Mr. Rojas to Mr. Andrade.
Caracas, March 7, 1895.
[Handed to Mr. Gresham by Mr. Andrade, March 28, 1895.]
Sir: No. VI of the documents of the Green Book of the Kingdom of Italy contains a protocol, signed by the representatives of France, Germany, Spain, and Belgium in Venezuela, which was sent by them some [Page 1475]time since to their respective Governments, and which was evidently designed not only to insult the Republic, but to cause strong pressure to be exerted upon it in order to induce it to accept certain onerous conditions. Two of the signers left the country many months ago and their places have been filled, but the other two, viz, the Marquis de Ripert Monclar, representative of France, and Mr. H. Ledeganck, chargé d’affaires of Belgium, continued to discharge their functions; wherefore, the President of the Republic, being mindful of his duties as guardian and custodian of the national dignity, resolved to declare that they were unsuitable persons to act as mediums in our political relations with those two States, and to send them their passports.
This measure of the Government has been received with unanimous approval by the whole country, in which public excitement had reached such an extreme, owing to the statements made by those gentlemen, that the most energetic measures were absolutely necessary to prevent a serious conflict.
In informing you of this occurrence, and in inclosing to you the official newspaper containing the principal documents relating to the matter, I have the honor to beg you to be pleased to do all in your power to prevent the circulation of inaccurate news on the subject in the United States of America, inasmuch as serious difficulties will thus be avoided.
Our relations with the French Republic and with the Kingdom of Belgium are in no wise impaired by the unavoidable measure which has just been taken by the President, since it has reference solely to the personality of the gentlemen who saw fit to render themselves unsuitable to continue to treat with the Government of Venezuela.
The telegram which I addressed to you yesterday had reference to this annoying incident. It was as follows:
The publication signed by the ministers of France and Belgium in the Italian Green Book is highly insulting to the Republic and its government. Consequently, in order to uphold the national dignity and prevent, at the same time, conflicts, owing to the excitement which prevails among our citizens, it has been absolutely necessary to declare those gentlemen unsuitable to sustain friendly relations with Venezuela, and their passports have been sent to them. This measure is purely personal. We shall continue to cultivate cordial relations with the countries which they have represented. Please try to have correct reports concerning this matter published in the American newspapers.
By the clipping which I inclose, and in which the article in question appears, you will see that the purpose to act inimically toward the Republic is therein manifested, as is the determination to create a body whose irrevocable decisions, besides infringing our laws, are to lower our national dignity. The intention is therein seen to form a powerful alliance against an American State, which, as its main source of strength, has nothing but the fundamental provisions of international law, which have been sadly disregarded in the principal portion of the protocol.
All this must be considered as being a matter of the utmost gravity, and it is consequently of the highest importance that you, having examined the case and fully understanding its nature, should solicit a special audience with the honorable Secretary of State for the purpose of informing him both of the cause of the step taken by Venezuela and of the danger to which the independence of these Republics is exposed if those purposes are accomplished, since they would constitute a coalition like any other against the free nations of America.
In treating of this matter with Mr. Gresham, it will be well to convey to his mind the conviction that Venezuela, for many weighty reasons, regards the United States as a nation that is called upon to watch over the political and territorial integrity of the other American peoples. [Page 1476]He should further be informed that, in the opinion of this Government, this incident will in no wise impair the friendly relations of Venezuela with France and Belgium, since the governing powers of those countries can not regard the measure which has been adopted otherwise than as the fulfillment of a sacred duty, viz, the vindication of the honor of the Republic.
I am, etc.,