Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States

Edited by: Lalor, John J.
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PERU. Traversed from north to south by the two parallel chains of the Andes, Peru extends from the equator to Chili, over a length of nearly 1,500 kilometres. It is bounded on the east by the Amazon river, and by Brazil. Its entire area is estimated at nearly 450,000 square kilometres. The most highly favored portions of this vast territory, those which are most richly endowed by nature, are situated between the eastern slope of the Andes and Brazil; they have as yet scarcely any European population, and are almost wholly un-explored. The greater part of the population is settled upon the western side, between the Andes and the sea. It is not very large. At the time of the last census, (1876), there were 2,704,998 inhabitants, besides about 350,000 uncivilized Indians.


—As in all other parts of Spanish America, the census population is far from being composed of homogeneous elements. The agricultural classes are entirely Indian. The mechanics and shop-keepers of the towns and villages are a mixture of Indians and half-breeds. The lower classes of the coast belong to what is called the Zambo element, a mixture formed by the crossing of negroes, Chinese and Indians. The higher classes are in a great degree of Spanish origin; the number of families in which the Spanish blood is entirely pure is very limited; the same is true of the Indian families which form a part of these classes. The pure Indian type, unmixed with Spanish blood, is very rare. The ratio of these races is estimated thus: 57 per cent. of Indians, 23 of mixed breeds, 12½ of whites born in Peru, 3½ of negroes, 1½ of Chinese, and 2½ of foreigners.


—Peru, while it has had a good many internal dissensions and quarrels with its neighbors and foreign powers, is nevertheless far from presenting as sad an internal and external history as do so many of the other republics of Spanish America. The comparative repose which it enjoyed [up to the time of the Chilian-Peruvian war]*24 was owing, not to the free play of its constitutional institutions, the model of which was borrowed for a short time from the great republic of North America, but to the firmness and to the more or less intelligence which have been shown by the various military chiefs who filled the presidential chair in Peru.


—The constitution of 1856, modified Nov. 10, 1860, is the source of the public law of Peru. The executive power is in the hands of a president, invariably chosen from the army. The president is elected for four years by the citizens assembled in electoral colleges. He is assisted by a council of ministers. The legislative power is vested in a congress composed of two chambers, who pass the budget and the laws in the making of which the executive power has the initiative. The senate is composed of forty members, and the chamber of deputies of eighty. During the interval between one session and another, a permanent commission of seven senators and eight deputies assists the president, and performs the functions of a council of state.


—At the head of each department is a prefect, appointed by the president. The constitution of 1856 had instituted departmental juntas, but these assemblies having resulted in making government impossible, it became necessary to dissolve them. In some departments the prefect did not allow them to assemble. The municipal juntas, composed of the principal inhabitants of each locality, have given better results; for a number of years, it has been remarked that they are an excellent school of political and administrative education.


—Thanks to an unlooked-for resource, the sale of guano, which tends, however, to become exhausted, and of which the state claimed the monopoly, the financial condition of Peru was pretty good previous to the breaking out of the war with Chili. In the budget of 1872 the receipts were 58,982,851 soles (five francs), and the disbursements were 57,913,974 soles. The excess of receipts was thus 1,069,087 soles. The public debt, on Jan. 1, 1869, was 62,225,550 soles, say, 311,127,500 francs; it was distributed thus: home debt, 4,737,800 soles (23,689,000 francs); foreign debt, 41,803,750 soles (209,018,750 francs); sum due to consignees of guano, 15,684,000 soles (78,420,000 francs). The public debt in 1870 had increased to 104,855,000 soles, distributed thus: consolidated internal debt, 1,350,000; new consolidated debt, 3,000,000; loan of 1862 and various other debts, 5,905,000; English loan at 5 per cent. (1865, 35,000,000; another English loan at 6 per cent. for the construction of railroads, guaranteed by the receipts of the railroads, custom house and guano, 59,600,000 soles.


