United States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign Commerce.

Consular reports, Issues 224-227 online

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and the lower the exchange goes, the greater the prosperity. High
exchange benefits the south, where coffee is the principal produc-
tion. Should exchange rise, as it is confidently believed in some
quarters that it will, because of the consolidation of the foreign debt
of Brazil and the payment of 10 per cent of the customs duties in
gold. Para and the Amazonas may receive a temporary check. How-
ever, the condition of this section is so sound that these States would
soon become accustomed to the new conditions. This is undoubtedly
the view taken by England, France, Germany, and Belgium, as cap-
ital from these countries is flowing here in a steady current. Last
week, a Belgian syndicate purchased one of the electric plants of Para
and several rubber fields.

United States capitalists have not been very active in the invest-
ment of capital in this country. There are, however, I am glad to
say, an unusually large number of American drummers studying

♦ To-day equal to I675. 1 1270.

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this country, and they move with astonishing energy and confidence.
A few days ago, five sailing vessels arrived in the harbor, filled to
their utmost capacity with coal, lumber, and other products from
the United States; and to-day comes a large steamer packed with
machinery of American manufacture, presumably sent by Mr. Charles
R. Flint to complete the trolley electric railway in Manaos — one of
the most important enterprises in this part of Brazil. The manager
expects to have the road in operation within the next sixty days.
The line is said to be some 15 miles in length, and the cost will be
close to $1,000,000. The company is incorporated under the laws
of the State of New York, and Mr. Flint is treasurer. Mr. Flint has
done much to promote our interests throughout all South America.
The dispute, which is of long standing, between Brazil and
Bolivia over the dividing line of the two countries now seems prac-
tically settled; the Brazilian Government, it is reported, having
accepted the demands of Bolivia, which country has, within the last
three weeks, established a custom-house at the disputed point. The
strip of land contains many thousand valuable rubber fields, and the
change will be keenly felt in the revenue department at Manaos.


The province of Antofagasta extends from 21° 30' to 26° south lati
tude, and is composed of the three departments of Tocopilla, Antofa-
gasta, and Taltal. Each of these has its port of the same name, from
which almost all the products are shipped, the, other ports being
minor ones.


This department, which is the principal one, is wonderfully rich
in gold, silver, copper, salt, and anhydrite; also, in lead. The pro-
duction of Bolivia is nearly all exported through the port of Antofa-
gasta, as the Antofagasta and Bolivia Railway is the only one that
extends into the heart of that country, having a length of some 600
miles. Silver, copper, antimony, bismuth, tin, mercury, and sulphur
are received from Bolivia.

Gold. — The gold mines of this department exist in three districts:
San Cristobal, Santa Maria, and at the mouth of the River Loa.
The gold is found in well-defined fissures, quartz lodes in quartz
trachyte, and, with the exception of one mine — the Bolaco, in San
Cristobal — very little work has been done, chiefly owing to the lack
of water, which has to be taken in carts 2fi miles, and sold at a price
of ;^i i6s. ($8.74) a ton. The production of gold from San Cristobal
No. 225 10.

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has been for the last few years on an average of 200 kilograms (440.92
pounds) fine a year. The percentage has averaged 10 ounces to the
ton. The production from Santa Maria and the Loa is small.

Silver. — ^There are several districts in this department, the most
important being Caracoles, Sierra Gorda, El Inca, Paine, Laukir,
Atahualpa, Aralar, Sierra de Plomo, Piquios, and Cerro de Pascua.
These are distributed all over the department, and, with the excep-
tion of Sierra Gorda, heavy freights by carts must be paid to the
different stations on the railway. The production of silver, which
once (in 1873) reached 250,000 kilograms (551,150 pounds) fine from
Caracoles alone, of an average of 1.65 per cent, has been reduced in
subsequent years to 25,000 kilograms (55,115 pounds) in the whole
department. The percentage now averages 0.3 per cent. The first
three districts named are the only ones at work at present. The
ores are chiefly chlorides in limestone.

