Page images
PDF
EPUB

justified by the facts, upon complaint I would report it to my Government and if the charge could be sustained I had no doubt the passport would be canceled, but I could not draw any distinctions between persons bearing proper proof of American citizenship, and unless the jefe politico was wired immediately to withdraw all l'estraint attached to Mr. Posadas I would cable my Government for instructions for my guidance. He asked for time until Monday to consult with the President, requesting that I refrain until then from applying to Washington. I consented to this on condition that Mr. Posadas should not be further molested, in the meantime, in his person or property.

The minister of foreign affairs called Sunday afternoon, the 22d instant, at the legation and stated the President was so busy the Posadas matter could not be reached before Tuesday or Wednesday. I therefore on Monday morning sent you a cable respecting the matter; I also sent a telegram to Mr. Posadas, a copy of which is attached, marked No. 2.

It seems to me that there is a principle of the greatest importance involved in this case which should be settled at once.

We naturally do not like the attitude of forcing an unwilling compliance with our views of the matter in each individual case that may arise, when the constitution of Guatemala makes a plain declaration of a different principle.

Yet we must insist peremptorily upon the recognition of the property and personal rights of every American citizen.

It is particularly embarrassing to make demands from a nation, the compliance with which is contrary to their own laws or constitution. I beg to suggest, therefore, that such representation be made the Government of Guatemala as will lead in some way to the removal of the important conflict now existing between the constitution of that country and the principle we maintain.

Tuesday I called personally upon the President and pointed out to him how utterly impossible it was for our Government to concede the contention that a returned Guatemalan who had taken out citizenship in the United States had thereby lost his rights to our protection; that not only must I insist upon all privileges being accorded Posadas that were granted any other American citizen, but I begged leave to urge that the principle involved should be taken up and disposed of in such a way as would avoid this question being revived in the future. We had a full discussion which resulted in his agreement to have the order of detention imposed upon Posadas canceled, to not ask a forced loan from him, and to refer the principle here involved to Mr. Lazo Arriago at Washington for discussion and settlement.

Tuesday night, the 24th instant, your cable with instructions was received. I have, etc.,

LESLIE COMBS.

(Inclosure 1.]
Mr. Posadas to Mr. Combs.

MAZATENANGO, March 19, 1908. DEAR SIR: Herewith I beg to call your attention to the following incident:

The 18th of this month I was told by Mr. Juan Alvarez, jefe politico of this department, to contribute with $60,000 in the expenses of the Guatemalan Government in the present war. I told him that I was the commercial representative in this country of my father, J. Zerion Posadas, resident of San Francisco, Cal., and a naturalized

citizen of the United States of America. I told further that my father, being an American, was not obliged to contribute in the expenses of the Guatemalan war.

I decided going to the capital with the intention of informing you of this matter but the jefe politico did not allow me to leave Mazatenango. I am, like my father, an American citizen. My letters of naturalization and passport No. 64214 are here at your disposition,

As it is very likely I will be put in jail if I do not give the money asked, I entreat you to settle this as quickly as possible with the Guatemalan Government. I am, etc.,

ALBERTO Posadas.

[Inclosure 2.)

Mr. Combs to Mr. Posadas.

[Telegram.]

GUATEMALA, March 23, 1903. Pay no attention to illegal notice of detention. If arrested, inform me. Acknowledge receipt of this telegram.

LESLIE Combs, United States Minister.

[Inclosure 3.]
Mr. Posadas to Mr. Combs.
[Telegram.]

MAZATENANGO, March 23, 1903. I thank you kindly for the telegram you had the goodness to send me.

ALBERTO POSADAS.

[Inclosure 4.)
Mr. Combs to Mr. Posadas.

[Telegram.)

GUATEMALA, March 25, 1903. President Estrada kindly assured me he would direct order for your detention withdrawn immediately and no forced loan demand made.

LESLIE Combs.

[Inclosure 5.]
Mr. Combs to Mr. Posadas.
[Telegram.]

GUATEMALA, March 26, 1903. My telegram informing you order of detention and demand for loan would be withdrawn has not been acknowledged. •

LESLIE Combs.

[Inclosure 6.]
Mr. Posadas to Mr. Combs.
[Telegram.]

