Mr. Egan to Mr. Gresham.
Santiago , April 10, 1893 . (Received May 19.)
Sir: I beg leave to refer to dispatches Nos. 356 and 357, dated 16th and 17th December last, from Mr. F. E. McCreery, chargé d’affaires ad interim, in which he informed the Department of an unsuccessful attempt at an uprising on December 11, and of the suspension for a period of nine months of the law of individual guaranty. Since that time there have been constant rumors of conspiracies and preparations on the part of the Balmacedistas or as they call themselves the Democracia, with the object of overturning the present Government, and the preparations culminated on 8th instant in a serious attempt at revolution, directed by Ex-Col. Fuentes and Señor BlanlotHolley. The plan was to capture several of the barracks, including the barracks of the artillery, in which there is stored some 14,000 or 15,000 rifles with corresponding ammunition and other arms, as also the comandancia de armas or headquarters, then to move upon and capture the moneda and make prisoners of the President of the Republic, the ministers and other officials, after which operations would be extended to other cities and throughout the country. This plan was to be carried into operation by various groups of Balmacedistas, under regular captains, scattering themselves around the places to be assaulted and insinuating themselves into the public offices all ready to act in accord on receiving a preconcerted signal. The Government, which had information of the proposed attempt, was prepared, and when the several groups made their appearance captured a large number and dispersed the rest without bloodshed, with the exception of one policeman killed and one or two wounded.
Four of the piovinces, Santiago, Valparaiso, Aconcagua, and O’Higgins, were immediately declared in state of siege for thirty days, and a large number of arrests made throughout the city and also in Valparaiso.
On the night of the 8th instant a gentleman called at the legation to say that as it was known that the leaders, Messrs. Fuentes and Holley, against whom the public prosecutor had already demanded the sentence of death for their participation in the attempted uprising of the 11th December, would not submit to arrest without making resistance, positive instructions had been given the police to shoot them, and under the circumstances and in the name of humanity, he asked that I might afford them asylum in the legation. I considered that, in the circumstances stated, it was my duty to comply with the request and I received the two gentlemen in the legation where they now are.
In the absence of a regular ministry I went, accompanied by the secretary of the legation, to wait upon the President of the Republic yesterday morning, informed him of the facts of the case and solicited [Page 218]safe conducts to enable the refugees to go across the frontier. His excellency expressed himself pleased at, and he thanked me for my action in the matter, saying that if Messrs. Fuentes and Blanlot Holley had been captured they would, as a necessary consequence of what had taken place, have been severely dealt with, and that for his part, being anxious for the restoration of the public tranquillity, he would be glad to see them safely out of the country. Subsequently I had an interview with Señor Errazuriz, who I learned had consented together with the other ministers, to discharge the duties of the cabinet. That gentleman expressed the same views as those of the president, but before giving a final answer, requested time to consult his colleagues. At a later interview he stated that the request for safe conducts had been received in the most friendly spirit, but that some members of the cabinet desired, before taking final action, that the entire matter should be submitted to my own Government for its instructions in the premises. This I did by telegram on yesterday.
The minister explained to me that the idea which dictated the request for the submission of the question to the U. S. Government is that Messrs. Fuentes and Holley, being under accusation for participation in the attempted uprising of December 11, may be considered as not entitled to asylum in the legation. It must be remembered in reference to this point that no sentence has been pronounced against these gentlemen and that asylum was conceded by me solely on the ground of the imminent danger in which I had reason to believe their lives to be, owing to the violent passions aroused by the events of Saturday last, the 8th instant.
No difficulty can, I believe, arise from the arrangement of this question, as the matter is being treated in the most friendly spirit, and the President and a majority of the cabinet are very desirous to facilitate the exit of these gentlemen from the country.
I have, etc.,