Mr. Pringle to Mr. Gresham.

No. 77.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith decree No. 491 with translation. This is a very important decree, and I am sorry to say the translation is very poor. I had it done while I was away, and I have not had time to make another one.

This decree establishes the relations of foreigners residing in this Republic with this Government.

I would ask the Department carefully to consider this decree, as several of my colleagues have informed me that they were of the opinion that their Governments would not accept some of the clauses without protest.

I have, etc.,

D. Lynch Pringle.
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[Inclosure in No. 77—Translation.]

Decree No. 491.

Jose Maria Reina Barrios, President of the Republic of Guatemala,


The constant progress of all branches of human knowledge in which international law has taken so great a part has exerted great influence upon that branch of science whose object is to fix the individual and judicial condition of foreigners, doubtless because emigration from one country to another and the facility of communication has caused the necessity to be felt of determining the relations of foreigners toward the States in whose territory they settle;

Whereas there are, in our laws, certain isolated provisions relating to this matter, but no law in which the rights of foreigners, or the obligations imposed upon them, or the privileges reserved by the Government as regards them are consistently and definitely specified;

Whereas the State, within certain limits, has a perfect right and is entirely free to admit foreigners into its territory on such terms as may seem best adapted to conciliate conflicting interests, preserve order,” and secure the faithful execution of its laws;

Now, therefore, by virtue of the power in me vested, and with the approval of my cabinet, I hereby issue the following decree concerning foreigners:

Title I.

Sole Chapter.Who are foreigners.

Article 1. For the effects of this law the following persons are to be considered foreigners:

Persons born outside of Guatemalan territory, whose parents are not Guatemalans.

Legitimate children born outside of Guatemala of a foreign father and a Guatemalan mother.

Guatemalans who have forfeited their citizenship.

Those born outside of Guatemala of parents who have forfeited their citizenship.

A Guatemalan woman who is married to a foreigner and domiciled outside, of Guatemala.

Children of diplomatic ministers, although born in Guatemalan territory.

Art. 2. National vessels shall be considered as Guatemalan territory in determining the nationality of those born on board thereof.

Art. 3. The following persons shall be considered as naturalized Guatemalans:

Spanish Americans domiciled in the Republic who have not reserved their citizenship in the manner provided by article 87 of this act, in accordance with paragraph 1, article 7, of the constitution of the Republic.
Other foreigners who have received certificates of naturalization according to the provisions of this decree, and those of the constitution contained in article 7, paragraph 3. of that instrument.

Central Americans who make known to the authorities their desire to become naturalized in the manner provided by article 87 of this decree shall be considered as native Gautemalans according to article 6 of the constitution.

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Art. 4. A Guatemalan who has forfeited his citizenship by becoming naturalized in a foreign country (the same as the divorced wife of a foreigner, both residing outside of Guatemala), may regain his citizenship by making application, at any time, by renouncing the protection of the foreign flag and by having his declaration and renunciation recorded in the Civil Register.

The Government nevertheless reserves the privilege of deciding such cases as it may think proper.

Art. 5. The application referred to in the foregoing article must be made to the minister of foreign relations of the Republic, or to the diplomatic or consular agent of Guatemala in the place where the applicant resides.

Art. 6. Legitimate or illegitimate children of a Guatemalan father, born or living in a foreign country, when, according to the laws of the country of their birth, they have the privilege of choosing their citizenship, and elect to become Guatemalans, must inform the diplomatic or consular agent of Guatemala within one year from the day on which they become of age, or from that of their emancipation, whether they desire to become Guatemalan citizens, and the said diplomatic or consular officer shall in this, as in the former case, record it in the register of the legation or consulate under his charge, and report the fact immediately to the minister of foreign relations of the Republic.

Art. 7. A Guatemalan who has entered the military service of a a foreign country, or who has accepted a public office, or who has any supplementary jurisdiction without permission from the Government of Guatemala, shall be considered as a foreigner, but he may recover his Guatemalan citizenship by complying with the requirements of articles 4 and 5.

Art. 8. A Guatemalan naturalized in an another country shall, on returning to Guatemala, be subject to the obligations of his original citizenship; and the allegation that he has been naturalized in another country shall not exempt him from his obligations as a citizen of Guatemala.

Title II.

Chapter I.Classification of foreigners.

Art 9. Foreigners in Guatemala may be: (1) residents or domiciled persons; (2) nonresidents or sojourners, and (3) immigrants.

Art. 10. Foreigners may enter, reside, and settle freely in any part of the territory of Guatemala.

Art. 11. Civil rights are independent of citizenship.

