Mr. Olney to Mr. Dupuy de Lôme.

No. 81.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose for your information copies of the statements of the complaints made by Messrs. Perfecto Lacoste and Patricio Ponce de Leon, American citizens, whose property in Cuba has been destroyed by the insurgents.

Accept, etc.,

Richard Olney.
[Inclosure in No. 81.]

Mr. Lacoste to Mr. Williams.

Dear Sir: I will proceed herewith to make you a full statement of the subjects about which, as an American citizen, I want to consult you.

You know already, for I called your attention to it some time ago, that since the beginning of the revolution I, as well as everybody else, received the order from the revolutionists forbidding to take out any cattle or horses from the properties which I possess in Holguin, and since then, notwithstanding all my efforts, I have not been able to save anything from there, and as all the fences have been destroyed and the properties had to be abandoned, I consider as entirely lost the 10,000 head of cattle and the 500 horses and mares which I had there.

The 28th November the insurgents went to the plantation named “Sociedad” in Macagua, belonging to my wife, and there took away 31 horses of the Anglo-Arab breed I had there. They burnt at the same time all the immense buildings which composed the “batey” and took, as they do whenever they want, all the cattle they needed.

About a month ago they burnt the cane fields of the property “La Benita” in Alfonso XII, belonging to my wife, and containing about a million and a half arrobas of cane.

On the 5th of this month, being with my wife on our plantation called “Central Lucia,” known also by its old name of Garro, and which is 12 miles from Marianao, I was told that the insurgents in large numbers were approaching toward us, and that they had already burnt the cane fields of the Chavarry plantation. I decided then to go and meet them and try to do all in my power to avoid the burning of our cane fields. [Page 675] I started and met them at Hoyo Colorado, where I found out that the chiefs who commanded them were Maximo Gomez and Antonio Maceo. I spoke to the last one, who answered me that they had the order to burn all the cane fields, but considering that I was an American citizen, he would consult the matter with Gomez. As it was already dark and they were to camp near by I retired to my house. On the following day Maceo and his troops passed through our property and stopped at the house, where they asked me for coffee and bread for him and several of those who accompanied him, among whom was the Brigadier Jose Miró, whom I had known for years. While they were there we saw that the cane fields were on fire. I protested, and was answered that it was not Maceo who had given the order for setting fire, and that it must be the Brigadier Zayas, who was coming after them. At last I obtained an order to respect the property, and was authorized to do what I could to stop the fire, which I succeeded in doing after hard work, but not before 4,000,000 arrobas of cane had been burnt. They took away 22 of my finest horses.

Five days ago a commission of the insurgents arrived at the said property, the chief of which gave me a letter and asked me for a receipt of it. I opened it to see its contents and found that it was from José Miró, giving me the order to collect in Habana and keep at his disposition the amount of $5,000, for which sum he inclosed me an order of payment against a house in Habana, and signed by a person that I do not know. As I could not under any consideration take charge of such a commission, I answered immediately, returning the order to Mr. Miró, but at the same time trying to excuse myself in the best manner that I could, as we are in the country completely at the mercy of the insurgents, and I would not like to have all my buildings and machinery destroyed as my fields of cane have been.

There were not any troops of the Government whatever near our plantation before the arrival of the insurgents, with the exception of the volunteers in the villages of Banes, Caimito, Hoyo Colorado, and Punta Brava, which, as it is publicly known, had to withdraw at the arrival of the insurgents.

I have not been able to communicate to you these facts before, because whilst extinguishing the fire in the cane fields I caught a severe bronchitis, which did not allow me to come to Habana until yesterday.

I deem it very important for me to inform you of all the above-stated facts, and especially of the one concerned with order of payment, so that you may take the notice of all that has occurred to me and to my properties at the hands of the insurgent forces, and that no false or exaggerated version might be spread by anybody who might thus, either intentionally or innocently, be the cause of personal trouble to me in my relations with the official authorities of the island.

Perfecto Lacoste.