Señor Matta to Mr. Eagan .



Sir: As certain charges were made against the soldiers and officers of the police of Valparaiso in your communication of the 26th instant, and pending the publication of all that has been done in the examination of the occurrences of the 16th instant, which this department must lay before you, the undersigned deems it necessary and proper to transmit to you the report which has been made by the intendente of Valparaiso (based upon the facts which he has been able to elicit) in the discharge of his duty, and with a view to discovering those who were guilty of the acts which took place on the 16th instant.

The report of Don Juan de Dios Arlegui, which is based upon information received from the officers concerned, says as follows:

“You will thereby understand how very incorrect were the charges made by the United States minister against the police of this city. It would have been physically impossible for the police to commit all the acts of brutality and cruelty with which they are charged. The riot began at about 6 p.m. in Clave, San Martin, San Francisco streets, and others which are inhabited by low characters and in which liquor shops and sailors’ boarding houses are numerous. It is very easy to collect a mob there in a few minutes.

“I was informed of the riot at about a quarter past 6 p.m., and at once gave orders by telephone to police headquarters and to the Santo Domingo station, and verbally to the guard of the intendencia, directing that the largest force possible should be sent immediately to put down the riot. This was done, but when the force, consisting mostly of police, arrived, which was at about half past 6, the mob numbered about 1,000 persons, and extended from Echaurren Square to the passenger wharf, occupying Cochrane and Blanco streets, and Errazuriz avenue, and forming a regular battlefield in which all, and particularly the American sailors, fought with stones, sticks, and swords (knives?). The police and the soldiers who had come up did nothing more than arrest those who were most violent, owing to their intoxicated condition, and disperse the crowd. An hour afterwards, at half past 7 p.m., everything was quiet and the persons who had been arrested had been turned over to the criminal judge, who was also on the spot.

“When the police force arrived a shot from a gun or pistol was heard behind the captain who was in command. The captain turned at once and saw a seaman from the Baltimore fall, having received a wound in the neck. The shot had evidently been fired from a considerable crowd of people standing near. It was impossible to [Page 333] find out who had fired the shot or to find any person who was armed, which will he readily understood if it is considered that the shooting took place just when the police were arriving at Echaurren Square.

“The officer dismounted, attended to the wounded man, and had him carried to a drug store kept by a Señor Guzman, so that his first wants might he supplied, and then sent him to a hospital. Unfortunately he died on the way.

“I do not think, Señor Minister, that the local authorities could have done more than they did on the occasion of this unfortunate occurrence, in view of the place where it originated, the insufficiency of the police force for this extensive and irregularly built city, and the imprudence of allowing 160 men belonging to the crew of the Baltimore to go ashore at one time, as the police reports state was done.

“It has been impossible to ascertain the precise cause of the riot. I do not know whether it will be shown by the examination which is now in progress; there is, however, every reason to suppose that it was the outcome of a quarrel between drunken sailors. A similar quarrel had taken place a few days before between German and Chilean sailors.”

According to the rules which govern criminal proceedings in Chile, such proceedings are conducted in secret while the facts are being investigated. Hence neither the intendente of Valparaiso nor the undersigned can know anything beyond what appears from the declaration and statements of certain determinate persons. Thus they can affirm or deny nothing as regards the result which may be reached by the judge who is conducting the investigation, which is likely to last longer and to be more complicated, according to the increased number of those against whom charges are preferred. Reiterating my promise to communicate to the United States legation the result of the trial, and feeling certain that, when the guilty parties are discovered, full justice will be done, I have the honor to reiterate to you, Mr. Minister, the assurance of my high consideration.

M. A. Matta.

A correct copy.

A. Bascuñan,

The foregoing agrees with the document on file at this legation.

[l. s.]
Aníbal Cruz