The Duke de Arcos to Mr. Hay.
Washington, July 22, 1899.
Dear Mr. Secretary: I am writing you in an informal way, as our former conversations upon the matter I am about to speak of have not been official. I refer to the subject of the Spanish prisoners detained by Aguinaldo.
The Spanish Government has, in Manila, as you know, an agent, who, from the time that the United States Government permitted him to do so, has been in communication with the Filipino chief, and has treated with him about the release of those unfortunate prisoners.
This negotiation necessitates constant consultations with the Government at Madrid and frequent communication with Aguinaldo, which implies a considerable expenditure of time. This could be avoided if our agent could communicate freely by wire with Aguinaldo. But it appears that General Otis is opposed to cipher telegrams being sent to Aguinaldo, and this obstacle the Government which I have the honor of representing is anxiously desirous of having removed. The American Government will understand that if this obstacle subsists, the negotiations will be interminable and the sufferings of the unfortunate prisoners and of their families will [Page 686] have no end. Besides, General Otis knows what the telegrams are about, so it seems that the measure he has adopted is an exaggerated precaution.
The Spanish Government therefore trusts that the President of the Republic, who has already shown his sincere good will to cooperate in obtaining the liberty of these prisoners, will be good enough to give the necessary orders to General Otis to allow telegrams between our agent and Aguinaldo to pass freely, thus completing the understanding we have come to, which otherwise would be valueless.
The Spanish Government will feel deeply grateful for anything the American Government may do upon this matter, and I, Mr. Secretary, also thank you in advance and avail myself of this opportunity to renew to you the expression of my highest consideration.