Minister Furniss to the Secretary of State.
Port au Prince, October 4, 1906.
Sir: I inclose herewith the correspondence which has been exchanged between this office and Secretary of Foreign Relations Sannon relative to some merchandise which recently arrived for an American merchant and about which there has been some trouble.
The facts of the case are these: Mr. Boutros had a large shipment of merchandise to arrive here on August 24, 1906, from New York on the steamship Prins Maurits. All of the merchandise included on his bill of lading and consular invoice, and also included on the ship manifest, was delivered except 75 small boxes of soap and 8 barrels of tobacco, which were evidently left behind on the wharf in New York.
In accord with article 60, page 12, of the Haitian tariff, copy of which was sent in my unnumbered dispatch of July 7, a merchant must enter his goods at the custom-house within twenty-four hours after the arrival of a steamer or the merchandise will be subject to exportation. The same section explicitly states that all goods appearing on the bill of lading, whether landed or not, must be entered.
Article 56 of the same law states that all packages upon the manifest and not landed must pay the duties, and makes provision that if the said goods should be landed within a month thereafter they will be delivered, otherwise the duties so paid will escheat to the state.
Mr. Boutros complied with all the requirements of the law, paid his duty on all the merchandise borne upon his bill of lading and the ship’s manifest, and withdrew from the custom-house that which had been landed. The first subsequent boat of the same company, arriving here two weeks later, brought the balance of the goods, but when he attempted to withdraw it he was stopped on the ground that then the duties were payable in gold. He was also told that he would forfeit the duties already paid and would have to pay again in gold on the same merchandise, as since he had paid the duties the new gold duties had become effective. He referred the matter to our consul, who referred him to me for an opinion.
After a careful examination of the facts in the case, I found that Mr. Boutros was in the right, and referred the matter to Secretary Sannon in my No. 84 of September 10, copy inclosed herewith. Failing to get an answer within a reasonable time, I called upon Secretary Sannon on September 22, 1906, and discussed the matter with [Page 886] him. He agreed with my contention and said that from his long experience as a chief inspector in the custom-house he could not see on what grounds the merchandise could be held by the Port au Prince custom-house, and that he would again call the matter to the attention of the secretary of finance for his speedy settlement. Failing to hear before September 26, I again called Secretary Salmon’s attention to the necessity of a prompt reply, copy of letter inclosed, and subsequently received the letter from him, copy of which is inclosed.
With these statements, my letter of the 4th to Secretary Sannon, copy inclosed, gives full information as to the case and should be enough to cause the Haitian Government to release the goods, but from past experience I am inclined to believe that even yet there may be a desire to discuss facts which have no bearing on the case, and for that reason I have decided to refer the matter to the department in its incomplete state, with the request that I be given instructions to insist on my demand for the release of the goods without further delay or further payment.
I have, etc.,