Mr. Loomis to Mr. Hay.

No. 301.]

Sir: Referring to your instruction of June 13, 1899, No. 268, in which I am directed to bring to the attention of the Venezuelan Government the fact that inconvenience and annoyance are caused our consular officers at Venezuelan ports by reason of the Hacienda law, requiring masters of foreign vessels to deposit their ship’s papers with port authorities instead of with the consul, as our law provides, I beg leave to say I presented the matter to the minister of foreign affairs in a note and have received his answer, a translated copy of which I inclose.

Upon receiving your instroctions I went at once to the President, after sending my note to the foreign office, and had a long talk with him on the subject. I went very fully into the case and told him that I was also in receipt of complaints on the same score from the consuls at La Guaira and Puerto Cabello.

I cited the Venezuelan law upon the point at issue and was able to relate several instances in which the steamers of the American mail line had been detained long beyond their appointed hour for departure [Page 781] through the whim of port officials and for no adequate reason whatsoever.

The President freely and fully acknowledged the Venezuelan law was at fault and earnestly promised, of his own accord, personally to bring the matter to the attention of Congress at its next session and to formally urge the repeal or amendment of the law in conformity with my request.

I am trying to persuade him to suspend, provisionally, the operation in the clause of the Hacienda law relating to the deposit of ships’ papers, but he thinks his authority is not sufficient, unless he should do so as a war measure during a revolution.

I have, etc.,

Francis B. Loomis.

Mr. Mathieu to Mr. Loomis.

Your Excellency: The subject of your communication of yesterday, in regard to a modification of the Venezuelan custom laws as to the deposit of ships’ papers, has, as your excellency knows, been presented several times by the representatives of the United States, but the Government has never been able to accede to the request of your Government because its attributes are limited in cases of this nature. The law touching this point is a part of the general law regulating the finance department, and any modification of said law can be made only by Congress.

In 1883 your legation presented this same request and the Government disposed of the matter in the only way possible.

Afterwards, in 1885 and 1888, your Government still insisted upon a consideration of this point, and in September, 1888, this ministry, in a communication to his excellency, Mr. Scott, recalled the fact of the Government’s desire to submit the question to the Senate. Later, in 1891, in reply to a communication from Mr. Scruggs, the Government again replied that it could not decide a question with which Congress alone was empowered to deal.

And if Congress has not definitely decided the question in all these years it is due to the fact that it is difficult to harmonize the modification sought with other important points of the fiscal laws.

I propose, however, to inform the President of the request just made by your excellency, in order that he may determine in what manner it shall be again presented to Congress or to the legislative commission just established.

I renew, etc.,

J. Calcano Mathieu.