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the atlantic coast  •  1928A, p. 1
jan 1-26, 1928

A T L A N T I C    C O A S T    D O C S
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   THIS IS THE FIRST PAGE of documents for the FIRST HALF of 1928 on Nicaragua's Atlantic Coast region, housing materials dated during the year's first 26 days. 

     The page includes three long & detailed personal letters from Capt. Merrit A. Edson to his wife & son — which include many keen observations about the region — as well as intelligence reports covering the area's major political & economic events.  Captain Kendall's reports from Bluefields are very rich, as are Major Utley's from Puerto Cabezas.  The January 3 letter from J. B. Eccleston in Cabo Gracias a Dios suggests the nervousness of coastal businesses to the prospect of an offensive by Sandino, while Consul McConnico's 12-page "Review of Commerce & Industries" of the same date offers a boatload of valuable information about those same businesses.  Major Utley's 21 January report suggests some of the many difficulties of policing the area given "the great value of the property to be protected" and the inadequacy of the present police force, while his 26 January report offers glimpses into the diciness of local politics for the Marines in the face of local opposition, like "the negro liberal paper ... in Bluefields [which] has mained a critical although not violent" attitude toward the Marine intervention. 

     As before, except as a potential threat to business, Sandino and his rebellion simply do not figure into any of these local dynamics.


PERIOD MAPS

1894 mosquito shore

27 MB, library of congress

1920s Standard Fruit

6.5 mb, US National archives

1928 Rio wanks Patrol

3 mb, us national archives

1931 Moravian

2.4 mb, coMENius press

1.   2 January 1928.

Letter from Capt. Merritt A. Edson to wife Ethel (Library of Congress, Merritt A. Edson Papers), p. 1.   "Dear Ethel: -  ¶  New Year has arrived – passed by and the year of grace 1928 – now in full swing.  May it bring you happiness and health and all those other things which belong to you so much more than anyone else my dear.  All these things which you should have and so many of which seem to have passed you by.  ¶  My last poor attempt at a letter was written as we were about the leave Balboa and enroute through the canal if I remember correctly.  We left Colon at about six in the morning of the twenty seventh and headed northwest.  The weather was excellent although I must admit this was a most unhealthy roll in the ship for the first day.  However, I managed to survive with much . . . "

2.   2 January 1928.

Letter from Capt. Merritt A. Edson to wife Ethel (Library of Congress, Merritt A. Edson Papers), p. 2.    " . . . difficulty and after eating luncheon, felt fine for the remainder of the journey. All day Wednesday we devoted to the instruction of men on the automatic rifle. [Landing] from duties and all the rest for we have no idea of what we might find at Cape Gracias - our only word being that protection against bandits was requested.  ¶  Thursday morning we stopped at Puerta Cabezas (I found that the word “puerta” means door or portal – “puerto” means port. For some unknown reason I insist upon spelling the word with an “a”).  Then we picked up as passengers Lieut. Corvette of the Marine Corps and Mr. Campton an American in the employ of the Nicaraguan government.  The former is in command of a detachment of about thirty men here, all of the 51st Company 5th Regiment where headquarters is at Bluefields.  The detachment is the furthest north of any of the east coast and since Cape Gracias is about sixty miles south it came within the radius of his activities. Mr. Crampton has been here for some nine or ten years or longer.  He is assistant director general of customs, one of the highest offices in the revenue department of the government.  By . . . "

3.   2-3 January 1928.

Letter from Capt. Merritt A. Edson to wife Ethel (continuation; p. 3 of 2 Jan. letter & p. 1 of Jan. 3 letter); of continued letter, p. 3.   " . . . hearty agreement the revenue, budget, and expenditures of the government are supervised by a group of American bankers, all creditors of the Nicaraguan government.  As a result, each of the higher officials in this branch of the government are hired by the American concerns and in most cases are United States citizens.  ¶  3 January, 1928.  ¶  At the above point, my desire for sleep after the activities of the day more or less got the better of me. Also, someone has gratuitously helped themselves or himself to my fountain pen.  The stubs pens furnished us are not of the best so I have resorted to the typewriter.  ¶  We lay in Puerto Cabezas for about an hour, just long enough to take on the two men mentioned above.  At a quarter to four the same afternoon we dropped anchor about three miles out from the village of Cape Gracias & Dios.  The cape is a narrow point of land which extends out into the ocean to the anchorage absolutely not a bit of protection in case of storms, and because the water is rather shallow it means laying off quite a ways from shore.  Immediately after anchoring, the captain of the ship, Capt. Allen, Mr. Crampton, Lt. Connette, Ensing White and myself, with four well armed marines, shoved off in a small boat for the beach.  The Coco or Wanks river empties at the cape, miles inland once one has crossed the bar at the mouth of it.  Silt and sentiment have built up a bar all around the mouth of the river so that breakers always are present and the depth of the water varies from five feet to nothing.  Just as we were about to try crossing the bar we sighted a shore boat putting out to us, so we lay outside until it came to us when the five officers transferred to it and the rest of the landing party went back to the ship.  It was a lucky thing for us that we did not try creating shelter for the water was less than three feet in spots and we would certainly have touched bottom several times.  As it was, the light boat in which we completed the journey bumped along, hitting bottom each time the swell went out from under us.  However, the bumps amounted to nothing so we did not capsize, and in a few minutes we tied up alongside the dock at the customs house . . . "

4.   3 January 1928.

Letter from Capt. Merritt A. Edson to wife Ethel, p. 2; of continued letter, p. 4.    " . . . Upon investigation, our bandits faded away and we found that we had been called north on what might be called a fool’s errand.  There is at the Cape an American by the name of Spears.  He owns a saw mill and some wooded land along the Wanks River.  Ostensibly he is a dealer in lumber and fruits; while as a matter of fact he is a rum runner and smuggler.  It seems that sometime last June he was detected in the landing of a ship load of liquor without going through the customary channels of declaring the cargo and paying the resultant tax. Naturally the native customs officials fined him and then held his boat pending further investigation.  He did not choose to leave the ship there, so he sailed it away one night in the dark.  Then to make him produce the ship, his lumber was embargoed or taken temporarily pending the return of the barque.  His wife, who is becoming quite a nervous wreck, then radioed to the C-in-C for the Special Service Squadron stating that they were being menaced by bandits and asking for protection.  Result – the good ship Denver got under way immediately and went north only to find that the Nicaraguan customs officials had become justly tried of the operations of one American smuggler and were rightfully trying to curtail his activities.  So that was all there was to our first engagement with native outlaws.  One could not help but feel sorry for Mrs. Spears, living with just the bare necessities of life, in a damp, unhealthful, mosquito infested village, with no other American women anywhere around, except her two daughters, of whom is about seventeen and the other a child of about six.  It is absolutely no place for a woman, regardless of how much or how little she knows of her husband’s business.  I believe that she is coming to Puerto Cabezas next week and from there I think that she is going to the States.  Spears, incidentally, had left Cape Gracias prior to the arrival of the DENVER and gone overland to this place.  He left in the night without the formality of a permit, which it seems everyone must get before leaving one district to go into another; so that was an added charge against him by the authorities.  Mr. Crampton and the captain were quite emphatic in their opinions that Spears was entirely in the wrong and the local police entirely in the right!  ¶  At one o’clock on Friday the 29th, we sailed from Cape Gracias for Puerto Cabezas, dropping anchor off this city at about six.  The next afternoon I went ashore to arrange for a baseball game, look over the place to decide about the necessary patrols, etc. and to stretch my legs.  Sunday morning, New Years day, I went ashore again this time in command of the shore patrol . . . "

5.   3 January 1928.