—The Catholic religion has remained the religion of the state; and unless he professes Catholicism, no one can be admitted to fill any public office. The government of the church is divided between an archbishop and six bishops, and the church derives its revenues from tithes. The congress of 1856 had some thought of introducing freedom of worship, but a city celebrated in the history of Peru for its pronunciamentos, Arequipa, threatened to secede if that freedom should be granted by the constitution. The clergy have preserved their ecclesiastical courts.


—Public instruction is almost wholly in the hands of the clergy. The state appropriates nearly half a million of dollars for the support of the universities. Justice, civil and criminal, is administered by a supreme court, which sits at Lima; by courts of appeal in each of the chief towns of the departments; and by the district courts of first resort. The administration of the mines, the forests and the military and naval services have special jurisdiction. There is scarcely any industry, but a good deal of commerce. The greater part of the foreign trade is in the hands of French, English and American merchants. As in all the rest of America, it is England which holds the first rank, as regards both imports and exports: France is only second. Her transactions amount to an average of sixty million francs per annum, that is to say, less than half those of England.


—Since the discovery of guano the merchant marine of Peru has increased to a certain extent. In 1869 it had ninety vessels, with a capacity of 9,596 tons. The exports of 1867 amounted to $18,506,851; while in 1866 they reached the sum of $40,511,291. The principal article of export is still guano, of which there was exported in 1870, 482,299 tons, of a total value of 20,195,146 silver piastres. According to statistics published in Lima in 1868, the quantity of guano exported from 1842 to 1867 amounted to 7,157,194 tons, with a total value of $218,693,625.


—The soil of Peru is suitable for the cultivation of all tropical productions. Since 1860, cotton and sugar cane have been cultivated upon a very large scale, Chinese and free blacks being employed in its cultivation. In 1860 the cotton crop was estimated at seventy millions of dollars, the profits of which were forty-seven millions.


—Peru, which has already had the good fortune to find in the sale of the guano three-quarters of its revenue, has recently met with further luck. Some explorations conducted in 1830 resulted in the discovery of vast beds of nitrate of soda. The exportation of saltpetre increased from 18,700 cwt. in 1830, to 699,406 in 1851, to 1,358,691 in 1861, and to 3,605,906 in 1871.


—Of all the wealth with which nature has endowed Peru, that least taken advantage of is its mineral treasures. There are still near Puno some very productive silver mines. From 1775 to 1824 these mines produced 1,786,000 marcs of silver, of an average value of from eight to nine dollars. Since the cessation of Spanish rule these mines have declined very much in productive value, the greater part of them having been abandoned for lack of capital and other means of working them. The great cause of the decline of the mining industry is the want of confidence which the capitalists have in each other. This distrust prevents the formation of mining associations upon a large scale, and it is only by the revival of the great companies that Peru will be able to resume, among the countries producing precious metals, the place which belongs to her.*25


—BIBLIOGRAPHY. Besides the older works of Ulloa, Helm, Breckenridge, Mathison, Hall, Stevenson, Smith, Meyen and Pöppig, there are: Hill's Travels in Peru and Mexico, 2 vols., London, 1860; Grandidier, Voyage dans l'Amérique du Sud, Pérou et Bolivie; Menendez, Manual de geographia y statistica del Peru, Paris, 1861; Carrey, Le Pérou, Paris, 1875; Raimondi, El Perú, Lima, 1874; Desjardin, Le Pérou avant la conquête espagnole, Paris, 1858; Prescott, History of the Conquest of Peru, Boston, 1847, new edition, 1878; Pruvonena, Memorias y documentos para la historia de la independencia del Perú, 2 vols., Paris, 1858; Odriozola, Memorias y documentos para la historia del Perú, Lima, 1863-4; Paz-Soldan, Historia del Perú independte, Lima, 1871; Arana, Histoire de la guerre du Pacifique, 1881.


