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The Minister in Colombia ( Philip ) to the Secretary of State

129. The press here has published an opinion which has been handed down by Doctor Rodriguez Diego, Colombian Attorney General, impugning the constitutionality of the Executive decree of June 20 last concerning petroleum lands. The-final clause of the opinion translates as follows: “The first seven articles of the decree denounced limit the right of individuals to own petroleum properties which have been acquired in conformity with the legislation of certain sovereign States for example, of Antioquia, Bolivar and Cauca or through the National Government under the terms of article 112 of the Fiscal Code of 1912 which requires the proprietors to comply with certain formalities upon the basis that all petroleum mines in the territory of the Republic are of its patrimony, those first seven [Page 776]articles of the decree number 1255b are at variance with articles 31 and 202 of the National Constitution and with article 58 of legislative act number 3 of 1910. In view of the above I take the liberty of asking you to declare unacceptable the first seven articles of the decree which has been denounced.[”]

In conversation with the Minister for Foreign Affairs yesterday he said he believes this opinion will have great weight with the Supreme Court to which it is addressed, which court is now studying the question preparatory to finding its decision as a result of the denouncement of the decree by Doctor Rodriguez Pineres reported in my despatch number 120 of August 23.58

Philip
  1. Not printed.