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Madrid, June 1, 1873. Sir: I have the honor to transmit to your excellency, in obedience to instructions from my Government, three copies of sundry papers touching the customs regulations in Cuba in their relation to foreign vessels engaged in commerce with that island. It is presumed that the trade carried on in British ships with Cuban ports may have given occasion for reclamations on the part of your government like those it has been my duty to present. The representations heretofore made by the United States having been only partially successful in obtaining the ameliorations desired, I am directed to persevere in further efforts to this end, and especially to invite simultaneous and, as far as possible, identical action on the part on the government of Great Britain.
My Government directs me to confer likewise with the representatives of Germany and Sweden at this capital, in the hope that they also may receive instructions enabling each to frame a note on this subject, to be addressed separately and at the same time to the Spanish minister of foreign affairs.
On page 46 of the inclosure will be found a draught of a proposed note to the Spanish government, which I shall be happy to amend so as to meet your views, in order that the proposed action may, if deemed expedient, be identical. I avail, &c.,
D. E. SICKLES. [Here follows instruction to General Sickles of March 21, for which see page 932.]
Additional papers. 1. New regulations of December 26, 1872. English translation. 2. New regulations of December 26, 1872. Spanish original text. 3. Mr. Martos to General Sickles. Note dated January 2, 1873. 4. General Sickles to Mr. Martos. Note dated January 27, 1873. 5. Mr. Castelar to General Sickles. Note dated May 16, 1873. 6. Draft of proposed note to the minister of state.
Nos. 1 and 2.- New regulations of December 26, 1872. English translation and Spanish tert. [From La Gaceta de Madrid, December 29, 1872.-English translation.!
COLONIAL OFFICE. Your EXCELLENCY: In consideration of the representations made by the general superintendent of the treasury in the island of Cuba, respecting the inconveniences found in the practical working of the regulations at present in force for the guidance of the captains and supercargoes of vessels engaged in commerce between foreign ports and those of the islands of Cuba and Porto Rico, and the expediency of limiting the privileges enjoyed by mail-steamers, and to re-establish, in all their vigor, the provisions affecting other steamers, principally employed in the transportation of articles of commerce, the King (whom may God save) has been pleased to order that the regulations in question should be drawn up in the form exhibited in the accompanying document, and that, as thus modified, they shall go into operation thirty days after their publication by the consuls and vice-consuls of Spain in the official newspapers of their respective districts; to which end His Majesty charges me to indicate to you, as by his royal order I now do, the necessity of notifying the said functionaries, through the ministry under your worthy charge, that they shall, as soon as possible, cause the accompanying regulations to be published in the said newspapers, and to see that they are frequently reproduced, and also that they shall communicate to the general superintendent of the treasury in Cuba and the chief financial officer of Porto Rico the date of their publication.
May God guard Your Excellency many years.
TOMAS MARIA MOSQUERA. To the MINISTER OF STATE.
Rules to be observed by the captains and supercargoes of Spanish vessels, or those of other na
tions engaged in the carrying trade from foreign ports to those of the islands of Cuba and Porto Rico.
I. Captains of vessels sailing from foreign ports to those of the islands of Cuba and Porto Rico shall present to the Spanish consul or vice-consul a duplicate statement, without any corrections whatever, which shall declare :
1. The class, (or rig,) flag, and name of the vessel and its exact measurement, in Spanish tons. In the first voyage made by each vessel to the said islands, declaration shall be made of the number of tons it measures, by builder's measurement, even though they be not Spanish tons; and in the subsequent voyages, a certificate of the tonnage measurement made at the first port of entry, by order of the custom-house authorities for the payment of tonnage-dues, must be exhibited ; 2. The name of the captain or master of the vessel ; 3. The port or ports from whence it has sailed ; 4. The names of the shippers, and those of the owners or consignees to whom the cargo is consigned;
5. The packages, bales, casks, barrels, cases, and other bundles or packages, with their respective marks and numbers, expressing in numbers and in writing the quantity of each class thereof;
6. The specific kind of merchandise or goods contained in the parcels, and their gross weight. The words merchandise, rictuals, provisions, or others of like vagueness, will not be allowed to determine the specific kind of merchandise ;
7 A similar statement of all cargo in bond, or in transit (to other ports ;)
8. And the statement shall conclude by a distinct declaration that the vessel carries no other merchandise.
II. If all or part of the cargo consists of iron in bars or plates, metal in pigs or ingots, lumber, jerked beef, salt, cocoa, or other articles in bulk, they must be declared according to their kind, in decimal weight or measure, in the duplicate statement already mentioned.
III. These statements (sobordos) shall be certified by the Spanish consul or viceconsul, who will deliver one of the copies to the captain of the vessel, retaining the other, which he shall himself remit directly to the intendente-general of the island whither the ship is bound, so that it may serve as a voucher for the examination of the cargo by the customs authorities of the port of entry.
