Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, For the Year 1887, Transmitted to Congress, With a Message of the President, June 26, 1888
to Mr. Curry.
Washington , March 18, 1887.
Sir: I transmit a copy of a further dispatch from our consul-general at Havana, giving various instances of the annoyance caused our citizens visiting Cuba by the passport regulations there.
The apparent need of some amelioration of this vexatious system is abundantly presented in previous instructions, to which your attention is called in this connection.
I am, etc.,
Mr. Williams to Mr. Porter.
Havana , March 5, 1887. (Received March 10.)
Sir: With reference to my previous correspondence upon the subject of the annoyances and vexations suffered by American travelers and tourists in Cuba from the exactions of the passport system still practiced here, and particularly to my dispatch, No. 249, of August 12, 1885, I now beg most respectfully to ask the attention or the Department to the accompanying correspondence, which has been evoked by the constant complaints and solicitations presented to this office by Americans who have been permitted freely to enter the island without opposition from the police authorities, but who are prevented afterwards from returning home, or to continue their voyage to other parts, without first taking out passports from the office of the civil governor of the province of Havana.
Inclosure No. 1 is copy of my letter addressed, under date of the 16th instant, to his excellency the governor-general of the island, asking him to be pleased to order me to be informed by the corresponding bureau as to the requirements of the passport system now ruling here.
Inclosures Nos. 2 and 3 are copies of my letters dated the 18th instant, addressed, respectively, to Messrs. Lawton Brothers and Messrs. Hidalgo & Co., the former firm being the agents of the “Morgan” and “Plants lines of American steamers, plying between the ports of New Orleans, Tampa, Key West, and Havana, and the latter firm the agents of the “Alexandre” and “Ward” lines of American steamers, plying, the one between New York and Vera Cruz, via Havana, and the other directly between New York and Havana. In these letters I have asked the agents of the said four lines of American steamers running to this port to favor me with a copy of the instructions under which they are acting, and by which they are supposed to be justified in their refusal to issue tickets to American citizens that have been allowed to land here without passports unless they present these documents.
Inclosures 4 and 5, dated both the 18th instant, are the replies of said agents, Messrs. Lawton Brothers, and Messrs. Hidalgo & Co., to inclosures Nos. 2 and 3.
Inclosure No. 6 is the answer from his excellency the governor-general of the island, transmitted through the honorable political secretary, under date of the 17th instant, received on the 19th, in answer to my communication of the 16th, accompanied herewith as inclosure No. 1.
You will please notice that the political secretary informs me that the old passport system has suffered no alteration in regard to persons who leave the island, because of the “law relative to foreigners residing in the Spanish colonies” being still in force, article 4 of which, he adds, requires all foreigners who come to Cuba without passports or other documents identifying their persons, to present satisfactory proof, attested by witness, of their identity, which proceeding must be effected either before a local authority or before the consul of their nation, particularly if they should attempt to leave the island; because, without the presentation of this proof, passports can not be granted allowing-them to go away.
Upon a close inspection of article 4, and, in fact, of the whole law cited by the political secretary, it will hardly seem that the interpretation given to it by the civil governor of the province, in his accompanying circular of July 29, 1886, is warranted by the text itself.[Page 986]
Indeed, the law here cited, which was passed by the Spanish Cortes and approved at San Ildefonso the 4th of July, 1870, would appear to be exclusively declaratory of the status of foreigners under the constitution of Spain and of the conditions to which they must submit in order to become, upon their own petition, residents of a Spanish colony, but can hardly be construed so as to apply to those who do not wish to take up a residence, and who really remain, here from only one to several days, as the perusal of the accompanying letters will show.
The published English translation of the article referred to reads as follows: “Article 4. Foreigners arriving in Spanish ultramarine territory who may desire to be inscribed in the register as domiciled or transient foreigners, must present to the civil authority of the town a passport or a corresponding document to identify their persons. In the event of their not having such a document, testimony as to the identity of the petitioner will be taken before the said authority, this procedure may be taken instead before the proper consul, who in such case will forward a complete and authenticated report to the civil authorities.”
The spirit and intention of article 4 can, I think, be better apprehended by reference to the preceding article 3 of the same law, which reads as follows: “Foreigners may freely enter, reside, and settle in the Spanish ultra-provinces.”
Now, this article evidently applies to foreigners who enter the Spanish dominions for the purpose of commerce, the attention to which compels them to take up there a residence of shorter or longer duration. This is provided for by the granting to them of the right of residence upon their inscription in a register kept by the civil authority under the three denominations of domiciled, transient, and emigrant foreigners.
