Imágenes de páginas

and Portuguese emissaries, whom if necessary they intended to disavow. This brilliant design, having for its principal object a close monopoly of gold mines, was for the first time ascertained in the course of this Arbitration, nearly one hundred and fifty years after the event.

Then in the Dutch documents the history of the rise and growth and fall of the Dutch West India Company is set forth. The energy of the promoters, who urged that in this way the Spaniard could be made to show his back, the courage and tenacity with which the emigrants landed on a coast populated by savage tribes and won their way to the confidence of the natives, and the history of the change of the soil from swamp and tropical forest into rich fields of sugar or of cotton, can be ascertained. The efforts of the Dutch to promote the great sugar industry may also be traced from the shipping of the first trial cargo of syrup to the establishment of handmills, and thence to the draining and planting of those large fields on which the world depended for supplies of sugar and rum, and which required cargoes of slaves from Africa and importation of horses from the Spanish possessions, and even from distant Rhode Island. The most minute details of the life of the colony day by day, two long centuries ago, are to be found in the official diary of the doings of the Dutch at Fort Kijkoveral, and the letters of Laurens Storm van's Gravesande show the character and interests of a celebrated Dutch Governor, who ruled Guiana for thirty years and hated the Spaniards right well. These letters of Gravesande illustrate the growing weakness of the Dutch West India Company and his anger at the increasing power of the Capuchin missionaries on the frontiers of territory claimed by the Dutch, while he piteously complains that he does not know where the western boundaries are, and suggests that troubles must continue unless they can be settled between the Spanish ministers and the States-General. Then at the close of the eighteenth century the position of a distant colony which was seized alternately by the British and the French, and was obliged during the very strain of war to change its commercial interests froin sugar to cotton, can be gleaned from these documents, until for a brief period Dutch rule again appears with the substitution of a Governor-General, writing to the authorities of the Batavian Republic, for a Director-General sending despatches to the Honourable the Directors of the West India Company, or their High Mightinesses the States-General.

At last, in 1810, Venezuela began to throw off the yoke of Spain, and Great Britain in 1814 obtained possession of the rights of the Dutch. New Governments in both countries brought forward varying conditions. The Capuchin missionaries were murdered in the savannahs where their churches were built and their villages of Indians had been collected, and the mission savannah became a desolate waste, from which no aggression need be feared on the British side. Venezuela had too much to do with everlasting revolutions in the distant provinces beyond the Orinoco. There was no population, no wealth, no enterprise in Guiana. Great Britain, too, confined herself more and more to the sugar plantations and the growth of cotton within narrow territories. A great crisis occurred when the slave trade was abolished, and the prosperity of the colony received a staggering blow. But a ray of hope came with the discovery of gold, which as an industry has become more and more important to the colony. With the discovery of gold, prospecting parties went out up the rivers and through the jungles, both on Venezuelan and British territories and the territories in dispute. A fixed boundary became more and more necessary, because no capital could be obtained for Venezuelan enterprise, and Venezuela always interfered by her expressed predominant claimn with British enterprise. When no arrangement could be made, Great Britain had to say that within a certain portion of territory British subjects would be protected, even if they went to mine at their own risk; and within that portion, both in the Barima, Massaruni, and Potaro districts, placer and even quartz mines have been opened. All these mines are now confirmed to Great Britain.

The history of the diplomatic negotiations and the reasons for the action of the United States Government is long and complicated. Only a small portion of the correspondence is published in the appendices to the British and Venezuelan cases, but these letters serve to show the points at issue, and the methods of the statesmen who endeavoured to settle the question. Lord Granville, Lord Rosebery, and Lord Salisbury attempted by conciliation to come to an arrangement, but the claims of Venezuela, resting on inaccurate historical information, were persistently pressed, and it suited the political objects of the Ladronera' party to have a red flag which could be raised from time to time to divert public attention in Venezuela from more domestic interests. President Cleveland seems to have thought that the British Government had gone to sleep over the matter,

and the value of trained form in diplomacy and the importance of polished words in speech and despatch were not often better illustrated than by the bad effects temporarily following the methods adopted by Mr. Olney. It was perhaps fortunate for both countries that Mr. Bayard represented the United States in London. Finally, President Cleveland appointed a Commission to inquire into historical aspects of the dispute, under the presidency of Mr. Justice Brewer, who afterwards sat as one of the arbitrators.

This Commission, not finding that Venezuela, in spite of her claims, possessed any documents important to the proof of title, had to send representatives to the Hague, London, and Spain, and received material assistance from the British Government. The result of their labours tended to mark out the lines of the claims put forward by either side, which were afterwards argued under the provisions of the Treaty of Washington. Venezuela claimed the whole country up to the west bank of the Essequibo, on the ground that Guiana had been discovered by Spain, and that Spain had perfected the discovery by occupation and by incorporating the province of Guiana within her Empire. Any territory occupied by the Dutch had only been occupied by permission of Spain or by encroachment, which must be restricted to the lands actually occupied. Great Britain claimed that the Dutch came to South America and to Guiana on equal terms with Spain, and that occupation and political control indicated the amount of territory to which the Dutch and Spaniards were respectively entitled. The extent of territory belonging to each country could only be ascertained by an examination of the acts done by each country within the territory in dispute.