Letter from Capt. Merritt A. Edson to wife Ethel, p. 3; of continued letter, p. 5.    " . . . This town is divided into two parts.  That called Puerto Cabezas is owned entirely by an American fruit and lumber concern officially called Bragmans Bluff Lumber Company.  The owner is a Mr. Vallagio of New Orleans.  The Puerto is further divided into a white residential section which is on the water front and consists of about fifty bungalows in which live all the white American employees of the company.  All the houses are good looking, comfortable, well built, and would make good homes for anyone.  In this part of the town there is the baseball field, an excellent tennis court, a new club house, and the commissary buildings and offices.  The company is self-sustaining with its own commissary, ice plant, electric light plant, water system and what not.  Then there is a Spanish section and an Indian section which are inhabited by corresponding nationals employed by the concern.  Numerous mills, machine shops, and the railroad buildings are included in the town of Puerto Cabezas.  The railroad is also owned exclusively by the B.B.L. Co., and extends inland for a distance of 85 milometers.  It is the medium by which the fruit and lumber are brought into the port for shipment.  Altogether the company employs over 3400 men and practically controls a strip of land several miles wide by sixty miles long.  It is, you see, quite a business.  ¶  Adjoining the town of Puerto Cabezas is the native village of Bilwi.  If one looks on the map, this is probably the name of the town which will be shown.  It houses probably some 1000 natives.  It covers about as much territory as the port but of course it is not as clean, the buildings are mostly one story shacks, and the inhabitants are not as well controlled as in the company’s property.  Nearly every house contains its cantina or bar, a dry goods store, or possibly a shoe repair shop.  It is a mystery how such a small place can support so many bars and stores.  Every other cantina has its quota of women all of whom are more or less diseased.  There is also a moving picture theatre where pictures are shown four times a week, Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  This town has been placed out of bounds for naval enlisted personnel.  ¶  Two marine detachments of thirty men live in a building in the port.  They are stationed here for the purpose of protecting the company’s buildings and their personnel from the States.  A small detachment of them are stationed at the end of the railroad, Wawa Central, for the same purpose.  There has been no political troubles here, the only disorders coming for individual outbreaks against the Americans in general.  About three weeks ago three of the natives attempted to cut up a marine guard on one of the trains going through the country with the result that all three natives were shot, two of them killed and the other one rather seriously wounded.  Since then there has been not a bit of trouble . . . "

6.   3 January 1928.

Letter from Capt. Merritt A. Edson to wife Ethel, p. 4; of continued letter, p. 6.   " . . . For the time being I am going to draw this epistle to a close.  It will be continued sometime this afternoon.  (This is now the 5th of the month; a hunting trip interrupted the letter day before yesterday.  The details will be found in letter #2.)  Drills are starting now and will continue until noon.  ¶  Lots of love to both you and the young son.  I certainly do miss you but I think that it is all for the best for you to stay in the States.  You have probably read in the papers ere this of the fighting around northern Nicaragua in which six marines were killed.  No new orders have been issued us but the chances are that we will be around the coast practically all the time and not at all in Balboa.  Once more, love and kisses."

3 January 1928.

Letter from Major A. B. Sage, Bluefields, to Major H. H. Utley, Puerto Cabezas.    “Dear Major,  ¶  In talking to Conway he seems to be of the opinion that he will probably be back within a few days with Rose and Terrell.  Would like to go back with him and stop at Rio Grande and La Cruz if possible.  Must make my inspection and also pay the command. Realize of course that you are pretty short on planes.  If possible to make the trip within the next few days can you let me know by radio.  Otherwise I will make arrangements to stunt up to Rio Grande by boat next Tuesday.  Don’t mind the trip but it takes so confounded long to collect all the Guardia and then send me vouchers to Managua and wait for credit on my expenditures.  ¶  There are several matters also that I particularly want to take up with Darrah before sending up additional ten men for duty at Cabezas.  ¶  Things went off quietly here on Christmas and New Years, all my cohorts went to bed early on both days, not because of any particular reason but we are all more or less up the known pole,  ¶  Best regards to all and hope to hear from you shortly  ¶  Sincerely  ¶ A. B. Sage”

3 January 1928.

Letter from J. B. Eccleston, Cape Gracias, to Sec. State Frank Kellogg, Washington D.C.    “Dear Sir:  ¶  I take the liberty of calling to your attention again that I am a part owner of a saw mill and other properties located at Cape Gracias, Nicaragua, and that at this time my son, J. B. Eccleston, Jr., is living at Cape Gracias.  My son served in the 105th Machine Gun Company, 27th Division. A.E.F., and saw much fighting.  Our properties have involved a cash outlay of hundreds of thousands of dollars.  ¶  In view of the fact that an appeal for protection has been made by residents of Cape Gracias, of whom there are several other Americans, as stated in the New York Press on December 27th, I think it best to remind you of the conditions and add my appeal that you have isolated port, especially in view of the fact that the bandits, being driven from their strongholds in Western Nicaragua, may come down in Rio Cocoa Sagovia (or Wanks) River [sic] to Cape Gracias, and possibly ruin the wireless station, our enterprises, etc., to say nothing to the possible loss of life.  ¶  Sincerely yours,  ¶  J. B. Eccleston.”

1.   3 January 1928.
"Review of Commerce & Industries, Quarter ended Dec. 31, 1927," US Consul A. J. McConnico, Bluefields, to the Secretary of State, Washington, p. 1.   
"NO IMPROVEMENT IN ECONOMIC SITUATION.  ¶  There was no improvement in the economic situation in the Bluefields Consular District during the quarter ended December 31, 1927.  Business depression and financial stringency prevailed throughout the period, as during the preceding nine months, and mercantile interests suffered to a great extent.  There were, however, no commercial failures, as during the previous September quarter. . . . "

2.   3 January 1928.
"Review of Commerce & Industries, Quarter ended Dec. 31, 1927," US Consul A. J. McConnico, Bluefields, to the Secretary of State, Washington, p. 2.  
" . . . The Christmas trade gave some encouragement to the merchants and indicated, from the larger volume of money in circulation that many had saved for the occasion notwithstanding the fact that the purchasing power of the majority was quite limited.  All of the leading firms but one reported a decided decrease in such sales compared with the corresponding period of 1926, the decrease varying from 20 to 40 percent.  ¶  There was a common apprehension, owing to the attitude of the five mahogany companies, that the district would not be able to recover its former economic position.  One of the larger companies sold its interests and withdrew from Nicaragua; and of the remaining four one decided to engage contractors for 1928, and two curtailed their operations to a considerable extent.  ¶  The banana and the mahogany industries constitute the basic industries of the district.  Any curtailment of their operations naturally affects the commercial prosperity of the district, reduces the volume of imports and exports, diminishes the supply of money in circulation, and results in unemployment for many laborers . . . "

