Mr. Frelinghuysen to Mr. Hall.
Washington, August 20, 1884.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your No. 241, of the 25th ultimo, respecting the decrees of the Government of Costa Rica in reference to the port of Limon.
It appears that on the 22d day of May, 1883, the Congress of Costa Rica passed a law declaring the port of Limon free of customs imports for a period of ten years, to take effect from August 10, 1883.
It further appears that on the 19th day of June, 1884, the same Congress, without giving any previous notice of its intention, repealed the law of May 22, 1883, and re-established the former tariff upon imports.
It also appears that the publication and execution of the act of June 19, 1884, were simultaneous, and regardless of the foreign interests created under the inducements held out to foreign capitalists by the act of May 22, 1883.
You say that the principal commercial interests of Limon are American, and that you have instructed the United States consul at that port to receive the protest of the citizens of the United States who may have incurred losses under guarantees of the act of May 22, 1883, by the investment of capital, especially in foreign goods now ready for shipment from foreign ports or on their way to Limon.[Page 42]
The Department fully approves of the discretion with which you have looked after the interests of your countrymen in this matter.
The subject is deemed a proper one to submit, as you have already done, to the sense of equity and fair dealing of the Government of Costa Rica.
Should the Government of Costa Rica, however, reply denying responsibility, as of right, for the losses thus sustained, you will, without delay, transmit all claims presented to you on behalf of citizens of the United States and arising under the circumstances before mentioned, that is to say, all claims for loss arising from transactions which were anterior to the notice of the repeal of the law of May 22, 1883, accompanied by the proofs in support thereof, for the consideration and action of this Department, and at the same time urge upon the Government of Costa Rica the right of this Government to be fully indemnified for all losses sustained by citizens of the United States by reason of the repeal, without reasonable notice, of the law which declared Limon a free port of entry for a period of ten years.
I am, &c.,