Rafael Seijas.

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

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before the Treaty of Munster. The Treaty of Munster was not a release and
confirmation to the Dutch, but a recog:nition of the fact that they were settled in
Guiana as elsewhere by virtue of their own rights as an independent nation. The
Treaty of Munster was much more a protection of the possessions of the
Spaniards against the Dutch than a confirmation of any Dutch title.

B. C.-C, ijS.

. Venezuelan Case.

The Dutch having co.ne to the Essequibo as disseizors, and the Treaty of
Munster having released and confirmed to them only such places as they then
actually held and possessed, the territory thus released and confirmed was
limited to such land only as was in fact then physically occupied by them.

V. C, 2JI.

. British Counter Case.

The Dutch had not come to the Essequibo as disseizors, but as independent
settlers. The Treaty of Munster did not release and confirm to them only
such places as they then actually held and possessed ; on the contrarj% it recog-
nized in terms their right to acquire further possessions. B. C.-C, ij8.

. Venezuelan Case.

The places actually occupied by the Dutch in the river Essequibo at the date
of the Treaty of Munster having been limited to the island subsequently known as
Kykoveral, the Treaty of 3Iunster i-eleased and confirmed to them the title
to that island only and the right of free ingress thereto and egress therefrom by
way of the Essequibo river itself. V. C, 2ji.

. British Counter Case.

It is untrue that tlie places occupied by the Dutch in the River Essequibo
at the date of the Treaty of Munster were limited to the island then, and sub-
sequently known as Kijkoveral. Their possessions, as was well known to Spain,
extended to many other places in Guiana. B. C.-C, ijS.



. Venezuelan Case.

Said Cuyuui-Mazaruni liasin bein^ a tract of laud geographically separate
from and iiidepeii«lent of the Essequibo river ; and no part of said basin having
been in the possession, occupation or control of the Dutch at the date of the
Treaty of Munster, that treaty conferred upon the Dutch no right or title what-
soever thereto. V. C, 2j2.

. British Counter-Case.

The Cuyiini-Mazaruni Basin is not a tract of land geograpliically sepa-
rated from and independent of the Essequibo River. The Dutch were at the
date of the Treaty of Munster in occupation of part of the said basin, and had
practically control over the whole. B. C.-C, ijg.

. Venezuelan Case.

The eflorts of the Dutch twice during the latter part of the 17th century to
establish settlements on or near the Pomeroon, having been ineffectual as
well as in violation of the Treaty of Munster, cannot be made the basis of
title to that region. V. C, 2j2.

. British Counter Case.

The settlements of the Dutch on the Pomeroon were not a yiolation of
the Treaty of Munster. On the contrary, if that territory was not in the occu-
pation of the Dutch at the date of the Treaty, these settlements were directly in
accordance with the power of settlement possessed by them as recognized by the
Treaty. B. C.-C, ijg.

. Venezuelan Case.

The efforts of the Dutch twice during the i8th century to establish slave and
trading posts on the Cuyuni river, having been ineffectual as well as in viola-
tion of the Treaty of Munster, cannot be made the basis of title to that region.

V. C, 232-233.

. British Counter Case.

The Posts established by the Dutch on the Cuyuni River were not in vio-
lation of the Treaty of Munster. B. C.-C, 140.

. Venezuelan Case.

The present occupation by Great Britain of a portion of the territory now
in dispute, being in violation of the Treaty of Munster and of the agreement
of 1850, and having been effected subsequent to the year 1880, in the interior,
and subsequent to 1884, on the coast, cannot be made the basis of title to that
region. V- C., 233.

. British Counter Case.

The occupation by Great Britain of the territory now in her possession was
not a violation of the Treaty of Munster or of the Arrangement of 1850.
Great Britain never undertook to abandon territory over which she had at the
time of the said Arrangement complete control, or to abstain from continuing the
development of that territory. B. C-C, 142.



. British Case.

The Treaty of Miinster . . . included the places which the Portuguese
had taken from the States-General since the year 1641, as well as all places
which the States-General should thereafter come to conquer and possess without
infraction of the Treaty.

Tlie object of this jn'ovisioii was that the Dutch sliould be at liberty
to recapture from the Portuguese all places which the latter had acquired at
their expense during the Portuguese rebellion. B. C, 26.

