Rafael Seijas.

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

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since neither of the parties thereto limited it in any way, nor have they made to
each other the least communication on the subject from that date.

Now, if such an Agreement means anything, it has not been lawful either for
Great Britain or Venezuela to occupy disputed places. . . . But the ra-
tional meaning' of the Agreement is that it was intended to maintain the
status quo. It has thus been understood by the Venezuelan Republic, who,
though claiming as her own places possessed dc facto by Great Britain as far as
the Essequibo, has left them so provisionally.

On the contrary, Great Britain has continued to advance her occupations.

V. C, III, 233-236.

1887. Lord Iddesleigh.

Her Majesty's Government ... do not, however, wish you to say any-
thing further concerning the pursuit of fugitives into the disputed territory by the
Venezuelan police, as it is not desirable to encourage the Venezuelan Govern-
ment to adopt such action.

An attempt to erect such a lig-hthouse without the consent of Her Majesty's
Government Avould be a departure from the reciprocal engagement taken by
the (ilovernments of Venezuela and England in l.s.)0 not to occupy or en-
croach upon the territory in dispute between the two countries. B, C, VII, iiS.



238 REMONSTRANCES AND MEANING OF TREATIES.

MEANING OF TREATIES-AGREEMENT OF 1850-(Continued).

1887. F.R.St. John.

Evacuation by us of territory between Orinoco and Pomeroon is required.

B. C, VII, 121.
1887. Seuor Urbaneja.

It is clear that (xreat Britain has violated this Agrreement [of IS.jO], which
was her work ; that slie has penetrated into forbidden places, visited the Rivers
Guainia Morazuana, and Amacura, and Barinia Creek, affixing Notices on the
trees on the river banks that her laws were there enforced; . . . that she
established in Amacura a public office, . . . sending thither a magistrate in
order to inquire into and decide police and criminal cases ; that she authorized
the woiking of mines on Venezuelan territory, and Anally appropriated it
on the g:round, as alleged, that the dispute of limits was pending'.

Same, p. 124.
1887. F. R. St. John.

To erect such a lighthouse [at Barima Point] without the consent of Her
Majesty's Government would be a departure from the reciprocal agreement
taken by the Governments of Venezuela and England in 1850 not to occupy or
encroach upon the territory in dispute between the two countries. Same, p. I2j.

1887. Lord Salisbury.

The Venezuelan Government . . . require the evacuation by this
country of the territory situated betMeenthe Orinoco and Pomeroon Rivers.

Her Majesty's Giovernment ... are not prepared to accede to the
demand. Same, p. 12^.

1887. Selior Urbaneja.

On the 1 2th instant, . . . you communicate to me by order of the Govern-
ment of Her Majesty, that the latter having been informed of the recent visit of
two Venezuelan Commissioners to that portion of the territory which is claimed
by Great Britain as part of British Guiana and of what they there did, will not
permit any interference with British subjects in those places.

Same, p. ij2.

1887. Lieutenant-Governor Bruce.

Among- the applications which have been received for mining licenses
. . . are many which apply to lands which are within the territory in dis-
pute ... I have received instructions of the secretary of state to caution
expressly all persons interested in . . . acquiring an interest in the disputed
territory, that all licences concessions or grants applying to any portion of
such disputed territory will be issued and must be accepted subject to the i)ossi-
bility that, in the event of a settlement of the present disputed boundary line,
the land , . . may become a part of the Venezuelan territory, in which
case no claim to compensation from the colony or from Her Majesty's Govern-
ment can be recognized. V. C, III, 164.

1890. Venezuelan Case.

In 1890, the Venezuelan Government received an intimation from Sir

Andrew Clarke and Captain Lowther that (Jreat Britain was disposed "to
evacuate tlie invaded territory, and to submit the case to the aibitration of a
friendly Power, provided Venezuela would declare diplomatic relations to be re-
established between the two countries." V. C, 217.



REMONSTRANCES AND MEANING OF TREATIES. 239

MEANING OF TREATIES-AGREEMENT OF 1850-(Continued).

-. Venezuelan Case.

Subsequent to the year 1880, Great Britain, in violation of tlie said aarrce-
mcnt of 1850, and of the Treaty of Munster, forcibly entered upon and look
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 ques-
tioned prior to 1886. ^- C., 226.

-. British Counter Case.

This proposition is inaccurate. The line published in 1 886 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 iH.'iO. 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, IJS-

-. 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

IS.jO, 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, 235.

