Rafael Seijas.

Venezuela-British Guiana boundary arbitration. Digest of evidence arranged according to subjects online

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to France with authority to make a solemn request for peace at any price,
. . . If this embassy were received, or even announced, ... it would
stir up the indifferent and negligent not only to obtain the peace with Holland
which is of such importance, but a private league for the preservation of Italy.

Same, p. 343.
1647. Marquess de Mirabel.

What he, [the Marquess de Mirabel] considers to be above all desirable is
the conclusion of the peace with Holland ; and that, with a view to attaining
it the utmost efforts should be made, though it should be necessary to give new
advantages and gratifications to the United Provinces, or spend a large sum of
money in encouraging those who might be able to facilitate it, for . . . it is
less disadvantageous to benefit the Dutch than the French. And your Majesty
having once come to an arrangement with them you have in them people who
will fulfil whatever is stipulated, more punctually and religiously than the
others, Same, p. 343.



1647. Marquis de Mirabel.

•And he summarises his vote by saying that with regard to the affairs ofj
Portugal, nothing should be listened to, public or secret, and no Article be ad-
mitted in the Treaty with the French. And that the utmost efforts slionld be
made for effecting: the peace with Holland. B. C.-C, App. , 345.

1647. Council of State.

On various occasions Your Majesty has been advised, and it has also been re-
solved, that the flrst advantage for this monarchy, in the condition in which it
at present exists, is to arrange the peace with Holland, and this at any price.

Sam£,p. 34S.

Count de Peneranda . . . hesitates at no means of settling the peace
with Holland, for he much distrusts that with France. Saine, p. 34S.

1647. King of Spain.
Let him [Count de Penaranda] thus be written to, with instructions to use all

possible means to separate the Hollanders from the French, arranging it at
any cost, in which he will do me a great service, from the benefits which will
ensue to my Monarchy. Same, p. jj/.

1648. Treaty of Munster.

V. The navigation and trade of the East and West Indies shall be maintained
according to and in conformity with the charters given or hereafter to be given
therefor ; for the security of which the present treaty . . . shall serve. And
there shall be comprised under the above-mentioned treaty all potentates,
nations and peoples with whom the said Lords States, or those of the Company
of the East and West Indies in their name, are within the limits of their said
charters in friendship and alliance, and each party . . . shall remain in
possession of and enjoy such lordships, towns, castles, fortresses, commerce and
lands in the East and West Indies as also in Brazil and on the coasts of Asia,
Africa and America respectively as the above-mentioned Lords, the King and
States respectively hold and possess, herein especially included the localities
and places which the Portuguese have taken from the Lords States since the year
1641, and occupied ; including also the localities and places which they, the
Lords States, shall hereafter, without infraction of the present treaty, come to
conquer and possess. Same, pp. 351-35^-

VI. And as to the West Indies, the subjects and inhabitants of the kingdoms,
provinces, and lands of the said Lords the King and States respectively, shall
forbear sailing to, and trading in any of the harbours, localities and places, forts,
lodgments or castles, and all others possessed by the one or the other Party.

Same, p. 352.

1660. West India Company.

King Charles I [of England], of illustrious memory, being likewise of too just
and too generous a nature to give away and present to his subjects lands and
places already possessed and governed by other free nations, his allies.

Unless such should be claimed on the ground that the English nation have
settled . . . about that region of America, (namely, in Virginia) prior to
and before the Netherlanders, V. C, III, 367.



1660. West India Company.

If that be given weight, then we think the Dutch nation must instead be pre-
ferred, being considered the same in earlier times, namely, vassals and subjects
of the KiiiJ»" of Spain, first discoverer and founder of this new American world,
who since, at the conclusion of the peace, has made over to the United Nether-
land Provinces all his right and title to such countries and domains as by
them in course of time had been conquered in Europe, America, etc.

V. C, III, 367.
1688. Don Manuel Coloma, Spanish Minister in Holland.

The aforesaid Envoy Extraordinary [of Spain] is convinced that your Lord-
ships [the States-General] will not permit His Majesty to suffer any damage
there, inasmuch as this would be in direct contravention of tlie Vth. Article of
the Treaty of Peace made between His Majesty and your Lordships in the year
1648, which is religiously observed by both parties. B. C, I, 20j.

