Mr. Bayard to Mr. Scott.
Washington , April 12, 1888.
Sir: On December 4, 1885, you were instructed to protest against the law of Venezuela requiring masters of vessels coming from foreign ports to deliver all the ship’s papers to the customs authorities of the port of entry (the papers being then retained by the customhouse till the clearance of the vessel), and to ask that certain changes suggested by the consul at Maracaibo might be made in the customs regulations on this point. (See Foreign Relations, 1885, pp. 928 et seq.)
Having received no report of your action, and the consul at Maracaibo having made another complaint on the subject, I have to recall my former instruction to your attention.
The matter was thoroughly discussed some years ago, the complaint having been originally made by the consul at Maracaibo in 1879, in a dispatch citing the Venezuelan law, which was inclosed in my above-mentioned instruction to you.
In Department’s No. 49, of June 26, 1879, Mr. Baker was directed to report on the law and to ascertain whether the Government would repeal or amend it. In No. 120, of April 12, 1881, this instruction was repeated and the inconvenience of the law clearly demonstrated. Mr. Baker replied in his No. 464, of September 3, 1881, that the Venezuelan minister of foreign affairs was favorably disposed toward the repeal of the law as far as it affected the United States. In No. 151, of May 8, 1882, the Department instructed Mr. Baker to urge on Venezuela the adoption of a law similar to that of the United States embodied in sections 4203 and 4211, Revised Statutes (Foreign Relations, 1882, pages 534). Mr. Baker’s reply is published in Foreign Relations, 1882, pages 539, 540. The Department restated and re-argued the question in its No. 190, of November 29, 1882 (printed pages 543 et seq., Foreign Relations, 1882). Mr. Baker reported in his No. 912, of April 30, 1884, that the Government was not averse to the desired change in the law if it could be accomplished by a treaty and limited to the United States, but that it objected to altering it by legislative enactment, as the changed law would then [Page 1643] apply to all nations. He again stated in his No. 93, of May 11, 1885, that the Congress was indisposed to legislate. The subject was afterward brought to your attention, as above stated.
After reading the papers referred to, you are instructed to press the matter urgently upon the Venezuelan Government, and to make a full report of your proceedings to the Department.
A translation of the Colombian statute, enacted in consequence of our minister’s representations and based on sections 4209 and 4211 of the Revised Statutes of the United States, will be found at page 489, Foreign Relations, 1880.
I am, etc.,