No. 385.
Mr. Curry to Mr. Bayard.

No. 69.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose a copy of an order issued from the ministry of ultramar to the governors-general of Cuba and Porto Rico, respecting the suppression of the differential flag duties and a proposed [Page 799] equalization of navigation dues in those islands, a translation of the same, and of a note addressed to Señor Moret, minister of state.

The urgent instructions of the Department to use my best exertions to secure a suppression of the “ruinous differential duty,” which practically prohibits a vessel of the United States from carrying to Cuba productions of another country, even when shipped from the United States, and the continued protests of American merchants and shippers against such onerous discriminations, justified the legation, it was thought, in cabling a summary of the royal order.

The authoritative interpretation of the agreement of February, 1884, in accordance with the contention of the United States and in opposition to the past, persistent opinion of the authorities in Cuba and the Government, may almost be regared as a new modus vivendi. * * *

The Department may indulge in some gratification at the termination of a controversy which, in some phase, has perplexed it and annoyed our commerce for half a century.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 69.—Translation.]

Minister of ultramar to governors-general of Cuba and Porto Rico.

Excellency: The Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States of America has objected to the Government of His Majesty in regard to the manner in which the agreement of February 13, 1884, is executed in Cuba (that island), and alleges that the first article gives the right to the North American flag to be placed on equal terms with the Spanish flag in the ports of that island in regard to the collection of dues of every kind, and complains that in that island the differential duty is maintained in respect to foreign merchandise transshipped in American ports, as well as of the fact that navigation dues continue to be exacted on American different from those established for Spanish vessels; and in view of his arguments and of the premises that aid in the correct interpretation of the said agreement, His Majesty the King (whom God guard), and in his name Her Majesty the Queen Regent of the Kingdom, for the purpose of showing the good disposition of Spain toward the United States and the good faith with which it undertakes the accomplishment (execution) of treaties, has deigned to order, ratifying what was established by the royal order of May 7, 1885, that the American flag in the direct commerce with the islands of Cuba and Porto Rico shall be in every respect placed on an equal basis with Spain in the conduct of articles that are the products of and proceed from the United States.

In regard to navigation dues, although the equalization of American with Spanish vessels is not provided for in the agreement, it is the will of Her Majesty, from deference to the wishes of said nation, that as soon as it is shown by the representative of said States in that island that his Government has granted this benefit to Spanish vessels, the authorities in Cuba shall proceed to apply it to American vessels in exact reciprocity and in harmony with what was established by royal decree of June 4, 1868.

By royal order I communicate this to your excellency for your information, and with a view to the results that follow therefrom. God guard your Excellency many years.


The Governors-General of the Islands of Cuba and Porto Rico.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 69.

Mr. Curry to the minister of state.

Excellency: The official orders issued from the ministry of ultramar, placing products of the United States and products of foreign countries transshipped in ports of the United States, carried to the Antilles in vessels of the United States, on an [Page 800] equal basis with such products carried in Spanish vessels, and consenting to equalize navigation dues in the ports of Cuba, a copy of which you did me the kindness to send in advance of promulgation, will be received by the Government of the United States with the liveliest satisfaction, as renewed proof of the friendly disposition of Spain and of the desire to promote larger and more unrestricted commercial intercourse.

In this expression of the pleasure of my Government I must not omit to convey to you my deep sense of your courtesy and of the liberal views which have marked your action in reference to the interpretation of the agreement of February 13, 1884.

I take this opportunity of renewing, &c.