. Venezuelan Counter Case.

By the Treaty of Munster tlie Dutch received from Spain, in 1648, a
quit-claim to i^hat they tlien possessed, not to any subsequent extension

of those possessions at Spanish expense. By that Treaty also the Dutch
agreed to respect Spanish possessions, and to acquire no more Spanish territory.

V. C.-C, 13.
. British Counter Case.

At the time of the truce in 1609 the Dutch maintained their rigiit to
found settlements in any part of South America not actually occupied and
possessed by Spain, and never abandoned that position. It was maintained by
them in all the negotiations leading up to the Treaty of Munster, and received
sanction once again in the definite terms established by that Treaty.

With regard to the Treaty of Munster, Her Majesty's Government, . .
submit that this Treaty cannot possibly be regarded as a "grant" by Spain to
the Dutch of their Settlements, and that there was nothing in that Treaty to
limit the expansion of the Dutch Settlements, provided they did not encroach
upon territory actually held and possessed by Spain. B. C.-C.,j^.

The true effect of the Treaty ofMiinster was, first, to confirm the Spauisli
and the Dutch respectively as equal soTereign powers in the right to hold undis-
turbed and without molestation the possessions which they respectively held in
Guiana at the time of the Treaty ; secondly, to control tlie trade relations
between the two countries as regards their respective possessions ; and thirdly,
to specifically recognize the right of the Dutch to acquire by conquest or
otherwise further possessions in Guiana from Portugal or from the native tribes,
an undertaking being given by the Dutch not to infringe upon or interfere with
any territory actually occupied and possessed by Spain. Same, p. jS.

In considering these Articles [of the Treaty of Munster] it must be borne in
mind . . . that the Dutch were at the time in a position to make tlieir
own terms, and that the Spaniards were most anxious to agree to a Treaty
at any price, and had in fact given instructions to their Plenipotentiaries to that
effect. Same, p. jg.

The suggestion that the rights reserved to and recognized in the Dutch by the
latter provision were confined to a right to gain possessions beyond those
which they already occupied only from that part of South America which the
Portuguese held, is contradicted by the terms of the Article [V.] itself.

The words : . . . " including also the localities and places which the same
Lords States shall hereafter without infraction of the present Treaty come to con-
quer and possess," . . . are a recognition of the right of the Dutch to extend



their possessions in South America and elsewhere, only so long as they did not
encroach upon the territories actually possessed and enjoyed by Spain at the date
of the Treaty. B. C.-C, 41.

The words which give the Dutch the right to conquer aud possess new
places " without infraction of the present Treaty " are wholly inconsistent with
the view that the Treaty was limited by or made subject to Spanish rights to
claim as their property unoccupied territories.

The words " without infraction of the present Treaty," referred to the recog-
nition by the Dutch of the actual Spanish possessions contained in the Treaty
itself. Same, p. 4^.

This Article [V.] . . . was inserted in order to give the Dutch the
fullest rig'ht of taking- possession of any territories, including Guiana, not
already in the actual occupation of Spain. Same, p. 4j.

After the most careful examination no single document lias been found to
Justify the contention that Spain considered tliat slie >vas making a grant
to Holland by virtue of any paramount title, or that the Dutch understood that
they were receiving, so to speak, a grant from Spain of their possessions in
Guiana. Same, p. 46.


1760. Confidential Report to King of Spain.

As Spain, by the Peace of Utrecht, is not bound to maintain the Dntcli
in the said Colony, she may in good conscience and Christian policy, consent
and contribute to their expulsion by the negroes. B. C.-C, App., 206


1791. [1876] Senor Calcaiio.

In the Convention which they signed at Aranjuez on the 23d June, 1791, . . .
where it is clearly expressed that just as Porto Rico is Spanish and St. Eustace
Dutch, Coro Spanish and Curasao Dutch, so all the establishments of the Orinoco
are Spanish, and how far } As far as the other boundary which designates what
is Dutch, as far as the Essequibo, Berbice, and Surinam.

Here it is settled by Holland herself that her limits with Spain to the
north only reach as far as the River Essequibo. B. C, VII, g4.

. British Case.

Senor Calcano further quoted the Cartel of Aranjuez which was made in the
year 1791.