It will be observed that domiciled foreigners are those who have their own house, or who have resided three years in the province, or who are inscribed in the register as domiciled, and that transient foreigners are such as have no house of their own or who have not resided three years in the province. Yet it is under the interpretation of the second division of this paragraph that American travelers and tourists, who in many cases, have been here, not only less than three years but indeed even less than three days, are subjected to all the inconveniences of a passport system. The question as to the length of time a foreigner has the right to remain here under this law without being compelled to subject himself to the process of identification, or to solicit inscription in the register of foreigners, either as a domiciled or transient foreigner, also receives light from article 5 of the same law. This article, in its English official translation, reads as follows: “Any foreigner not identifying his person in One of the ways aforesaid will be considered as an emigrant after the expiration of three months from the date of his arrival.”
Now, the several articles quoted of the law controlling foreigners residing in the Spanish colonies seem to be in opposition to the resolution taken by the civil governor in his circular, already cited, of July 29, 1886. Its very title is explanatory of its intention. This title only mentions and refers to foreigners residing in the Spanish colonies, and alludes in no manner to persons whose residence is in other countries, the United States, for instance, as occurs in the present case.
Again, this law particularly designates as the object of its action those foreigners in mentioned in article 4 who may desire to be inscribed in the register as domiciled or transient foreigners. But none of the foreigners subject of this correspondence have ever expressed any desire whatever to be inscribed in the register kept by the civil authority of this place for the enrollment of foreigners, nor asked the privilege to reside or settle, as expressed by article 3.
An instructive example as to the status of these tourists and travelers, as compared with resident foreigners who keep house, or transient foreigners, such as do hot keep house nor have been here three years, maybe found, it seems to me, in that given by the customs authorities of Cuba to pleasure yachts in comparison with merchant vessels that enter the ports of the island:
“Yachts are exempt from all customs and port charges and formalities, and pay nothing but pilotage.”
The tourists or passengers arriving in them are allowed to come and go on shore just as they please, and again leave port whenever they like, without at all having to Obtain or present a passport to anybody.
But, if a yacht were to be converted into a merchant vessel, and come here on a trading instead of a pleasure trip, the ease would be different. She would then come tinder the laws governing the commerce of the island, and in consequence Would have to pay tonnage dues as well as custom-house charges. In a similar manner, if these yachtsmen were to remain here to do business, they would have to petition the Government, with exhibits of proof of their personal and national identity, asking to be granted inscription in the register of foreigners, before the right would be conceded to them, under the laws pursuant to the constitution of Spain, for the definition of their status. Now, the object of these tourists is the same as that of yachtsmen, [Page 987] pleasure and recreation and not commerce, and, judging from the analogy between the one case and the other, they should both be treated alike.
At this point I beg to call the attention of the Department to the accompanying thirty-eight original letters* of complaint.
Letter No. 1 is from D. J. Crowley, who came to Havana from New York without a passport, merely for the benefit of the sea trip, but was compelled to take out one here before he could leave Havana for home.
Letter No. 2 is from Asa B. Tripp, who ordered his passport before leaving New York, but not having received it in time, and though allowed to land without it, was refused a return ticket for return passage till he presented one to the consignee.
Letter No. 3 is from Luke Langly, the import of which is similar to that of the preceding letters.
Letter No. 4 is from W. B. Roberts, who with his wife came here from Florida for the purpose of taking passage for Progreso, in Yucatan, but was not allowed to go on board the outgoing steamer till he had taken out his passport here.
Letter No. 5 is from Frank G. Ward, who came here with his wife and Sister from New York for three days, but all of whom were unable to return home by way of Florida till they had obtained passports.
Letter No. 6, is from Rean Campbell, who, in a similar predicament to the others, had to get a passport before being able to leave the island.
Letter No 7 is from John Good, asking, for the same reason, the assistance of this office.
Letters Nos. 8 to 28 all present complaints of similar import to the preceding.
Letter No. 29 is from Dh Charles L; Dyer, who was sent here for a few days for the good of his health, by his principal, Dr. Bayard, of New York; yet Dr. Dyer could not leave here without first obtaining a passport.
Letters Nos. 30 to 33 are of similar complaint to Nos. 8 to 28.
Letter No. 34 is from four Catholic clergymen, all of whom came here from New York oh a vacation trip, but they could not get away without a passport.