1688. States General.

Concerning a certain Company which is said to be newly formed at Amster-
dam for the purpose of trading- to tlie West Indies, ... it was approved
and agreed to reply . . . that as yet nothing has been undertaken by their
citizens which could give any cause for complaint, and that, before giving per-
mission for the aforesaid establishment, the States-General will thoroughly
investigate whether the aforesaid purpose is in any respect contrary to the
Yth. or to other Articles of the Treaty of the year 1648. Sa/ne, p. 2og.

1719. Basnage de Beauval.

The commerce of the Indies was a greater difficulty, because they demanded
full liberty to carry it on in places which the Spanish possessed, but the others
urged that that was contrary to the constitution and to the laws of Spain by
which exclusion from this public and free commerce had been enforced not only
against strangers in the treaties made with the King of England but even
against a part of the subjects of his Catholic Majesty as also against the Italians
and the Flemish. The Dutch conceded that the law should be reciprocal, that
the Spanish should not carry on their commerce in the towns of the East and
West Indies possessed by the Dutch, and that the Dutch should be subject to the
same restrictions. Meanwhile the latter should preserve all that they had taken
as against Portugal or that which they should take in future. This article was
adrantageous to the Republic, because Spain bound her hands, and undertook
not to make any new conquests in the East while the Dutch retained the
power to extend their limits far and wide in America and particularly iu
Brazil. B. C.-C, A/>p.,jjS.

1743. Marquis de Torrenueva.

Equal attention is due to the object with which the Dutch established them-
selves to the windwai-d of the River Orinoco, in 5^ north latitude, and 325° nearly
of [East] longitude, according to Delisle [Af/as to V. C, map jj^ to leeward of
the Island of Cayenne, and in 6^ north latitude, and 320^ 40' longitude, with the
two forts with the name "Zelandeses" [" Fort de Zelande"] between the rivers
named Surinam and Cupenam. And this could be no other than to get nearer
to the mouth and banks of the said [Orinoco] river, and to found thereon planta-
tions, which might facilitate their traffic with the new kingdom, and enable them
to penetrate by that part to those places and districts which their avarice might
dictate until they made themselves masters of the mouth of the Orinoco.

B. C, II, 41.



1743. Marquis de Torrenueva.

And it being necessary to preserve this mouth as a safeguard of that kingdom,
it is no less necessary to restrain the Dutch from approaching its banks eitlier
by land or water, keeping in view with this object the Vth and Vlth Articles
of the Treaty of Peace with that nation of lOlS. The mouth of the River Esse-
quibo offers facilities for carrying out those designs, being situated, according to
this geographer, in 6" 40' [North] latitude, and 3180 10' [Eastj longitude, and its
source in 1° nearly of north latitude, and 316^ of [EastJ longitude, thus the
whole course of the river forms a large extent of country, . . . it contains |
within its limits tribes of Indians to be reduced, many who would then serve as a
barrier so that the Dutch might not pass to the west of this [Essequibo] river.

B. C, II, 41.

1753. Secret instructions to Iturriaga.

In respect that all the territory comprised between the Rivers Marafion
and Orinoco un(iuestionably belongs to the two Crowns [Spain and Portiig-alJ
any establishment of the other foreigners in that place is to be looked upon as a
usurpation of their rights, and they cannot show that we have formally recog-
nized that dominion as theirs. For the Portnguese Crown has only against it
the Treaty of Utrecht, made with France . . . which contain no recogni-
tion of dominion, nor formal cession of rights. Neither on the part of Spain
has any cession to, or formal recognition of, the Dutch been made ; to which
is to be added the bad faith with which both act, in order to penetrate tlie
interior, and draw all possible profit from the two dominions, against the pro-
visions of Laws and Treaties. Same, pp. Sj-SS.

1754. Director-General in Essequibo.

Has not this [question of boundary] been regulated by the Treaty of

Munster ? Same, p. gj.

1755. West India Company (Zeeland Chamber).

Neither in the Treaty of Munster (concerning which you gave us your own
opinions), nor in any other is there to our knowledge anything to be found
about this [limit of the Colony]. Same, p. 102.

1 761. Don Jose Solano.

