The Hispanic Nations of the New World - Volume 50 in The Chronicles Of America Series
by William R. Shepherd
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Zelaya waxed wroth at the spectacle of Guatemala, once so active in revolutionary arts but now quietly minding its own business. In 1906, therefore, along with parties of Hondurans, Salvadoreans, and disaffected Guatemalans, he began an invasion of that country and continued operations with decreasing success until, the United States and Mexico offering their mediation, peace was signed aboard an American cruiser. Then, when Costa Rica invited the other republics to discuss confederation within its calm frontiers, Zelaya preferred his own particular occupation to any such procedure. Accordingly, displeased with a recent boundary decision, he started along with Salvador to fight Honduras. Once more the United States and Mexico tendered their good offices, and again a Central American conflict was closed aboard an American warship. About the only real achievement of Zelaya was the signing of a treaty by which Great Britain recognized the complete sovereignty of Nicaragua over the Mosquito Indians, whose buzzing for a larger amount of freedom and more tribute had been disturbing unduly the "repose" of that small nation!

To the eastward the new republic of Cuba was about to be born. Here a promise of adequate representation in the Spanish Cortes and of a local legislature had failed to satisfy the aspirations of many of its inhabitants. The discontent was aggravated by lax and corrupt methods of administration as well as by financial difficulties. Swarms of Spanish officials enjoyed large salaries without performing duties of equivalent value. Not a few of them had come over to enrich themselves at public expense and under conditions altogether scandalous. On Cuba, furthermore, was saddled the debt incurred by the Ten Years' War, while the island continued to be a lucrative market for Spanish goods without obtaining from Spain a corresponding advantage for its own products.

As the insistence upon a removal of these abuses and upon a grant of genuine self-government became steadily more clamorous, three political groups appeared. The Constitutional Unionists, or "Austrianizers," as they were dubbed because of their avowed loyalty to the royal house of Bourbon-Hapsburg, were made up of the Spanish and conservative elements and represented the large economic interests and the Church. The Liberals, or "Autonomists," desired such reforms in the administration as would assure the exercise of self-government and yet preserve the bond with the mother country. On the other hand, the Radicals, or "Nationalists"—the party of "Cuba Free"—would be satisfied with nothing short of absolute independence. All these differences of opinion were sharpened by the activities of a sensational press.

From about 1890 onward the movement toward independence gathered tremendous strength, especially when the Cubans found popular sentiment in the United States so favorable to it. Excitement rose still higher when the Spanish Government proposed to bestow a larger measure of autonomy. When, however, the Cortes decided upon less liberal arrangements, the Autonomists declared that they had been deceived, and the Nationalists denounced the utter unreliability of Spanish promises. Even if the concessions had been generous, the result probably would have been the same, for by this time the plot to set Cuba free had become so widespread, both in the island itself and among the refugees in the United States, that the inevitable struggle could not have been deferred.

In 1895 the revolution broke out. The whites, headed by Maximo Gomez, and the negroes and mulattoes by their chieftain, Antonio Maceo, both of whom had done valiant service in the earlier war, started upon a campaign of deliberate terrorism. This time they were resolved to win at any cost. Spurning every offer of conciliation, they burned, ravaged, and laid waste, spread desolation along their pathway, and reduced thousands to abject poverty and want.

Then the Spanish Government came to the conclusion that nothing but the most rigorous sort of reprisals would check the excesses of the rebels. In 1896 it commissioned Valeriano Weyler, an officer who personified ferocity, to put down the rebellion. If the insurgents had fancied that the conciliatory spirit hitherto displayed by the Spaniards was due to irresolution or weakness, they found that these were not the qualities of their new opponent. Weyler, instead of trying to suppress the rebellion by hurrying detachments of troops first to one spot and then to another in pursuit of enemies accustomed to guerrilla tactics, determined to stamp it out province by province. To this end he planted his army firmly in one particular area, prohibited the planting or harvesting of crops there, and ordered the inhabitants to assemble in camps which they were not permitted to leave on any pretext whatever. This was his policy of "reconcentration." Deficient food supply, lack of sanitary precautions, and absence of moral safeguards made conditions of life in these camps appalling. Death was a welcome relief. Reconcentration, combined with executions and deportations, could have but one result—the "pacification" of Cuba by converting it into a desert.

Not in the United States alone but in Spain itself the story of these drastic measures kindled popular indignation to such an extent that, in 1897, the Government was forced to recall the ferocious Weyler and to send over a new Governor and Captain General, with instructions to abandon the worst features of his predecessor's policy and to establish a complete system of autonomy in both Cuba and Porto Rico. Feeling assured, however, that an ally was at hand who would soon make their independence certain, the Cuban patriots flatly rejected these overtures. In their expectations they were not mistaken. By its armed intervention, in the following year the United States acquired Porto Rico for itself and compelled Spain to withdraw from Cuba. *

* See "The Path of Empire", by Carl Russell Fish (in "The Chronicles of America").

The island then became a republic, subject only to such limitations on its freedom of action as its big guardian might see fit to impose. Not only was Cuba placed under American rule from 1899 to 1902, but it had to insert in the Constitution of 1901 certain clauses that could not fail to be galling to Cuban pride. Among them two were of special significance. One imposed limitations on the financial powers of the Government of the new nation, and the other authorized the United States, at its discretion, to intervene in Cuban affairs for the purpose of maintaining public order. The Cubans, it would seem, had exchanged a dependence on Spain for a restricted independence measured by the will of a country infinitely stronger.

Cuba began its life as a republic in 1902, under a government for which a form both unitary and federal had been provided. Tomas Estrada Palma, the first President and long the head of the Cuban junta in the United States, showed himself disposed from the outset to continue the beneficial reforms in administration which had been introduced under American rule. Prudent and conciliatory in temperament, he tried to dispel as best he could the bitter recollections of the war and to repair its ravages. In this policy he was upheld by the conservative class, or Moderates. Their opponents, the Liberals, dominated by men of radical tendencies, were eager to assert the right, to which they thought Cuba entitled as an independent sovereign nation, to make possible mistakes and correct them without having the United States forever holding the ferule of the schoolmaster over it. They were well aware, however, that they were not at liberty to have their country pass through the tempestuous experience which had been the lot of so many Hispanic republics. They could vent a natural anger and disappointment, nevertheless, on the President and his supporters. Rather than continue to be governed by Cubans not to their liking, they were willing to bring about a renewal of American rule. In this respect the wishes of the Radicals were soon gratified. Hardly had Estrada Palma, in 1906, assumed office for a second time, when parties of malcontents, declaring that he had secured his reelection by fraudulent means, rose up in arms and demanded that he annul the vote and hold a fair election. The President accepted the challenge and waged a futile conflict, and again the United States intervened. Upon the resignation of Estrada Palma, an American Governor was again installed, and Cuba was told in unmistakable fashion that the next intervention might be permanent.

Less drastic but quite as effectual a method of assuring order and regularity in administration was the action taken by the United States in another Caribbean island. A little country like the Dominican Republic, in which few Presidents managed to retain their offices for terms fixed by changeable constitutions, could not resist the temptation to rid itself of a ruler who had held power for nearly a quarter of a century. After he had been disposed of by assassination in 1899, the government of his successor undertook to repudiate a depreciated paper currency by ordering the customs duties to be paid in specie; and it also tried to prevent the consul of an aggrieved foreign nation from attaching certain revenues as security for the payment of the arrears of an indemnity. Thereupon, in 1905, the President of the United States entered into an arrangement with the Dominican Government whereby, in return for a pledge from the former country to guarantee the territorial integrity of the republic and an agreement to adjust all of its external obligations of a pecuniary sort, American officials were to take charge of the custom house send apportion the receipts from that source in such a manner as to satisfy domestic needs and pay foreign creditors. *

* See "The Path of Empire", by Carl Russell Fish (in "The Chronicles of America").


Even so huge and conservative a country as Brazil could not start out upon the pathway of republican freedom without some unrest; but the political experience gained under a regime of limited monarchy had a steadying effect. Besides, the Revolution of 1889 had been effected by a combination of army officers and civilian enthusiasts who knew that the provinces were ready for a radical change in the form of government, but who were wise enough to make haste slowly. If a motto could mean anything, the adoption of the positivist device, "Order and Progress," displayed on the national flag seemed a happy augury.

The constitution promulgated in 1891 set up a federal union broadly similar to that of the United States, except that the powers of the general Government were somewhat more restricted. Qualifications for the suffrage were directly fixed in the fundamental law itself, but the educational tests imposed excluded the great bulk of the population from the right to vote. In the constitution, also, Church and State were declared absolutely separate, and civil marriage was prescribed.

