Minister Barrett to the Secretary of State.
Bogotá, February 13, 1906.
Sir: Supplementing my telegram of February 11, confirmed in my unnumbered dispatch of the same date, I have the honor to report in regard to an attempt to assassinate President Reyes on Saturday, February 10.
On the morning of that day the President was taking his customary ride to Chapinero, one of the suburbs of Bogotá, and in the carriage with him was his married daughter, Mrs. Valenzuela. On the box were simply the driver and one of his aids-de-camp. When about half way between Bogotá and Chapinero, three men, well mounted, suddenly rode up to the carriage and fired eight shots in rapid succession. Five of these entered the conveyance, two of them cutting respectively the hat and dress of the President’s daughter, but neither of them hitting or wounding either her or the President. The aid-de-camp emptied the contents of his revolver at the assailants, but they succeeded in getting away before the police or others could effect their capture.
The escape of the President and his daughter from death or serious injury would seem almost miraculous. Possibly the fact that the carriage was a closed one prevented the would-be assassin from taking good aim, while they may also have been disturbed in their plans by discovering that his daughter was with him and might be killed in the attack. The bullet holes in the carriage and in the dress and hat of Mrs. Valenzuela show that the weapons used were of heavy caliber and that it was the intention to make sure of the death of the President.[Page 411]
The incident occurred about 11.30 in the morning, and naturally, as soon as the news was spread abroad, great excitement followed, coupled with profound indignation at such a cowardly attempt when the President was accompanied by his daughter. The city was immediately placed under martial law and the entire police force equipped with rifles as a protection against any uprising of which this might have been the beginning. Notices were immediately posted on all the bulletin boards describing the affair and offering a reward on behalf of the Government of $1,000 gold each for the capture of the assailants. These three men are known, but up to this writing they have not been apprehended.
On Sunday a te deum was celebrated in the cathedral by the archbishop in thanks to the Almighty for the preservation of the life of the President. The palace was thronged Saturday night and Sunday with people of all classes extending their congratulations to the President on his escape. I called on him officially, as did my colleagues, as soon as we learned the particulars, and extended on behalf of my Government appropriate expressions of sympathy and felicitation.
In looking for an explanation of this assault I find various reasons ascribed, the principal one being that these men were possibly friends of some of the conspirators against the Government who have recently been exiled or who are now undergoing court-martial. It is also alleged that the inspiration of the attack lay in opposition to some of the policies of the Government, which are not popular with the people, while again it is contended that the assailants were members of a socialistic element in the community that employed this means of doing injury to the head of the nation.
Although it is painful to report an incident of this kind, it must be frankly admitted that political conditions here are far from being in a tranquil state, and that the future is pregnant with many unfortunate possibilities. It is my sincere hope that there may be no further demonstration against President Reyes, because it would seem as if he were the one man of thecountry who can, even with the troubled conditions that surround his administration, maintain permanent peace and eventually evolve prosperity for the country.
Inclosed is a copy of the announcement published by President Reyes after the atempt was made to assassinate him.
I have, etc.,