Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, With the Annual Message of the President Transmitted to Congress December 6, 1904
Mr. Dawson to Mr. Hay.
Santo Domingo, August 13, 1904.
Sir: I have the honor to inclose correspondence relative to Francisco Martinez, a Porto Rican, who was imprisoned without bail at Macoris, under circumstances which convinced the consular agent and myself that it was more an attempt to collect a debt than a bona fide effort to punish a crime.
Upon representation being made, he was promptly released (August 5) on bail by the Dominican Government.
I have, etc.,
Mr. E. C. Reed to Mr. Juan A. Read.
Macoris, July 20, 1904.
Sir: On the 18th instant the wife of Francisco Martinez, a Porto Rican, appealed to me for protection of her husband, who, she claimed, was unjustly held in prison here by the local authorities.
On the 19th instant I called upon the acting governor of this place, Mr. Presbiterio Hernandez, asking him the cause of the imprisonment of the aforesaid Martinez.
To-day I received an official communication from the acting governor, I hereby beg to inclose, in which he tells me that the said Martinez was held in the public prison of this city on a charge of “abuse of confidence,” as you will see by the inclosed communication. Not knowing the laws of this country well enough, whether a foreignor can be imprisoned upon an accusation of that kind, I beg to refer this case to you for instructions regarding my actions in the future, merely adding that the man Martinez has been already six days in jail, and no action has been taken so far in his case.
I remain, etc.,
Mr. Hernandez to Mr. Reed.
San Pedro de Macoris, July 20, 1904.
Sir: The citizen judge of instruction, giving the information solicited by the dispatch relating to the incarceration of the American subject, Francisco Martinez, communicates the following:
Mr. Francisco Martinez finds himself detained in the public prison of this city not only for having made a false sale of his commercial establishment, having creditors as to whom there were formalities to comply with, but also on account of a formal complaint made by Mr. Pedro Geautrean, who accuses him of abuse of confidence.
This is all I have to present to you regarding the information solicited by you in our interview of yesterday.
Mr. Dawson to Mr. Reed.
Santo Domingo, July 26, 1904.
Sir: I have to acknowledge receipt of yours of the 20th instant in which you state that the wife of one Francisco Martinez, a Porto Rican, had applied to you for protection for her husband, who, she claimed, was unjustly held in prison by the local authorities.
I gather from the governor’s letter to you that Mr. Martinez is held for a crime recognized as such by the laws of all civilized countries, and that his being a foreigner would not exempt him from trial therefor.
I would suggest that you see the honorable governor arid ask him to give Mr. Martinez a speedy trial. It would be well also that you attend the trial and satisfy yourself as to the merits of the case, reporting the facts to me.
Mr. Reed to Mr. Dawson.
Macoris, July 30, 1904.
Sir: Your letter of instruction regarding the affair of Francisco Martinez at this place, dated the 26th instant, came to my hands late yesterday afternoon, and the contents of the same have had my respectful attention.
I note what you state, that the crime Mr. Martinez is held for, according to the governor’s letter to me, is recognized as such by the laws of all civilized nations, and that his being a foreigner does not exempt him from a trial for the same and that you desire me to ask the governor to give Martinez a speedy trial and my attendance at the latter when it does take place.
In reply, I beg respectfully to report that I called upon the governor this morning, telling him that I had received instructions from you to see him and request his good offices for the speedy trial of Francisco Martinez. He replied that he could not very well interfere with the action of the court of justice, since each official at the head of the different departments of the government here was responsible for his action to the minister of that department at the capital; but upon my expressing a doubt—not officially, but as a private person—about the legality of the arrest of the man and the probable claim for damages from the injured party in the future, he gave me his promise to do his best to have the man released from jail pending his trial, with which, of course, I had to be satisfied.
Regarding your desire for my presence at the trial to satisfy myself as to the merits of the case, I beg to say that in this country, in a case like the one in question, there is no such a thing as a trial, since neither plaintiff, defendant, nor witnesses, if any, are allowed to come into court, the two lawyers of the respective parties submitting their briefs to the judge, who, after due consideration of the same, gives judgment.
This cause, though of itself a bagatelle, is, in my opinion, of very serious concern to foreign merchants doing business here, because the investigating judge upon the mere statement of a lawyer ordered the arrest and imprisonment of the man, who has now been some three weeks in jail and is suffering from fever to-day, while his wife and children are suffering.
I will take the liberty during a personal interview to explain the case more fully to you, and remain, etc.,
Mr. Dawson to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Santo Domingo, August 3, 1904.
Mr. Minister: Referring to the subject of our conversation of yesterday, the case of Francisco Martinez, a citizen of Porto Rico who has been confined in the jail in San Pedro de Macoris for three weeks without trial, I have the honor to ask your excellency’s good offices with your colleague, the minister of justice, to secure for said Martinez an immediate trial, or in default thereof his release and restoration to his family pending a trial.
The unfortunate individual is sick with fever and the accusation made against him arose in connection with a debt it is claimed he owes.
I will be grateful to your excellency for procuring an immediate telegraphic communication to the proper authorities in Macoris.
Your favorable action will be appreciated as an instance of that disposition to act fairly by Porto Ricans already so often shown by your Government.
I have, etc.,
Mr. Sanchez to Mr. Dawson.
Santo Domingo, August 12, 1904.
Mr. Minister: Referring to the conversation which I had with your excellency on the 5th instant and in which I showed you the telegram that I had received from Macoris, I now have the honor to confirm the same and to assert that Mr. Martinez was prosecuted for abuse of confidence; but for the sake of complying with your excellency’s wishes, and in view of his being sick, Mr. Martinez has been given his liberty under bond.
They are using all diligence necessary to hasten the procedure as much as possible, and, in the event of their not being able to discontinue the action, to adjudge him the least possible punishment.