Copper, — The production is gradually increasing, owing to the
higher prices quoted for bar. The chief districts are Chuquicamata,
Sierra Gorda, Lomas Bayas, El Desesperado, Naguayan, El Cobre,
and Blanco Eucalada. The ores are chiefly green carbonates, oxy-
chlorides (atacamite), and silicates, there being very little sulphuret.
None of the mines have any depth. The products of most of them
suffer from the high freight rates. The production can now be esti-
mated at 12,000 tons a year, of 15 percent copper, or 1,800 tons fine.
This will most likely be doubled soon. Half is shipped direct and
half used for making copper matte with a percentage of silver, by
mixing with silver ores.

Iron. — A little is produced for fluxing purposes.

Carbonate of lime. — Enough is quarried to supply the two smelting
establishments in Antofagasta.

Nitrate of soda. — There are extensive fields in this department,
which have been worked since the year 1870. The first discovered,
at Salar, 6 miles inside of Antofagasta, have been worked out.
Others found farther in, and belonging to the same company— Cia.
de Salitres de Antofagasta — employ 800 to 1,000 men and produce
30,000 to 35,000 tons a year. There are other fields in Aguas Blan-
cas, 60 miles southeast of the port of Antofagasta, where work is to
be resumed shortly. These are of vast importance, and as soon as
a railway is constructed will increase the production considerably.

Borate of lime. — There are extensive fields of borate at about 160
miles from the coast, at Ascotan, Carcote, Ollagiie, Tilopozo, and
Carvajal. The only ones that can be worked at present are those of
Ascotan and Carcote, owing to poor railway facilities. The produc-
tion is about 7,000 tons a year.

Sulphate of iron. — There are some large deposits near Sierra

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Gorda, which have been worked on a small scale for treating copper

Salt. — A whole hill of very pure salt, some 20 miles in leng^th,
exists at about 150 miles from the coast. The railway is too far
removed to make it available for commerce.

Anhydrite. — Small deposits are found in different parts near Cara-
coles. Some has been quarried for ornaments. It is not adapted
for building, as it is soluble in water.

Lead. — There are some good mines of this metal with a small
percentage of silver in Sierra del Plomo, Cerro del Arbol, Sierra
Gorda, and other districts; but they are not worked at present,
owing to defective means of communication.


This department produces gold, very little silver, copper, nitrate
of soda, and borate of lime.

Gold. — This does not amount to much and is all sold in Anto-

Copper. — Near the port of Tocopilla, there are several mines
which give sulphurets and which have been worked to a depth of
200 fathoms. In Cobija and other smaller ports south of Tocopilla,
there are also very rich mines. The present production of the whole
department is about 9,000 tons a year of 15 per cent ore. All is
sold to the Lotta Company, in the south of Chile.

Nitrate of soda. — The nelds in Toco, 50 miles inland, are exten-
sive. They belong to different owners and produce 100,000 tons a


This department produces gold, silver, nitrate of soda, and cop-
per, all in large quantities.

Gold. — The famous mines of **Guanaco" produced, ten or fifteen
years ago, enough to keep four large establishments going. Now,
the production has decreased, owing to the small amount of work
carried on. It is calculated that about half a ton of pure gold is
still produced. The ores are all milled in the port of Taltal.

Silver. — There are some very rich districts, amongst which I may
mention Cachinal (including the famous Arturo Prat mine). Sierra
Esmeralda, Griton, Cifunchos, and Argolla. With the exception of
the first named, there is very little work done; still, the production
is not less than 25 tons of bar silver. With more active work, this
ought to be increased.

Nitrate of soda. — These /ields are also very extensive and have,
like the others in the province, their railway. The yearly produc-
tion is about 90,000 tons.

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Copper, — There are also several copper mines, the production of
which amounts to about 4,000 tons of 18 per cent ore a year. This
is also sold to the Lota Company.


Through Antofagasta the following quantities of Bolivian min-
erals are annually exported :


Tin, in bars 2,500

Oxide of tin 5, 000

Sulphide of antimony 500

Sulphur 10 to 20

Silver ores 3,000 to 4,000

Bismuth 60 to 100

Silver bars 150 to 200

Mercury 10


In the year 1896, the following statistics were furnished by the

Chilean minerals.


