« AnteriorContinuar »
Washington. It was not long ago that these three states of the United States were regarded as almost barren and impossible of supporting large populations. There is a corresponding opinion among some critics of the western shore countries of Central and South America, but I can not understand how a man, who has intimately studied them as I have, can come to any other conclusion than that they have extraordinary possibilities of material, economic, industrial and agricultural development. The change will not come at once, and may not come for some years, but eventually it will come to such an extent as to confound the skeptical persons of the present.
You ask me before I close to say a word in regard to Mexico. While I can not discuss the political situation or the pros and cons of the attitude of the present administration, I can, as an international officer having in mind the peace and welfare of the whole western continent, raise my voice against war with Mexico. “Lest we forget” should be constantly our motto in considering this problem. We must bear in mind that this struggle of Mexico is not a war against the United States but is a civil struggle. We must not forget that the United States, from 1861 to 1865 carried on the greatest civil war in the history of the western hemisphere and that was followed by ten years of awful reconstruction. In our civil war more lives were lost and more property destroyed than in all the revolutions of Latin America put together for the last twenty-five years. We must remember that where one American has lost his life in Mexico hundreds of Mexicans have lost their lives; that where one American family has suffered, hundreds of Mexican families have suffered, and where one dollar of American money has been lost, hundreds of dollars of Mexican money and property have been lost or destroyed. We must not overlook the fact, moreover, that a war with Mexico might mean a bloody struggle in which thousands of our best men would be killed and as a result of which an enormous pension list would be established that would go on for the next fifty years. It might also develop a feeling of hostility not only in Mexico but throughout all Latin America against us which would counteract all the work of the past ten years for Pan-American accord and defeat corresponding efforts in the future. Let us go slow and with sincere piety pray that peace may come in Mexico without war between it and the United States. If the Mexican question can be settled as a result of a kindly and sympathetic attitude on the part of the United States, there is no limit to the degree of Pan-American commerce and comity which will be developed not only between the United States and Mexico but between the United States and all the other republics of the western hemisphere.
In conclusion, permit me to observe that, if what I have said here, arouses greater and further interest, among my hearers or readers, in the countries of Latin America, I hope they will not hesitate to get in touch with the PanAmerican Union, of which I have the honor to be the executive officer. As many of you have been so busy with your various activities that you have not followed with detail the work and scope of this organization, I will define it to you in a single sentence. The Pan-American Union is the international organization, with its central office in Washington, of all the twenty-one American republics, devoted to the development and advancement of friendship, good understanding, mutual acquaintance and commerce among them all, supported by their joint contributions based upon population, controlled by a governing board consisting of the diplomatic representatives in Washington of the LatinAmerican countries and the secretary of state of the United States, administered by a director-general chosen by this board and therefore performing the functions of an international officer rather than those of an officer of any particular country, and who, in turn, is assisted by a large staff of international experts, statisticians, commercial specialists, editors, translators, compilers, librarians, et al. Having its home in a building erected through the generosity of Mr. Carnegie and described by the greatest living French architect as "possessing beauty of architecture and nobility of purpose more than any other public building of its cost in the world,” it invites every man of this wide world who may be interested in Pan-American development or Pan-American history to come within its doors and make use of its facilities.
PATAGONIA AND TIERRA DEL FUEGO
By José Moneta, Captain, Argentine Navy, Commanding Battleship “Rivadavia,” formerly member of the Argentine
Boundary Commissions with Chile and Brazil
Until very recently, maps of South America have been published in which Patagonia appears with a color different from that of Argentine, as if it were an independent country. This is in accordance with the general idea of the world, that that region of South America is populated only by Indians and that it is the theatre merely of great desolation and misery.
From the famous voyages of Magellan, and of Bongainville, Drake, Sarmiento and many others, all of them surrounded by the most extraordinary and romantic adventures, to those of Captains King and Fitz-Roy on board the Adventure and Beagle from 1826 to 1830, very little information could be had regarding that region. The navigators referred to its desolate shores and to the enormous disappointments, troubles and penuries they had suffered. The Indians found were considered giants and undoubtedly this fantasy exaggerated their characteristics.
