Mr. Strobel to Mr. Bayard.
Madrid, September 21, 1887. (Received October 4.)
Sir: I had the honor to receive last night your telegram in reference to the British steamship Utopia, and I communicated its contents a once to Sir Clare Ford, the British minister at this court, who stated that he was exceedingly obliged for the information. He had been notified that of the 738 hogsheads of tobacco, 696 were for Italian ports and 42 for a Swiss manufactory. Some doubt, however, existed as to the 42 hogsheads. He knew nothing of any consignment to Gibraltar.
The facts of the case, which were explained to me by the British minister, show that the detention of the vessel in Malaga is due to the law in force here, that a vessel entering a Spanish port with tobacco, in transit for a foreign port, is compelled to give a bond amounting to 20 pesetas for every kilogram of tobacco carried, the bond to be canceled on satisfactory proof of the delivery of the tobacco to the alleged consignees.
The object of the law is to prevent any attempt to smuggle the tobacco into Spain.
The 738 hogsheads of the Utopia contain 450,000 kilograms of tobacco, which, at 20 pesetas the kilogram, fix the amount of the bond at 9,000,000 pesetas or about $1,800,000. A surety for this impressive amount can not be found; the Spanish Government has sofar refused to allow the vessel to proceed, and the facts, in the words of Sir Clare Ford, make “an exceedingly troublesome case.”
I have, etc.,