811.114 Guatemala/31

The Secretary of State to the Minister in Guatemala (Hanna)

No. 97

Sir: With reference to your telegram No. 58 of September 21, noon,9 reporting the clearance from Puerto Barrios of the British vessel Jagersfon for Bermuda with a cargo of liquor and alcohol, you are informed that this ship was seized by United States Coast Guard authorities on September 26, 1934, at the entrance to St. Catherine’s Sound, Georgia. At the time of seizure, the Jagersfon had only a small quantity of alcohol on board. Several cans were smashed and dumped when the vessel was boarded. On the shore nearby a large quantity of alcohol and two trucks were later seized by United States Treasury agents, and two persons arrested.

The above information should be furnished to the appropriate Guatemalan authorities. At the same time, you are requested, in your discretion, to inform them that, in view of the energetic measures which have recently been taken by the Cuban Government to stop the use of Cuban ports for liquor smuggling purposes, it appears that Puerto Barrios is becoming an active base for the operations of the [Page 397] unscrupulous persons engaged in the illicit liquor traffic. You should remind them of the recent clearance from Puerto Barrios with cargoes of liquor and alcohol of the vessels Apohaqui, C. M. Laura, O. K. Service II, Energy, Yvonne Joanne and Accuracy, in addition to the Jagersfon, all of which have been suspected for some time of being engaged in the illicit liquor traffic. The seizure of the Jagersfon indicates clearly that these vessels have no intention of delivering their cargoes to the ports for which they clear and, hence, make false statements to the officials of Guatemala in obtaining clearance papers. They frequently call at Belize, British Honduras, on their way north and again on their return to Puerto Barrios and probably would not hesitate to engage in smuggling into Guatemala if this should be found profitable. Reference is made in this connection to the Legation’s despatch No. 703, of July 21, 1932,10 stating that the Consul of Guatemala in Belize would be given instructions to investigate smuggling said to be carried on between Belize and Guatemalan ports.

You will, therefore, inquire whether the Guatemalan Government will take such steps as may be necessary to prevent Puerto Barrios, and other ports of Guatemala, from being used as bases of operation for the smuggling of liquor into the United States. There is enclosed for your information in this connection a copy of the Convention between the United States and Cuba “To Suppress Smuggling”, signed at Habana on March 11, 1926, showing the measures which the Cuban Government has agreed to take in this matter.

It is believed that the following measures, if taken by the Guatemalan authorities, would be of great assistance to this Government in coping with the traffic:

Exclude intoxicating liquors and alcohol from the merchandise which may be transshipped at Puerto Barrios and other ports of Guatemala.
Require the production of a landing certificate under penalty of a bond in a suitable amount (for example, an amount equivalent to the combined duty and excise tax of $7.00 per gallon at present in force in the United States) to insure the landing of the cargo at its declared destination.
Refuse clearance to any vessel or vehicle loaded with intoxicating liquors or alcohol, concerning which notice has been given to the Guatemalan authorities by the appropriate American diplomatic or consular officer that it is likely to attempt to introduce its cargo unlawfully into the United States, even though bound ostensibly for a port of a third country; such information to be based on the known history of the vessel’s activities.

You may inform the appropriate authorities that the cooperation of the Government of Guatemala in preventing the use of its ports as [Page 398] bases for the operations of the unprincipled individuals who are engaged in the smuggling traffic would be greatly appreciated by this Government.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
Sumner Welles
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