Mr. Buchanan to Mr. Hay.
Buenos Ayres, May 2, 1899.
Sir: The Argentine National Congress opened its regular sessions yesterday with the usual ceremonies. President Boca’s message was closely listened to and applauded in that portion wherein he stated that no new emission of paper money would be made.
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Owing to the direct and highly complimentary reference made by President Roca to what this legation has done toward assisting in the solutions arrived at in the limits disputes which have existed between this country and Chile, I deem it best to insert here a translation of those paragraphs of his message in which he refers to the foreign relations of the Republic, and especially to the settlement of the Puna de Atacama dispute. His message begins as follows:
To-day, with greater propriety than ever before, can it be said that the sessions of the National Congress begin under evidences of internal and external peace, and of the Republic having returned to work and to the development of its resources full of confidence in the present and in the promises held out by the future.
Our old territorial questions with Brazil and Paraguay terminated by arbitration, our difficulties with Bolivia directly arranged in a friendly manner, we have just concluded in a similar manner our boundary differences with the Republic of Chile in the north, while the Government of Her Britannic Majesty is engaged in studying those of the south, which were submitted by the two Republics to the high decision of the Government.
We are hence thus able to now consider as concluded the last of our boundary questions, which, from time to time, have not only disturbed our international relations, but, on some occasions, have threatened their violent rupture, and an implacable war, which, had it occurred, would have been a shame to America and scandalous before the eyes of the world.
At peace among ourselves, at peace with neighboring republics and with all nations, we need not henceforward devote a large portion of the public revenue to the purchase of elements of destruction, but can, on the contrary, devote our means toward stimulating our energies in every manner possible to the end that as a nation we may reach the high position the patriotism of our fathers has pictured for us.
The delimitation of the Puna de Atacama, which has just been concluded, has an importance vastly greater than the value of the territory in dispute. By it there has been closed the long period of uneasiness and inquietude which has been the cause of so many sacrifices, both on the part of this people and that of Chile, who have, however, in the end, guided by their intelligent reasoning and by a knowledge of their own greater good, mutually reached the ground of a complete and happy understanding between themselves. This, together with the work of the commission of eminent citizens of both Republics which met recently in this capital, and the interview I had the satisfaction, during my recent trip to our southern territories, to hold with His Excellency the President of Chile in the presence of the powerful ships of war of the two countries, brought together in the joint waters of the Straits of Magellan, has given place in both countries to an exchange of cordial manifestations which will be advantageously felt in the friendly relations we are called upon to cultivate with each other henceforward.
The participation taken in the solution of the difficulties of which I speak by Mr. Buchanan, the American minister, has also been a motive for particular gratification. To that solution he chiefly contributed, and thus rendered both Republics an eminent service. This is not the first occasion upon which it has fallen to the lot of a minister of the great Confederation of the North to decisively intervene in our boundary disputes in the interest of the international peace. Nor will this ever be forgotten by the two peoples whose destinies have been at stake on one or the other side of the mountains.
The principal point in the message is that wherein the President says he feels that the Republic shall arrange a method by which a gradual conversion of its paper money can be effected without injuring the country. He says he will submit a plan hereafter for the consideration of Congress. The general belief is that the plan to be proposed will be one that has been much discussed here during the past year—to provide by law a fixed rate of exchange, or rather “gold rate,” at which gold and paper money shall be interchangeable for a fixed time. When the country has had time to adjust itself to that rate and has had an opportunity to “discount the future” by preparing for a new rate of exchange, then the plan is to create a new and lower rate, and thus reach par by successive steps.
The Bolsa has evidently little confidence in the success of the plan talked of, since to-day gold rose five points on the opening of the market and fell three points within an hour.
What the President wishes to overcome is the injurious effect produced upon all commerce here by the daily and constant “fluctuations of gold,” or the differing value of the money of the country.
I have, etc.,