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REPUBLIC OF HONDURAS, DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN RELATIONS,
Comayagua, February 25, 1871. SIR: The undersigned, minister of foreign relations of the government of Honduras, has the honor to acknowledge the reception of the dispatch which the honorable minister resident of the United States at Salvador was pleased to address him on the 18th instant, and at the same time takes the liberty to accompany herewith an authenticated copy of the communication written by him on this day to the department of foreign relations of that republic, inaking known to it that the military forces of Salvador are not to trespass upon, occupy, or attack any portion of the railroad line from Amapala to Puerto Cortes, the neutrality of said route being guaranteed by the great powers, the United States of North America, and Great Britain, and declaring that Honduras will not make use of any point thereof as a base for military operations.
The undersigned deems it expedient to call the Hon. Mr. Torbert's attention to the sudden aggression by the Salvadorean forces who have invaded the Honduras territory, when this government expected that no act of hostility would be committed, as there had been no declaration of war, and the mediation of Nicaragua and Guatemala had been accepted. .
It is possible that this government may have to call upon all the citizens of Honduras to take up arms for the defense of their country just unjustly attacked, and in that event be obliged to use the laborers employed upon the railway. All detriments that such an extreme measure may cause to the undertaking aforesaid must fall upon the Salvadorean government, who is the party responsible therefor, having undertaken, without the formalities prescribed by the international law positive of these states, an unjustifiable war against Honduras.
The undersigned communicates the abuve facts to the honorable minister resident of the United States at Salvador for his information, by order of his excellency the President of this republic, and in doing so has the honor of again tendering to him his respects and high considerations.
FRANCISCO ALVARADO. Hon. General ALFRED T. A. TORBERT,
Minister Resident of the United States at Salvador.
UNITED STATES LEGATION,
San Salvador, March 5, 1871. SIR: I am in receipt of a communication dated February 25, from the minister of foreign relations for Honduras, complaining that the government of Salvador has not respected the neutrality of the railroad now under construction in that state, inasmuch as Don Domingo Varquez, in command of a Salvadorean force, on the 21st of February invaded Honduras, attacked and drove from the town of Goascoran, on the line of said railroad, a picket of thirty men who were stationed there solely to protect the engineers and workmen of said road from molestation in Honduras, and not to guard them against raids from Salvador, and that said picket was not a part of the regular forces of Honduras.
In view of these statements of the minister of Honduras and your letter of February 22 to me on the subject of the neutrality of the railroad, I hope you will favor me with an explanation of the attack of Sr. Varquez, and I am led to believe, from a conversation to-day with a member of the Salvadorean cabinet, that the responsibility of the first violation of the neutrality of the line of the said railroad will be thrown upon Honduras by the invasion of Salvador before the 20th of February by General Ochoa from Goascoran, on the line of said railroad.
But for the better information of my government it is necessary to have the explanation in writing.
Sincerely hoping that all difficulties may be avoided in regard to this neutrality, and ever praying for the peace and prosperity of Salvador, I remain, &c.,
ALFRED T. A. TORBERT. His Excellency Sr. Dr. Don GREGORIO ARBIZU,
Minister of Foreign Relations, Sc., Sc.
Mr. Torbert to Mr. Fish. No. 37.]
UNITED STATES LEGATION,
San Salvador, March 7, 1871. (Received April 1.) SIR: For the information of the Department, I have the honor to inclose herewith translation copies (marked 1 and 2) of a dispatch received from this government, accompanied with a letter addressed by Thomas Martinez, general-in-chief of the expeditionary army of Salvador, to his government, complaining of the action of the state of Honduras in relation to the guaranteed neutrality of the line of the railroad in Honduras by the United States. Inclosure No. 4 is my reply to the above communication. I am, &c.,
ALFRED T. A. TORBERT.
San Salrador, March 6, 1871. SIR: Your excellency will become informed by the copy of a communication from the general-in-chief of the expeditionary army of Salvador, which I have the honor to accompany herewith, of the acts of manifest hostility that have been commenced at the port of Amapala, notwithstanding the neutrality of said port, and of all the line of the Honduras Railway stipulated in the fourteenth article of the treaty entered into between the United States and Honduras on the 4th of July, 1864.
As I stated to your excellency in my note of the 22d ultimo, my government at once and cheerfully accepts and will respect the neutrality of that territory on condition that the government of Honduras extends a due reciprocity, not making use of any portion of the railroad route for military operations against this republic. Otherwise, the government of Salvador, which cannot forego any means of defense to preserve its rights intact, would be compelled to repulse and fight the enemy wherever he may be, even though he may be found on the territory guaranteed as neutral, which, being under the control of the hostile government, ought not to be looked upon as such.
To avoid, then, any ulterior reclamations that might come from your excellency's government, the President has directed me to urge upon you, in the name of this government, to employ, if you deem it proper, your offices with the government of Honduras, and obtain from its part an equal effect for the stipulated neutrality, without which this would degenerate into an odious privilege that Salvador neither could nor should recognize.
