Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1894
Mr. Braida to Mr. Uhl.
Bluefields, March 29, 1894. (Received April 11.)
Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith a decree issued last night and sent to me by the Honorable Minister Don José Madriz.
I beg to remain, etc.,
I beg to add to my dispatch of the 29th instant a statement from the American citizens in answer to a written request from Minister Don José Madriz regarding complaints and wishes of our citizens, copy of which was forwarded to said minister yesterday.
Citizens of Bluefields:
Having been sent here by the supreme Government for the purpose of arranging, on the basis of justice, all difficulties which have lately occurred in the reserve, I have, in compliance with the authority vested in me, issued the following decree. This decree shows distinctly that the views and aim of my Government are but to give and guarantee to the honest and laborious people of the reserve peace and prosperity. It was with pleasure that I accepted a mission that would again bring me among old acquaintances, enabling me to offer, in the name of Nicaragua, peace and liberty; and if you are, as I sincerely hope, satisfied, my object will have been accomplished. I desire for the inhabitants of the reserve every prosperity, and this 1 am sure they will obtain under the laws which my decree of to-day establishes, in which are included the strongest guarantees and the highest privileges.
José Madriz, special commissioner of the supreme Government of Nicaragua in the Mosquito Reserve;
Considering that on the 19th instant the commissioner of the Republic agreed with Her Britannic Majesty’s consul upon a provisional contract for the government of the Mosquito Reserve until the high contracting signators, parties to the treaty of Managua, dated 1860, arrange the needful regarding the reserve territory;
Considering that this contract was imposed by the circumstances and decided by the necessity of preventing the disputes arisen, caused from the decree dated the 12th of February last;
Considering that the present condition of affairs being investigated, any substantial change that would be made to the said contract would cause new stir and difficulties, which the commissioner is bound to avoid; and having only in view to grant all those guaranties, lead to establish the public confidence, to regulate the trade, and secure the order and peace, in use of his powers:
- Art. 1. The municipal authority of the Mosquito Reserve shall be exercised by the council formed according to the protocol of provisional contract entered into between the Nicaraguan commissioner and Her Britannic Majesty’s consul.
- Art. 2. The powers of the provisional council are the same exercised by the old executive council, subject to what is directed in Article XIII of the present decree.
- Art. 3. The provisional council shall regard and guarantee to all the inhabitants of the reserve, either Nicaraguans or foreigners, the personal safety, the liberty, the equality, and the property in the established form provided by the laws of the same.
- Art. 4. No authority of the reserve shall issue contrary resolutions to the established worship, and the laws, usage, and customs as regard religion shall be strictly respected.
- Art. 5. No military recruitment shall be made within the Mosquito Reserve, and all residents in the same remain free from all service or war tax.
- Art. 6. The police security shall not be exercised by military force.
- Art. 7. The former language shall be maintained by the authorities and people of the reserve.
- Art. 8. The provisional council shall proceed at the earliest possible time to settle the public debts of the reserve.
- Art. 9. The treasurer, under his own responsibility, will not pay any amount which is not previously voted by the provisional council.
- Art. 10. The treaty of commercial reciprocity between the Republic of Nicaragua and the United States shall henceforth be considered extensive to the custom-houses of the reserve.
- Art. 11. The commissioner, in his representative capacity of the sovereign authority of the Republic, shall previously examine the resolutions issued in future by the provisional council, with the sole purpose of deciding whether they are consistent with the essential laws of Nicaragua.
- Art. 12. All resolutions issued by the sovereign power shall be faithfully executed within the reserve, and the Nicaraguan authorities shall take care that such resolutions do not contain anything contrary to the municipal privileges.
- Art. 13. The former laws of the reserve, whether civil or penal, shall remain in force, inasmuch as they shall not oppose the stipulations of the said contract and the sovereign rights of Nicaragua.
Statement of committee—American citizens.
To the American Consul, Bluefields.
Honorable Sir: Whereas we, the American citizens resident here, have been requested by your honor to put forth our washes, desires, and grievances in reference to the unsettled condition of affairs in the Mosquito Reservation, by these presents do respectfully call your attention to the following facts:
We have come here under the guaranties and liberal privileges extended to us by the treaty of Managua of 1860, and have consequently invested our capital, intelligence, and labor, which is now jeopardized by the events which have happened since the 12th of February.
On that date Nicaraguan troops, under the command of the Nicaraguan commissioner and the newly appointed inspector-general of the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua, took possession of the town and reservation, deposed the authorities, and put the place under martial law, when there had not been nor was any resistance at all offered to them.
Once the authorities removed, they took possession of all public buildings and property of the Mosquito Government, and, opening the prison doors, set free the felons therein upon the community.
The soldiers were undisciplined and fanatic, and could not be controlled by their officers, and committed various outrages.
The inhabitants were nigh driven to desperation and a condition ensued which endangered life and property.
The commissioner, although immediately setting about the collection and imposition of duties and taxes, refused on the other hand to recognize the valid obligations of the Mosquito Government.
He remarked that he would just run things to suit himself, and if people did not like it they could leave the country.
Again, he threatened to take lands owned by the natives and sell it.
Miners holding titles to their claims under and from the Mosquito Government were warned by him that their grants would not be recognized, and, in fact, he expressed himself to the effect that likely all the leases, titles, contracts, and concessions would be void and not recognized by his government.[Page 267]
The commissioner has deceived the people so frequently that they have lost all confidence in him.
This men acing conduct and threats frightened the natives until nearly 150 families have left the reserve.
The labor of the country is composed of such people as have thus gone away, which is likewise ruinous to the commerce of the port.
It has also been made imminent that a change of the language would be enforced, and this would work a great hardship on everyone.
The duties and export tax which the commissioner placed on fruit can not be considered but to the detriment of the fruit trade, the leading industry of the country.
Neither can we judge it judicious that small crafts plying between local ports are compelled to take out papers at exorbitant rates.
Duties have been charged on goods taken to other points in the reserve, when said goods had already paid duties in Bluefields.
In Rama the treatment of Americans has been such that we feel assured, should Nicaragua govern the reserve, we would receive the same treatment.
The fruit business in Rama has been seriously hampered by the petty decrees of her governors, and the continued detention of steamers, barges, etc., loaded with fruit have caused heavy losses to the ship agents.
Captains of steamers and barges have been heavily fined for passing the custom-house at Rama after having asked permission, which was refused, and having leaky barges, they would have lost barge loads of fruit by the next morning.
We also particularly denounce the foul murder of William Wilson in Rama, and demand that his assassin be punished as this crime deserves.
We are not devoid of experience; the wretched state of Grey Town, San Jacinto, and Cape Gracios a Dios is a mark of warning, and while we are peaceful and law-abiding citizens in this community, and do not wish to antagonize Nicaragua, and with all due deference to her sovereign rights, we desire to have here a local self-government (free from the frequent revolutions which occur in the interior) based on the lines laid down by the treaty of Managua.
- Sam. D. Spellman,
- Jas. H. Lampton,
- Paul Osterhout,
- W. F. Thornton,
- H. R. Seigert,