to be deprecated, there shall arise between the United States of Venezuela and Great Britain any controversies respecting the interpretation or the execution of the present treaty, or the consequence of any violation thereof, the two contracting parties agree * * *

The Venezuelan negotiator gave the following response, which proved to be wholly ineffectual:

With respect to arbitration, it appears to me that the new cabinet could not, by itself alone, repeal the article to which its predecessor had given formal assent, and thereby placed it beyond its competence, and still less so after your lordship’s declaration in the House of Lords that the engagements of the previous Government would be respected. I should be pained to think that this declaration did not include Venezuela.

I think that boundary questions are of the number of those which it is most expedient to submit to the award of an impartial third party. As is shown in practice, other nations are also of this opinion, and that the same view is also shared by Great Britain I think may be inferred from her action during 1829 and during 1872, in agreeing to submit two controversies respecting territory to the decision of the King of Holland and of the Emperor of Germany, respectively. In the last case it proposed the arbitration no less than six times to the United States, as they allege, and it was only the seventh time that they accepted this means of deciding whether or not the line should pass by the Haro Canal. It appears from the correspondence of the Venezuelan plenipotentiary, Señor Fortique, that the same proposal was made to him orally for the termination of the dispute respecting Guiana.

In fine, arbitration, in addition to having been employed on various occasions by Great Britain, has been so favorably entertained in her Parliament and by her statesmen and in the public opinion of the United Kingdom that its general adoption could not fail to merit applause. Moreover, I proceeded in this matter comformably with the constitution of Venezuela, which requires the executive to stipulate for arbitration in comprehensive terms and without any restriction.

Lord Salisbury confined his answer to an expression of regret that the instructions communicated to General Guzmán did not allow him to agree to the restricted form of the article on arbitration, requesting at the same time that the points on which differences had arisen should be referred for modification to the Government of the Republic. General Guzmán had done so more than a month previously, and the Government in reply confirmed his original instructions and approved his action in fulfillment of the same. He addressed himself again to Lord Salisbury and invoked the arguments he had repeatedly presented before, proving that the clause on arbitration applicable to all kinds of disagreements was already a right acquired by Venezuela, which Great Britain was bound to respect. His representations, however, were utterly fruitless.

On the 19th of July, 1886, the day of his return to Venezuela being then near, he ventured to write again to Lord Rosebery, Lord Salisbury’s successor, manifesting his natural desire not to quit the country without settling the question he had been negotiating ever since his arrival in London, by the middle of 1884. On the 20th of the same month Lord Rosebery replied:

I am anxious to profit by your permanence in Europe for the purpose of making every effort to come to an understanding with you about the questions which are matters of dispute between our respective countries, and in conformity with the offer I made in my note of the 23d of last month. I send you now a memorandum of the bases according to which I should be disposed to enter into negotiations.

I. Boundary.

It is proposed that the two Governments shall agree upon considering as territory disputed between the two countries, the land situated between the two boundary lines indicated, respectively, in the eleventh paragraph of Señor Rojas’s note of February 21, 1881, and Lord Granville’s note of September 15, 1881, and to draw a [Page 821] dividing line within the limits of this territory, either by arbitration or by a mixed commission, on the principle of equal division of said territory, and in due regard to natural boundaries. The Government of Her Majesty give especial importance to the possession of the river Guaima by British Guiana, and wishes, therefore, to make the stipulation that the boundary line is to begin at the coast point, and a proper compensation to be found in any other part of the disputed territory for this deviation from the principle of equal division. In connection with the boundary there shall be considered the cession of the island of Patos to Venezuela. The river Orinoco shall be entirely free to commerce and navigation.

II. Treaty of Commerce.

* * * * * * *

It will likewise be convenient to add in the treaty the clause “by arbitration” proposed by Venezuela, limited to those differences that may arise after the treaty is signed with exclusion of the questions of the boundary and the island of Patos, which the Government of Her Majesty is ready to consider separately in the manner indicated before.

III. Differential Duties.

* * * * * * *

The distribution of the bases set forth in the foregoing memorandum shows that Lord Rosebery again considered separately the three parts of the negotiation, in order to apply to each a different method, and that as regards arbitration, he only accepted it on condition that it were restricted, in the treaty of commerce, to the ordinary prescriptions of such treaties, and, in the controversy on boundaries, to the new division of the territory in dispute proposed by himself.

He thus rather lessened the probability of soon reaching the longed-for end of the question, since, according to the constitution of Venezuela, the clause on general arbitration was a necessary provision embracing all treaties of amity, commerce, and navigation, as well as the settlement of the boundary question; and so it was explained at length by General Guzmán in the memorandum which, in turn, he sent to Lord Rosebery, in conjunction with his communication of July 29, 1886. And if it be stated that the present proposal was more unfavorable than others already rejected by Venezuela, it will be acknowledged that she was justified in disregarding it, as she did. Thus ended the third negotiation so eagerly solicited by Great Britain and willingly met by Venezuela.

Furthermore, when the two Governments sought in London to adjust their contention in peace and amity, British officers, both civil and naval, commissioned by the governor of British Guiana, appeared at the mouth of the Orinoco River, on board the steamship Lady Longden. They sailed upstream without a pilot, the Venezuelan authorities having declined to give them one; they made incursions into places that had always belonged to Venezuela; they planted posts, fixed placards declaring British laws in vigor, appointed officers of their own nationality as substitutes for those of the Republic or endeavored to allure them into their service, and finally took one of them away under pretext that he had illtreated a Portuguese subject, and caused him to be tried and punished by a court of justice at Demerara.

The placards read thus:

government notice.

Notice is hereby given that any persons infringing the right of Her Majesty, or acting in contravention of the laws of British Guiana, will “be prosecuted according to law.

By command:

Francis Villiers,
Acting Government Secretary.

Georgetown, Demerara.

[Page 822]

One Mr. Michael McTurk, entitling himself acting special magistrate and superintendent of the Crown lands and forests in the Pomaron district, had been at Amacuro, Barima, Morajuana, and Guainia. He had posted similar announcements, in English, at the principal places along these rivers, which he had revisited on different occasions, in performance of his duties as magistrate in charge of the district whereof they were parts.

In September, 1883, the Executive of Venezuela had concluded a treaty, approved by Congress in May, 1884, granting to Mr. Cyrinius C. Fitzgerald (Manoa Company) the exclusive right to colonize such national lands as were included within a tract which, on the side of the Orinoco River, extended as far as the boundary with British Guiana, along the mountains of Imataca, and there to develop agriculture and cattle breeding as well as any resources contained in the soil. Now, the acting Government secretary of Demerara had written to Mr. Fitzgerald, on the 25th of October, 1884, what I here transcribe:

I am directed by his excellency the governor of British Guiana to acknowledge receipt of your three letters noted in the margin with reference and transmitting documents respecting the Manoa Company and the concession made by the Venezuelan Government and to convey to you the expression of his excellency’s thanks for the information and the document supplied.

With regard to the British Guiana boundary, I am directed by his excellency to intimate to you that the colonial government exercise authority and jurisdiction within the limits laid down in the accompanying map starting from the right bank of the Amacuro River, and that within these limits the colonial government enforce the law of British Guiana.

I am further to intimate to you that any person disregarding or acting in contravention of the laws of British Guiana within these limits will be liable to be prosecuted according to the laws of the colony.

The whole of the territory therefore between the Amacuro and Moruca rivers is part of the colony of British Guiana, and the Colonial Government will maintain jurisdiction over this territory and prevent the rights of Her Majesty or of the inhabitants of the colony being in any way infringed.

And in two letters, dated November 22, 1884, the aforesaid Mr. McTurk had declared to Señor Tomás A. Kelly, administrator and president of the Manoa Company, who purposed to set up a sawing machine at the mouth of the Barima River:

I deem it my duty as the officer now in charge of the Pomeroon River judicial district, and which district extends to the limits of the colony on its Venezuelan or western side, to notify you that the Barima River is in the county of Essequibo and colony of British Guiana, and forms part of the judicial district, over which I exercise jurisdiction.

No settlements of any kind, whether for the purpose of trade or any other purposes, can be made within the limits of the colony unless in accordance with its existing laws, and those that may become resident therein will be required to obey them.

