Mr. Strobel to Mr. Bayard.

No. 345.]

Sir: It seemed to Mr. Curry advisable to present to the new minister of state a summary of the negotiations which had taken place with Señor Moret in reference to the case of A. M. Mora, resulting in the promise of the Spanish Government to pay the claims, and a note containing such summary, a copy of which is inclosed, was addressed, to I the Marquis de la Vega de Armijo on June 30 last.

I now have the honor to inclose copy and translation of the reply of the minister of state. It seems clear from the terms of his note that the claim on its merits is admitted to be res adjudicata. The explanation of failing to pay is the same as is given in Señor Moret’s note of May 12 last, which was sent to the Department in Mr. Curry’s 320 of May 14 last, and rests on the declaration that it would be impossible in I the present state of public opinion on the subject to secure the necesary appropriation from the Cortes without accompanying the proposition with an arrangement for the final disposal of all claims pending between the two Governments.

In view of the readiness expressed in the note to proceed to such an arrangement, and of the references in the Department’s No. 305 of June 23 to the failure of the Spanish Government to raise any specific objections to the proposed agreement submitted by Mr. Curry to Señor [Page 375] Moret on December 15, 1887, it may not be improper for the legation to attempt to extract from the minister of state why, if the payment of the Mora case, despite the anxiety of the Government to dispose of it, is blocked by the other claims, no reply has been made to the propositions of the United States, and when the Spanish Government intends to forsake its present meditative attitude towards that proposition by either accepting it or by making counter proposals on its own side.

I have, etc.,

Edward H. Strobel.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 345.]

Mr. Curry to the Marquis de la Vega.

Excellency: I have the honor to invite the attention of your excellency to the status of the claim of Antonio Maximo Mora, which was originally presented to the Spanish Government on the 2d of June, 1883, at the time when your excellency was in charge of the ministry over which you so worthily preside.

It Is unnecessary for me to refer to the correspondence and to the different stages of the negotiations which preceded the note of your excellency’s distinguished ‘predecessor, Señor Moret, of the date of June 30, 1888, which, after explaining the impossibility of returning the property itself, stated that “deseando el Gobierno español dar una prueba más de consideracion al Gobierno de los Estados Unidos y á V. E. quetan dignamente lo representa, no vacile en proponer la entrega de una cantidad en metalieo que represente una equitativa indemnizacion del valor de aquellos bienes.” (As the Spanish Government desires to give one proof more of its consideration for the Government of the United States and for your excellency, who so worthily represents it, it has not hesitated to propose the delivery of a sum of money which will represent an equitable indemnity for the value of said property.)

A prompt response was made by this legation on the following day, July 1, accepting the above proposition.

It is also needless to trace the different steps in the further negotiations which had for their object a just estimate of the value of the property, and which led to the note of Señor Moret of November 29, 1886, containing the following statements and propositions:

“El consejo de Ministros se ha ocupado detenidamente del asunto, y animado del deseo de satisfacer los compromises anteriormente contraidos y de coresponder á las reclamaciones del Gobierno de los Estados Unidos, ha tornado las siguientes resoluciones que tengo el honor de participar á V. E.:

  • “1a. Fijar como cifra definitiva del valor de los bienes embargados á los Sres. Mora que el Gobierno decidió devolver en 1873 y 1876, la suma de 1,500,000 duros en la cual se comprende la indemnización de cuanto puedan reclamar tanto por capital como por intereses y daños y perjuicios.
  • “2a. Pagar esta suma con cargo al Presupuesto de Cuba para lo cual el Ministro de Ultramar propondra a las Cortes en el projimo presupuesto de 1887–88 los medios de satisfacerla.” The (Council of Ministers has been occupied in detail with the matter, and, animated of the desire of fulfilling the engagement formerly contracted and of responding to the claims of the United States, has decided upon the following terms of settlement, of which I have the honor of informing your excellency.

To fix as a definite amount of the value of the embargoed property of Messrs. Mora which the Government decided to return in 1873 and 1876 the sum of $1,500,000. In this sum is included all indemnity that can be claimed for the principal as well as interest, damages, and injury.
The sum to be paid by a charge upon the Cuban budget and the minister of uitramar will propose to the Cortes the means of payment in the next budget of 1887–1888.

On December 7, the legation replied to the above note, agreeing to accept the sum offered in full discharge of the claim.

In view of the above correspondence the Government of the United States naturally believed that the Mora case was definitely settled, and looked forward with confidence to a provision for its payment in the Cuban budget of 1887–1888.

The Cortes adjourned without having passed this budget. The report of the committee, however, without referring particularly to this case, had a qualifying reference to the American claims in general, which, whatever application it might have to [Page 376] other claims, could not, in the face of the exchange of notes to which I have referred, have any relation to the claim of Antonio Maximo Mora, and exception was taken to affect that case in the note which I had the honor to address to Señor Moret on December 15, 1887, transmitting a project of agreement for the settlement of other outstanding claims between the two Governments.

The theory that the payment of the Mora case was in some way connected with or dependent upon the payment of other claims which first appeared in the report of the above commission received further development in the speech of Señor Moret during the debate on this question of the 23d and 24th of February last. As soon as the official report was before me, I again, on the 5th of March last, took the liberty of calling the attention of Señor Moret to the fact that the correspondence between this legation and the Government of Spain on this subject clearly showed that the statement of his excellency in reference to reciprocity of payment of claims could not apply, to the case of Mora. In another not of April 24 I also expressed surprise and regret at the omission of any provision for the payment of the claim from the, Cuban budget as published in the Gaceta of the 19th of the same month.