3.   3 January 1928.
"Review of Commerce & Industries, Quarter ended Dec. 31, 1927," US Consul A. J. McConnico, Bluefields, to the Secretary of State, Washington, p. 3.  
" . . . United States during 1927 shows an increase of approximately 37%, whereas the value increased by only approximately 23%.  This is explained by the inferior quantity of the hides which in many cases were hastily and improperly processed under the stress of revolutionary conditions.  ¶  Rubber.  ¶  The total value of unmanufactured rubber exported to the United States during 1927 was a little less than one-fifth of the value of that exported during 1926. In addition to labor shortages, the steep decline of the rubber market during the year, whereby the production of raw rubber in Nicaragua proved more and more unprofitable, served to bring this industry almost to a standstill at the closer of the year. ¶  Deer Skins.  ¶  The value of exports of deer skins declined from $53,440 in 1926 to $34,722 in 1927.  The obvious explanation lies in the revolutionary conditions prevailing throughout almost the whole of 1927, leaving fewer men available for the hunting of deer.  ¶  Sugar.  ¶  All of the sugar output of Nicaragua available for export is the product of one mill, that of the Nicaraguan Sugar Estates, Ltd., at Ingenio San Antonio.  The smaller controls cannot produce sugar on a sufficiently large margin to enable them to support their product at a profit.  The value of sugar exports in the United States during 1927 decreased approximately 30%, and the value by approximately 33%.  The total crop during 1927was about two-thirds . . . "

4.   3 January 1928.
"Review of Commerce & Industries, Quarter ended Dec. 31, 1927," US Consul A. J. McConnico, Bluefields, to the Secretary of State, Washington, p. 4.  
" . . . The large shipments of mahogany during the December quarter, 1926, were due to an accumulation of logs at tide water, some of which could not be exported during the preceding September quarter owing to the disturbed conditions at the time.  The increased shipments of bananas during the December quarter, 1927, indicated an improvement in the banana situation and progress towards normalcy in that industry . . . "

5.   3 January 1928.
"Review of Commerce & Industries, Quarter ended Dec. 31, 1927," US Consul A. J. McConnico, Bluefields, to the Secretary of State, Washington, p. 5.  
" . . . According to the Cuyamel Fruit Company, 2,310 tons of merchandise from the United States were delivered by the ships at El Bluff, the port of Bluefields, during the December quarter of 1927.  These shipments consisted of the following: oil, 500 tons; lumber, 66 tons; coal, 64 tons; general merchandise, 1680 tons.  ¶  Compared with the December quarter of 1926, it represents an increase of 193 tons; with the September quarter of 1927, an increase of 436 tons.  ¶  Most of the imports into the district, fully 80 percent, were of American origin.  They consisted mainly of food products, cotton and woolen goods, products of vegetable fibers, paper and paper products, iron and steel products, leather and manufactures thereof, drugs and medicine, gasoline, petroleum, and oils.  ¶  No information is available as to the volume of the imports at Puerto Cabezas, a port on the eastern coast of Nicaragua, next to Bluefields in importance.  The Collector General of Customs in his annual report for 1926, showed that the volume and value of the imports at that growing port closely approximated those at El Bluff.  ¶  The following is a statement comparing the tonnage imported quarterly on the Cuyamel Company’s line into Bluefields during the years 1926 and 1927:  ¶  [ table: tonnages: totals: 1926: 9,292. 1927: 7,599 ] . . . "

6.   3 January 1928.
"Review of Commerce & Industries, Quarter ended Dec. 31, 1927," US Consul A. J. McConnico, Bluefields, to the Secretary of State, Washington, p. 6.  
" . . . According to the Collector of Customs at El Bluff, the revenues collected during the December quarter, 1927, amounted to $126,559, or about $25,000 less than is usually collected when conditions are normal.  These collections were divided as follows: Import duties, $97,201; export duties, $11,006; surcharge on flour and rice, $5,665; and surcharge of 12 ½ percent, $12,687. The surcharge on flour and rice is expended on public instruction; the 12 ½ percent surcharge is applied to the payment of the Internal Debt of Nicaragua.  ¶  The following statement shows the amount of revenue collected quarterly at Bluefields during the years 1926 and 1927:  ¶  [table: Total Revenues Collected: 1926: $473,089. 1927: $472,979.] . . . "

7.   3 January 1928.
"Review of Commerce & Industries, Quarter ended Dec. 31, 1927," US Consul A. J. McConnico, Bluefields, to the Secretary of State, Washington, p. 7.  
" . . . MAHOGANY OPERATIONS.  ¶  Shipments of mahogany during the December quarter of 1927, as shown in the comparative statement of exports, represent a marked decrease in comparison with the corresponding quarter of 1926, a decrease of 4,800,000 board feet in volume, and $143,000 in value.  Compared with the September quarter of 1927, there is a decrease of 1,300,000 in board feet and $11,000 in value.  A considerable portion of the shipments during the September quarter referred to consisted of old logs that had depreciated in value.  They were, therefore, invoiced at a low price.  ¶  One mahogany company (The Otis Manufacturing Company) sold its interests to a competing company (The Nicaraguan Mahogany Company) and withdrew from Nicaragua during the December quarter of 1927.  Another company (The Mengel Company) declined to engage contractors for 1928, and two other companies (S.B. Vrooman Company and Freiberg Mahogany Company) curtailed their operations.  Only one of the five companies (The Nicaragua Mahogany Company) gave any indication of attempting to carry on operations on a large scale as formerly.  The attitude of the companies has caused some apprehension, and many assert that it is an indication of a waning industry, likely to affect the district’s economic situation quite adversely.  ¶  Operations on the Wanks, or Coco River, and on the San Juan were discontinued owing to the excessive costs involved.  All logs from the San Juan territory are floated down the San Juan to the Colorado River and then through Costa Rican territory to tide water as Colorado Bar, where they are towed out to ocean steamers.  The delays incident to loading vessels anchored off the bar, owing to treacherous tides, together with the charges of the Coast Rican government, have caused the mahogany exporters to abandon the San Juan area . . . "