* * * * * *

I have the honor to inform you that you are now within the limits of the colony of British Guiana and those of the district under my jurisdiction, as one of the special magistrates and superintendent of Crown lands and forests of this colony, and therefore you are outside your jurisdiction as a functionary of Venezuela. * * * Whatever notification you should make to the inhabitants will be void, and all persons residing in this or any part of this colony, or visiting it, will have to conduct themselves in accordance to its laws. I must likewise call your attention to the notifications put upon trees on the banks of this river, as also on the rivers Waini and Barima. These notifications were fixed where they are by order of the Government of British Guiana.

The British legation at Caracas had, on its part, made similar warnings with regard to the Manoa Company. They were, however, more deferent to the right of Venezuela, as shown in the note it addressed to the department of foreign affairs on the 8th of January, 1885:

In a dispatch dated London the 28th November, I am directed by Her Majesty’s Government to attract the attention of that of Venezuela to the proceedings of the [Page 823] agents of the Manoa Company in certain districts, the sovereignty o> which is equally claimed by Her Majesty’s Government and that of Venezuela.

Earl Granville further instructs me to request the Venezuelan Government to take steps to prevent the agents of the Manoa Company or of Mr. H. Gordon, who has also a concession for colonization from the Venezuelan Government, from asserting claims to or interfering with any of the territory claimed by Great Britain.

Her Majesty’s Government, in the event of that of Venezuela declining to move in this matter, would, to their great regret, feel themselves under the necessity of adopting measures for preventing the encroachment of the Manoa Company, and the governor of British Guiana would even be instructed to employ an adequate police force for the prevention of such encroachment and the maintenance of order.

Lord Granville goes on to inform me, however, that no steps will be taken by the governor of British Guiana pending this reference to the Venezuelan Government.

I need hardly remind your excellency that the question of the boundary of British Guiana is one of long standing and that communications upon the subject are at the present moment taking place between Her Majesty’s Government and the Venezuelan minister in London, and it is therefore all the more important that incidents calculated to cause grave inconvenience should be prevented. The territories, irrespective of those disputed by Venezuela and Great Britain, conceded to the Manoa Company are enormous in extent; but without entering into that portion of the question, I feel certain that His Excellency the President of the Republic will duly appreciate the immense importance of obviating the possibility of any collision between the agents of that company and the British authorities in the territories the sovereignty of which is still a disputed question.

Posts had been set up along the eastern bank of the Amacuro River and on other spots as far back as the 11th of October, 1884, in pursuance of orders issued by the governor of British Guiana, but Her Majesty’s minister did not give any notice of the fact to the department of foreign relations until the 26th of January, 1885, when the Venezuelan authorities in Guiana had already ordered their removal in evidence that Venezuela did not acquiesce to their significance of British dominion.

A like occurrence had taken place in regard to the pledge he gave in his note of January 8, 1885, that the governor of British Guiana would take no action against the proceedings of the Manoa Company or of Mr. H. Gordon’s agents, so long as the petition he addressed to the Venezulean Government in the same note remained undecided. Indeed, when he offered the above assurance, the measures of the British Government to which he adverted had been already executed.

The British legation had also notified the Government, on the 26th of the same month, that the governor of British Guiana had been instructed to send Mr. McTurk, stipendiary magistrate, to the eastern bank of the Amacuro River, with the purpose of investigating the conduct of the Manoa Company and especially that of Mr. Roberto Wells, civil commissary of Delta Territory, and others. Coincident with this advice, a commisison of English officers had entered the Amacuro and had carried away the Venezuelan commissary under arrest.

The department of foreign affairs of Venezuela had maintained that, according to the contract with the Manoa Company, the words “as far as British Guiana” did not purport that the bounds of the concession reached beyond the territory in dispute. It had expressed to the minister of Great Britain its deep surprise on receiving intelligence of the events of Amacuro, and had finally urged the adoption of such measures as might retrieve those proceedings and bring matters back to the extant status quo, according to which neither nation could exercise jurisdiction over any portion of the territory in contest.

In the note he addressed in London to Lord Rosebery, dated the 28th of July, 1886, General Guzmán Blanco earnestly propounded, in the name of his Government, the just complaints of the Republic for the successive recent violations of the national territory and acts against [Page 824] Venezuelan jurisdiction that had been committed. He closed his note with the following demands:

Removal of all the marks of sovereignty that had been placed on the disputed lands by direction of the governor of British Guiana.
Recall of the officers and public forces that might have been posted in those lands.
Satisfactory explanations concerning the nonfulfillment of the convention proposed to Venezuela by Great Britain and concerning the violation of the laws of the Republic in regard to ports not open to foreign vessels.
Annulment of the action brought against Mr. Roberto Wells, his liberty and idemnification for the damages that had been caused him by his arrest, imprisonment, trial and punishment for the imputation of an offense committed in Venezuelan territory.
Complete restoration of affairs to their state in 1850, date of the aforesaid agreement, and strict orders to the governor of British Guiana enjoining the careful observance of it pending the settlement of the boundary question by the two Governments.

Great Britain not having done anything toward giving satisfaction to Venezuela, the minister of foreign affairs wrote to Mr. F. R. St. John, Her Britannic Majesty’s resident minister, a note dated at Caracas, the 7th of December, 1886, to the following tenor:

In accordance with the order of the President of the Republic, as the result of the conference we held with him yesterday, I have the honor of addressing your excellency and stating in substance what he then expressed.

He said that his attention had been seriously called to the grave character of the intelligence received as to occurrences taking place, it is affirmed, in Guiana in regard to its boundary with British Guiana. He remembered the agreement concluded in 1850 by an interchange of notes between the two Governments on a spontaneous proposal of the British Government, and upon the ground of information sent from Ciudad Bolivar by Vice-Consul Mathison to Mr. Wilson, chargé d’affaires at Caracas, respecting the transmission of orders to the authorities of the Province of Guiana to put the same in a state of defense and to repair and arm the dismantled forts, and the language used by Governor José Tomás Machado as to the erection of a fort at the Barima Point; and on account also of a rumor spread to the effect that Great Britain intended to claim the Province of Venezuelan Guiana.

Besides giving it the lie by affirming that not only was it destitute of any foundation, but also that it was precisely the reverse of the truth, Mr. Wilson declared, in the name of his Government, that the latter had no intention to occupy or encroach upon the territory in dispute, and that they would not ordain or sanction such occupation or encroachments on the part of British authorities. At the same time he requested and obtained from the Government of the Republic analogous declarations. She has kept such an agreement by preserving the status quo, while Great Britain has infringed it since. Besides the acts of jurisdiction consummated from 1884, it has been ascertained that she has just now in the channels formed by the rivers Amacuro and Barima, about which there has been no question before, a commissary provided with two vessels containing arms and policemen, who levies taxes and prohibits persons going there on mercantile business from carrying out their operations; that she has had built a Government house, on which the British flag has been and is constantly hoisted; that a church and school houses are being constructed; that in October last a small war steamer was there; that a revenue cutter often runs on the track between Amacuro and Barima, and that they have begun to form on the same spot an agricultural colony.

Even in the denied assumption that those places were a part of the disputed territory, Great Britain might not have occupied them without violating the above compact. And if, in spite of everything, she occupies them, with still greater reason they should be reoccupied by Venezuela, relieved as she is from any obligation on the ground of its infraction by the other contracting party, and being as she is fully conscious of her undebatable right of property.

The President said likewise that the concessions to the Manoa Company could not have given to Great Britain a just ground of complaint, as, according to their unequivocal terms, they only extended as far as “British Guiana;” that is to say, as far as points not contentious., and moreover, that the contract on the subject had expired.

[Page 825]

On the above statement, and on the strength of an application made by the British legation, with the utmost instancy, in an official note to this ministry, on May 26, 1836, for the erection of a beacon at the Barima Point, thus recognizing motu proprio the incontestable sovereignty of Venezuela over the same, the President added that he was going to send there an engineer, instructed to erect the beacon, and new officers to exercise authority for the Republic in said place and in those lying between the rivers Barima and Amacuro, and to notify to the foreign occupants their withdrawal from them. And he ended by saying that if the Government of Her Britannic Majesty would occupy such a point as Barima, the possession of which would render them joint proprietors of the Oronoco, and decide in this manner by themselves and in their favor this, for Venezuela, the most grave question, wresting from her by force the exclusive domain of that river and presenting thus to her an indubitable casus belli, he should be compelled, by the requirements of patriotism and by his high duties as the guardian of the territorial integrity of Venezuela, to break up the relations between the two countries.

