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Protection of Robert Beck, a Swiss citizen, by United States officials in Colombia.a

Memorandum.

Mr. Robert Beck, a native of Switzerland, is established since 1892 as a representative of English and German exporting firms at Bogotá, [Page 980]Colombia, and has, by registration, placed himself under the protection of the United States representative in that country.

In consequence of the depreciation of the paper money, he was forced to invest a large amount of it in coffee. For the purpose of shipping it, he bought a large number of mules.

These mules are now being taken away from-him illegally by agents of the Government; they neither pay any consideration nor give any receipt for them. The finest specimens of them remain in the hands of the Colombian officers, who sell them for good prices.

Mr. Robert Beck has done all he could in order to obtain justice. Everything is useless. He has lost so far over 100 animals, and even some of the coffee (about $800 worth) has been destroyed by the revolutionary forces.

He has addressed himself to the United States representative, Mr. Hart, but without avail. He therefore requests the Swiss legation in the United States to take the proper steps at the State Department in Washington to have these illegal proceedings stopped and force the wrongdoers to pay him a due compensation for his severe loss.

Memorandum.

The Department of State received on the 29th ultimo the memorandum of the Swiss legation in regard to the case of Mr. Robert Beck, a Swiss citizen, who complains that he has lost 100 mules, which have been seized by the Colombian authorities during the existing hostilities in the Republic of Colombia; that he has also had some coffee (worth about $800) seized by revolutionary forces, and that he has addressed himself to the minister of the United States at Bogota without obtaining redress.

The Department has communicated the memorandum to Mr. Hart, the United States minister, who is on leave in this country. He reports that he gave Mr. Beck all the assistance, in the way of good offices (by making all proper representations to the Government of Colombia), that he could possibly have given to any American citizen, and that he has been unable to secure the payment of his claim for the same reasons that have made it impossible to secure the payment of claims of United States citizens whose animals have been expropriated as were Mr. Beck’s mules.

The Department refers the Swiss legation to Mr. Bayard’s notea of July 1, 1887, to that legation, pointing out that this Government can only use good offices in behalf of subjects or citizens of other countries who have been placed under the protection of United States diplomatic or consular officers.

  1. See also, under Colombia, page 289.
  2. See Foreign Relations, 1887, p. 1076.