The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Cuba (Howell)

No. 128

Sir: The Department has received your despatch No. 317 dated September 11, 1923, dealing with the proposed arrangement whereby the United States will obtain information regarding shipments of liquor leaving Cuba which are intended to be smuggled into the United States. You state that according to press reports an arrangement has been made with Canada so that “Canada, in the future, will prohibit the exportation of liquor on ships of less than 250 tons”. You state that such an arrangement would undoubtedly do much to stop the large illegal traffic into the United States from Cuba, and that the Cuban Government has already showed an entire willingness to cooperate in such matters. You suggest that complete information [Page 258] regarding the Canadian arrangement be forwarded at once so that it may be informally shown to Dr. Céspedes, the Secretary of State of Cuba, with whom you have discussed the matter.

The Department’s records do not appear to contain information that the Canadian Government will in the future prohibit the exportation of liquor on ships of less than 250 tons. The Department is making inquiries with a view to ascertaining whether any such restriction has been made by Canada. It is believed that you may have reference to the correspondence made public on September 8, 1923, exchanged between the British Embassy and this Department dealing with measures to stop the illegal traffic in liquor across the Canadian border. Copies of this correspondence are enclosed. You will observe that the note of the British Embassy dated July 16, 1923,94 contains the following statements:

“With regard to the general question whether the Canadian Government would be disposed to cooperate with the United States Government by prohibiting shipments of liquor from Canada to the United States unless a permit authorizing such shipments be first obtained from the competent United States authorities, I have to inform you that the Dominion Government have every desire to furnish such information to the American authorities as will assist them in securing observance of the United States law just as the Government of Canada would themselves welcome the cooperation of the United States Government in similar circumstances.

“In this connection, I would add that Canadian Customs officers at frontier ports already make a practice of notifying American Customs officials in adjacent territory of the exportation of duty paid liquors by vessels and that in some instances American officials have been present at the time such shipments were made from Canada.”

A conference of representatives of the United States and Canada to discuss additional ways and means to stop this traffic has been arranged and will probably be held at Ottawa in November.

In this connection you are informed that it is stated in a note No. 797 dated September 17, 1923,95 received from the British Embassy that “no spirituous liquors are cleared direct from the United Kingdom to United States ports.” You are instructed to ascertain and report whether clearances are granted to vessels with cargoes of spirituous liquors from Cuban ports to ports in the United States.

Reference is made in this connection to the Embassy’s despatches numbered 272 and 323, dated August 23 and September 13, 1923, respectively, and to the Department’s instruction No. 115 dated September 14, 1923,96 concerning the proposed arrangement for the exchange of information desired by the governments as an aid to the [Page 259] enforcement of their laws. It is believed that a formal exchange of notes should be had dealing with this matter which could be used as a basis for similar arrangements with other governments. You will report whether the Cuban Government would be disposed to include in such an arrangement a provision that clearances shall not be granted to vessels carrying cargoes destined for countries in which the importation of the cargo carried is prohibited.

The subject of false labels and forgery of United States Internal Revenue stamps will be dealt with in a separate instruction.97

I am [etc.]

Charles E. Hughes
  1. Ante, p. 230.
  2. Ante, p. 188.
  3. None printed.
  4. Not printed.