Senor Calcano [in 1880] suggested that the word Essequibo at the
end of the above Article referred to the river. A perusal of the Treaty, both
in the French and in the Spanish text, shows that this suggestion is unfounded,
and, further, from the documents which passed during the negotiations for the
Treaty it is clear that the words Essequibo, Demerara, Berbice and Surinam
were used throughout as the well-known general descriptions of the Dutch
Colonies, Essequibo being, as before mentioned, the nanie commonly applied to
all the Dutch possessions between the Boerasirie Creek, situated to the east of
the River Essequibo, and the Orinoco. B. C, 126-127.



1814. Convention between Great Britain and the Netherlands: — Signed at London,
August 13, 1 8 14.
Article I. His Britannic Majesty engages to restore to the Prince-Sovereign of
the United Netherlands within the term which shall be hereafter fixed, the Colonies,
factories, and establishments which were possessed by Holland at the commence-
ment of the late war, viz., on the ist January, 1803, in the seas and on the continents
of America, Africa, and Asia : with the exception of the Cape of Good Hope and
the settlements of Demerara, Essequibo, and Berbioe, of which possessions the
High Contracting Parties reserve to themselves the right to dispose by a Supple-
mentary Convention, hereafter to be negotiated, according to their mutual in-
terests. B. C, V, 228.

Additional Article I. In consideration and in satisfaction of the above engage-
ments, as taken by His Britannic Majesty, the Prince Sovereign of the Netherlands
agrees to cede in full sovereignty to His Britannic Majesty the Cape of Good Hope
and the settlements of Demerara, Essequibo, and Berbice, upon the condition,
nevertheless, that the subjects of the said Sovereign Prince, being proprietors in the
said Colonies or settlements, shall be at liberty (under such regulations as may
hereafter be agreed upon in a Supplementary Convention) to carry on trade be-
tween the said settlements and the territories in Europe of the said Sovereign
Prince. Same, p. 231.

1839. R. H. Schomburgk.

By an Additional Article to a Convention, signed at London, the 13th August,
1 8 14, Demerara, Essequibo, and Berbice were finally ceded to Great Britain. The
British Empire acquired, therefore, Guiana, with the same claims to the termini
of its boundaries as held by the Dutcli. B. C, VII, j.


1850. Venezuelan Case.

In the year 1850 Venezuela and Great Britain ag-reed that, pending the
settlement of the boundary question, neither would occupy or encroach upon
the territory then in dispute. V. C, 226.

. British Counter Case.

The existence of the Arrangement made in 1850 is admitted, but no
definition or agreement as to the limits of the disputed territory was ever
arrived at, and at no time did Great Britain agree to abstain from the develop-
ment of the country east of the Schomburgk line, which she has throughout
maintained was her disputed property. B. C.-C, IJ4.

1850. British Charge d'Affaires in Caracas.

Letters which I have received from Mr. Vice-Consul Mathison, stating that
orders had been communicated to the authorities at Bolivar by the Supreme
Government to place the Province of Guayana in a state of defence, and . . .
that the Governor has spoken of raising: a fort at Barinta. a point to wliich
the i-ig:ht of possession is in dispute between Great Britain and Venezuela.

I have requested Mr. Mathison ... to ascertain correctly and report to
me from time to time whether . . . any occupation be effected of territory
claimed by Great Britain, and especially whether any forts or buildings be erected
or military posts established at Point Barima, or at the mouth of the Amacura.

B. C, VI, 179.



1850. Lord Palmerston.

The territory in dispute between Eiigrl.iiid and A'^enezuela . . . Her
Majesty's Government lias uo iutentiou of occupying- or encroaching upon.

B. C, VI, I So.

1850. British Charge d 'Affaires in Caracas.

Tlie determination of Great Britain not herself to occupy or encroacli
upon the territory in dispute.

The mahcious assertion of the occupation of Fuerte Viejo by British troops.

Same, p. iS^.

1850. British Charge d'Affaires in Caracas to Sefior Lecuna.

The undersigned, Her Britannic Majesty's Charge d'Affaires, had acquainted
his Lordship with the steps which he had taken to contradict a rumour mis-
chievously circulated in Venezuela that Great Britain intends to lay claim to the
province of Venezuelan Guiana.