Notes for this chapter

The so-called "saltpetre war" carried on by the republic of Chili, against the allied republics of Peru and Bolivia, was begun in the year 1879. For decades there had existed a controversy concerning the boundaries between Chili and Bolivia. The question in dispute was, whether the province of Atacamba, between Peru and Chili, belonged entirely to Holivis, or whether Chili had a right to claim its extremest southern part. This question increased in significance, when it was discovered, that there were in this very southern part vast deposits of guano, extensive beds of saltpetre and rich veins of silver. By the treaty of Aug. 10, 1866, the governments of Chili and Bolivia agreed that the territory in dispute should belong to both states in common, so far as the division of receipts from taxes and revenue duties was concerned, and Bolivia pledged itself in no way to disturb Chilian citizens in the exploitation of the saltpetre mines. Incensed by Pern, with which Bolivia had concluded a secret offensive and defensive alliance in 1873, the government of Bolivia did not observe the treaty of 1866; it arbitrarily taxed a Chilian company of merchants in the seaport of Antofagasts, and here meeting with resistance, made several arrests and confiscated the property of the company. Peru, which exported large quantities of guano and saltpetre, and feared the competition of energetic Chili, did not dislike this repression. Chili complained of the action of Bolivia in violation of the treaty, and when the latter did not pay any attention to its complaints, Chili equipped a squadron, caused Antofagasta to be blockaded by the same on Feb. 14, 1879, and the entire saltpetre region to be seized. Upon this followed, on the first of March, the declaration of war by Bolivia, which, on the second day of April, concluded an armed alliance with Peru. The Chilian squadron next blockaded the south Peruvian port of Iquique and other ports in the neighborhood, whence saltpetre and guano were exported. Pressed hard by the Peruvian fleet, which had more iron-clads, the Chilians were, however, compelled to raise the blockade and to retire to Antofagasta. But soon afterward they succeeded in capturing the strongest iron-clad of the enemy, in taking the port of Pisagua and in defeating the land forces of the Bolivians and Peruvians near Dolores; they also occupied the port of Iquique and took away the entire south Peruvian province of Tarapacs, with its rich beds of guano and saltpetre. Chili was completely master at sea, and Arica and other ports of Peru were blockaded by the Chilian fleet. Intense excitement prevailed in the two allied states, and their two respective governments were overthrown; in Bolivia there existed a state of anarchy, its army and finances being prostrate; in Peru, Gen. Pierola, who had been elected president, ruled like a dictator. The campaign of 1880 was still more favorable for the Chilians. Their troops, under Gen. Baquedano, marched on the 20th of March into the town of Moquegua, which had been abandoned by the Peruvians; the Chilian troops threw the enemy back on Tacna, where the allied troops suffered another defeat, upon which the former occupied the town and took Arica by storm. The Bolivian troops retired home after the defeat near Tacna. Through the mediation of the United States negotiations for peace were begun. The plenipotentiaries of the belligerent republics and of the United States convened on neutral ground, on board a United States man-of-war, on the 22d of October. The conference, however, did not agree as to the conditions of peace. The proposition that the three states should submit to the arbitration of the United States government was refused by the victorious Chilians. Thus the conference came to an end, without any result, on the 27th of October. With a force of about 24,000 men the Chilians resumed the war. They landed two army corps on the coast of Peru, they routed the enemy, intrenched near Lurin, and advanced toward Lima, the capital of Peru. After having suffered two further defeats, one near Chorillos, on Jan. 12, 1881, and the other near Miraflores, on the 15th of the same month, the enemy fled in confusion to Lima. The Peruvian army was now utterly demoralized, and unable to resist any further. Lima was occupied by the Chilian troops on the 17th of January. In place of the fugitive Pierola, Calderon was appointed provisional president of Peru by a convention of notables; after the session of congress, which had been convened with great difficulty, had been opened, Calderon's nomination was made definitive. Gen. Lynch, who, in place of Gen. Baquedano, was intrusted with the chief command of the Chilian troops, came in conflict with Calderon and with Galvez, the minister of foreign affairs; he ordered their removal; and when, his orders notwithstanding, both of them continued to exercise their functions, they were arrested and sent to Santiago. The United States government, believing it had a right to intervene in all American states, and knowing its own interest to be better guarded by the existence of small than of large states, had already recognized the Calderon government; it had also declared to the Chilian government, that the latter would not be allowed to insist upon a cession of territory as a condition preliminary to negotiations for peace, and that the United States would not suffer any intervention from Europe. Chili stipulated the following conditions: Peru was to cede the district of Tarapaca, and to pay a war indemnity of twenty millions of dollars within sixteen years; until the completion of the payment of that sum, Chili was to keep the town of Arica as a pledge; and in case the indemnity should not be paid, Chili would keep Arica and take possession also of the guano island, Lobos. Chili declared to the American minister that it would decline all further mediation in case of Peru's refusing to accept these conditions. In a circular of Dec 21, 1881, to the diplomatic representatives of Chili, Balmaceda, the Chilian minister of foreign affairs, gave an accurate account of the causes of the war, of the events of the war and of the intervention by the United States, and insisted upon the demand of a cession of territory, which he signified as an indispensable means of indemnification, and a condition of security based upon international law. At the same time he did not fail to recall the fact that the United States government in its international conflicts (especially in the wars with Mexico) did not hesitate to impose on the vanquished adversary cessions of large tracts of territory as a preliminary condition. Under such circumstances the negotiations, it is true, were continued, but the conclusion of peace was removed to an incalculable distance; meanwhile Chili remained in possession of what it had occupied.