IV. The captain, at the end of the voyage, must note down in the copy of the statement which he is to retain the following particulars:
1. Whatever goods the crew may take with them, not already declared in said document, up to the value of 200 escudos (100 dollars) for each individual;
2. Such articles of food for the voyage as may remain unconsumed ; and,
3. All munitions of war and spare materials, as also the quantity of coal carried for the consumption of the vessel if it be a steamer.
V. The captain, on arrival at his port of destination and when the sanitary inspections takes place, shall deliver the statement certified by the consul, and the general inanifest of the cargo, to the chief of the custom-house officers or of the revenue guard.
VI. If a vessel sail in ballast, the captain shall present to the consul or vice-consul a note, (or statement,) in duplicate, declaring the fact, and the same forms will be observed as prescribed for the sobordo; that is to say, the consul will certify both documents, delivering one copy to the captain, and retaining the other to forward to the intendente of the island to which the ship is bound.
VII. If the captain or supercargo do not show the statement, or note declaring that the vessel sails in ballast, when the vessel is boarded, which act shall take place the moment it drops its anchor in the port of its destination, they shall be held liable to a fine of 400 escudos (200 dollars) for the want of that document; if the consular certificate or attestation do not appear thereon, he (or they) shall pay a fine of 200 escudos (100 dollars) for the absence of that formality; and, if it do not contain the particulars specified in Rule 1, he (or they) shall pay a fine of 50 escudos (25 dollars) for each one omitted or inaccurately stated, but in the latter case the sum total of such fines shall not exceed 400 escudos (200 dollars.) In like manner, the captain or supercargo who shall not produce the sobordo and manifest when required to do so by the chief officer of the revenue guard, or whoever represents him, at the moment of boarding the vessels, shall incur a fine of 1,000 escudos (500 dollars,) unless an accident at sea shall have forced the vessel to put hastily into port, which fact shall be shown by means of a summary proceeding.
VIII. In case any correction or alteration should be observed in said documents, the captains or masters shall be held liable to appear before the competent tribunal to answer the charge of forgery, incurring an equal responsibility whether the vessel arrive in ballast or with cargo.
IX. The production of the sobordo is obligatory, and shall take place in all the ports, hays, and harbors of the island in which the vessel may anchor, even when in distress, the collector of customs retaining a copy and returning the orignal to the captain, in order that he may deliver it at the port of his destination.
X. Vessels of the coast-guard (revenue-cutters) may demand the sobordo from the captain or master within a distance of 23 kilometers (14.291 English miles) from the port of their destination.
XI. Captains are likewise under obligation to present to the Spanish consul or vice
consul of the port of departure a memorandum of the approximate value of their cargo, to serve as data for the commercial statistics, with the preparation of which those functionaries are charged.
XII. The captain who shall not declare the exact burden of his vessel in Spanish tons, shall pay the expenses of its remeasurement if the excess prove to be more than 10 per cent.
XIII. Captains, who are forced by stress of weather or any other unforseen event to throw a portion of the cargo overboard, shall also note it down in the manifest, stating even though it be in general terms, the quantities, parcels, and classes or kinds, (of the articles thrown overboard,) being obliged to make a corresponding declaration in their custom-house and to exhibit their log-book in confirmation of their assertions.
XIV. Passengers' luggage shall be presented for examination in the customs warehouse, and if articles of merchandise be found therein of a value not exceeding 200 escudos, (100 dollars,) the customs duties according to the tariff shall be assessed thereon, after comparison with the note or detailed statement which the interested parties are required to deliver to the collector of customs. If the value of such goods should exceed 200 escudos and not exceed 400, (200 dollars,) double duties shall be imposed; but if they amount to a larger sum they shall be liable to confiscation, unless in either case a declaration of the said goods shall have been previously made, when they shall only be subject to the payment of the duties fixed by the tarift.
XV. Any correction, addition, or alteration of the manifest or statement, or of the custom-house declarations, is absolutely prohibited, the discrepancies which may appear between the said documents being punishable in conformity to the regulations.
XVI. When the cargoes proceed from a port where there is no consul or vice-consul, and the residence of these agents is more than thirty kilometers (18.640 English miles) from the place of embarkation, the captains and supercargoes may be relieved from the formality of the sohordos, but in order to enjoy this exemption it is necessary that the cargoes shall be homogeneous and composed exactly and entirely of any one of the following articles: Hides, timber, (or lumber,) staves, dye-woods, mineral coal, or horns, provided that these articles are the product of the country from which the vessel comes; that the voyage is direct, and that the duties be assessed on the merchandise as a whole.
