File No. 312.115/140.

Consul Bonney to the Secretary of State.

No. 149.]

Sir: I have the honor to attach hereto copy of communication received from General Thomas Urbina, military commandant, and translation thereof, together with translation of my reply thereto. I ask the approval of the Department of the position taken in said reply. This correspondence followed much verbal resistance to demands.

After arresting and threatening many Mexicans and several Spanish subjects, and extorting money from them, a prominent English gentleman, Mr. Claude Stanhope, was taken early in the morning to the headquarters of General Urbina and detained for more than 24 hours, until money was paid.

Immediately following, and on February 16, 1915, the Chief of the Department of Hacienda, José Kasperowitz, cited four Americans to appear at his office, for the purpose of levying an extraordinary tax. [Page 990] These Americans were A. S. Sharp ton, H. L. Barkley (representing Pierce Oil Corporation), Gustave Von der Maden (representing Cía. Metalúrgica Mexicana) and F. S. Ulmer. I immediately visited Mr. Kasperowitz, and induced him to take these names off the list, with the understanding that the parties could voluntarily contribute if they wished, but without prejudice or consequences in any event. The Chief of Police (Jefe de Armas) the next day cited Rafael Aja for the same purpose; upon my intercession he was immediately released from the interview and from the demand. The next day, however, Kasperowitz cited Mr. A. L. Gonthier and Joseph Deutz. Then took place the correspondence attached hereto. The demands of the authorities upon Mr. Gonthier and Mr. Deutz are yet in suspense, and Mr. Deutz is now in this Consulate, fearing an experience similar to that of Mr. Stanhope.

The British Tranvía Company were called and paid 2,000 pesos; the French Brewery paid 2,500 pesos.

The British Vice Consul and American Consul joined in a protest, but the German Consul and French Vice Consul refused to do so, as they have business interests. It was thought the Spanish Vice Consul had best not join in the protest.

On February 19, in an effort to reach General Francisco Villa in the matter, I telephoned to Consular Agent Glenn at Guanajuato, asking that he telegraph an urgent message to George Carothers to secure an immediate order to stop the extortion.

General Urbina is probably known to the Department by reputation. I invite attention to the remarks in his communication regarding recognition of consuls. I do not know whether my telegrams in the matter have been forwarded. It is reported today that General Raul Madero will reach San Luis Potosi soon, and the subject will be immediately taken up with him.

I have [etc.]

Wilbert L. Bonney.
[Inclosure—Translation 1.]

General Urbina to Consul Bonney.

As this military headquarters has been obliged to impose an extraordinary tax, proportional to capital, upon all capitalists, manufacturers, merchants, landowners, and in general upon all persons who have property, through the Department of Hacienda, several persons belonging to the American colony have been cited, which colony you represent, and as the majority of them have not responded, and as I have to ask that you indicate to your citizens that it is convenient that they obey the citation, or we shall proceed to punish them with energy.

As an explanation, permit me to say that this tax will be imposed but once, and results from the unavoidable necessity of maintaining the army to give guaranties to the community and procure the pacification of the country, and as the American citizens form part of that community, it is logical that they should contribute equally, and that there should be no exemption for them, in view of the fact that the individuals of other nationalities have obeyed the citation of this military headquarters.

Furthermore, the Corps of the Army of the North is disposed to give guaranties, to make foreigners respected, and to recognize the persons of the various consuls and their acts which have been the subject of treaties, notwithstanding that we have the right to refuse to do this from the time during which the Governments which the said gentlemen represent have not recognized the legality of the Republic which in this zone I represent.

I affirm [etc.]

Tomás Urbina.
[Page 991]
[Inclosure—Translation 2.]

Consul Bonney to General Urbina.

General: I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your communication, of the 18th of February, 1915, regarding an extraordinary tax and its relation to American citizens. The subject-matter has received the careful attention which it merits.

I have the honor to suggest to you that if American citizens should be requested to pay their regular lawful taxes for two months in advance it is believed they would be willing to do so, legal receipts being given to them, the receipts being based upon tax bills for the last bimestre. They are friends of Mexico, neutrals, and take no part in politics and pay regular taxes in the community. They have lost heavily by the war. Most of the American colony are absent. On account of the depreciation of the money, those remaining have retained as little as possible of it, only enough to pay current expenses.

For the small amount which could be secured from American citizens you can not afford to incur the criticism and protest of the American Government.

In no country is a tax collected under threat of personal punishment. You cannot afford to confess that the cause of the revolution is in such a condition of poverty that you must ask money from neutral friends.

It is true the citizens of some other countries have contributed. It is also true that many of them have appealed to me to assist them to avoid such action. It is true that your government is not yet recognized by that of my country, but you have scarcely had time and opportunity yet to organize your government, and I hope that your conduct towards our citizens will be such as to justify prompt recognition.

Therefore, in the most friendly manner and with the utmost confidence in your ability and disposition to observe and respect our neutrality, I must officially request you to desist from any suggestion of collecting money from American nationals for military purposes, or alarming or molesting them in any manner.

I wish to make a favorable report of your treatment of our nationals; it is important to you and to General Villa, and to Mexico, that I, and all consuls, shall be able to make a favorable impression regarding your attitude towards foreign interests; but I take the liberty of assuming that it is most important that my Government shall be able to commend your consideration for our people here.

With [etc.]

Wilbert L. Bonney.