811.114 Guatemala/74

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

No. 176

Sir: With reference to instruction No. 97, of October 12, 1934, concerning the use of Puerto Barrios as a base for the smuggling of alcohol into the United States, you are informed that recent reports indicate a recrudescence of the activity from that port. There is enclosed information from which it apears that …, of Belize, British Honduras, who is already known to the Guatemalan authorities as a suspected narcotic smuggler, is negotiating for shipments of alcohol from Europe direct to Puerto Barrios in transit. Similar arrangements are understood to be contemplated by persons in Cuba, who are soliciting orders for shipments of European alcohol direct to Puerto Barrios.

It appears that these negotiations have already borne fruit as three well-known liquor vessels, the G. S. G., the H. S. Albert II, and the vessel La Plata, are reported to have left Puerto Barrios on February 25, 1935, with cargoes of alcohol aggregating 5,850 cases, which are understood to have been brought to that port by a vessel of the Royal Netherlands Steamship Company.

You are consequently requested to bring the foregoing to the attention of the appropriate Guatemalan authorities and to inform them that, in view of the cooperation received from the Governments of Canada, Cuba, and Great Britain in preventing the use of their ports as bases for the activities of the unscrupulous individuals engaged in smuggling, it is confidently believed that the Government of Guatemala will take similar steps to prevent the use of Puerto Barrios as a base of operations having for its object the violation of the laws of a friendly country. You may furnish the Guatemalan Government with copies of the enclosed memoranda37 showing the cooperation received from the Governments mentioned above. In addition, you may inform the Guatemalan authorities that the French Government has expressed its willingness to take appropriate steps to prevent the continued use of St. Pierre-et-Miquelon as a smuggling base.

With a view to aiding the Guatemalan authorities to determine the procedure which would be most helpful in this connection, you may inform them that the following measures, which are similar to those recently adopted in Newfoundland, would be of great assistance to this Government in coping with the situation:

Refuse clearance from any port of Guatemala to any vessel or vehicle with a cargo of alcohol or alcoholic liquors destined for “the high seas”.
Refuse clearance from any port of Guatemala to any vessel or vehicle of less than 200 tons net, loaded with alcohol or alcoholic liquors, destined for a foreign port or place.
Require the production of a landing certificate under penalty of a bond in a suitable amount (for example, in Newfoundland the amount of the bond required is $11.60 a proof gallon) to insure the landing at its declared destination of any alcohol or alcoholic liquors exported from or transshipped in any port of Guatemala.

In view of the action which the Governments of Great Britain, Canada, and Cuba have taken, and which France has agreed to take, Guatemala remains at the present time practically the only country from which large scale smuggling operations are being directed against the United States. It is therefore believed that this Government may rightfully expect that the Government of Guatemala will take the necessary steps to prevent the continuance of this nuisance.

The result of your representations will be awaited with interest.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
Sumner Welles
  1. Not printed.