In fact, the name of Patagonia cannot be referred, as it is believed, to the great size of the legs or feet of the men found. These on the contrary had comparatively small feet; they were corpulent, but had very short legs; they were therefore giants when on horse back or sitting in a boat, but their height rarely exceeded 6 feet.
Perhaps the atmospheric refraction that gives extraordinary effects in all the Patagonian coast, raising a great deal the height of the objects, made the natives look big when the travelers could not approach them nearer than 200 or 300 yards. Possibly this was the origin of the legend.
I am saying that they had these measurements, because the traveler of today will hardly find camps of Tehuelches or Genaken Indians as the pure blood natives are now very scarce. I think that my friend Charles W. Furlong of Boston, a studious explorer who a few years ago went to visit them, has not found more than fifty real Teheulches together.
Those Indians were never numerous nor were they fighters and at present they are disappearing very rapidly. Other types of human races, now totally extinguished, have been evidenced in the investigations of the geologists, for whose studies like those of the zoologists and botanists, Patagonia offers a great field of action.
In the description of Fitz-Roy's journey, whose principal object was to make the hydrographical chart of the South Atlantic, there are found interesting observations about the different opinions and controversies regarding the natives of that region. As in that description he refers to other earlier navigators of those shores, the interest of its reading increases with the relation of many adventures and extraordinary enterprises often full of terror, that showed the strength and spirit of those brave explorers.
The imposing solitude of the region, the enormous distance and long absence from home, predisposed them unfavourably, and the same Fitz-Roy, and the eminent naturalist, Darwin, who accompanied him, returned from their voyage with a very poor impression of those lands. Two things that the sailors of those times ardently wanted to find in their anchoring grounds were missing, fresh water and wood.
Darwin went up the Santa Cruz River, but he did not reach the lakes. At his return he said Patagonia was a sterile and good-for-nothing land.
Somebody has said that this mistake of the immortal author of the Origin of Species saved for Argentinians that part of the continent, not awakening England in the desire of possessing it. The Monroe Doctrine was then in its infancy; and Argentina was fighting with the natural difficulties of the organization of the country.
In the year 1880, Argentina began to make effective its rights upon the Patagonian shores and lands, installing authorities in some places; and from then on explorations through the interior were initiated by officers of our navy and army, and by geographers from several institutes.
To determine the boundary between Chile and Argentina a treaty was signed in 1881, agreeing that down to parallel 52 degrees south the Andean Cordillera should separate the two Republics. A great difficulty came in the determination of that line. Argentina maintained that it was the line of the summit in the same Cordillera, while the Chileans contended that it should be the continental water shed, separating the streams flowing from the Cordillera toward the Atlantic at the east, and toward the pacific at the west. The lakes on the region increased the difficulty; some of them empty into the monotonous rivers of the Atlantic, others reach the Pacific in impetuous torrents that cut through the total mass of the Cordillera.
This phenomenon of a dividing line separating waters which flow into opposite oceans, and which partly rise in plains and glens hardly higher that the level of the sea, and which overcome such formidable obstacles as the Andean Cordillera, piercing its crystalline axis and the enormous mass of rocks which have accumulated upon this axis, constitutes, as one of the most eminent Argentine geographers, Mr. Francis Moreno says, “a fact which is unique in the world.”
The dispute was submitted to the arbitral decision of the King of England. A commission of geographical officers was assigned, and in accordance with its report the arbiter gave to each nation what in his judgement rightly belonged to it. The decision was accepted with due respect, initiating between both countries an epoch of true friendship that will always last. In the same way Argentina had respected previously the arbitral decision that was against her in the Misiones dispute with Brazil, awarded by President Grover Cleveland of the United States.
The southernmost nations of the American continent have taken into practice this pacific method of arranging their disputes, that is yet only an idea dreamt by prominent men of the greatest nations of the world.