Mr. Butler to Mr. Olney.

No. 48.]

Sir: On Thursday, the 15th, I received a visit from Señor Emilio de Leon, the Guatemalan minister here.

He advised me that Article II of the convention of April 1, 1895, between Mexico and Guatemala having provided for the appointment of an arbitrator to pass upon the claims of Mexican citizens, he had, after full conference with minister Mariscal, selected Mr. Matt. W. Ransom, United States minister in Mexico, as such arbitrator, a selection concurred in by Mr. Mariscal. Señor de Leon then requested me upon receipt of the note of invitation from his legation to forward same to Mr. Ransom.

This I have the pleasure to do, under cover of this dispatch inclosing the said note in English and Spanish text, in original, also copies of the same, for transmission through your kindness.

Although in the said note Mr. Mariscal appears to be a party to the appointment made, this legation had at the time of closing this dispatch received no note or advice whatever in the matter from Minister Mariscal.

I beg to confirm my telegram of last evening, to wit:

Guatemalan minister brought me this afternoon a communication from his legation designating United States Minister Ransom arbitrator on claims under the convention of April 1, Mexico-Guatemala, but no communication nor intimation has come from Mexican minister for foreign affairs, though a party to the agreement.

I am, etc.,

E. C. Butler.
[Inclosure in No. 48.—Translation.]

Mr. de Leon to Mr. Ransom.

Mr. Minister: In the month of September, 1882, a boundary treaty was concluded between the Governments of Guatemala and Mexico, determining the principal points to be followed by the respective commissions of engineers appointed under that treaty for the definite delimitation of the frontier of both countries.

Unforeseen difficulties, sometimes interposed by Gautemala and sometimes by Mexico, prevented the demarcation and erection of the landmarks on the whole of the line in the time agreed upon.

It would be tedious and unnecessary to refer in detail to the cause of those difficulties. The fact is, and it has been so understood and held by my Government, that pending the fulfillment of that which had been determined in that convention, both Governments, in compliance with the bases of August 12, 1882, which had served as preliminaries, were required to respect the ownership which until then each Government would have exercised in its territory, although it might pass over to the dominion of the other by virtue of that treaty when consummated. Pending the fulfillment and execution of this, the Government of Mexico, interpreting the treaty in a different manner, held that from the date that the treaty was signed it obtained the right to perform acts of dominion on territory that was subsequently to belong [Page 992] to it, and granted sundry licenses to lumbermen to establish their chases (palaces where the lumber is cut) on territory which Guatemala considered as belonging to it, pending the demarcation of the boundary.

When my Government learned that the Government of Mexico had, in violation of what was agreed upon, expressly issued such licenses, the authorities of the Guatamalan frontier ordered those who were illegally felling its woods to remove. The lumbermen, believing themselves ill treated, appealed to the Government of Mexico, asking protection and aid, as it had authorized them to commit such acts; and this was the origin and cause of the last claims by Mexico, which terminated with the convention of April 1.

An exact history of the reasons which each Government advanced in its behalf appears in the respective pamphlets printed by each, and copies of which I have the honor to herewith transmit to your excellency.

The Government of Guatemala which, from the beginning, did nothing but uphold its legitimate and indisputable rights, desired to give a fresh proof of its good intentions to maintain cordial relations with the Mexican nation, and, demonstrating the greatest prudence and good sense to the civilized nations of the world, entered into conciliating and equitable arrangements that assured the peace and tranquillity of both nations, putting an end to small differences which should never be an obstacle to their aggrandizement and prosperity. That tendency found its fulfillment in the convention, already mentioned, of April 1, wherein it was provided in the last section of article 2 that the Government of Guatemala, from fairness and for the sake of harmony, should indemnify those who claimed to have suffered direct injury from such expulsion, in accordance with the amount determined by an arbitrator named by both Governments.

The matter having reached the stage of fixing the amount of the indemnity, in order to definitely fulfill and execute the provisions of the convention, and bearing in mind the honorable position and distinguished characteristics of your excellency, as well as the marked tokens of cordial friendship and sympathy which the Government that you so worthily represent extends to the Government and people of Guatemala, the latter has not hesitated a moment to submit for decision by your excellency the amount of the indemnity which is to satisfy those claiming damages, fully persuaded that your excellency’s award will be the highest expression of justice and of the most perfect impartiality.

I therefore invite your excellency, in my own name and in that of the Government which I have the honor to represent, to accept the designation, which in the person of your excellency we have made, in common accord with the minister of foreign relations, to assume the office of arbitrator for the above-named purpose.

We have agreed, too, with his excellency, the minister of foreign affairs of Mexico, that we will draw up an additional or supplemental protocol of the convention of April 1 in question, designating therein the rules and limits to be observed by the arbitrator before rendering his definite decision, and of which I will have the honor to advise you in due time.

Renewing to your excellency the desire expressed for you to accept the nomination made in your name, it is the greatest satisfaction to me to tender you the homages of my very distinguished consideration.

Emilio de Leon.