The Minister in Ecuador (Bading) to the Secretary of State

No. 656

Sir: Referring to the Department’s telegram No. 7 of January 25th, 7 p.m. and this Legation’s reply thereto (No. 5 of January 27th, 10 a.m.)1 with regard to the proposed deportation of all Chinese from Guayaquil, I have the honor to report that on January 7, 1926 the following telegram was received by the Legation; (translation):

“American Minister, Quito. 48 members of our colony are detained in jail after having had their identification certificates inspected in conformity with an order issued by the chief of police, who informed us that we would be obliged to leave the country. We beg Your Excellency to use your good offices to obtain our liberty, (signed) J. Wah Hing.”

On the same day the Legation received a telegram from Chan Santon Taysing, Consul General of China, which was forwarded through the American Consulate General, confirming the above quoted telegram and stating that all the Chinese under arrest were well known merchants, among them being directors of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Guayaquil, and all of whom had been arrested without any charge being lodged against them, which of course meant that they were being deprived of their liberty contrary to the guarantees of the constitution of Ecuador and the laws applying to foreigners in this country.

I promptly requested an audience with the Acting Minister of Foreign Relations, Dr. Arizaga L., informing him of the arbitrary action taken by the Chief of Police of Guayaquil and requesting that the Chief be instructed to liberate these Chinese or file proper charges of misconduct, if such there were, against individuals, in accordance with the constitution and the laws of Ecuador.

[Page 52]

The Acting Foreign Minister then assured me that no action contrary to the provisions of Ecuadorian law would be permitted against the Chinese, and that he would see that they received just treatment.

On January 8th a further telegram was received giving names of all Chinese under arrest and calling my attention to an expressed intention of the Chief of Police to deport all Chinese from Guayaquil, his intention being based on an old law, since modified, prohibiting Chinese from entering Ecuadorian territory.

The Chinese Consul General further called my attention to the fact that all places of business belonging to Chinese in Guayaquil had been closed and therefore considerable financial losses were being sustained. Copy of this telegram was transmitted to the Acting Minister of Foreign Relations.

On January 10th the American Consul, Mr. Butrick, telegraphed the Legation that the Consular corps and bankers of Guayaquil would protest to the local authorities because of mistreatment of Chinese and resulting serious situation which was being created.

The change of members of the Junta de Gobierno Provisional having taken place on January 10th, I promptly requested an interview with the newly appointed Acting Minister for Foreign Relations, Dr. Viteri Lafronte, and outlined to him the serious situation which was being created in Guayaquil and called his attention to the fact that this illegal and arbitrary procedure by the Chief of Police of Guayaquil not only was an injustice to the Chinese resident in that city, but also would create financial loss to numerous American exporters and that such financial loss, amounting to thousands of dollars, would very likely, in due course of time, lead to the establishment of diplomatic claims.

Again I was assured that no arbitrary action resulting in deportation would be permitted and that the Governor and Chief of Police of Guayaquil would immediately be instructed to undertake no action contrary to the laws of the country.

On January 11th a telegram was received from the Chinese Consul General informing the Legation that the Chief of Police had issued an order that each individual Chinaman under arrest would be obliged to deposit in a bank five thousand sucres (the sum later being reduced to two thousand sucres) as a guarantee, and when that had been done it was proposed to allow 90 days for them to liquidate their business prior to being expelled from the country.

On the same day another telegram was received stating that by this time there were 136 Chinese under arrest. This telegram was transmitted to the Acting Minister for Foreign Relations with the following note: [Page 53]

“The American Minister presents his compliments to Sr. Dr. Dn. Homero Viteri Lafronte, Member of the Junta de Gobierno Provisional in charge of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and has the honor to present to him herewith copy of a telegram received from the Chinese Consul General with reference to the matter under discussion yesterday afternoon.

“The American Minister wishes again respectfully to voice his protest against the arbitrary action taken by the Intendente General of Police of Guayaquil in placing under arrest and detaining in prison, as reported, 136 Chinese contrary to all laws and justice, and expresses the hope that immediate action will be taken to restore to these Chinese their liberty and such rights as are guaranteed to all foreign residents by the Constitution and laws of the Republic of Ecuador.