Borate of lime kilograms...

Copper matte. do

Copper minerals do

Copper and silver minerals. do

Gold minerals do.

Silver minerals. do.

Gold bars. .grams-
Silver scraps do.

Silver bars do.

Argentiferous lead kilograms...

Nitrate of soda do

Value in


United States























Bolivian mineral exports through Antofagasta.



Tin oxide


Tin bars.

Antimony ores..

Silver ores.

Silver bars.














Antofagasta, December //,* i8q8.

C. C. Greene,


♦ Received in Department of State April 6, 1899.

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Consul-General De Leon sends from Guayaquil the following re-
port, dated November 26, 1898 (delayed in transmission to the Bureau
of Foreign Commerce) :

I transmit herewith translation of the new coinage law of Ecua-
dor. Ecuador has heretofore been upon a so-called bimetallic, but
practically monometallic silver, basis; no gold in circulation and her
silver irredeemable. The gold coin of the country, the condor, long
since ceased to circulate, and, in fact, took flight as soon as it ap-
peared ; any that are now to be found are held as curios, so rare have
they become.

The circulation of the country was and is almost altogether paper
money issued by the banks and redeemable in silver only (see an-
nexed **bank statistics," showing coinage, paper issue, metallic re-
serve, etc.). No city except Guayaquil has any banking institutions,
but agencies of Guayaquil banks are established in several other
cities of the Republic.

The whole foreign commerce of the country virtually passes
through Guayaquil, which is, as it were, also the clearing house of
the other ports of the Republic, relatively small and insignificant.

The change by the world to a gold basis has finally driven Ecua-
dor to adopt the same course, and Congress has just enacted a law
of coinage which within two years will place the monetary system
on a gold basis. Ecuador is the fourth country of Latin America
to adopt this measure, Venezuela, Costa Rica, and Peru having al-
ready taken the step.* Brazil, Uruguay, and Chile, while nominally
on a gold basis, are really subject to the disadvantages of paper
money, because their internal financial condition precludes an easy
conversion of the currency.

The law recently enacted was drafted by bankers and merchants
of acknowledged ability as financiers, and is expected to be thor-
oughly adequate to the needs of the country. Commerce has been
inconvenienced not only by the depreciation of silver, but also from
the arbitrary fluctuations of exchange, sometimes as much as 40 to
60 per cent within a few months, and, owing to excessive imports,
it was frequently impossible to buy from the banks a single draft on
New York or London (even for $50) ; consequently, the foreign-
trade relations of the country suffered great embarrassment, and
finally the mercantile interests came to the conclusion that the only

♦Salvador also adoplcd the gold standard in 1897. See Consular Rhiokts No. 206 (November,
'897X P- 454.

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remedy for the unsatisfactory state of affairs which nas prevailed
for the last five years would he the adoption of the gold standard
at the rate of 30.6 to i.

The stable condition of Ecuadorian currency, the financial re-
sources of the banks of issue — relatively as solid as any in the
world — and the crying need for a fixed monetary standard seem to
give assurance that the present measure is wise.

Exchange on New York has been arbitrarily fixed by banks and
merchants during the last ten months at 105 to 108, but this rate has
not been strictly adhered to; 110 and more has been paid. Another
anomaly has been that American gold coin has been worth 10 to 15
cents more than exchange.

The effect of the present law will be to put Ecuador on a gold
basis, and, while paper will continue to be the money of circulation,
it will be redeemable in gold and not in silver, as at present; the
condor, which may be regarded as the unit of value, will be prac-
tically of the same metallic value as the pound sterling, and the
silver sucre will possess an actual value of about 48.6 cents in Ameri-
can gold, ten of them being equal to i condor.

Conditions hitherto existing have been most favorable to the
wealthy cocoa, coffee, and sugar planters, who sold their products
for gold and paid in silver for all they bought in Ecuador, notably for
labor, which has been the chief sufferer; wages, low at best, have
been lower still since payable in a depreciated money.