Art. 12. The law recognizes no difference between a Guatemalan and a foreigner, as regards the acquisition and enjoyment of civil rights.

Art. 13. No inhabitant of Guatemala can be exempted from the fulfillment of obligations contracted in the Republic according to its laws.

Art. 14. Both Guatemalans and foreigners residing in Guatemala, or wherever they may be found, may be summoned to appear before the courts of the Republic for the performance of contracts concluded by them (even in a foreign country) in matters in which the laws of Guatemala permit them to contract.

Art. 15. Although a foreigner be absent from the country, he may be summoned to answer before its courts—

When an action is brought concerning property situated in Guatemala.
When a civil action is brought on account of any crime or misdemeanor committed by a foreigner in Guatemala.
When an obligation is concerned which has been contracted by a foreigner, in which it is stipulated that the courts of the Republic are to decide disputes relative thereto.

Art. 16. Whenever an obligation is concerned which has been contracted in a foreign country, the laws of the country in which it was contracted shall always serve for the judgment of the contract, so far as it is not prohibited by the laws of the Republic. The laws of Guatemala shall be paramount only when the contracting parties submit to them.

Art. 17. A Guatemalan woman married to a foreigner, or a foreign woman married to a Guatemalan, take the nationality of their respective husbands. If they become widows, the former recovers and the latter retains her Guatemalan nationality, provided they reside in the Republic.

Art. 18. The fulfillment of obligations contracted in a foreign country between foreigners not domiciled can not be demanded in Guatemala, unless they are willing to abide by the decision of the courts of the Republic.

Art. 19. A change of nationality or citizenship shall have no retroactive effect.

Chapter II.Inhabitants and non-residents.

Art. 20. The domicile of a person is the place where he usually resides; if he has no customary place of residence, it is his principal place of business; if he has neither, his domicile is considered to be the place where he is found.

Art. 21. The domicile of a minor child, not emancipated, is that of the person under whose guardianship he is.

Art. 22. The domicile of a minor child who is not under parental authority, and of a person of full age who is incapacitated, is that of his guardian.

Art. 23. The domicile of a married woman, if she is not separated from her husband, is his domicile; it she is separated from him, she is subject to the provisions of article 20.

Art. 24. Those who serve a person and live in his house, whether minors or of age, have the same domicile as the person whom they serve; but if they are minors, and own property that is in charge of a guardian, their domicile shall be that of their guardian, so far as their property is concerned.

Art. 25. The domicile of those who are serving out a sentence is the place where they are serving it, as regards their judicial relations subsequent to the sentence; as to their previous relations, they shall retain their last domicile. Those who are simply condemned to exile shall retain their former domicile.

Art. 26. The wife and children of a person sentenced to banishment, who do not accompany him to his place of exile, shall not have as their domicile that of the husband and father, but their own, according to the provisions of the foregoing articles.

Art. 27. The domicile of corporations, associations, and establishments recognized by law is the place where their principal office is situated, subject to the provisions of their statutes or by-laws, provided that the domicile therein designated is within the territory thereunto subject.

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Art. 28. When there are circumstances which constitute a civil domicile, as regards the same person in several localities, it is to be understood that such person has his domicile in all the localities concerned; but if things are concerned which imply special relation to one of the said localities, that locality alone shall, so far as such cases are concerned, be the civil domicile of the person.

Art. 29. A person is not presumed to have the intention of remaining, and does not, therefore, acquire civil domicile in a place from the mere fact of his having dwelt there for some time in his own house, or in that of another, if he has a domestic establishment elsewhere, or if it appears, from any other circumstance, that his residence is accidental, like that of a traveler, that of a person engaged in the performance of a temporary commission, or that of one doing business as a traveling vendor or commercial traveler.

Art. 30. No person shall prevent the inhabitants of any town from changing their residence.

Art. 31. The inhabitants of anyplace, be they native or foreign born, shall be liable to the charges and municipal taxes of their place of residence.

Art. 32. A transient person is one who is stopping temporarily in a place.

Art. 33. Transient persons shall not enjoy the rights or be subject to the charges to which residents are subject.

Art. 34. Foreigners who are not domiciled, and whose personal identity, together with the object of their being in the country, is not declared within three months, shall be considered as immigrants.

Title III.

Sole Chapter.Of registration and its effects.

Art. 35. The registration of foreigners consists of the inscription of their names and nationality in a book kept for that purpose at the ministry of foreign relations of the Republic.

