File No. 3136/31–33.

Minister Russell to the Secretary of State.

No. 203.]

Sir: I have the honor to report that on Saturday last, June 1, the Venezuelan Congress convened in special session for the purpose of hearing the reading of the President’s message. The diplomatic corps attended in a body, and General Castro himself stood up for nearly half an hour and read the most important part of the message. The President read in a clear voice, audible to all the immense crowd in the Senate chamber.

I inclose you a copy of the President’s message, and also a copy of the report of the minister for foreign affairs to Congress, with translations of parts in both of interest to the United States.

I am, sir, etc.,

William W. Russell.

president’s message—extract.

[Inclosure 1—Translation.]

I am pleased to inform you that our political relations with the nations friendly to Venezuela are continually becoming stronger and more cordial, as the purpose of the Government is dominated by that spirit of culture and harmony which the good name of the country demands. We are treading with a firm and sure step the path of right and honor, and we are observing religiously our obligations to other countries, so that there is perfect cordiality between the Government and the diplomatic representatives accredited in the Republic.

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In a short space of time there will be entirely canceled the claims of England, Germany, and Italy, which were given preference by the decision of The Hague Tribunal. The payment of these claims will be followed immediately by the cancellation of the claims of the other nations.

You will also see from the report of the ministry for foreign affairs the reasons for which, unfortunately, our diplomatic relations with France continue to be interrupted. This does not mean, however, that Venezuela is unwilling to renew these relations, for it never has been and never will be the fault of Venezuela that said relations are not maintained on the same friendly footing as with other nations.

Our intercourse with the Government of the United States has continued to be completely cordial and friendly since I had the pleasure of receiving in the capital His Excellency Mr. William W. Russell as envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary.

In an affable and concilatory manner this distinguished diplomat has conducted negotiations with this Government, thus causing to disappear that tension which, contrary to my desires and proven sympathy for the North American nation, has been caused by the discussion of some questions with American citizens.

[Inclosure 2.—Translation.]

report of minister for foreign affairs.—extract.

On May 1, 1905, this ministry was informed by His Excellency Mr. Herbert W. Bowen, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of the United States, that, in accordance with instructions from his Government, he was leaving that day for Washington, leaving as chargé d’affaires ad interim Mr. Norman Hutchinson, who continued to act in this capacity until August 22, of the same year, when His Excellency Mr. W. W. Russell was received in public and solemn audience with the same character of envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary, presenting to the chief of the nation the letters of recall of his predecessor.

The relations between this ministry and His Excellency Mr. W. W. Russell have been up to the present perfectly cordial. On the same high plane of perfect cordiality, the said distinguished diplomat has carried on negotiations with this ministry in those questions which came before him as the temporary representative of French interests, since the time when diplomatic relations with the Government of France were suspended.

In a note dated June 1, 1905, the United States legation communicated the news of the death of His Excellency Mr. John Hay, Secretary of State, and the Government of Venezuela expressed its profound regret at such a great loss to the North American nation. This ministry answered the polite note in which it was informed of the appointment of His Excellency Mr. Elihu Root as Secretary of State.

Mr. Jacob Sleeper replaced Mr. Hutchinson as secretary of the United States legation, as this ministry was opportunely informed. During the absence of His Excellency Mr. Russell, from November, 1906, to the end of March, 1907, the honorable Mr. Sleeper was in chargé of the legation as charge d’affaires ad interim.

From March 23, 1905, on which day this department answered His Excellency Mr. H. W. Bowen in regard to a proposition for arbitration contained in a copy of his instructions from Washington, ended entirely the diplomatic discussion carried on by the Department of State of the United States in regard to the expulsion of Mr. Jaurett; in regard to the then pending suit before the federal and cassation court against the New York and Bermudez Company; and in regard to the revision of the award in the Olcott case.

As before stated, when a change was made in the head of the United States legation by the appointment of His Excellency Mr. Russell, there arrived in Venezuela in company with the new diplomatic representative the honorable Judge Calhoun, who, according to well-founded information, came on a confidential mission from His Excellency the President of the United States, for the purpose of making an impartial examination of the suits which were then being tried before the courts of the Republic against the New York and Bermudez Company. The Government of Venezuela, in its desire to enlighten [Page 1095] Judge Calhoun in regard to our judicial precedure and the laws of the Republic, extended to him through its official agents all facilities for the better fulfillment of the mission which had been intrusted to him. On the return of this honorable judge to his own country, it was reasonably deduced from information in the American press and from the subsequent attitude of the Department of State of the United States that the report of said judge had rectified the opinion of the department in regard to the pretensions of interested parties who had previously secured diplomatic action by making assertions emanating from sentiments of self-interest after a long and passionate struggle.

As above stated, then, since the events referred to, that is, for a space of two years, the Government of the United States has taken no diplomatic action in regard to the three questions above mentioned.

Recently, on March 30 of the present year, His Excellency Mr. W. W. Russell delivered to this department a note, calling anew the attention of the Government to the three claims of Jaurett, the New York and Bermudez Company, and the Orinoco Steamship Company, and presenting in addition to other claims one in the name of Manoa Company (Limited), Orinoco Company (Limited), and the Orinoco corporation and the other called by the name of Critchfield.

Mr. Russell accompanied his note with the copy of the instructions that had been sent to him by the Department of State in support of said claims.

