Mr. Baker to Mr. Gresham.

No. 132.]

Sir: Since my dispatch No. 121, of October 24, there has been quiet in the politics of Nicaragua. The persons who were imprisoned on the night of the 22d, as reported in said dispatch, have been assigned respectively to close confinement in Leon, Chinendega, and El Viejo, but no new arrests or banishments have taken place.

The constituent assembly has continued its sessions and has spent the last four days in rather heated debate on the articles of the new constitution relating to the rights of foreign residents in this Republic. I beg to send you inclosed a copy and translation of the articles which were finally adopted on the 31st ultimo.

Article 12 created the greatest amount of discussion and was finally approved yesterday by a vote of 15 to 14.

Considerable excitement has prevailed among the foreign residents of this city on account of the new measures taken, and much irritation has been felt by them at their intended subjection to the extraordinary taxes, as well as to the provisions of the above-mentioned articles 10 and 12.

But I have not felt called upon to take any official notice of the action taken by the assembly. I have had, however, two personal interviews with President Zelaya, during which the question came up. One of them has been reported in my dispatch No. 121; the other I had yesterday morning, a short while before article 12 was definitely approved.

In the latter, President Zelaya and Vice-President Ortiz both assured me that while a number of members wanted to place the provision mentioned in the new constitution, on account of former instances in which foreigners had made unjust claims, the more enlightened element thought it might prove a menace or hindrance to immigration, and they both believed there would be ultimately a majority against the article. In this, however, they were mistaken, as the same morning it passed the assembly with a majority of one vote.

I am still in the hope that, before the constitution will be adopted as a whole, some changes may be made to the articles in question.

I beg, etc.,

Lewis Baker.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 132.—Translation.]

Articles relating to foreigners in the new constitution of Nicaragua, now under discussion.

  • Art. 9. Foreigners shall enjoy in Nicaragua all the civil rights of Nicaraguans.
  • Art. 10. They may acquire all kinds of property in the country, but they shall be subject, in regard to this property, to all ordinary and extraordinary charges to which [Page 434] the natives may he subject. They can not make any claim whatever nor ask for any indemnity except in the cases and in the manner in which Nicaraguans could do so.
  • Art. 11. The Republic of Nicaragua is a sacred asylum for any person taking refuge within its territory. Extradition for political crimes is prohibited, even if common crimes should result from them. The treaties shall establish the cases in which extradition may take place on account of common crimes.
  • Art. 12. Foreigners who may bring unjust diplomatic claims shall, unless the latter be adjusted in a friendly manner, lose all right to reside within the territory of the Republic.