Letter No. 35 is from J. D. Riadan, who arrived here in a Spanish steamer from Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, to take the American steam-ship for New York. He was here only eight hours, but could not get away without first taking out a passport at the office of the civil governor.
Letter 36 relates to Hugh L. Cole, of New York, who was only here six hours; having come by sea from Kew York to go over to Florida, but had to get a passport before he was allowed to continue on his trip.
Letter No. 37 is from W. F. Stark, who came here with his wife from New York, with the intention of continuing to Mexico, but they could not leave without a passport.
Letter No. 58 is from Brackly Shaw, who came from New Orleans on a short trip to Havana; but who, also, had to take out a passport from the office of the civil governor before being able to leave.
In submitting this exposition to the Department, I beg to express the hope that it may initiate diplomatic efforts through our minister at Madrid toward the suppression of the passport system between the United States and. Cuba, or that it may be pleased, to instruct me if I shall continue further action here.
I am, etc.,
Mr. Williams to the Governor-General.
Havana , February 16, 1887.
Excellency: With the Object of informing my Government, I beg you to have the goodness to order that I be advised, through the corresponding bureau, as to the present system of passports; for I observe that although the consuls of Spain in the United States no longer oppose any obstacle to impede American tourists and travelers from leaving there freely for the Island of Cuba, nevertheless the same American tourists and travelers on returning to the United States encounter the difficulty, offered by the local police, of being obliged to take out passports here before they are permitted to leave the island to which end the intervention of this consulate is also exacted.
I have etc.,
Mr. Williams to Messrs. Lawton Brothers.
Havana , February 18, 1887.
Gentlemen: As this office is now called upon several times a day by American citizens for its official aid to obtain passports for them to leave the island, after having been admitted here without that document, and who allege that you refuse to issue them tickets to return to the United States by the American steamers to your consignment only upon the previous delivery to you of a passport issued by the civil government, and as I have to report and explain the matter to my Government, I will esteem it a particular favor if you will have the goodness to furnish me a copy of the instructions you may have received from the authorities upon the subject, whether written or Verbal.
I remain, etc.,
Mr. Williams to Messrs. Hildalgo & Co.
Havana , February 18, 1887.
Gentlemen: As this office is now called upon several times a day by American citizens for its official aid to obtain passports for them to leave the island, after having been admitted here without that document, and who allege that you refuse to issue them tickets to return to the United States by the American steamers to your consignment only upon the previous delivery to you of a passport issued by the civil government, and, as I have to report and explain the matter to my Government, I will esteem it a particular favor if you will have the goodness to furnish me a copy of the instructions you may have received from the authorities upon this subject, whether written or verbal.
I remain, etc.,
Lawton Brothers to Mr. Williams.
Havana, Cuba , February 18, 1887.
Dear Sir: We beg to own receipt of your favor of this date, and to accompany this with a copy of the “Boletm Oficial,” dated 3d of August, 1886, which we think contains the information you desire, requesting that you will kindly return the same to us, as it is the only copy that we have.
Hidalgo & Co. to Mr. Williams.
Sir: Your official letter of to-day’s date is to hand in regard to inconvenience offered to American citizens in need of passports.
As we are obliged to submit to the “Inspector de bahia y reconocimiento de buques” (inspector of vessels) and captain of the port a list of each of the passengers who propose to embark, and as the vessels are visited immediately prior to sailing by the first-named officer, who takes off any one who desires to leave the island who does not carry a passport, we are obliged to require that every person we issue a ticket to is possessed of a passport, to avoid detention and annoyance, both to ourselves, the [Page 989] steamer, and the parties detained. We have never had any official communication, either verbally or in writing, from the authorities of the place, but we recollect some time ago having read in the “Diario de la Marina” a copy of laws regarding the incoming and residence, both of foreigners and Spaniards. We have mislaid it, for which we are sorry. We have not on archive any written instructions as to the papers we need to clear steamers, but can inclose blank forms which are exacted from us for your guidance, and remain, etc.,
To the Consul-General of the United States:
Sir: In consequence of your communication of the 16th instant, in which your consulate desires to be informed about the present system of passports, his excellency the governor-general has been pleased to order that you be informed, as I now have the honor to do, that in respect to persons who leave the island the old system has suffered no alteration, as your consulate knows; also, that the “law relative to foreigners residing in the Spanish colonies” of the 16th of August, 1870, article 4, does not exact passports from foreigners on landing in Spanish ultramarine territory, but in the case of foreigners who come without passports or other documents identifying their persons, they must present satisfactory proof, attested by witnesses, of their identity, which must be done either before the local authorities or before the consul of their nation, particularly if they should attempt to leave the country because without the presentation of the proof required for their personal identification passports can not be issued for them to depart from the island.
