Mr. Langston to Mr. Blaine.
Port-au-Prince, Hayti, November 5, 1881. (Received Nov. 19.)
Sir: Referring to my dispatch No. 389, dated June 18, 1881, I have the honor to advise you that on the 19th day of October last, the Corps Legislatif of this republic passed a law which abolishes the charges of visa abroad upon invoices of specie and merchandise shipped to this country, and establishes a duty of registry, of statistics, and of pre-emption, to be collected at the rate of one per cent. of the value of the invoice of merchandise and one per cent. of the value of specie on the arrival thereof in the ports of this republic.
This law is to take effect as provided in the first article on the 1st day of next month.
A copy of the act with the translation is herewith transmitted to the Department.
Upon examination it will be found that this law is arranged in two chapters.
The first chapter provides that from the first day of next December the consuls and commercial agents of this republic shall visé invoices of merchandise and specie shipped to Hayti, without charge; that where there is no Haytien consular officer declaration of the invoice shall be certified by a notary public; that in default of such visa or declaration a fine of $50 shall be imposed; that charges of visa of manifests, bills of health, passports, authentications of signatures, provisional certificates of naturalization, and of all other documents not provided for, shall be collected in accordance with the first article of the law of the 23d of August 1877; that consuls and agents shall have no right to make deduction of such charges of visa, but shall render account thereof to the secretary of state of finances and of commerce; and that for their services they shall receive the several amounts mentioned in the classification of allowances provided in the fifth article of the law.
For such principal places as Paris, Liverpool, New York, and Havre such classification provides $500 for each consular officer; while for such officers as reside at less important places the allowance runs from [Page 647] $400, as at Hamburg and Boston, down to $50, as at Nantes and Puerto Plata, per annum.
The second chapter of the law, after fixing the charge of one per cent. of the value of the invoice of merchandise and of specie as a duty of registry and of statistics, as already stated, and that this amount shall be collected according to the laws and decrees, the directions and circulars of the department of state of finances, defines the procedure to be had and the disposition to be made of the proceeds of sales in cases where merchandise found undervalued or falsely returned is seized by the government.
It is after no little effort certainly on the part of the representative of our own government at this capital, and of his colleague of Her Britannic Majesty, that the imposition and collection abroad of charges for consular visa of invoices of merchandise and specie shipped to this country have been discontinued and disallowed in the repeal of so much of the law of August 23, 1877, as is herein indicated; and it is to be hoped that my efforts in this behalf will meet the approval of the Department.
I have, &c.,