File No. 837.77/72.

The Chargé d’Affaires of Great Britain to the Secretary of State.

Sir: The Cuban House of Representatives has within the last few days approved the grant of a subsidy to the North Coast Railway Company (Compañía del Ferrocarril de la Costa Norte de Cuba) for the construction of a line from Caibarién to Nuevitas south of the Sierra de Bamburanao. I understand that the Cuban Senate may be expected to approve this subsidy very shortly.

On the 29th of February last the Cuban Railway Commission finally approved plans submitted by the Cuban Central Railways Ltd, for a line between these same two points, but by a different route, namely north of the Sierra. In view of this fact, when the question of the grant of a subvention for such a line was first raised in Congress, the Cuban Central Railways addressed a petition to that body asking that this subvention should be granted to them as being the only company which had complied with the requirements of the present railway law, as proved by the certificate from the Railway Commission. It now seems however that the claim of the company is to be disregarded, although the route projected by them is apparently the more practical and although, moreover, they are prepared to build it without the grant of any subsidy.

Your Government has, I understand, already received full information through the American Legation at Havana, regarding the objections raised by the Cuban Central Railways to the proposed subsidy to the North Coast Railway Company. It is therefore unnecessary for me to enlarge upon those objections or to point out the very grave prejudice which would result to the interests of that line, should the present proposal be carried into effect.

His Majesty’s Government regard the action of the Cuban Congress as constituting a serious infringement of existing rights and [Page 384] under these circumstances feel themselves obliged to enter a strong protest against the unfair treatment of British interests and capital which appears to be contemplated by the Government of that Republic. His Majesty’s Minister at Havana has accordingly been instructed to make such a protest.

I am at the same time directed by His Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to acquaint you with these instructions and to express the hope that your Government will be willing to support the action of His Majesty’s Government and to assist them in securing an equitable settlement of the present difficulties.

I have [etc.]

A. Mitchell Innes.