The President has instructed me to write this note in order that your excellency may communicate to me the information and antecedents you may know of in regard to so unheard of and almost incredible occurrences.

Mr. St. John replied that, since the President, before resorting to the occupancy of a portion of the disputed territory, had refused to await the result of the notification of his purpose to the British Government, he did not see what could be gained by assenting to his petition or by persevering in the discussion. In order to avoid error, however, he would remark in connection with two of the points treated in the communication of the minister of foreign relations, that, in the first place, the territory between the Barima and Amacuro rivers, which, according to the assertion contained in that communication, was only now claimed by Her British Majesty’s Government, had been already mentioned in Lord Aberdeen’s note to Mr. Fortique, dated the 30th of May, 1844, as a part of British Guiana; secondly, that the petition addressed to the Venezuelan Government on the 26th of May, 1836, by the British agent at Caracas, respecting the erection of a light-house at Punta Barima, had been made without the knowledge or authorization of the British Government, to whom the agent did not even notify such petition; and ultimately, that the doctrine assuming that every act or word of a diplomatic agent binds his Government is utterly incompatible with international law, it being perfectly recognized that not even a formal treaty concluded and signed by a plenipotentiary is valid unless it be duly ratified by his Government.

In reference to the two points in question the minister of foreign relations replied, on the 8th of January, 1887, in this manner:

Venezuela has never admitted, neither will she ever admit, that Dutch Guiana bounds on the Orinoco; and this is proved by the text of the note with which Señor Fortique opened the negotiation on limits by the previous ones in which he demanded the removal of the flags, posts, and marks placed at Barima and other places by Engineer Schomburgk in 1841, and by the conferences he held on the subject with their excellencies the ministers of foreign affairs and of the colonies. It was precisely the placing of these marks of foreign dominion at the places mentioned, to which Great Britain had no right, that created such a sensation in Venezuela, and caused the sending of Messrs. Lic. José Santiago Rodriguez and Juan José Romero to Demerara in the character of commissioners to demand an explanation of those surprising facts. In a note dated the 11th of December, 1841, Lord Aberdeen wrote to Señor Fortique that the marks had been placed as a means of preparation by his Government for the discussion of the boundary question with the Government of Venezuela; that they were placed precisely with this object, and not, as Venezuela seemed to fear, with the intention of indicating dominion or empire on the part of Great Britain. Lord Aberdeen added that he had learned with pleasure that the two commissioners sent by the Republic had been able to ascertain, through the information given them by the governor of said colony, that Point Barima had not been occupied by the English authorities.

The usurpations which Spain made legal by the Münister treaty were those concerning the colonies of Essequibo, Demerara, Berbice, and Surinam, and were afterwards confirmed by the extradition treaty made at Aranjuez, in which your excellency [Page 826] may see that the Dutch colonies of Essequibo, Demerara, Berbice, and Surinam, together with Curacoa and St. Eustace, are mentioned in juxtaposition with the Spanish colonies of the Orinoco, Coro, and Puerto Rico. Of these colonies the Netherlands transferred to His Britannic Majesty, by the London treaty of 13th August, 1814, those of Essequibo, Demerara, and Berbice. Whence comes, then, the right of England over the Spanish colonies of the Orinoco?

The second remark made by your excellency is to the effect that the British agent in Caracas—that is, Sir Robert Ker Porter, who in 1836 was the British chargé d’affaires in this Republic—requested from this Government the erection of a lighthouse at Point Barima, without the knowledge or the consent of his Government; and your excellency adds, quoting a note from the British legation to this Department, dated on the 26th of September, 1851, that the doctrine that all acts or words of a diplomatic agent bind his Government, is incompatible with international law, it being a well-known fact that not even a treaty made by a plenipotentiary is valid unless ratified by his Government.

On these points the President has instructed me to state that the Government of Venezuela can not admit that after the long period of fifty years has elapsed since the date of Sir Robert’s communication, the British Government having been informed by him or his successors of the step he took, should not have apprised that of Venezuela of the lack of authorization which your excellency, on account of what has happened, communicates to-day for the first time, after fifty years have elapsed, and which nothing could make this Government presume upon.

The correspondence passed between the minister of foreign affairs and the British legation at Caracas, of which the preceding extracts have been offered, were sent to the Department of State by Sr. J. A. Olavarría in two pamphlets printed in English, along with his notes of May 4 and 21, 1887. It closed with the rupture of diplomatic relations between Venezuela and Great Britain, on the 20th of February of the same year.

The report of the commission sent to the Orinoco in 1886 by the Venezuelan Government had confirmed all the previous advices regarding the extensive occupation of territory and acts of sovereignty that Great Britain had accomplished in Guiana, in detriment of the rights of Venezuela, while the two nations were negotiating in Europe a treaty of amity, including a clause of arbitration, for the settlement of their boundary controversy.

In reply to the note of January 5, 1887, to which the Venezuelan consul at Demerara annexed another from the members of the aforesaid commission, stating the object of their visit to British Guiana, the government of the colony had referred to the notice published in the London Gazette, under date of 21st of October, 1886, and had manifested that the districts mentioned in the official communications of the Venezuelan commissioners were comprised within the bounds which that notice established, and formed part of the colony of British Guiana. In fact, the notice, which Mr. Charles Bruce, secretary of the government of Demerara, certified to have been copied from the London Gazette of October 21, 1886, runs thus:

Colonial Office, Downing Street,
October 21, 1886.

Whereas the boundary line between Her Majesty’s colony of British Guiana and the Republic of Venezuela is in dispute between Her Majesty’s Government and the Government of Venezuela; and whereas it has come to the knowledge of Her Majesty’s Government that grants of land within the territory claimed by Her Majesty’s Government as part of the said colony have been made, or purport to have been made, by or in the name of the Government of Venezuela: Notice is hereby given that no title to land, or to any right in or over or affecting any land, within the territory claimed by Her Majesty’s Government as forming part of the colony of British Guiana, purporting to be derived from or through the Government of Venezuela, or any officer or person authorized by that Government, will be admitted or recognized by Hex Majesty or by the Government of British Guiana, and that any person taking possession of or exercising any right over any such land under color of any such title or [Page 827] pretended title will be liable to be treated as a trespasser under the laws of the said colony.

A map showing the boundary between British Guiana and Venezuela, claimed by Her Majesty’s Government, can be seen in the library of the colonial office, Downing street, or at the office of the government secretary, Georgetown, British Guiana.

Of course the boundary laid down in that map was not the Essequibo River, which Venezuela, supported by the treaties of Minister (1648), Aranjuez (1791), London (1814), and Madrid (1845), had always claimed to be the eastern line dividing her from British Guiana.

Neither was it the Pomaron River, which Great Britain had adopted motu proprio until 1844, nor the Moroco, proposed by Lord Aberdeen, in 1844; nor Lord Granville’s line, in 1881, which started 29 miles east of the eastern bank of the Barima River; nor Lord Rosebery’s, in 1886, beginning on the coast, west of the Guainia River.

It was nothing short of the limit capriciously indicated by Engineer Schomburgk in 1841, which Lord Aberdeen had then considered to be exaggerated and of mere convenience so far as the Cuyuni River was concerned, its marks having been removed by order of Her Britannic Majesty’s Government, by way of satisfaction to the complaints of Venezuela.

The same limit that Great Britain and Venezuela, by the agreement of 1850, had mutually engaged not to occupy or encroach upon, nor to allow it to be occupied or encroached upon by their respective authorities.

The same referred to in the Report No. 2 of the Department of Agriculture of the United States for the year 1892 (Report on the agriculture of South America, with maps and latest statistics of trade), in the following terms:

It ought to be noted, perhaps, that the British authority known as The Statesman’s Year Book for 1885 gives the area of British Guiana, bounding Venezuela on the east, as 76,000, and that the same annual for 1886 gives the area as 109,000 square miles, an increase during a year of 33,000 square miles to European possessions in America and an equal loss to the Republic of Venezuela so far unaccounted for by treaty or recognized conquest, and claimed by the latter country to be against her hitherto unbroken and undisputed right of possession acknowledged in the treaty of Munster, 1648, the definitive treaty of Aranjuez, 1791, and the treaty of London, 1814, which conferred what is now British Guiana upon Great Britain with the Essequibo as its permanent western boundary,

With a view to include that increase of 33,000 square miles within the bounds of British Guiana, the court of policy had sanctioned a new territorial division, in July, 1886, reforming that of 1868 in vigor until then. The act reads thus:

Registration division No. 1, to comprise the settlements on the Moruca, Waini, and Barima rivers and their tributaries, the right bank of the Amacuro River and its tributaries on that bank, and all the country lying between the above-named rivers and as far back as the limits of the colony extend.

