File No. 4519/29–31.
Chargé Wilson to the Secretary of State.
Buenos Aires , May 12, 1908 .
Sir: I have the honor to report that on the 11th instant the Forty-seventh National Congress was opened by the President of the Republic with the usual ceremonies.[Page 14]
To the joint assembly of both Houses of Congress, and in the presence of the Argentine ministers, the diplomatic corps, and other high officials the President personally read his message.
The President’s message, copies of which are inclosed herewith, as well as a synopsis in English, is a lengthy document of 105 pages. It begins by a defense of his decree of January 25 (for closing Congress and keeping in force the budget of 1907, and of his intervention in the Pro vines of Corrientes and Santiago del Estero).
As regards the decree the President describes it as a measure of an administrative character made necessary in order to provide for the public expenditure, but not an invasion of “the sphere of legal action of the legislative power.” He asserts also that the unavoidable consequences and ulterior proceedings of the decree were determined by serious circumstances and elevated and honorable motives absolutely foreign to the inconceivable design of violating parliamentary privileges.
The part of the message dealing with the department of the interior states that the relations between the nation and the Provinces “have continued in the most frank harmony and solidarity,” and then goes on to speak of the revolutions which have occurred in the Provinces of San Luis, Corrientes, and Santiago del Estero, and makes a defense for national intervention which was decreed in the first of those two Provinces.
The labor question is refererd to at some length as being one of the most important matters of the present day, and legislation is urged in various directions.
The police and sanitary conditions of the country are referred to as satisfactory, as is also the increased use of the postal and telegraph services during 1907.
Speaking of foreign relations the message says:
We strive to cultivate the most friendly relations with all States and constantly are receiving from them marks of good will and esteem. Holland has raised its representative with us to its highest rank, and several Governments of Europe and Asia have made changes among the diplomats accredited to this Republic, and as the newcomers are highly distinguished men, our cordial relations with these countries are of the best.
Reference is made to the fact that Buenos Aires has been chosen as the place for the meeting of the fourth Pan American Conference and it is stated that—
It was due to the United States Government, acting on behalf of the other States, that our city was finally designated for the honor. For this the Argentine minister in Washington was directed to express his thanks to the American Government.
The President then refers to a treaty with the United States relating to the naturalization of citizens of the two countries and the civil and political status of these which is under discussion, having been agreed to in the main.
Special reference is then made to relations with the various South American countries whose boundaries touch those of the Republic.
With Brazil efforts are being made to improve commercial relations, and both Governments are agreed that mutual allowances and sacrifices must be made in order to come to an understanding.[Page 15]
Treaties of various kinds with Chile are under consideration, and the relations between the two countries are probably more cordial than ever before.
With Paraguay also relations are most friendly.
In regard to Uruguay the message states that notwithstanding the fishing limit industry affairs and the Constitución incident, the relations between the two Governments are very cordial.
The President states with satisfaction the fact that notwithstanding the number of foreign residents in the country there is not a single instance pending in which diplomatic intervention has been considered necessary.
Financially the present condition of the country is highly satisfactory, and it is this section of the message which will be read with the greatest interest abroad. With a revenue that totals $25,500,000 over and above its estimated return, and that revenue 6 per cent better than the figures for the preceding year, the situation is certainly most encouraging. Moreover, on striking the balance of ordinary and extraordinary funds available for service, there remains a surplus of $7,500,000 paper which will be used in amortizing outstanding debts. Attention is called to the high standard of credit which Argentine enjoys abroad, and reference is made to the importance of maintaining such a standard at all costs. The President lets it be distinctly understood that no project having for its aim the disturbance of existing currency legislation will receive his support.
Touching the administration of justice, the message foreshadows a possibility of reform in certain directions, such as better prisons and better paid judges in order to raise the standard of the judiciary of the country.
In regard to education the President recognizes that there is great chance for improvement, especially in primary education.
Little is said in regard to the department of war, but the condition of the army is stated to be satisfactory. Certain improvements have been made in the artillery and new barracks are being constructed.
The minister of marine announces that the Government will abandon the bill presented to Congress at its last session relating to the purchase of the battleships and will present another authorizing the acquisition of “destroyers” and other “indispensable elements” for the squadron, even if only to fulfill the reduced functions it might have to perform with respect to other naval forces of South America, until modern warships are incorporated in our Navy.
The message refers to agriculture as the chief source of wealth of the country and gives various very satisfactory statistics for the year 1907.
In the section dealing with public works especial attention is called to the need of deepening the port of Buenos Aires, the continuation of irrigation works, and the completion of certain railway lines. At the same time it is declared that financial caution must not be neglected. Recourse to borrowed capital is condemned while there is a possibility of completing such works as may be of the first necessity out of the national resources.
I am, etc.,