Guatemala. Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores.

Report of the secretary of foreign relations of the republic of Guatemala to the national legislative assembly concerning the capture and death of General J. Martín Barrundia online

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National Legislative Asser

', Assembly
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Tipografia y Encuadernacidn El Modelo, Decima Calle Poniente. Nos. 19 y 31


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Teansmitted from the Office of the Secretary of
Foreign Relations of the Rupublic of Guatemala
TO the National Legislative Assembly, Concern-
ing THE Capture and Death of General J. Martin

Senores Deputies :

In the Message which was presented to the Assembly

t\ b}- the President and also in the Memorial that was

'^ addressed to you from the office of Foreign Relations

*^ which I have the honor to represent, mention was made

'^that separately and in a special manner a Report

would be forwarded to your Honorable Body, contain-

^ ing all the facts relating to the death of the Guatemalan

\a General, J. Martin r)arrundia, whicli took place on the

i28th of August of last year on board the mercliant

^steamer Acapulco, sailing under North American colors

iand anchored at that time in the roadstead of San

^Jose, one of our Pacific ports.

n. This circumstance — which no one regrets more than
the Government — that the death of Burrundia should
have occurred when nothing more was intended than
his capture, with the view of giving him a legal trial
and preventing the disturbances and disasters with
which he threatened the Republic: the consideration
of his death having occurred on board a ship which


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l)ore tlie flag of a friendly nation, to which the Govern-
ment of Guatemala has ever endeavored to give the
most inequivocal proofs of its deference and high
esteem : and above all the desire that the facts should
be presented in their true light, in order that the
Legislative Body might form a complete and exact
judgment of the incontestable right, as well as the cir-
cumspection and care with which the Government
proceeded in the case, have made it indispensable to
devote particular attention to this affair and present it
in a form of which the amplitude and numerous details
would have been too great for the Memorial if it had
been inserted in that document.

The present report, seiiores Deputies, treats of the
faculty and right of the Government of Guatemala to
take General Barrundia from on board a North Amer-
ican merchant ship anchored in our waters. It has
been and is still the belief of the Executive, that this
faculty and riglit i^ indisputable, not only because the
person who was to be captured ought to be considered
as contraband of war, since he came with the intention
of joining those who were then in open hostility to
Guatemala, but also because, resting upon him the grave
and diverse responsibilities of many different offenses
against the common order, he had exposed himself to
the severest penalties with which high treason is pun-
ished by our laws — a crime that is considered as the
most serious of all the crimes that can be committed.
And finally, because, even leaving all this out of the
question, and admitting for the moment that he was no
more tlian a political delinquent, the doctrines and
principles, the examples and the practices of interna-
tional law, confirm in the clearest manner the power
that every government possesses to apprehend and

— 5 —

arrest political offenders when found witliin its terri-
tory — and as its territory must be considered, all
merchant vessels that are found anchored within its
waters within one marine league of the shore.

In order to put the matter in the clearest possihlc
light, I shall first establish the facts of the case ; and
afterwards, applying to these the most weighty autliori-
ties of the law of nations, I feel sure that the National
Assembly, and not only the Assembly, Itut cvci'v person
whether within or outside of the l\epublic, who may
dispassionately study this occurrence, can d(j no less
than acknowledge the legitimacy, correctness, and mod-
eration of the course pursued b}' the Government in
this matter.



General Don J. Martin Barrundia, who for several
years had been Minister of War, departed from (Guate-
mala in April, 1885, a few days after General Don
Manuel L. Barillas had entered ui)on the exercise of
the Presidency of the Republic, llis departure was
not by virtue of any order of exile on the part of
the Government, but was caused by the discovery of his
having misappropriated a large amount of the national
funds, and also by the criminal processes with which
many individuals who had been victims of his mis-
conduct, during the years that he had been Minister of
War, threatened to arraign him before the courts of


In consequence of the investigation of this undue
appropriation of public revenues; on account of tlie

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many responsibilities of a criminal character to which
he had become subject for grave abuses of power and
offenses personally committed against individuals ;
and moreover, being well aware of the hatred that
existed toward him and the innumerable execrations
heaped upon his name in all parts of this Republic,
Barrundia remained abroad until near the close of the
year 1888. Under the impression that by that time
the strong popular prejudice and bad feeling against
him had somewhat subsided, but not until after having
made many humble and repeated requests to President
Barillas soliciting permission to return, he obtained
the consent of the Government and ventured once
more to set foot on the soil of his native country ; but
so great was the force of public opinion opposing him^
and so hostile the demonstrations made against him at
every step, that rarely in this country have been seen
manifestations so universal and so energetic towards
any single individual ; the result was that he never
reached the capital ; on the contrary, he very soon
found out that not even the most strenuous efforts of
the authorities for his protection, nor his own desperate
efforts to succeed were of any avail to shield him from
the united wrath of an entire people that he had pre-
viously outraged and trampled upon, nor to restrain
the impetuosity of those who fought and struggled and
sought every opportunity to let loose their vengeance
upon his devoted head.