According to the ordinance of 1868, the legal boundary of the colony ever since the beginning of the controversy in 1841, did not extend beyond the Pomaron River.

The country inclosed between the Pomaron and Barima rivers and Punta Barima was the principal object of the dispute between the two States. Neither could take possession of it or occupy it so long as the difficulty subsisted, especially so Great Britain, after the agreement of 1850, which she had proposed herself. Nevertheless, she had gradually occupied the whole territory and had subjected it to her exclusive domain, by reason of its being under litigation, at the same time that in London she baffled the expectations of Venezuela and her exertions to [Page 828] bring about the final arrangement of the question by arbitration She had twice declined to evacuate the land and retire back to the Pomaron.

Offended at the double refusal of Great Britain to submit the difference to arbitrament, Venezuela, deprived by her material weakness of every immediate and efficient means of obtaining justice, determined, as before said, to suspend her diplomatic relations with Great Britain and “to protest before Her British Majesty’s Government, before all civilized nations, and before the world in general, against the acts of spoliation committed to her detriment by the Government of Great Britain, which she at no time and on no account will recognize as capable of altering in the least the rights which she has inherited from Spain, and respecting which she will ever be willing to submit to the decision of a third power.”

General Guzmán-Blanco, the last negotiator for the Republic in England, had been again elected to the presidency of Venezuela. In order to close this period of the controversy, I present here the account of General Guzmán’s mission and of the subsequent acts of the Government he headed, until the relations with Great Britain were severed, as given in his message to Congress in 1887:

The Guiana boundary question has taken so grave a turn that it is with deep regret that I must speak to you about our relations with Great Britain.

While in London in the character of minister of Venezuela I discussed our three questions with Her British Majesty’s Government, namely, diplomatic claims, differential duties relating to the British Antilles, and the Guiana boundaries.

It may be said that the first one was finally settled; as for the other two, they were included in a project of a now treaty in substitution for the present one which has been extant fifty-eight years because of the inconceivable interpretation of perpetuity imposed upon us by England, under color that no date was established in it for its expiration.

Alter a year’s discussion, the project of a new treaty was agreed upon with Lord Granville, then minister for foreign affairs. The taxes on the British West Indies were made equal to those of the metropolis; arbitration was accepted by both parties as the only means of settling such questions as could not be adjusted by common accord, and a period of ten years was fixed, after which it would rest with each of the parties to denounce the treaty.

This, however, was not signed, as the clause of the most favored’ nation was required from us in an absolute way, and Venezuela could enter into no engagement with other ends or on other terms than those stipulated with the other friendly nations.

This difference might have been easily surmounted, for England maintained the same pretension respecting the United States of America and finally withdrew it, because the latter nation alleged the same reasons that we have alleged.

So, then, the treaty with Great Britain was well-nigh being signed, when Lord Salisbury’s ministry came into office and categorically declined to conclude the negotiation on the same terms on which it had been conducted by his predecessor, notwithstanding my remark that in the question between Afghanistan and Russia the agreement negotiated by his predecessor had been signed, and that the Marquis of Salisbury himself had just said in Parliament that he had signed it because it was unworthy of a serious government to retract their word when once given; which afforded me the opportunity to maintain that, the case with the negotiation of Venezuela being the same as that of Russia, we had a right to be treated in the same way, unless Great Britain applied one jurisprudence to Russia and a different one to Venezuela, of which I should much regret to notify my Government.

The last month of my delay in Europe was due to the circumstance that the minister, Lord Rosebery, requested a last effort on my part in order to settle in two or three more weeks this important negotiation. The time having expired without any fruit, because the minister did not accept the arbitrament and demanded the Guaima River, tributary to the Orinoco, I took my leave in a note, wherein it was stated, in substance, that Venezuela had accredited me with the most ample powers to bring the three questions at issue to a definitive end; that the question concerning the course to be followed for the payment of the diplomatic claims being almost settled, the other two were comprehended in the new treaty intended to replace the present one, no longer possible after fifty-eight years of existence, in which the period of its duration was not determined, according to the same treaty; that unfortunately, during the two years elapsed, no adjustment could he reached in regard to the treaty [Page 829] solving the difficulty of the differential duties on the British West Indies and that of the Guiana boundaries the latter to be decided by arbitration, the only available means for Venezuela, since our constitution prohibits the alienation of territory and establishes our limit on the Essequibo River, which was the one held by Spain, whose territorial rights Venezuela inherited; and that, it being necessary to intrust the discussion of the question to a man thoroughly familiar with the voluminous archive embracing it, the study of which requires a long time, and it having been agreed, moreover, that the three questions at issue should be resolved conjointly, it was urgent to suspend for the present time the negotiations which had occupied our attention.

Instead of replying to this note, the English Government, doubtlessly because they were told that our boundary reached as far as the Essequibo, has discontinued the discussion and, by decree, has taken possession of and occupied the territory, not only along the Pomaron, but as far as Punta Barima and Amacuro, thus dispossessing us of the exclusive dominion over the Orinoco, the great artery on the north of the continent, the Mississippi River of South America.

In view of this condition of affairs, what could I do? Could I inform the Congress of my country that a foreign power had occupied part of our territory without adding that I had protested in the name of the nation and severed the diplomatic relations with a Government that acts in such a way toward us?

On the 26th of January of the present year I demanded the evacuation of the territory as far as the Pomaron River.

On the 31st of January Her Britannic Majesty’s minister sent his reply confirming the occupancy to a certain extent.

I answered him under the same date that, contrary to the agreement of the 18th of November, 1850, establishing that neither Venezuela nor Great Britain should exercise jurisdiction over the country lying west of the Pomaron River, England had occupied the said territory and its rivers as far as the mouth of the Orinoco, thus infringing the agreement and completing the despoliation; and that, in consequence thereof, Venezuela would discontinue her diplomatic relations with Great Britain and raise a most solemn protest against so grievous a despoliation, if the state of affairs was not brought back to what it was in 1850, before the date for the constitutional meeting of Congress, or if the submission to arbitration of the Guiana boundary question was not assented to, in accordance with our Constitution, and with the sound criterion of civilized people.

This was done on the 21st of last month, at 4 o’clock p.m., but Her Britannic Majesty’s minister has not yet asked for his passport.

At any rate, honor is at stake, and its fate will be that of the nation.

Anticipating the impending rupture between Venezuela and Great Britain, the Hon. Mr. Bayard, desirous to avert it, had offered the British Government, in December, 1886, the cooperation of the United States as arbiters for the adjustment of the difference.

It does not appear, said the honorable Secretary of State on that occasion, that at any time heretofore the good offices of this Government had been actually tendered to avert a rupture between Great Britain and Venezuela. As intimated in my No. 58, our inaction in this regard would seem to be due to the reluctance of Venezuela to have the Government of the United States take any steps having relation to the action of the British Government which might, in appearance even, prejudice the resort to our arbitration or mediation, which Venezuela desired. Nevertheless, the records abundantly testify our friendly concern in the adjustment of the dispute; and the intelligence now received warrants me in tendering, through you, to Her Majesty’s Government, the good offices of the United States to promote an amicable settlement of the respective claims of Great Britain and Venezuela in the premises.

As proof of the impartiality with which we view the question, we offer our arbitration, if acceptable, to both countries. We do this with the less hesitancy as the dispute turns upon simple and readily ascertainable historical facts.

Her Majesty’s Government will readily understand that this attitude of friendly neutrality and entire impartiality touching the merits of the controversy, consisting wholly in a difference of facts between our friends and neighbors, is entirely consistent and compatible with the sense of responsibility that rests upon the United States in relation to the South American republics. The doctrines we announced two generations ago, at the instance and with the cordial support and approval of the British Government, have lost none of their force or importance in the progress of time, and the Governments of Great Britain and the United States are equally interested in conserving a status the wisdom of which has been demonstrated by the experience of more than half a century.

