VI. LEITER TO THE
PRESIDENT OF PERU'
Don Manuel Pardo. Lima.
My dear and worthy friend: I am
answering your letter, written on a day of patriotic unrest, on
what may be as propitious a day for Latin America as it is of
great anguish for me.
Today is the anniversary of Cuba's
uprising against the systematic tyranny of colonialism.
You can and probably want to
contribute to making this anniversary of martyrdom a most glorious
day for the virtuous people you govern, and by making this the
worthy object of my letter, I will make my answer worthy of your
I do not write to persuade you:
your actions in favor of Cuba and your confidential words have
assured me of the virtuous disposition of your will.
Nor do I write to convince you: if
I have rational faith in the sentiment of Americans, it is just
as rational when it comes to the intelligence of the statesman,
and an American statesman would not be intelligent if he needed to
be convinced of the significance that the complete independence of
the continent will have in the political and social future of all
I do not even write to make a new
effort in favor of Cuba; I know that Cuba will triumph in her
struggle, and I am much more sure of her triumph than I am of the
effectiveness of my solitary effort.
I am writing this letter to
discuss my favorite topic, to demonstrate the possibility of doing
immense benefits for Latin America, by making her contribute to
the independence of the Antilles.
When you took it upon yourself to
notify me that a circular had been received in Peru in which the
Colombian Minister of Foreign Relations invited all Latin American
governments to unite in favor of Cuba, you confided to me your
plan to answer the proposition made by the Colombian government
with a convocation of an American Congress. This plan was made
public in the United States, where it was applauded by the
Buenos Aires, October 13, 1873.
Published under the title "Cuba y la America Latina" ["Cuba and
press, and in order to praise your very noble proposition, it is
right for me to publicly reinforce the reasoning I privately
believe, as strongly as I desire, that the independence of Cuba and
Puerto Rico will serve, must serve, and can serve the future of
It will serve, because in the natural plan of the geography of
civilization the Antilles play the role of commercial and industrial
middlemen: commerce is an activity applied to needs; industry is a
science applied to the well-being of men, and both are conductors of
ideas as well as of physical elements for well-being; both are
transmitters of moral and intellectual progress as well as of
It must serve, because the Antilles are a geographical complement to
the American Continent, an historical complement to American life,
and a political complement to American principles, and the Antilles
have not only the right but the duty to resist each and every action
that disrupts the geographic, historical, and political unity of
It can serve, because the independence of the Antilles means nothing
less than the emancipation of labor, and subsequently, an increase
in population, production, and physical resources for American
civilization; it is nothing less than the emancipation of commerce
and industry, and therefore, the elimination of the material
obstacles which up until now have hindered communication between a
great part of America and those islands, which are the natural
mediators between the Old and New Continents; it is nothing less
than the geographical reconstitution of the American Continent, and
therefore, the unification of all the parts into the whole; it is
nothing less than the continuation of the historical movement of
continental independence, and therefore, the movement of the
Antilles toward the period of their life in which, relying upon
themselves, they will contribute with all of Latin America to the
resplendent future of new civilization created by the New Continent;
it is nothing less than the acclamation of the moral and political
principles on which American democracy is founded, and therefore,
the definitive direction of all of
American society towards its own, necessary, and inherent ends,
independent of those which govern European sociability.
As the independence of the Antilles will, 'must, and can serve the
future of the whole continent, it is obvious that the emancipation
of the Antillean peoples is in the immediate interests of the people
with whom they share the intimate background of origin, history, and
character: the immediate interests of a people are, because they
must be, the aim of the people's government. Are all the South
American governments faithful servants to the immediate interests
they represent? Then all these governments should have the aims I
attribute to them.
Yet how can the governments of Latin America realize the
independence of the Antilles once it is converted into a government
This difficulty, perhaps insuperable by any other means, is not
impossible by the means you have devised. The meeting of an
American Congress, I know very well, is a formidable obstacle in
itself, but it is the only one that can oppose the noble design.
Once this obstacle is overcome, the Congress would find a powerful
aid for its task in the current situation in Spain.
It is important to study this point.
Spain, led by men who maintain the necessity for a federal republic
as a form of government which is complementary to democratic
doctrines, cannot be as opposed today to the independence of her
Antilles as the monarchical regime was. The men who today have the
future of that country in their hands cannot be enemies in Cuba and
Puerto Rico of the rights they claim for each and every one of the
Now that Mr. Salmeron y Alonso, the man who has most eloquently and
nobly condemned the conduct of the monarchy in the Antilles, is the
thought and inspiration of the Spanish Republic; now that, in order
to pressure him with moral coercion into being consistent with his
doctrines and declarations, it is enough to remind him of the most
outstanding example of logical consistency and respect for his
ideas which he has given by separating himself from the Presidency
of the Executive Power so as not to violate the faith of his
conscience; now that with him and like him there is an entire public
opinion that incites, in the true social formation which today is
stirring up the Iberian Peninsula, the most obscure social strata to
put them in contact with the freest atmosphere of the most human
ideas; now that, finally, the same difficult elaboration which
produces anarchy over there makes it impossible for the Spanish
government to effectively attend to the war which it is futilely
waging against Cuba, not only is it possible to attract the
peninsular government to a conciliatory pact with Latin America and
the Antilles-a pact which gives independence to the two islands
still possessed by Spain against their will and the will' of the
future of the continent, but also, in attempting for and obtaining
this conciliatory pact, Latin America would have done a great
service to the republican cause and democratic principles in Spain.
