Mr. Hicks to Mr. Gresham.

No. 485.]

Sir: Referring to my No. 482, of April 3, I have to say that on the 5th instant the official report of the acting consular agent at Mollendo was received, giving full particulars of the riot and attack on the consular agency of the United States on the 25th ultimo. I at once directed to the minister of foreign affairs a note calling attention to the serious feature of the affair—that while the mob was primarily a domestic affair with which I had nothing to do, yet where the sanctity of the consular agency of the United States was invaded and its acting consular agent wounded in defense of the office, it became a grave international offense, which was heightened by the presence of Peruvian gendarmes, who made no attempt to defend the consular agency or repress the riot.

On the same day I had transmitted to the Department a telegram containing a brief account of the affair, and on the 6th instant I received a reply from the Department, directing me to make a protest and, if the facts were well established, to ask an expression of regret and an assurance that the guilty parties would be punished and reparation would be made.

Inasmuch as my note of the 5th to the foreign office, while not couched in the form of a protest, practically answered the purpose, I decided [Page 512]to await the reply of the minister before communicating with him further. I was induced to this course by an informal notice from the foreign office to the effect that the minister in reply to my note would concede exactly the points which I was directed by the Department to request.

Late on the evening of the 8th instant I was waited upon by a clerk from the foreign office who presented the reply of Doctor Don Cesareo Chacaltana to my note. As I had anticipated, the minister regrets the incident, which is distinctly disavowed by the Government. He also announces that the subprefect in charge at Mollendo has been removed and will be submitted to an examination so that his guilt or responsibility may be determined, and that all the parties concerned in the affair are to be prosecuted and reparation will be made to the victims. The note is expressed in friendly terms and I think was written in a genuine spirit of equity and good feeling toward the United States.

As soon as I could make a translation of the minister’s note, I dispatched to the Department a telegram stating the receipt of the note, and that in my opinion it fully met the purposes of a protest, and declaring that, unless the Department directed otherwise, I did not now consider any protest necessary.

I shall wait a reasonable time for further advice by telegram from the Department, and then nothing further having been received, I shall reply to the minister, expressing my satisfaction at the prompt and voluntary apology and promise of reparation which he has given, and the hope that the incident may be closed to the mutual satisfaction of both countries.

I append in this connection a copy of the correspondence, with a translation of the minister’s note, as well as a copy of the telegrams sent by the legation to the Department, and the telegram received by this legation from the Department.

I have, etc.,

John Hicks.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 485.]

Mr. Meier to Mr. Daugherty.

Dear Sir: By cable you will have been informed, no doubt, of the disturbances that occurred at this port Saturday night (25th instant), during which I unfortunately was wounded in the leg by a bullet, in my attempts to extinguish the lire that threatened to declare itself in the balcony of the adjoining house. Fortunately this could be avoided.

My wound is not very serious, and I have been allowed to leave the bed to-day, hoping to be able to walk in a few days more.

My house and office, which is next to the one where the lodge was assembled, has been nearly completely destroyed, and my iron safe was intended to be broken, but proved too much for them. The archives of the consulate were of no interest to the mob and have not suffered.

If nothing further happens I do not intend to make a claim of any importance, but trust that as well yourself as Mr. Hicks will assist me to be refunded by the Government for the actual damage suffered.

During the outrage of the mob there were stationed eight soldiers with a major in front of the people, as it seemed protecting them, and with strict orders from the subprefect not to interfere, according to the explanation of the officer on being called upon to avoid such excesses.

Unfortunately we are exposed to much more serious occurrences. The urban guard that was formed has been disbanded by order of the prefect of Arequipa [Page 513]and with the threat “to he dissolved by firing on them” added by the subprefect here.

The prisoners taken by the judge, who understands the matter, were put into liberty by the subprefect, and this model authority appears to remain in his place.

In sight of these facts we can not know what remains in store for Mollendo, and being without any guaranty of life or property, we must look for help from our representatives in Lima and Callao. A cablegram will most likely be sent to this effect to-day by the consular body here.

Excuse the hurry I am writing in, and believe me,

Yours, most truly,

Enrique Meier,
Acting Consular Agent.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 485.]

Mr. Hicks to Señor Chacaltana.

Mr. Minister: It is with feelings of regret that I am compelled to lay before your excellency an official report from the acting consular agent of the United States at Mollendo, Mr. Enrique Meier. This report presents the details of a most distressing event, in which the sanctity of the American consular agency seems to have been grossly violated by a mob, the property of the acting consular agent destroyed, and his person put in jeopardy, even to the extent of gunshot wounds. According to the said report this unfortunate outbreak took place in the presence of the official representatives of the Government of Peru, that is, the gensd’armes, under command of an official of the army, all said to be acting under the order of the subprefect. It is said that these officials, instead of quelling the mob and affording protection to the defenseless victims, actually aided the rioters in their work and thus for the time gave official approval to the outrage.

