File No. 815.77/124.
The Secretary of State to the American Minister.
Washington, May 25, 1912.
Complaint has been made by the attorneys for Valentine because the Collector of Customs at Puerto Cortes notified Mr. Valentine on March 12th that he was limited to twenty days to decide whether he would agree to sale of the wharf and that at the end of that time the Government would not permit further collection of wharfage [Page 603] as it held the collection illegal since the contract expired March 12, 1908. It is claimed that this is practical seizure of the property.
Take this matter up informally with the Foreign Office and call attention to the decree of August 20, 1907, extending the wharf concession for twelve years in accordance with the provisions of article 9 of the contract of March 2, 1896. The Department is convinced in view of the 1907 decree and the operation thereunder for nearly five years, that the collector of customs must have misunderstood the orders from his Government, as the threatened action seems to be arbitrary and without any legal formalities and safeguards with which governments are accustomed to surround the exercise of the high sovereign powers involved. Urge the Government of Honduras to instruct the collector of customs not to interfere with the wharf concessionaires.