File No. 814.0441/6.

The American Chargé d’Affaires to the Secretary of State.

No. 125.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the department’s instructions to this legation of June 2 last, relative to the system of “incomunicación” which prevails in Guatemala. It is pointed out in these instructions that in Mr. Hitt’s dispatch No. 85, of May 10 last, there appears a discrepancy between the terms of the note of the minister of foreign affairs and the statements made to Mr. Hitt by the President of Guatemala, and instructions are given this legation to bring the matter to the attention of the minister of foreign affairs.

In reply I have the honor to inform the department that I sought an interview with Mr. Toledo Herrarte, the minister of foreign affairs, and called his attention to the apparent discrepancy between his note of May 8 and the statement of the President to Mr. Hitt.

I showed Mr. Toledo Herrarte his original notes and he immediately stated to me that no discrepancy was shown nor was any such thing intended. He explained that in his first note he made it clear that all American citizens were permitted immediately to inform their consular representatives of their detention in every case, even when “incomunicado,” but that the circular, transmitted in his second note, expressly stated that all American citizens were permitted to communicate freely—which, he explained to me, meant personally [Page 280] to visit and speak with the prisoners—except when they were “incomunicado” under article 11 of the Penal Code, which expressly provides for this kind of detention in accusations of a very grave character.

He then went on to explain that the difference between “inform” and “communicate freely,” as made by the Guatemalan Government, was that “to inform” meant to apprise the consular representative by messenger or letter, while “to communicate freely” meant to speak in person and see the representative, and that the latter case, when the prisoner was “incomunicado,” would involve a breaking of the laws of Guatemala and could not be done. However, in all cases, even in those of “incomunicación,” the prisoner would be permitted to inform his representative of his detention.

I have, etc.,

Jordan Herbert Stabler.