The War of Paraguay: Chapter XXX, Amnesty in the Eastern Republic of Uruguay. — Navigation of Lagoon Mirim

In November 1866 the issue of amnesty arose in the Eastern Republic of Uruguay. General Flores proposed it, but Otaviano resisted it, basing this resistance on the secret protocol added to the convention of 20 February 1865, and negotiated by Paranhos. Here is Nabuco’s opinion:

“I am of the mind that the imperial government should adhere without reservation to the open amnesty which the president of the Eastern Republic wishes to concede.

“I believe that the objective of the 2nd article of the 20 February 1865 convention is complied with, taking into account:

“1st The amnesty meant to be conceded sets apart common crimes, applying only to political crimes;

“2nd Those implicated by political issues who leave the country were not exiled in perpetuity, but rather temporarily, as can be seen in the protocol added to said Convention.

“The fulfillment Brazil desires, as any other civilized nation would, is not the product of animosity. It reaches only as far as necessity obliges it, and for only as long as necessity lasts. The morality of the punishment lies not in its duration, but in its imposition.

“It would be impolitic and odious, besides never seen by civilized nations, if Brazil, appearing to be a judge on an internal issue of the Eastern Republic, abusing its influence, identifying itself with the cause and with the hatreds of that nation’s dominant party, opposed an amnesty that the head of state considered necessary to strengthen public peace.

Partial amnesties, senhor, almost never accomplish their objective. If amnesty means forgetting (lex oblivionis), it should not carry with it a nagging exception, which forever recalls the act whose forgetting is desired.

“History relates how disastrous partial amnesty was, and what fatal reactions it occasioned at the time of Charles II’s ascent to the throne of England; how amnesty conceded to the Huguenots in 1570 made way for the horrors of the Saint Bartholomew’s Day massacre; what loathsome events resulted from the amnesty conceded in 1816 by the Bourbon Restoration, because of the names exempted like those of Ney, La Valette, Soult, Bassano, and others.

“This amnesty will have no part in the Paraguayan War, except in its influence in the Eastern Republic.

“If those implicated cannot influence that nation’s peace and security, then neither can they influence the war. For another thing, in order to help the campaign” (that is, against Brazil) “with elements from the Eastern Republic, it is necessary that they manage to disrupt this nation by making speeches, raising forces, etc.

“But the republic’s president says that the republic’s peace is assured, and that amnesty will not compromise it.

“Flores is our sincere ally. The government is the sole judge of the circumstances in which the republic finds itself. It cannot endorse solutions that would compromise the republic’s cause, or the alliance’s.” (12 November.)


With regard to navigation on Lagoon Mirim, desired by the Eastern Republic, Nabuco opines that reasonable concessions should be made, with these due guarantees and compensations:

“I agree with the protocol’s proposal, redacted by the secretary’s director general, in which the importance of opening Lagoon Mirim to navigation under the eastern flag was ratified, this importance being recognized in article 13 of the 4 September 1857 treaty, and at the same time that concession was made dependent on the Eastern Republic’s ceding the terrain needed for the village of Santana do Livramento’s common.

“I believe that the right to navigation should be conceded, all the more so because, aside from finding it expedient, I recognize the beginnings of natural law invoked by the republic’s government.

1875mapadelríodelaplata-chap30-1
Map of the region with Lagoon Mirim in blue. Source.

“But I understand that in this protocol the freedom of navigation of the lagoon’s tributary rivers—the Cebollatí, the Taquari, and others—should remain enshrined, in Brazil’s favor, given the connection that exists between both issues; navigation that ended up expressly prohibited, to which circumstance the 1861 Report (1) refers.

 

“I may wish also that the concession of freedom of navigation on Lagoon Mirim be more liberal and positive, that it remain in place only depending on the ceding of territories and the rules of police and public prosecutors, and not on the examinations and studies which the proposal vaguely references, and which the Treaty of 1857 referenced.

“What examinations and what studies are those which could not have been made in nine years?” (8 October 1866.)

Translator’s Notes

1. Each ministry gave annual reports, summarizing the events of the past year.

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