Art. 36. A foreigner who desires to be registered, and who is at the capital of the Republic, must make application to the ministry of foreign relations or to the political chief of the proper department, furnishing evidence of his nationality, together with at least one of the documents hereinafter named:

A certificate from the diplomatic agent or from a consular officer accredited in the Republic, stating that the interested party is a native of the country represented by the aforesaid diplomatic agent or consular officer.
The passport with which the applicant has entered the Republic, authenticated in due form.
His certificate of naturalization, authenticated likewise; and only when sufficient evidence shall be presented of its destruction or loss, or to the effect that this document is not necessary according to the law of the country in which it should have been issued, shall other evidence of equal value be accepted to the effect that the interested party has legally obtained his alleged naturalization.

Art. 37. Nevertheless, in case of the party being placed on trial, the civil or executive authorities, or any person who is interested, may impugn those documents and prove their spuriousness, in case of necessity.

Art. 38. The evidence of the applicant’s nationality, together with his personal description, having been sent to the ministry of foreign [Page 321] relations by the proper officer, it shall there be registered, and a certificate to that effect shall be given to the foreigner on payment by him of one dollar, which shall be the sole registration fee.

Art. 39. Registration constitutes merely a legal presumption that the foreigner’s nationality is that which he claims, and proof to the contrary may be presented.

Art. 40. Registration may be proved by the certificate thereof, signed and issued by the minister of foreign relations, who alone has authority to sign and issue such certificates.

Art. 41. No magistrate or public officer shall recognize a person as being of any particular foreign nationality, unless such person shall present his certificate of registration.

Art. 42. A foreigner shall have the following rights:

The right to appeal to the treaties and conventions existing between Guatemala and his own nation.
The right to apply to his country for diplomatic protection, in accordance with the provisions of this decree.
The benefit of reciprocity.

Title IV.

Sole Chapter.Political status of foreigners.

Art 43. Foreigners residing in Guatemala as domiciled persons or sojourners (transients) shall have their rights guaranteed:

To the security and protection of their persons, property, dwelling, and correspondence in the same manner as native citizens.

To express and publish their views, subject to the limitations fixed by law, both by word of mouth and in writing. They may, moreover, be managers, owners, or responsible representatives of newspapers or periodicals of any kind whatever. They shall, however, in all cases, conform to the laws of the country, just as native citizens are required to do, and shall not be at liberty to appeal to diplomatic protection on account of the responsibilities that they may incur.

To address written petitions to the public authorities, just as is done by native Guatemalans to the authorities and their agents.

To the exercise of their religious worship according to the constitution, and with the limitations of universal morality and those established by the police regulations.

To have justice administered to them by the courts and authorities in such cases and in such ways as are provided for by the laws which define the competency of the said courts and authorities.

Art. 44. Inasmuch as these privileges are attributes of (Guatemalan) nationality, no foreigner shall be a voter or be eligible to any public office whose incumbent is chosen by the popular vote; exercise judicial functions or those auxiliary thereto; hold any canonically conferred ecclesiastical office without having been specially authorized to do so by the Guatemalan Government, it being understood that when a foreigner makes such an application, and it is granted by the Government, such foreigner renounces the protection of his country, so far as the discharge of the duties of his office are concerned.

Art. 45. They shall not be at liberty to practice professions for which a professional title is required, without first having gone through the course of study required by the law concerning public instruction or by the treaties; the Government may, however, freely authorize foreigners to fill positions as professors in universities and as teachers in high [Page 322] schools, as well as to practice professions not yet established in the Republic, when the propriety of so doing is manifest owing to the excellent records and high attainments of such foreigners.

Art. 46. In order to determine the obligations of foreigners with respect to military service, the following is to be borne in mind: That all persons are to be held to the strict performance of such service who, having a right on attaining their majority, to make choice of a foreign nationality, shall fail to exhibit to the civil or military authorities of the Republic documents showing that they have fulfilled said obligation in the country of their choice (option) or that they have been exempted therefrom on account of some cause that, according to Guatemalan law, is sufficient.

Title V.

Chapter I.—Of the civil status of foreigners.

Art. 47. Foreigners shall enjoy in Guatemala all the civil rights that the laws grant to Guatemalans.

Corporations, establishments, and associations recognized by law shall be considered as legal persons for the exercise of said rights.

Art. 48. The laws of Guatemala are binding upon all who are in Guatemalan territory, without distinction of nationality. The status and capacity of persons, together with their family relations, shall be regulated by the laws of the nation to which they belong.

Art. 49. In no case shall the laws, contracts, or sentences of a foreign country, or arrangements and private agreements annul the prohibitory laws of the Republic which relate to persons, property, or contracts, or those which in anywise relate to public order and good morals.

