Mr. Storer to Mr. Hay.
Madrid, July 19, 1899.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your instruction No. 24, bearing date July 7, inclosing communications from Mr. Gonzalo de Quesada, special commissioner of Cuba, and instructing me to bring the matter of Cubans imprisoned for political offenses to the attention of the Spanish Government. With the modifications I shall explain this shall be done at once. I beg to call your attention to the apparent discrepancy in the communications of Mr. Quesada, an explanation of which, if made early, may avoid misunderstandings. The inclosure from him consists of two documents: First, his letter giving a list of twenty-two individuals, described by him as “Cubans, transported to Spanish penal colonies;” and, second, a petition asking for intervention to obtain the liberation of seven, by name, of the above twenty-two, giving as a reason therefor, “on account of” (these seven) “being the only Cubans remaining in Spanish prisons.”
This legation, both before and since my arrival, has received written applications, in some cases purporting to be written by the persons themselves, and in other cases in their behalf, from fifteen individuals said to be Cubans imprisoned for political offenses. Of these, four say they are in Cartagena; seven claim to be at Ceuta; four at Burgos, as shown by the list of names I beg to inclose. It will be seen on comparison that not all of these fifteen are included in the list of twenty-two furnished by Mr. Quesada, and the discrepancies are numerous.
Among these letters is one from the prison at Burgos, from Mr. Rafael Joya, whose name does not appear in Mr. Quesada’s list. Mr. Joya states that “most of the Cubans held under similar charges have been set at liberty; there remain only four at Cartagena, ten at Ceuta, and four at Burgos.” I have hitherto refrained from reply to any of these letters, as I have no means of knowing whether they were mailed with the knowledge or permission of the Spanish authorities. (The position of this legation regarding any correspondence, except through the official channel with Cuban political prisoners, in view of the widespread interest and popular excitement over the non-return [Page 697] of the Spanish prisoners in the Philippines, is a delicate one.) It would not only be an unfortunate step, but a probable hindrance and delay to relief properly to be demanded and probably to be expected in well-founded individual cases to demand the release of a specific list of names the accuracy of which is far from assured. Until, therefore, I am further instructed I shall bring the matter of Cuban political prisoners in general before the Spanish Government without specifying individual cases.
If I can procure through the ministry of state any official list of those looked upon as Cuban prisoners, even if this Government does not admit the charge on which they are held come within the treaty definition, I will do so.
On this same general subject I beg to report that request from different parts of the United States has been made for this legation to ascertain whether or no two persons called political prisoners from Cuba are or have been in prison at Valencia, and whether they are alive or dead. The names of these persons are Mr. José Redondo and Mr. Nemesio Allendall. Until there is a consul at Valencia I have no means of making unofficial inquiries, and so have referred those making these inquiries to the Department. I venture to suggest that these names appear neither in the list of Mr. Quesada nor among the number spoken of by Mr. Rafael Joya, and that information might be obtained of Mr. Quesada as to them, together with the other persons who are said to be in prison who are not included in his list.
I have, etc.,