8.   3 January 1928.
"Review of Commerce & Industries, Quarter ended Dec. 31, 1927," US Consul A. J. McConnico, Bluefields, to the Secretary of State, Washington, p. 8.  
" . . . THE BANANA SITUATION.  ¶  The banana situation, which gave marked indications of improvement during the September quarter of 1927, continued to improve during the following December quarter.  According to official records, 433,319 bunches of bananas valued at $323,127 were exported from the district to the United States during the December quarter.  Compared with the preceding September quarter it represents an increase of 47,083 bunches and an increase in value of $47,823.  When compared with the December quarter of 1926, the increase is even more marked, for during that quarter only 254,095 bunches valued at $178,383 were exported.  ¶  Shipments from Puerto Cabezas are not included in the figures submitted.  From that port, according to a statement made by the manager of the large company engaged in banana cultivation, 10,000 or more bunches were shipped weekly to New Orleans.  The shipments from the Bluefields district during the December quarter therefore approximated 550,000 bunches, or 200,000 less than were exported quarterly in 1925, when the district was free from revolutionary activities and the markets of the United States favorable.  ¶  The Cuyamel Fruit Company planted areas of its old vega pastures on the Escondido River and its tributaries during the quarter, and urged independent planters in that section to increase their areas also.  It hopes eventually to be able to obtain sufficient fruit to commission a small steamer to transport the Escondido fruit, thus permitting the larger steamers to obtain full supplies of Rio Grande fruit.  ¶  Throughout the quarter the prices were regular, that is, 50 cents for a bunch of nine hands or more; 37 ½ cents for eight hands; 25 cents for seven hands; and 12 ½ cents for six hands . . . "

9.   3 January 1928.
"Review of Commerce & Industries, Quarter ended Dec. 31, 1927," US Consul A. J. McConnico, Bluefields, to the Secretary of State, Washington, p. 9.  
" . . . SHIPPING.  ¶  The Cuyamel Fruit Company maintained a weekly service between New Orleans and Bluefields throughout the quarter, its ships calling at Cienfuegos on their southbound trips.  It also commissioned additional vessels during October to meet an increased demand for bananas on the New Orleans’ market.  Its ships transported practically all of the passengers and freight from the United States to Bluefields and returned to New Orleans with cargoes of bananas.  ¶  The Standard Fruit Company maintained a weekly service between New Orleans and Puerto Cabezas during the quarter transporting freight and passengers, and returning with cargoes of bananas.  ¶  Freight from Panama and a few passengers were conveyed to Bluefields on costal schooners supplied with auxiliary power. Most of these small vessels, varying between 15 and 42 tons, piled irregularly between the ports mentioned, but one, the LINDA S., maintained a 15-day schedule.  There was no means of communication between Bluefields and ports of Honduras and Costa Rica other than that provided by small coastal vessels, some of which maintained a regular schedule.  ¶  The ships of the Cuyamel Fruit Company and the Standard Fruit Company were of Honduran and Nicaraguan registry; the small coastal vessels, of Nicaraguan, Honduras, and Panaman registry; and most of the steamers that called for cargoes of mahogany during the quarter, of British and Norwegian registry.  There were, however, two ships of American registery that called and they conveyed to the United States more than 60 percent of the mahogany exported during the quarter . . .

10.   3 January 1928.
"Review of Commerce & Industries, Quarter ended Dec. 31, 1927," US Consul A. J. McConnico, Bluefields, to the Secretary of State, Washington, p. 10.  
" . . . The passenger traffic of the district is negligible, and there is no tourist trade; in fact, there is no inducement for American shipping to engage in the passenger traffic.  In the freight carrying trade, however, there is ample opportunity for American shipping to participate if it is possible to compete with vessels of Nicaraguan and Honduran registry . . . "

11.   3 January 1928.
"Review of Commerce & Industries, Quarter ended Dec. 31, 1927," US Consul A. J. McConnico, Bluefields, to the Secretary of State, Washington, p. 11.  
" . . . BANKING.  ¶  The one banking institution of the district is located at Bluefields. It is a branch of Banco Nacional de Nicaragua with headquarters at Managua.  It sells exchange on New York and New Orleans at one-half of one percent, buys at one-fourth of one percent, and makes collections at one percent.  The rate of interest usually demanded is 12 percent a year, but higher rates varying from 18 to 24 percent are demanded by individuals. Some of the larger firms of Bluefields maintain banking connections in the United States.  ¶  It is estimated that 200,000 cordobas and 200,000 American dollars are in circulation in the district.  The large proportion of American money in circulation is due to the demands of a large American company at Puerto Cabezas.  Lacking banking facilities, it is compelled to import American currency in carrying on its timber and banana operations. In all commercial transactions the cordoba is accepted as the equivalent of the American dollar.  ¶  The wholesale trade of the district is controlled by Americans; the retail trade by Chinese.  The usual terms of credit granted to importers are from 20 to 90 days against acceptances, according to the class of goods.  ¶  Authority:  ¶  Cuyamel Fruit Company,  ¶  Managers of Mahogany Companies,  ¶  Collector of Customs,  ¶  Office records"

12.   3 January 1928.
"Review of Commerce & Industries, Quarter ended Dec. 31, 1927," US Consul A. J. McConnico, Bluefields, to the Secretary of State, Washington, p. 12.  
[Table of Contents and Index to Pages for the foregoing report]

5 January 1928.

Intelligence Report, Capt. D. J. Kendall, Bluefields.    “... GENERAL STATE OF TERRITORY OCCUPIED  ¶  Calm  ¶  ATTITUDE OF CIVIL POPULATION TOWARD FORCES  ¶  Favorable.  ¶  ECONOMIC CONDITIONS:  ¶  Unchanged.  ¶  ATTITUDE OF PRESS:  ¶  FRICTIONS BETWEEN TROOPS AND CIVIL POPULATION:  ¶  None.  ¶  POLCE OPERATIONS:  ¶  Puerto Cabezas Marine detail apprehended one murderer on the railroad line outside of Puerto Cabezas who killed a man during the holiday drinking bouts.  ¶  MILITARY OPERATIONS  ¶  None.  ¶  POLITICAL SITUATION  ¶  No political manifestations occurred during the holidays  ¶  [signed] Donald J. Kendall”

1.   6 January 1928. 

Letter from Capt. Merritt A. Edson, Bluefields, to wife Ethel, p. 1.    “Bluefields, Nicaragua.  ¶  6 January 1928.  ¶  My Dear:-  ¶  The letter promised yesterday afternoon did not materialize, but here it is only one day late. As you will notice we have made a change of base, coming here from Puerto Cabezas during the night and dropping anchor here at a little before ten this morning.  ¶  However, to go back to the point at which I left off in the preceding letter.  ¶  Sunday, New Years day, liberty call was sound at ten o’clock in the morning.  This being the first liberty party ashore in Puerto Cabezas, I was of course the patrol officer.  Not long after reaching the beach it began to rain and from then until nearly twelve it continued to drizzle.  A boat left the dock at eleven thirty and as all of the liberty party ashore went back on board for their no one day meal, I collected the patrol and attempted to make the same boat, thinking that there would be no more liberty for the day.  However, the boat left just about two minutes before we reached the boat landing.  We then went to the company’s hotel and had dinner which consisted of soup, fricasseed chicken, mashed potatoes, asparagus tips, corn, rolls, salad, and ice cream and iced tea.  All of this we got for seventy cents per man, the allowance granted by regulations for enlisted men ashore on duty.  ¶  Much to my surprise, when we came out of the dining room, I found that the rain had entirely stopped and the sun was holding forth in all his glory.  Such a change from the half hour previous when I would have taken oath that the sun would not appear for at least another day.  The real liberty hit the beach at one and with it came the base ball team.  Due to the face that I am supposed to be coaching the team, another officer, Ensign White, came ashore too and acted as junior shore patrol officer during the afternoon.  I was still on duty but I did not have to wander around from place to place, staying at the ball ground the entire afternoon. ...”