The restorer of Venezuela and the Constitutional President of the Republic, having considered these claims, gave instructions to this department to answer the note and memorandum in the precise and concrete terms as will appear from the memorandum which this department in turn sent to the American Legation on the 23d of last April.

In this memorandum there are ratified the opinions and statements which had been set forth and adopted by the Government of Venezuela in the diplomatic discussion of two years ago in regard to the cases of Jaurett, revision of the award of the umpire in the claim of the Orinoco Steamship Company, and, the submission to an international arbitration of the suit against the New York and Bermudez Company, thus taking the latter away from the jurisdiction of the natural and competent tribunals of the Republic.

In regard to the petition for arbitration in the claim of the Orinoco corporation, which is said to be the concessionary of the Manoa Company and the Orinoco Company (Limited), the Government contends that this is a case of res adjudicata, according to the definitive sentence of the umpire of the Venezuelan-American mixed commission in the claims which the Government of the United States presented to said commission in the name of said companies, viz, Manoa (Limited), Orinoco (Limited), and George Turnbull. The above-mentioned sentence fixed the status of the interested parties to the questions and controversies arising from the interpretation and execution of the contract as within the exclusive jurisdiction of the tribunals of Venezuela, as the only competent tribunals, and to which the interested parties should have applied for their rights. This position is the one which the Government of Venezuela maintains and sustains and on which it stands on the present question.

In the fifth case, or the Critchfield claim, the Government considers that as the Congress of the Republic did not approve the contract on which Mr. Critchfield bases his claim, an approval which was at the date of said contract a constitutional requisite, indispensable for its validity, said claim is wholly without foundation, the more so as all controversies in regard to this point should be submitted only and exclusively to the tribunals of Venezuela, in conformity with the law. However, the Government, desiring to conciliate in a friendly manner the pretensions of Mr. Critchfield in regard to the exonerations of certain dues and facilities for the exploitation of his mine, drew up a plan of arrangement with the representative of Critchfield which amounted to nothing, as it was not considered by the interested party, all of which is shown in the memorandum to which reference has been made.

Mr. Russell has advised this department of the receipt of the memorandum and of its having been sent to the Government of the United States of America.

The Republic of Venezuela forming a part of the International Sanitary Bureau established in Washington for the purpose of lending efficient aid to the several countries represented at the First General International Sanitary Convention, which convened in the same city, the Constitutional President of the Republic determined in the month of October, 1905, to send a delegate to the Second Convention, which was to convene at once in the capital city of the United States of America. Mr. N. Veloz Goiticoa, chargé d’affaires of Venezuela, was appointed delegate and attended the sessions, signing ad referendum the [Page 1096] Convention agreed upon by the delegates of the eleven nations who had sent representatives. This convention is for the purpose of making uniform sanitary measures in America; adopting suitable methods for preventing the propagating of sicknesses from one country to another, and to simplify at the same time the special health rules which make difficult the transit of people, baggage, and merchandise.

The chargé d’affaires of Venezuela in Washington informed this department on June 7, 1906, that the President of the United States of America had ratified, with the consent of the Senate, the above-mentioned convention, and this department has been informed also of the ratifications which have in turn been made by Peru and Costa Rica and of the adhesion to the said convention of the Republic of Honduras.

On January 10 of the present year this department sent to the bureau of hygiene of this district a copy of the work published by the Government of the United States containing all the acts of the Second International Sanitary Convention of the American Republics, to be duly studied and considered.

In the section “documents” there is inserted the text of the convention signed ad referendum for your examination and approval in conformity with section 12, article 52, of the Constitution.

The United States legation forwarded to this department, in the name of its Government, an invitation for the Republic of Venezuela to take part in an International Naval, Maritime, and Military Exposition in the vicinity of Hampton Roads, Va., to commemorate on May 13, 1907, the establishment at Jamestown of the first colony of English-speaking people on the American Continent. The Government of Venezuela, with a due regard for the significance of such an important event, expressed its gratitude to the Government of the United States for the honored invitation.

Latterly the chargé d’affaires ad interim of the United States delivered to this department the invitation which the president of the board of directors of the International Exposition of Jamestown addressed to General Cipriano Castro repeating said invitation. In regard to this invitation it was explained to the North American diplomatic representative that owing to circumstances wholly foreign to the wishes already expressed as to the participation by Venezuela in said exposition it had not been possible for the national executive to issue the necessary orders for the proper naval and military representation of the Republic at that solemn function.

Our diplomatic relations with the Government of the United States have been carried on in the city of Washington in a most cordial and satisfactory manner by Dr. Rafael Garbiras Guzman as chargé d’affaires since the beginning of 1906. At present, on account of Doctor Garbiras having to attend the sessions of Congress, the secretary of legation, Mr. A. Pulido, remains as chargé d’affaires ad interim.

From the documents inserted in the section corresponding you will learn of the suit in the New York courts against Capt. George B. Boynton, Attorney L. H. Thompson, a certain Wilcox, and the Keller brothers for counterfeiting dies for the clandestine fabrication of Venezuelan silver money.

As a result of that suit, up to the present, the following have been sentenced, viz: Captain Boynton, six months hard labor; Thompson and Wilcox fined, and the trial of the Keller brothers not yet finished.

The legation of Venezuela acted diligently in bringing about the discovery and punishment of the counterfeiters, and most important services were rendered in this affair by John E. Wilkie, esq., chief of the secret police of the Treasury Department at Washington.