It is proper, therefore, that you should convey to Lord Iddesleigh, in such sufficiently guarded terms as your discretion may dictate, the satisfaction that would be felt by the Government of the United States in perceiving that its wishes in this regard were permitted to have influence with Her Majesty’s Government. (The Honorable Mr. Bayard to Mr. Phelps; confidential; 30th of December, 1886.)

[Page 830]

England declined the offer on the following grounds:

Her Majesty’s Government fully appreciate the friendly feelings which have prompted your Government to offer their mediation in this matter.

The attitude, however, which General Guzmán Blanco has now taken up in regard to the questions at issue precludes Her Majesty’s Government from submitting those questions at the present moment to the arbitration of any third power.

An offer to mediate in the questions at issue between this country and Venezuela has already been received by Her Majesty’s Government from another quarter, and has been declined on the same grounds.

I beg that you will convey to the Secretary of State the cordial thanks of the Queen’s Government for your communication, and that you will inform him that they have not yet abandoned all hope of a settlement by direct diplomatic negotiations with Venezuela. (Lord Salisbury to Mr. Phelps, 22d of February, 1887.)

On the 11th of March the Times of London published an abstract of the Report of Parliamentary Papers of the preceding day, relating to the suspension of relations with Venezuela. It said:

Mr. Stavely Hill asked the under secretary of state for foreign affairs whether, considering the increasing importance of the subject and the breach of diplomatic relations between this country and Venezuela, Her Majesty’s Government would consider the advisability of sending a commission to settle the boundary between British Guiana and Venezuela.

Sir J. Ferguson. Her Majesty’s Government have every wish to arrive at a settlement of the boundary question, but no such step as that suggested can be taken so long as the Venezuelan Government maintains the suspension of diplomatic relations with this country.

His mission in Venezuela being now at an end, the British minister sailed with his family from La Guaira for Trinidad on the 14th of March. Great Britain remained in possession of the contested territory as far as the mouth of the Orinoco River. She had declined the mediation of the United States and that of another power, and the offices of the former, as arbiters, for the settlement of the controversy, when she still held amicable relations with Venezuela, and now she refused to take the steps pursuant to an agreement because of the cessation of those relations by the action of Venezuela.

Certain British men-of-war which, since the latter part of February, had been permanently seen in the gulf of Paria withdrew also from the Venezuelan coasts in the subsequent month of June, while the governor of Demerara declared before the colonial assembly that England would not guarantee any protection or compensation in case the boundary question should be decided in favor of Venezuela. This, together with the news in circulation that one Mr. Hill would soon arrive at Caracas, in the capacity of a commissioner, for the purpose of discussing the matter, created the belief that Great Britain had quitted her former position, and that the ties between the two countries were likely to be soon reestablished. But the belief proved to be a vain one; it lasted only a moment.

After a short while Great Britain was seen to prosecute with renewed activity the process of her invasions, her claims including this time the rich territory of Yuruari, the great mining district of Venezuela. On the 29th of November a motion was introduced in the legislature of Demerara authorizing the construction of a railroad extending to the boundaries of the colony, across the Mazaruni and Cuyuni rivers, within which boundaries, as alleged by the Queen’s attorney, the said district of Yuruari was comprised. And a month later the governor issued the following proclamation:

British Guiana.

By his excellency Charles Bruce, esq., companion of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George, lieutenant-governor and commander in chief in and over the colony of British Guiana, vice-admiral and ordinary of the same, etc.

Whereas it has come to the knowledge of the Government of British Guiana that certain concessions have been granted by the President and by and with the sanction [Page 831] of the Government of the United States of Venezuela, purporting to give and grant certain rights and privileges for constructing a railway to Guacipati and in and over certain territories and lands within and forming part of the colony of British Guiana;

Now, therefore, I do hereby intimate to all whom it may concern that no alleged rights purporting to be claimed under any such concession will be recognized within the said colony of British Guiana, and that all persons found trespassing on or occupying the lands of the colony without the authority of the Government of this colony will be dealt with as the law directs.

Given under my hand and the public seal of the colony, Georgetown, Demerara, this 31st day of December, 1887, and in the fifty-first year of Her Majesty’s reign.

God save the Queen.

By his excellency’s command.

George Melville,
Acting Government Secretary.

It was to this new and exorbitant pretension that the Honorable Mr. Bayard adverted in the note from which the following passages are quoted:

The claim now stated to have been put forth by the authorities of British Guiana necessarily gives rise to grave disquietude, and creates an apprehension that the territorial claim does not follow historical traditions or evidence, but is apparently indefinite. At no time hitherto does it appear that the district, of which Guacipati is the center, has been claimed as British territory or that such jurisdiction has ever been asserted over its inhabitants, and if the reported decree of the governor of British Guiana be indeed genuine it is not apparent how any line of railway from Ciudad Bolivar to Guacipati could enter or traverse territory within the control of Great Britain.

It is true that the line claimed by Great Britain as the western boundary of British Guiana is uncertain and vague. It is only necessary to examine the British colonial office list for a few years back to perceive this. In the issue for 1877, for instance, the line runs nearly southwardly from the mouth of the Amacuro to the junction of the Cotinga and Takutu rivers. In the issue for 1887, ten years later, it makes a wide detour to the westward, following the Yuruari. Guacipati lies considerably to the westward of the line officially claimed in 1887, and it may perhaps be instructive to compare with it the map which doubtless will be found in the colonial office list for the present year.

It may be well for you to express anew to Lord Salisbury the great gratification it would afford this Government to see the Venezuelan dispute amicably and honorably settled, by arbitration or otherwise, and our readiness to do anything we properly can to assist in than end.

In the course of your conversation you may refer to the publication in the London Financier of January 24 (a copy of which you can procure and exhibit to Lord Salisbury), and express apprehension lest the widening pretensions of British Guiana to possess territory over which Venezuelan jurisdiction has never heretofore been disputed may not diminish the chances for a practical settlement.

If, indeed, it should appear that there is no fixed limit to the British boundary claim, our good disposition to aid in a settlement might not only be defeated, but be obliged to give place to a feeling of grave concern. (Mr. Bayard to Mr. Phelps, 17th of February, 1888.)

Subsequently to the proclamation of the governor of Demerara a force was sent off to take possession of the new territories and lands, and several projects were presented for the construction of a road to Yuruari, which was never executed, and of railway and telegraphic communications with the mines.

In June, 1888, while the Republic, through her representative in Europe, was negotiating in a confidential way the preliminaries to the reinstallment of the question on diplomatic ground and to the reestablishment of harmony with Great Britain, the Government of British Guiana decreed the creation of one more colonial district, under the name of northwest district, within the compass of which was included the Venezuelan territory of Barima. Officers were also appointed for its permanent occupancy and for the collection of taxes, and a sum of $10,000 was appropriated for administration expenses, etc.

The report of the Department of Agriculture of the United States, previously mentioned, shows that the acquisitions of land in Guiana [Page 832] in detriment of the Venezuelan territory amounted to an area of 33,000 square miles only in the year of 1885 to 1886. The increase of English possessions can be estimated in view of the extent of the appropriations from 1814 to 1885, and of those effected after 1886, previously to the last decree of the governor of Demerara, and at a later period. It will suffice to remember that reliable geographers situated the English colony between the Corawin and Essequibo rivers at the first quarter of this century; that several of them assigned to it a surface of 50,000 to 60,000 square kilometers, while others considered it to be 65 leagues long by 30 wide, bounded, on the Atlantic coast, by the mouth of the Corentin and Cape Nassau; that, according to the allegation of Venezuela, British Guiana, as succeeding Dutch Guiana, possesses only such extent of territory as is limited to the west, by the Essequibo River (58° 30ʹ longitude west of Greenwich) and by the 4° 2ʹ and 6° 50ʹ parallels, north latitude, and that, as it appears from the map of the foreign office list, for 1892, it has now been stretched out to the 62° meridian, west longitude, and to the l° and 9° parallels, north latitude.

Venezuela protested against the grievances committed in June, 1888, by the authority and settlers of Demerara, with or without the consent of the British cabinet, as she had previously done against similar proceedings in 1887; and renewed her protest in October of the same year, 1888, when the advice reached the department of foreign relations that the English had two schooners in Barima, which relieved each other every fortnight; that they prevented the cutting of wood, did not allow the pontoon light-house of the Republic to anchor less than half a mile away from the land, and also continued to occupy Amacuro. The Department of State is acquainted with all these formal declarations of Venezuela in defense of her territorial rights ignored by Great Britain.