2.   6 January 1928. 

Letter from Capt. Merritt A. Edson, Bluefields, to wife Ethel, p. 2.    “ … The base ball game started at a little after two.  We scored three runs during our half of the first inning.  The opponents countered with one run in their half of the second.  From then on neither side could score until the seventh inning.  It was an excellent pitchers battle with the odds just about even and every prospect of the game being a close one.  Then in the first half of the seventh I thought we might start a little rally.  None of my men had been able to hit their pitcher effectively since the first inning so I told the first man up to bunt the ball.  He laid down a peach of bunt and reached first base quite safely.  He then stole second on the first pitch to the next man, and a moment later reached third on a passed ball by the catcher.  I tried to get the man at the plate to bunt but he would not or could not.  Anyhow he hit the ball to the infield and in their anxiety to prevent the man scoring from third he reach first.  Then the rally started.  By making my good bunters bunt and my better hitters hit we scored five runs before the inning ended.  The final score for the game was 13 to 1 in our favor.  ¶  Monday morning, the 2nd, was spent in the regular drills and in bore sighting one of the six pounder guns we are supposed to fire some time in the unknown future.  Right after lunch, four of us – Doctor Harrell, Chief Gunners, Mate Matein, Mr. Corbin, and myself – left the ship for an afternoon of hunting.  At the dock we were met by a Marine sergeant and a gasoline motor care used on the railroad.  The car took us about five miles into the country where we dismounted and started hunting. The land was most surprising to me.  I had pictured it as being an impassable jungle.  Instead I found it to be very flat, covered with grass only five or six inches high, with clumps of trees scattered here and there.  The land was quite wet also.  The soil appears to be raised land from the sea, being cascayo with a few inches of dark clay-like loam on top of it.  The local name for such land is sabanas and is the name from which we get our savannas.  During the afternoon we ran across two coveys of quail – or rather one covey of quail and one of grouse, or plovers.  The afternoons hunt resulted in two quail and four plover for us.  At least four more birds were downed but because we had no dog to retrieve them we lost them in the grass and bushed.  Of the six I could claim only one, and that a half claim for the doctor shot at it about the same time as I did.  Shooting birds on the wing is an entirely different thing from lying on one stomach and shooting at an immovable target, believe me.  There is a possibility that we may get a trap and some clay pigeons on board and then we can get all the fun of shooting without chasing down the birds.  Personally I do not get much pleasure from hunting birds for it looks something like a one sided affair, for the poor bird has no gun to shoot back with. ...”

3.   6 January 1928. 

Letter from Capt. Merritt A. Edson, Bluefields, to wife Ethel, p. 3.    “ …Tuesday I started to complete my letter of the 2nd to you, but before it was done I went ashore once more for a hunting trip.  Commander Richardson replaced the doctor so once again it was a party of four.  The original plan was to leave the port at noon, ride out to a place called Browns Camp, some fifty miles out the rail road, spend the night there and go hunting the next day.  We reached the shore all right at a quarter of twelve.  Then without getting any lunch we went to the dispatchers office for the train.  There is a regular train leaving for the end of the line, Wawa Central, at twelve o’clock.  The dispatcher told us however that we should take a private car of our own.  So from the regular train we went to the special car.  The one on which we climbed proved to be some one else’s car so we went off to another.  This last one proved hard to start, and some twenty minutes later, the engineer looked into the gas tank and discovered that there was no fuel in it.  Once that minor deficiency was remedied we started out.  Scarcely a mile out from the office is a switch; and at the switch a telephone.  Each car must be reported to the dispatchers office at each switch to make sure that it has a clear track to the next place before going on, and receive the necessary order for his next jump.  At this telephone our troubles started for we were told to wait there for a lumber train on its way to the port.  So wait we did – for at least a half hour.  Then we got permission to move on through the next stretch of about five miles where we passed the logging train.  To make matters worse it started to rain and rained the entire afternoon.  At every stop we were held up, most of the time for no reason at all.  At one place we were told to wait for a train which was paying employees along the line.  After waiting exactly an hour and a half, we finally got permission to move on to the next place where we might meet it.  The place proved to be less that three miles further on, just around the next bend in the road in fact, and there was a perfecting good side track for passing the thing which was barring our track.  Finally at seven o’clock in the evening we found ourselves about eighteen miles from our destination, with no supper in sight and no luncheon behind us.  It had taken us seven hours to cover forty three miles and the dispatcher told us it would be about two hours more before he could get us through to Browns Camp.  However he did say that we would have a clear track back to the port if we wished to return, so that is what we finally decided to do.  It took us only one hour and twenty minutes to make the return trip over exactly the same ground that it had taken seven hours to go out. From all appearance it seemed that for some unknown reason they did not care to have us get out to Browns and put every obstacle in our way to prevent us getting there.  Once on the dock, we signaled to the ship for a boat and at nine thirty were back on board, wet, tired, and hungry.  So that ended the hunting trip.  It was however a good rail road excursion and gave us a chance to see something of the interior of the country which we would …”

4.   6 January 1928. 

Letter from Capt. Merritt A. Edson, Bluefields, to wife Ethel, p. 4.    “…have otherwise missed.  ¶  Nothing more of interest happened until yesterday when we weighed anchor and came down here to Bluefields.  We got under weigh at six o’clock last evening and as I said before dropped anchor at ten this morning.  A few minutes later a boat left for the beach taking in it, Mr Corbin, Mr White, and myself.  We are anchored two miles from El Bluff, a promontory standing out more or less by itself on which we are the customs house, a light house, a signal tower and about a dozen houses.  There is also a marine guard and nine men stationed there.  Then five miles across the mouth of the Escondido River is the town of Bluefields.  This is the headquarters of Captain Kendall, who is in command of the 51st company of the 5th regiment.  He has here some thirty men, with then men at Perlas Lagoonas, about 20 miles north and ten or twelve more at Rio Grande, another 20 miles about that.  Bluefields is quite a fair sized town, the largest on the east coast.  It is suppose to have a population of about five or six thousand people.  Several American concerns have their headquarters here most of them engaged in the fruit business.  Some of them are dealing in lumber, but the majority have turned to fruit.  It is a pretty place, especially from the water, and is the best native city I have seen.  The commandante is an ex-general of the Liberal army and seems to be quite a fair sort of fellow as local politicians go.  Kendall has his family here and it quite comfortable settled.  ¶  The news of the last few days have had a deal to say about the fighting between Marines and Sandino around Quilali.  From the press reports it seems that various ships detachments are to be landed to replace the men of the Fifth Regiment doing guard and shore patrol duty so that they may be concentrated as a unit.  Thus far, we have heard nothing about it officially.  I would not mind being put ashore on the other coast, but I do not exactly relish the idea of a six or eight months landing force around here with absolutely no prospect of getting into any of the real actions going on.  It is much too early to be thinking about that tho, so I will do the worrying when the time comes.  ¶  Tomorrow we get a ship from the Zone bringing mail, I think. At least it take mail out, and I hope that some comes in.  I also get the shore patrol for a change.  ¶  Lots of love to both of you  ¶  Merritt”