“G. A. Bading avails himself of this opportunity to extend to Dr. Dn. Homero Viteri Lafronte the assurance of his high consideration and esteem.”

“Quito, January 12, 1926.”

To which, on January 13th, the following answer was received (translation):

“The Minister of Public Instruction, in charge of the Ministry for Foreign Relations, presents his compliments to His Excellency the Minister of the United States of America, and in reply to His Excellency’s note verbale of this date, regarding the arrest and imprisonment of 136 Chinese in Guayaquil, takes pleasure in stating that these documents will immediately be brought to the knowledge of the Junta de Gobierno Provisional, in the hope of obtaining a favorable resolution from that body.

“Homero Viteri Lafronte avails himself of this occasion to renew to His Excellency Dr. Gerard A. Bading the assurance of his highest and most distinguished consideration.”

“January 12, 1926.”

At this same time the French Minister in this city transmitted to this Legation a note in which he called attention to a complaint which had been made to him by what is considered the largest French importing house in Guayaquil, requesting from him information as to who would be responsible for large financial losses which would result in case the Chinese were deported.

The following telegram also had been received from Levy Brothers of Guayaquil, the largest American mercantile establishment there:

“Our firms personal credits to Chinese one hundred thousand sucres, also at least ten thousand dollars our Colgate agency accounts are in danger with latest action against Chinese in Ecuador.” (signed) Philip Levy.

On January 13th the Legation received a telegram from Consul General Taysing stating that he expected to arrive in Quito that day. However, he did not arrive until the morning of the following day, notwithstanding the fact that he was traveling by special train. [Page 54] Immediately upon his arrival he came directly to the Legation from the station.

Mr. Taysing informed me that he had requested a special train to come from Guayaquil on Monday, January 11th and had been denied permission by the Governor and the Chief of Police to leave the city, and that the permission to leave had only been granted to him after vigorous representations by the Dean of the Consular Corps in Guayaquil to the authorities there.

He further informed me that on his stating to the Chief of Police that he desired to proceed to Quito in order to consult the American Minister, who represented Chinese interests in Ecuador, he had been informed that the matter did not in any way concern the American Minister, particularly as the American Government had not recognized the Government of Ecuador, and this alleged statement by the Chief of Police was later confirmed by newspaper reports from Guayaquil.

The Chinese Consul General explained the situation in Guayaquil to me in detail, informing me that he had advised the Chinese who were being detained to refuse to put up the cash bond demanded by the Chief of Police; that he had informed the Chief that he personally would guarantee the appearance before the proper courts of any members of the Chinese colony against whom charges might be filed and had called his attention to the fact that over eight hundred employees of various Chinese merchants and manufacturers had been thrown out of work because of the action of the Chief of Police; that at any time, because of this arbitrary action of the Chief, popular prejudice might be aroused to such an extent as to cause shooting and destruction of property, but to all arguments presented by the Consul General, the Chief of Police gave the assurance that it was his firm intention to have all Chinese deported from Ecuador.

A statement was issued to the press by the Chief of Police in which he stated that now Ecuador is undergoing a period of regeneration and the proper time had arrived to rid the country of all Chinese, who had always been a menace to Ecuadorian commerce and to the morals of the communities on account of their vicious habits.

As Mr. Taysing requested that he be given an opportunity to present the case in person to the Acting Minister for Foreign Relations, I requested the interview, which was promptly granted for that afternoon.

The Acting Foreign Minister, Dr. Viteri Lafronte, again gave every assurance that no action would be permitted contrary to the Constitution and the laws of Ecuador, stating that on orders of the Junta de Gobierno Provisional the action of the Chief of Police had already been modified to the extent that he was willing to place all arrested [Page 55] members of the colony at liberty on their depositing a cash bond; that furthermore orders had been issued directing all employees of the various merchants to return to their work, and finally he expressed regret that there had been interference with Taysing’s proposed journey to Quito.

