Mr. Loomis to Mr. Hay.
Caracas , November 28, 1899 .
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sought by this legation many times within the last sixteen years, and the amendment will be in force until the law is repealed or amended by Congress.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.,