Mr. Smythe to Mr. Gresham.

No. 9.]

Sir: In compliance with the instructions contained in your dispatch No. 8, Santo Domingo series, dated January 13, last, I beg to transmit herewith inclosed copy of a letter received from Juan A. Read, esq., U. S. vice-consul, acting, in reply to my letter to him requesting that an inquiry be made in the matter of the schooner Lavinia M. Snow and report the result of such inquiry to this office.

I have, etc.,

Henry M. Smythe.
[Inclosure in No. 9.]

Mr. Read to Mr. Smythe.

Sir: I have to inform you that I have received your dispatch dated January 27, 1894, numbered 14, inclosing copy of letter from Messrs. Smith, Gregory & Winters to the Department of State, directing me “to make inquiry and report the facts whether or not a vessel which is exempted by concession from the payment of tonnage dues at one port of San Domingo is subject to them at a second port to which it goes to load a return cargo.” In obedience to said instructions, I have to report as follows: The law of San Domingo requires the payment of port charges by a vessel bringing cargo to or taking it from its ports. These port charges are imposed only once during the same voyage without regard to the number of ports at which the vessel may enter, and payment must be made at the first port of entry.

[Page 214]

When a concession from the Government is relied upon to exempt a vessel from the operation of this law, reference must be had to the language of the concession itself to determine to what extent the operation of the law is suspended in the particular case.

In the matter of the Lavinia M. Snow, which is the especial subject of my investigation and report, it appears that this vessel was chartered by New York merchants to load a cargo of lumber for Samana Bay, and that said charterers were to pay foreign port charges. The vessel was chartered for the return voyage to another merchant to load a cargo of sugar in Macoris, both ports being within the territory of the Dominican Republic.

Messrs. Gregory, Smith & Winters state that the first charterers were by concession (from the Dominican Government) exempted from the payment of port charges, but do not claim this exemption, and it is taken for granted that it did not exist on behalf of the second charterer.

An inspection of the provisions of said concession relating to the subject-matter of this report (copy of which is inclosed for your information) shows that there is exempted from taxation certain property materials, capital, etc., and from port charges vessels which transport solely materials necessary to the construction and repair of the concessionaires’ railroad; but it is especially declared that the exemption does not apply in the case of export duties on products of the soil, nor in the case of vessels in which said products are exported.

The Lavinia M. Snow, deriving her claim to exemption from port charges from the aforesaid concession, can have no claim to greater exemption than is therein granted. When, therefore, her employment in transporting “solely materials necessary to the construction and repair of the concessionaires’ railroad” ceased, her right to exemption from port charges ceased, and in taking other cargo, more especially of a product of the soil and on behalf of a new charterer for a return voyage, she became subject to the payment of port charges in accordance with the general law, in whatever port she now first took cargo or made entry.

I note that Messrs. Gregory, Smith & Winters state the port charges as $1.65 per ton. Since June, 1892, port charges have been $2.65 per ton, a fact which I respectfully suggest be communicated to the shipping community in case of more extended misapprehension as to present charge.

I have, etc.,

Juan A. Read,
U. S. Vice-Consul, Acting.

Copy article 7 of the concession of the railroad from Samana Bay to La Veza.

Art. 7. The railroad and all its accessories in movable and immovable property, as well as its capital and the rent produced, shall enjoy exemption from all kinds of imposts and fiscal and municipal contributions during fifteen years only, and also the vessels in which are imported only the materials necessary for the construction and reparation of the railroad shall be exempted from the port charges and the said materials from custom duties.

This franchise shall not be enjoyed by the products of the soil in regard to export duties nor by the vessels in which the export is made.

Concession May 5, 1893.

(Collection of laws, p. 276, No. 8.)