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Venezuelan Boundary Dis Pute

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VENEZUELAN BOUNDARY DIS PUTE. In 1885 a crisis arose between Great Britain and Venezuela regarding the boundary line separating the latter country from British Guiana, a question which had been long in dis, pute. The controversy dated back to 1814, when Great Britain acquired by treaty with the Neth erlands the provinces of Demerara, Essequibo and Bernice. Venezuela originally claimed her limits to be those of the captaincy-general of 1810, but contended herself with claiming the line of the. Essequibo River as the true bound ary. Great Britain apparently acquiesced till 1840, when she commissioned Sir R. Schom burgk to lay out the boundaries which he pro ceeded to do by including a large area which had before been considered by Venezuela a por tion of her domain, and to the possession of which by Great Britain a vigorous protest was entered. After much diplomatic negotiation the monuments set up by Schomburgk were re moved by the order of Lord Aberdeen. Other boundaries were from time to time but none agreed on, till finally, in 1886 Great Britain returned to her contention of 1840, and claimed all the territory within the Schom burgk line. The controversy continued till 1894, when a Venezuelan force entered the disputed territory and raised the flag of the latter coun try at Yuman. The following year the British police removed the flag, for which they were arrested, but finally released, Great Britain set ting up a demand for reparation somewhat in the nature of an ultimatum.

The United States became a party to the dispute by the act of Congress directing the President to urge Great Britain to submit to arbitration the question whether Venezuela was entitled to the territory between the Essequibo and the Orinoco. In his annual message to Congress, 3 Dec. 1895, President Cleveland called attention to the boundary controversy and the representations made by the United States government to that of Great Britain with a view of securing the submission of the dispute to ar bitration. On the 17th he sent a special mes sage to Congress accompanied by the answer of the British government to the representations mentioned, and a recommendation that Con gress authorize the appointment of a commission to determine the divisional line between Vene zuela and British Guiana. The message cre ated intense excitement throughout Europe and America. Both Houses of Congress passed a commission bill unanimously and indulged in much talk of war. Under the bill the Presi dent announced, 1 Jan. 1896, the appointment of the following commissioners: David J. Brewer, associate justice of the United States Supreme Court ; Richard H. Alvey, chief jus tice of the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia; Andrew D. White, ex-United States

Minister to Russia; Frederick R. Coudert and Daniel C. Gilman, president of Johns Hopkins University. Subsequently the commission organized and chose Justice Brewer for its president.

The commission invited the governments of Venezuela and Great Britain to formulate and present to it their respective cases in support of their claims. The invitation was complied with by both governments. Independently of these cases the commission gathered a great mass of evidence bearing on the claims, and continued its sittings till 27 Feb. 1897, when, Venezuela and Great Britain having signed a treaty pro viding for the submission of the claims to arbi tration, the commission considered its work at an end, made its report to the President and terminated its existence. The treaty between Venezuela and Great Britain was signed in Washington, D. C., on 2 Feb. 1897, and provided for the appointment of an arbitration tribunal to determine the boundary line, consisting of five jurists, the two on the part Venezuela being Chief Justice Fuller and Associate Justice Brewer, of the United States Supreme Court; the two on the part of Great Britain being the Rt. Hon. Baron Herschell and the Hon. Sir Richard Henn Collins; and the fifth to be se lected by the four jurists nominated in the treaty, or, in the event of their failure to agree, by the king of Norway and Sweden, the fifth jurist to be the president of the tribunal. The treaty provided that the tribunal should sit in Paris, France. The tribunal was completed by the selection of Professor Martens, a distin guished Russian jurist, professor of interna tional law in the University of Saint Peters burg, and legal writer, as the fifth member and president. The award of the tribunal, which was delivered 3 Oct. 1899, gave Great Britain the Schomburgk line, with the exception of Ba rima Point, at the mouth of the Orinoco, and a strip of territory between the Wenamu and Cuyuni rivers; but it was decided that the mouth of the Orinoco should be open to the British and both banks of a part of the Cuyuni where the Schomburgk line had given them only one bank. Consult Cleveland, G., The Venezuelan Boundary Controversy' (New York 1904) ; Ralston, J. H., (Venezuelan Arbitrations of 1903' (Washington 1904) ; Storrow, J. J., The Brief for Venezuela' (London 1896) ; Strick land, J., (Documents and Maps of the Bound ary Question Between Venezuela and British Guiana' (London 1896) ; 'United States Vene zuelan Boundary Commission, Report and Ac companying Papers' (3 vols., and atlas, Wash ington 1897).