Well adapted as the constitution was to the particular needs of Brazil, the Government erected under it had to contend awhile with political disturbances. Though conflicts occurred between the president and the Congress, between the federal authority and the States, and between the civil administration and naval and military officials, none were so constant, so prolonged, or so disastrous as in the Spanish American republics. Even when elected by the connivance of government officials, the chief magistrate governed in accordance with republican forms. Presidential power, in fact, was restrained both by the huge size of the country and by the spirit of local autonomy upheld by the States.

Ever since the war with Paraguay the financial credit of Brazil had been impaired. The chronic deficit in the treasury had been further increased by a serious lowering in the rate of exchange, which was due to an excessive issue of paper money. In order to save the nation from bankruptcy Manoel Ferraz de Campos Salles, a distinguished jurist, was commissioned to effect an adjustment with the British creditors. As a result of his negotiations a "funding loan" was obtained, in return for which an equivalent amount in paper money was to be turned over for cancellation at a fixed rate of exchange. Under this arrangement depreciation ceased for awhile and the financial outlook became brighter.

The election of Campos Salles to the presidency in 1898, as a reward for his success, was accompanied by the rise of definite political parties. Among them the Radicals or Progressists favored a policy of centralization under military auspices and exhibited certain antiforeign tendencies. The Moderates or Republicans, on the contrary, with Campos Salles as their candidate, declared for the existing constitution and advocated a gradual adoption of such reforms as reason and time might suggest. When the latter party won the election, confidence in the stability of Brazil returned.

As if Uruguay had not already suffered enough from internal discords, two more serious conflicts demonstrated once again that this little country, in which political power had been held substantially by one party alone since 1865, could not hope for permanent peace until either the excluded and apparently irreconcilable party had been finally and utterly crushed, or, far better still, until the two factions could manage to agree upon some satisfactory arrangement for rotation in office. The struggle of 1897 ended in the assassination of the president and in a division of the republic into two practically separate areas, one ruled by the Colorados at Montevideo, the other by the Blancos. A renewal of civil war in 1904 seemed altogether preferable to an indefinite continuance of this dualism in government, even at the risk of friction with Argentina, which was charged with not having observed strict neutrality. This second struggle came to a close with the death of the insurgent leader; but it cost the lives of thousands and did irreparable damage to the commerce and industry of the country.

Uruguay then enjoyed a respite from party upheavals until 1910, when Jose Batlle, the able, resolute, and radical-minded head of the Colorados, announced that he would be a candidate for the presidency. As he had held the office before and had never ceased to wield a strong personal influence over the administration of his successor, the Blancos decided that now was the time to attempt once more to oust their opponents from the control which they had monopolized for half a century. Accusing the Government of an unconstitutional centralization of power in the executive, of preventing free elections, and of crippling the pastoral industries of the country, they started a revolt, which ran a brief course. Batlle proved himself equal to the situation and quickly suppressed the insurrection. Though he did make a wide use of his authority, the President refrained from indulging in political persecution and allowed the press all the liberty it desired in so far as was consistent with the law. It was under his direction that Uruguay entered upon a remarkable series of experiments in the nationalization of business enterprises. Further, more or less at the suggestion of Battle, a new constitution was ratified by popular vote in 1917. It provided for a division of the executive power between the President and a National Council of Administration, forbade the election of administrative and military officials to the Congress, granted to that body a considerable increase of power, and enlarged the facilities for local self-government. In addition, it established the principle of minority representation and of secrecy of the ballot, permitted the Congress to extend the right of suffrage to women, and dissolved the union between Church and State. If the terms of the new instrument are faithfully observed, the old struggle between Blancos and Colorados will have been brought definitely to a close.

Paraguay lapsed after 1898 into the earlier sins of Spanish America. Upon a comparatively placid presidential regime followed a series of barrack uprisings or attacks by Congress on the executive. The constitution became a farce. No longer, to be sure, an abode of Arcadian seclusion as in colonial times, or a sort of territorial cobweb from the center of which a spiderlike Francia hung motionless or darted upon his hapless prey, or even a battle ground on which fanatical warriors might fight and die at the behest of a savage Lopez, Paraguay now took on the aspect of an arena in which petty political gamecocks might try out their spurs. Happily, the opposing parties spent their energies in high words and vehement gestures rather than in blows and bloodshed. The credit of the country sank lower and lower until its paper money stood at a discount of several hundred per cent compared with gold.

European bankers had begun to view the financial future of Argentina also with great alarm. In 1890 the mad careering of private speculation and public expenditure along the roseate pathway of limitless credit reached a veritable "crisis of progress." A frightful panic ensued. Paper money fell to less than a quarter of its former value in gold. Many a firm became bankrupt, and many a fortune shriveled. As is usual in such cases, the Government had to shoulder the blame. A four-day revolution broke out in Buenos Aires, and the President became the scapegoat; but the panic went on, nevertheless, until gold stood at nearly five to one. Most of the banks suspended payment; the national debt underwent a huge increase; and immigration practically ceased.

By 1895, however, the country had more or less resumed its normal condition. A new census showed that the population had risen to four million, about a sixth of whom resided in the capital. The importance which agriculture had attained was attested by the establishment of a separate ministry in the presidential cabinet. Industry, too, made such rapid strides at this time that organized labor began to take a hand in politics. The short-lived "revolution" of 1905, for example, was not primarily the work of politicians but of strikers organized into a workingmen's federation. For three months civil guarantees were suspended, and by a so-called "law of residence," enacted some years before and now put into effect, the Government was authorized to expel summarily any foreigner guilty of fomenting strikes or of disturbing public order in any other fashion.

Political agitation soon assumed a new form. Since the Autonomist-National party had been in control for thirty years or more, it seemed to the Civic-Nationalists, now known as Republicans, to the Autonomists proper, and to various other factions, that they ought to do something to break the hold of that powerful organization. Accordingly in 1906 the President, supported by a coalition of these factions, started what was termed an "upward-downward revolution"—in other words, a series of interventions by which local governors and members of legislatures suspected of Autonomist-National leanings were to be replaced by individuals who enjoyed the confidence of the Administration. Pretexts for such action were not hard to find under the terms of the constitution; but their political interests suffered so much in the effort that the promoters had to abandon it.

Owing to persistent obstruction on the part of Congress, which took the form of a refusal either to sanction his appointments or to approve the budget, the President suspended the sessions of that body in 1908 and decreed a continuance of the estimates for the preceding year. The antagonism between the chief executive and the legislature became so violent that, if his opponents had not been split up into factions, civil war might have ensued in Argentina.

To remedy a situation made worse by the absence—usual in most of the Hispanic republics—of a secret ballot and by the refusal of political malcontents to take part in elections, voting was made both obligatory and secret in 1911, and the principle of minority representation was introduced. Legislation of this sort was designed to check bribery and intimidation and to enable the radical-minded to do their duty at the polls. Its effect was shown five years later, when the secret ballot was used substantially for the first time. The radicals won both the presidency and a majority in the Congress.

One of the secrets of the prosperity of Argentina, as of Brazil, in recent years has been its abstention from warlike ventures beyond its borders and its endeavor to adjust boundary conflicts by arbitration. Even when its attitude toward its huge neighbor had become embittered in consequence of a boundary decision rendered by the President of the United States in 1895, it abated none of its enthusiasm for the principle of a peaceful settlement of international disputes. Four years later, in a treaty with Uruguay, the so-called "Argentine Formula" appeared. To quote its language: "The contracting parties agree to submit to arbitration all questions of any nature which may arise between them, provided they do not affect provisions of the constitution of either state, and cannot be adjusted by direct negotiation." This Formula was soon put to the test in a serious dispute with Chile.

In the Treaty of 1881, in partitioning Patagonia, the crest of the Andes had been assumed to be the true continental watershed between the Atlantic and the Pacific and hence was made the boundary line between Argentina and Chile. The entire Atlantic coast was to belong to Argentina, the Pacific coast to Chile; the island of Tierra del Fuego was to be divided between them. At the same time the Strait of Magellan was declared a neutral waterway, open to the ships of all nations. Ere long, however, it was ascertained that the crest of the Andes did not actually coincide with the continental divide. Thereupon Argentina insisted that the boundary line should be made to run along the crest, while Chile demanded that it be traced along the watershed. Since the mountainous area concerned was of little value, the question at bottom was simply one of power and prestige between rival states.

As the dispute waxed warmer, a noisy press and populace clamored for war. The Governments of the two nations spent large sums in increasing their armaments; and Argentina, in imitation of its western neighbor, made military service compulsory. But, as the conviction gradually spread that a struggle would leave the victor as prostrate as the vanquished, wiser counsels prevailed. In 1899, accordingly, the matter was referred to the King of Great Britain for decision. Though the award was a compromise, Chile was the actual gainer in territory.