—During the year 1882 no essential change occurred in the condition of Peru. The Chilians insisted upon their conditions of peace, and in Peru they could find no government that would agree to these conditions. Bolivia kept aloof from the war, and neither could Peru expect any assistance from any other power, the more so because the United States in 1882 abstained from any intervention. In that part of the country which had not been occupied by Chilian troops, lawless gangs of soldiers, under rapacious and violent leaders, raged in a most cruel manner. In Chincha sixty European inhabitants were shot, and in pillaging the town the marauders destroyed property valued at eight millions of dollars. In the seaport of Pisco the gang of Col. Mas, on the 24th of January, in a state of beastly intoxication, murdered several hundreds of inhabitants. Several generals now claimed the highest authority, and fought one against the other; thus: Admiral Mantero, in Huaraz; farther north, the Indian Puga; in Cajamarca, Pierola's former minister of war, Gen Iglesias; in Arequipa, Carrillo; in Ayacucho, Gen. Caceres, a brave and determined officer. The latter had some of the leaders of the marauding troops shot, among them Col. Mas. The Chilians refused to recognize the troops of these leaders as belligerent soldiers, but treated all men who were captured with arms in hand as highway robbers. The Peruvians treated the Chilians in a like manner. Thus, on the 9th of July they surprised and killed a troop of Chilian soldiers in Concepcion, upon which the Chilian general, del Canto, caused all the inhabitants of that town to be massacred. The Chilians, growing impatient because peace was not concluded, sought to indemnify themselves by increasing the revenue duties, and by imposing contributions on the towns which they held and occupied. In this manner they tried to compel the Peruvians to make peace. The negotiations with President Garcia Calderon, confined in the interior of Chili, remained without result, because he refused to agree to the cession of Arica and Tacna. The Chilians therefore entered into negotiations with Iglesias, an honest but narrow-minded man, in Cajamarca; Iglesias proved to be more ready to yield. Montero, however, who, by virtue of his former capacity as vice-president, had declared himself the constitutional successor of Calderon, who had gone to Arequipa and had even formed a ministry there, refused to ratify the concessions made by Iglesias.

