Mr. Baker to Mr. Gresham.

No. 121.]

(Received November 13.)

Sir: I carried out my intention of leaving San Jose, Costa Rica, on the evening of the 18th, reaching Punta Arenas on the evening of the 20th. I sailed from there on the following morning by Pacific Mail steamer and arrived in Corinto Sunday afternoon, the 22d.

At that place I found a very uneasy condition of public feeling. The air was full of rumors of an impending revolution and reports that General Zelaya had assumed dictatorial powers and has placed in confinement or banished a large number of prominent citizens of the opposition party. I was also shown a copy of a decree, of which I inclose a translation.

The main points of this decree, issued by the Constituent Assembly, are to suspend individual guarantees, to establish martial law, to empower the President to raise forced loans, and to authorize him to imprison or banish those convicted or suspected of intention to change the present order of things.

I arrived in Managua last evening, and this morning had a conference with President Zelaya. He assured me that but five citizens in all—two from this place and three from Granada—had been placed under arrest, and I found this statement to be correct. The President’s explanation of the reasons for the decree was that a large number—between 3,000 and 4,000—of arms were missing, and were thought to be secreted with a view of being used in an attempt to overthrow the present Government. He claimed also to have strong evidence of the existence of a conspiracy intended for the destruction of the present peaceful condition of things.

In the same conversation the President intimated that the purpose of the administration was to place an export tax upon coffee, as has recently been done in Costa Rica. He also assured me that in levying the forced loan which is provided by the decree, Americans and other foreigners doing business in this country would be exempt.

It has been rumored that the constituent convention would provide, in the new instrument, that all foreign citizens should take the oath of allegiance to this country, and should agree not to call upon their home Government for protection. This the President denies absolutely, but explains that hereafter all persons entering into contracts with this Government for the purpose of doing Government work, would be required to enter into such an agreement. He assured me also that it is the earnest wish of the Government to encourage the immigration of enterprising people of means who are willing to engage in the development of the country, and that every reasonable encouragement would be held out to such.

I beg, etc.,

Lewis Baker.
[Inclosure in No. 121.—Translation.]

Decree of October 19, 1893.

The Constituent Assembly:

Whereas it has been discovered, that plans are being made for the purpose of destroying public order and that the executive must be vested with powers required by existing conditions, the assembly decrees:

  • Art. 1. Individual guaranties are suspended.
  • Art. 2. The executive power shall be authorized to exact forced loans from private parties, as well as general ones, and to fix the method and time in which they are to be paid.
  • Art. 3. Persons committing any of the crimes mentioned in article 635 of the Military Ordinances shall be subject to the military authorities.
  • Art. 4. The executive power shall be authorized, in accord with the council of ministers, to place in confinement or to banish any person convicted or suspected of plans or projects which have for their object the change of public order.
  • Art. 5. The executive power is also authorized to legislate in matters relating to war, finance, and public works.
  • Art. 6. In case the loan mentioned in article 2 should be general, no quota shall be assigned to persons owning less than $5,000 besides their dwelling: house.
  • Art. 7. The present law shall be in force from the time of its promulgation, and shall continue in vigor until the new fundamental law shall have become obligatory; the executive power is authorized, if he deems it advisable, to reestablish the enjoyment of the suspended guaranties.

  • Francisco Baca,
    Presiding Deputy.
  • Ag. Duarte,
  • T. Guzman,