Art. 50. Foreign persons shall enjoy all family rights; they may, consequently, constitute a family and contract marriage in Guatemala with other foreigners or with natives.

Chapter II.—Of marriages.

Art. 51. A marriage contracted between two foreigners, outside of Guatemalan territory, that is valid according to the laws Of the country in which it was contracted, shall be fully valid in Guatemala.

Art. 52. Marriages are valid when contracted between foreigners or between a foreigner and a Guatemalan, both of whom reside in the country, according to the laws of their respective nations. Consequently, such marriages shall have the civil effects that are recognized by this law in respect to marriages contracted by natives of the same country, according to the civil code.

Art. 53. A marriage contracted in a foreign country between Guatemalans, or between a Guatemalan and a foreign woman, or between a foreigner and a Guatemalan woman, shall likewise have the proper civil effects in the national territory, if it is shown that it was solemnized in the form and in compliance with the requirements established by law in the locality in which it took place, and that the Guatemalan has not violated the provisions of the civil code relative to the capacity to contract marriage and to the consent of the ascendants or of the person from whom it is proper to obtain it.

Art. 54. In urgent cases, in which it is impossible to apply to the authorities of the Republic, consent may be given by the minister or consul residing in the place where the marriage is to take place, or by [Page 323] the nearest one, if there is none in the said place, the minister always to be preferred to the consul.

Art. 55. In case of danger of speedy death in a place where there is no minister or consul, the marriage shall be valid provided it be satisfactorily shown that such danger existed, and that there was no minister or consul in the place.

Art. 56. For the contracting of marriage the law of the nation of the foreigners who are about to contract it shall determine the age at which this can be done by the persons who are to give their consent, and shall define the impediments that may bar it.

Art. 57. In all cases the prohibitory provisions shall be observed which, according to Guatemalan law, are a bar to the solemnization of the marriage, for reasons of morality or public order, on account of relationship, or the legal dissolution of previous bonds.

Art. 58. The disqualifications recognized in some countries on account of political proscription or trial for and conviction of crime shall not be considered as impediments to marriage.

Art. 59. When the contracting parties are foreigners and have not resided in Guatemala for two years they shall be required to show, by a certificate of the competent officer, according to the laws of their country, duly authenticated, and with all the requisites which, according to Guatemalan law, are necessary to make it authentic and valid, that, notice of the marriage which they propose to contract has been published, with all the necessary formalities, in the country in which they had their domicile or residence during the year previous to their coming to Guatemala. They shall in all cases show, by means of an authentic document, that they are at liberty to contract marriage.

Art. 60. A foreigner who has been legally divorced in his own country may lawfully contract a new civil marriage in Guatemala, according to decree No. 484.

Art. 61. A marriage contracted outside of Guatemala by foreigners according to the laws of their nation shall have, in Guatemala, all the effects of a lawful marriage.

Art. 62. A marriage contracted in a foreign country by a Guatemalan and a foreign woman, or vice versa, shall be valid in Guatemala, provided that in its solemnization the laws were observed that are established in the country in which it took place for regulating the external forms of the contract, and provided that the contracting parties had a right to contract marriage according to the laws of Guatemala.

Art. 63. A marriage solemnized in a foreign country may be proved by any means of proof, if, in the country in which it was solemnized, the registration of marriages is not required by law.

Art. 64. The marriages of foreigners must be recorded in the civil register of the proper municipality when the contracting parties or their descendants remove to Guatemala.

Art. 65. Sentences shall likewise be recorded whereby marriages are declared to be null and void, or married persons are declared to be divorced.

Art. 66. The laws of the country of the married persons shall determine their respective capacity for such civil acts as are consequent upon marriage.

Art. 67. It shall be understood that the matrimonial régime, in default of an explicit agreement, is that which is recognized by the nation to which the contracting parties belong.

Art. 68. If marriage has been contracted between a Guatemalan and a foreign woman, or between a Guatemalan woman and a foreigner, and [Page 324] no stipulation has been made by them with regard to their property, it shall be understood when the husband is a Guatemalan that he marries under the régime of common property, and when the wife is a Guatemalan woman that she marries under the régime of the common law in the country of her husband; and as regards the property, the fundamental law shall govern.

Art. 69. The legitimacy of the children of foreigners shall be determined by the laws of their country, which shall also regulate the rights of parental authority.

Art. 70. Foreigners in the full enjoyment of their civil rights may recognize their natural children, be guardians and proguardians, if they reside in Guatemala, of their relatives within the fourth civil degree, and adopt and be adopted by other foreigners or by native Guatemalans; but whenever these acts affect a Guatemalan they shall be governed by Guatemalan law as regards all their effects.

