Mr. Shannon to Mr. Foster.
Managua, October 13, 1892. (Received November 11.)
Sir: In January, 1885, Don José Dolores Gámez (not Gomez), a Nicaraguan political refugee, having embarked at San José, Guatemala, for Punta Arenas, Costa Rica, on board the Pacific Mail Company’s steamship Honduras, Capt. James McCrae commanding, efforts were made by the Nicaraguan authorities to arrest Gámez while the steamer was lying in the port of San Juan del Sur, but without success.
Capt. McCrae refused to give up his passenger; refused to go on shore when requested by the com andante to do so; and finally, when requested not to sail for twenty-four hours, did, it is alleged, sail in two hours and without the usual permit from the comandante of the port.
For these offenses Capt. McCrae was tried in the Mcaraguan courts, but in examining those volumes of our Foreign Relations that refer to the case I find that the reports sent to the Department at the time with regard to the legal proceedings taken against the captain were not only incomplete, but wholly erroneous.
Mr. Blaine in his No. 206 of November 18, 1890, to Mr. Mizner, cites Mr. Bayard’s No. 226 of March 12, 1885, as “reviewing the facts (of [Page 46]the Gámez case) so far as known, and adverting to the incompleteness of the information as to the proceedings against the captain.”
The consul reports that for these offenses the captain has been tried by the Nicaraguan Government and found guilty, and although he has not been able to learn the nature of the sentence, he is convinced from the present attitude of the Government that the sentence will be executed in case of the return of the captain or the vessel within the jurisdiction of the Government of Nicaragua.
For these alleged offenses he (the captain) has been tried by the Nicaraguan Government and found guilty, but I have not yet been able to learn what sentence they had passed upon him.
In this connection I might also quote the words of his excellency Señor Anguiano, minister for foreign affairs of Guatemala, who, in his special report to the legislative assembly, dated March 31, 1890, regarding the capture and death of Gen. J. Martin Barrundia, at page 65, refers to the Gámez incident in the terms of which the following is a translation:
Upon the arrival of the Honduras at San Juan del Sur the authorities requested the captain to deliver up Gámez. He refused to do so, and put to sea without the customary permit. For this violation of the fiscal laws of Nicaragua a suit was brought in the courts, and the captain was declared guilty by default (en rebeldia).
As I find upon inquiry that all these statements and reports regarding “the sentence passed upon” Capt. McCrae are wholly erroneous, and as the Gámez case has acquired unusual importance through the fact that Mr. Bayard’s decision in reference to it was the chief ground upon which Mr. Mizner defended his course in the Barrundia affair, I have thought it desirable, in order to complete the Department’s record of the case, to obtain a copy of the sentence itself, and herewith beg to transmit it accompanied by a translation.
The sentence, it will be seen, goes fully into the case, citing authorities on international law to prove that the delivery of Gámez to the Nicaraguan authorities could not properly be demanded of the captain under the circumstances; and that the charge of disrespect for the authorities brought against the latter was unfounded.
The passages cited from the writings of Bello and Calvo, and from the codes and constitution of Nicaragua, are herewith appended in the original, accompanied by translations.
I take the liberty also of adding a remarkable passage from Riquelme, the last paragraph of which refers to a supposed case similar to that of Gámez.
The sentence in the case of Capt. McCrae is dated February 9, 1885, and although it was promptly referred to the supreme court at Granada for consultation, that tribunal did not pronounce judgment till April of the present year, when a decree was issued simply approving the sentence without making any review of the case or giving any reasons.
The sentence was published in “La voz del pueblo,” a newspaper of Granada, immediately after being pronounced and led to an animated discussion in the press throughout the country. * * *
I have, etc.,