Mr. Terres to Mr. Foster.
Fort au Prince, Haiti, November 18, 1892. (Received December 2.)
Sir: I beg leave to report to you the following facts regarding the arrest and imprisonment of Mr. Frederick Mevs, one of our citizens residing and doing business in this city.
On Saturday night last, the 12th instant, at 10 o’clock, I was telephoned to by Mr. Eugene Mevs, informing me that his brother Frederick had been arrested and sent to prison without any just cause, and would I please look into the matter and obtain his release as soon as possible. On Sunday morning he called on me and explained to me the cause of the arrest of his brother. I went immediately to see the minister of foreign affairs, arriving at his private residence about 10 o’clock. I explained the case to him and asked that he would please give it his attention, telling him that Mr. Mevs had been placed in a dirty, filthy cell among all classes of criminals, and as far as I could learn, without any just cause. He promised me that he would give it his attention, saying at the same time that he did not think that anything could be done until Monday morning, 14th, but at that time he would have the case attended to. I awaited on Monday up to 3:30 o’clock. I then telephoned the minister and asked what steps had been taken in the affair. He replied that he had been very busy all day and had not had the time to attend to it, but that he would immediately give the case his attention. I thanked him, and at the same time asked to have Mr. Mevs released during the afternoon, to which he replied that he would.
I awaited up to 12 o’clock on Tuesday, receiving no reply. In the meantime the inclosed protest was sent to me, telling me that he (Mr. Mevs) was still in prison, and that according to the Haitian laws, which demand that a person imprisoned should be interrogated within forty-eight hours after confinement, had not been fulfilled. Taking in consideration the steps that I had taken and that no attention had been paid to it by the minister, I decided to send a dispatch, of which inclosure 2 is a copy, which I did at 12 o’clock on Tuesday. Up to the present-Friday, 18th, 3 p.m.—I have received no reply to my dispatch, and nothing has been done with the prisoner. He remains still confined in prison, without being interrogated to see whether or not he is guilty of the charge made against him.
Mr. Mevs is a member of an American firm of Boston (Green, Kenaebel & Co.), doing quite a large business in this city. They pay to the Haitian Government at least $75,000 a year customs duties, and it is too absurd to think that a member of a respectable firm would attempt to smuggle an article on which the duties, according to the Haitian tariff, would be $2. It is only a pretext to show their animosity against an American. The night of his arrest Mr. Mevs offered the commissaire [Page 356] of the Government $200 as a deposit for his appearance the next day. The reply was, “No; not for a million,” and he was sent to prison.
Inclosure No. 3 is the copy of a protest just received from Mr. Mevs.
I deem it my duty to present this case to the Department as it now stands, respectfully awaiting any instructions it may deem fit to give on the subject.
I have, etc.,