The Congress of the Republic of Ecuador decrees the following law upon na-
tional money:

Article i. The coins of the nation shall be:

(a) The gold piece of 10 sucres, weighing 8.136 grams, or in fine gold 7.3224

(d) The sucre, or hard dollar, of silver, weighing 25 grams, which shall be con-
sidered divisible into 100 cents.

(c) The fifth (commonly called " peseta") of silver, weighing 5 grams, equivalent
to 20 cents of a sucre.

(d) The tenth (commonly called "rear*) of silver, weighing 2.5 grams, equiva-
lent to 10 cents of a sucre.

{e) The twentieth (commonly called "medio") of silver, weighing 1.25 grams,
equivalent to 5 cents of a sucre.

(/) The nickel and copper coins mentioned in article 12 of this law.

Art. 2. The gold and silver coins shall be 900 fine, with a toleration of one and
two thousandths, respectively, in fineness and weight.

Art. 3. The gold coin of 10 sucres, which shall be called Ecuadorian condor,
shall be 22 millimeters (0.866 inch) in diameter and shall carry the following stamp:
On the face, the bust of Gen. Antonio Jos6 Sucre, encircled above by the inscription

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•* Republica del Ecuador/' and at the bottom the year of coinage; on the reverse side,
the coat of arms of the Republic, toward the rim on the left the weight of the coin
in numbers, in the upper part the value expressed in letters, and at the bottom the
initials of the name and surname of the assayer, as well as the place of coinage.

The "grafila" (border on the edge of the coin) shall be formed of a series of
small semiellipses in contact with its inner diameter. The milled edge shall be
composed of alternate prominences and depressions, symmetrically cylindrical in
form and cut perpendicularly.

Art. 4. The silver and copper coins shall have the same stamp, grafila, milled
edge, and diameter of the coins of equal value previously minted.

Art. 5. The introduction of foreign silver coin, likewise the coinage and impor-
tation of national coin except when authorized by this law, is prohibited.

Art. 6. The period of two years, commencing from the date of the promulgation
of the present law, is fixed for the definite conversion of the monetary system.
During said term of two years, there shall be recoined at the mint in Lima, for the
account of the nation, not more than 100,000 sucres in lo-cent pieces of silver and
50,000 sucres in 5-cent pieces of the same metal.

Furthermore, the following shall be exported to London to be sold for the ac-
count of the State: Not more than 3,000,000 sucres in silver; all the Chilean and
Peruvian coin of weight and fineness equal to the national which circulates in the
Provinces of Caflar, Azuay, Loja, and Oro. The Government will redeem this
money through the banks, which will exchange it for national money at par as soon
as the Executive, acting in accord with the commission of money, shall issue the
corresponding order. The value of the export shall be invested in the coinage and
purchase of Ecuadorian condors in England. As regards the Peruvian and Chilean
coin, it shall be exported according to the directions of the commission of money,
given in conformity with the consent of the banks, and a corresponding contract
shall be made between the Government and at least one of the banks relative

The Government shall pay the cost of the coinages and recoinages incurred by
the contracting bank in England and Peru, the loss in metal, the freight, the insur-
ance, and incidental expenses attending the importation of national gold which the
banks may import. For such operations, the banks shall not collect any sum for

Art. 7. During the period fixed for the conversion, the banks, their agencies or
branches, shall be obliged to receive, on account of payments or in exchange for
their own notes, the sucres, medio (half) sucres, and quintos(20-cent pieces) which
may be presented.

Art. 8. The pound sterling ($4.8665) shall have a value of 10 sucres.

Art. 9. For the expenses occasioned by the conversion of money, there shall be
appropriated one-half of the total value of the revenue derived from the 20 per cent
additional duties on imports. The collector of the custom-house shall deposit
every two weeks the product of this appropriation, until the amount for which the
Government is indebted on this account is canceled, together with 6 per cent inter-
est for any advances made by the banks to cover such expenses.

Art. 10. After the expiration of the two years, it will not be obligatory to
receive in payment more than 5 cents in copper or nickel, i sucre in subsidiary
silver money, or more than 10 sucres in coin silver weighing 25 grams.

