Mr. Loomis to Mr. Hay.

No. 451.]

Sir: Referring to my dispatch Mo. 449, I have the honor to inclose a letter from the United States consul at La Guaira, in which he criticises in detail the statements made to General Castro by the jefes civiles at La Guaira respecting his recent unpleasant experiences at that port.

This letter only reached me to-day.

I have, etc.,

Francis B. Loomis.

Mr. Goldschmidt to Mr. Loomis.

Sir: I beg to acknowledge receipt of your note of May 18, with inclosure of copies (dispatches to General Castro) by Jefes Civiles Rivas and Casañas.

You request me to let you know in detail and at once whether they depart from the facts of the case.

In reply thereto I take the liberty to refer you to my previous dispatches on the matter and judge whether they are truthful or not.

However, to prove to you that the statements of both jefes civiles “depart from the facts,” I will begin by dissecting that of Senor Rivas first and point out some of its inconsistencies:

There was no disagreeable quarrel between me and the young man, “a minor,” by the name of Golding.
I simply defended myself from insult to myself and wife and after being obliged to squeeze my way through a crowd of men who obstructed the whole street (purposely, I think).
I did not strike Golding until he jumped back and threatened to pull a weapon from his pocket.
I did not use offensive language (and certainly would not use such in presence of my wife), nor am I able to use such, as my command of Spanish is limited.
The above matter was considered closed, as per statement of Jefe Civil Rivas, who seems to deplore that the elder brother of Golding (who is very little older) threatened my life.
When the jefe civil says “the quarrel thus provoked” he “departs from the facts” again, as I had never before met this Golding who threatened to shoot me.
The police did not take immediate action against Golding No. 2, but permitted him to roam free and unmolested from the 9th until the 11th of May, when I personally saw him, and not before the 12th at night did the jefe civil report to Mr. Schunck that he was arrested, leaving out the probability that he was in church the 13th, when Mrs. Schunck saw him.

I have no reason to doubt Mrs. Schunck.

As to the jefe civil “sparing me a police trial” at which, in his mind, I would not have had the best part, shows conclusively prejudice against me, as, according to the jefe civil’s own statement, the first matter was settled, and I believe that the attempt against my life by Golding No. 2 was entirely a different matter, which, far from receiving the apparent sanction of the jefe civil, should have been condemned and the culprit should have been punished, which I here again reiterate was not done.

He did not, as he says, “take the necessary measures to prevent the repetition of the threat before mentioned,” because he allowed the fellow his freedom from the 9th to the 11th undoubtedly.

During these two days he might again have attempted the same crime.

Now I will take up the dispatch of Señor Casañas, who finds that “a personal quarrel took place between them, with fault on both sides.”

I will again say that the first time I ever met Golding No. 2 was when he faced me, Mrs. Goldschmidt, Mrs. Schunck, and two children with a revolver directly pointed at us, a fact which might have had serious consequences had a man not taken his arm in time.

Señor Casañas “departs from the facts” when he states that the man had suffered six days’ arrest, because I met him at 3 p.m. of the 11th instant, and in his (Casañas’s) reply to my note of the same date, May 16 (their own statement), “y que dicho Señor ha recobrado su libertad con el afrecimiento de que partiá manana para Barlovento en el vapor de esa línea.”

He again “departs from the fact’:” when he says that I agreed to letting Golding free in our interview, as my note to him and his reply thereto clearly demonstrates that I was to see him again before he should do this, after talking to my minister.

He showed indecent haste in liberating a criminal, which he should not have done for my safety and in respect to his promise.

I will make no further remarks on the case, except to here again reiterate that the local authorities here have denied me the right of protection due to a citizen, and particularly when that citizen is a consul of a foreign nation.

To this end I will but quote a few lines from Wharton’s International Law, volume 1, Chapter IX, page 1211 (Mr. Forsyth, Secretary of State, to Mr. Hunter, April 14, 1837, etc.):

“Ministers and consuls of foreign nations are the means and agents of communication between us and those nations, and it is of the utmost importance that while residing in the country they should feel a perfect security so long as they faithfully discharge their respective duties and are guilty of no violation of our laws. This is the admitted law of nations, and no country has a deeper interest in maintaining it than the United States. Our commerce spreads over every sea and visits every clime, and our ministers and consuls are appointed to protect the interests of that commerce, as well as to guard the peace of the country and maintain the honor of its flag. But how can they discharge these duties unless they be themselves protected and, if protected, it must be by the laws of the country in which they reside. And what is due to our own public functionaries residing in foreign nations is exactly the measure of what is due to the functionaries of other Governments residing here. As in war the bearers of flags of truce are sacred, or else wars would be interminable, so in peace embassadors, public ministers, and consuls charged with friendly national intercourse are objects of especial respect and protection, each according to the rights belonging to his rank and station.”

I am, etc.,

Louis Goldschmidt,
United States Consul.
  1. Quotation should be vol. 1, Ch. V, Sec. 121, p. 781.