—On May 15, 1883, a treaty of peace, accepted by Iglesias, was concluded between Chili and Peru. The stipulations of the treaty were as follows: 1. The unconditional surrender in perpetuity to Chili of the department of Tarapaca as far north as the Quebrada de Camarones, the whole of which territory is consequently to be governed by Chili. 2. The territories of Tacna and Arica, now held by Chili, are to be subject to the legislation and government of that republic during ten years from the date of the treaty's taking effect. At the expiration of that time, a plebiscitum is to be had which shall decide whether that territory shall be subject to Chili or return to Peru. The country which remains in possession of the territory is to pay the other country 10,000,000 silver Chilian dollars, or the equivalent in Peruvian soles. A special protocol is to determine the form under which the plebiscitum shall be held, and the time of payment of the $10,000,000 alluded to. 3. The government of Chili binds itself strictly to comply with the contract signed and decrees issued respecting guano Feb. 9, 1882, and respecting nitrate March 22 of the same year, and it adds thereto the following declaration: "The said decree of Feb. 9, 1882, orders the sale of 1,000,000 tons of guano, and article thirteen establishes that the net price of the guano, after deducting the cost of extraction, analysis, weighing, loading, salaries of employés to overlook these different operations, and all expenses incurred up to the moment of placing it, sacked, on board the vessel, shall be divided in equal parts between the government of Chili and the creditors of Peru, whose credits are guaranteed by this article." The government of Chili also declares that, when the sale of 1,000,000 tons shall have been completed, it will deliver to the creditors of Peru 50 per cent. of the net proceeds, as provided by article thirteen, until the debt shall have been extinguished or the deposits exhausted. But it is understood that only the deposits which are actually worked are alluded to hereby, and that all those which may hereafter be discovered or worked in the annexed territories will belong exclusively to Chili, which will retain all the proceeds and dispose of them as she may determine. It is also understood that the creditors of Peru who are benefited under this concession must comply with the regulations contained in the decree of Feb. 9, 1882, and that, beyond the declarations contained in this article, Chili does not recognize, on account of war or any other motive, any indebtedness of Peru, of any nature whatsoever. 4. The North Lobos islands will continue to be managed by Chili until the 1,000,000 tons of guano which have been sold shall have been delivered. Then they will be returned to Peru. The 50 per cent of the net proceeds of the guano from the Lobos islands to which Chili is entitled under the decree of Feb. 9, is ceded by her to Peru, and payment thereof will be commenced directly the present treaty shall have been ratified.

—The questions referring to the future commercial relations between the two countries, and the indemnities due the Chilians for losses through the war, are matters for subsequent discussion and arrangement. The treaty, however, could not be carried into effect, because the Peruvians refused to recognize Gen. Iglesias as their lawful president, and to ratify the treaty he had signed. Victorious Chili was from the beginning willing to recognize Iglesias as president, because his presidency offered the best guarantees for the ratification, and for the strict observance, of the treaty. Meanwhile, the lawless condition of Peru continued. Bands of so-called "patriots," who opposed Iglesias and the ratification of the treaty of peace, committed numberless outrages. This reign of terror, and the consideration of the fact that the conclusion of a treaty would be an indispensable condition to the recovery of Peru, caused the better part of the population of that country to rally around Iglesias, and to support his claims to the presidency.

Peru had a deficit, in 1876, of about $1,538,490. It has (1883) a large public debt, divided into internal and external. The internal liabilities are estimated at about $20,000,000. It has, besides, a floating debt of an unknown amount, greatly increased by large issues of paper money, made in 1879 and 1880, to carry on the war against Chili. The total of these issues was estimated, at the end of October, 1880, at 35,000,000 soles.

—The army of Peru was composed, at the end of 1878, of eight battalions of infantry, numbering 5,600 men; of three regiments of cavalry, numbering 1,200 men; of two brigades of artillery, numbering 1,000 men; and of a gendarmerie, numbering 5,400 men. The number of men under arms was raised nominally to 40,000 in May, 1879, after the outbreak of hostilities against Chili, and further increased to 70,000 in the summer of 1880, after the successful invasion of the territory by the Chilians. At the beginning of November, 1879, the Peruvian navy consisted of four ironclads and six other steamers. In 1883, in consequence of the war with Chili, it may be said that both the army and navy of Peru have been completely destroyed.

—The foreign commerce of Peru is chiefly with Great Britain and the United States.

—In 1878 there were open for traffic, or in course of construction, eleven railway lines belonging to the state, 1,281 miles in length, and costing 128,354,600 soles. There were, besides, eight lines belonging to private persons, 496 miles in length, and two lines belonging in part to the state and in part to individuals.

Footnotes for PETITION, Right of

End of Notes

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