As a period of eight days had elapsed during which no satisfactory action had been taken, regardless of the representations made by the American Minister, and as the entire attitude of the Acting Minister, though conciliatory, did not insure satisfactory action, I deemed it opportune to voice a most vigorous and emphatic protest, again calling the Minister’s attention to the fact that the action taken by the Chief of Police was entirely arbitrary and in disregard of the Constitution and of the laws of Ecuador guaranteeing to all foreigners within the country equal rights with Ecuadorians and that such action could not be tolerated as it jeopardized the liberty and interests of all foreigners.

Thereupon the Acting Minister stated that with the unsettled conditions prevailing in Ecuador at this time such acts were likely to happen and that it was not the intention of the Provisional Government to cause injustice or financial loss to anyone; that the question of politics had entered into the matter, which had made it somewhat difficult for the Junta de Gobierno Provisional satisfactorily to arrange the matter; that however he believed that in due course of time a satisfactory solution might be found. (Major Larrea Alba, the Chief of Police of Guayaquil, took a prominent part in the overthrow of the Cordova Government, and therefore enjoyed prestige in army circles, which the Junta did not dare to oppose.)

I informed Mr. Viteri Lafronte that I could well understand the happening of illegal acts during a disturbed period of the kind now existing in Ecuador, that however, I failed to understand the continuation of an illegal act, such as had been committed by the Chief of Police against the Chinese with the full knowledge of the Provisional Government and therefore, I emphatically requested that all arrested members of the Chinese Colony be given their liberty within twenty-four hours and that the Chief of Police, Major Larrea, be discharged from his position as a man evidently not qualified for the high office which he held, stating that unless I received assurance that my request would be complied with I would notify my Government of the disregard of all law by the authorities of Guayaquil and that I would further call a meeting of the entire Diplomatic Corps, to which body I had already presented a resolution of protest adopted by the entire Consular Corps of Guayaquil, and request from the Diplomatic Corps unanimous action against the position taken not only by the authorities of Guayaquil but apparently also [Page 56] by the Junta de Gobierno Provisional as a menace to the rights and liberties of all foreigners living in Ecuador.

The Acting Minister then stated that my protest was well founded and that he would immediately again take up the matter with the Junta de Gobierno Provisional, and he assured me that he had no doubt that my request would be complied with and that he would notify me without delay of the action which might be taken by the Junta.

That same evening I was informed by telephone that all Chinese had been unconditionally liberated by seven o’clock. I was likewise informed that the Chief of Police of Guayaquil, Major Larrea A., had promptly resigned his position on receiving the orders of the Junta de Gobierno Provisional, and his resignation was immediately accepted.

The following note was received from the Foreign Office on January 16th (translation):

“Mr. Minister:

Referring to the conversations which I had with Your Excellency in regard to the order of the Chief of Police of Guayaquil for the expulsion of the Chinese citizens who had disregarded the laws of the Republic, I have the honor to transcribe for Your Excellency the communication which was sent to me by the Secretary General of the Junta de Gobierno, as follows:

“To the Minister for Foreign Relations: I am pleased to inform you that the Junta de Gobierno, at today’s session, ordered the immediate release of the Chinese detained in Guayaquil, on account of the various antecedents in the case and the information received, and because the Chinese Consul General guarantees their appearance whenever they may be needed for any judgment or infraction of the laws of narcotics, immigration etc.”

“I avail myself” etc.

A day later I received the following telegram from the liberated Chinese (translation):

“His Excellency the American Minister:

“Thanks to your good offices we were liberated last night. From the first moment we were placed in prison we have had the conviction that you were our sole hope. Such has been the result that our gratitude to Your Excellency will be eternal.” (Then follow a number of signatures of Chinese who had been under arrest.)

We are informed that all Chinese commercial establishments have been reopened for business and that the situation so far as they are concerned has returned to normal. Therefore no further antagonistic action towards the Chinese colony is anticipated.

It is hoped that my action in the matter will meet with the approval of the Department.

I have [etc.]

G. A. Bading
  1. Neither printed.