His return to his native country having thus been
demonstrated to be impossible — not, be it remem-
bered, because the Government might have prohibited
it or even opposed it — but because it was utterly futile

to try to resist the rising tempest of po[)ular indig-
nation that was brewing in every quarter — from
Mexico, to which country he had directed his steps, he
began to foment disturbances by writing and dis-
tributing pamphlets, circulars and other publications
full of insults and calumnies against the government
of General Barillas, urging and provoking the citizens
of Guatemala to revolution, proposing to overthrow
the established order of things, and promising to come
with outside forces to demolish the existing adminis-
tration and organize a new order of affairs with
himself at the head, in order to re-establish the peculiar
system which he had already so long put in practice.


These revolutionary pamphlets and incendiary pro-
clamations were only the beginning ; close upon their
heels followed the hostile demonstrations. Twice came
Barrundia to invade our territory from the Mexican
frontier ; the second time, let it be carefully noted, in
the former part of the month of August, at the very
moment when we were involved in war with J^alvador.
As soon as the fact of the first invasion became known,
the Minister of Foreign Relations went to the Legation
of Mexico in this capital, to call the attention of that
Government to the matter ; and, in accordance witli
this procedure, the Mexican authorities thwarted tlie
plans of Barrundia as will be seen by the tenor of the
following communication :


Legation of the United States of Mexico in ^

Central America, >

Guatemala, March 13, 1890. )

Most Excellent Sir:

By a telegraphic despatch that I have just received, I am
informed by Senor Lie. Don Ignacio Mariscal that the Authorities
of the State of Chiapas, in accordance with instructions issued by
the Government of Mexico, have seized the arms and munitions
of war which General Barrundia proposed to transport into Gua-
temala by way of the frontier.

J. Sanchez Azcona.

To His Excellency the Minister of Foreign Relations, etc.,


As to the second invasion, as soon as the Govern-
ment received information that Barrundia had set out
from Tapachula, on the 30th of July, 1890, on the road
to Tacana, in order to invade our territory from that
direction, this information was at once transmitted to
the ^Minister of Guatemala in Mexico, that he might
take the necessary steps in the case. At the same time
the attention of the Representative of the Mexican
Government in this Republic was called to the matter,
in order that he might communicate the same to his
Government and secure the adoption of those measures
wliich might be necessary for the suppression of the
proposed invasion, and prevent the disturbances that
Barrundia threatened to create. The Charge d' Affaires
of Mexico in Guatemala, upon being informed of this,
sent tlie following official telegram :

Guatemala, August 2, 1890.
To the Minister of Foreign Relations,

Tbe Minister of Foreign Relations of Guatemala has just
informed me that from passengers recently arrived by the

— 9 —

steamer City of Panavia, he has learned that li;iriuiulia and his
followers were in San Benito, and they also assert that he and his
companions have many recruits and supplies at Tapacluihi for
the purpose of invading Guatemala, and that they expect to be
reinforced by the Seventh Federal Batallion stationed in garrison
at that point, who are going to pronounce in favor of Barrundia.
His Excellency the Minister of Foreign Relations also informs
me, that although his Government does not give any credit to that
part of the report which relates to the Seventh Batallion, he
nevertheless believed it judicious to communicate the same to me
that I might transmit it to you ; for in view of the kind and
friendly relations, that exist between the two Repul)]ics, no doubt
the Government of Mexico will renew its orders to the frontier
authorities, that they may make sure the reconccntration of the
Barrundia party, and that they may continue in active vigilance
to prevent the possibility of any disturbances on the frontier.

Platon Roa.

The Mexican authorities, in exact compliance witli
the duties that international law imposes, detained
Barrundia and his companions at Tapachula, and p;ave
orders that they should depart from tlie frontier.

The public was made aware of these events and of
the acknowledgment of Guatemala, of the satisfaction
with which the Government witnessed the friendly
attitude of Mexico towards this Republic, in the edito-
rial columns of the official organ of the (Jovernment,
in the numbers of August 8 and 11 of the year 1890.

