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

No. 535

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the Department’s instruction No. 149 of November 14, enclosing a copy of a circular issued by the Canadian Commissioner of Customs and Excise which prohibits the exportation under certain conditions of intoxicating liquors in any vessel of less than two hundred gross registered tonnage.

A copy of this regulation was promptly forwarded to the Foreign Office, and I have had several conferences with the Secretary of State in regard to the matter. The Treasury Department is giving the question its closest attention to see whether or not a Presidential decree of this sort might be issued or whether a law must be passed. In the latter case, there is little hope of success.

The Cuban Government is desirous of doing everything possible to assist the United States Government in preventing the illegal importation of intoxicating liquor into the United States, and the Secretary of State assures me that if there is any possible way to put this particular regulation into effect, it will be done.

Although in accordance with the instruction under acknowledgment, the Cuban Government has been asked whether it will agree to deny clearances to vessels carrying cargoes of liquor directly destined for the United States, no answer has as yet been received, [Page 263] and I have not pressed this point for fear of prejudicing the chances of having shipments of liquor on boats of less than two hundred tons prohibited. It does not appear that any vessels clear from the Island with cargoes of liquor bound directly for the United States and from the very nature of the present regulations which require landing certificates which must be signed and stamped by officials at the port of destination, this would be impossible, so that, although there is no law in Cuba prohibiting the direct shipment of liquor to the United States, the requirements for shipping liquor out in bond are such that clearance cannot be obtained for United States ports. Among the many notifications received by the Embassy in accordance with the agreement with the Cuban Government there is not a single instance of a vessel carrying a cargo of liquor receiving clearance for a United States port.

I have [etc.]

Wm. S. Howell