[This rumour is] not only utterly and entirely destitute of any foundation
whatever, but . . . the very reverse of truth.

Point Barima, the right of possession to which is in dispute between Great
Britain and Venezuela. Same, p. 1S6.

Her Majesty's Government has no intention of occupying or encroacliing
upon the disputed territory.

The Venezuelan Government, cannot, without injustice to Great Britain,
distrust for a moment the sincerity of the formal declaration, now made in the
name and by the express order of Her Majesty's Government, that Great Britain
has no intention of occupying or encroaching upon the disputed territory; hence,
in a like spirit of good faith and friendliness, the Venezuelan Government cannot
object to make a similar formal declaration to Her Majesty's Government,
namely, that Venezuela herself has no intention of occupying or encroaching upon
the disputed territory.

Her Majesty's felovernment, as before stated, will not itself direct or sanc-
tion any such encroachments or occupation on the part of British authorities,
and should there ever be any misapprehension of its determination in this respect,
it would, the Undersigned is persuaded, willingly renew its orders upon the point;
he therefore feels satisfied that Venezuela will not hesitate to send positive in-
structions to the Venezuelan authorities in Guiana to abstain from taking any
measures which may be justly considered aggressive by the British authorities.

Same, p. iSj.

1850. Senor Lecuna.

Reposing in this confidence, fortified by the protestations contained in the
note under reply, the Government has no difficulty in replying that Venezuela
has no intention of occupying: or encroaching upon any part of the terri-
tory, the dominion of which is in dispute, and that it will not view with in-
difference that Great Britain shall act otherwise.

Furthermore, orders will be issued to the authorities in Guayana to abstain
from taking steps by which the engagement the Venezuelan Government has
hereby contracted may be violated. bame, p. jSS.



1858. Secretary of State for Colonies.

The Governor ... of British Guiana . . . will not make grants of
any land, or issue Hcences for the use or occupation of any land, lying between
the boundaries claimed by Great Britain and Venezuela.

If any British trader or other British subject shall establish himself on
Point Bai'ima or in any other part of the dispnted territory without grant or
licence, the Governor, . . . shall warn him that he does so at his own peril ;
that whilst the territory shall be in dispute, it would be inconsistent with the
understanding between the British Government and that of Venezuela that it
should be occupied. B. C.-C, App., 305.

As to the course to be taken with any applications for licences to cut timber
on the Barima, the Waini, or other waters in that neighborhood ... No
portion of the disputed territory can be occupied for such purposes consist-
ently with theengagments entered into in 1850 with the Government of Venezuela
by the British Charge d'Affaires. Same, p. 306.

1863. 1 1894] James Rodway.

In the first half of the year 18(>3, the dormant gold fever again showed
signs of its presence. On the 12th of June a number of gentlemen . . .
applied to Governor Hincks for a right of occupancy of a tract of land on the
Cuyuni. Four days later the Governor replied that he was precluded from
granting them a license, and that he could only regard them as a community
of British Adventurers. V. C, III, 339.

1867. Government Notice.

Whereas in the year 1850 a mutual engagement was entered into by
the Government of Clreat Britain and that of Venezuela to the effect that
neither Government would occupy or encroach upon certain tracts of
country theretofore in dispute, lying between the boundary of British Guiana,
as claimed by Great Britain, and the boundary of Venezuelan Guiana, as claimed
by Venezuela :

And whereas a Company has been lately formed ... for the purpose of
seeking for gold and working any deposits thereof to be found within the tracts
aforesaid: . . . thisis to inform those British subjects and all others concerned,
. . . that Her Majesty's Government cannot undertake to afford protection to
British subjects so employed in these tracts as aforesaid, and that all such British
subjects can only be recognized as a community of British adventurers, acting on
their own responsibility and at their own peril and cost. Same, pp. 148-149.

1875. Governor Longden.

Difficulties arose as to frontier questions, which were settled in 1850.

