125.61383/158: Telegram

The Chargé in Mexico (Summerlin) to the Secretary of State

3256. Your 2259 October 24th, 6 p.m. To my note of October 25, Foreign Office in note dated to-day makes lengthy reply of which following is a summary:

A telegram received from Governor Cabrera of Puebla shows that, notwithstanding repeated representations of friends and relatives of Jenkins not to pursue abductors, the Government has not failed to fulfill its duty in endeavoring to locate offenders, working with prudence and secrecy to conform with those representations and at the [Page 580] same time fulfilling its obligation to maintain order and supply guarantees.

With regard to ransom the note states:

“By instruction of the President of the Republic I have the honor to assure you that not only in this case but also in any other whatsoever which unfortunately has occurred or may occur the Government of Mexico has issued and will issue such instructions as may be necessary amply to guarantee the lives and interests of all the inhabitants of the country, foreigners and Mexicans, and that it will always follow this line of conduct; but that if it be claimed in this or any other case that the Government of Mexico pay any sum as ransom the Government would be confronted by the painful necessity not to comply with such demand, declaring from today categorically that it will not pay ransom for Mr. Jenkins even though it be legally proven in the investigation being made by the authorities of Puebla that the Consul bound himself to pay any amount or that he already has paid some amount. You will easily understand the reasons of defense and morality on which my Government found[s] a statement of this character; even though it recognizes its duty to protect foreign lives and interests in the country, it thinks that such protection should be the same as that which its nationals enjoy and it is known that it never has been claimed of any government that its duty of vigilance and protection extends to assuring it individually to each inhabitant since this would be impossible. By offering to pay these ransoms in order to overcome all difficulties the government, by such an evidence of good will, instead of stopping these crimes would provoke them by awakening covetousness with its liberality and would open its doors to fraudulent combinations of sure results and for this the establishment of an understanding or agreement between a foreigner and Mexican criminals, or simply the latter devoting all their activities to the consummation of acts such as the one of which Mr. Jenkins was the victim would be sufficient. The Mexican Government cannot lend itself to facilitating these immoral acts when its first duty is to act within and compel respect for the laws. What it is disposed to do in this and in any other case is to guarantee to the victims through the courts the payment of the indemnities to which they may be entitled in accordance with our civil and criminal legislation.

“This decision is moreover based on antecedents well known to them [you] which are recorded in the history of international law. Very seldom in fact and only when conditions exist which are not found in the present case has government paid ransom; but no country, including the United States, would agree to pay them as a principle or rule.

“The Mexican Government is pursuing the authors of the crime and believes their capture possible and in case the amounts which it is said were stolen from Mr. Jenkins or those which he may have paid as ransom are recovered you may be sure that they will be returned immediately to their owner since this is one of the first measures which should be taken in conformity with our penal law.

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“Hoping that the Government of Washington will recognize the justification with which the Government of Mexico is proceeding as well as its determined wish for the friendly arrangement of all matters which occupy the attention of the two Governments.”