No. 14.
Mr. Reynolds to Mr. Fish.

No. 90.]

Sir: I have the honor to report that on yesterday a citizen of Bolivia made application at this legation for asylum, under the following circumstances: He was under apprehension of arrest, from what cause I know not, when he ran into the house of the legation, and asked for the minister, who was temporarily absent for a walk. Soon after a sergeant of the police came into the house in search of him, (Mr. Suariz,) but, finding that I was absent, remained till my return. When I arrived at the rooms of the legation I found both men standing upon the veranda of the “pateo,” or open court of the house. I then invited both into my room and inquired their errand.

I was then informed by Mr. Suariz that he wished protection from me as minister against arrest by the sergeant, saying that there could be nothing against him of a criminal character, but there might be for political offenses on the 20th of March last, &c.

I then inquired for the writ of arrest, when I was told by the sergeant that no writ was necessary for arrest of citizens by the police; and, further, that he had been charged to arrest this man and take him to police headquarters. He further said that he did not know upon what charge he arrested Mr. Suariz, but said this could be ascertained at the police-office. He also said that if I wished to detain the prisoner in the legation rooms, he wished me to please give him a certificate to this effect, as this would exonerate him.

After careful examination of the case, I declined giving him asylum, and recommended the prisoner to go at once and respond to any charges that may be brought against him by the government.

This he did, after finding that my decision would not be changed. I felt that there was nothing else I could do without direct and immediate interference with the courts of the country, and all this without knowing for what he was to be arrested, nor with what charged as offense.

I write you thus minutely so that you may know the whole case, and I now ask respectfully for a decision of the Department as to whether I did right, or whether I should have acted otherwise in the case. I ask this for a special reason; also, as now “there be wise men here” and some lawyers who assert that “the American minister failed to do his duty in this matter, and that Suariz was clearly entitled to asylum in any minister’s legation rooms,” &c.

Those who make these assertions about the Suariz case are opposed to the now existing government; yet I seek the decision of my own Government in this case, which will be a record for the guidance for this legation in the future.

This republic is now tranquil throughout, and the courts are open to all for redress of grievances and for punishment of criminals in every department or province, which is additional reason for non-interference upon the part of foreign ministers resident here.

While I feel convinced that I did my whole duty in the case, I earnestly desire the indorsement of Government, or such specific instructions [Page 18] for such cases as will be full guidance in the future, and especially so now that the numerous friends of Mr. Suariz have so persistently asserted the contrary.

I am, &c.,