My government entertains the assurance that your excellency, in view of the foregoing observations, will render due justice to it, inasmuch as it has paid all deference to your excellency's mediation; and with the request that you will be pleased to make known to me the result of your efforts to this effect, I take pleasure in renewing to the honorable minister resident the assurances of my most respectful consideration. In the absence of the minister of foreign relations, the chief of the foreign bureau.
SALVADOR GALLEGOS. | His Excellency General ALFRED T. A. TORBET,
Minister Resident of the United States.
[Translation. SIR: The government of Honduras has declared sentral the port of Amapala, and the same has been perhaps done by the powers that guarantee the railroad of that republic; but, sir, it is well known that the government of Honduras and its employés respect neither treaties nor obligations, nor the law of nations ; of this they have given many proofs, and are now giving still one more, which is that of sending out of the port of Amapala armed vessels to capture all vessels coming from the minor ports of Nicaragua to La Union, a port of this republic. Out of one of these captured vessels they have taken the lieutenant, Dr. Jose Maria Ballecillos, who was bound to this republic and in my service. Ballecillos is there treated as a prisoner of war, and those who had charge of the vessel were also very ill-treated.
I beg of you, Mr. Minister, to lay this before his excellency the President, that be may decide what course the officers in command of the expeditionary forces going to Honduras are to pursue, becanse it is a very serious inconvenience to the Salvadorean forces that those of Honduras be permitted to do all the harm they can, at the same time that the Salvadoreans observe a strict neutrality.
Be pleased, Mr. Minister, to advise me of the President's resolution, and to accept the considerations, &c., &c.
TOMAS MARTINEZ. The Hon. MINISTER OF FOREIGN RELATIONS.
San Salvador, March 6, 1871. SIR: I have the 'honor to acknowledge the receipt on the 5th instant of your excellency's communication dated the 6th, in regard to the neutrality of the Honduras Railload, and inclosing a copy of a letter dated the 4th instant, addressed by Thomas Martinez, general-in-chief of the expeditionary army of Salvador, to his government on the same subject.
In your dispatch you remark, viz: “To avoid, then, any ulterior reclamations that might come from your government, the President has directed me to urge upon you in the name of this government to employ, if you deem it proper, your good offices with the government of Ilonduras, and obtain from its part an equal effect for the stipulated neutrality," &c. To this end, if you will refer to my dispatch of February 20, and to the accompanying letter (marked C) to the minister of foreign relations for Honduras, you will see that I have anticipated the desires of his excellency the President. Moreover, I am pleased to inform you that I am in receipt of a copy of a letter dated February 25 from the minister of Honduras, answering my requests, and he informs me that you have been furnished with the same dispatch. In said dispatch occurs the following, viz: “And to avoid all pretext for attack, occupation, or trespass of any nature upon any point of the railrroad line, I have to declare to you that requisite orders are given to the effect that the regular garrisons and the military detachments emploveri in guarding the works of the railroad from Amapala to Puerto Cortes be reduced to the ordinary number, and be solely charged with the duty of preserving order in the interior; and moreover that the government of Honduras will not make use of, as a base for military operations to repel the unjust aggressions of the Salvador government, any of the points on the line, and much less of those where the works are organized," &c.
As the matter stands, if both Salvador and Honduras adhere faithfully to their conpromises there will be no trouble in regard to the neutrality of said railroad line.
In regard to the communication of General Martinez he says, viz : “The government of Honduras has declared nentral the port of Amapala, and the same been perhaps done by the powers that guarantee the railroad of that republic;" and I would say that the United States recognizes the rights of sovereignty and property of Honduras in and over the line of the railroad from Amapala to Puerto Cortes, and guarantees the entire neutrality of the same for certain purposes and on certain conditions, and for this guarantee Honduras bas agreed, at my suggestion, that the port of Amapala and the line of the railroad shall sustain a neutral attitude in case of war between that state and Salvador.
It is not my place to comment on the very sweeping denunciation of General Martinez on the faithlessness of Honduras in fulfilling her treaty and international obligations; but the case as he represents it, viz: “Honduras sending ont of the port of Ama pala armed vessels to capture all vessels coming from the minor ports of Nicaragua to La Union in Salvador," seems to me to be a question to be settled between Honduras and Nicaragua. And as to the particular case of Lieutenant Ballecillos referred to, I cannot give a positive opinion without hearing from the government of Honduras. Moreover the general states that the lieutenant was on his way to this republic and in his service and not that of Salvador. At present, however, it appears to me to bave been an unlawful act, and I will ask an explanation and request that he be released. In this connection it is not out of place to remark that it appears that Honduras has cut all treaty relations and communications with Salvador, whether wisely or not sho is the only judge, and if she will not allow any communication through her waters to Salvador, international right and usage will give her complete control of her maritime territory and a marine league along all the coasts of the state.
