File No. 814.0441/4.

The American Minister to the Secretary of State.

No. 85.]

Sir: With reference to your instruction No. 68 of the 17th ultimo, relative to the system of “incomunicación” which prevails in Guatemala, and referring to the case of the arrest of Thomas J. McCullough on November 5 last, I have the honor to report to you as follows:

When Mr. McCullough’s case was reported to me by the consul general I discussed with the latter the question of the refusal of the authorities to permit the former to communicate with the consulate general, and on December 8 last addressed a note to the minister for foreign affairs requesting that such instructions as might be necessary should be issued to prevent a recurrence of the denial of access on the part of an American citizen under arrest in this Republic to his appropriate consular officer, and that I be notified when such steps had been taken. Under date of December 28 last I received a reply stating that the appropriate authorities were being conferred with in the sense desired, and that I should be advised of the result. After receiving your above-mentioned instruction I recalled the matter to the attention of the foreign office, and under date of the 8th instant received a note, of which I have the honor to inclose a copy with translation, stating that the necessary orders had been issued to permit all Americans arrested in this country to notify their consular representative immediately of their detention. Copies in Spanish and English of this note I have transmitted to the consul general for his information and for communication to our consular agents in Guatemala, with a request that any instance of failure on the part of local authorities to observe these instructions be promptly reported to the legation.

With respect to the question of the modification of the existing system of “incomunicación” I requested an interview with President Estrada Cabrera, which took place yesterday afternoon. I communicated to the President your instructions. He observed that “incomunicación,” which might extend for a period of from 5 to 60 days, was only provided for in the case of very grave accusations, that it would be difficult to entirely abolish it, but that in all other cases there was no objection to Americans under arrest communicating with their diplomatic and consular representatives, and that he would cause a circular in this sense to be issued, adding that he would take a personal interest in the matter.

I have, etc.,

R. S. Reynolds Hitt.
[Page 277]
[Inclosure 1.]

The American Minister to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Excellency: I have the honor to invite your excellency’s attention to a complaint which I have received that an American citizen by the name of Thomas J. McCullough, who was arrested on the 5th instant under a Chargé of swindling, was denied the right to notify his consul general of his arrest and imprisonment in the jail of the 4a Seccion de Policia.

Mr. McCullough subsequently succeeded—but, I am informed, without the permission of the authorities—in advising the American consul general of his arrest, and was immediately released upon the explanation of an error which had been the cause thereof.

I shall, however, appreciate it if your excellency will kindly cause such instructions as may be necessary to be issued to prevent a recurrence of the denial of access on the part of an American citizen under arrest in this Republic to his appropriate consular officer and that you would be so good as to inform me when such steps have been taken.

I avail, etc.,

R. S. Reynolds Hitt.
[Inclosure 2.]

The Minister for Foreign Affairs to the American Minister.

Mr. Minister: In reply to your excellency’s courteous note of the 4th instant, I have the honor to advise your excellency that pursuant to your request proper instructions have been issued to the proper authorities to permit American citizens who may be arrested in the Republic immediately to apprise their competent consular representative of their detention.

I avail [etc.],

Luis Toledo Herrarte.