MAZATENANGO, March 26, 1903. I sent you this morning, at 6 o'clock, the following telegram acknowledging receipt of your telegram of yesterday's date, the contents of which I dnly note: “I am extremely grateful for the care you have taken of my interests.".

ALRERTO POSADAS.

Mr. Hay to Mr. Combs.

No. 30.]

DEPARTMENT OF STATE,

Washington, April 18, 1903. Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your No. 40, of the 25th ultimo, concerning the refusal of Guatemala to recognize the United States passport of Alberto Posadas, a native Guatemalan naturalized in this country.

You report an interview on the subject which you had with the minister of foreign affairs on March 21, when “he took the ground that many Guatemalans went to the United States for a few years to obtain naturalization papers to avoid the duties and obligations of citizens, and then returned to Guatemala, where all their property interests lie," and “that the constitution of the country declared all persons born in Guatemala subjects and citizens of Guatemala whenever they were in the country, no difference in what or how many other countries they had obtained citizenship.”

From an examination of the copy of the Guatemalan constitution which we have here it would appear that it contains nothing more than a provision similar to that in our own Constitution that all persons born in the country are citizens thereof. Your dispatch would seem to indicate that the Guatemalan constitution contains a provision denying the right of expatriation. If such be the case, then the same question of dual allegiance which we have with Russia and Turkey would arise, and a satisfactory solution of the question could be afforded by the conclusion of a treaty of naturalization with Guatemala, if that Gorernment will agree to it. The Department will be pleased to have you send to it a copy of the present constitution of Guatemala for its use in considering the matter.

Meanwhile you are to be governed by the Department's instruction by telegram of March 24, 1903. I am, etc.,

JOHN HAY.

Mr. Combs to Mr. Hay.

No. 69.]

LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,

GUATEMALA AND HONDURAS,

Guatemala, June 5, 1903. Sir: Referring to your instruction No. 30, dated April 18 last, I have the honor to report I took the matter of a naturalization treaty up with Mr. Barrios by letter, a copy of which is inclosed, marked No. 1.

In due course I received his letter of May 28 last, copy and translation of which is attached, marked No. 2, in which, as you will see, he maintains the position that “Guatemalans naturalized in another country are upon their return to Guatemala again subject to the obligations of their primitive nationality, from which there is no exemption."

I rejoined with a note, a copy of which is hereto attached, marked No. 3, in which I stated “When once a foreign-born citizen of another country has legally become a naturalized citizen of the United States no other power on earth can take his rights and privileges from him."

I also thanked him for his promise to study the question and warned bim of the difficulties likely to arise should the matter be unarranged.

I inclose the copy of a note from Mr. Posadas, marked No. 4, showing his appreciation of the course taken by the Department of State in the affair of his son. I have, etc.,

LESLIE COMBS.

[Inclosure 1.]

Mr. Combs to Mr. Barrios.

LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,
GUATEMALA AND HONDURAS,

Guatemala, May 9, 1903. Sir: I have the honor to copy, for transmission to your excellency, the following paragraphs from a recent instruction received from my Government at Washington:

The interview of March 21 referred to was that in which I had the honor to discuss the Posadas case with your excellency. A portion of the instruction reads literally: “You report an interview on the subject which you had with the minister of foreign affairs on March 21, when he took the ground that many Guatemalans went to the United States for a few years to obtain naturalization papers to avoid the duties and obligations of citizens, and then returned to Guatemala, where all their property interests lie," and, “that the constitution of the country declared all persons born in Guatemala subjects and citizens of Guatemala whenever they were in the country, no difference in what or how many other countries they had obtained citizenship.

From an examination of the copy of the Guatemalan constitution which we have here, it would appear that it contains nothing more than a provision similar to that in our own Constitution that all persons born in the country are citizens thereof. Your dispatch would seem to indicate that the Guatemalan constitution contains a provision denying the right of expatriation. If such be the case, then the same question of dual allegiance which we have with Russia and Turkey would arise, and a satisfactory solution of the question could be afforded by the conclusion of a treaty of naturalization with Guatemala, if that country will agree to it. The Department will be pleased to have you send to it a copy of the present constitution of Guatemala for its use in considering the matter."

