Mr. Loomis to Mr. Hay.

No. 388.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose a copy of a letter addressed to me by the consul of the United States at La Guaira. Consul Goldschmidt came to Caracas to state the case orally to me, and later I had him put the facts into writing.

I have sent a statement of these incidents to the minister of foreign affairs and asked for an immediate investigation of the case, suggesting that prompt and adequate reparation will be expected if the facts are as stated, and there is no reason to doubt that they are otherwise.

A similar request has been presented to the Venezuelan Government by the British minister, based upon the forcible detention and searching of the British vice-consul at La Guaira.

I have, etc.,

Francis B. Loomis.

Mr. Goldschmidt to Mr. Loomis.

Sir: As per request, I report the following two incidents, of a very disagreeable nature, which happened to me in La Guaira. On January 1, 1900, at about 6 o’clock p.m., while walking up the “Calle de Leon” to my residence with my wife, one of the soldier police met us, and when within about 4 or 5 yards from us he fired his carbine, without cause or reason.

This was sufficient cause to frighten any woman, and my wife immediately said to me that she felt a pain in her chest, as though something had struck her. I replied that probably she only imagined this, as I thought the man had fired toward the ground. However, when we reached our home my wife opened her dress and showed me a bleeding scar, left by something which had struck her, and also showed me that whatever it was cut through the dress and the underdress, cutting the skin.

Although the wound was not a serious one, it took about two weeks to heal. I immediately sent Mr. Schunck to the jefe civil of the district, as he is more conversant with Spanish than I am, and requested him to explain the incident, which he did.

The next day I called upon the jefe civil personally and inquired if anything had been done to that soldier, and he replied that the man was in prison, and that he (the jefe civil) was investigating the matter to find out whether the gun had been fired purposely or accidentally, adding that he should be punished accordingly, as they (the police) were forbidden to carry loaded weapons.

He (the jefe civil) never expressed any regrets at the occurrence, nor made any apologies for the conduct of his inferior.

[Page 944]

I should have allowed the matter to pass without reporting the same if another incident had not occurred to me last night which demands attention.

Yesterday, January 18, 1900, at about 9 o’clock p.m., after a walk downtown, in company of my wife, I returned home, and when I reached the church “Del Carmen,” which is very near my residence and directly in front of the house of Mr. Aristides Bello, “prefecto de policia,” I was stopped by a soldier or policeman, who asked me whether I carried any arms, as he had orders to search everybody for arms.

I told him that I was the American consul, that I lived close by, and that I should not allow him to search me, protesting at the outrage. He, however, insisted and tore open my coat in spite of my protest, and did not permit me to proceed for some time. I then asked the man for his name, as I wished to report him, but he did not comply with my wish. However, I know him very well by sight.

This outrage happened immediately in front of the residence of the said “Prefecto” Aristides Bello, and his family were sitting in the window at the time. Furthermore, his son came to the door, but never said a word, which might have been the means of avoiding all this had he done so.

This police being stationed directly in front of the residence of the said “prefecto,” as a sort of personal bodyguard for his house and family, and, as I observed, they were in constant communication with them, it appears to me that the “prefecto” is entirely responsible for the action of these men, and should certainly be made to feel that such things can not pass with impunity.

After reaching my house I immediately called the jefe civil by telephone and explained what had happened, telling him that if the offenders were not punished I should forward a claim to my Government, as these annoyances were getting rather too frequent.

He replied by telephone that it was a “barbaridad” and that he should immediately withdraw the men from there and punish them.

This morning, January 19, at about 6.30 a.m., the “commissario mayor” of the police called at my house and offered the regrets of the jefe civil at the incident, and said that the jefe civil would punish the men, who had not carried out his orders, as the orders were to search country people going to and from the hills.

I told the “commissario” that I doubted whether the jefe civil was to blame, remarking that in my opinion the blame lay on Mr. Aristides Bello. However, I can not judge of this myself.

Upon my return from Caracas this afternoon, one of the first policemen I encountered was the one that committed the assault upon me, carrying a gun, as usual, evidently on duty in this city.

This fact leads me to believe, and the certainty, that the jefe civil was not sincere when he said he would punish the offender, and I therefore request that you make a protest in my name to the Venezuelan Government against the treatment I received at the hands of their officials, requesting that the guilty person be punished, whoever it may be.

I am, etc.,

Louis Goldschmidt,
United States Consul.