By their treaties of 1902 both republics declared their intention to uphold the principle of arbitration and to refrain from interfering in each other's affairs along their respective coasts. They also agreed upon a limitation of armaments—the sole example on record of a realization of the purpose of the First Hague Conference. To commemorate still further their international accord, in 1904 they erected on the summit of the Uspallata Pass, over which San Martin had crossed with his army of liberation in 1817, a bronze statue of Christ the Redeemer. There, amid the snow-capped peaks of the giant Andes, one may read inscribed upon the pedestal: "Sooner shall these mountains crumble to dust than Argentinos and Chileans break the peace which at the feet of Christ the Redeemer they have sworn to maintain!" Nor has the peace been broken.

Though hostilities with Argentina had thus been averted, Chile had experienced within its own frontiers the most serious revolution it had known in sixty years. The struggle was not one of partisan chieftains or political groups but a genuine contest to determine which of two theories of government should prevail—the presidential or the parliamentary, a presidential autocracy with the spread of real democracy or a congressional oligarchy based on the existing order. The sincerity and public spirit of both contestants helped to lend dignity to the conflict.

Jose Manuel Balmaceda, a man of marked ability, who became President in 1886, had devoted much of his political life to urging an enlargement of the executive power, a greater freedom to municipalities in the management of their local affairs, and a broadening of the suffrage. He had even advocated a separation of Church and State. Most of these proposals so conservative a land as Chile was not prepared to accept. Though civil marriage was authorized and ecclesiastical influence was lessened in other respects, the Church stood firm. During his administration Balmaceda introduced many reforms, both material and educational. He gave a great impetus to the construction of public works, enhanced the national credit by a favorable conversion of the public debt, fostered immigration, and devoted especial attention to the establishment of secondary schools. Excellent as the administration of Balmaceda had been in other respects, he nevertheless failed to combine the liberal factions into a party willing to support the plans of reform which he had steadily favored. The parliamentary system made Cabinets altogether unstable, as political groups in the lower house of the Congress alternately cohered and fell apart. This defect, Balmaceda thought, should be corrected by making the members of his official family independent of the legislative branch. The Council of State, a somewhat anomalous body placed between the President and Cabinet on the one side and the Congress on the other, was an additional obstruction to a smooth-running administration. For it he would substitute a tribunal charged with the duty of resolving conflicts between the two chief branches of government. Balmaceda believed, also, that greater liberty should be given to the press and that existing taxes should be altered as rarely as possible. On its side, the Congress felt that the President was trying to establish a dictatorship and to replace the unitary system by a federal union, the probable weakness of which would enable him to retain his power more securely.

Toward the close of his term in January, 1891, when the Liberals declined to support his candidate for the presidency, Balmaceda, furious at the opposition which he had encountered, took matters into his own hands. Since the Congress refused to pass the appropriation bills, he declared that body dissolved and proceeded to levy the taxes by decree. To this arbitrary and altogether unconstitutional performance the Congress retorted by declaring the President deposed. Civil war broke out forthwith, and a strange spectacle presented itself. The two chief cities, Santiago and Valparaiso, and most of the army backed Balmaceda, whereas the country districts, especially in the north, and practically all the navy upheld the Congress.

These were, indeed, dark days for Chile. During a struggle of about eight months the nation suffered more than it had done in years of warfare with Peru and Bolivia. Though the bulk of the army stood by Balmaceda, the Congress was able to raise and organize a much stronger fighting force under a Prussian drillmaster. The tide of battle turned; Santiago and Valparaiso capitulated; and the presidential cause was lost. Balmaceda, who had taken refuge in the Argentina legation, committed suicide. But the Balmacedists, who were included in a general amnesty, still maintained themselves as a party to advocate in a peaceful fashion the principles of their fallen leader.

Chile had its reputation for stability well tested in 1910 when the executive changed four times without the slightest political disturbance. According to the constitution, the officer who takes the place of the President in case of the latter's death or disability, though vested with full authority, has the title of Vice President only. It so happened that after the death of the President two members of the Cabinet in succession held the vice presidency, and they were followed by the chief magistrate, who was duly elected and installed at the close of the year. In 1915, for the first time since their leader had committed suicide, one of the followers of Balmaceda was chosen President—by a strange coalition of Liberal-Democrats, or Balmacedists, Conservatives, and Nationalists, over the candidate of the Radicals, Liberals, and Democrats. The maintenance of the parliamentary system, however, continued to produce frequent alterations in the personnel of the Cabinet.

In its foreign relations, apart from the adjustment reached with Argentina, Chile managed to settle the difficulties with Bolivia arising out of the War of the Pacific. By the terms of treaties concluded in 1895 and 1905, the region tentatively transferred by the armistice of 1884 was ceded outright to Chile in return for a seaport and a narrow right of way to it through the former Peruvian province of Tarapaca. With Peru, Chile was not so fortunate. Though the tension over the ultimate disposal of the Tacna and Arica question was somewhat reduced, it was far from being removed. Chile absolutely refused to submit the matter to arbitration, on the ground that such a procedure could not properly be applied to a question arising out of a war that had taken place so many years before. Chile did not wish to give the region up, lest by so doing it might expose Tarapaca to a possible attack from Peru. The investment of large amounts of foreign capital in the exploitation of the deposits of nitrate of soda had made that province economically very valuable, and the export tax levied on the product was the chief source of the national revenue. These were all potent reasons why Chile wanted to keep its hold on Tacna and Arica. Besides, possession was nine points in the law!

On the other hand, the original plan of having the question decided by a vote of the inhabitants of the provinces concerned was not carried into effect, partly because both claimants cherished a conviction that whichever lost the election would deny its validity, and partly because they could not agree upon the precise method of holding it. Chile suggested that the international commission which was selected to take charge of the plebiscite, and which was composed of a Chilean, a Peruvian, and a neutral, should be presided over by the Chilean member as representative of the country actually in possession, whereas Peru insisted that the neutral should act as chairman. Chile proposed also that Chileans, Peruvians, and foreigners resident in the area six months before the date of the elections should vote, provided that they had the right to do so under the terms of the constitutions of both states. Peru, on its part, objected to the length of residence, and wished to limit carefully the number of Chilean voters, to exclude foreigners altogether from the election, and to disregard qualifications for the suffrage which required an ability to read and write. Both countries, moreover, appeared to have a lurking suspicion that in any event the other would try to secure a majority at the polls by supplying a requisite number of voters drawn from their respective citizenry who were not ordinarily resident in Tacna and Arica! Unable to overcome the deadlock, Chile and Peru agreed in 1913 to postpone the settlement for twenty years longer. At the expiration of this period, when Chile would have held the provinces for half a century, the question should be finally adjusted on bases mutually satisfactory. Officially amicable relations were then restored.

While the political situation in Bolivia remained stable, so much could not be said of that in Peru and Ecuador. If the troubles in the former were more or less military, a persistence of the conflict between clericals and radicals characterized the commotions in the latter, because of certain liberal provisions in the Constitution of 1907. Peru, on the other hand, in 1915 guaranteed its people the enjoyment of religious liberty.

Next to the Tacna and Arica question, the dubious boundaries of Ecuador constituted the most serious international problem in South America. The so-called Oriente region, lying east of the Andes and claimed by Peru, Brazil, and Colombia, appeared differently on different maps, according as one claimant nation or another set forth its own case. Had all three been satisfied, nothing would have been left of Ecuador but the strip between the Andes and the Pacific coast, including the cities of Quito and Guayaquil. The Ecuadorians, therefore, were bitterly sensitive on the subject.

Protracted negotiations over the boundaries became alike tedious and listless. But the moment that the respective diplomats had agreed upon some knotty point, the Congress of one litigant or another was almost sure to reject the decision and start the controversy all over again. Even reference of the matter to the arbitral judgment of European monarchs produced, so far as Ecuador and Peru were concerned, riotous attacks upon the Peruvian legation and consulates, charges and countercharges of invasion of each other's territory, and the suspension of diplomatic relations. Though the United States, Argentina, and Brazil had interposed to ward off an armed conflict between the two republics and, in 1911, had urged that the dispute be submitted to the Hague Tribunal, nothing would induce Ecuador to comply.