Title VI.

Sole Chapter.Concerning diplomatic intervention.

Art. 71. The intervention of a foreign Government in behalf of its citizens, either directly or through its diplomatic or consular agents, is admissible and proper only in case of denial of justice or of willful delay in its administration after all the usual means established by law have been exhausted.

Art. 72. There is denial of justice when a judicial magistrate refuses to make a formal declaration in regard to the principal matter or any of the incidents of a case which he is trying or which is submitted to him for examination, or when any law has clearly and undoubtedly been violated, and all legal means of redress having been exhausted, it has not been possible to secure a reversal of the decision or reparation of the damage done, it being understood that the mere fact that a decision is not favorable to a claimant does not constitute a denial of justice.

Art. 73. Delay in the administration of justice is not willful when the judge bases it upon some reason of law or upon some impediment which it is impossible for him to overcome.

Art. 74. When a complaint is laid before the Government for denial of justice or on the ground of its administration being willfully delayed, it must be conclusively shown that those offenses have actually been committed in notorious violation of the laws of the country, and that adequate and sufficient petitions and arguments have been presented and that suitable means have been used for the purpose of securing a judicial correction of those offenses or lawful redress for the injury which has thereby been caused, and that such efforts have not effected a discontinuance of the denial of justice, or of the willful delay in its administration, and have not secured reparation for the injuries resulting therefrom.

Art. 75. A foreigner bringing a civil action against the Republic for injuries done him, for condemnation of property, or for the acts of public officers, shall, before appealing to the Government, lay his case before the proper court, that it may be tried and decided in the manner provided by law.

Art. 76. In order to answer the complaint—and they shall act as parties to the suit in all its stages—the assistant district attorney in this city shall be summoned, or the collectors of internal revenue in those departments where there is no special representatives of the [Page 325] public exchequer. The officer or officers shall likewise be summoned against whom is brought the charge which originated the action, and he or they may be present at all proceedings if they consider this to be their interest.

Art. 77. An extract from the complaint, signed by the clerk of the court, in which shall be given the name, surname, and domicile of the plaintiff, the amount claimed, and a brief statement of the facts in the case, shall be immediately published in some newspaper printed in the chief town of the department, if any is printed there; and if there is none, in some of those printed in the nearest town. This shall be published at the expense of the plaintiff.

Art. 78. Any citizen who is not debarred from so doing by any legal impediment may appear as a party opposing the action brought, in addition to the persons mentioned in article 76.

Art. 79. In these suits the testimony of witnesses shall not be admitted as evidence unless it is shown that the officer who caused the injury or condemnation refused to give suitable documentary evidence thereof, or unless it shall appear evident, from the nature and circumstances of the case, that it was absolutely impossible to obtain such documentary evidence.

Art. 80. In order to make better provision, the court may cause all such probatory measures to be taken as may best conduce to the establishment of the truth.

Art. 81. A plaintiff who shall have manifestly exaggerated the amount of the damages or injuries suffered shall be liable to the payment of a fine equal to 25 per cent of the sum claimed, and shall also be Liable to have any other civil or criminal action brought against him that may result from the suit. It shall be the duty of the judge executing the sentence to collect the fine, for which purpose he may resort to coercive measures. If an indeterminate value is claimed in the suit, the plaintiff, in the cases mentioned in this article, shall be required to pay a fine of not less than five hundred nor more than a thousand dollars. In case of the plaintiffs insolvency, he shall be imprisoned one day for each dollar that he fails to pay.

Art. 82. In no case shall it be claimed that the Nation is under obligations to pay for damages, injuries, or condemnations that have not been done or executed by the legitimate authorities or their agents, acting in their public character.

Art. 83. All persons, not holding official positions, who shall order contributions or forced loans, or who shall commit acts of spoliation of any kind whatever, and also those who shall obey such orders, shall be responsible to the parties injured, both directly and personally, with their property.

Art. 84. The Government shall order the payment of such sums as the courts may decide to be the amount of the damages and injuries done, provided that a copy be presented, in due form, of the judicial decision declaring that the public treasury is bound to pay the indemnity asked for.

Art. 85. The Nation shall assert its right to cause the responsible officer to refund to the public treasury the amount that it shall have disbursed by reason of the condemnatory sentence pronounced in favor of the claimant.

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Title VII.

Sole Chapter.Naturalization of foreigners.