I reported, at the same time, an interview with President Estrada, a part of which was as follows: “We had a full discussion, which resulted in his agreement to have the order of detention imposed upon Posadas canceled; to not ask a forced loan from him; and to refer the principle here involved to Mr. Lazo Arriaga, at Washington, for discussion and settlement."

Submitting the above statements, I request your excellency to give me the necessary data that I may inform the Department of State:

First. If the Guatemalan constitution or laws deny the right of expatriation, and, in the event there is such prohibition by the laws or constitution, request that you supply me with a copy of same for transmission.

Second. I would also be pleased to know if it would be agreeable to your excellency's Government to carry out the suggestion made by the Secretary of State of the United States that a treaty of naturalization be formulated between our Governments. With sentiments, etc.

LESLIE COMBS.

[Inclosure 2.—Translation.]

Mr. Barrios to Mr. Combs.

DEPARTMENT OF STATE, REPUBLIC OF GUATEMALA,

Gualemala, May 28, 1903. Mr. MINISTER: On the 9th instant your excellency was pleased to address me a note in which, after transcribing to me the instructions which you had received from the Department of State at Washington, concerning the Posadas case, you ask me if our constitution or laws deny the right of Guatemalans to expatriation; and if my Government is disposed to enter into a treaty with the United States of America concerning naturalization.

Acceding, with pleasure, to the wishes of your excellency, I have the honor to make known the following:

Although it is a fact, as indicated by the Department of State at Washington, that the constitution of Guatemala makes no allusion to the case of a Guatemalan naturalized in a foreign country, it was not necessary that it should, especially since such cases are comprehended in the provision of Article V, paragraph 1, of the fundamental law of Guatemala, which considers as native Guatemalans all those persons born or that may be born in the territory of the Republic, the exception established by said article applying only to children of diplomatic personages.

But if it is desired to find a provision perfectly applicable to the case of Posadas, naturalized in the United States, we have Article VIII of our law concerning foreigners, which says that the Guatemalan naturalized in another country is, upon his return to Guatemala, again subject to the obligations of his primitive nationality from which there is no exemption. This law, which considers the nationality of a Guate malan merely suspended while he remains absent from the Republic, is in conformity with our constitution; a logical conseqence thereof applicable to concrete cases such as that of Posadas.

I remit to your excellency a copy of our constitution and also one of our law relating to foreigners, in accordance with the request contained in the note to which I am replying. Concerning the naturalization treaty to which your excellency alludes, I shall study the question with pleasure, that we may later on endeavor to carry it to a conclusion. In the meantime, kindly accept, etc.,

JUAN BARRIOS M.

[Inclosure 3.]

Mr. Combs to Mr. Barrios.

LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,
GUATEMALA AND HONDURAS,

Guatemala, June 1, 1903. Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your excellency's note of the 28th of May last, expressing the view of the Government of Guatemala concerning the status of American citizens born in Guatemala and note the laws quoted, which are deemed by you to warrant that position. Your consititution does not prohibit expatriation, and when once a foreign-born citizen of another country has legally become naturalized as a citizen of the United States no other power on earth can take his rights and privileges from him.

I note, therefore, with pleasure your promise to study the question of a naturalization treaty, that we may later endeavor to carry it to a conclusion, that we may have no conflict between our laws. I fear future complications and irritation should these differences be unarranged. With assurances, etc.,

LESLIE COMBS.

[Inclosure 4.]

Mr. Posadas to Mr. Combs.

SAN FRANCISCO, April 17, 1903. SIR: On the 10th instant I had the honor of communicating to you by telegram my obligation to you for the protection extended by you to my son Alberto against the oppressive measures sought to be used by the local authorities against him. I beg now more fully to repeat the expression of my thanks and to explain to you the lack of foundation for the pretense that he is a citizen of Guatemala. I left that country with my family in 1890. Since that date our home has been in this city. Albert was at that time not 10 years of age. When he reached his majority he chose this country as that of his citizenship and obtained the right under its laws. At the very moment at which he reached his manhood he took the oath of fidelity to the United States and received from it the invaluable evidence of his adoption as one of its citizens.

« PreviousContinue »