Mr. Pulido to Mr. Andrade.

[Handed to Mr. Uhl by Mr. Andrade, May 23, 1895—Translation.]

Sir: The Government was informed, about the middle of January, that a small part of the military force which was stationed on the left bank of the upper Cuyuni had committed an act of insubordination, the details of which were not accurately known until some days afterwards. The case in question was the seizure of a house situated on the right bank of the aforesaid river and inhabited by British subjects, whom the parties guilty of the seizure placed under arrest and at once sent to the locality known as Upata. When they arrived there, and the General Government was informed of what had been done, it sent peremptory orders for their release, and ordered the officer in command of the station and the subordinate officer, who were considered as mainly responsible for the reprehensible act, to come to Caracas in order to give an account of what they had done.

According to the statement of the so-called inspector, who was one of the prisoners, they were informed, on arriving at Upata, that they were to be released; they were further informed that, if they desired to return to their residence on the upper Cuyuni, they were at liberty to do so, and that they would be accompanied thither by a special commissioner, who would take them back with every guaranty of their safety. They preferred then to go to Georgetown, not by the same route, but via Trinidad and Barbados. Subsequently, however, the British again occupied the post on the right bank of the Cuyuni.

As you will see, the act took place in an uninhabited region, at a very great distance from the capital of the Republic, and even from the district over which the executive Government has immediate jurisdiction. The guilty parties acted solely on their own responsibility, for while it is true that the house occupied by Barnes and his companions is situated in territory to which Venezuela has a good title, neither had the Venezuelan forces orders to cross to the right bank of the Cuyuni, nor could they be authorized to commit acts like the one in question, which has, from the very outset, been most strongly condemned by the Government.

As a result of the measures taken by the department of the interior and by that of war and marine as soon as the facts of the case were known, Señor Domingo Sifontes, the officer who had command of the station, and Captain Dominguez are now here. The former has already been cashiered, not because of his direct guilt, but because of his lack of zeal and interest in the discharge of his duty, since, when the incident occurred, he was at a great distance from the place which it was his duty to watch. Captain Dominguez is now on trial, and the private [Page 1484] soldiers who appear to have abetted an act of spoliation, and who are now fugitives from justice, will be taken and brought to trial, to which end letters rogatory have been issued.

The Government is acting with all the rigor that the law requires, and in the sphere of its duty it has already fulfilled all its obligations. Of the inventory which was taken at the time when possession was taken of the house, a certified copy was sent to the legation of Germany in Venezuela, under whose protection British interests were. It is to be observed that the signature of the so-called inspector (Barnes) is affixed to that document. A list of the effects was taken in his presence, according to the report that was afterwards sent to the department of the interior by the commissioner-general of the Cuyuni.

The region in which the lamentable and lamented incident occurred is still inaccessible to traffic or regular travel. Many days are required to reach it, and even persons arriving there from Georgetown, which is distant from it 300 miles or more, almost always make the journey via Oiudad Bolivar. The official station established there communicates with the department of the interior by means of correspondence, but letters from there are always received so long after they were written that, in order to provide for the needs of the service, it is necessary to make the necessary calculations a long time beforehand, with the aid of the experience acquired by those who dwell in those desert regions.

It would be much to be regretted if Great Britain should seek to make a matter which came to pass under such circumstances the subject of an international claim. The affair was explained in time through the proper channel (the German legation) and a statement was furnished of the measures taken by the Government in order to punish the guilty parties. Nevertheless, the English press speaks so persistently of the purpose of Her British Majesty’s Government to assume an openly hostile attitude toward Venezuela that it has been deemed prudent and necessary fully to inform the United States Government, in case of hostile action, in violation of the principles of right and justice, on the part of that European power. Venezuela, firm in the consciousness that she is right, and feeling sure that she has fulfilled the duties which, in this case, were incumbent upon her as an enlightened country, expects that these rumors will prove to be unfounded, since there is no comprehensible basis and no justification on the part of England at a time when the entire civilized world is in favor of peaceful methods, and is pleading for the adoption of such means as will facilitate the settlement of differences among nations, without an appeal, in any case, to the odious methods of force.

You are requested to state the substance of this dispatch to his excellency the Secretary of State, and to leave a copy of it with him if he desires it.

I am, etc.,

Lucio Pulido.