Minister Merry to the Secretary of State.

No. 1115.]

Sir: I have the honor to advise that the Government of Costa Rica has enacted a law patterned largely after that of the United States of which a copy had previously been obtained from this legation. The Costa Rica law, however, requires no cash in possession of the immigrant entering the Republic.

[Page 705]

The recent action of the Nicaraguan Government in contracting with the Nicaragua Contract and Finance Company of California for the introduction of five thousand Chinese coolies, which number it is feared may be increased, has attracted governmental attention to the question of immigration, it being apprehended with reason that it will be difficult to prevent these coolies entering Costa Rica overland. Consequently the Chinese now in this Republic are being required to obtain local government passports, without which they will not be permitted to remain.

Costa Rica has none too many laborers, and at crop seasons suffers more or less on this account. The labor coming in from abroad is mostly that of Jamaica negroes, but very few of these are employed in the interior, while the labor on the seacoast including the rapidly increasing banana industry, could not be developed without them, as the natives of the elevated interior are not able to endure the heat and malaria of the low lands on the coast even as well as our people, and avoid going there to any extent.

The law above alluded to was passed by the permanent commission of Congress and promulgated by executive decree on the 24th of November last. The constitution requires that it shall be approved by the next Congress, although it becomes effective at once. This permanent commission of the Costa Rica Congress is peculiar to this Republic, being elected by that body from its membership prior to adjournment with full power to legislate in the interval, subject to the qualification noted. The five members of Congress constituting it are always acceptable to the President and under his political control. While there are instances of minor amendments being made by Congress there is no record known to me of any action by the permanent commission being rejected thereby, it being understood that all its acts are approved by the executive. In the other Central American Republics there are no permanent commissions, the executive decree being the law of the country immediately effective but nominally subject to the approval of Congress. * * *

I have, etc.,

William Lawrence Merry.