So far as the riot was concerned in its relations generally to the parties attacked I have nothing to say, further than to express the regret which all good citizens must feel at such an unfortunate occurrence. But when the consular representative of the United States is maltreated and the consular building, bearing the shield of the United States, is invaded, insulted, and its contents partially destroyed, contrary to the spirit of good will existing between two friendly nations, the affair becomes one of grave international importance, especially when these unfortunate acts seem to have been committed under official sanction. I have felt it my duty to transmit to my Government a report of the occurrence by cable, and I shall also send by mail a copy of the report of the consular agent and of this note to your excellency.

I need not assure your excellency that in so doing I am actuated only by a sense of responsibility to my Government, and personally I have no doubt that your excellency’s Government will as soon as practicable favor me with a full explanation of this most deplorable affair, which I will be most happy to transmit to my Government.

I am, etc.,

John Hicks.
[Inclosure 3 in No. 485.—Translation.]

Señor Chacaltana to Mr. Hicks.

Mr. Minister: The undersigned has received the courteous note of your excellency dated the 5th instant, referring to the event which occurred in Mollendo on the 25th of March last, and the inclosed copy of the report sent to your legation by Mr. Henry Meier, acting consular agent of the United States at that place.

Your excellency represents that the immunity of the said consular agency has been violated, the property of the consular agent has been destroyed, and the life of the consular agent has been put in danger; that officer having been wounded by a bullet in the leg. Your excellency adds that these acts of injustice having [Page 514]occurred in the presence of the gens d’armes and the officer acting under the orders of the subprefect, it would seem that they were in a certain sense authorized.

Your excellency considers that these acts become invested with a grave international importance when considered as outrages, violations, and insults consummated on the person of the consular representative of the United States, and on the habitation of that official, expressing a contempt for the relations which exist between two friendly nations. Your excellency announces that you have forwarded to your Government a report of these transactions, and you conclude by expressing the hope that my Government will furnish a detailed explanation of these deplorable events.

The Government of the undersigned, moved to-day as always by the spirit of a just and elevated policy in its relations with friendly powers, does not hesitate to furnish to your excellency the explanation which you solicit, and it does this with great pleasure, not only suggesting the most efficacious means of repairing the injury but with the constant purpose which it has to give confidence to its own citizens and to foreigners, and especially to the official agents of friendly states, by the earnest efforts which it displays to make effective the sacred guarantees of universal laws and the laws of the country.

It follows, then, that the Government of the undersigned would have been the first to deplore the riot at Mollendo, and the consequent outrages which followed, for these events merit, from the beginning, its most explicit reprobation. It decided to dictate the necessary measures, within the sphere of its constitutional powers, to punish the guilty and to provide just reparation to the injured. The Government resolved, in fact, when the first intelligence was received of these events, to order the prosecution of the authors and accomplices in the mob, as well as the assailants of the house of the consular agent of the United States. It resolved, likewise, to put in exercise the powers which the law gives it to prosecute the case with all the activity called for by the satisfaction due to those persons whose guarantees were trampeled upon.

In regard to the attitude taken by the police force, the Government is without sufficient data to enable it to accept the theory that the police were the accomplices of the assailants. The subprefect of the province, under whose orders it was, in his official report of the affair, which he has sent in, explains the passive attitude of his subordinates by their reduced number, and states that in his belief they were powerless to contend against the crowd.

The Government of the undersigned, nevertheless, inspired by the necessity of a better and clearer statement of the facts, decided to order that the subprefect should be submitted to trial in order that his conduct and responsibility should be thoroughly ventilated and that in the meantime he should be suspended from the duties of his office.

The Government of the undersigned, painfully impressed by the affair at Mollendo, has deplored in a special manner the incident affecting the consular representatives of the United States and the building in which is situated his office. The undersigned is very glad, however, to remind your excellency that in this affair the tumult and disorder were not inspired by a spirit of hostility against the consular representative of the United States. The outbreak was caused in the beginning by motives and tendencies of an entirely different spirit and one which implied not the slightest feeling of antagonism to the good and loyal friendship of Peru toward the country which your excellency so worthily represents. The injury to the consular functionary and his office was almost incidental. It occurred in the midst of disorder and was brought about solely by the proximity of the office to the building which was the direct object of attack. It was committed by a group of persons whose actions had merited in every case the reprobation of the Peruvian society and the Peruvian Government. Animated always by a desire to strengthen the bonds of friendship with the nation and with the Government of the United States, such acts have not received for a single instant, nor can they receive, official sanction.

With these considerations in view, your excellency can be assured that the events referring to the consular agent of the United States in Mollendo, and the measures adopted by the Government of the undersigned, can not weaken the bonds of reciprocal affection which have existed between the two countries for so many years.

The Government of the undersigned, yielding to the inspirations and to the highest interests of justice, has been moved, as can be seen, to take measures for the clearing up of these acts, for the punishment of the guilty, and the consequent reparation due to those, like the consular agent of the United States, who have been the victims, of the outbreak.

I am, etc.,

Cesareo Chacaltana.