Mr. Loomis to Mr. Hay.

No. 572.]

Sir: I inclose a copy of a second note from the minister of foreign affairs concerning the Scorpion, with a translation.

On Tuesday last the minister of foreign affairs said he would send me a list of the closed ports, and I was led to believe that the incident would be closed in that way, but it seems that such is not the case. I purposely made my answer to the minister’s first note a little vague, because I was not fully acquainted with all of the facts concerning the Scorpion.

I regret to say that the legation does not own a set of the laws of Venezuela.

I inclose a copy of my answer to the minister’s second note. It seems to me that nothing further ought to be expected.

I have, etc.,

Francis B. Loomis.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs to Mr. Loomis.

[Inclosure 1.—Translation.]

Your Excellency: Referring to your excellency’s note of the 16th of the present month, I am sorry that I did not succeed in explaining with sufficient clearness in my note of the 9th, No. 208, the spirit of the law of the 15th of May, 1882, regarding the entrance of foreign men-of-war in the ports of the Republic. I stated that the above-mentioned law “gives to the head of the Government the power to grant or not, in his judgment, permission to foreign men-of-war to enter, for scientific purposes, ports that are not open.” I could not refer in a general sense to the Orinoco, as Ciudad Bolivar, situated on one of its banks, is a port open to foreign commerce, in accordance with the provisions of Law XIV of the finance code.

The Scorpion entered Santa Catalina, a port not open to foreign commerce, which constituted a distinct violation of the law, and of which I spoke to you in the name of the Supreme Chief of the Republic.

In a communication of July 1, 1882, the law in question was made known to all the diplomatic corps resident in Caracas soon after it was passed by the Congress of the Republic. Said law is the same one cited by one of my predecessors to your legation in notes of January 14 and April 20, 1899, and the same law that another of my predecessors referred to in notes of December 19 and December 23, 1899.

So that when, in the note protesting against the act of the Scorpion, mention was made of the law of 1882, it was done with the idea that attention was being called to a well-known public act, an act that had been made known to foreign Governments, inserted in the official compilation of laws, and referred to frequently in the correspondence [Page 545]with the representatives of friendly nations. The existence of said law, and the knowledge of its existence on the part of other Governments, fully justifies and makes obligatory in the name of the sovereignty of the Republic, the protest contained in my note of the 9th of the present month, and which I hereby confirm by order of the chief of the Venezuelan Government.

In regard to the list of the ports, rivers, and harbors which your excellency asks for I need only refer to Law XIV of the finance code, which specifies the points open to foreign commerce, and these are the only ones in which foreign men-of-war may enter; and article 3 of said law establishes the only exception which can only by made effective by means of a special permit from the chief of the Republic.

Accept, etc.,

Eduardo Blanco.
[Inclosure 2.]

Mr. Loomis to Mr. Blanco.

Mr. Minister: I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your note of February 26, relating to the visit of the United States man-of-war Scorpion to Santa Catalina, in the Orinoco River, and the protest made by the supreme chief of the Republic.

I will forward your excellency’s note to Washington by the first mail, whither all of the correspondence concerning the matter has been sent.

I desire to repeat in this connection that the visit of the Scorpion was wholly inoffensive in character, and that I trust it will be so understood. There is nothing further from the desire of my Government than to give offense to the Government of Venezuela, and I trust your excellency, who so well understands this, will assure the supreme chief of the Republic that it is the sincere purpose of the United States Government at all times to further strengthen the cordial relations that have long existed between it and the Government of Venezuela.

There does not seem to be in this legation a copy of the laws to which your excellency refers, but I shall try to obtain one at my earliest convenience.

I take this occasion, etc.,

Francis B. Loomis.