No. 137.
Mr. Dichman to Mr. Evarts.

No. 104.]

Sir: During the last two weeks of the extra session of Congress, which body adjourned sine die on last Monday, the 30th of June, a law was enacted on the subject of the custody of the registers of foreign vessels in the ports of Colombia, a copy and translation of which are inclosed, and which I trust will be found a satisfactory general disposition of this long pending question.

In the examination of this, law, which is known as the law 40, of 1879, reforming the law 60, of 1875, I beg to invite reference to my dispatches No. 34, of January 15, 1879, and No. 62, of March 31, 1879, with incisures, as well as sections 4209, 4210, 4211, and 4309 Revised Statutes of [Page 290] the United States, and paragraphs 118 to 124, and forms 13 and 14 United States Consular Regulations.

It will be seen that the new Colombian law is substantially a translation of the law of the United States on the same subject.

The first article provides that the captain of a foreign merchant-vessel shall exhibit the papers of his ship to the collector of customs or inspector of the port, and deposit them immediately with the consul of his nation.

A question having been raised as to the meaning of the word “present,” used in the first article of the protocol, forwarded with my No. 34, it was determined to remove all doubt by using the word “exhibit” in the draft of the law.

I deem it but just to state in this connection that the president and the secretary of foreign relations lost no opportunity in prevailing on Congress to take the proper steps in this matter.

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 104.—Translation.]

Law 40 of 1879 (June 24), which reforms the law 60 of 1875.

The Congress of the United States of Colombia, decrees:

  • Article 1. The merchant vessels which may enter the ports of the republic shall exhibit to the “administrador” or inspector of the port, the register and other sea documents. Said documents shall be deposited immediately with the consular officer of the nation to which such vessel belongs, who shall be obliged to deliver to the “administrador” or inspector a certificate of the deposit of said documents.
  • The captain of a vessel who shall not comply with this provision shall be subject to a fine of from $500 to $1,000, within the judgment of the collector of customs or the inspector of the port respectively.
  • Art. 2. Upon receiving the register and other sea documents belonging to a vessel of their nation which may have entered the port, the foreign consular officers in the ports of the republic shall execute a certificate setting forth the fact, which shall be delivered to the collector of customs or the inspector of the port.
  • Art. 3. Said consular officers shall not return the register and other documents to the captain who may have deposited them in their hands until the clearance be presented to them executed by the proper authority.
  • Paragraph. It shall be a cause for cancelling the exequatur, or for the withdrawal of the permission executed to the consuls, vice-consuls, or consular agents respectively, the fact of their returning the register and other documents which may have been deposited with them, before there may have been presented to them the necessary clearance executed by the proper federal officer.
  • Art. 4. The fines and penalties referred to in this law maybe lowered, and even remitted by the executive power, when, in his judgment, there be presented satisfactory proof to relieve the persons upon whom they may have been imposed of all responsibility.

Signed by the president and secretaries of the two houses of Congress.

Let it be published and executed.

The President of the Union:

The secretary of the interior and foreign relations:
Luis Carlos Rico.