Nor do 1 know on what they could found their claims ; for though, by the Yth
article of the Treaty of Munster, the dominion of the countries, fortified
places, factories, etc., was conceded to them which they at tliat time pos-
sessed in America, on the Orinoco neither they nor any others but the Span-
iards alone ever held, or have since held, castles or forts, nor customs duties,
fishing, hunting, or use of the soil ; nor can they found their right on the tacit
or even express consent . . . sometimes given them, to fish in the Boca de
Navios and the Rivers Barima and Aguierre, which run into it ; nor on the huts
which they have built to sun and dry their fish, nor on the navigation which has
been furtively allowed them as far as Guayana, or still further; nor can they
prove the legality of the armed Post they hold in the Rio Moruca ; . . .
it being prohibited them by the said Treaty to erect new fortifications under
any pretext. Sajne, p. 204.

1769. Court of Policy.

The invasi(ui of the Spaniards, as unexpected as it is contrary to the law of
nations and the treaties of alliance, calls for your Lordships' most serious
consideration, and requires a speedy resolution for redress. B. C.,IV, 12.



1769. Remonstrance of States-General.

The people of Orinoco, contrary not only to all Treaties, but also to the law
of nations, in taking" away and retaining, . . . the slaves which deserted
thither from that Colony. B. C, IV, 31.

1897. George L. Burr.

What was meant by the wo^'ds translated "forts and places "?
The words " lieux " and " />/aces," " plactsen," are the most general and in-
definite terms known to these languages for the expression of locality, and corre-
spond wholly to the cognate English word, ''places!' . . . The Kng'lisli
translation shonld therefore run, not " forts and places," but "places"
alone. V. C.-C, II, 1-2.

What is meant by the words translated " acquire and possess ".'

" Conquer and possess" would therefore be a truer English translation ; and
the phrase would seem to imply rather a seizure from another State than an
occupation of lands held only by aborigines.

What "places " were in the thought of the parties to the treaty?

The only places suggested by the negotiations are those to be won back
from the Portuguese in Brazil. Same, p. j.

As everything points to the Estates of Zealand or to their deputies in the
States-General as the most zealous promoters of the provisions of the treaty
touching the West Indies, this clear intimation that the Portuguese possessions
alone were in their thoug'ht in framing the questioned clauses should be of use
in the interpretation of the treaty.

By this historical survey it has been made clear, I think, that the questioned
clause came originally from the West India Company itself or from its sponsors ;
that, after sharp scrutiny, it was accepted by the Spanish envoys precisely as it
was submitted, save for a possible (but, if actual, most significant) change of
"acquerir" to "conquerir ;" that, in the minds of its authors, it had reference
only to possessions of the Portuguese; but that, already in the minds of the
French diplomats, and possibly in the intent of the Dutch plenipotentiaries, it was
susceptible of ambiguous interpretation. Same, p. 12.

What was the policy of the Dutch as to recognizing a right of any other
power to lands still occupied only by natives ?

More even than did other Europeans, they sought their title from the
natives themselves. Their relations with the aborigines of the Guiana coast
seem from the first to have been those of friendship and alliance ; and, though no
specific treaties have been adduced, still less is there anywhere implication, in the
accessible Dutch sources, of a claim derived from Spain. Same, pp. 12-ij.

Was this provision of the treaty ever appealed to by the Dutch in support
of aggressions on territory claimed by the Spaniards ?

Throughout the century and a half of their neighborhood in South America —
a period filled with reciprocal aggressions and complaints — I have as yet found
no instance of appeal to tliis clause of the treaty by the Dutch. ... no
such instance is cited by the British Blue Books.

Yet it may, of course, be replied that, while the Dutch might be unwilling, by
urging such a claim, to admit Spanish rights over unsettled territory, Spain
might still be estopped by the clause from resenting their encroachments.

Same, p, ij.



1897. George L. Burr.

How have later historians and diplomatists interpreted this clause ?
In the multitude of authorities I have consulted I have found as yet no other
interpretation tliaii tliat it refers to Portiig^iiese possessions.