XVII. All packages omitted in the sobordo, or manifest of the cargo, shall be liable to the penalty of seizure, a fine being imposed, in addition, upon the captain to the amount of their value, provided that the amount of duties upon the goods therein contained shall not exceed 800 esendos (400 dollars ;) but if the duties exceed this sum, and the articles belong to or are consigned to the owner, captain, or supercargo of the vessel, the fine will not be levied, and in its stead the vessel, with its freights and all other profits, shall be confiscated.
XVIII. If, after the vessel's cargo is discharged, one or more of the packages declared shall be found missing, without the invoice of their contents having been presented at the proper time, the captain or supercargo shall be deemed and taken to have committed fraud against the treasury, and shall be fined 400 escudos (200 dollars) for each one of the missing parcels.
XIX. If the owner or consignee of an article not declared by the captain should, within forty-eight hours, present the invoice of the said article to the custom-house, no charge will lie against him, and the goods shall be delivered up to him; but in such case the captain or supercargo shall be held liable to pay a fine equal to the full value of the articles or goods not manifested.
XX. Without a permit from the collector of customs and examination by the chief of the revenue-guard, nothing whatever can be landed. For the simple act of landing anything, although of little value, and even though it be free of duty, the captain or supercargo shall pay a fine of 2,000 escudos, (1,000 dollars,) and all the articles seized, as well as the boat or barge carrying them, shall be liable to confiscation; provided, that the duties the said articles would have had to pay shall not exceed 400 escudos, (200 dollars ;) because, if they exceed this sum, the fine will not be levied, and the vessel shall be confiscated.
XXI. Neither may any articles be transferred from one vessel to another in harbor, in small or large quantities, without fulfilling the conditions required by the regulations; and in the contrary case the captains or supercargoes are liable to the penalties prescribed in these regulations.
XXII. If articles of great or little value be landed in a port other than a declared port of entry, the vessel bringing them shall be confiscated, with all her equipments.
XXIII. If the search, which must be undergone by all vessels before their clearance register can be issued, should show any excess of cargo, such excess shall be confiscated, imposing in addition a fine upon the captain equal to the value of said excess.
XXIV. The same confiscation and fine as that mentioned in the foregoing article shall be held to apply to all seizures made in consequence of fraudulent attempts to embark goods, fruits, or other effects.
XXV. If the captains or supercargoes have not wherewithal to satisfy the amounts to which they may be adjudged liable, the vessels under their command shall be made use of for payment of all penalties and costs, unless the consignees should voluntarily offer to satisfy them.
XXVI. The translation or dispatch of any manifest or sobordo shall not be undertaken until the captain or consignee shall have presented in the custom-house the corresponding bill of health. *XXVII. The captains or supercargoes of mail-steamers, under which denomination only those carrying the mail by commission from their government, and having fixed periodical days of departure from their respective ports, can be included, may carry up to 10 tons of cargo without requiring a consular certificate, being obliged, nevertheless, to present a manifest of the cargo in the time and form prescribed in these regulations.
XXVIII. If the cargo carried by the mail-steamers exceeds 10 tons, the presentation of the sobordo, registered by the consuls of Spain in the ports of departure, shall be obligatory; and in this case the captains or supercargoes may be permitted to declare up to 6 tons in addition, without requiring the consular certificate. If this figure be exceeded, the manifest shall be deemed and held not to have been presented, and the proceedings prescribed in the present regulations shall be enforced.
XXIX. The masters of fishing vessels or smacks coming from the neighboring coast and entering the ports of the Antilles laden with fish, or in ballast, are exempted from the presentation of consular certificates. Madrid, December 26, 1872.
[ No. 3.— Note dated January 2, 1873.- Translation.)
Mr. Martos to General Sickles.
MINISTRY OF STATE,
Madrid, January 2, 1873. SIR: I have the honor to inform you that, in order to diminish, so far as may be possible, the reclamations of foreign representatives growing out of the fines imposed by the customs authorities in the island of Cuba upon merchant-captains, the minister of ultramar has, under date of the 26th of December last, notified the general superintendent of the finances of the island of Cuba, (intendente-general de hacienda,) firstly, that no fine imposed by the customs authorities upon captains or supercargoes of national and foreign vessels for errors, omissions, or inaccuracies in the sobordos or manifests they present, shall take effect without the previous approval of the general superintendent, 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 the vessels put to sea before the final payment of the fines which shall have heen incurred by their captains or supercargoes; secondly, that within as brief a perod as may be practicable, he shall propose such separation as can be made between the circumstances and details now required in the sobordos, leaving such as may be psa Nential to the prevention of frauds subject to consular registry and certification, and exempting from such formality such as have no importance in a financial point of view; and, thirdly, that the fines imposed on the captains or supercargoes of vessels for errors in their papers, and subsequently revoked, as well as those condoned by the free act of the supreme goverument, shall be refunded within the fixed term of one year, counting from the date of the reception in the general superintendent's office of the order directing such restitution, or declaring the penalty to have been improvidently imposed.
larail myself of this occasion to repeat to you, sir, the assurances of my most distinguished consideration.
