The Secretary of the Treasury (Mellon) to the Secretary of State
Sir: I have the honor to refer to your letter of the 29th ultimo, further in regard to the inquiry communicated by the Consul at Bluefields, Nicaragua, as to whether Little Corn and Great Corn Islands are considered a part of the United States, the inquiry being made with a view to obtaining the free entry of coconuts from these islands.
You state that by Article II of the treaty of August 5, 1914, with Nicaragua, these islands were leased to the United States for a period of ninety-nine years, it being expressly agreed that they should be subject exclusively to the laws and sovereign authority of the United States during the term of the lease and of any renewal or renewals thereof, and that in an international sense, therefore, the [Page 616] islands may be deemed, in view of the proclamation of the Treaty, to be a part of the territory of the United States.
In view, however of your further statement that this Government has not taken possession of the islands under the lease and that Nicaragua has continued to exercise jurisdiction therein, I am of the opinion that for the purposes of the Tariff Act of 1922 these islands should be treated as a foreign country.
I suggest that the consul be requested, however, to inform the shipper who made the inquiry that if the parties in interest are not satisfied with this decision the importers in this country may obtain a judicial review thereof by filing a protest with the collector of customs at the port of importation under the provisions of Section 514 of the tariff act of 1922.
By direction of the Secretary.