Art. II. The Executive shall name, in accord with the Council of State, a com-
mission of money, which, composed of three honorable merchants and one secre-
tary, shall reside in ^Guayaquil, and fulfill without remuneration the following

(i) Study the monetary circulation of the country and make statistical reports

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(2) Report upon the equivalent intrinsic values of foreign gold coins as related
to the national.

(3) Also inform the Government as to the monetary condition of the country and
any other matters appertaining to the subject, and suggest reforms and other con-
venient administrative measures.

Art. 12. The copper and nickel coins shall have the value as stamped. New
importation of these coins is prohibited.

Art. 13. All laws that treat of the same subject are annulled, even though they
may not conflict with the present law.


Report of Ecuadorian monetary commission^ December jr^ ^^97^ quoted in part from the
Revista Comercial, a sheet edited by the secretary of the Guayaquil Board of Trade.


Banco del

Banco Co-

y Agricola.




Total coinage.

Metallic balance in banks.

Metallic reserve exacted by law..

Paper issue of banlcs

Capital paid up










* Ecuadorian silver.


Consul Jenkins writes from San Salvador, March 3, 1899:
I inclose translation of a contract entered into by the Govern-
ment of Salvador and the Central American Public Works Company,
Limited, of London. Concessions and contracts were given this
company in 1892 and again in 1894 to construct and operate the
Acajutla and Santa Ana Railroad and the Acajutla and San Salvador

The present terms are considered most favorable to the Govern-
ment of Salvador; the foreign debt will be paid, enabling the present
administration to develop the resources of the country.



Mariano Guzman, Secretary of State in the Department of Fomento, fully
authorized by the Government of Salvador, and Mark Jameston Kelly, general
director of the Central American Public Works Company, Limited, of London, and
representing the same, have made the following contract:

(i) The company is to cancel the amount of 3^725,000 (13,528,000) of bonds, which

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to-day represents the balance of the foreign debt of the Government of Salvador aris-
ing from the loans of 1889 and 1892, within six months from the date of the approval of
this contract by the legislative power; but the Government consents that if the com-
pany can not make the total delivery of the bonds in the stipulated time, it may leave
unsettled up to ;f6o,ooo, with the understanding that the company, for its own
account, shall pay the interest and redeem the bonds, under the same conditions
as the Government is obliged to do — that is to say, 6 per cent interest per year and
2 per cent per annum for redemption.

(2) From January i, 1899, and during the period of eighteen years from said
date, the Government is to pay to the company a fixed subvention of ;£'24,ooo
(|i 16, 000) annually, which will be paid in this city semiannually, falling due on the
30th day of June and the 31st day of December of each year. This subvention of
;f 24,000 substitutes and annuls the guaranty of ;f 48,000 per annum, stipulated in
the original contract as well as in the additional contract of December 17, 1894.

(3) As soon as the company shall have delivered the bonds of the foreign debt,
according to the terms of the first clause of this contract, the Government shall
transfer to the company, free of excise duties, the railroad property, with all of its
annexes and territory, said transfer being subject to the mortgage established as
guaranty for the loans of 1889 and 1892, respectively.

(4) The Government, in order to guarantee the subvention of ;f 24,000 annually,
now stipulated, appropriates 15 per cent of the import duties in all of the maritime
custom-houses of the Republic, to be collected either according to the existing laws
or in virtue of other laws which may be later issued; and the Government binds
itself, if the product of the 15 per cent is not suflficient to cover the subvention, to
pay the difference from its general income. For the carrying out of the present
clause, the Government will issue special bonds, which will be delivered to the bank
in this city designated by the company, which bonds will serve solely for the pay-
ment of the 15 per cent of the import duties in all of the custom-houses of the Repub-
lic, anyone paying said tax in money or in any other manner to be fined by a penalty
of 15 percent. The bank designated for the sale of the custom-house bonds will
pay to the company the semiannual amounts stipulated in article 2, and fix,

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign CommerceConsular reports, Issues 224-227 → online text (page 42 of 92)