Mr. Tillman to Mr. Olney.
Quito , May 16, 1896 . (Received June 12.)
Sir: I have the honor to state that your No. 63, of date April 4, was received May 6.
The body of my dispatch does not show when Colonel Hidalgo sought shelter in the building which I occupy, nor do I know how long he had been in it, but the inclosures in my dispatch No. 68 give the facts, so far as I am informed. I had been in the rooms used as a legation several weeks before I knew of the occupancy of the rear rooms by Colonel Hidalgo, but at the time of his arrest I had known of his presence for some time, and had met and talked with him. He is a house carpenter by trade and had been repairing doors and windows about the building. The Government was fully aware that I claimed to exercise no control over the rooms in the rear of the large court. On the evening of his arrest Colonel Hidalgo had, with the aid of a servant, secured an entrance to the kitchen used by my family, and being very much frightened, asked that I request the officer, as a personal favor, that he should not be punished with cold baths, as such punishment would kill him, he being very stout, strong, and active.
As a humane man who hates barbarities in peace or war, I requested the officer, an aide-de-camp of the supreme chief, to promise that his prisoner should not have the treatment he feared. He remains in prison and I am informed that he makes no complaint of his treatment. The Government officials deny that the Government has used cold plunge or shower baths as a punishment, but they charge that for years while Colonel Hidalgo was in command of a regiment, he used the cold-water bath and that more than one man had died under its effects. So general is the misunderstanding of the so-called right of asylum that a thief or a deserter from the army or an assassin considers himself safe if he can secure admission by force or fraud or deception into a building or grounds occupied by a foreign minister, and even lawyers and men of wealth and intelligence regard a refusal to receive them when pursued by Government officials for political offenses as a great discourtesy and contrary to the law of asylum in South America, and this opinion is so general that the Government itself is cautious not to seem to violate public opinion, however ignorant and uninformed and on however little of reason and law it is founded—hence the publications sent as inclosures in my No. 68. These publications were also made, as I am informed, for the purpose of educating the public mind. As suggested by you, I have informally and orally advised the minister of foreign affairs of the extent of the possessions and occupancy of this legation and that for these only can I be held responsible, and he knows that with both Governments here I have obeyed the instructions of my Government and the proper rules of asylum and says that the example has had a good influence.
I have, etc.,