In truth, Fish had no intention of granting belligerent status to the rebels. He could always find another excuse to delay if Spain procrastinated.
Spain agreed to Fish's proposals provided that the rebels observe the cease fire first. Spanish pride got in the way again. The Spaniards were willing to leave only after everyone agreed that they could defeat the rebels if they wanted. By laying down their arms, the Spaniards could accept their “surrender” and then sail home with their heads held high. The rebels, of course, had no assurance that the Spaniards would honor the other terms of the agreement once they laid down their arms. They were at an impasse.
Fish had no choice but to withdraw the American proposals. There ensued a series of communiques between Spain and America, containing offers and counteroffers, threats and counter threats. It was obvious that neither side was prepared for war thus, the status quo was insured and the blood bath in Cuba continued unabated.
Diplomats from both countries were at a loss to find a solution until one was thrust upon them when an American ship, the Virginius was seized by the Spanish navy.