Art. 86. In order to become naturalized, according to paragraph 3, article 7, of the constitution of the Republic, the following shall be the proper mode of procedure: A person desiring to become naturalized must furnish evidence to the political chief of the department that he has resided in the Republic for two years; that his conduct has been good, and that he has an income, profession, art, trade, or other proper means of earning his livelihood. The evidence on these points maybe either documentary or furnished by the testimony of one or more witnesses. The papers in the case having been prepared, the political chief shall send them to the department of foreign relations, and when the application shall have been examined, the President of the Republic shall issue an order granting naturalization if the conditions required shall have been complied with. The order having been issued, a copy of it shall be sent to the officer having charge of the Civil Register, so that he may record it, as required by law.

Art. 87. In order to make the reservation regarding nationality which is mentioned in article 7 of the constitution of the Republic and the statement referred to in article 6 of that instrument, the interested parties shall apply, in writing, to the departmental political chiefs, who, after having caused them to ratify their applications, shall send the latter to the department of foreign relations, which shall issue the proper certificate on payment of one dollar, which payment shall cover all charges except that for the stamped paper used. This certificate, in order to have proper legal effect, must be recorded in the Civil Register.

Art. 88. Any foreigner, without distinction of origin, may be naturalized in accordance with the provisions of article 86.

Art. 89. Naturalization may be express, tacit, or presumptive.

Art. 90. Certificates of naturalization are divided into two classes, viz, concessory and declarative certificates. By the former, naturalization is expressly, granted; the latter contains a declaration that the parties interested have become naturalized according to law, owing to their having complied with certain requirements, or, what amounts to the same thing, they contain a declaration of tacit naturalization.

Art. 91. A certificate declarative of tacit naturalization is retroactive in its effects to the time when the loyal act was consummated which effected the change of nationality; whereas a concessory certificate produces its effects on and after the day of its issue.

Art. 92. No certificate of naturalization can be granted to a subject of a nation that is at war with Guatemala, or to a person who is reputed to be or who has been legally convicted, in any country, of being a pirate, a slave trader, an incendiary, a poisoner, a parricide, or a counterfeiter of coin or bank notes, or of other paper serving as a substitute for coin.

Art. 93. Tacit naturalization is secured—

By not making the reservation referred to in paragraph 1, article 7, of the constitution of the Republic.
By accepting one of those public offices which are reserved for Guatemalans.

Art. 94. A naturalized person acquires all the rights and contracts all the obligations of Guatemalans, unless such rights and obligations are excepted in the following articles:

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Title VII.

Sole Chapter.Concerning expulsion.

Art. 95. The territory of Guatemala is an asylum for all foreigners.

Art. 96. The Government exercises over foreigners all the rights of inspection and vigilance which belong to it, according to the laws and police regulations, which foreigners, without exception, are required to obey.

Art. 97. If foreigners who have taken refuge in Guatemala shall (misusing the right of asylum) conspire against the country or endeavor to overthrow or modify its institutions, or to disturb in any way the public tranquillity and peace of a friendly nation, the Government may order their expulsion from the national territory.

Art. 98. Foreigners who, not having permission from the Government to remain in the country as domiciled persons, shall fail to furnish evidence that they possess adequate means of subsistence, may be sent to the frontier of the country from which they come, or put on board of a vessel in one of the ports of the Republic.

Art. 99. A foreigner temporarily residing in the country, or an immigrant, who endangers public tranquillity by his conduct, or who has been prosecuted for or convicted in another country of one of the crimes or offenses for which extradition is granted, may be compelled by the Government to leave a determinate place, or to reside in such place as may be assigned to him, and finally to leave the Republic.

Art. 100. An immigrant who, being unable to identify himself, shall be guilty of falsehood in stating his name and circumstances may be expelled from the territory of Guatemala by order of the President of the Republic, as may be any person presenting fraudulent documents for the purpose of identification.

Art. 101. Political chiefs and municipal alcaldes shall take care that indigent foreigners, and also those who are sick and in need, be always assisted by the charitable establishments and board under their control, and they shall in all cases, acting in concert with the consular officers of the nation to which such foreigners belong, take proper measures to return them to the country whence they came.

Art. 102. The same course is to be pursued in the case of abandoned children, the offspring of foreigners. In such cases the effort, shall always be made to reconcile the interests of good order and a proper police system with the sacred duties of humanity.

Art. 103. Decisions respecting sick and indigent foreigners and foreign children who have been abandoned shall always be brought to the knowledge of the proper consular officer, who shall be requested to take charge of persons belonging to the former of the above-mentioned classes of persons, on his own responsibility.

