Mr. Olney to Mr. Dupuy de Lôme.
Washington , February 17, 1896 .
Sir: The Department has been advised by our consul at Matanzas that the governor of that Province has issued an order requiring all foreigners in the Province, resident or transient, to be registered at civil headquarters by February 15, 1896, under penalty of being considered immigrants.
In an interview, the governor gave the consul to understand that Americans not registered who got into trouble would not be recognized as citizens of the United States. The consul pointed out that under [Page 678] our treaties with Spain our citizens were entitled to full and ample protection whether they were registered or not.
The Department has approved the position taken by our consul, and it is hoped that the governor will not consider American citizens who have not registered as debarred from the protection of their own Goverment.
The Government of the United States is not disposed to question the right of the Spanish authorities to demand that our citizens shall register, as evidence of their right to certain privileges and immunities while residing in the Island of Cuba, but it does question their right to debar from the protection of their own Government citizens of the United States who may not have so registered.
The status of a foreigner is, under international law, inherent, and neither created nor destroyed by Cuban law.
The evidence of the foreign status of an individual consists of the facts as they exist, or of the authentic certification of his own Government, as in the form of a passport; it does not originate in the compliance with a Cuban municipal statute.
The above principles are so thoroughly established in international law, that it seems unnecessary to more than refer to them briefly here.