Within these limits her rights of property and territorial jurisdiction are absoluto and exclude those of any other nation. Nor are these rights abridged by the United States guaranteeing the neutrality of a line of railroad from ocean to ocean, but she still retains the right to guard her coast to prevent intrusions, to warn off, &c. ; but, without a declaration of war, I do not believe she is justified in making arrests like the case referred to. And in case of war with Salvador, Honduras should not, (in view of the said neutrality,) and she says she will not, use this port, nor any part of the line of the railroad to make aggressions on the territory of Salvador. I am, &c.,
ALFRED T. A. TORBERT. Sr. Dr. Don GREGORIO ARBIZU,
Minister of Foreign Relations for Salvador.
Mr. Fish to Mr. Torbert. No. 25.]
DEPARTMENT OF STATE.
Washington, March 20, 1871. SIR: Your dispatches, Nos. 32 and 31, of the 19th and 20th ultimo respectively, have been received. In reply to your inquiry as to the extent of the obligation assumed by this Government in the fourteenth article of its treaty with Honduras of 1864, relative to the guarantee of a railway across that republic, I have to state that it has always been understood here that that obligation does not attach until the completion of that work. The guarantee was given as a consideration for certain advan. tages which, as they cannot be enjoyed until the road shall have been finished, this Government cannot until then properly be called upon to repel an invasion of the route from abroad. I am, &c.,
Mr. Torbert to Mr. Fish. No. 44.]
UNITED STATES LEGATION,
San Salvador, April 7, 1871. (Received May 2.) SIR: I have the honor to inclose herewith a translation copy (marked A) of a note received from the minister of foreign affairs of Honduras, in regard to the Honduras Railroad. I furnished a copy of said note to the government of Salvador, and the translation copy (marked B) herewith is their answer to the same. I am, &c.,
ALFRED T. A. TORBERT.
Sr. Don Francisco Alvarado to Mr. A. T. A. Torbert.
Comayagua, March 24, 1871. Sir: The government has learned to-day that a Salvadorean division, commanded by General Miranda, invaded the territory of this state on the 22d instant by the place called Goascoran, apd that a part of the force had occupied the said place and the other had proceeded toward the town of Langue.
As it is quite possible that the expedition may come upon this capital, which is on of the most important on the railroad route, the superintending engineers of the works having their offices therein, and as the government, by reason of its being a neatral point, could not and should not make use of it as a “point d'appui" for military operations, I hereby declare to you, in the name of my government, that in the event of the Salvador forces making the attempt to occupy this capital, all the inhabitants, both permanent and transient, together with their interests, will remain under the protection of the great powers who have guaranteed the neutrality of the Honduras Rail. road line, one of which powers is the great American republic that you honorably reprrsent in that country
The government therefore trusts that you will be pleased to adopt the necessary measures to prevent any attack against this city and the other towns on the railroad route, inasmuch as there is no reason whatever for their being occupied or molested by the enemies of Honduras. By order of the government I write you this communication, boping that you will furnish me with a timely answer thereto, and accept my respecto and consideration.
DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN RELATIONS OF SALVADOR,
National Palace, San Salrador, April 4, 1871. Sir: This department has received your excellency's note of the 3d instant, together with the accompanying copy of the communication which was addressed to your el cellency by the department of foreign affairs of Honduras, claiming the neutrality of Comayagua as one of the most important points of the railroad line, that government having been advised that a Salvadorean division had invaded the soil of Honduras by Goascoran. As I had the honor of stating to your excellency in my official letter of the 22d of February last, the government of Salvador, in recognition of the neutrality of the railway, promised to your excellency to issue all the necessary orders to have the said neutrality duly respected in the event of an invasion by forces of this republic To this effect I have the pleasure of giving your excellency the assurance that at the proper time the requisite orders for this purpose were given to General Don Florence Xatruch, chief of the expeditionary army, who has, besides, advised my government of his having come to an understanding, at the town of Nacaome, with the engineers of the railroad, in order to proceed with greater certainty in his military operations, without any violation of the neutrality.
For these reasons his excellency the President, on being informed of the contents of the note from the Honduras foreign office, a copy of which your excellency has been pleased to furnish me with, has directed me to again signify to your excellency the recognition that this government has made of the neutrality of all the railroad route, in which sense the proper orders have been given and will be repeated.
In fulfilling the grateful duty of apprising your excellency of this in answer to your pote above referred to, it affords me much pleasure to renew to you the assurances of my particular esteem and consideration, I am, &c.,
SALVADOR GALLEGOS, (The Chief of Bureau in Charge of the Department of Foreign Relations,
Mr. Fish to Mr. Torbert.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, April 10, 1871. SIR: Your dispatch No. 37, of the 7th ultimo, has been received. I is noticed that in your note to the minister for foreign affairs of Salvi dor of the 6th ultimo, a copy of which accompanies that dispatch, you state unqualifiedly that this Government guarantees the neutrality of the railway which has been commenced across Honduras between the