B. C, VI, 212.

The sole question, therefore, connected with Garrett's arrest which seems to
admit of doubt is whether the declaration of 1850 does or does not preclude
either Great Britain or Venezuela from entering upon the territory in dis-
pute between them to arrest a criminal flying from either territory to evaed

It would be a misfortune to both countries if it should be held that the territory
lying between them is a sanctuary for criminals from both to flee to, . . . if



it be publicly held that no criminal can be arrested in the disputed territory, it is
only in reason to expect that crime will be encouraged by the immunity from the

A party of constables was sent in pursuit of the murderer, and he was ajt-
prelieiided in a house on the banks of the Amacura River. . . . The
country appears to be a wilderness . . . It is in fact a part of the disputed
territorj' referred to by Colonel Wilson in his despatch to Lord Palmerston of
the 30th December, 1850, with regard to which he exchanged declarations with
the Venezuelan Government that "neither Government should occupy or encroach
upon the territory in dispute." As far as this Government is concerned, this de-
claration has been carefully observed, and there are no resident British
authorities within the district.

The criminal Garrett was, as ! have said, arrested in the wilderness, in a
country the possession of which has by the Agreement of 1850 been acknowl-
edged to be in dispute. B. C, VI, 21 j.

1875. Earl of Derby.

Declarations were exchanged in 1850.

I have informed Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies that in my
opinion it could not have been intended that this agreement should preclude
either Government from arresting criminals iu the disputed territory, and
that it would be most undesirable that it should have that effect. Same, p. 21J.

1879. E. F. im Thurn.

A murder having been committed at the Penal Settlement, which, according
to the convention of 1850 and the proclamation of 1867, cannot be regarded
as within British territory, the company employed counsel for the accused to
put in a plea of jurisdiction, the crime having been committed in disputed terri-
tory. The plea was of course overruled, but, equally of course, inconsistently.

V. c, 111,154.

1881. British Case.

In . . . 1881 . . . the Venezuelan Government had granted
a concession of the whole disputed territory to General Pulgar. ... In
1883 and 1884 ... the Venezuelan Government granted the whole of the
territory between the Orinoco and Essequibo to foreign concessionnaires in two
separate grants, which covered the whole area of the territory claimed by Great

The first of the two grants was to C. C. Fitzgerald who established the Manoa
Company. The grant included . . . the whole of the coast district between
the Orinoco and the Pomeroon.

The second grant, to Herbert Gordon, covered the whole area between the
Manoa grant and the Essequibo River, with the exception of a strip on the
west bank of the Lower Essequibo.

These limits were not expressly stated in the grants, but were marked upon
the maps which accompanied them. B. C, yj.

1884. Governor Irving, Demerara.

The line is not defined by the concession, but the (Manoa) Company have
defined it for themselves by exhibiting in their map and prospectus the
Moruca River as the limit of their grant. B. C, VI, 225.



1884. Governor Irving, Demerara.

This is a definition against which the Colonial Government is bound to
protest. Its effect would be to sever from the Colony the whole of tlie terri-
tory lying- between the Monua and the Aniacura Rivers, within which the
Colonial (Government has exercised jurisdiction for a Ions? series of years,
to hand over to the tender mercies of a foreign Joint Stock Company a consider-
able population of aboriginal Indians, many of whom have taken refuge in this
territory from Venezuelan ill-usage, and who have learnt to regard themselves as
living under British rule and under the protection of British law ; and to sur-
render to a foreign Power a control over the inland water communication of the
Colony which would now be a source of embarrassment to the Government.

B. C, VI, 22 J.

1884. [1895] Lord Salisbury.

Early in 1884 news arrived of a fourth breach by Venezuela of the
Ag-reement of 1850, through two different grants which covered the whole
of the territory in dispute. V. C.-C, III, 2S1.

1886. British Case.

In 1886, the Venezuelan Government having ceased to observe this arrange-
ment [of 1850], Her Majesty's Government declared itself no longer bound
by it. B. C, 18.

1886. F. R. St. John.

I was . . . able ... to point out that the disputed territory com-
menced at tlie Amacura River, ten miles westward of the Barima, and . . .
that the election of a liglithouse [at Barima] would still constitute a viola-
tion of disputed ground. ^- C., VII, 117,

I stated that the only instances of British authorities visiting the disputed
territories had been, as far as I knew, for police purposes. Sa7ne, p. iiS.

1886. Minister of Venezuela.

This Agreement [of 1850] has remained unaltered up to the present time.