12 January 1928.

Intelligence Report, Capt. D. J. Kendall, Bluefields, p. 1.    "... 1. The following intelligence report is submitted under the subheadings as specified in the reference:  ¶  GENERAL STATE OF TERRITORY OCCUPIED  ¶  In General favorable, as evidenced by a petition signed at a liberal mass meeting January 6th in Bluefields requesting the President to name the commanding officer of marines as director of police in Bluefields, and the recommendation by prominent conservative citizens of Bluefields to confer the rank of Colonel in the Nicaraguan Army on the commanding officer of marines in Bluefields in recognition of "actions taken to secure reestablishment of peace in the same fields where existed the focus of the revolution without returning to violent measures and without any person of whatever political affiliation feeling himself injured or effected by his proceedings".  At times immediately following the shooting that have taken place when marines were forced to shoot prisoners to prevent their escape or marines were forced to shoot to defeat attempts by criminals to seize arms of individual marines a wave of popular indignation at the shooting of the natives by foreigners swept over the people when they received the first distorted and untruthful reports but within three or four days when the true facts became known in every case public opinion has quickly swung over in favor of the marines with the conviction that the shooting was necessary and justifiable.  ¶  ECONOMIC CONDITIONS  ¶  The price of bananas on the fruit cutting for the week in January was reduced $.10 per bunch due to the after Christmas slackness and that fact with the customary slowing up of retail business after the holiday season slightly weakened the economic position of this coast. ..."

12 January 1928.

Intelligence Report, Capt. D. J. Kendall, Bluefields, p. 2.    "... ATTITUDE OF PRESS  ¶  Favorable.  The press of this city has even though opposed in some cases to American intervention, always given the marines fair treatment in its articles and if any inaccuracies have appeared has immediately corrected them on receipt of better information.  ¶  FRICTION BETWEEN TROOPS AND CIVIL POPULATION  ¶  None.  ¶  POLICE OPERATIONS  ¶  In Bluefields person of the same political colors as the police continue to enjoy almost absolute immunity from any crimes while gambling and prostitution is open.  ¶  MILITARY OPERATIONS  ¶  January 2nd a detail of one sergeant and seven men left Bluefields or station at El Gallo the Cuyamel Fruit Company headquarters on the Rio Grande about six miles above La Cruz.  From October to late in December this detail occupied La Cruz and succeeded in cleaning up that place and instilling some respect for law and order.  This detail is now placed at El Gallo where both transportation and telephone up and down the river is available and where the company has telephone communication with its farms up and down the river, in the hopes that with ready communication and transportation the detail may be able to put a damper on the practice of the moonshiners on invading on pay days the farms of the company and selling casusa [cususa] thus debauching the labors and causing many machete cuttings.  The trails from Rama to Rio Grande and from the mining country on the Prinzapolca to Rio Grande converge at El Gallo and the Cuyamel Company has a large investment there, a great deal of stock in the commissary as well as pay roll funds this detail has the additional mission of protecting El Gallo and of learning the country thereabouts in case any banditry might later arise.  ¶  POLITICAL SITUATION  ¶  The political situation remains quiet, outside of the liberal mass meeting requesting the removal of the conservative Director of Police and placing the police under marine control until the Guardia National.  Can be sent here.  ¶  Donald J. Kendall"

14 January 1928.
Letter from Major General John A. Lejeune, Washington D.C., to M. B. Huston, Vice-President, Tonopah Mining Co. of Nevada, Bullitt Building, Philadelphia, PA.   
"... Dear Sir:  ¶  In compliance with the request contained in your letter dated January 8th, I am enclosing a letter of introduction to Major Harold H. Utley, U. S. Marine Corps, at Puerta Cabezas, Nicaragua. ¶  Major Utley is in command of the Eastern Distric of Nicaragua, and I think a letter to him will probably be sufficient for the purpose you desire.  ¶  Very truly yours, ..."

19 January 1928.

Intelligence Report, Capt. D. J. Kendall, Bluefields, p. 1.    "... GENERAL STATE OF TERRITORY OCCUPIED  ¶  In General favorable, as evidenced by a petition signed at a liberal mass meeting January 6th in Bluefields requesting the President to name the commanding officer of marines as director of police in Bluefields, and the recommendation by prominent conservative citizens of Bluefields to confer the rank of Colonel in the Nicaraguan Army on the commanding officer of marines in Bluefields in recognition of “actions taken to secure reestablishment of peace in the same fields where existed the focus of the revolution without returning to violent measures and without any person of whatever political affiliation feeling himself injured or effected by his proceedings”.  At times immediately following the shooting that have taken place when marines were forced to shoot prisoners to prevent their escape or marines were forced to shoot to defeat attempts by criminals to seize arms of individual marines a wave of popular indignation at the shooting of the natives by foreigners swept over the people when they received the first distorted and untruthful reports but within three or four days when the true facts became known in every case public opinion has quickly swung over in favor of the marines with the conviction that the shooting was necessary and justifiable.  ¶  ECONOMIC CONDITIONS  ¶  The price of bananas on the fruit cutting for the week in January was reduced $.10 per bunch due to the after Christmas slackness and that fact with the customary slowing up of retail business after the holiday season slightly weakened the economic position of this coast. ...”

19 January 1928.

Intelligence Report, Capt. D. J. Kendall, Bluefields, p. 2.    “ ... ATTITUDE OF PRESS  ¶  Favorable.  The press of this city has even though opposed in some cases to American intervention, always given the marines fair treatment in its articles and if any inaccuracies have appeared has immediately corrected them on receipt of better information.  ¶  FRICTION BETWEEN TROOPS AND CIVIL POPULATION  ¶  None.  ¶  POLICE OPERATIONS  ¶  In Bluefields person of the same political colors as the police continue to enjoy almost absolute immunity from any crimes while gambling and prostitution is open.  ¶  MILITARY OPERATIONS  ¶  January 2nd a detail of one sergeant and seven men left Bluefields or station at El Gallo the Cuyamel Fruit Company headquarters on the Rio Grande about six miles above La Cruz. From October to late in December this detail occupied La Cruz and succeeded in cleaning up that place and instilling some respect for law and order.  This detail is now placed at El Gallo where both transportation and telephone up and down the river is available and where the company has telephone communication with its farms up and down the river, in the hopes that with ready communication and transportation the detail may be able to put a damper on the practice of the moonshiners on invading on pay days the farms of the company and selling casusa thus debauching the labors and causing many machete cuttings.  The trails from Rama to Rio Grande and from the mining country on the Prinzapolca to Rio Grande converge at El Gallo and the Cuyamel Company has a large investment there, a great deal of stock in the commissary as well as pay roll funds this detail has the additional mission of protecting El Gallo and of learning the country thereabouts in case any banditry might later arise.  ¶  POLITICAL SITUATION  ¶  The political situation remains quiet, outside of the liberal mass meeting requesting the removal of the conservative Director of Police and placing the police under marine control until the Guardia National.  Can be sent here.  ¶  Donald J. Kendall”

