The Consul at Bluefields ( Sanders ) to the Acting Secretary of State

No. 241

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith copy of a report which I have just made to the Legation at Managua concerning the lawless conditions prevailing in this consulate [consular district], a petition which was presented to me in connection therewith, and my representations in the case.16

The decree exiling the foreign merchants has not yet been revoked and apparently there will be an attempt to carry it out. The local Governor, though maintaining his lack of accord with the decree, has, nevertheless, served notice of its demand on many of the merchants who signed the petition.

One of the difficulties in handling the situation is the evident effort on the part of certain Nicaraguan politicians to make use of the merchants’ complaint to affect the interests of certain political groups. I am taking particular pains to see that neither the petitioners nor this office are compromised in any way.

I am [etc.]

John O. Sanders

Petition of Certain Residents of Bluefields to the American Consul ( Sanders )

Dear Sir: Whereas the East Coast of Nicaragua and particularly the city of Bluefields finds itself without guaranty of legal protection for either life or property, as is evidenced by the fact:

That murders and rob[b]eries are almost of daily occurance.
That the murderers and robbers go unmolested about the streets.
That great conflagrations take place so often and so evidently from arsons that insurance companies have either refused to carry our insurance or only at the exorbitant rate of 10%.

Whereas the local Government is clearly unable to give us that guaranty of life and property which is essential to the continuation of the vocations and ordinary pursuits of organized society, as is evidenced by:

The lack of policemen and other peace officers,
The absence of adequate jails in which to confine criminals and persons accused of crimes,
The fact that officers who would dare arrest and bring to justice lawless persons, and jurymen who might condemn such persons, would thereby endanger their own lives and property through incurring the ill will of the persons condemned.

Whereas we can obtain no assurance from the Government of Nicaragua that the lawlessness about us will be speedily terminated, for the chief officials of the Government admit:

That policemen can be had only by drafting into service,
That they have no funds for repairing jails,
That they have no money wherewith to buy food for prisoners; all of which may be true, yet immense sums are monthly collected from us in taxes and duties, and

Whereas we respect your judgment and believe in the good will of the United States of America towards all distressed peoples;

Therefore we, the undersigned residents of Bluefields respectfully petition you to lay our plight before the Government of the United States and endeavor to obtain for us, in whatever way may seem most proper and effective, protection for ourselves and property to the end that we may continue to reside here and follow in peace the pursuit of our legitimate occupations.

We are [etc.]

[Here follows a list of 74 names]
  1. Report to the Legation and the Consul’s “representations” not printed.