Postscript. — Having, since the submission of this report, made search in the
Dutch archives, through the whole of the diplomatic correspondence between the
Netherlands and Spain during this period, and also through the papers of the
States-General and of the West India Company, I am able to affirm this position
with much greater positiveness. To other clauses of the treaty I find Dutch ap-
pealing ; to this never. . . . Had the Dutch been disposed to invoke the
Treaty of Munster against Spanish aggressions, they surely could have had no
more tempting occasion than was given by the assaults on the Essequibo posts
during the latter half of the eighteenth century. Yet I find neither in the pro-
tests of the West India Company and of the States- General nor in the diplo-
matic correspondence with Spain any allusion to that treaty. Once, indeed
(September 2, 1754), the governor of the Essequibo colony asked the Company
if the boundary between Holland and Spain in Guiana were not regulated by the
Treaty of Munster; but they were obliged to reply (January 6, 1755) that
neither in that treaty nor in any other could they tind anything about it.

V. C.-C, II, 13.

I . . . add what amounts to an official Spanish exposition of this article
of the treaty of Munster. . . . Thus argue the Spanish diplomatists in their
memorial submitted to the Dutch States-General on December 4, 1786 :

" The first of these points was that Spaiii should restrict her limits in the
East Indies to those which she then possessed, conceding or leaving to the Dutch
the conquests in all the remainder ;

" The second point agreed on was that Spain and the States-General should re-
main in possession of wliat tliey respectively occupied at the time of the
treaty ... on the coasts of . . . America.

" The third point was that the States-General should preserve their possession
and rights as to the forts and places which the Portuguese had taken from them
since the year 1641, as also to the forts and places which the said states shall
come to conquer there hereafter, . . . without infraction of the present
treaty." Same, pp. 14-15.

It seems fair, then, to conclude that :

1. It is improbable that, in the intent of its framers and its ratifiers, the Treaty
of 3Iunster conceded ta the Dutch a right to win from the natives lands
claimed by Spain.

2. It does not appear that it was ever interpreted in this sense by either Spain
or the Dutch. Same, p. 16.

What may have been the political significance of these posts is less easy to
determine. Among the forms of occupation specified by the Treaty of Munster,
in 1648, as precluding visit and trade by the subjects of the other power, was that
by loges (in the Dutch text lo^ien). This word was at the time delinod by the
Holland Estates to mean warehouses. But it is by this word that the posts are
described, (notably that on the Cuyuni) in the formal remonstrances of the States-
General to Spain, (1759, 1769). The postholder and his one or two white
assistants were usually old soldiers and remained enrolled among the military of
the colony, at least until the year 1775. Same, p. 84,



1897. George L. Burr.

The Treaty of Miinster, by whicJi in 1648 Spain for the first time form-
ally recognized the independence of the Dntch and the existence of their
colonial possessions, makes no mention of Guiana or of any other region by
name; nor do tlie records of tlie negotiations, preserved to us in great fullness,
show any mention of that district. Equally silent are the treaties of the Nether-
lands with England and with France. Nor are the Guiana colonies matters of
discussion in the diplomatic correspondence between Holland and Spain.

V. C.-C, II, iSo-iSi.

. Venezuelan Case.

By Article V of that Treaty [of Munster], the Netherlands obtained from
Spain a title to what they at that time held npon the coasts of America.
That treaty fixed the boundary of Dutch dominion at that time. British rights
to-day, so far as the territory in dispute is concerned, are what Dutch rights were
tw'o hundred and fifty years ago — no more. V. C, ^2.

The effect of this treaty [of Munster] was two- fold : on the one hand it con-
ferred npon the Dntch a title to territory which before belonged to Spain ;
on the other hand it constituted an eug-agement on the part of the Netherlands
that, as against Spain, and at the cost of Spain, the Dutch would acquire noth-
ing more than they then possessed. Same, p. yj.

Upon the restoration of peace [Treaty of Munster] she [Spain] gave them
[Dutch] a title to territory which up to that time they had held as mere

The extent of this grant cannot be difficult to define : the entire Dutch Colony,
if indeed it might be dignified by such a name, consisted of a body of two or
three dozen unmarried employes of the West India Company, housed in a fort
on a small island, and engaged in traffic with the Indians for the dyes of the
forest : at the time when the treaty was signed, they were not cultivating an acre
of land. This and an establishment on the Berbice were the only Dutch settle-
ments in Guiana in 1648. Neither then, nor at at any time prior thereto, had the
Dutch occupied or settled a foot of ground west of their Essequibo post.