Art. 104. If a foreign government shall request, on grounds considered sufficient, the internment of one of its subjects who resides in a town or locality near to the frontier of such country, the Government of Guatemala may intern him, and designate as his residence such place or territory as it may think proper.

Art. 105. Only in exceptional cases connected with the preservation of public order can foreigners be expelled who are married to Guatemalan women, and who have resided in the country for a period exceeding five years. The same rule applies to those whose option of nationality is still pending.

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Art. 106. The person whom the order of expulsion concerns shall in all cases be notified thereof, and at least twenty-four hours shall be allowed him in which to obey it. The procedure in cases of expulsion is simply executive.

Art. 107. In case of disobedience, the public force shall proceed to effect the expulsion, and if the expelled person shall return to the territory of Guatemala he shall be tried by the courts of the Republic and shall be punished for, disobedience, in pursuance of article 142 of the Penal Code; but when he shall have paid or served out the penalty to which he shall have been sentenced, he may again be expelled from the territory of the Republic, to which end the judge who shall have tried the case shall take care to notify the minister of the interior in due time and through the proper channel.

Title IX.

Art. 108. The purchase of wild lands in territory on the frontier is absolutely prohibited to the native citizens of nations bordering on Guatemala, and to those who have become naturalized therein.

Art. 109. A foreigner who is allowed by law to purchase wild lands may preempt a number of caballerias1 not exceeding fifteen; in no case, however, shall he be allowed to transfer his property, or any real estate that he may have acquired in the Republic, to any foreign government.

Title X.

Chapter I.Concerning criminal cases.

Art. 110. The laws relating to police and public safety are subject to no exception whatever, and are binding upon all persons residing within the territory of the State. Foreigners are, therefore, amenable to the laws and courts of Guatemala for any crimes that they may commit within the territory of Guatemala.

Art. 111. The following persons are excepted from the provisions of the foregoing article: Princes of reigning families, Presidents or Chief Magistrates of other countries, ambassadors, ministers plenipotentiary, ministers resident, chargés d’affaires, and foreigners who are permanently employed at legations. Such persons, when they commit a crime, shall be placed at the disposal of their respective governments.

Art. 112. Cognizance of crimes whose commission has been begun in Guatemala, and consummated or frustrated in foreign countries, shall be taken by the courts and judges of Guatemala, in case the acts perpetrated in Guatemala constitute crimes in themselves, and only with respect to such crimes.

Art. 113. Foreigners shall be tried by the judges and courts of the Republic when they shall have committed one of the following crimes outside of the territory of the nation: A crime against the independence of the Republic, the integrity of its territory, its form of government, its tranquillity, its internal or external safety, or against the chief magistrate of the State, or the crime of forging the signature of the President of the Republic or of the ministers of state, or of counterfeiting the public seals, the legal coin of Guatemala, the paper money of Guatemala which legally is in circulation, bonds, certificates, or other documents [Page 329] of the national public credit, or notes issued by a bank doing business in the Republic in pursuance of its laws and authorized to issue such notes, and also the crime of introducing such counterfeit papers or money into the Republic and circulating the same therein.

Art. 114. If persons guilty of the crimes enumerated in the foregoing article shall have been acquitted or punished in a foreign country, their cases shall not be reopened, provided that (in the latter case) they shall have suffered the full penalty to which they were sentenced. The same shall be the case if they have been pardoned, except when they have been guilty of the crime of treason. If they have suffered a part of the penalty, allowance therefor shall be made, and it shall be deducted from that which they would otherwise have to suffer.

Art. 115. The provisions of the foregoing articles apply to foreigners who have committed any of the crimes therein enumerated, when they are apprehended in Guatemalan territory or when their extradition is obtained.

Art. 116. The following persons shall also be tried by the judges and courts of the Republic, unless there is something to prevent in the existing international treaties:

Foreigners who commit a crime on the high seas on board of a Guatemalan vessel.
Foreigners who commit a crime on board of a foreign merchant vessel anchored in a Guatemalan port, or being in the territorial waters of the Republic, unless such crime is committed by a person belonging to the crew against another member of the same crew.
Foreigners, members of the crew of a foreign merchant vessel, even though they have committed a crime against a person belonging to the same crew, if the aid of the Guatemalan authorities is asked for on board of the vessel, or when the tranquillity of the port is endangered by the perpetration of the crime.
Foreigners who have committed against Guatemalans, in a foreign country, the crime of arson, murder, robbery, or any other for which the perpetrator is extraditable, provided that a charge has been made by a person having a legal right to make charges.

