Mr. Storer to Mr. Hay.

No. 306.]

Sir: On the same general matter and with the same object that my dispatch No. 280, of October 22, was written, I have cabled you to-day as follows:1

The reason for thus asking instructions is sufficiently clear in view of the terms and extent of the circular letter of the Department of May 2, 1899, and the facts stated.

[Page 893]

The passports from Porto Rico are, as will be seen from the inclosure of my dispatch 280, signed by the president of the municipal council and alcalde, sealed with the seal of the municipality, and viséed by the Spanish consulate, and have no personal identification blanks to be filled out. Those presented from Cuba at this legation are signed only by the civil governor of the province, without visé or consular signature; have personal identification blanks to be filled out, and bear the signature of the person to whom issued, somewhat like our United States passports. For all we know these papers may be entirely manufactured, as neither the legation nor the consular officers have any information as to what are the laws or regulations of the provisional government of Cuba or of those applicable to Porto Rico, and have no information, save hearsay, that the “cedula de vecindad” is no longer issued in either Cuba or Porto Rico. The bearers all claim that they are informed by the agents of steamship lines that no passage tickets to these islands will be sold in Spain or persons allowed to embark without the official visé of either the legation or a consulate of the United States.

The consul-general at Barcelona unofficially gave me to understand that while he had, for lack of instructions, been refusing to visé anything not clearly covered by the circular letter of May 2, 1899, and had been assured in each case that the person could not embark without this ceremony, he never yet has heard of any person who actually had been on that account compelled to remain in Spain, and evidently the difficulty had been arranged in some way. The official understanding, as I reported to you on my arrival in Spain in June, 1899, still is that no Cuban or Porto Rican can embark on a Spanish vessel without a “cedula” or other paper viséed by a United States officer, and it probably is only a dereliction of official duty somewhere that has allowed such illegal embarkations to be made. At any time great hardship may arise from the lack of information and consequent supposed lack of authority to visé on the part of some of our diplomatic and consular officers.

I have, etc.,

Bellamy Storer.
  1. Printed ante.