Mr. Merry to Mr. Hay.
San José, Costa Rica , October 7, 1899 .
Sir: I have the honor to request the decision of the Department of State on a question of citizenship. Roberto J. J. Pinto is the son of [Page 589] Costa Rican natives and was born at San Francisco, Cal., in 1879; is consequently now 20 years of age. His grandfather was a native of Portugal, long resident in Costa Rica, and must have been a Costa Rican citizen, because he was a general in the army, and during an interregnum of twenty-four hours was President of the Republic.
The parents of young Pinto resided in California about six years, but the father was never naturalized as a citizen of the United States. When he was 3 years old they returned to Costa Rica, where they own realty, and have remained here ever since. Young Pinto has been educated in the public schools of Costa Rica and does not speak English. He has never been registered at the United States consulate here as claiming the protection of the United States. The Government has, in accordance with Costa Rican law, demanded of him military service drill, and he now claims exemption as a minor who intends claiming United States citizenship, by reason of his nativity, when he becomes of age, a year hence.
It appears to me that the young man has no claim to American protection, having practically abandoned any rights he may have had by reason of his nativity. The acting secretary of foreign affairs, Mr. Facio, claims him as liable to military duty, and asserts that when he becomes of age he will be a Costa Rican citizen under the laws of the Republic. As Mr. Pinto is very urgent, I have consented to lay the case before the Department of State, and respectfully await its decision thereon.
With assurances of my highest consideration, etc.,
United States Minister.