Colombia was even more unfortunate than its southern neighbor, for in addition to political convulsions it suffered financial disaster and an actual deprivation of territory. Struggles among factions, official influence at the elections, dictatorships, and fighting between the departments and the national Government plunged the country, in 1899, into the worst civil war it had known for many a day. Paper money, issued in unlimited amounts and given a forced circulation, made the distress still more acute. Then came the hardest blow of all. Since 1830 Panama, as province or state, had tried many times to secede from Colombia. In 1903 the opportunity it sought became altogether favorable. The parent nation, just beginning to recover from the disasters of civil strife, would probably be unable to prevent a new attempt at withdrawal. The people of Panama, of course, knew how eager the United States was to acquire the region of the proposed Canal Zone, since it had failed to win it by negotiation with Colombia. Accordingly, if they were to start a "revolution," they had reason to believe that it would not lack support—or at least, connivance—from that quarter.

On the 3d of November the projected "revolution" occurred, on schedule time, and the United States recognized the independence of the "Republic of Panama" three days later! In return for a guarantee of independence, however, the United States stipulated, in the convention concluded on the 18th of November, that, besides authority to enforce sanitary regulations in the Canal Zone, it should also have the right of intervention to maintain order in the republic itself. More than once, indeed, after Panama adopted its constitution in 1904, elections threatened to become tumultuous; whereupon the United States saw to it that they passed off quietly.

Having no wish to flout their huge neighbor to the northward, the Hispanic nations at large hastened to acknowledge the independence of the new republic, despite the indignation that prevailed in press and public over what was regarded as an act of despoilment. In view of the resentful attitude of Colombia and mindful also of the opinion of many Americans that a gross injustice had been committed, the United States eventually offered terms of settlement. It agreed to express regret for the ill feeling between the two countries which had arisen out of the Panama incident, provided that such expression were made mutual; and, as a species of indemnity, it agreed to pay for canal rights to be acquired in Colombian territory and for the lease of certain islands as naval stations. But neither the terms nor the amount of the compensation proved acceptable. Instead, Colombia urged that the whole matter be referred to the judgment of the tribunal at The Hague.

Alluding to the use made of the liberties won in the struggle for emancipation from Spain by the native land of Miranda, Bolivar, and Sucre, on the part of the country which had been in the vanguard of the fight for freedom from a foreign yoke, a writer of Venezuela once declared that it had not elected legally a single President; had not put democratic ideas or institutions into practice; had lived wholly under dictatorships; had neglected public instruction; and had set up a large number of oppressive commercial monopolies, including the navigation of rivers, the coastwise trade, the pearl fisheries, and the sale of tobacco, salt, sugar, liquor, matches, explosives, butter, grease, cement, shoes, meat, and flour. Exaggerated as the indictment is and applicable also, though in less degree, to some of the other backward countries of Hispanic America, it contains unfortunately a large measure of truth. Indeed, so far as Venezuela itself is concerned, this critic might have added that every time a "restorer," "regenerator," or "liberator" succumbed there, the old craze for federalism again broke out and menaced the nation with piecemeal destruction. Obedient, furthermore, to the whims of a presidential despot, Venezuela perpetrated more outrages on foreigners and created more international friction after 1899 than any other land in Spanish America had ever done.

While the formidable Guzman Blanco was still alive, the various Presidents acted cautiously. No sooner had he passed away than disorder broke out afresh. Since a new dictator thought he needed a longer term of office and divers other administrative advantages, a constitution incorporating them was framed and published in the due and customary manner. This had hardly gone into operation when, in 1895, a contest arose with Great Britain about the boundaries between Venezuela and British Guiana. Under pressure from the United States, however, the matter was referred to arbitration, and Venezuela came out substantially the loser.

In 1899 there appeared on the scene a personage compared with whom Zelaya was the merest novice in the art of making trouble. This was Cipriano Castro, the greatest international nuisance of the early twentieth century. A rude, arrogant, fearless, energetic, capricious mountaineer and cattleman, he regarded foreigners no less than his own countryfolk, it would seem, as objects for his particular scorn, displeasure, exploitation, or amusement, as the case might be. He was greatly angered by the way in which foreigners in dispute with local officials avoided a resort to Venezuelan courts and—still worse—rejected their decisions and appealed instead to their diplomatic representatives for protection. He declared such a procedure to be an affront to the national dignity. Yet foreigners were usually correct in arming that judges appointed by an arbitrary President were little more than figureheads, incapable of dispensing justice, even were they so inclined.

Jealous not only of his personal prestige but of what he imagined, or pretended to imagine, were the rights of a small nation, Castro tried throughout to portray the situation in such a light as to induce the other Hispanic republics also to view foreign interference as a dire peril to their own independence and sovereignty; and he further endeavored to involve the United States in a struggle with European powers as a means possibly of testing the efficacy of the Monroe Doctrine or of laying bare before the world the evil nature of American imperialistic designs.

By the year 1901, in which Venezuela adopted another constitution, the revolutionary disturbances had materially diminished the revenues from the customs. Furthermore Castro's regulations exacting military service of all males between fourteen and sixty years of age had filled the prisons to overflowing. Many foreigners who had suffered in consequence resorted to measures of self-defense—among them representatives of certain American and British asphalt companies which were working concessions granted by Castro's predecessors. Though familiar with what commonly happens to those who handle pitch, they had not scrupled to aid some of Castro's enemies. Castro forthwith imposed on them enormous fines which amounted practically to a confiscation of their rights.

While the United States and Great Britain were expostulating over this behavior of the despot, France broke off diplomatic relations with Venezuela because of Castro's refusal either to pay or to submit to arbitration certain claims which had originated in previous revolutions. Germany, aggrieved in similar fashion, contemplated a seizure of the customs until its demands for redress were satisfied. And then came Italy with like causes of complaint. As if these complications were not sufficient, Venezuela came to blows with Colombia.

As the foreign pressure on Castro steadily increased, Luis Maria Drago, the Argentine Minister of Foreign Affairs, formulated in 1902 the doctrine with which his name has been associated. It stated in substance that force should never be employed between nations for the collection of contractual debts. Encouraged by this apparent token of support from a sister republic, Castro defied his array of foreign adversaries more vigorously than ever, declaring that he might find it needful to invade the United States, by way of New Orleans, to teach it the lesson it deserved! But when he attempted, in the following year, to close the ports of Venezuela as a means of bringing his native antagonists to terms, Great Britain, Germany, and Italy seized his warships, blockaded the coast, and bombarded some of his forts. Thereupon the United States interposed with a suggestion that the dispute be laid before the Hague Tribunal. Although Castro yielded, he did not fail to have a clause inserted in a new "constitution" requiring foreigners who might wish to enter the republic to show certificates of good character from the Governments of their respective countries.

These incidents gave much food for thought to Castro as well as to his soberer compatriots. The European powers had displayed an apparent willingness to have the United States, if it chose to do so, assume the role of a New World policeman and financial guarantor. Were it to assume these duties, backward republics in the Caribbean and its vicinity were likely to have their affairs, internal as well as external, supervised by the big nation in order to ward off European intervention. At this moment, indeed, the United States was intervening in Panama. The prospect aroused in many Hispanic countries the fear of a "Yankee peril" greater even than that emanating from Europe. Instead of being a kindly and disinterested protector of small neighbors, the "Colossus of the North" appeared rather to resemble a political and commercial ogre bent upon swallowing them to satisfy "manifest destiny."

Having succeeded in putting around his head an aureole of local popularity, Castro in 1905 picked a new set of partially justified quarrels with the United States, Great Britain, France, Italy, Colombia, and even with the Netherlands, arising out of the depredations of revolutionists; but an armed menace from the United States induced him to desist from his plans. He contented himself accordingly with issuing a decree of amnesty for all political offenders except the leaders. When "reelected," he carried his magnanimity so far as to resign awhile in favor of the Vice President, stating that, if his retirement were to bring peace and concord, he would make it permanent. But as he saw to it that his temporary withdrawal should not have this happy result, he came back again to his firmer position a few months later.

Venting his wrath upon the Netherlands because its minister had reported to his Government an outbreak of cholera at La Guaira, the chief seaport of Venezuela, the dictator laid an embargo on Dutch commerce, seized its ships, and denounced the Dutch for their alleged failure to check filibustering from their islands off the coast. When the minister protested, Castro expelled him. Thereupon the Netherlands instituted a blockade of the Venezuelan ports. What might have happened if Castro had remained much longer in charge, may be guessed. Toward the close of 1908, however, he departed for Europe to undergo a course of medical treatment. Hardly had he left Venezuelan shores when Juan Vicente Gomez, the able, astute, and vigorous Vice President, managed to secure his own election to the presidency and an immediate recognition from foreign states. Under his direction all of the international tangles of Venezuela were straightened out.