The reason is clear.
Freed of the tremendous obligation of being inconsistent in
the Antilles, the Spanish Republic could dedicate itself completely
to resolving the embarrassing problems which trouble it in Spain.
Bound to American democracy by the double bond of a service rendered
and received, it would have the moral strength which the current
the Executive Power, Mr. Castelar, has recently boasted of, when
presenting, as a demonstration of the vitality of the Spanish
Republic, the fraternal sympathy which the change in peninsular
government has aroused in the republican peoples of this continent.
But if a feeling of honest commiseration and a supreme interest in
the principles which constitute the vitality of American life should
encourage all Americans (governments and patriots, executives and
lobbyists for the future) to seek the well-being of Spain in the
well-being of America, then a reflective appreciation of the
circumstances should move us to seek the real and immediate benefit
in the benefit that, by means of an American Congress, would be
obtained for the Antilles and for Spain herself.
The circumstances in a Latin America dedicated to the development of
her strengths, progressing in the combined material elements of
civilization, and tending by the very action of her development to
evidence her vitality in evident actions, are favorable for
immediately proposing the American Congress: it would give proof of
combined strength, and the joint efforts of all these governments
toward a great objective would constitute in the eyes of America
and Europe the international character which none of these republics
alone can have.
am well aware that the four unfortunate attempts for an American
Congress have weakened the idea that Bolivar precipitated in time
and all those who seek the American future have wanted to
precipitate to the circumstances; but shown the coincidence of the
circumstances with the need to bring these governments together in a
common effort, would the success be as incomplete as it was before?
Suppose that it is not; suppose that Latin America, provoking the
response of republican Spain, attracted her to a resolution which
would be glorious for her, useful for humanity, and honorable for
the peoples and governments represented at the Congress-would it
not regain all the authority it had lost?
And reinstated, would it not immediately win a decisive influence in
the destiny of Latin America? Wouldn't its governments believe that
the time had come to use their influence? Wouldn't they be able to
use it, planting the bases of the future Latin American union?
Doesn't the base of this union lie in the prior agreement on
geographical boundaries, neutralization of the means of
communication by land, waterways, and sea, common representation
before the governments of Europe, reciprocal validation of
professional studies, and the series of visible or foreseeable needs
that internally link these nations and which should prepare their
these things being the base of this alliance, would
it not be
possible and convenient to form a
family bond from one of those interests, which only in appearance
are unmatched and contradictory? Being possible, would it not be
convenient to submit to the American Congress one of those
questions that today separate some of these peoples from each
other and that could separate them all forever from the noble
common interests in which nature, democracy, the past, present,
and future of civilization have brought them together in fraternal
I know that you were thinking of
all these arguments in favor of the American Congress when you
proposed the plan to answer the proposition in the Colombian
government's widespread circular with a proposition to convene the
Congress; but I wanted to contribute to making this purpose
achievable by studying its nature completely.
Therefore, if I have done nothing
else, I will have demonstrated that the sincere practice of reason
could reconcile ideas, sentiments, and interests as hostile as
those which unjustly arm Spain against Cuba, and I will have
demonstrated that in all of Latin America there are still people
who have the lofty spirit of the founders of the Republic.
And as you-by proposing an
American Congress to save martyred Cuba and redeem enslaved Puerto
Rico-have demonstrated that you feel inside you the breath of the
spirit which vile egoism has suffocated, you are worthy of the
gratitude that the Antilles feel for all those individuals who
can associate the glory and well-being of their country with the
rights, liberty, and well-being of the sister nations which
violence is stealing away from the American family.
Therefore, and to make known in
advance that in any Latin American attempt in favor of the
Antilles there will not even be the slightest trace of ignoble
passions, I have associated your name with the memory of the most
splendorous day that has shined in the Antilles.
If in this way I am able to revive
in the public spirit of Latin America the idea which I have now
extolled twice as being worthy and wise, and which has the most
strength because it spontaneously comes from one of the governors
in America who most sincerely desire the association of the
present progress of the people they govern with the noble duties
of the future; if in this way I am able to express to you in
advance the gratitude of my country, I will lessen the uneasiness
I feel upon presenting for public scrutiny the feeling of respect
and reflective esteem with which I continue to be
Your friend and humble servant,
Buenos Aires, October 10,