Mr. Olney to Mr. Taylor.
Washington , May 13, 1896 .
Sir: Correspondence between the Department and our consul at Santiago de Cuba and the consul-general at Habana shows that George Calvar and Peter Duarte, citizens of the United States, are held in prison by the Spanish military authorities in Cuba in violation of the treaty of 1795 and the protocol of January 12, 1877.
Calvar was arrested April 1, 1896, at Manzanillo, Cuba, upon the charge of having contributed money to purchase arms and ammunition for the insurgents. There is reason to believe that the charge is unfounded, but without going into the merits of it, the case is clearly within the provisions of the treaty and protocol above mentioned, and the Spanish military authorities in Cuba have violated those provisions by refusing to transfer this man to the civil jurisdiction.
Peter Duarte was arrested in the same place at about the same time (the exact date is not given). The charge against him is reported as “complications with the insurgents.”
There is nothing reported to show that these men were taken with arms in hand or had engaged in any active service against the Spanish Government. Their cases are, as represented here, clearly within the provisions of the treaty of 1795 and of the protocol of January 12, 1877. They are entitled to trial upon any charges which the Spanish Government may desire to make against them in the ordinary civil tribunals of the country. They are, however, held in military confinement, and the highest Spanish authority in the island has been appealed to in vain to have their treaty rights accorded them.
You are for this reason instructed to bring these cases to the attention of the Spanish Government, and to request prompt intervention to cause the transfer of these persons to the custody of the civil tribunals and to obtain for them a speedy trial with all the legal privileges guaranteed by the aforesaid treaty and protocol.
I am, etc.,