No. 93.
Mr. Hall to Mr. Bayard.

No. 771.]

Sir: With reference to my dispatches numbered 753 and 756 of the 12th and 21st December last, and 767 of the 13th ultimo, to your instructions 523 and 532 of the 6th December and 6th ultimo, and to other correspondence relating to the alleged seizure by Nicaraguan authorities of two small vessels carrying the flag of the United States, I have the honor to inclose herewith translations of a note, dated the 24th ultimo, from the minister for foreign affairs of Nicaragua, and of the several inclosures accompanying it, from which it would seem that as regards the schooner Merida the facts have been misrepresented.

From these papers it appears that the Merida, after having carried the Nicaraguan flag for a number of years and having become unserviceable as a sea-going vessel, was sold to Mr. N. P. Allen, a citizen of the United States. Mr. Allen had the vessel towed to the mouth of the Rama River, and it is claimed outside of the reservation, where he converted it into a shop, from which it is alleged a contraband trade was carried on, liquors were sold without license, it was rendezvous of gamblers and disorderly persons of both sexes; over this disreputable resort the owner had raised the American flag, and it would seem claimed exterritoriality.

General Urtecho’s letter to the consular agent at Bluefields, inclosure 4, is probably a correct version of the affair, although it may have been communicated already. I beg to commend it and its inclosures to your notice.

I am, etc.,

Henry C. Hall.
[Page 123]
[Inclosure 1 in 771.—Translation.]

Señor Zavala to Mr. Hall.

Sir: I have before me your courteous communication of the 21st December last past, in which your excellency calls the attention of my Government to the reports received from the consul at San Juan del Norte, in regard to the seizue of two American vessels by the Nicaraguan authorities established at the mouth of the Rama River, near to the territory of the Mosquitia Reservation.

Complying with the wishes your excellency expresses by instruction of your Government, I have to inform you that the acts to which these reports refer have not taken place.

Inclosed herewith I send your excellency copies of a dispatch from the minister of Government, and of communications upon the subject, addressed to the Government and to the American consular agent by the governor and intendent of the district of the Siguia. By these documents your excellency will perceive that there has been no undue seizure of any American vessel, and all that occurred was the searching of the schooner Merida of Mr. N. P. Allen, which unsea worthy vessel, unfitted for navigation, had been converted into a store-hulk, in which a contraband trade and a retail trade in strong liquors were carried on without payment of the license dues established by law, and without the permission of these authorities; the vessel was also a general center of frequent disorderly acts of all kinds.

I have no doubt that the foregoing will suffice to explain the conduct of the Nicaraguan authorities in the Siguia district, and that the consul at San Juan del Norte, with better data in his possession, will have rectified his reports.

With assurances, etc.,

Adrian Zavala.
[Inclosure 2 in 771.—Translation.]

The minister of government to the minister for foreign affairs of Nicaragua.

Sir: In response to the wishes expressed in your note of yesterday I inclose an authenticated copy of the report of the Government intendent of the district of Siguia to this ministry concerning the search ordered to be made by Nicaraguan authority of the schooner Merida, belonging to Mr. N. P. Allen, an American citizen.

In that document it is clearly shown that there was no seizure of any vessel whatever, and that the search of Mr. Allen’s schooner, turned into a commercial establishment, was made in virtue of a complaint made to the governor of police of Siguia that great disorders were committed therein, and strong liquors were sold at retail without the license of the authority, and without payment of the duties established by law.

With every consideration, etc.,

David Osorno.
[Inclosure 3 in 771.—Translation.]

General Urtecho to the minister of government of Nicaragua.

Sir: In the section of cablegrams of the “Diario Nicaraguense” of the 3d instant appears the following:

New Orleans, November 29, 1887.

“The captain of the steamer Harlan publishes a letter signed by the captain of the schooner Merida in Escondido River, announcing that on the 20th of November Nicaraguan soldiers seized his schooner and the steamer William S. Moore without any cause therefor, and being asked by what right they did so, showed their rifles.”

[Page 124]

In anticipation of your inquiry I report to you what actually took place, and I do this making use of the annexed copy of a communication on the subject which I addressed to the consular agent of the United States at this port, in which all the facts are set forth.

With high respect, etc.,

Isidoro Urtecho.
[Inclosure 4 in No. 771.—Translation.]

General Urtecho to the United States consular agent at Bluefields.

No. 21.]

Sir: I have received your communication of the 14th instant relative to the complaints presented to your consular office by N. P. Allen, an American citizen, in consequence of a search ordered to be made by Nicaragua authorities of his vessel, the schooner Merida, lying on the banks of the Rama River. I have taken note also of the letter addressed to you by the same Mr. Allen, and of which you transmit me a copy.

I give you with much pleasure the information you ask for upon the subject, but before entering into the facts which gave rise to the complaint, permit me to make known the antecedents which will enable you to form a correct judgment of the case.

The so called schooner Merida is not, properly speaking, a vessel; it was at one time, and when it became useless for navigation, was towed to the river and made fast to the shores of the Rama and Siguia, and was made use of as a trading establishment. Such at present is the schooner Merida of Mr. Allen.

In that establishment every kind of trading is carried on without the least regard to morality; there is gambling and drinking, and it has become a general resort for men and women, who may be properly styled professionals. What the schooner Merida was as a focus of rioting, before the establishment of Nicaraguan forces in that locality, every one here can inform you; but better than that, the wounds that Mr. Allen carries upon his body are indelible marks of that life of libertinage. Since the establishment of Nicaraguan forces at that point things have improved very much, but they are still far from being satisfactory. I now take up the subject of your communication.

The ordinance of the district of Siguia, within whose jurisdiction Mr. Allen resides, prohibits the introduction of spirituous liquors, without the previous payment of duties. Besides special laws upon the subject prohibit the retailing of the same liquors without the license of the authority.

On the 20th November last there was a fight on board the Merida between men under the influence of liquor, and in consequence the clandestine sale of ardent spirits by Señor Allen was denounced to the governor of police. In virtue thereof, the establishment (hulk) was searched; the act was perfectly correct, inasmuch as Mr. Allen had neither paid duties nor did he hold a license;

Mr. Allen refused to permit the search, closed the establishment, threw the keys at the police agent and withdrew. A servant of the same establishment picked up the keys, and through him the search was made a small demijohn, with a small quantity of rum, was found, and also very marked indications of liquors having been run off. After the search the keys remained in the possession of the same servant, and in the afternoon of the same day Mr. Allen was, by his own voluntary act, at the head of his establishment again, which indicated that he withdrew his claims and protests. This all took place with Mr. Alien.

He claimed that he held an old license from the authorities of the reservation, but this subterfuge has no value whatever; aside from other reasons, which it is unnecessary to set forth at this time, the laws of the reservation prohibit the sale of liquors outside of the towns, and in no case would it have been conceded to Mr. Allen.

With high consideration, etc.,

Isidoro Urtecho.