21 January 1928.

Investigation of police at Puerto Cabezas, Major H. H. Utley, Bluefields, to CO 5th Rgt. Civil Relations Officer, Managua, p. 1.    " ... 1. The undersigned has personally investigated the conditions reported in the reference and finds that the chief of police at Puerto Cabezas, has twenty-three policemen, some of whom are armed. These policemen are paid by the Bragman’s Bluff Lumber Company, and are necessary for the protection of the property of that company, as well as for the preservation of order.  ¶  2. The commandante of police at Puerto Cabezas – Luis Castro —is an intelligent man, a liberal in politics, and bears an excellent reputation, both as to his personal conduct, and as to his zeal and efficiency in the performance of his duties.  He has cooperated with the Marine Detachment in Puerto Cabezas to the extent of his ability and he apparently exacts discipline from his police force, even to the extent of holding certain drills.  Their superiority in appearance and apparently in efficiency over the police of Bluefields, is too great for words.  ¶  3. While it is true in principle that private interest should not pay the salaries or expenses of public officials, attention is invited to the fact that the establishment at Bragman’s Bluff is comparatively new – so much so that the collector of customs is still housed by the same company which pays the police, and it is only recently that the authority for government quarters for this official has been received, and it therefore appears that the necessity for this police force was unknown or disregarded when the general budget was made out.  ¶  4. In view of the great value of property to be protected the extent of ground covered by this property, and the inflammable nature, it is particularly susceptible to acts of sabotage, either on the part of discharged employees or as an act of brigandage.  ¶  5. Until the Marine Detachment can be sufficiently increased to enable it to take over the complete police, if such is the desire of higher authority, the risk of great loss due to acts of sabotage such as have occurred two or three times in the past will be great.  When the Nicaraguan Constabulary is prepared to function, the police force will of course, be disbanded or reduced to an unarmed fire patrol maintained as watchmen solely over the property of the company.  ¶  6. I strongly recommend that no interference with the present arrangement be permitted at the present time.  The Jefe Politico concurs in this recommendation and states that this police force is in no sense clandestine – having been in existence since the beginning ..."

21 January 1928.

Investigation of police at Puerto Cabezas, Major H. H. Utley, Bluefields, to CO 5th Rgt. Civil Relations Officer, Managua, p. 2.    " ... 7.  In this connection it is deemed pertinent to invited attention to the fact that two or three unsuccessful attempts have been made previously to depose the present chief of police at Puerto Cabezas. This bear all the earmarks of an attempt to prevail upon the American Forces to pull the chestnuts out of the fire – either for political purposes or because the position of Commandante of Puerto Cabezas is sought by some other person.  ¶  Harold H. Utley"
 

1.   25 January 1928.

Letter from Capt. Merritt A. Edson, Cristobal, Canal Zone, to Ethel & Austin, p. 1.   "Dear Ethel and Austin:-  ¶  This you see is being written to both of you (although really, Ethel, it is largely to you for you will notice a great lack of pictures and things, but perhaps the young one will enjoy having it read to him, too).  ¶  It has been so long since I sent away the last letter and so many things have happened that I scarcely know where to start – what to say – or how to say it. Anyhow this will be a regimen and by noting the numerals on the various envelopes you will eventually have a larger, voluminous and quite accurate account of my goings and comings – my misdeeds and my better doings – and all the rest of it – and you will know that all the time I am missing the both of you so very much.  ¶  I did not realize so many days and weeks had slipped by.  According to my daily reminder . . . "

2.   25 January 1928.

Letter from Capt. Merritt A. Edson, Cristobal, Canal Zone, to Ethel & Austin, p. 2.   " . . . my last real letter to you was written on the sixth of the month.  At that time we were in Bluefields, having just arrived there from Puerto Cabezas.  I believe that I described the thriving metropolis in more or less detail and then left my narrative in mid-air.  Each Saturday a steamer belonging to the Cuyamel Fruit Company arrives in that port from New Orleans and, after loading with bananas, returns back again at about nine or ten in the evening. It was on that that your letter made the journey to the States and to you.  ¶  That Saturday afternoon, the seventh of January, a liberty party was sent ashore at El Bluff.  True to form, I detailed myself as Patrol Officer and left the ship at the [dock] for the beach.  For luncheon was had rice, fried eggs, ham, beans, and bread.  The sum total of meals came to seventy five cents per plate.  It does not sound so bad, but when one considers that the rice was quite dirty, the beans unclean, the ham not so good, and the bread made from musty flour, one soon sees that the . . . "

3.   25 January 1928.

Letter from Capt. Merritt A. Edson, Cristobal, Canal Zone, to Ethel & Austin, p. 3.   " . . . only satisfying thing about the entire meal was the fresh eggs – and I must say that they were excellent.  After having received for my breakfast portion two fried eggs which were nearly fried chicken.  I have sworn off all cold storage eggs in general and those served on board the Denver in particular.  Eggs and I parted company several weeks ago with the result that my breakfast except when we have hot cakes, is a rather scanty affair.  ¶  To return to El Bluff however.  The place itself consists of only a few houses, built along one board walk street which goes half way around the bluff.  On the top of the hill is a house and the ruins of an old fort, originally built by Lord Nelson in the days of pirates and things.  Some time, when I know the story, I will tell you how and why he even built himself a fort on such a place.  All the sailors ashore proceeded to drink many beers and when the sun got in its deadly . . . "

4.   25 January 1928.

Letter from Capt. Merritt A. Edson, Cristobal, Canal Zone, to Ethel & Austin, p. 4.   " . . . work, we of the patrol were kept right busy.  Nearly all of the officers came ashore too, with the result that two of them were later restricted to the ship for some time to come.  ¶  The following Monday, in the middle of the morning, the Marines ashore under Captain Kendall, shot at and killed a Nicaraguan who was confirmed in the guard house and who attempted to escape.  As a result, a board of investigation was ordered and I was elected, or nominated, or what have you – as recorder of the board.  We (Mr. Pursell, Dr. Hunell,Ensign Downer and myself, with the captains clerk as stenographer) left the ship at four o’clock for Bluefields.  We got there at about six, and while the others went out for dinner, I gathered together the witnesses and attempted to get together the case for presentation to the board.  We met at seven thirty in the evening and did not finish that session until one o’clock in the morning.  The witnesses were . . . "

5.   25 January 1928.

Letter from Capt. Merritt A. Edson, Cristobal, Canal Zone, to Ethel & Austin, p. 5.   " . . . two natives and four Marines, beside the four men charged with the actual shooting.  All the witnesses agreed that the man was warmed he would be shot at if he tried to escape – that he was called upon to halt before being fired at – and that if the Marines had not fired as they did the person would have escaped within an second or so.  Incidentally, this man was confined for the murder of an American citizen (although he was another of the head counter type, similar in many respects to our friend Spears, of Cape Gracias) which occurred last May, and had first been arraigned for that offense in the native court.  ¶  The following morning while roaming about the city, we obtained word that Escobar, the deceased prisoner had been threatened by the Marines in court, cruelly shot after he had slipped and fell, and, generally, murdered in cold blood. So we convened again at ten o’clock and sat until seven thirty that night, with the result that all such report were scandalous gossiping and . . . "

6.   25 January 1928.