In 1914 the country adopted its eleventh constitution and thereby lengthened the presidential term to seven years, shortened that of members of the lower house of the Congress to four, determined definitely the number of States in the union, altered the apportionment of their congressional representation, and enlarged the powers of the federal Government—or, rather, those of its executive branch! In 1914 Gomez resigned office in favor of the Vice President, and secured an appointment instead as commander in chief of the army. This procedure was promptly denounced as a trick to evade the constitutional prohibition of two consecutive terms. A year later he was unanimously elected President, though he never formally took the oath of office.

Whatever may be thought of the political ways and means of this new Guzmin Blanco to maintain himself as a power behind or on the presidential throne, Gomez gave Venezuela an administration of a sort very different from that of his immediate predecessor. He suppressed various government monopolies, removed other obstacles to the material advancement of the country, and reduced the national debt. He did much also to improve the sanitary conditions at La Guaira, and he promoted education, especially the teaching of foreign languages.

Gomez nevertheless had to keep a watchful eye on the partisans of Castro, who broke out in revolt whenever they had an opportunity. The United States, Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Cuba, and Colombia eyed the movements of the ex-dictator nervously, as European powers long ago were wont to do in the case of a certain Man of Destiny, and barred him out of both their possessions and Venezuela itself. International patience, never Job-like, had been too sorely vexed to permit his return. Nevertheless, after the manner of the ancient persecutor of the Biblical martyr, Castro did not refrain from going to and fro in the earth. In fact he still "walketh about" seeking to recover his hold upon Venezuela!


When, in 1910, like several of its sister republics, Mexico celebrated the centennial anniversary of its independence, the era of peace and progress inaugurated by Porfirio Diaz seemed likely to last indefinitely, for he was entering upon his eighth term as President. Brilliant as his career had been, however, and greatly as Mexico had prospered under his rigid rule, a sullen discontent had been brewing. The country that had had but one continuous President in twenty-six years was destined to have some fourteen chief magistrates in less than a quarter of that time, and to surpass all its previous records for rapidity in presidential succession, by having one executive who is said to have held office for precisely fifty-six minutes!

It has often been asserted that the reason for the downfall of Diaz and the lapse of Mexico into the unhappy conditions of a half century earlier was that he had grown too old to keep a firm grip on the situation. It has also been declared that his insistence upon reelection and upon the elevation of his own personal candidate to the vice presidency, as a successor in case of his retirement, occasioned his overthrow. The truth of the matter is that these circumstances were only incidental to his downfall; the real causes of revolution lay deeprooted in the history of these twenty-six years. The most significant feature of the revolt was its civilian character. A widespread public opinion had been created; a national consciousness had been awakened which was intolerant of abuses and determined upon their removal at any cost; and this public opinion and national consciousness were products of general education, which had brought to the fore a number of intelligent men eager to participate in public affairs and yet barred out because of their unwillingness to support the existing regime.

Some one has remarked, and rightly, that Diaz in his zeal for the material advancement of Mexico, mistook the tangible wealth of the country for its welfare. Desirable and even necessary as that material progress was, it produced only a one-sided prosperity. Diaz was singularly deaf to the just complaints of the people of the laboring classes, who, as manufacturing and other industrial enterprises developed, were resolved to better their conditions. In the country at large the discontent was still stronger. Throughout many of the rural districts general advancement had been retarded because of the holding of huge areas of fertile land by a comparatively few rich families, who did little to improve it and were content with small returns from the labor of throngs of unskilled native cultivators. Wretchedly paid and housed, and toiling long hours, the workers lived like the serfs of medieval days or as their own ancestors did in colonial times. Ignorant, poverty-stricken, liable at any moment to be dispossessed of the tiny patch of ground on which they raised a few hills of corn or beans, most of them were naturally a simple, peaceful folk who, in spite of their misfortunes, might have gone on indefinitely with their drudgery in a hopeless apathetic fashion, unless their latent savage instincts happened to be aroused by drink and the prospect of plunder. On the other hand, the intelligent among them, knowing that in some of the northern States of the republic wages were higher and treatment fairer, felt a sense of wrong which, like that of the laboring class in the towns, was all the more dangerous because it was not allowed to find expression.

Diaz thought that what Mexico required above everything else was the development of industrial efficiency and financial strength, assured by a maintenance of absolute order. Though disposed to do justice in individual cases, he would tolerate no class movements of any kind. Labor unions, strikes, and other efforts at lightening the burden of the workers he regarded as seditious and deserving of severe punishment. In order to attract capital from abroad as the best means of exploiting the vast resources of the country, he was willing to go to any length, it would seem, in guaranteeing protection. Small wonder, therefore, that the people who shared in none of the immediate advantages from that source should have muttered that Mexico was the "mother of foreigners and the stepmother of Mexicans." And, since so much of the capital came from the United States, the antiforeign sentiment singled Americans out for its particular dislike.

If Diaz appeared unable to appreciate the significance of the educational and industrial awakening, he was no less oblivious of the political outcome. He knew, of course, that the Mexican constitution made impossible demands upon the political capacity of the people. He was himself mainly of Indian blood and he believed that he understood the temperament and limitations of most Mexicans. Knowing how tenaciously they clung to political notions, he believed that it was safer and wiser to forego, at least for a time, real popular government and to concentrate power in the hands of a strong man who could maintain order.

Accordingly, backed by his political adherents, known as cientificos (doctrinaires), some of whom had acquired a sinister ascendancy over him, and also by the Church, the landed proprietors, and the foreign capitalists, Diaz centered the entire administration more and more in himself. Elections became mere farces. Not only the federal officials themselves but the state governors, the members of the state legislatures, and all others in authority during the later years of his rule owed their selection primarily to him and held their positions only if personally loyal to him. Confident of his support and certain that protests against misgovernment would be regarded by the President as seditious, many of them abused their power at will. Notable among them were the local officials, called jefes politicos, whose control of the police force enabled them to indulge in practices of intimidation and extortion which ultimately became unendurable.

Though symptoms of popular wrath against the Diaz regime, or diazpotism as the Mexicans termed it, were apparent as early as 1908, it was not until January, 1911, that the actual revolution came. It was headed by Francisco I. Madero, a member of a wealthy and distinguished family of landed proprietors in one of the northern States. What the revolutionists demanded in substance was the retirement of the President, Vice President, and Cabinet; a return to the principle of no reelection to the chief magistracy; a guarantee of fair elections at all times; the choice of capable, honest, and impartial judges, jefes politicos, and other officials; and, in particular, a series of agrarian and industrial reforms which would break up the great estates, create peasant proprietorships, and better the conditions of the working classes. Disposed at first to treat the insurrection lightly, Diaz soon found that he had underestimated its strength. Grants of some of the demands and promises of reform were met with a dogged insistence upon his own resignation. Then, as the rebellion spread to the southward, the masterful old man realized that his thirty-one years of rule were at an end. On the 25th of May, therefore, he gave up his power and sailed for Europe.

Madero was chosen President five months later, but the revolution soon passed beyond his control. He was a sincere idealist, if not something of a visionary, actuated by humane and kindly sentiments, but he lacked resoluteness and the art of managing men. He was too prolific, also, of promises which he must have known he could not keep. Yielding to family influence, he let his followers get out of hand. Ambitious chieftains and groups of Radicals blocked and thwarted him at every turn. When he could find no means of carrying out his program without wholesale confiscation and the disruption of business interests, he was accused of abandoning his duty. One officer after another deserted him and turned rebel. Brigandage and insurrection swept over the country and threatened to involve it in ugly complications with the United States and European powers. At length, in February, 1913, came the blow that put an end to all of Madero's efforts and aspirations. A military uprising in the city of Mexico made him prisoner, forced him to resign, and set up a provisional government under the dictatorship of Victoriano Huerta, one of his chief lieutenants. Two weeks later both Madero and the Vice President were assassinated while on their way supposedly to a place of safety.

Huerta was a rough soldier of Indian origin, possessed of unusual force of character and strength of will, ruthless, cunning, and in bearing alternately dignified and vulgar. A scientifico in political faith, he was disposed to restore the Diaz regime, so far as an application of shrewdness and force could make it possible. But from the outset he found an obstacle confronting him that he could not surmount. Though acknowledged by European countries and by many of the Hispanic republics, he could not win recognition from the United States, either as provisional President or as a candidate for regular election to the office. Whether personally responsible for the murder of Madero or not, he was not regarded by the American Government as entitled to recognition, on the ground that he was not the choice of the Mexican people. In its refusal to recognize an administration set up merely by brute force, the United States was upheld by Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Cuba. The elimination of Huerta became the chief feature for a while of its Mexican policy.

