Mr. Loomis to Mr. Hay.

No. 355.]

Sir: I cabled you on Monday last, November 20, that the matter of the custody of ships’ papers had been arranged in a satisfactory way.

I had a long interview Monday afternoon with General Castro on the subject, and he said that he had had the matter under serious consideration since my former interviews and was now of the opinion that Venezuela could no longer continue to be an exception to the practice of other maritime nations in respect to her requirements concerning the deposit of the papers of foreign vessels within her ports, and that it had been decided to comply with our earnest request that the masters of American merchant vessels in Venezuelan ports should be at liberty to deposit their papers with the American consular officers in those ports instead of with the port officials, as the usage had been. This same privilege, he said, would of course be accorded to all foreign vessels. General Castro then said that I could inform you that the matter had been definitely arranged and that a decree would be immediately published in the Official Gazette setting forth the new arrangement in due legal form. I inclose a copy of the decree, with a translation thereof. It makes the suggested amendment in the treasury law of Venezuela which has been earnestly sought by this legation many times within the last sixteen years, and the amendment will be in force until the law is repealed or amended by Congress.

It will be observed that the custom authorities at no time will have ships’ papers in their custody, and will exercise no control over them beyond the right of inspection, which function will be performed on board the vessel. I insisted that at no time should the register of a ship pass out of the possession of the master of the vessel or the consul, and General Castro said that construction would be given the decree.

I have, etc.,

Francis B. Loomis.

Resolved, According to the provisions of article 44, law 16, of the Finance Code, the sailing license and other papers of foreign ships arriving at Venezuelan ports must he deposited with the chiefs of the custom-houses at said ports, to be retained by them until the final clearance of the ships. Repeated complaints having been made by merchants and shippers that the carrying out of this law presents difficulties of a nature entirely foreign to what was contemplated when said provision of the Finance Code was incorporated with the Venezuelan fiscal laws; observing, too, on the other hand, that almost all the other countries of the world, Venezuela included, require the masters of their ships to deposit their papers with the consular agent of the nation to which they belong: Therefore, the supreme chief of the republic, animated by a desire to extend to commerce the greatest facilities, and at the same time with a due regard to the national interests, has seen fit to repeal temporarily said article, so that hereafter the consuls shall take charge of their ships’ papers, instead of the chiefs of the custom-houses: Provided always, That said papers shall be first presented to the customs authorities.

This resolution to remain in force until the legislative power shall consider and definitely dispose of the matter.

Let this be communicated and published.

For the National Executive.

R. Tello Mendoza.