Mr. Dudley to Mr. Hay.

No. 879.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith a copy and translation of a note from the Peruvian foreign office, together with a copy of the supreme resolution which accompanied it. The object of the resolution is to lessen the number of bigamous marriages, in which, it is to be therefrom inferred, foreigners of unknown antecedents have been concerned in this country. It accordingly requires as a condition to the performance of the marriage ceremony between foreigners, or between a foreigner and a Peruvian, that the civil and the ecclesiastical authorities shall exact, in addition to the evidence of two witnesses, a certificate of celibacy issued by the legation or the consulate of the country to which the foreigner may belong.

Upon receipt of this note I called upon the foreign minister and explained, as touching representatives of the United States, what I believed to be the inherent impossibility of complying with the requirement. I may add that diplomatic and consular representatives of other governments residing in Peru, including to my knowledge, without having canvassed the situation, those of Great Britain and Belgium, would feel constrained to refuse to certify to the unmarried status of their respective subjects. I also called the attention of the Peruvian foreign minister to section 422 of the consular regulations of the United States, which explicitly affirms that our consular officers are not competent to certify officially as to the status and ability to marry of persons domiciled in the United States and proposing to marry abroad; and I advised him that the reason of this rule was equally applicable, in my opinion, to diplomatic agents of the United States.

The foreign minister stated that it would be necessary for him to consult with the minister of justice concerning the modification or repeal of the resolution, and requested me not to acknowledge receipt of his note until he communicated with me further. I told him I would forward the resolution to the Department of State in the usual course, and that my observations in the premises were made subject to your approval.

I have, etc.,

Irving B. Dudley.
[Page 688]
[Inclosure 1.—Translation.]

Doctor Pardo to Mr. Dudley.

Mr. Minister: Some of the diplomatic agents of friendly nations accredited to this Republic have for some time been calling the attention of this department, either verbally or by written communications, to the serious inconveniences which arise from the want of facilities to prove the true civil condition of the foreigners of both sexes who may decide to contract matrimony in national territory.

In order to avoid the abuses arising from the insufficiency of the proofs required hitherto in Peru, for the purpose of showing the condition of single men or women on the part of those contracting marriage, the French legation, in its note of September 22, 1902, asked that every foreigner who desired to contract marriage in this country should be obliged to present a certficate from the respective legation in proof of his or her civil condition.

A copy of that communication and of other subsequent ones on the same subject having been sent to the bureau of justice, recommending the same to the preferential attention of that office, under date of January 23 last, that bureau has issued the supreme decree, of which I have the pleasure to hand your excellency herewith a copy.

As the bases of this resolution are amply set forth in the considerative part of the supreme decree giving motive to the present circular, I judge it convenient simply to limit myself to the assertion that the said bases are identical with those which justify and explain the similar arrangements forming part of the legislation of some of the principal States of Europe.

José Pardo.

At a meeting of the supreme government, on this day’s date, the following resolution has been issued by this bureau:

In view of these proceedings, organized on the initiative of the ministry for foreign relation in order that a suitable resolution should be dictated by the bureau of justice so as to avoid the abuses committed by some foreigners who contract matrimony in the Republic, and conceal their real civil state of married persons, or else change their names; and considering that it is indispensable that some measures be taken to prevent the committing of the abuses originating in the want of correct information regarding the foreigners who wish to contract matrimony.

That in accordance with the fifth clause of article 142, of the civil code, the married person is absolutely forbidden to contract matrimony while the other party to the marriage is alive.

That this regulation is applicable not only in the case of matrimony between Catholics, in accordance with the dispositions of the Council of Trent, but also in that between non-Catholics, in accordance with the prescriptions of the law of December 23, 1897.

That in order to prove the state of being unmarried there must be presented, besides the declaration of two witnesses, a certificate issued by the legation or consulate of the country to which the foreigner contracting matrimony may belong, as an effective means of leaving evidence of his or her true civil condition.

In the use of the faculty granted to the executive by the fifth clause of article 94 of the constitution of State, and in accordance with the report of the supreme court of justice, it is hereby declared:

  • First. That for the celebration of matrimony between foreigners or between a Peruvian and foreigner, in the Republic, the civil and ecclesiastical authorities shall exact, in each case, besides the declaration of two witnesses, that there be presented a certificate of his or her being unmarried, issued by the legation [Page 689]or consulate of the country to which the foreigner may belong who desires to contract the aforesaid matrimony.
  • Second. In case of there not existing in Peru a legation or consulate of the country of which the said foreigner is a subject, he or she shall present a certificate of being unmarried, issued by a competent authority of the respective nation and duly legalized by the minister or consul of Peru, in the territory of that nation, and in defect of these in the ministry for foreign relations.

Of which I have the honor to send your excellency a copy, that you may take note of the same and for any other purpose.

God guard your excellency.

F. I. Eguiguren.

Polo, Chief Clerk of the Foreign Office.