Meanwhile the followers of Madero and the pronounced Radicals had found a new northern leader in the person of Venustiano Carranza. They called themselves Constitutionalists, as indicative of their purpose to reestablish the constitution and to choose a successor to Madero in a constitutional manner. What they really desired was those radical changes along social, industrial, and political lines, which Madero had championed in theory. They sought to introduce a species of socialistic regime that would provide the Mexicans with an opportunity for self-regeneration. While Diaz had believed in economic progress supported by the great landed proprietors, the moral influence of the Church, and the application of foreign capital, the Constitutionalists, personified in Carranza, were convinced that these agencies, if left free and undisturbed to work their will, would ruin Mexico. Though not exactly antiforeign in their attitude, they wished to curb the power of the foreigner; they would accept his aid whenever desirable for the economic development of the country, but they would not submit to his virtual control of public affairs. In any case they would tolerate no interference by the United States. Compromise with the Huerta regime, therefore, was impossible. Huerta, the "strong man" of the Diaz type, must go. On this point, at least, the Constitutionalists were in thorough agreement with the United States.

A variety of international complications ensued. Both Huertistas and Carranzistas perpetrated outrages on foreigners, which evoked sharp protests and threats from the United States and European powers. While careful not to recognize his opponents officially, the American Government resorted to all kinds of means to oust the dictator. An embargo was laid on the export of arms and munitions; all efforts to procure financial help from abroad were balked. The power of Huerta was waning perceptibly and that of the Constitutionalists was increasing when an incident that occurred in April, 1914, at Tampico brought matters to a climax. A number of American sailors who had gone ashore to obtain supplies were arrested and temporarily detained. The United States demanded that the American flag be saluted as reparation for the insult. Upon the refusal of Huerta to comply, the United States sent a naval expedition to occupy Vera Cruz.

Both Carranza and Huerta regarded this move as equivalent to an act of war. Argentina, Brazil, and Chile then offered their mediation. But the conference arranged for this purpose at Niagara Falls, Canada, had before it a task altogether impossible of accomplishment. Though Carranza was willing to have the Constitutionalists represented, if the discussion related solely to the immediate issue between the United States and Huerta, he declined to extend the scope of the conference so as to admit the right of the United States to interfere in the internal affairs of Mexico. The conference accomplished nothing so far as the immediate issue was concerned. The dictator did not make reparation for the "affronts and indignities" he had committed; but his day was over. The advance of the Constitutionalists southward compelled him in July to abandon the capital and leave the country. Four months later the American forces were withdrawn from Vera Cruz. The "A B C" Conference, however barren it was of direct results, helped to allay suspicions of the United States in Hispanic America and brought appreciably nearer a "concert of the western world."

While far from exercising full control throughout Mexico, the "first chief" of the Constitutionalists was easily the dominant figure in the situation. At home a ranchman, in public affairs a statesman of considerable ability, knowing how to insist and yet how to temporize, Carranza carried on a struggle, both in arms and in diplomacy, which singled him out as a remarkable character. Shrewdly aware of the advantageous circumstances afforded him by the war in Europe, he turned them to account with a degree of skill that blocked every attempt at defeat or compromise. No matter how serious the opposition to him in Mexico itself, how menacing the attitude of the United States, or how persuasive the conciliatory disposition of Hispanic American nations, he clung stubbornly and tenaciously to his program.

Even after Huerta had been eliminated, Carranza's position was not assured, for Francisco, or "Pancho," Villa, a chieftain whose personal qualities resembled those of the fallen dictator, was equally determined to eliminate him. For a brief moment, indeed, peace reigned. Under an alleged agreement between them, a convention of Constitutionalist officers was to choose a provisional President, who should be ineligible as a candidate for the permanent presidency at the regular elections. When Carranza assumed both of these positions, Villa declared his act a violation of their understanding and insisted upon his retirement. Inasmuch as the convention was dominated by Villa, the "first chief" decided to ignore its election of a provisional President.

The struggle between the Conventionalists headed by Villa and the Constitutionalists under Carranza plunged Mexico into worse discord and misery than ever. Indeed it became a sort of three-cornered contest. The third party was Emiliano Zapata, an Indian bandit, nominally a supporter of Villa but actually favorable to neither of the rivals. Operating near the capital, he plundered Conventionalists and Constitutionalists with equal impartiality, and as a diversion occasionally occupied the city itself. These circumstances gave force to the saying that Mexico was a "land where peace breaks out once in a while!"

Early in 1915 Carranza proceeded to issue a number of radical decrees that exasperated foreigners almost beyond endurance. Rather than resort to extreme measures again, however, the United States invoked the cooperation of the Hispanic republics and proposed a conference to devise some solution of the Mexican problem. To give the proposed conference a wider representation, it invited not only the "A B C" powers, but Bolivia, Uruguay, and Guatemala to participate. Meeting at Washington in August, the mediators encountered the same difficulty which had confronted their predecessors at Niagara Falls. Though the other chieftains assented, Carranza, now certain of success, declined to heed any proposal of conciliation. Characterizing efforts of the kind as an unwarranted interference in the internal affairs of a sister nation, he warned the Hispanic republics against setting up so dangerous a precedent. In reply Argentina stated that the conference obeyed a "lofty inspiration of Pan-American solidarity, and, instead of finding any cause for alarm, the Mexican people should see in it a proof of their friendly consideration that her fate evokes in us, and calls forth our good wishes for her pacification and development." However, as the only apparent escape from more watchful waiting or from armed intervention on the part of the United States, in October the seven Governments decided to accept the facts as they stood, and accordingly recognized Carranza as the de facto ruler of Mexico.

Enraged at this favor shown to his rival, Villa determined deliberately to provoke American intervention by a murderous raid on a town in New Mexico in March, 1916. When the United States dispatched an expedition to avenge the outrage, Carranza protested energetically against its violation of Mexican territory and demanded its withdrawal. Several clashes, in fact, occurred between American soldiers and Carranzistas. Neither the expedition itself, however, nor diplomatic efforts to find some method of cooperation which would prevent constant trouble along the frontier served any useful purpose, since Villa apparently could not be captured and Carranza refused to yield to diplomatic persuasion. Carranza then proposed that a joint commission be appointed to settle these vexed questions. Even this device proved wholly unsatisfactory. The Mexicans would not concede the right of the United States to send an armed expedition into their country at any time, and the Americans refused to accept limitations on the kind of troops that they might employ or on the zone of their operations. In January, 1917, the joint commission was dissolved and the American soldiers were withdrawn. Again the "first chief" had won!

On the 5th of February a convention assembled at Queretaro promulgated a constitution embodying substantially all of the radical program that Carranza had anticipated in his decrees. Besides providing for an elaborate improvement in the condition of the laboring classes and for such a division of great estates as might satisfy their particular needs, the new constitution imposed drastic restrictions upon foreigners and religious bodies. Under its terms, foreigners could not acquire industrial concessions unless they waived their treaty rights and consented to regard themselves for the purpose as Mexican citizens. In all such cases preference was to be shown Mexicans over foreigners. Ecclesiastical corporations were forbidden to own real property. No primary school and no charitable institution could be conducted by any religious mission or denomination, and religious publications must refrain from commenting on public affairs. The presidential term was reduced from six years to four; reelection was prohibited; and the office of Vice President was abolished.

When, on the 1st of May, Venustiano Carranza was chosen President, Mexico had its first constitutional executive in four years. After a cruel and obstinately intolerant struggle that had occasioned indescribable suffering from disease and starvation, as well as the usual slaughter and destruction incident to war, the country began to enjoy once more a measure of peace. Financial exhaustion, however, had to be overcome before recuperation was possible. Industrial progress had become almost paralyzed; vast quantities of depreciated paper money had to be withdrawn from circulation; and an enormous array of claims for the loss of foreign life and property had rolled up.


The course of events in certain of the republics in and around the Caribbean Sea warned the Hispanic nations that independence was a relative condition and that it might vary in direct ratio with nearness to the United States. After 1906 this powerful northern neighbor showed an unmistakable tendency to extend its influence in various ways. Here fiscal and police control was established; there official recognition was withheld from a President who had secured office by unconstitutional methods. Nonrecognition promised to be an effective way of maintaining a regime of law and order, as the United States understood those terms. Assurances from the United States of the full political equality of all republics, big or little, in the western hemisphere did not always carry conviction to Spanish American ears. The smaller countries in and around the Caribbean Sea, at least, seemed likely to become virtually American protectorates.

