Minister Combs to the Secretary of State.
Guatemala City, February 10, 1906.
Sir: I have the honor to report some difficulties the Chinese in this country are experiencing.
In 1897 a decree was issued requiring all Chinese in the country to register and take out residential permits, and forbidding any further immigration into the country by these people.
On January 24, 1906, an order was promulgated requiring all Chinese to appear before the jefe of the Department of their residence at 11 o’clock, the 5th of February, and to present their residential permits. The Chinese were much disturbed, as they stated many would have to leave their shops several days in a condition inviting robbery; and as afterwards appeared, many were really in the country contrary to its laws. They appealed to me on the 3rd of February to secure an amendment that would give them two days for appearance, so that part could protect their property while the others reported themselves.
I immediately called on Mr. Barrios, who stated that great complaint had been made of the Chinese competition in trade, and it was charged that there were great numbers of them in the country contrary to law; that there was such racial similarity it was feared different individuals would present at different times the same papers and therefore the plan to have all appear at once was felt to be important, but to my suggestion that care be taken to inflict as little hardship as possible upon those who were regularly matriculated in the country, Minister Barrios stated he would immediately telegraph all jefes to effect the purposes in view with as little inconvenience to the Chinese as possible.
There were registered, under the decree of 1897, 604 Chinese. On the 5th instant about 540 presented themselves to the jefes, and of these about 60 are reported without papers, with other departments not heard from that will probably bring the number of 90 to 100. It has been indicated that these will be deported at the end of ten days, but I have been assured by the Government that additional time will be given them to dispose of their property without loss, if necessary, and in case some more satisfactory arrangement is not effected. From this expression I am inclined to think that these people will be able to arrive at some compromise, and have advised them that since they had come into the country in violation of law it was at their own risk, and any arrangement looking to remaining here must be made by themselves. I think they understand the situation.[Page 824]
I have stated to this Government and to the Chinese colony that I did not feel justified in doing more in this matter than to present unofficially the arguments of the Chinese in their own behalf and solicit a considerate course in the enforcement of the law for deportation, if it was finally determined upon.
I will report further occurrences as they transpire.
I have, etc.,