Sa/iie, p. Y4.

12. By the Treaty of Munster the Dutch engaged to neither sail to nor
trade in any places held and possessed by the King of Spain. Same, p. 22j.

. British Counter Case.

This proposition is admitted. B. C.-C, ij2.

13. By the same treaty the Dutch engaged to respect the sovereignty of Spain
over all lordships, towns, castles, fortresses, commerce and countries at that time
held or possessed by Spain, and to do nothing which might be an infraction of
the treaty. V. C, 22J.

. British Counter Case.

This proposition is admitted. B. C.-C, /J2.

. Venezuelan Case.

Twice, during the latter part of the 17th century, the Dutch, in violation of
the Treaty of Munster, attempted to plant settlements west of the Essequibo
River, on the banks of the Pomeroon. V. C, 22j.



. British Counter Case.

These settlements were not in violation of tlie Treaty of Munster, but

were expressly in accordance with the rights reserved to the Dutch by the Vth
Article of that Treaty. B. C.-C, ij2.

■ . Venezuelan Case.

Twice during the 1 8th century the Dutch, in violation of the Treaty of
Munster, attempted to establish slave and trading posts on the Cnyuni river.

V. C, 223.

. British Counter Case.

It is inaccnrate to say that the establishment of such Posts was in violation
of the Treaty of Munster. B. C.-C, ij2.

. Venezuelan Case.

At various times during the 1 8th century, the Dutch, in violation of the
Treaty of Munster, attempted to establish, and in some instances for brief pe-
riods maintained, sl.ave-tradina: stations near the mouths of the Pomeroou and
Moruca rivers. V. C, 224.

- — . British Counter Case.

It is ■wholly untrue that these stations were founded in violation of the
Treaty of Munster, B, C.-C, ijj.

. Venezuelan Case.

On March 30, 1845, Spain recognized Venezuela's independence and formally
renounced in her favor all the sovereignty, rights and claims previously her
own in the territory formerly known as the Captaincy-Ueneral of Venezuela.
Said territory comprised the region now in dispute. V. C, 22J.

. British Counter Case.

It is untrue that the territory renounced by Spain comprised the region now
in dispute. B. C.-C, IJ4.

. Venezuelan Case.

During a portion of the present century, in violation of the Treaty of Mun-
ster, (ireat IJritain lias occupied a strip of land along the coast between the
Essequibo and the Pomeroon rivers, known as the Arabian or Arabisi coast.

V. C, 22J.

. British Counter Case.

This proposition is wholly inaccurate. Occupation by Great Britain,
which always extended and now extends far beyond the strip of land along the
coast referred to, was as of right in succession to the Dutch, and by virtue of their
and her independent right of colonization and settlement, B. C.-C, IJ4,

. Venezuelan Case.

Subsequent to the year 1880, Cfreat Britain, in violation of the said agree-
ment of 1850, and of the Treaty of Munster, forcibly entered upon and took

possession of the territory lying between the Essequibo river and the line first'
published in 1886, since claimed by Great Britain to be the Schomburgk Line.
Said territory included not only the entire region which was in dispute in 1850,
but also territory belonging to Venezuela, the title to which had never been
questioned prior to 1886. V. C.,226.




. British Counter Case.

This proposition is inaccurate. The hne pubHshed in 1886 was the original
Schomburgk line as it exists upon the map drawn by him, and the alleged entry
and taking possession of the territory lying between the Essequibo River and
that line was no violation of the Arrangement of 1850. It is untrue that Great
Britain entered any territory belonging to Venezuela, or any territory, the title
to which had never been questioned prior to 1886. B. C.-C, ijj.

. Venezuelan Case.

The Dutcli not having come as occupants of lerra luillius, but as mere tres-
passers on territory belonging to Spain, no valid title to the land occupied by
them in the Essequibo river rested in tlieni until, by the Treaty of Munster,
Spain released and confirmed to them the possession of such land.

V. C, 231.

. British Counter-Case.

The Dutch were in no sense trespassers on territory belonging to Spain.
They had a valid title to the lands and settlements occupied by them in the
Essequibo River and elsewhere, which title had been recog'nized by Spain long'