Señor Matta to Mr. Eagan.
Santiago, October 21, 1891.
Sir: The undersigned received yesterday evening at 3:30 the note in which you, under date of the 26th instant, carrying out the instructions of your Government, give an account of the deplorable events which took place on the 16th, and after setting forth the conclusions arrived at by a committee of officers and the commander of the cruiser Baltimore, you make comments, formulate demands, and utter threats, which, without being indignantly repelled, are not accepted and can not be accepted by this department in the present case, nor in any other of the same nature.
The undersigned does not doubt and makes no protest against the sincerity, rectitude, [Page 331] and ability of the investigations made respecting the lamentable occurrence between some North American sailors and some Chilean sailors on leave and stevedores, but in the discharge of his duty, and in pursuance of international prescriptions and usages which have never been questioned by civilized nations, he defers and will defer to the jurisdiction of the authorities Of his own country, which are the only ones which have full right and sufficient power to try and to punish the guilty parties, whoever they may be, and wherever they may be found in Chilean territory.
The affair took place in Valparaiso, and ever since the day on which it occurred the administrative and judicial authorities concerned have been engaged in investigating who were to blame and who deserve punishment in the very deplorable and as yet undecided and untried occurrence of the 16th instant.
The undersigned, believing it to be his necessary and bounden duty, no less than his desire, in the post which he occupies, to cultivate good relations, not only with friendly countries, but with those who are their honored and accredited representatives, overlooks the form which the minister plenipotentiary gives to his complaints and protests, in some parts of his note, and proceeds to answer the only two points in it which require a reply, in order that matters may remain in their proper province and light.
On the occurrence of the difficulty between North American sailors and Chilean citizens, which occasioned the deaths and wounds recounted in your excellency’s note, the proper authorities began the necessary investigations to decide who were the responsible parties, and how they ought to be punished; and the commander of the Baltimore must have received notice and have had some proof of that investigation as early as the 22d or 23d instant, according to a copy now in the archives of this department, addressed by the criminal judge to the intendente of Valparaiso and forwarded by the latter in obedience to instructions received on the 19th.
The judicial investigation of the facts which, in our judicial practice, is styled “summary,” and is kept secret until it reaches a certain point at which it is made public, has not yet arrived (at that stage); and hence this department does not possess, and can not transmit, the information regarding the blame and the guilty parties resulting from the investigation.
So soon as this (investigation) shall have arrived at its termination, whatever may be its conclusions respecting the blame and the guilty parties, the undersigned, who recognizes no other legitimate authority for trying criminal occurrences which have taken place on Chilean territory than that established by the people of Chile, will have the honor and the duty of notifying the envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of the United States, whose Government and whose nation have never ignored, and never can ignore, in other (countries) with which they are in relations of friendship, the powers and rights of sovereignty which are nowhere more evident and more applicable than in the exercise of the jurisdiction appertaining to every independent country.
While awaiting the moment of knowing and making known the results of the summary concerning the events and the guilty parties of the 16th instant, without admitting that the disorders which occurred in the streets of Valparaiso, and the silence observed in this department “appear to be the expression of a bad feeling toward the Government of the United States, which may endanger the preservation of the friendly relations between the two countries,” the undersigned has the honor to reiterate his distinguished consideration to the envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary, signing himself his humble servant,
The foregoing agrees with the document on file at this legation.