File No. 837.156/239

The Cuban Minister to the Secretary of State

[Undated aide mémoire left at the Department by the Cuban Minister July 13, 1916]

The law of February 20 [1911], known as the Port’s Improvement Law, having granted a concession to a corporation supposed to be organized according to the precepts of the laws of Cuba and known as the Cuban Ports Company for dredging and improving certain ports of Cuba establishing that the company should conform to specifications of said law regarding its organization, and other conditions which, after certain modifications met with the approval of the State Department then concerned in the sense that said concessions should not affect Article II of the Treaty of May 22, 1903, between Cuba and the United States, apart from any question as to the validity of the concession to be conclusively determined by the Cuban courts;

The Cuban Government having found later that it had contracted with a corporation which had not conformed to the laws of Cuba for its organization as demanded by the Law of the Concession, and, therefore, that said company could not be considered as legally entitled to the concession as embodied in the act passed by the Cuban Congress on February 20, 1911;

The Cuban Government revoked Decree No. 510 of President Gomez by Decree No. 246 of President Menocal which revokes the concession to the so-called Cuban Ports Company, the position of the Government of the United States being, in this case, that the question of the legality of President Menocal’s decree was one to be decided solely by the appropriate Cuban authorities.

The Cuban courts acting in this matter of their lawful jurisdiction, in a suit brought by the so-called Cuban Ports Company against the administration, declared said company to be an illegally organized corporation and sustained Decree No. 246 of President Menocal.

It is, therefore, very fundamental to establish whether or not an illegally organized corporation can create obligations and responsibilities to the Cuban Government through its contracts and negotiations with third parties, as it appears equally fundamental to know how far and to what extent any diplomatic action arising as a consequence of claims against the so-called Cuban Ports Company can be justly pressed by any power against the Cuban Government, and endorsed by the Government of the United States, after the taking of a sentence by the Supreme Tribunal of Cuba, by which all the reasons of Decree No. 246 of President Menocal to revoke the concession and to cease payments to the so-called company were amply confirmed, said company having been found to be not a corporation organized to conform with the laws of Cuba.

It is assumed from the urgent recommendations of the United States Minister in Habana, that if the United States Government endorses the pretentions of Great Britain in the emphatic manner in which [Page 443] they have been recommended by the American Legation, it is because this Government is possessed of special knowledge of the question, and, in this case, it would be useful to know the opinion of this Government in face of the sentence of the Supreme Tribunal of Cuba.

In the meantime, no arguments on the merits of the question having been adduced either by the American Government or by the Government of Great Britain, to justify the responsibility of the Cuban Government, and the jurisdiction of the Cuban courts having been reiteratedly recognized as the competent one to decide on the propriety of the contracts and the legality of the concession no reason appears to contradict why it should not be considered that the legal status of the corporation also is a question submitted exclusively to the courts of Cuba that have already passed upon the matter, even to and by a sentence of the highest court which is the Supreme Tribunal, instituted by the United States in Cuba during the first intervention and subsequently sitting under the provisions of the Cuban Constitution.