Minister Dawson to the Secretary of State.

No. 208.]

Sir: Continuing the subject of my No. 205 of the 17th instant, the collection of the sugar-production tax, I have the honor to report that on the 25th instant the ministers for foreign affairs called me in for a verbal conference with him and the minister of finance in regard to my note to the former of January 17. (See inclosure with No. 205 of January 17.)

It seemed that the minister of finance was inclined to think the terms used therein too comprehensive. He called my attention to the fact that the only suit now pending is the one against W. L. Bass, and said that he feared the other producers would not consent to be bound by the decision in that case. As against Bass or any producer consenting to abide by the decision, he was willing to waive the Government’s right to levy a judicial attachment or enforce the tax by a seizure of sugars, but he did not understand that, in the case of a decision in the Bass case in favor of the Government, the other producers ought to be exempted from any legal consequence of suits which the Government might be forced to bring against them.

In other words, if he wins the suit against Bass he does not want to be obliged to bring a succession of suits involving the same question against the other planters, suits in which he could not attach sugar, thus permitting the planters to decline to pay or give security until each of the suits shall be decided in the court of the last resort.

I told him that I did not think it was the intention of the planters to filibuster or undergo the expense incident to a series of suits undertaken merely for delay. I would ask the department to ascertain from those of them who had invoked its friendly intervention whether they would consent to abide by the decision in the Bass case. I added that if the decision were adverse to the planters the payment of the tax would, nevertheless, be under protest, and be made without prejudice to whatever right it may hereafter appear they have to institute judicial or diplomatic proceedings to recover damages for the breach of the exemption contract of December, 1903. The ministers [Page 612]then renewed their assurances that no seizure of sugars would be made pending the decision of the Bass case, at least until they were advised by me that the other planters would continue to refuse payment after it may have been decided in favor of the Government.

I therefore respectfully suggest that the department ascertain from Messrs. Kelly and Bartram Brothers their position with reference to the Bass suit.

Inclosed you will find a copy and a translation of Señor Tejera’s reply to my note of the 17th and a copy of a note from me confirming the conversation above referred to.

I have, etc.,

T. C. Dawson.
[Inclosure 1.]

Minister for Foreign Affairs to Minister Dawson.


Mr. Minister: I duly received your excellency’s communication of the 17th instant, relating to the collection of the sugar tax. I have sent a copy of it to the minister of finance and commerce in order that he may have it in his hands when he resolves to take action in this matter.

I improve this opportunity to renew to your excellency the testimonies of my distinguished consideration.

E. Tejera.
[Inclosure 2.]

Minister Dawson to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Mr. Minister: Confirming the conversation which on the 25th instant I had the honor of having with your excellency and with his excellency, the minister of finance, I take pleasure in informing you that I have written to the Department of State requesting that it ascertain the attitude of the other American sugar planters toward the suit brought against. W. L. Bass by this Government to compel the payment of the sugar-production tax.

My Government will, I am sure, be gratified at the renewed assurances given that shipments will not be interfered with or sugars seized pending the decision of the Bass case, at least until your excellency shall be advised through me that the other sugar planters intend to refuse payment even in the event of that decision being favorable to this Government.

I improve the opportunity to renew, etc.,

T. C. Dawson.