Great Britain took no heed to such declarations. On the contrary, scarcely had a year elapsed since the last was made, the Government of Demerara took formal possession (proclamation of December 4, 1889) of the main mouth of the Orinoco, declared the city of Barima to be a British port of the colony, and established there a police station, thus calling forth a new protest on the part of Venezuela, on the 16th of December, 1889, which was also communicated in proper time to the Government of the United States, through its legation at Caracas.

The Department of State was not indifferent to the above-mentioned communication; on the contrary, it hastened to authorize Mr. White to confer with Lord Salisbury respecting the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Great Britain and Venezuela, on the basis of a temporary return to the status quo, as suggested by the Venezuelan minister (Mr. Blaine to Mr. White, telegram of December 30, 1889). And in another telegraphic dispatch of a posterior date it carries still further the offer of its friendly cooperation:

Mr. Lincoln is instructed to use his good offices with Lord Salisbury to bring about the resumption of diplomatic intercourse between Great Britain and Venezuela as a preliminary step toward the settlement of the boundary dispute by arbitration. The joint proposals of Great Britain and the United States toward Portugal, which have just been brought about, would seem to make the present time propitious for submitting this question to an international arbitration. He is requested to propose to Lord Salisbury, with a view to an accommodation, that an informal conference be had in Washington or in London of representatives of the three powers. In such conference the position of the United States is one solely of impartial friendship toward both litigants. (Mr. Blaine to Mr. Lincoln (telegram), 1st of May, 1890.)

The instruction contained in the foregoing telegram was confirmed and amplified in a subsequent note, where, after briefly considering the [Page 833] obstruction which the abrupt rupture of diplomatic intercourse with England opposed to the renewal of negotiations on the basis of the status quo, and the surrender of the entire question to arbitration, the honorable Secretary of State goes on to say:

It is nevertheless desired that you shall do all you can consistently with our attitude of impartial friendliness to induce some accord between the contestants by which the merits of the controversy may be fairly ascertained and the rights of each party justly confirmed. The neutral position of this Government does not comport with any expression of opinion on the part of this Department as to what these rights are, but it is evident that the shitting footing on which the British boundary question has rested for several years past is an obstacle to such a correct appreciation of the nature and grounds of her claim as would alone warrant the foundation of any opinion. (Mr. Blaine to Mr. Lincoln, 6th of May, 1890.)

The following considerations, among others, were offered by the Marquis of Salisbury:

Her Majesty’s Government are very sensible of the friendly feelings which have prompted this offer on the part of the United States Government. They are, however, at the present moment in communication with the Venezuelan minister in Paris, who has been authorized to express the desire of his Government for the renewal of diplomatic relations and to discuss the conditions on which it may be effected.

The rupture of relations was, as your Government is aware, the act of Venezuela, and Her Majesty’s Government had undoubtedly reason to complain of the manner in which it was effected. But they are quite willing to put this part of the question aside, and their only desire is that the renewal of friendly intercourse should be accompanied by arrangements for the settlement of the several questions at issue.

I have stated to Señor Urbaneja the terms on which Her Majesty’s Government consider that such a settlement might be made, and am now awaiting the reply of the Venezuelan Government, to whom he has doubtless communicated my proposals.

Her Majesty’s Government would wish to have the opportunity of examining that reply, and ascertaining what prospect it would afford of an adjustment of existing differences, before considering the expediency of having recourse to the good offices of a third party.

I may mention that, in so far as regards the frontier between British Guiana and Venezuela, I have informed Señor Urbaneja of the willingness of Her Majesty’s Government to abandon certain portions of the claim which they believe themselves entitled in strict right to make and to submit other portions to arbitration, reserving only that territory as to which they believe their rights admit of no reasonable doubt. If this offer is met by the Venezuelan Government in a corresponding spirit, there should be no insuperable difficulty in arriving at a solution. But public opinion is, unfortunately, much excited on the subject in Venezuela, and the facts of the case are strangely misunderstood. (The Marquis of Salisbury to Mr. Lincoln 26th of May, 1890.)

Lord Salisbury had, indeed, communicated two memoranda to Señor Urbaneja, one on the 10th of February and the other on the 19th of March, 1890.

In both it is categorically stated that—

Her Majesty’s Government can not accept as satisfactory any arrangement not admitting as English property the territory included within the line laid down by Sir R. Schomburgk.

And in the second of them he further says:

That in order to facilitate an arrangement and in evidence of good will toward Venezuela, Her Majesty’s Government are disposed to relinquish a part of a certain pretension, and that, in regard to the portion of territory not comprised between Schomburgk’s line and England’s extreme pretension, they are disposed to submit to the arbitration of a third power.

This last portion begins at the mountains of Imataea, opposite to the source of the river bearing the same name, and of the Acquire. It bends to the southwest and extends along the Yuruari River down to the point where Lord Granville’s line joins that of Schomburgk, now altered; thence it continues westward until it reaches the confluence of the Yuruari with the Cuyuni; then turns northward along the course of the Yuruari to a certain distance above the town of Nueva [Page 834] Providencia, which it encircles; and embracing the whole of the Avechica River and of the Sierra of Usupamo as far as the spot where the latter runs together with that of Carapo, it skirts the mountains of Rinocoto up to the source of the Oaco River. To this line a portion of land is to be added, thus bounded: from the spot previously mentioned, opposite to the Acquire and Imataca rivers, it spreads southeasterly to a certain nameless river (perhaps the Paraguayaira); thence to the southwest toward the Cuyuni, the left bank of which it follows as far as the source of the Gamarate River, from which it now turns away in a curved direction to reach the origin of the above mentioned Caco River.

The part of pretension which she abandoned was that limited by the line which, starting from the vicinity of the mouth of the Amacuro, descends to the southwest as far as the origin of the Yariquita Mountains, proceeds along the ridge of Imataca to the town of Upata, intersects the Usupamo and Carapo at the place where they flow into the Oaroni, and extends along the Oarapo and Rinocoto Mountains till it blends with the original line of Schomburgk.

In fine, of the three sections into which Lord Salisbury divided this time the territory in dispute, that which Her Majesty’s Government held in possession as exempt from all discussion regarding titles was no other than the portion including Barima, one of the mouths of the Orinoco, precisely the knot of the controversy; the same that had been explored by Sir R. Schomburgk and constantly rejected by Venezuela since 1840, which now appeared considerably altered to the benefit of Great Britain, as it can be seen by comparison with the original line of the same English engineer as figured in the map showing the various boundaries proposed by Venezuela and England until 1890. A copy of this map is in the possession of the Department of State.

Before the reply of Venezuela to the proposals of Lord Salisbury had reached Dr. Urbaneja, Dr. Lucio Pulido arrived at London as his substitute, with the powers of a plenipotentiary ad hoc and envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of the Republic. The main object of this diplomatic mission was the resumption of relations with Great Britain, through the good offices of the minister of the United States, a condition sine qua non of such resumption being the preestablishment of cardinal points—among them the settlement of the conflict by arbitration—intended to govern the discussion concerning any definitive agreement.

Sir T. H. Sanderson, under secretary at the foreign office, with whom Dr. Pulido negotiated, proposed to him a line which, commencing at Punta Mocomoco, between Punta Barima and the Guaima River, was to border upon the Amacuro River on the west, in compensation for which the boundary line was to follow the course of the Uruan or Yuruan River, up from its junction with the Ouyuni, and could be stretched as far as the mountains of Usupamo and Rinocoto. He promised, moreover, according to Dr. Pulido’s official report, that Her Majesty’s Government, being willing to negotiate directly with that of Venezuela for the purpose of establishing a frontier of mutual convenience between the two Guianas, approaching as far as possible the natural limits, would lengthen Sir T. H. Sanderson’s line from Cape Mocomoco toward the southeast, and would renounce any claim or compensation whatever for the abandonment or, to speak more properly, for the restitution of the mouths of the Orinoco and the adjoining territories.

