No. 580.

Mr. Valera to Mr. Bayard .


The undersigned, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of His Majesty the King of Spain, has the honor to address the Hon. Thomas F. Bayard, Secretary of State of the United States, for the purpose of calling his attention to a rather disagreeable matter, concerning which he desires to trouble him as little as possible, but still does not wish to be charged with neglect in regard to it.

Far from having any ground for complaint, the undersigned and the Government which he represents feel grateful to the late administration of the Government of this great Republic for the good faith and zeal with which it endeavored (notwithstanding the great freedom enjoyed here and the insufficiency at times of the preventive laws) to prevent any disturbance of public order in the neighboring provinces of a friendly nation; yet both hope for still more from the lofty conscientiousness, the uprightness and philanthropy of the men in whose hands the executive power of this Government now is.

It is not now asked that the laws which are here called neutrality laws may be enforced. This would be done if civil war should again [Page 771] unfortunately break out in Cuba and there should be anything like an army fighting for independence, against another which upheld fidelity to the mother country and the union of Cuba therewith; fortunately, however, there are now only here and there a few lawless adventurers who, under political pretexts, begin in New York, Key West, and other places, by taking advantage of the credulity of a few enthusiasts, and extort money from them in a thousand different ways, they next proceed to make a semblance of carrying out their promises, and, if they have sufficient courage, go to the island of Cuba, where, instead of becoming revolutionary liberators, they lead the life of outlaws, in the company of other lawless men, plundering and stealing whatever they can lay their hands on, burning plantations, kidnapping wealthy persons for the purpose of obtaining a large ransom for their release, and endeavoring to elude the pursuit of the officers of justice in the uninhabited districts of the island, all of which cannot fail to result in their violent death or imprisonment for life.

In order to prevent such evils as far as possible, the undersigned hopes that the Hon. Mr. Bayard will be able to cause the issuance of suitable orders to prevent expeditions from going to Cuba, and likewise to prevent any steps from being taken for their organization. Some of the means used by the filibusters to secure means for fitting out such expeditions are expressly forbidden by the laws of this Republic, although their object itself is not condemned. Such is, for instance, the lottery; and by way of furnishing evidence that tickets are sold here as though for the drawings of a branch of the Havana lottery, the undersigned herewith sends Mr. Bayard one of those sold at Key West. Public conspiracies are carried on, moreover, in that city against the peace of Cuba; meetings are held at which it is resolved to disturb that peace, and to purchase for that purpose rifles, percussion caps, and cutlasses, and to enlist adventurers.

Not a few of these conspirators, abusing the generous hospitality extended to them by this nation, have become American citizens, for the sole purpose of injuring us with impunity under the protection of a citizenship which they value only as it enables them to do this, and which is productive of no advantage whatever, but redounds greatly to the disadvantage of the nation which harbors them.

The undersigned repeats that he is very sorry to be obliged to call the attention of Mr. Bayard to these evils, which he hopes will be remedied as far as possible, since the burning of plantations and robberies will thereby be prevented in Cuba, as well as bloodshed, and perhaps the death of the very persons who go there in order to cause all this harm, yet whose punishment, after all, must inevitably grieve those who inflict it.

The undersigned, &c.,