Art. 117. The ordinary courts are competent to take coguizance of offenses committed by foreigners, and the judges of the place where they are committed shall be the only ones having authority to try their perpetrator.

Art. 118. Foreigners may enter a complaint on account of offenses committed against their persons or property, or the property of those whom they represent, security always being furnished previously, the amount of which shall be fixed by the competent court or judge, subject to such exceptions as may be authorized by treaty or by the principle of reciprocity.

Art. 119. The statements of foreigners who are brought to trial, and who are ignorant of the Spanish language or those of witnesses who are unable to express themselves in Spanish, shall be made through a sworn interpreter, and the questions and answers shall be recorded in the national language and in that of the prisoner or the witness making the statement. When this is not possible, the papers containing the questions and answers shall be sent to the office of the official translator.

Art. 120. In no case shall the sentences pronounced by foreign courts be executed in Guatemala, nor shall they occasion the additional punishment curtailed by a repetition of the offense.

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letters rogatory.

Art. 121. Letters rogatory to foreign courts shall always be sent through the diplomatic channel, or through such channel and in such form as may be expressly established by treaty.

The principle of reciprocity must govern in all cases. These same rules shall be observed in complying in Guatemala with the requests made in letters rogatory of foreign courts whereby it is asked that some judicial act be performed.

Art. 122. The legations shall guarantee to the ministry of the interior and of justice the payment of the expenses that may be caused by criminal prosecutions instituted either ex officio, or at the instance of a party declared indigent. The legations shall not transmit letters rogatory of foreign authorities, unless the payment of the expenses that may be caused by compliance with the requests therein contained, in such manner as may be agreed upon with the government of the country, shall be guaranteed.

Chapter II.The administration of justice as regards foreigners.

Art. 123. Foreigners are subject to the laws and courts of Guatemala in all suits brought by them or against them to enforce the fulfillment of obligations contracted in or out of Guatemala in favor of Guatemalans, or having reference, in general, to property or to the ownership of anything valuable in the territory of Guatemala.

Art. 124. The Guatemalan courts shall likewise be competent, and it shall be their duty to take cognizance of such suits between foreigners as may be brought before them, and as may have reference to the fulfillment of obligations contracted or performable in Guatemala, or when it is so provided by treaty.

Art. 125. In all other matters in which foreigners are concerned, the courts of Guatemala shall alone be competent to adopt urgent and provisional measures of precaution and safety.

Art. 126. The provisions established by the rules of competency in civil matters are applicable to foreigners when they have recource to the judges and courts of Guatemala, soliciting acts of voluntary jurisdiction, taking part therein or appearing in court as plaintiffs or defendants against Guatemalans or against other foreigners, when it is proper for the courts of Guatemala to take cognizance according to the laws of the Republic or its treaties with other powers.

Art. 127. Foreigners against whom legal proceedings are instituted, shall, when this is necessary, enjoy the benefit of poverty for purposes of litigation. The same benefit shall be enjoyed by foreigners instituting legal proceedings, if reciprocity is granted to Guatemalans in their country.

Art. 128. If the plaintiff is a foreigner, he shall be obliged to furnish, if the defendant shall demand it in limine litis, the security judicatum solvi as a guarantee of his solvency; in default thereof, a delay shall be granted in such cases and in such manner as are required of Guatemalans in the country of the plaintiff.

In no case shall such security be required in commercial matters.

Art. 129. The provisions which govern commercial matters are applicable to all persons engaged in trade, without distinction or privilege by reason of nationality.

Art. 130. The law of the place where a juridical act has been performed shall determine the methods of proof of which a foreigner must make use before the courts in order to show the existence of such act. [Page 331] From this rule are excepted acts and contracts relating to real property situated in the Republic of Guatemala, which shall be governed by the laws of Guatemala exclusively.

final provision.

Art. 131. The provisions of this law shall in no wise impair the immunities and guarantees which are secured to diplomatic and consular officers by international law and by the treaties or conventions which the Government has concluded; nor shall they impair the rights granted by such treaties in particular to foreigners of a determinate nation.

  • Jose Maria Reina Barrios.
  • Manuel Estrado C.,
    Secretary of State in the Department of the Interior and of Justice.
  • J. M. Gonzalez,
    Secretary of State in the Department of Public Works.
  • Manuel Cabral,
    Secretary of State in the Department of Public Instruction.
  • Salvador Herrera,
    Secretary of State in the Department of Finance and Public Credit.
  • Ramon A. Salazar,
    Secretary of State in the Department of Foreign Relations.
  1. A caballeria of land is equal to about thirty-three and one-third acres.