Difficulties Between Mexico and Guatemala/Document No. IV

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Section of America.


The Minister of War has transmitted to this department, in a dispatch dated the 5th instant, a communication from the Governor of Chiapas dated the 1st of October last, in which he says that he transmits a copy, containing 14 pages, of the depositions made by the criminals, Samuel Palmer and Florencio García, and of the investigation made concerning their statement that the President of Guatemala favors the filibustering projects organized in that republic against Mexico.

From these documents it appears that Palmer and García, the former a negro from Belize and the latter a Spaniard, the manager of the coffee plantation of Don Joaquin Cárdenas, near El Rodeo, Guatemala, formed a part of the band of invaders who sacked the town of Tuxtla Chico on the night of September 20, 1880, García having acted as second in command. In their depositions they stated, among other things, that the expedition in question was organized and armed within the territory of Guatemala, with the knowledge of the Commander of Malacatan, Don Joaquin Velasco, who promised the leader, Faustino Cárdenas, that he would offer no obstacle, and that the plan had for object to overthrow the existing authorities of the state of Chiapas, and to proclaim Don Pantaleon Dominguez; that the plan as well as the proclamations signed by Victor Fougier, an exile in that republic, were printed in Guatemala, but that these documents were thrown into a river when the invaders were overtaken by the Mexican troops sent in pursuit. García added that they also carried a box with bombs, though he did not know for what purpose.

In the record of the investigation made last March by the Judge of First Instance at Tapachula, appear the depositions of Dr. Charles E. Mordaunt, an American citizen; José María Chacon, resident at Tapachula; Timoteo Leon, a Guatemalan by birth but Mexican by naturalization; and Juan María Coutiño, resident at Tapachula.

Mordaunt testified that he knows from the statements of several exiles and of some Guatemalans that the President of that republic has aided and continues to aid the revolutionists; that having seen the invaders of Tuxtla Chico at the time of their first incursion, he saw them again in the town of El Rodeo, Guatemala, engaged in trade with a capital furnished them by the President of Guatemala according to their own statement, and that he knows by the evidence of his own eyes that, on the two occasions when the Department of Soconusco was invaded, the arms and ammunition employed belonged to the Guatemalan army, that several Guatemalans accompanied the Mexican invaders, all of whom, on their return, were not molested but were aided by the said President.

Chacon testified that the President of Guatemala, Don Rufino Barrios, not only favors the filibusters but furnishes them arms, ammunition, and even explosive projectiles. This he knows from having been in December of last year at Costa Cuca, Guatemala, with Basilio Saenz, of Tapachula, a fugitive from justice for crimes not political. Saenz informed him that President Barrios had given him $400 in cash, and loaned him $3,000 for two years without interest, on condition that he would head a party of filibusters who should take possession of Soconusco, causing to be signed in the towns petitions in favor of annexation to Guatemala. This Chacon believes to be true, because Barrios himself has proposed to give the witness money and official positions with the same object of annexing Soconusco to Guatemala; that it is a notorious fact that President Barrios gives aid and comfort to all discontented Mexicans who arrive at his capital for political reasons, on condition of their taking up arms against Mexico, and that the week before last two small parties of Guatemalan soldiers invaded Mexican territory near Cuatepec, having penetrated two leagues within the municipality of Ayutla.

Timoteo Leon testified that it is true that President Barrios favors the filibusters who invade Mexico, which fact he knows because they are habitually organized and armed in Guatemalan towns in the presence of the authorities, who do nothing to impede them, although they have at their command the telegraph by which they might give information.

Lastly, Coutiño gives a similar opinion, based upon the fact that the filibusters themselves have publicly boasted of the protection given them by President Barrios, and that Faustino Cárdenas, the leader in the sack of Tuxtla Chico, having been previously under arrest in Guatemala, was set at liberty in order to invade Mexico, and that, in all the attacks made upon Tuxtla Chico, the point of reunion of the invaders has been at San Vicente Cananá, very near the headquarters of the Commander of Malacatan, Don Joaquin Velasco, who aided them with money and arms, all which is public and notorious by the admission of the filibusters themselves.

This document concludes with a dispatch from the judge, in which he excuses himself for the delay in sending the record of his investigation.


Chief of the Section of America.

Mexico, November 10, 1881.