Imágenes de páginas

o'clock, since at the time he received them it is believed his only thought was to take refnge with his family on board an English merchant-vessel then in port. Anyhow, their delivery was evidently incumbent on General Contreras's aid in person.

At 10 o'clock four launches, mounting guns, approached the shore and attempted a disembarkation under cover of discharges of grenades from the Almansa, but on coming within Remington-rifle range the launches were received with a shower of balls which forced their precipitate retreat, with a loss, it is said, of 8 killed and 16 wounded.

This first episode being terminated, and the insurgents now comprehending that it (lid not agree with them to continue that mode of attack, they began to fire conical shells of 100 pounds weight, similar to those used in attacking iron-clad vessels. They hired about a dozen, and then, seeing the tranquillity and passive silence of those on shore, they ceased firing and hoisted a white flag, doubtless in the hope that those on shore would avail themselves of the offered truce, and that an arrangement of some sort might be effected; but the shore forces, having assembled and deliberated, replied by hoisting a black flag on the most elevated site in town. On seeing this, the cannon again opened fire, throwing projectiles of the same sort as before, but of 200 pounds weight, and to the number of about 20. I was interrupted in my contemplation of this spectacle by your telegram, begging me to inform you how matters were going on here. I answered you, and then returned to my post of observation on the terrace, alongside of the flag-staff. I then sent a message to the houses of the other consuls to inquire if they had received any telegrams announcing the coming of any foreign warvessel, but there was not a single consul, besides myself, in the whole city; all had been terrified by the breath of these fire-spouting iron-mouthed monsters. The cannonade continued until 41 o'clock, with a few intervals of rest. At that hour I went down to dinner, and I fancy the same idea must have occurred to those on board the frigates, for they fired no more. At 64 or 7 o'clock they hoisted anchor and set sail westward. I then received your last telegram, informing me that the English gunboat Lynx had started for this point, and I answered you that the frigates had already left, bound westward. Subsequently I learned that they went to Motril and seized $12,000 there, and that from thence they sailed for Malaga. I hope they will not treat you as they have treated us.

In this encounter we have had the good fortune to have not even a single man wounded. There were not the slightest symptoms of robbery or violence, and the damage caused to the houses is insignificant, not amounting to the value of the projectiles fired at us. The public forces and authorities were all determined and at their posts, and even when exposed to the enemy's fire, they exhibited the utmost serenity and energy.


United States ('onsular Agent. ... M. HANCOCK,

United States Consul, Malaga.

No. 423.

Mr. Fish to General Sickles.


WASHINGTON, September 9, 1873. Hall telegraphs from Havana that Official Gazette publishes decree of captain-general ordering immediate sale, at public auction, of all the real and personal property which has been announced to be sold by the treasury in consequence of the insurrection. He states that some American citizens are covered by the decree, and that the decree of the gov. ernment of Spain restoring embargoed estates had not been published officially in Havana on 5th instant. You will remonstrate against the non-publication of the latter decree, of which you had advised the Department, and which was officially published in Madrid, and you will protest against the enforcement of the captain-general's 'decree, as affecting the property or rights of any American citizens.

No. 424.
General Sickles to Mr. Fish.

[Telegram received September 19, 11.15 a. m.]

MADRID, September 19, 1873. Minister says, having sent positive orders to captain-general to raise all embargoes on property of American citizens and return same to owners, he replies that all our reclamations for restoration of embargoed property have been decided favorably to applicants, and no claim of this kind is now pending. The Spanish government has, nevertheless, sent further orders suspending sale of any embargoed property belonging to our citizens, no matter if not claimed.


No. 425.

Mr. Sickles to Mr. Fish.

No. 757.]


Madrid, October 17, 1873. (Received November 7.) SIR: I have the honor to forward herewith a copy of a note sent to the minister of state, on the 16th instant, asking such reforms in the customs regulations and administration in Cuba as will prevent the abuses practiced on foreign vessels in the ports of that island.

On the same day Mr. Layard and Mr. Lindstrand made similar representations on the part of their governments respectively.

I am promised a conference with the ministers of state and of the colonies about pending matters before the departure of the latter for Cuba and Porto Rico, in which I propose to invite the particular attention of his excellency to the grievances of which our ship-masters complain.

You will observe that the note as sent differs in several passages from the draught heretofore forwarded, and that the argument is fortified by additional citations from the revenue laws and customs regulations of Spain. I am, &c.,



General Sickles to Mr. José de Carvajal.