It can not but be observed that, by this proposition, Great Britain again admitted discussion concerning her right over the territory explored by Schomburgk, a right formerly asserted to be unquestionable, [Page 835] and even promised to withdraw all claims to the Orinoco and the neighboring country. The proposition was thus rendered more advantageous than the one which had been made to Señor Urbaneja in the previous month of March; but since Venezuela’s aim had been not to propose the adjustment of the difference at once, but to promote a renewal of diplomatic intercourse on condition that the English Government should agree to submit the question to international arbitration, a purpose which had not been realized, Señor Pulido returned to Caracas in September of the same year, 1890, leaving the boundary dispute in the state above described, and the good understanding between the two nations interrupted as before.

As a testimony of her sincere desire to reestablish and facilitate by that means the removal of all the difficulties, Venezuela finally appointed Señor Tom as Michelena, confidential agent of the Republic, to resume negotiations with Her Majesty’s Government in pursuance of that purpose. I offer here an excerpt of the clauses presented by him at the outset of his proceedings:

  • First. After the renewal of the official relations between the two countries, subsequently to the ratification of this preliminary agreement by the respective Governments, each of them shall appoint one or more delegates, invested with full powers, to sign a treaty on boundaries, founded on a conscientious and thorough examination of the documents, titles, and antecedents supporting their claims; it being moreover agreed that the decision of the doubtful points, or the delineation of a divisional line concerning which no accord may be reached by the delegates, shall be submitted to the final and unappealable decision of an arbiter juris who, the case occurring, shall be nominated by mutual concert between the two Governments.
  • Second. In order that the reestablishment of relations with Her Majesty’s Government may be accomplished on a footing of the greatest cordiality, the Government of Venezuela will proceed to the conclusion of a new treaty of commerce, revoking the 30 per cent additional duty and substituting in its place one of limited duration, such as that proposed by Lord Granville in 1884.
  • Third. The claims which Her Majesty’s subjects and the citizens of the Republic of Venezuela may have a right to produce against each other’s Government shall be investigated by a commission appointed ad hoc, Venezuela agreeing to such a proceeding so far only as this special case is concerned, since, by a decree of the Republic, the judgment and decision on foreign claims are committed to the supreme federal court, and it shall consequently be declared that, as regards future claims, Great Britain accepts the foregoing regulation.
  • Fourth. It shall be stated in the preliminary agreement that both Her British Majesty’s Government and the Government of Venezuela acknowledge and declare the status quo of the boundary question to be that which existed in 1850, when the Hon. Sir B. Wilson, chargé d’affaires of England at Caracas, formally manifested, in the name and by express order of Her British Majesty’s Government, that no portion of the disputed territory would be occupied, and solicited and obtained a similar declaration on the part of the Venezuelan Government. This status quo shall be maintained until the treaty on boundaries adverted to in clause I shall have been concluded.
  • Fifth. The agreement to be made on the preceding bases, signed by the confidential agent of Venezuela, in exercise of the powers with which he is invested, and the person duly authorized to that effect by Great Britain, shall be forthwith submitted to ratification by both Governments, [Page 836] and, after exchange, the diplomatic relations between the two countries shall be considered reestablished ipso facto. (London, the 26th of May, 1893.)

Lord Rosebery replied on the 3d of the following July. He offered no immediate remark concerning the propositions contained in Clauses II, III, and V, presented by Señor Michelena; but, referring only to Clauses I and IV, on the boundary question between Venezuela and British Guiana, which, in his opinion, was the most important of all the questions to be considered, he pointed out that, although the present proposal of the Venezuelan Government admitted the possibility of settling the boundary controversy by treaty, the fact that it also involved reference to arbitration in case of difference between the delegates of the two Governments intrusted with the negotiation of that treaty practically reduced it to the form which has repeatedly been declined by Her Majesty’s Government, namely, the reference to arbitration of a claim advanced by Venezuela to a great portion of a long-established British colony.

Her Majesty’s Government therefore considered that the Clause I of the promemoriâ could only be accepted by them under the conditions specified in the memorandum communicated in Sir T. Sanderson’s note to Señor Urbaneja, dated the 19th of March, 1890. They would propose the amendment of Clause I of the promemoriâ in the manner indicated by the additions marked with red ink on the copy therein inclosed.

With regard to Clause IV of the promemoriâ, in which it is proposed that both Her Majesty’s Government and the Government of Venezuela shall acknowledge and declare that the status quo of the boundary controversy is that which existed in 1850, Her Majesty’s Government considered quite impossible that they should consent to revert to the state of affairs in 1850, and to evacuate what had for some years constituted an integrant portion of British Guiana. They regretted, therefore, that they could not entertain that proposition. Great Britain believed herself entitled to incontestable rights over the territory now occupied by her. Those rights she was unable now to abandon, and she could not consent that any status quo, except that now existing, should remain in force during the progress of the negotiations.

The alteration of Clauses I and IV, as proposed by Lord Rosebery, reads textually as follows, the words which are in italic being those which appear in red ink in the original:

Whereas the Government of Great Britain claims certain territory in Guiana, as successor in title of the Netherlands, and the Government of Venezuela claims the same territory as being the heir of Spain, both Governments, being inspired by friendly intentions, and being desirous of putting an end to the differences which have arisen on this matter, and both Governments wishing to pay all deference to the titles alleged by either to prove its jurisdiction and proprietary rights over the territory in question, they agree and stipulate that, as soon as the official relations shall have been reestablished between the two countries, and after the ratification of the present preliminary convention by both Governments, one or more delegates shall be named by each party, with full power to conclude a frontier treaty, founded on a conscientious and complete examination, by the said delegates, of the documents, titles, and past events supporting the claims of either party, it being agreed that the said territory in dispute lies to the west of the line laid down in the map communicated to the Government of Venezuela on the 19th of March, 1890, and to the east of a line to be marked on the same map, running from the source of the river Cumano down that stream and up the Aima, and so along the Sierra of Usupano, and that the decision of doubtful points and the laying down of a frontier on the line of which the delegates may be unable to agree shall be submitted to the final decision, from which there shall be no appeal, of a juridical arbiter, to be appointed, should the case arise, by common agreement between the two Governments.

[Page 837]

This frontier impairs the right of Venezuela, if compared with that proposed in 1886 by Lord Rosebery himself to General Guzman-Blanco, and also, to a greater extent, with the line described in the map sent by Lord Salisbury to Señor Urbaneja on the 19th of March, 1890, through Sir T. Sanderson, since the aforesaid limit intended to be drawn to the west of the latter necessarily and finally confers on Great Britain the proprietorship, actually and by right, of a greater portion of territory not subject to the decision of the delegates and of the juridical arbiter.

Venezuela had declined the first and second lines, and so had stronger reasons not to accept the third. Señor Michelena communicated forthwith her refusal, reiterating at the same time her desire that the British Government should consent to resume the discussion of the preliminary treaty, inspiring themselves in the declarations which, in their name, had been recently made by Mr. Gladstone before the Parliament in behalf of arbitration.

On the 12th of September, Lord Roseberry replied:

Her Majesty’s Government have carefully examined the arguments contained in your note of the 31st of last July, concerning the settlement of the boundary question between the Republic of Venezuela and the colony of British Guiana.

I regret to inform you that it does not appear to Her Majesty’s Government that the contents of your note open the way to any agreement that they can accept concerning this question.

They are still desirous, however, to come to an understanding in regard to the frontier between the possessions of the two countries, and they are disposed to give their best attention to any practicable proposals that might be offered them to that effect.

Señor Michelena analyzed this note in a communication to the foreign office, dated the 29th of the same month of September, 1893, wherein he briefly sketches the history of the controversy from Señor Fortique’s mission in 1840 up to his in 1893, and expresses his regret that he must acquaint the Government of the Republic with the last reply given by that of Great Britain. He closes with the following protest:

It now remains for me to declare in the most solemn manner, in the name of the Government of Venezuela, that they deeply regret that the condition of affairs created by the events which occurred during the late years in the disputed territory must remain subject to the serious disturbances which de facto proceedings can not fail to produce, and that in no time will Venezuela consent that such proceedings be adduced as valid titles to legitimize an occupancy interfering with her territorial jurisdiction.

Under the direction of Dr. Chittenden, secretary of the board of agriculture of Trinidad, a sloop had been fitted out some days before for the purpose of carrying twenty-nine expeditionists to High Barima, who were to further the works of the Dixon Company. Together with this news the Port of Spain Gazette of the 25th of July announced vast schemes of enterprise to be carried out, with the aid of companies and capitals from the colony, in the territory now called Northwest District by the English, extending as far as the mouth of the Orinoco. The Executive of Venezuela considered this occurrence and the said schemes no less of a nature to embarrass the agreement in furtherance of the settlement of the boundary question than contrary to the good course of the negotiations commenced at London, inasmuch as the Republic had always defended as her property the territory of that district. The Executive accordingly instructed its confidential agent to make them known to Her Majesty’s Government, which the agent did.

