Mr. Bridgman to Mr. Hay.
La Paz, Bolivia , April 28, 1899 .
Sir: Referring to dispatch from the Department, No. 76, dated March 4, I have the honor to state that I have been unremitting in my efforts to secure the trial of Capt. John S. Bowles, as was General Moonlight before me. In demanding his immediate trial I have employed most urgent terms; have quoted verbatim the request from the State Department, and urged everything save threats, which the Bolivian Government fully understand can not be easily fulfilled on account of their isolated position. Had this nation enjoyed 20 miles of seacoast, Captain Bowles would have been tried four years ago.
The man is accused of perpetrating the crime of castration on several half-breed boys. From all I can learn his innocence is doubtful; certainly no reason, however, for refusing trial.
The invariable reply from Sucre to my demands is that the trial “shall be brought about as speedily as possible.” When I have urged the foreign minister to personally expedite matters he has replied that the delay is due to the absence of an important witness, and that as “State official he can not interfere with civil authority.”
What reason they have for this strange action I can not see, unless in line with the fact that all foreign ministers residing outside of Sucre have great difficulty in gaining any concessions from the Government.
During the revolution it was impossible to accomplish anything, as several chairs in the cabinet were vacant most of the time. As soon as the trouble ended I spoke to an official here, Dr. Victor E. Sanjines, [Page 111] who will in all probability be in power under the new government, and he will use all his efforts to bring the matter to an issue. I shall also make the same personal appeal to Colonel Pando, who has just come into power.
Before the inauguration of the new party, several months from now, it will be perfectly useless to make any effort for immediate action. When in Washington last July I personally consulted the State Department regarding the Bowles case, and asked for specific directions. With the government located in La Paz, or even Oruro, I can promise to accomplish something. I have not heard from Bowles since January and have not written since then, as there was nothing new to tell him. Everything shall be at once reported which bears on the case, and I am confident this last move of mine will accomplish more than all I have been able to do during the past ten months.
I inclose herewith a copy of a letter I am on the point of sending to Dr. Victor E. Sanjines, one of the influential men in the new party.
I have, etc.,