Madrid, October 16, 1873. SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of a note from your excellency, dated the 16th of May last, in reply to mine of the 27th of January preceding, respecting the onerous burdens imposed on the trade between the United States and Cuba by the customs authorities in that island.

I regret to have occasion to ask the attention of the government of the republic to some further representations I am instructed to make on this subject.

It appears, from sundry memorials recently presented to my Government by American ship-owners and masters of vessels, and also from the official reports of the consulgeneral of the United States in Cuba, that notwithstanding the assurances given me in the several communications received from the ministry of state under date of Feb

ruary 4, 1871, and of January 2, 1873, the reforms and ameliorations therein announced have been but imperfectly carried into effect in Cuba.

The memorialists, therefore, solicit the aid of their Government in further efforts to obtain relief from grievances of which, I am persuaded, your excellency will admit that they justly complain.

It is, perhaps, unnecessary to assure your excellency that my Government disclaims any purpose of discussing the perfect right of every nation to establish and enforce such rules as it may choose to frame for the execution of its own revenue laws. It is to be presumed, however, that it cannot be the intention of this class of local ordinances to inflict needless vexation and loss on foreign vessels engaged in legitimate commerce between friendly countries.

That your excellency may see how difficult it has been for foreign ship-masters to inform themselves as to the requirements of the customs regulations in Cuba, I may be permitted to recapitulate the successive orders, decrees, and circulars which have been published from time to time within a few years past.

On the 1st of July, 1859, a royal order was issued in Madrid, prescribing numerous regulations for the government of foreign commerce with Cuba.

The order was suspended soon after its publication, and remained in abeyance until July, 1867. It was then promulgated anew, with important modifications respecting the manifest.

With the publication of the decree of 1867, appeared also in the Spanish, French, and English languages what purported to be identical “rules to be observed by the captains and supercargoes of vessels, in conformity with the royal order of July 1, 1859, the royal decree of March 1, 1867, and the rules in force according to the existing custom-house regulations."

On the 18th of November, 1868, the last-named ordinances were suspended, and a fresh compilation of rules issued, in which it is to be especially noted that the requirements as to the manifest were again changed and made more exacting; and also that the Spanish original and the English and French versions, as published, differed essentially in the terms of the first rule prescribing the contents of the manifest.

On the 16th of May, 1870, the rules of 1868 were again promulgated with further modifications and interpretations announced in a circular from the intendente-general de hacienda of Cuba.

On the 9th of June, 1870, the minister of ultramar ordered the remission of all fines imposed in Cuba for the non-presentation of a third copy of the manifest; forbidding the provincial authorities from changing the customs legislation; declaring them personally liable for damages caused by such transgression; and restoring to force and effect the royal order of July 1, 1859, as modified by subsequent orders. This decree was published in Cuba, July 6, 1870.

On the 3d of November, 1870, the intendente general de hacienda, in an official communication, informed the consul-general of the United States at Havana that so much of the last-mentioned decree of June 9 as remitted fines for the non-production of a third copy of the manifest had been annulled on the 21st of September.

On the 29th of December, 1872, another decree was published, containing a new code of regulations, modifying in various particulars those previously in force.

On the 2d of January, 1873, the minister of state informed the undersigned, in reply to suudry reclamations made by the United States Government: 1st, that hereafter no fine imposed by the customs authorities in Cuba upon captains or supercargoes of national or foreign vessels for errors, omissions, or inaccuracies in ships' inanifests or robordos should take effect without the previous approval of the intendente general de hacienda, the administrators and treasurers of the several custom-houses being required to exact, on their own responsibility, a sufficient guarantee to protect the interests of the treasury in case vessels put to sea before the payment of fines; 2d, that with all convenient speed the intendente should propose such separation as could be made between the facts and details now required to be stated in the sobordos, retaining such as served to prevent fraud and discontinuing those not important to the interests of the revenue; and 3d, that fines imposed on captains or supercargoes of vessels for errors in their papers and subsequently revoked, as well as those spontaneously condoned by the supreme government, should be refunded within the fixed term of one year, counting from the date of the reception by the intendente of the order directing such restitution or declaring the penalty to have been improvidently imposed.

My Government is not informed that these dispositions have been published in Cuba, nor is it advised that they have yet been put in practice.

In my notes of July 16, 1870, November 27, 1872, and January 27, 1873, the attention of your excellency was invited to various clauses of the royal order of July 1, 1859, the decree of March 1, 1867, the regulations of November 11, 1868, and those of December 26, 1872, which seemed to my Government unreasonably severe and punitory in their treatment of lawful commerce. It is unnecessary to recapitulate the views presented in those communications. I desire now, more especially, to bring to your *xcellency's notice the representations made by the merchants of New York and Boston in a recent communication they have addressed to the Department of State at Washington.