God grant you many years.
Circular respecting foreigners.
In virtue of a consultation held by order of the Government with regard to the practice to be observed here with foreigners arriving in the island without passports, or who, though bringing them, may have omitted to have them legalized by the Spanish consul at their ports of departure; and in view of the difference of meaning observable between the instruction of the 1st of April, 1849, and the law of the 4th of July, 1870. His excellency the governor-general, under date of the 20th instant, has been pleased to declare that as the law relative to foreigners residing in the colonies of Spain is still in force it is in order to adhere to its provisions in this matter.
In consequence I have decided that the deputies and agents of my authority shall no longer exact, as heretofore obligatory, legalized passports from foreigners who arrive in this province under the conditions expressed; but who, though relieved of that formality on entering the island, are not exempted from proving their personality within the term fixed by the law, it being besides obligatory upon them, as it is with the rest of citizens when they intend to leave the country, since by the tenor of what is established by the third paragraph of the said law, the fact of remaining or of domiciliating themselves in these provinces subjects them to compliance with all the laws and regulations ruling in the same, among which are to be found the instruction of 1849, above mentioned, which, in consequence of not having been repealed in the part referring to this subject, must continue to be observed as long as not otherwise ordered by the superior authority. All of which I have ordered to be published by the insertion herewith of the articles of the law of ‘the 4th of July, 1870, relative to the subject, for the information of the public, and particularly for those persons whom it may concern.
Foreigners may freely enter, reside, and settle in the territory of the Spanish ultramarine provinces. They will be divided into domiciled, transient, and emigrant; they will have the rights and be subject to the duties which this law establishes, and will be, besides, subject to all the laws and regulations in force in those provinces.[Page 990]
Domiciled foreigners will be those who have their own house, or who have resided three years in the province, or who are inscribed in the register as domiciled.
Transient foreigners will be those who possess none of the foregoing requisites.
Emigrant foreigners will be those who, lacking the same requisites, are not inscribed in the register as transient, and have been more than three months in the province.
Foreigners arriving in Spanish ultramarine territory, who may desire to be inscribed in the register as domiciled or transient must present to the civil authority of the town a passport or corresponding document to identify their persons.
In the event of not having such document, testimony as to the petitioner will be taken before the said authority.
Either mode of procedure may take place before the proper consul, who in such case will forward to the civil authority complete and attested evidence.
Any foreigner not identifying his person in one of the ways aforesaid will be considered as an emigrant after the expiration of three months from the date of his arrival.
The previsions of Article IV having been complied with, the foreigner will be provided with a certificate to accredit the identity of his person in any point of the territory to which he may desire to go while he is inscribed in the register of foreigners, and provided with the proper permit.
Every foreigner residing in the ultramarine provinces in order to be considered as such according to this law, must be inscribed in the register of foreigners, which will be kept for this purpose by the superior civil governments, and also in that of the consulate of his nation.
When there is more than one consulate of the same nation in the territory, the register shall be kept by that one established in the capital, and if there be none in the capital, by that one which the Superior Government may designate.
The inscription being made, the petitioner will be provided with a cedula, in which will be state/d his name, age, nativity, condition, and profession, his character, whether domiciled, transient or emigrant, and if the former, the place of his domicile.
This cedula will serve the petitioner to accredit the identity of his person, and will enable him to reside in and journey freely through Spanish territory.
Emigrants will reside, while they hold such character, in the place where the superior civil governors, and afterward, the Spanish Government may designate. Meanwhile they will be under the vigilance of the political authority of the town where they may first present themselves, which will name the place of their residence, giving immediate notice thereof to the superior civil governor.
Every emigrant will pass to the character of transient or domiciled at the expiration of six months from his arrival in Spanish territory, or sooner if he desire it, and his person be identified.
Emigrants who, at the expiration of six months from the date of their arrival in Spanish territory, shall not have identified their persons, or of whom nothing certain shall be known, although information may have been asked as prescribed in Article XXV, will be enrolled according to the statement which they may have given.[Page 991]
Any emigrant who not being able to identify his person may make false statements as to his name and circumstances, may be expelled from Spanish territory by the Government or by the superior civil governor of the province.
Any one may likewise be expelled who, to identify his person, shall present false documents or other false testimony. In this case criminal proceedings will be instituted against any Spaniards who may in any way have taken part in the fraud.
- Not published.↩