But apart from the long array of facts to which brief attention has been called, there are in the resulting arbitration some points which might be lost under the intricate tangle of history and law, but which should be useful or instructive in the future developement and in the conduct of arbitration. The arbitration itself, too, was an actual practical illustration of the working of the theory which was so much discussed at the Hague. Its lessons for the future are valuable and will form a guide to statesmen. Its subject may help to decide what kind of disputes can properly be decided by international arbitration, and what rules should govern the settling of such disputes.

The settlement of the basis on which an arbitration is to be founded is one of the most important points in the

[ocr errors]

successful carrying out of an arbitration. In this case the Treaty of Washington bore grave marks of the haste and conflicting views prevailing at the time when it was concluded. This is a practical difficulty which it may not be possible always, or even generally, to avoid. War or peace may depend upon the speedy settlement of a basis of discussion or the reference of the question, and the acceptance or rejection of a phrase may mean at a crucial point arbitration or no arbitration, and, in the event of no arbitration, results which both nations desire to prevent. Nevertheless, it is the duty and business of statesmen to give anxious and thoughtful care, with avoidance of carping, to fixing the terms of reference upon a clear and absolutely intelligible basis, showing what the intention of the parties may be.

In this arbitration the treaty had been negotiated between Lord Salisbury and Mr. Olney, and as a guidance to the Tribunal contained three rules set forth in Article IV. Those rules gave rise to considerable discussion. The third article had said :

The Tribunał shall investigate and ascertain the extent of the territories belonging to or that might lawfully be claimed by the United Netherlands or by the Kingdom of Spain respectively, at the time of the acquisition by Great Britain of the colony of British Guiana, and shall determine the boundary line between the colony of British Guiana and the United States of Venezuela.'

Article IV. continued : ' In deciding the matters submitted the arbitrators shall ascertain all facts which they deem necessary to a decision of the controversy, and shall be governed by the following rules, which are agreed upon by the high contracting parties as rules to be taken as appli. cable to the case, and by such principles of international law not inconsistent therewith as the arbitrators shall determine to be applicable to the case.

*(a) Adverse holding or prescription during a period of fifty years shall make a good title. The arbitrators may deem exclusive political control of a district, as well as actual settlement thereof, susficient to constitute adverse holding or to make title by prescription.

(6) The arbitrators may recognise and give effect to rights and claims resting on any other ground whatever valid according to international law, and on any principles of international law which the arbitrators may deem applicable to the case, and which are not in contravention of the foregoing rule.

"(c) In determining the boundary line, if territory of one party be found by the Tribunal to have been at the date of this treaty in the occupation of the subjects or citizens of the other party, such effect shall be given to such occupation as reason, justice, and principles of

international law and the equities of the case shall in the opinion of the Tribunal require.'

These rules, especially Rule (b), seem to be very wide and to give great latitude for discretion. But Rule (b) refers back to Rule (a), and on Rule (a) a serious disagreement at once arose. On the first day of his long speech the AttorneyGeneral for England seems to have taken his stand upon this clause. In language which left no room for doubt, and which plainly intimated that Great Britain went into the arbitration upon certain terms, which were revealed by the open or confidential despatches passing between Lord Salisbury and Mr. Olney, he claimed that Rule (a) had one interpretation, and one interpretation only. Venezuela, in their final written Argument, took a contrary view, although nothing of the kind had been suggested in their written Case and Counter-case. The British contention was that the Tribunal were to consider the fifty years to date back from the year of the Treaty of Washington. Venezuela contended that it dated back from the Treaty of London in 1814, when Great Britain acquired the colony.

· When the Argument of Venezuela appeared, which was delivered in December, 1898,' said the Attorney-General, we found to our surprise that a point was raised that nothing that Great Britain had done after 1814 could give her any right at all, and that the only way in which her acts could be used would be to throw light upon the nature of the previous occupation by the Dutch, or, in any other words, that Great Britain got no benefit whatever under Rule (a) of Article IV. The matter appeared to us to be so serious that we communicated with my learned friends in writing upon the matter, and we called attention to this fact—that this rule of the treaty was the outcome of diplomatic negotiations between the representative of Great Britain and the representative of Venezuela. With a fairness which I wish to recognise, the counsel for Venezuela have agreed that the diplomatic correspondence should be before this Tribunal.'

Thus the matter was settled. The correspondence was put in to explain an article which would not explain itself. The language of the Attorney-General, who spoke of the contention raised by Venezuela as a contention which the Tribunal 'cannot and ought not to accept,' and as a matter vital to this arbitration, could leave little room for doubt that unless the British contention had been accepted the British counsel would have left the room, and no arbitration would have resulted. They could not give an inch and lose an ell, where the ell would certainly be lost. VOL. CXCI. NO. CCCXCI.


« AnteriorContinuar »