They show, for example, that in making out their manifests they are entirely dependent on the shippers of cargo for information as to the weights, values, and contents of packages shipped ; and that irresponsible parties sometimes give false or inaccurate discriptions of their consignments, resulting in fines imposed on vessels, largely in excess of the freight received. It is, therefore, suggested that whenever the manifest and bill of lading agree, and the contents, weight, or value of any package be found on examination to differ from the same in the manifest, the penalty thereby incurred shall be imposed on goods and not upon the vessel. In such cases, if it should be established on the part of the consignees that the master of the vessel is in fault, they would liave ample legal remedies against the ship-owner. On this point the consul-general of the United States at Havana reports, under date of January 13, 1873, that he had suggested to the intendente, that it would be more just to hold the goods rather than the vessel responsible for any concealment or deceit respecting the contents of packages, and that the intendente replied that such a rule would be more equitable, but the regulations put the fine on the vessel.

It also appears that the customs authorities at the several ports in Cuba place different constructions on the laws and regulations prescribing the form and contents of a ship's manifest. Fines have been imposed in one port for stating that for which fines were imposed in another port for omitting. Inasmuch as it is required in all cases that the manifest shall be certified in duplicate by the Spanish consul at or nearest to the port of loading, it is proposed as a just and convenient remedy for such irregulari. ties that manifests bearing the certificate of a Spanish consul shall be accepted in any of the ports of Cuba as regular and sufficient in form.

I have observed that in nearly all of the cases I have had occasion to bring to the notice of the predecessors of your excellency, the manifest in duplicate had been exhibited to the Spanish consul at the port of departure, one copy of the document haring been left with him to be transmitted to the port of destination and the other, approved under the hand and seal of the consul, returned to the master of the vessel to be afterward presented by him to the customs authorities. Surely it shonld be held sufficient to exonerate ship-masters from penalty if their papers are found to be in due form by the commercial agents of the country to which they are bound. If a ship-master arriving in Cuba does not produce the consul's certificate, he is fined $500. If he does produce such a certificate and the manifest is nevertheless informal, he is fined for every oversight or neglect of the consul to point out informalities subsequently discovered by the more expert customs officers in Cuba. The blame, if any, in such cases is with the consul. And yet others who are blameless pay the penalty. And not only are the ship-masters fined when consuls overlook mistakes in a manifest, which it is their duty to correct, but it has not infrequently happened that American vessels are not made to pay a penalty because the certificate of the Spanish consul was informal. The brig Dexter Washburne, of Portland, was fined $100 at Matanzas because the consul at Charleston had neglected to impress his official seal on a manifest after verifying it. Spanish consuls may be presumed to know the customs regulations in Spanish ports. At least their official certificate and seal anthenticating a manifest should be accepted asevidence of an honest intent on the part of ship-masters to respect and obey Spanish laws. And if the consul is excused for ignorance of the customs regulations of his own country, the foreign ship-master should not be punished for the fault of the official to whom he is compelled, under heavy penalties, to apply to certify the regularity of his papers.

It is likewise stated that ship-masters are only informed at the last moment before the departure of their vessel of fines imposed on them. This notice is usually received when application is made at the custom-house to clear their ships for another port, so that the vessel must be indefinitely detained if payment be contested, or else the fine must be paid, no matter how unjust it may be, in order to avoid the greater loss of detention. It would seem that a practice so unreasonable and inconvenient might be prevented by a regulation requiring the customs authorities to make known to the captains or supercargoes of vessels, within forty-eight hours after the ship's papers shall be delivered to the proper officer, all fines inflicted for irregularities in the manifest.

Complaint is also made by fifty-five American ship-masters who had delivered cargoes in the port of Matanzas, and thirty-three captains of American ships which had made voyages to the port of Santiago de Cuba, that with the utmost desire on their part to conform to the requirements of the customs authorities, they had, nevertheless, found it impossible to fill up a manifest which had not afforded some pretext for fines ranging from twenty-five to five hundred dollars. So various and so frivolous are the grounds on which fines are imposed that it would be in vain, they say, to attempt to enumerate all of them. Informalities of the most trivial nature are deemed sufficient to warrant the severest penalties. These ship-masters state: "It is never alleged that we intend to defraud the Spanish revenue. We are fined for an absence of the names

of the shipper of the goods and the consignee; for a failure to express numbers, weights, and measures in letters and figures; for a failure to state, after the enumeration of our cargo, that we carry nothing else; for a failure to make a similar statement when we come in ballast; for an absence of what is known as the asseveration, or the words 'So help me God;' for the slightest error in converting American weights and measures into Spanish denominations; for omitting, in the heading of the manifest, the nationality, class, tonnage of the vessel, name of captain, place whence she comes and port whither bound; for consigning goods to order, although they may be so consigned in the bill of lading."