CRISTINO MARTOS. The MINISTER PLEXIPOTENTIARY of the United States.
[No. 4.- Note dated January 27, 1873.1
LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Madrid, January 27, 1573. SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the note adiressed to me lig Four excelleney under date of the 2d instant, by which I am informedløt. That fines on captains or supercargoes of vessels for errors, omissions, or inaccuracies in their manifests and sobordos shall not take effect in Cuba without the approval of the intendente of the treasury;
20. That the intendente shall point out without delay such of the present requirements respecting the contents of the sobordo as may be omitted without prejudice to the public service; and,
3d. That fines revoked by the authority imposing them, or remitted by the supreme government, shall be refunded within one year, counting from the date of the reception of the order of restitution.
My Government will learn with satisfaction that subordinate customs oflicers will not hereafter be allowed in their discretion to impose and collect fines from captains and supercargoes of foreign vessels in the Cuban ports. It is, however, much to be regretted that the restitution of fines wrongfully inflicted may be withheld from the injured parties twelve months after the authorities shall have received orders directing such re-imbursement.
My Government will likewise be gratified to know that steps are taken to simplify the regulations now in force, under which it is so difficult for captains of vessels, with the utinost rectitude of conduct and purpose, to escape the numerous penalties denonuced for mere informalities in their papers.
Referring to the communication I had the honor to address to your excellency on this subject on the 27th of November last, and likewise to my note of July 16, 1970, I desire to renew the representations therein made respecting several of the regulations contained in the royal order of July 1, 1859, and which re-appear in the decree of December 26, 1872, published in the Gazette of Madrid on the 29th of the same month.
Some of the particulars required to be set forth in the sobordo, or statement in duplicate, are, it is respectfully urged, unnecessary as safeguards against frauds on the revenue, at variance with commercial usage, and tend, in their operation, to cause much inconvenience and loss to captains and owners of vessels. It is required, among many other specifications, that the sobordo shall show, 1. The “exact measurement of the vessel in Spanish tonnage.” 2. A description of the specific kind of merchandise contained in every package, bale, case, bundle, or parcel in the cargo, and the quantity, decimal weight, or measure, and marks and numbers of each article. In addition to this detail called for in the duplicate sobordo, a manifest of the cargo is necessary. 3. A similar statement of all articles on board in transit to other ports. 4. A statement, in the copy of the sobordo, retained by the captain, of whatever goods the crew may have in their possession and the quantity of ship's stores remaining on board, including coal, if the vessel be a steamer.
And it is provided that on presenting such sobordo to the inspector, if it be not duly certified by a Spanish consul, a fine of $200 is incurred, and, although the consul mar have certified the document, yet, if it shall be found deficient in any respect, a fine of $25 is imposed for each and every defect that may appear; that is to say, after requiring very much more than is usual in ship's papers, and making it the duty of the Spanish consnls to certify to their sufficiency in form, if that officer fail in his duty to point out irregularities, a fine must be paid by the captain for each instance of the consul's neglect. I am sure your excelleney will agree that if these stringent requirements as to the contents of the sobordo are to be retained, the consul's certificate should, in all cases, be accepted as covering any defect of form in a document he has approved by his signature and seal of office.
Article 7 provides that if a captain fail to produce the sobordo and manifest when required to do so by the coast-guard, “at the inoment of boarding the vessel," he shall incur a fine of $500, unless it appear satisfactorily that he has been forced by some casualty of the sea to put into port suddenly. And it is provided in article 10 that the coast-guard may board a ship and demand her papers anywhere within a distance of twenty-three kilometers (14.291 English miles) from the port of destination. With ref. erence to the latter article I have to observe, that I presume it cannot be the intention of His Majesty's government to enforce any such regulation beyond Spanish juris liction. As the article now stands, it amounts to the exercise of a right of search on the high seas, accompanied by an extreme penalty for a non-compliance with an unauthorized demand. And in any aspect of article 7, even if its execution be confined within Spanish jurisdiction, cases may often happen where, without fault or wrongful intent on the part of the captain or supercargo, the technical enforcement of the rule wondd be unjust and oppressive.
It is further provided, in article 11, that captains shall furnish the consul mene randa of the approximate value of their cargoes, to the end that these inay serve as data for commercial statistics.
Article 13 requires that in the event of any disaster at sea making it necessary to throw overboard a portion of the cargo, the parcels, quantities, and classes of goods x lost shall be noted on the manifest.
I might proceed with the enumeration of many other features of these new regulations which seem to need modification in order that they may not needlessly hurled and harass legitimate commerce, but, in view of the revision of the same ordered by