-. 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 line which had been provisionally proclaimed in 1886 was, on the
whole, fairly observed by both parties until the aggressive action of the
Venezuelans, which ended in the destruction of the Uruau station and viola-
tion of ^/i/ar/^ British territory in 1894.

The only event of importance since that date was the Harrison incident in
1896, v/hen the Venezuelans again violated the line at the Acarabisi and arrested
Mr. Harrison, a Government surveyor engaged in making surveys for a road
between the Barama and the Cuyuni.

At the time of the signature of the Treaty of Arbitration the same status
quo was tacitly observed. B. C, 77-78.

As the boundary question remained for so many years unsettled, it became
impossible to prevent British subjects and Indians from collecting and settling in
the districts between the aioruka and the Amakuru, believing that in a territory
claimed by Great Britain where she had for years past exercised jurisdiction
and granted concessions they would be more secure than under the unsettled
rule of Venezuela. Although Great Britain, after 1850, abstained from
encouraging these settlements, she could not prevent them, nor could she
undertake to hand them over to a nation of different race and language.

Same, p. ijj.



240 REMONSTRANCES AND MEANING OF TREATIES.

MEANING OF TREATIES-AGREEMENT OF 1850-(Contlnued).

. British Case.

In I.S80-87, the increase of population and the danger of leaving a large
tract of land without any sort of government, left no other course open to Her
Majesty's Government but to determine finally on the Sdioniburgk line as

indicating the territory the title to which Great Britain would not admit to be open
to question. B. C, ijj.

MEANING OF TREATIES-TREATY OF ARBITRATION, 1897.

. Venezuelan Case.

Tlie burden is upon (ireat Britain to establish how far encroachments
upon territory, originally Spanish, can, under the stipulation of the Treaty of
Munster and under the rules adopted by the present treaty, confer title upon
herself. In the meantime, and until such proof shall be forthcoming, Vene-
zuela considers it unnecessary to set forth at length the history of Spanish and
Venezuelan occupation and control during the present century. V. C, iqS.

At no time, either before or after the date of the Treaty of Munster, did the
Dutch, for a period of fifty consecutive years, exercise exclusive political
control or lawfully occupy any part of the territory lying between theEssequibo
and Orinoco rivers. Same, p. 22^.

. British Counter Case.

Both before and to a still greater extent after the date of the Treaty of Mun-
ster the Dutch continuously and for a period greatly in excess of fifty years
exercised exclusive political control over the territory between the Esse-
quibo and the Orinoco Rivers. B. C.-C, ijj.

. Venezuelan Case.

Venezuela has accepted this rule {Rule a, Ariich IV.\, but she submits and
will claim that time is but one of many elements essential to create title by pre-
scription. Prescription to be effective against nations, as against individuals,
must be bona-fide, public, notorious, adverse, exclusive, peaceful, continuous,
uncontested, and maintained under a claim of right. Rule (n) fixes 50 years as
the period of prescription, but leaves its other elements unimpaired.

V. C, 22g.

. British Counter Case.

The proposition herein enunciated is not accurately stated. Time and pos-
session are, broadly speaking, the only essential elements of prescription.

B. C.-C, 137.

It is clear that by virtue of Article IV, Rule (a) of the Treaty of Arbitration,
Great Britain is entitled to retain whatever territory lias been held by her,
or has been subject to her exclusive political control for a period of fifty
years, although the result might be to give to Great Britain territory which had
never been Dutch, and might even conceivably have at one time been Spanish.
Moreover, there has been nothing' to prevent the extension of British settle-
ment and control, if tlie regions into wliich such extension was made were
at tlic liinc lying vacant. Territory acKlecl to the British Colony by such ex-
tension cannot be awarded to Venezuela, however recent the British possession
may have been. Same, pp. 107-10S.



REMONSTRANCES AND MEANING OF TREATIES. 241

MEANING OF TREATIES-TREATY OF ARBITRATION, 1897-

(Continued).

. British Counter Case.

It is true that any occupation by Great Britain since 1847 cannot of itself
confer a valid title to territory which may be adjudged to have belonged by right
to Venezuela. But no question of adverse holding or prescription esiu
arise except where one Power has occupied territory by right belonging to the
other ; and, except in such cases, present possession, however recent, cannot be
disturbed ... so Her Majesty's (



Online LibraryRafael SeijasVenezuela-British Guiana boundary arbitration. Digest of evidence arranged according to subjects → online text (page 29 of 45)