Mlustrations of the character of these penalties may be seen in the reports of the American consuls in Cuba. It appears that, although the regulations may have been followed in stating the generic class of freight, yet vessels are fined because a manifest does not also contain a specific description of the cargo. For example, fines have been imposed because hoops were not described as “wooden” hoops, and because nails were not stated to be "iron” nails. In other cases, extreme technicality is required in the terms used in stating the nationality of a vessel. It is held to be insufficient when the manifest shows the name of a ship and the port or place where she is registered, since, for example, fines have been inflicted when the manifest has described a vessel as "the brig Hudson, of New York,” because it was not stated that she was the "American brig Hudson, of New York.” Penalties have likewise been exacted for omitting to state the marks and numbers of packages which were neither numbered nor marked.

Two remarkable cases are found in a late dispatch from the United States consulgeneral in Havana. He reports that the American mail-steamer Crescent City, having arrived in that port on the 13th of October last, with a manifest containing fifty-eight items of cargo, was fined fifty-nine times; in other words, a fine of twenty-five dollars for each item in the manifest and five hundred dollars besides, for the want of the usual consular authentication of that document, although the consul's certificate had never before been required of mail-steamers; that is to say, the manifest having been filled up under a misapprehension of the regulations in force at the moment, and the same error having occurred in noting each item of freight, amounting at most to but one offense, if it could be called an offense, yet the penalty was repeated fifty-eight times, according to the letter of a rule not known to the master until after his arrival in port; and there is a case now pending at Sagua la Grande, that of the American brig G. de Zaldo, which has been fined one hundred and forty-nine times for mistakes in her manifest. One hundred of these fines are for a single item, noted in the manifest as. 100 kegs of lard. The customs authorities say these should have been called “tierces,” and for that misnomer they impose a hundred fines of twenty-five dollars each! It is scarcely too much to affirm that customs regulations executed in such a spirit tend toward the exclusion of foreign vessels from commerce with Cuba.

As a general rule, a ship's inanifest agrees in its description of the cargo with the bills of lading delivered ; and these are made out from the data furnished by consignors in settling the terins and conditions of the contract for freight. This custom was recognized in the royal order of July 1, 1858, and in the royal decree of March 1, 1867. It is the general practice of commercial nations to regard the manifest as a means only of identifying the several shipments constituting the cargo. It is the peculiar office of the invoice, as distinguished from the manifest or bill of lading, to set forth the information on which duties are ascertained. The owner or agent entering goods in a foreign port for consumption or sale alone possesses full and accurate knowledge respecting his importation. The mere carrier, whether a ship-owner, or a railway corporation, or an express company, cannot furnish information respecting the contents of closed packages. Duties are never charged and collected upon the statements contained in a manifest. Port-charges do not depend on the nature of the cargo. It is not, therefore, easy to discover what useful purpose is served by exacting in a manifest more than is necessary for the identification of the articles comprising the cargo and less than is required for the computation of imposts.

The payment of duties is seldom, if ever, evaded by means of combinations between owners of vessels and owners of cargo. The risk incurred by the ship would be far greater than any gain derived from the transaction. And since ship-owners are not the accessories of consignees in defrauding the revenue, neither should they be made to suffer penalties for the conduct of others for whose acts they are not justly responsible. Nor can ship-masters, by collusion with parties at the port of destination, defraud the revenue without extreme peril to the nselves and the vessels they command. It is a mistake to assume, as seems to be often done in Cuba, that the revenue frauds vaid to be so common there are to be attributed to masters of foreign vessels. These practices on the part of unprincipled dealers in commercial towns generally depend for their success on facilities acquired by long residence, by confidential relations with subordinate customs officers, by false representations in invoices, and by various devires known to themselves in making up packages. The ship's manifest neither aids a dishonest importer in consummating a fraud, nor assists a vigilant revenue official in detecting imposture. On the contrary, it most frequently happens that an upright

« AnteriorContinuar »