Like their Hispanic neighbor on the north, the little republics of Central America were also scenes of political disturbance. None of them except Panama escaped revolutionary uprisings, though the loss of life and property was insignificant. On the other hand, in these early years of the century the five countries north of Panama made substantial progress toward federation. As a South American writer has expressed it, their previous efforts in that direction "amid sumptuous festivals, banquets and other solemn public acts" at which they "intoned in lyric accents daily hymns for the imperishable reunion of the isthmian republics," had been as illusory as they were frequent. Despite the mediation of the United States and Mexico in 1906, while the latter was still ruled by Diaz, the struggle in which Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and Salvador had been engaged was soon renewed between the first two belligerents. Since diplomatic interposition no longer availed, American marines were landed in Nicaragua, and the bumptious Zelaya was induced to have his country meet its neighbors in a conference at Washington. Under the auspices of the United States and Mexico, in December, 1907, representatives of the five republics signed a series of conventions providing for peace and cooperation. An arbitral court of justice, to be erected in Costa Rica and composed of one judge from each nation, was to decide all matters of dispute which could not be adjusted through ordinary diplomatic means. Here, also, an institute for the training of Central American teachers was to be established. Annual conferences were to discuss, and an office in Guatemala was to record, measures designed to secure uniformity in financial, commercial, industrial, sanitary, and educational regulations. Honduras, the storm center of weakness, was to be neutralized. None of the States was thereafter to recognize in any of them a government which had been set up in an illegal fashion. A "Constitutional Act of Central American Fraternity," moreover, was adopted on behalf of peace, harmony, and progress. Toward a realization of the several objects of the conference, the Presidents of the five republics were to invite their colleagues of the United States and Mexico, whenever needful, to appoint representatives, to "lend their good offices in a purely friendly way."

Though most of these agencies were promptly put into operation, the results were not altogether satisfactory. Some discords, to be sure, were removed by treaties settling boundary questions and providing for reciprocal trade advantages; but it is doubtful whether the arrangements devised at Washington would have worked at all if the United States had not kept the little countries under a certain amount of observation. What the Central Americans apparently preferred was to be left alone, some of them to mind their own business, others to mind their neighbor's affairs.

Of all the Central American countries Honduras was, perhaps, the one most afflicted with pecuniary misfortunes. In 1909 its foreign debt, along with arrears of interest unpaid for thirty-seven years, was estimated at upwards of $110,000,000. Of this amount a large part consisted of loans obtained from foreign capitalists, at more or less extortionate rates, for the construction of a short railway, of which less than half had been built. That revolutions should be rather chronic in a land where so much money could be squandered and where the temperaments of Presidents and ex-Presidents were so bellicose, was natural enough. When the United States could not induce the warring rivals to abide by fair elections, it sent a force of marines to overawe them and gave warning that further disturbances would not be allowed.

In Nicaragua the conditions were similar. Here Zelaya, restive under the limitations set by the conference at Washington, yearned to become the "strong man" of Central America, who would teach the Yankees to stop their meddling. But his downfall was imminent. In 1909, as the result of his execution of two American soldiers of fortune who had taken part in a recent insurrection, the United States resolved to tolerate Zelaya no longer. Openly recognizing the insurgents, it forced the dictator out of the country. Three years later, when a President-elect started to assume office before the legally appointed time, a force of American marines at the capital convinced him that such a procedure was undesirable. The "corrupt and barbarous" conditions prevailing in Zelaya's time, he was informed, could not be tolerated. The United States, in fact, notified all parties in Nicaragua that, under the terms of the Washington conventions, it had a "moral mandate to exert its influence for the preservation of the general peace of Central America." Since those agreements had vested no one with authority to enforce them, such an interpretation of their language, aimed apparently at all disturbances, foreign as well as domestic, was rather elastic! At all events, after 1912, when a new constitution was adopted, the country became relatively quiet and somewhat progressive. Whenever a political flurry did take place, American marines were employed to preserve the peace. Many citizens, therefore, declined to vote, on the ground that the moral and material support thus furnished by the great nation to the northward rendered it futile for them to assume political responsibilities.

Meanwhile negotiations began which were ultimately to make Nicaragua a fiscal protectorate of the United States. American officials were chosen to act as financial advisers and collectors of customs, and favorable arrangements were concluded with American bankers regarding the monetary situation; but it was not until 1916 that a treaty covering this situation was ratified. According to its provisions, in return for a stipulated sum to be expended under American direction, Nicaragua was to grant to the United States the exclusive privilege of constructing a canal through the territory of the republic and to lease to it the Corn Islands and a part of Fonseca Bay, on the Pacific coast, for use as naval stations. The prospect of American intervention alarmed the neighboring republics. Asserting that the treaty infringed upon their respective boundaries, Costa Rica, and Salvador brought suit against Nicaragua before the Central American Court. With the exception of the Nicaraguan representative, the judges upheld the contention of the plaintiffs that the defendant had no right to make any such concessions without previous consultation with Costa Rica, Salvador, and Honduras, since all three alike were affected by them. The Court observed, however, that it could not declare the treaty void because the United States, one of the parties concerned, was not subject to its jurisdiction. Nicaragua declined to accept the decision; and the United States, the country responsible for the existence of the Court and presumably interested in helping to enforce its judgment, allowed it to go out of existence in 1918 on the expiration of its ten-year term.

The economic situation of Costa Rica brought about a state of affairs wholly unusual in Central American politics. The President, Alfredo Gonzalez, wished to reform the system of taxation so that a fairer share of the public burdens should fall on the great landholders who, like most of their brethren in the Hispanic countries, were practically exempt. This project, coupled with the fact that certain American citizens seeking an oil concession had undermined the power of the President by wholesale bribery, induced the Minister of War, in 1917, to start a revolt against him. Rather than shed the blood of his fellow citizens for mere personal advantages, Gonzalez sustained the good reputation of Costa Rica for freedom from civil commotions by quietly leaving the country and going to the United States to present his case. In consequence, the American Government declined to recognize the de facto ruler.

Police and fiscal supervision by the United States has characterized the recent history of Panama. Not only has a proposed increase in the customs duties been disallowed, but more than once the unrest attending presidential elections has required the calming presence of American officials. As a means of forestalling outbreaks, particularly in view of the cosmopolitan population resident on the Isthmus, the republic enacted a law in 1914 which forbade foreigners to mix in local politics and authorized the expulsion of naturalized citizens who attacked the Government through the press or otherwise. With the approval of the United States, Panama entered into an agreement with American financiers providing for the creation of a national bank, one-fourth of the directors of which should be named by the Government of the republic.

The second period of American rule in Cuba lasted till 1909. Control of the Government was then formally transferred to Jose Miguel Gomez, the President who had been chosen by the Liberals at the elections held in the previous year; but the United States did not cease to watch over its chief Caribbean ward. A bitter controversy soon developed in the Cuban Congress over measures to forbid the further purchase of land by aliens, and to insure that a certain percentage of the public offices should be held by colored citizens. Though both projects were defeated, they revealed a strong antiforeign sentiment and much dissatisfaction on the part of the negro population. It was clear also that Gomez, intended to oust all conservatives from office, for an obedient Congress passed a bill suspending the civil service rules.

The partisanship of Gomez, and his supporters, together with the constant interference of military veterans in political affairs, provoked numerous outbreaks, which led the United States, in 1912, to warn Cuba that it might again be compelled to intervene. Eventually, when a negro insurrection in the eastern part of the island menaced the safety of foreigners, American marines were landed. Another instance of intervention was the objection by the United States to an employers' liability law that would have given a monopoly of the insurance business to a Cuban company to the detriment of American firms.

After the election of Mario Menocal, the Conservative candidate, to the presidency in 1912, another occasion for intervention presented itself. An amnesty bill, originally drafted for the purpose of freeing the colored insurgents and other offenders, was amended so as to empower the retiring President to grant pardon before trial to persons whom his successor wished to prosecute for wholesale corruption in financial transactions. Before the bill passed, however, notice was sent from Washington that, since the American Government had the authority to supervise the finances of the republic, Gomez would better veto the bill, and this he accordingly did.

A sharp struggle arose when it became known that Menocal would be a candidate for reelection. The Liberal majority in the Congress passed a bill requiring that a President who sought to succeed himself should resign two months before the elections. When Menocal vetoed this measure, his opponents demanded that the United States supervise the elections. As the result of the elections was doubtful, Gomez and his followers resorted in 1917 to the usual insurrection; whereupon the American Government warned the rebels that it would not recognize their claims if they won by force. Active aid from that quarter, as well as the capture of the insurgent leader, caused the movement to collapse after the electoral college had decided in favor of Menocal.