Lord Rosebery replied on the 22d of September:

With reference to my note of the 2d instant I have the honor to inform you that Her Majesty’s Government have given their careful attention to the representations [Page 838] contained in your note of the 26th ultimo, complaining of acts on the part of the authorities of British Guiana which are considered by the Venezuelan minister for foreign affairs to be in contravention of the rights of Venezuela.

Her Majesty’s Government are desirous of showing all proper respect for the recognized rights of Venezuela, but the acts of jurisdiction to which you refer in your note do not appear to them to constitute any infraction of encroachment upon those rights. They are in fact no more than part of the necessary administration of a territory which Her Majesty’s Government consider to be indisputably a portion of the colony of British Guiana, and to which, as it has been their duty to state more than once, they can admit no claim on the part of Venezuela.

And Mr. Michelena closed the discussion with his reply of the 6th of October, the last two paragraphs whereof I may conveniently insert here, as they include the last declaration of Venezuela against the illegal and grevious proceedings of Great Britain:

I perform a most strict duty in raising again, in the name of the Government of Venezuela, a most solemn protest against the proceedings of the Colony of British Guiana, constituting encroachments upon the territory of the Republic, and against the declaration contained in your excellency’s communication, that Her Britannic Majesty’s Government considers that part of the territory as pertaining to British Guiana, and admits no claim to it on the part of Venezuela. In support of this protest, I reproduce all the arguments presented to your excellency in my note of the 29th of last September, and those which have been exhibited by the Government of Venezuela on the various occasions they have raised this same protest.

I lay on Her Britannic Majesty’s Government the entire responsibility of the incidents that may arise in future from the necessity to which Venezuela has been driven to oppose by all possible means the dispossession of a part of her territory, for by disregarding her just representation to put an end to this violent state of affairs through the decision of arbiters, Her Majesty’s Government ignores her rights and imposes upon her the painful though peremptory duty of providing for her own legitimate defense.

Thus ended the sixth and last negotiation promoted by Venezuela for the adjustment of the present dispute.

The circumstance which gave rise to this dispute was the commission intrusted to Sir R. H. Schomburgk by Her Britannic Majesty’s Government in 1840, so that the difference has lasted more than half a century.

The right claimed by Venezuela to the territory lying between the rivers Essequibo and Orinoco is founded on the following titles:

Those acquired from Spain, by virtue of independence, belonging to the Captaincy General of Venezuela and afterwards transferred to the Republic by the treaty of peace and recognition of the 30th of March, 1845, namely: (a) Treaty of Minister, 1648; ((b) note of the governor of Cumaná to the council of the same city, 1st of February, 1742; (c) treaty of 1750, between the Portuguese and Spaniards; (d) reply of the governor of Cumaná, through the commander of Guiana, to the note of the director-general of the Dutch Colony of Essequibo, dated September 30, 1758; (e) royal schedules of 1768, two in number; (f) declaration of the Spanish ministry in 1769, rejecting certain pretensions of the Dutch to the right of fishing in the mouth of the Orinoco River; (g) instructions of the intendancy for peopling the eastern part of Guiana, 1779; (h) royal order of 1780, directing Don Felipe de Inciarte to found the town of San Carlos; (i) report of Don Antonio Lopez de la Puente, who had been commissioned to explore the Cuyuní River, February 26, 1788; (j) treaty of the 23d of June, 1791, between Spain and Holland, for the extradition of fugitives and deserters from either Guiana; (k) communication of the secretary of the Dutch Company of the West Indies to the minister of the Spanish Government in Holland, 8th of January, 1794.
Those corresponding to the time of the Republic: (l) Petition of Her British Majesty’s chargé d’affaires near the Government of Venezuela for the construction of light-houses and other signals at Punta [Page 839] Barima, and for the establishment of beacons in the main mouth of the Orinoco, 26th of May, 1836; (m) dispatch of the governor of Demerara (Parliamentary Papers), 1st of September, 1838; (n) note from the Venezuelan governor of Guiana to the Government, August 23, 1841, on the acknowledgment of Venezuelan jurisdiction over Caño Moruco by a court of Demerara; (o) a similar act of virtual recognition of Venezuelan jurisdiction in 1874, on account of the homicide committed by the English subject Thomas Garret.

The right of Venezuela has been contested by Great Britain on the following grounds:

The forts of New Zealand and New Middleburg erected by the Dutch in 1657 on the Pomaron and Moroco.
The concessions granted by the Dutch Company, successor in 1674 to the West Indies Company, for trading with the colonies of Essequibo and Pomaron, the latter extending, according to Great Britain, as far as the Orinoco.
The combat at fort New Zealand in 1797, between Dutch and Spaniards, in which the latter were defeated and driven away.
The treaty of London, dated August 13, 1814, by which Holland ceded to Great Britain the colonies of Demerara, Essequibo, and Berbice.

Venezuela has sought to bring about the adjustment of the controversy by the various diplomatic means known in international law—direct negotiations, and the good offices and mediation of States friendly to both parties.

Great Britain has not listened to the powers which have been good enough to offer the interposition of their good offices, neither has she accepted their mediation. And as for direct discussion, she has not admitted it as an expedient means of clearing the reasons in support of the pretensions of either party, but to render less possible their conciliation by her ever-growing claims.

Venezuela has always believed that she can rightfully establish the limit between herself and British Guiana along the Essequibo River, but this has been no reason to prevent her from showing her readiness to reduce her claim for the sake of an amicable adjustment, as she has twice done when her national constitution has permitted.

Great Britain had not advanced beyond the Pomaron River in 1840. All at once, in the same year, she made an attempt to extend her dominion as far as Barima, where she fixed the starting point of the frontier line between the two Guianas—Schornburgk’s line; she retrograded in 1844, and proposed that the line should commence at the River Moroco, between the Pomaron and Punta Barima—Aberdeen’s line; in 1881 she removed the starting point to a distance of 29 miles from the Moroco, in the direction of Punta Barima—Granville’s line; thence, in 1886, to a place on the coast west of the Guaima River, between the former spot and Punta Barima—Rosebery’s line; in 1890 she set it in the mouth of the Amacuro, west of Punta Barima, on the Orinoco—Salisbury’s line; and finally, in 1893, constantly advancing west and south in the interior of the country, she carried the boundary from a point to the west of the Amacuro as far as the source of the Cumano River and the Sierra of Usupamo—Rosebery’s new line.

Venezuela has always abode by the convention of 1850, by which both parties engaged not to occupy the territory in dispute so long as the question remained unsettled.

Great Britain has violated that convention without any consideration whatever to the other party. She has gradually occupied the disputed [Page 840] territory, has incorporated it with British Guiana, has submitted it to her absolute dominion, and administers lit at her own will.

Venezuela has demanded a just reparation for this offense. Great Britain has refused it.

The diplomatic recourses having proved fruitless, Venezuela has esteemed it her duty since 1883 to resort to juridical means and to propose the submission of the difference to the decision of a court of arbitration.

Great Britain has declined this agreement.

Out of dignity, Venezuela has suspended friendly relations with her opponent.

Great Britain has considered this act a lawful motive for adopting more violent and offensive measures.

Venezuela has been ready to adhere to the conciliatory counsel of the United States that a conference, consisting of their own representative and those of the two parties, should meet at Washington or London for the purpose of preparing an honorable reestablishment of harmony between the litigants.

Great Britain has disregarded the equitable proposition of the United States.

Venezuela has carried her spirit of peace and conciliation so far as even to appoint three diplomatic representatives with a private character from 1890 up to this time, with the view of promoting the renewal of friendship through a prior engagement to submit the question to arbitration.

In response Great Britain has insisted on treating Venezuela as a minor State to which she can dictate the sacrifice of its right and territory, while deciding of her own accord what right and territory belong to herself unquestionably and without further discussion.

Venezuela has not been able to obtain respect for her juridical equality. She has met each violation with a representation and a formal protest.

Such is the summary account of this long and vexing contest from its outset to the present time.

José Andrade.