Minister Barrett to the Secretary of State.

No. 26.]

Sir: I have the honor to report that, on January 1, the National Assembly of Colombia met in extraordinary session at the call of President Reyes. The principal work before it is to confirm the decrees that he has issued during the past year and approve the budgets of the various ministers of state.

The most interesting feature of the meeting of this assembly is the message of President Reyes. It is a strong document, and reviews carefully the work that has been accomplished by his administration during the past year. It effectively refutes many of the arguments advanced by the opponents and critics of President Reyes that his policies have not been for the good of the country. The progress outlined is encouraging, and gives promise of a general forward movement all along the line in the material prosperity of the Republic.

The discussion of railway building begun and contemplated occupies a prominent place in the message. There are more enterprises under way for the construction of railroads than is generally supposed and many new ones are being planned. Among the principal concessionaires who are planning extensive railroad building are two Americans, respectively, Alfred Bishop Mason and Henry C. Granger, of New York. In another dispatch I will report more in detail on this phase of the message.

In discussing the foreign affairs a brief reference is made to the relations with the United States, of which the following is a rough translation:

We have not yet arrived at an understanding with the Government of the United States of America in regard to the questions of a particular nature which we desire to settle. Our minister plenipotentiary in Washington, Señor Don Diego Mendoza, informed us at the end of last October that he had begun negotiations [Page 443] with the Secretary of State of the United States, but since then we have not received any information to indicate what course these were taking. The instructions communicated by the minister of foreign affairs to our diplomatic representative are sufficiently ample to suit the diverse conditions that may be taken up. We know that the President of the United States has manifested a disposition to arrive at a just understanding, and this has been confirmed by the declarations of Mr. Barrett, recently appointed minister plenipotentiary of that Republic before our Government.

I have, etc.,

John Barrett.