In the Dominican Republic disturbances were frequent, notwithstanding the fact that American officials were in charge of the customhouses and by their presence were expected to exert a quieting influence. Even the adoption, in 1908, of a new constitution which provided for the prolongation of the presidential term to six years and for the abolition of the office of Vice President—two stabilizing devices quite common in Hispanic countries where personal ambition is prone to be a source of political trouble—did not help much to restore order. The assassination of the President and the persistence of age-long quarrels with Haiti over boundaries made matters worse. Thereupon, in 1913, the United States served formal notice on the rebellious parties that it would not only refuse to recognize any Government set up by force but would withhold any share in the receipts from the customs. As this procedure did not prevent a revolutionary leader from demanding half a million dollars as a financial sedative for his political nerves and from creating more trouble when the President failed to dispense it, the heavy hand of an American naval force administered another kind of specific, until commissioners from Porto Rico could arrive to superintend the selection of a new chief magistrate. Notwithstanding the protest of the Dominican Government, the "fairest and freest" elections ever known in the country were held under the direction of those officials—as a "body of friendly observers"!

However amicable this arrangement seemed, it did not smother the flames of discord. In 1916, when an American naval commander suggested that a rebellious Minister of War leave the capital, he agreed to do so if the "fairest and freest" of chosen Presidents would resign. Even after both of them had complied with the suggestions, the individuals who assumed their respective offices were soon at loggerheads. Accordingly the United States placed the republic under military rule, until a President could be elected who might be able to retain his post without too much "friendly observation" from Washington, and a Minister of War could be appointed who would refrain from making war on the President! Then the organization of a new party to combat the previous inordinate display of personalities in politics created some hope that the republic would accomplish its own redemption.

Only because of its relation to the wars of emancipation and to the Dominican Republic, need the negro state of Haiti, occupying the western part of the Caribbean island, be mentioned in connection with the story of the Hispanic nations. Suffice it to say that the fact that their color was different and that they spoke a variant of French instead of Spanish did not prevent the inhabitants of this state from offering a far worse spectacle of political and financial demoralization than did their neighbors to the eastward. Perpetual commotions and repeated interventions by American and European naval forces on behalf of the foreign residents, eventually made it imperative for the United States to take direct charge of the republic. In 1916, by a convention which placed the finances under American control, created a native constabulary under American officers, and imposed a number of other restraints, the United States converted Haiti into what is practically a protectorate.


While the Hispanic republics were entering upon the second century of their independent life, the idea of a certain community of interests between themselves and the United States began to assume a fairly definite form. Though emphasized by American statesmen and publicists in particular, the new point of view was not generally understood or appreciated by the people of either this country or its fellow nations to the southward. It seemed, nevertheless, to promise an effective cooperation in spirit and action between them and came therefore to be called "Pan-Americanism."

This sentiment of inter-American solidarity sprang from several sources. The periodical conferences of the United States and its sister republics gave occasion for an interchange of official courtesies and expressions of good feeling. Doubtless, also, the presence of delegates from the Hispanic countries at the international gatherings at The Hague served to acquaint the world at large with the stability, strength, wealth, and culture of their respective lands. Individual Americans took an active interest in their fellows of Hispanic stock and found their interest reciprocated. Motives of business or pleasure and a desire to obtain personal knowledge about one another led to visits and countervisits that became steadily more frequent. Societies were created to encourage the friendship and acquaintance thus formed. Scientific congresses were held and institutes were founded in which both the United States and Hispanic America were represented. Books, articles, and newspaper accounts about one another's countries were published in increasing volume. Educational institutions devoted a constantly growing attention to inter-American affairs. Individuals and commissions were dispatched by the Hispanic nations and the United States to study one another's conditions and to confer about matters of mutual concern. Secretaries of State, Ministers of Foreign Affairs, and other distinguished personages interchanged visits. Above all, the common dangers and responsibilities falling upon the Americas at large as a consequence of the European war seemed likely to bring the several nations into a harmony of feeling and relationship to which they had never before attained.

Pan-Americanism, however, was destined to remain largely a generous ideal. The action of the United States in extending its direct influence over the small republics in and around the Caribbean aroused the suspicion and alarm of Hispanic Americans, who still feared imperialistic designs on the part of that country now more than ever the Colossus of the North. "The art of oratory among the Yankees," declared a South American critic, "is lavish with a fraternal idealism; but strong wills enforce their imperialistic ambitions." Impassioned speakers and writers adjured the ghost of Hispanic confederation to rise and confront the new northern peril. They even advocated an appeal to Great Britain, Germany, or Japan, and they urged closer economic, social, and intellectual relations with the countries of Europe.

It was while the United States was thus widening the sphere of its influence in the Caribbean that the "A B C" powers—Argentina, Brazil, and Chile—reached an understanding which was in a sense a measure of self-defense. For some years cordial relations had existed among these three nations which had grown so remarkably in strength and prestige. It was felt that by united action they might set up in the New World the European principle of a balance of power, assume the leadership in Hispanic America, and serve in some degree as a counterpoise to the United States. Nevertheless they were disposed to cooperate with their northern neighbor in the peaceable adjustment of conflicts in which other Hispanic countries were concerned, provided that the mediation carried on by such a "concert of the western world" did not include actual intervention in the internal affairs of the countries involved.

With this attitude of the public mind, it is not strange that the Hispanic republics at large should have been inclined to look with scant favor upon proposals made by the United States, in 1916, to render the spirit of Pan-Americanism more precise in its operation. The proposals in substance were these: that all the nations of America "mutually agree to guarantee the territorial integrity" of one another; to "maintain a republican form of government"; to prohibit the "exportation of arms to any but the legally constituted governments"; and to adopt laws of neutrality which would make it "impossible to filibustering expeditions to threaten or carry on revolutions in neighboring republics." These proposals appear to have received no formal approval beyond what is signified by the diplomatic expression "in principle." Considering the disparity in strength, wealth, and prestige between the northern country and its southern fellows, suggestions of the sort could be made practicable only by letting the United States do whatever it might think needful to accomplish the objects which it sought. Obviously the Hispanic nations, singly or collectively, would hardly venture to take any such action within the borders of the United States itself, if, for example, it failed to maintain what, in their opinion, was "a republican form of government." A full acceptance of the plan accordingly would have amounted to a recognition of American overlordship, and this they were naturally not disposed to admit.

The common perils and duties confronting the Americas as a result of the Great War, however, made close cooperation between the Hispanic republics and the United States up to a certain point indispensable. Toward that transatlantic struggle the attitude of all the nations of the New World at the outset was substantially the same. Though strongly sympathetic on the whole with the "Allies" and notably with France, the southern countries nevertheless declared their neutrality. More than that, they tried to convert neutrality into a Pan-American policy, instead of regarding it as an official attitude to be adopted by the republics separately. Thus when the conflict overseas began to injure the rights of neutrals, Argentina and other nations urged that the countries of the New World jointly agree to declare that direct maritime commerce between American lands should be considered as "inter-American coastwise trade," and that the merchant ships engaged in it, whatever the flag under which they sailed, should be looked upon as neutral. Though the South American countries failed to enlist the support of their northern neighbor in this bold departure from international precedent, they found some compensation for their disappointment in the closer commercial and financial relations which they established with the United States.

Because of the dependence of the Hispanic nations, and especially those of the southern group, on the intimacy of their economic ties with the belligerents overseas, they suffered from the ravages of the struggle more perhaps than other lands outside of Europe. Negotiations for prospective loans were dropped. Industries were suspended, work on public improvements was checked, and commerce brought almost to a standstill. As the revenues fell off and ready money became scarce, drastic measures had to be devised to meet the financial strain. For the protection of credit, bank holidays were declared, stock exchanges were closed, moratoria were set up in nearly all the countries, taxes and duties were increased, radical reductions in expenditure were undertaken, and in a few cases large quantities of paper money were issued.

With the European market thus wholly or partially cut off, the Hispanic republics were forced to supply the consequent shortage with manufactured articles and other goods from the United States and to send thither their raw materials in exchange. To their northern neighbor they had to turn also for pecuniary aid. A Pan-American financial conference was held at Washington in 1915, and an international high commission was appointed to carry its recommendations into effect. Gradually most of the Hispanic countries came to show a favorable trade balance. Then, as the war drew into its fourth year, several of them even began to enjoy great prosperity. That Pan-Americanism had not meant much more than cooperation for economic ends seemed evident when, on April 6, 1917, the United States declared war on Germany. Instead of following spontaneously in the wake of their great northern neighbor, the Hispanic republics were divided by conflicting currents of opinion and hesitated as to their proper course of procedure. While a majority of them expressed approval of what the United States had done, and while Uruguay for its part asserted that "no American country, which in defense of its own rights should find itself in a state of war with nations of other continents, would be treated as a belligerent," Mexico veered almost to the other extreme by proposing that the republics of America agree to lay an embargo on the shipment of munitions to the warring powers.

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