In reply to the latter note, dated May 12, 1888, Señor Moret explained that the failure to provide in the budget for the payment of the el aim was caused by the unfavorable sentiment in the Chamber of Deputies, which would have produced an unfavorable vote, but that the omission of this provision had no signification because “el Gobierno puede en cualquier momento presentar nn proyecto de Ley á las Cámaras y pedirlas los medios al efecto necesarios.”

I have taken the liberty of making the above summary in order that your excellency may observe how important, from an international point of view, is the position occupied by this subject. By the distinct proposition of the Spanish Government to pay $1,500,000 in full discharge of the claim, and by the distinct acceptance of this proposition on the part of the Government of the United States, the Mora case was raised from the debatable and negotiable ground which it had previously occupied to the height of an international compact binding upon both Governments. For the early and final disposal of the question the Government of the United States, therefore, relies with confidence upon the justly celebrated promptness and punctiliousness with which the Spanish Government fulfils its engagements, and awaits with interest any information which your excellency will be good enough to transmit through me as to the method and details of payment.

I gladly avail myself of this opportunity to reiterate to your excellency the assurances of my highest consideration.

J. L. M. Curry.

His Excellency the Marquis de la Vega de Armijo.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 345—Translation.]

The Marquis de la Vega to Mr. Strobel.

My Dear Sir: I have received the note which the minister of the United States at this court was good enough to address to me on June 30th last, in which he gives a summary of the correspondence which during the last two years has passed between the legation under his worthy charge and this ministry, relative to the claim of D. Antonio Maximo Mora, and declares the confidence felt by his Government that the Government of Her Majesty will, at an early date, adopt suitable measures for the payment of the sum to which the indemnity in the case amounts.

It does not appear to me to be necessary for the moment to enter upon an examination of the considerations set forth by your legation in the note to which I now have the honor of replying, in reference to the engagement contracted in the special case of Mr. Mora because the cabinet of which I form a part, nourishes the purpose and the desire of satisfying, as far as lies in its power, the Government which you represent.

I may he allowed to add, however, that this desire and this purpose are now as they were during the previous administration, subject to the decision of the Cortes of the Kingdom, and the clear proof of this was the inclusion in the colonial budget of 1887–1888 of the appropriation necessary for the payment of the above claim, which explicitly showed that the proposition had to be definitely submitted to the examination and approbation of the legislative bodies. This necessity was also made clear by Señor Moret whenever he handled this subject in the discussions which arose in egard to it in the congress of deputies.

[Page 377]

My worthy predecessor, in his note of 12th of May last, explained the potent reasons which had influenced the mind of Her Majesty’s Government in not reproducing in the Cuban budget of this year the provision inserted in the same the year before respecting the indemnities of American subjects. Señor Moret feared—in my judgment with a superabundance of reason—that in view of the discussion in the Congress during the months of December and January, and of the state of public opinion in reference to the subject now occupying us, the Cortes would not sanction what had been done by the Government, unless the request for the appropriation necessary to pay the sum to Mr. Mora should be accompanied by an agreement between the two Governments in reference to the whole amount of American claims, and should include the decision and settlement of these in such terms that both the claims of the United States against Spain, which have been the object of the last negotiations, and the claims presented by Spain against the Government of the United States, which are being negotiated in Washington, shall be definitely disposed of.

In view of the above facts, Her Majesty’s Government hopes that the Government of the United States will facilitate the execution of what was agreed upon in the case of Mora, which, without the general settlement to which I have referred, might be rendered impossible or indefinitely postponed, in opposition to the desires of the Madrid cabinet. The bases of such a settlement were stated in the note which, with the due authorization of his Government, Mr. Curry addressed to my predecessor on December 15th of last year.

These bases, an examination of which is being made by the ministry under my charge, can serve as a starting point for said settlement, always providing that the Mora claim be included—although not discussed—and in this way be placed on the same footing as the others and be deprived of the character of priority in payment, which is the principal, difficulty in the way of its approbation by the Cortes of the Kingdom.

You, with your good judgment will not fail to understand the impossibility of contending with success against the opinion of Parliament and the country, when both see that while Spain has duly paid all the claims presented by the United States, the day never comes when the claims which have for so many years been presented in their turn by Her Majesty’s Government are attended to and paid. Hence there results an inequality which has no place in the rectitude and impartiality of the men who succeed each other in the Government of the Union.

The Cortes of the Kingdom, I am convinced, will not fail to vote the necessary appropriation for the payment of the Mora claim, if they understand that this payment coincides with the payment of the Spanish, claims to be effected by the American Government. Hence the necessity of proceeding during the parliamentary recess to an immediate general and definite settlement of all pending claims, to the advantage not only of the claimants of the two nations, but to the increase of the friendly relations the maintenance of which is such a source of gratification to the Government of Her Majesty the Queen Regent of Spain.

I avail myself of this occasion to renew to you the assurances of my distinguished consideration.

El Marques de la Vega de Armijo.

To the Chargé d’Affaires of the United States.