Moreover, the reader may see the treasonable articles
that were published by Barrundia in the sheet that he
wrote against Don Sebastian Escobar, whom he accused
of not coming to his assistance according to promise,
as well as in the reply of Senor Escobar in the Mexi-
can newspaper, El Universal, in the numbers of the
early part of January, 1891.



Barrundia and his followers, thus disarmed by the
^fexican authorities, and their plans completely frus-
trated, found means however to reach the port of
Acapulco, Mexico, and on the 23rd of August embarked
on hoard the steamer of the same name, Acapulco, with
the purpose of going to Salvador, there to continue his
machinations against Guatemala and join hands with
those who were at that moment actually at war with
this Republic. On the 9th of August there was
received from the Consul of Guatemala in Tapachula
a telegram sent from Malacatan, which says :

To tlie Minister of Foreign Relations,

Yesterday at 6 p.m. Barrundia and his followers were set at
liberty with orders to go away from the frontier ; their arms for
the present remain in possession of the Government of the Depart-
ment. I shall promptly advise you whether they wait for the
steamer of the iGth going North, or set out by land.

Alejandro Saenz.

On the 12th of August the following telegram Avas
received :

F. Anguiano,

Minister of Goliernacion y Justicia,

Barrundia will surely take passage from San Benito for Aca-
pulco on the 14th inst.; thence he will embark by a steamer direct
for Salvador where he has been called by Ezeta. Yesterday all
his supplies and munitions of war were sold to Don Romula
Palacios, one of the merchants of this place.

Alejandro Saenz.

— 11 —

On the 14th the following dispatch was received :

Francisco Anguiano,

Minister of Gobernacion y Justicia,

Barrundia left yesterday for San Benito to take the coasting-
steamer for Acapulco, and thence the direct steamer for Salvador.

Alejandro Saenz.

Barrundia took with him some of his followers, and
even brought with him the revolutionary proclama-
tions that he was going to send to Guatamala upon his
arrival in Salvador. In this manifesto he incited the-
people to revolution, placed himself at the head of an
outburst of violence against the existing Government
which Mr. Mizner, the American Minister, was at that
very moment doing all in his power to maintain, and
even fixed the basis of the program upon which he
was going to inaugurate his administration. This
proclamation, found among the papers of Barrundia
during the search for his effects on board the Acap u J co^
conducted with all the formalities of the occasion, was
as follows :

Long Live a Free People ! Down With Tyrants f


Absolute submission to the law and equality before the law
for all.

Complete guarantees for all rights.

Abolishment of all monopolies.

Repeal of all taxes on liquor and tobacco.

Respect for all property.

Absolute independence of the legislative and judicial powers.

— 12 —

Power of the Supreme Court of Justice to adjudge any one
fmployed in the public administration who may commit an
olfeiiee even though it be the President of the Republic.

Establish the means of alternating the office of President of the
Ko public.

JX'cided protection to national industry and commerce.

Encourage immigration.

Absolute refusal of all contracts that are ruinous to the country
in whatever form they may be presented : for example, that of
Cottu (of the Northern Railroad) which would be the ruin of the

Positive establishment of universal, free, non-sectarian public

Procure by peaceful methods and by mutual agreement with
the other Central American Republics the reconstruction of one
common united country.

Establish true fraternal relations with the Republic of Mexico,
and make positive the ties of friendship and union by means of
treaties that shall bring the two nations into more intimate rela-
tions with each other.

Defend, maintain, and cause to be respected the integrity of the
national territory.

The Chief Leader of the Revolution shall not be elected Presi-
dent of the Republic for the first Constitutional term.

J. M. Barrundia.

Ani()narrundia until he might receive con-
firmation by letter of the telegram of the Consul
General, as will be seen by the following telegram sent

— 17 —

from Champerico by the Consular Agent on tlie 2(»th
of August, J 890 :

To Seilor President of the Republic of Guatemala :

I am now on board the steamer Aca^nilco. The Captain of the
steamer has telegraphed the Consul General at Guatemala asking
him to confirm his telegram by letter, and requesting him to send
his confirmation by one of the war vessels. The Acapulco will
meanwhile remain here, and I shall continue to do all in my

Your sincere friend,

Florentin Souza.

On account of this demand of the Captain of the
Acapulco, the following note was addressed by the
Department of Foreign Relations to Mr. Hosmer,
Charge d'Affaires and C'onsul General of the United
States :

Office of the Minister of Foreign Relations )

OF the Republic of Guatemala, >

August 26, 1890. )

Honorable Sir :

The Captain of the steamer that has come to anchor today in
the port of Champerico, according to a telegram that has just
been received from the Commandant of that Port, refuses to

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