Letter from Capt. Merritt A. Edson, Cristobal, Canal Zone, to Ethel & Austin, p. 6.    " . . . nothing more, circulated for the sole purpose of discrediting the Marine detachment in the eyes of the natives.  The most interesting of our witnesses was a woman, Mrs. Anna Crowdell. She was a Nicaraguan, born of English parents in Bluefields, some forty five years ago.  She is an ardent Liberalist and supported the Liberal force during the war last year. She sold them supplies, and furnished them with much information.  Of course her financial undertakings depended entirely upon the success of the Liberal forces gaining control of the government, so the Marine occupation rather badly upset her basket of golden eggs.  During her entire time of about four hours on the stand, she answered perhaps two questions directly.  The other replies being evasive, round-about, or entirely applying to something besides the thing asked about.  One could not help but admire her quickness of mind, even though I believe half or more of the ill feeling towards the Marines in Bluefields is due entirely to her efforts . . . "

7.   25 January 1928.

Letter from Capt. Merritt A. Edson, Cristobal, Canal Zone, to Ethel & Austin, p. 7.   " . . . The board found, naturally and fully, that the death of the native was occasioned in line of duty and that he, himself, was entirely at fault for the affair.  We went back to the ship that night running aground twice due to the different appearances of objects in the moonlight as compared to daylight.  The sea was quite heavy, so it was all in all a very exciting trip.  ¶  The next day, January 14th, at about noon a message arrived directing us to proceed to the Canal Zone to pick up a Marine lieutenant and some enlisted men for duty on the east coast.  So at eight o’clock that night we were under way, headed for the Zone which we had not expected to see for at least another three weeks.  ¶  Good night and lot of love and kisses for the two of you.  ¶  Merritt"

26 January 1928.

Investigation of the report made by Carlos Pasos, Capt. D. J. Kendall, Bluefields, p. 1  (p. 2 missing).    " ... 1. The report of Carlos Pasos to General Moncado [José María Moncada] regarding armed attacks by conservatives upon liberals is true in part.  It is not believed however that the conservatives were associated with and supported by the police nor encouraged by the court. It is believe that they felt safe from serious molestation due to the weak administration of the police and the very lenient interpretations of the laws by the court as applied to both liberals and conservatives.  Magistrate Zombrano [Zambrano] did not fire his revolver at Laterio Gomez nor at the Criminal Judge but fire in the air in the street outside of their residence during a drunken escapade.  He was apprehended on orders of the Jefe Politico but almost immediately released by the same official when he demanded the immunity due him as magistrate.  Laranio Lira a Nicaraguan of mixed Spanish and Iranian descent fired his pistol in the air when Lariano Aragon and other attempted to disarm him, no police were present at the time.  Lira presented himself to the Marine Forces and was confined until later released by the court on bail.  Augustin Bolanoes [Augustín Bolaños] attempted to shoot Cherie Jackson but his pistol did not fire.  Bolanos [Bolaños] was arrested by the native police and confined, and later released by the court on bail. Nothing is known of the attacks against Frank Abraham Rivera, P. J. Hernando and others.  Carlos Pasos struck a conservative in the face with his fist cutting the man’s lip open after the conservative made some caustic remark to Pasos in answer to an illy advised political jest of which Pasos was the author.  The conservative went away and returned with a pen knife with which he slashed Pasos slightly across the stomach before police and by-standers could prevent it.  Both Pasos and the conservative were arrested and released on bond, Pasos immediately and the conservative after several days confinement.  ¶  2. Several months ago several cases occurred of armed liberals making attacks upon conservatives and in each case the attackers were let off very lightly by the court.  ¶  3. The general difficulty has been the weak administration of the police and the court due to the laws and customs of the court which act lightly upon armed attacks even when deaths are cause ..."

26 January 1928.

Intelligence Report, Major H. H. Utley, Bluefields, p. 1.   " 1. The following intelligence report is submitted under the subheadings as specified in the references.   ¶  GENERAL STATE OF TERRITORY OCCUPIED  ¶  Calm.  ¶  ECONOMIC CONDITIONS  ¶  Improving.  The excess labor left by the curtailed mahogany operations has been entirely absorbed by the fruit companies which are clearing and planting new lands and clearing old plantings of bananas.  Mahogany operations are going on on a larger scale than at first anticipated with the consequence that contractors are sending to the interior to bring out more laborers.  The new plantings of fruit have given employment to much of the coastwise shipping which has been laying idle and several new boats have been put in service recently thus improving communication along this coast.  ¶  ATTITUDE OF PRESS  ¶  Favorable except for the negro liberal paper which because of the confinement of the Pearl Lagoon assassins and of many negro thieves in Bluefields has maintained a critical attitude although not violent in its opposition to the Marine Corps.  ¶  POLICE OPERATIONS  ¶  The police service in Bluefields continues to improve.  The inefficient members of the force have been discharged and new men who are more efficient have been added to the force. During the week the police force in Bluefields rounded up the habitual thieves and the Director of Police sentenced them to a month’s labor.  Marines assisted by native detectives captured the majority of the gang of native and foreign thieves who have made several relatively large robberies in Bluefields since Christmas and found . . . "

26 January 1928.

Intelligence Report, Major H. H. Utley, Bluefields, p. 2.   " . . . On January 9th General Justo P. Miranda relieved General Rito Medardo Lopez as Director of Police in Bluefields. General Miranda was General Estrada’s candidate for the post.  An immediate improvement in the police service was noticed. In one case armed fights that had occurred since then both parties a liberal and a conservative woman were arrested and each given sixty days confinement.  Petty thieves had been rounded up and given a months confinement with hard labor, the prostitutes have been gathered in and examined by the court doctor and the sick ones confined at the hospital for treatment.  Some work has been done by the native police upon the unraveling of the details of two relatively large robberies although the most of the latter work has fallen on the Marine Forces.  The new director of police has removed the inefficient and the unduly partisan members of the police force and has replaced them and put on additional better men up to the authorized limits of the force.  No evidence has been secured regarding a plot to kill Sandoval, Leon Frank, E. Duarte and others and as Pasos has been absent from Bluefields since the receipt of your letter it has been impossible to interview him regarding his authority for the statement that such a plot existed.  ¶  5. It is believed that both liberals and conservatives feel well satisfied and amply guaranteed in view of the great improvement and firm administration of the police force under the guidance of the new director General Justo P. Miranda.  The removal of the former director of police General Rito Medardo Lopez seems to have had a salutary effect upon the courts and has evidently brought them to the realization that a strict administration of the law is desirable if not for the purpose of minuating disorders, then at least to retain their jobs.  The general satisfaction with the new police administration is reflected in the appended editorial from the negro liberal paper (Bluefields Weekly) of January 21st, 1928.  ¶  HAROLD H. UTLEY"

 

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