No. 167.

Mr. Scruggs to Mr. Bayard .

No. 239.]

Sir: I inclose herewith (in copy and translation) an executive decree, No. 636, establishing custom-houses at the ports of Panama and Colon. I also inclose an English translation of article 8 of law 53 of 1884, and of articles 41, 42, 47, and 48 of the fiscal code to which it refers.

Informally I have expressed to Dr. Restrepo, secretary for foreign affairs, my apprehensions that this measure will seriously interfere with the freedom of the isthmian transit; and informally he has expressed to me his concurrence in this opinion, adding that he had been overruled by the President and cabinet.

My British colleague, with whom I have spoken on the subject, entertains the same fears and will write to his Government accordingly.

While thus referring the matter, I shall in all probability, pending the arrival of your instructions, venture on my own responsibility to try to dissuade the President from putting his decree into operation.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 239.—Translation.]

Decree No. 636.

The President of the United States of Columbia, in execution of article 8 of law 53 of 1884, decrees:

  • Article 1. That, in accordance with said law, custom-houses be established in the ports of Panama and Colon, on and after the 1st of December next.
  • Art. 2. That the import duties collected therein be the same as those collected at the other ports of the Republic, less 40 per cent.
  • Art. 3. That the regulations common to the customs service in the other ports of the Republic shall govern in said ports. Consequently, that at foreign ports whence merchandise is shipped thither the usual formalities as to manifests and certified invoices as prescribed in articles 41, 42, 47, and 48 of the fiscal code be observed.


F. Angulo,
Secretary of War, in charge of Finance Department.

Article 8 of law 53 of 1884, to which the preceding decree, No. 636, refers.


Art. 8. The Executive is hereby authorized to establish custom houses in Panama, Colon, Aranca, and Oracué. The personal of the service thereof shall not exceed the salaries paid at the custom-house at Santa Martha.

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The duties collected at the new ports named shall he those provided for in the existing tariff laws, less 40 per cent.

The executive decree organizing the customs service at said new ports shall he submitted to the next succeeding session of Congress.

Articles of the Fiscal Code referred to in decree No. 636.

  • Art. 41. The captain or supercargo of every vessel loading in a foreign port for the ports of Colombia should present to the Colombian consul therein a manifest signed in triplicate setting forth—
    The name, class, nationality, and tonnage of the vessel.
    The ports of her departure and of her destination.
    The name of the shipper or consignor, and also that of the consignee.
    The marks and number of each package, and also the gross weight of each.
    The number of packages or parcels in each cargo, and of those destined for each particular port.
  • Art. 42. Every person wishing to ship merchandise to any of the Colombian ports should present to the Colombian consul in the port of embarkation an invoice in triplicate showing:
    The name of the shipper, the place whence shipment is made, the name of the consignee, the port of destination, and also the name of the vessel.
    The marks, number, description, contents, and gross weight of each package or parcel.
    The aggregate value of the list of articles named in the invoice, without, however, the necessity of specifying the precise value of each separate article.
  • Art. 47. The consul will make note of all manifests in a register kept by him for that purpose; he will compare these with the invoice presented, and, after satisfying himself as far as possible of their correctness, will certify thereto at the foot of each copy; he will return one copy to each of the parties interested, for presentation at the respective custom-houses.
  • Art. 48. The consul will transmit, under seal, by the same vessel, one copy each of the manifest and invoice to the customs collector at the port of destination, together with such other advices as he may deem necessary to the prevention of frauds.