File No. 315.112G75/4

Chargé Spencer to the Secretary of State

No. 368

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the Department’s instruction No. 113 of September 23 last regarding the assault upon an American citizen, Mr. J. W. Grace, residing at Tela, by the military comandante at that place.

At the time the first representations were made regarding the conduct of the comandante at Tela, Dr. Vásquez promised a thorough investigation into the whole affair. As nothing further developed and the matter seemed in a fair way to be dropped and forgotten, I addressed an inquiry to the Foreign Office October 23 last, which I delivered in person and which resulted in an appointment being made for an interview with the President of the Republic for the following morning. I submit herewith a copy of my note.

During my interview with President Bertrand I reviewed the brief but active career of the military comandante of Tela, including not only his rabid anti-American acts and threats following the Tela fire but also his ridiculous attempt to compel the American residents of the district to go out and each catch and bring in twenty-five pounds of grasshoppers. While the official investigation brought out some points which the Government considers damaging to the contentions of the American residents, the President seemed convinced that the comandante is not the proper man to hold the post of comandante at Tela and assured me that he would immediately order his removal.

I have advised Consul Dyer at La Ceiba of this decision by telegraph and I believe the promised action of the President will have a salutary effect on other native officials in the Department of Atlantida.

I have [etc.]

Willing Spencer

Chargé Spencer to the Minister for Foreign Affairs

Your Excellency: Acting under instructions of my Government, I have the honor to inquire of your excellency if the official investigation into the conduct of the military commandante at Tela has yet been concluded.

As your excellency will recall, on the occasion of the fire at Tela several weeks ago it was charged that he, while in a drunken condition, assaulted Mr. J. W. Grace, an American citizen who was under investigation regarding the [Page 397] origin of the fire. In view of the wild threats and abusive language used by the comandante and directed against the entire American population of Tela, the incident is hardly one that can be ignored. I shall be grateful for a statement from your excellency’s Government which I can forward to Washington and which will indicate to my Government what action has been taken in the matter.

I avail [etc.]

Willing Spencer