Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1894
Mr. Baker to Mr. Gresham.
Managua, Nicaragua, February 9, 1894, (Received March 5.)
Sir: I have just received from United States Consul Braida a report from B. B. Seat, United States consular agent at Bluefields, a communication of which I inclose herewith a copy.
It relates to the unsatisfactory condition of political affairs in the Mosquito Reservation.
There seems to be trouble brewing in that quarter.
I have, etc.,
Mr. Seat to Mr. Braida.
Bluefields, Nicaragua, January 22, 1894.
Sir: In compliance with your request made same time ago, I transmit herewith a brief report relating to the condition of public affairs in the Mosquito Reservation.
We have recently had considerable local excitement, caused by rumors of a threatened invasion of the Mosquito Reservation by bodies of armed men from Honduras.
About the 5th of the present month about two hundred Nicaraguan soldiers were landed at Bluefields, and were quartered for several days on the steamboat Mabel Comeaux, which lies in the harbor in front of the town.
They were awaiting transportation to Honduras, and were finally sent forward to their destination on board the schooner Ensmo White, which was towed as far as Cape Gracias by the steamer Yeslie. Their presence at Bluefields did not fail to produce a stir and commotion among the natives and residents of the town.
The chief, or more properly his advisers, construed the mobilization of Nicaraguan troops within the reservation as an infraction of their rights under the treaty of Managua.
One of the Mosquito officials, by the name of Usher Hodgoon, called on Commissioner Lacayo and demanded the withdrawal of the soldiers or the surrender of their arms to the municipal authorities of the town. Of course the commissioner refused to comply with the demand.
On the 13th instant a written communication, signed by Robert Henry Clarence, chief, was received by the commissioner, protesting against the presence of armed soldiers of Nicaragua, and serving notice on the commissioner that protest would be made to Her Britannic Majesty’s Government.
The commissioner answered the chiefs communication, notifying him that the Republic of Nicaragua was then at war with Honduras, and that the necessity had arisen for placing the coasts and frontier of the sovereign in a state of defense, and that only the sovereign could determine the measures for such defense; that no treaty obligations could bind the sovereignty to jeopardize its own existence; that he, the chief, had no diplomatic recognition; that he had ho foreign relations or representation and no international responsibility, and that, therefore, he did not recognize his right to interpret for himself the treaty obligations of the sovereign, nor did he (Lacayo) admit the right of England to interfere in any way whatever.
On the 15th instant the soldiers were sent forward, as above stated, to the Honduras border.[Page 236]
Since the departure of the soldiers two meetings have been held in the town for the alleged purpose of devising ways and means for the local protection of life and property, in which some foreign residents as well as natives were participants.
A question arose as to the right of the people to organize military forces without the consent and approval of the sovereign power.
The commissioner was willing that a local guard should be organized, but to be under the control of the sovereign power and to be replaced by the Nicaraguan troops when they returned.
I do not know if any agreement was arrived at, but on yesterday morning a body of twenty-five natives, armed with Remington rifles, commanded by one officer, marched up and down the principal street and afterwards assembled at the old government building, where they seemed to have established temporary quarters.
The commissioner is certainly charged with a very delicate mission, and I fear will have an exceedingly difficult task to establish here a due recognition of the sovereign authority without some local trouble.
The political authority of the reservation has been in the hands of the same set of men for many years past, each one of whom has not hesitated to assume the functions of one, two, and three offices, and that without accountability to any source but themselves.
Two natives of the Island of Jamaica, one J. W. Cuthbert and one John D. Thomas, both of whom claim their British nationality, are the acknowledged leaders of this ring of rulers and under their control the others have become thoroughly inoculated with the idea of their local independence of the sovereign, and that their political status, as such, is fully recognized, and that they are under the special protection of Great Britain. Hence they are exceedingly tenacious of the power so long wielded by themselves in the reservation, and which they have come to look upon as legitimate and proper.
As a matter of fact the Mosquito Indians proper know but little of the Government as it exists; and according to well authenticated reports have become dissatisfied and have recently developed considerable opposition to this local régime.
They claim that they are not the beneficiaries of anything that is done; that their country is being alienated and its wealth squandered for the enrichment of their rulers, while they as a people are left destitute and poor.
The administration of justice in the reservation has long been a practical failure, to such an extent that scarcely anyone thinks now of appealing to the local courts for the assertion of any legal right.
Their courts will render a judgment, but they will not issue an execution upon such judgment, and consequently the debtor class in the reservation has a free bill, while the creditor class is left without a remedy.
It seems to be the purpose of the commissioner to remedy existing abuses by the reincorporation of the reservation into the Republic, but I fear this can not be effected without opposition from the people who at present control the reservation.
I have, etc.,
United States Consular Agent.
Received January 24, 1894, forwarded to the United States legation, at Managua, January 28, per dispatch No. 19.
United States Consul.