No. 344.
Mr. Foster to Mr. Evarts.

No. 886.]

Sir: As instructed in your No. 539, of November 15 last, after delaying until the 24th ultimo in the hope of receiving an answer on the subject, on that date I addressed the Mexican foreign office a note, again calling attention to the discriminating bounty offered for the exportation of hemp (henequen) to Europe by the State government of Yucatan. In my note, of which I inclose a copy, I recited the repeated efforts which I had made to obtain some action on the part of the federal government, and referred to its singular indifference to the subject.

In a visit which I made to the foreign office a few days thereafter, I called Mr. Avila’s attention to the matter, and he said that although he was just about to leave the department he would commend the question to the preferred and early attention of his successor.

On the 7th instant the new minister, Señor Ruelas, invited me to call that day at the foreign office, which I accordingly did, when he informed me that he expected to answer my note of the 24th ultimo at once, but [Page 797] desired to see me in the mean time to say that he was desirous of attending to my note, and that he recognized the principle laid down in your first and last dispatches that such legislation as that enacted by the State of Yucatan was in violation of the treaty of 1831, and was, besides, an encroachment on the powers of the federal government, to which pertained exclusively the faculty to regulate foreign commerce. He stated, however, that the question had already been settled, as the decree granting the bounty on hemp (henequen) was only to remain in force for two years, and that it had expired by limitation.

I expressed my gratification that the minister concurred so fully in your view of the question, but I said that, in order prevent the action of the State government from becoming a precedent for the future, it would be well to convey to the governor of Yucatan the views of the federal executive on the subject, which the minister promised to do.

* * * * * * *

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 886.]

Mr. Foster to Mr. Avila.

Sir: On the 28th of September of last year I addressed your honor a note in regard to the complaint which I had presented to the Mexican Government on the 4th of December, 1877, under instructions from the Department of State, in regard to the special privileges conceded by the State government of Yucatau for the exportation of hemp to Europe. The said note shows that I have brought the subject to the attention of the Mexican foreign office four several and distinct times during the past year, without being able in the course of more than thirteen months, to obtain any satisfactory or even definite answer on the subject.

In view of this apparent indifference on the part of the Mexican Government to this important subject, which involves the equality of privileges of the citizens of the United States with those of European nations in the commerce of Mexico, I have been instructed by a recent dispatch from the Department of State to again bring the question to your honor’s attention. I do not deem it necessary to present again in detail the facts and arguments heretofore submitted, to your honor’s predecessors. Reference is made to my past notes and interviews in the note which I sent to your honor on the 28th of September last, and which remains unanswered.

The Secretary of State, in directing me to make a new effort to obtain an answer from the foreign office, says there can be no doubt that the action of the State of Yucatan, in granting a special bounty on the exportation of hemp to Europe, is not merely opposed to the intent of Article IV of the treaty of 1831, but is in distinct contravention of the second article thereof. Nor can there be any doubt, he states, of the duty of the federal or treaty-making power to require from the individual members of the federation compliance with the international obligations contracted. He regrets that there should be such apparent hesitancy in meeting the simple issue which this question presents. He therefore instructs me to submit the subject in such a manner as will be likely to prove effective, and to request an early reply from your honor’s government.

I trust that the foregoing statement may be sufficient, without the repetition of former arguments or the addition of new ones, to satisfy your honor that the complaint of my government as originally presented was well founded, and that it has not been treated with that attention which both the subject and a due deference for the representations of a friendly power demanded. I have, then, to repeat my request made in September last, that the matter may be squarely met, and an early and definite answer may be given me thereon.

I remain, with sentiments of marked consideration, your honor’s obedient servant,

[Page 798]
[Inclosure 2 in No. 886.—Translation.]

Mr. Ruelas to Mr. Foster.

Sir: Referring to the attentive note of your excellency, dated January 24, of this year, and to the conversation had in this department on the 7th instant, in which I manifested the opinion reached relative to the decree of the legislature of Yucatan conceding a premium to the hemp in the stalk produced in that State, which should he exported to Europe, I have the honor to renew my considerations in the same terms in which I expressed them to your excellency, and which are in accord with the note of the Secretary of State of the United States of America, dated in Washington, November 14, 1877.

Consequently I reiterate to your excellency that, in regard to the Mexican Government causing the cessation of the difference established between the exportations of hemp to Europe, on acccount of the premiums conceded to them, and the exportations of the same product to the United States, the period of two years fixed by the decree of the legislature of Yucatan for the enjoyment of the premium having expired, the difference which caused the said note of November 14, 1877 (whose object is now satisfied), has also ceased; and it being convenient to the interest of the Government of the Mexican Federation to give its attention and have the government of the States give their attention to whatever concerns the faculty of legislating with respect to importations and exportations, and with respect to other points connected with the stipulations of the federal constitution, and with the international treaties the President will give to this question the preference which it justly demands.

I have the honor to renew to your excellency the protestations of my attentive and distinguished consideration.