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Mr. Beaupré to Mr. Tlay.

No. 632.]


Bogotá, July 11, 1902. Sır: Referring to my No. 607, of May 12, 1902, concerning the closing of the Presbyterian boys' school at Barranquilla, I have the honor to report that Í have received a note from the Colombian minister for foreign affairs, dated yesterday, in reply to one of mine dated the 7th instant, saying that the governor of the department of Bolivar would be instructed to permit the opening of said school. I am, etc.,




Mr. Beaupré to Mr. Ilay. No. 599.]


Bogotá, April 2), 1902. Sir: With reference to the expropriation of the property of American citizens by the Colombian authorities, I desire to submit for the consideration of the Department, in connection with the most favorednation" clause in our treaty of 1846, the following extract from the treaty between Great Britain and Colombia of February 16, 1866. Article XVI reads as follows:

The subjects and citizens of each of the contracting parties in the dominions and possessions of the other should be exempted from all compulsory military service as well as from all contributions, whether pecuniary or in kind, imposed as a compensation for personal service, and finally forced loans and military exactions or requisitions.

Article 3 of Colombian law 56 of 1890 says: In the event of the presumption alluded to in the preceding article (grounds of public utility of expropriation) not being refuted, the expropriation will be decreed against whomsoever it corresponds, be it private individual, society, corporation or community, or political or municipal entity, save the rights, exemptions, or immunities recogized in laws or in public treaties.

I am not citing the foregoing in view of any particular case, but rather as general information for the Department.

Would it not seem that the said Colombian law 56 precluded the plea of legality for expropriations on the ground of municipal law? If treaty provisions prohibit expropriations, could the plea of urgent military necessity be interposed as justification in the absence of a state of war, even although military operations were in progress against insurgents, particularly when the military necessity, if any, was remote, and the articles taken consisted of mules and general equipment for an army not actually engaged with the enemy, being in fact strictly private property seized in a district occupied by and under the control of the Government authorities, and never having been under the jurisdiction of the insurgents?

Finally, is the intendment of the treaty quoted sufficiently clear to warrant its construction as an absolute prohibition of expropriation? I am, etc.,


Mr. Beaupré to Mr Tay. No. 605.]


Bogotá, May 5, 1902. Sir: Reference being had to my No. 599, of the 23d ultimo, concerning the expropriation of property by the Colombian Government, I have the honor to lay before the Department some additional information.

The position of the Government on this question is well defined by a telegraphic order addressed by the Colombian minister for foreign affairs to the departmental government of Antioquia, on July 10, 1901, and which is still in effect. This order laid down in terms that foreigners residing in Colombia were subject to the constitution and laws of Colombia in the same way as natives, compulsory military service being excepted, and that, consequently, if very urgent necessities made it indispensable to seize animals belonging to foreign private individuals for the maintenance and restoration of public order, these animals might be taken under the same conditions as from Colombians.

I inclose herewith a translation of said telegraphic order of July 10, 1901.

While this can not be admitted to be a correct view of the rights of foreigners protected by treaty stipulations, nor of the authority of the Government to impress the property of neutral foreigners for use against the enemy or in the public service in general, under existing conditions, still it is not the order itself that is especially to be complained of, but rather the importance and unlawful uses made of the authority it vests in the subaltern officials encharged with expropriations.

The "amigos del Gobierno” (friends of the Government) constitute a favored class, seemingly under special protection, and suffer scarcely at all in their persons or property. All over the savannas are herds of cattle, horses, and mules, belonging to such native friends, who might, it would seem, other things being equal, not unreasonably be selected in preference to foreigners to discharge the burdens arising through “urgent necessity” of the kind mentioned.

I wish to cite a case that recently came under my personal observation:

On the 3d instant Mr. Albert B. Dod, a citizen of the United States, was in Bogotá on some business, intending to leave early the following morning. His two riding mules, with saddles, bridles, saddlebags, waterproofs, etc., he left at the stable of a foreigner named Turner. Mr. Dod took a noon breakfast with me at my residence, after which he went to look after the animals, and there found that his saddles, bridles, etc., had been taken by a Government official, who had left a receipt for the property, fixing its value in the receipt at 1,000 pesos. It was impossible to trace the property that day, so that Mr. Dod was, therefore, compelled to go to a saddler and buy another outfit, which, although substantially no better than the one taken, cost him about 5,000 pesos.

Aside from the inconvenience and vexation of such a seizure, Mr. Dod is certain to be a large financial loser, for the Government insists upon its right to arbitrarily fix the value of expropriated property. Even with the good offices of this legation, I do not believe that he can get more than 1,000 pesos for his property, and even that only after months of perseverance and waiting. I am quite of the opinion that such a claim should go through the diplomatic channel.

There are dozens of stores in Bogotá selling saddles, and hundreds of saddles for sale at a fair price. Therefore whence comes the urgent, immediate, and pressing emergency that would justify the forcible expropriation of Mr. Dod's property? Certainly, under the system of 'arbitrarily fixing the value of such property it is much cheaper to get it in this way, and the day of payment is indefinitely postponed, but I can not believe it consistent with the guaranties of public treaties nor the law of nations.

It is altogether probable that in the majority of cases the reasons for expropriations are no more valid nor just than those in the case just cited. Necessarily, with the financial distress of the Government it is almost impossible to collect claims, large or small, and the Government has announced to many, and to one American at least whom I know, and who has had a large amount of property seized, that no payments would be made until the close of the war. Therefore it is earnestly to be hoped that our citizens in Colombia will not in future be afflicted with this sort of amercement too often.

On the 3d instant I received a letter from Mr. Luis Soto L., the representative in Colombia of Messrs. G. Amsinck & Co., of New York, dated the 1st instant, saying that the owner of a coffee plantation, a debtor of the firm he represented, had informed him that he had received intelligence that the Government was thinking of issuing a decree expropriating all the coffee remaining in the different plantations which have their outlet on the Upper Magdalena River, and which had not been heretofore exported because traffic had been suspended on that part of the river; that the greater part of all that coffee is the property of Messrs. G. Amsinck & Co., who would suffer great loss should such a measure take effect, asking that this legation seek information about the matter and then take action to prevent such a decree being issued.

I have the honor to send herewith a translation of said letter.

I have no information whatever with respect of the intentions of the Colombian Government in the premises. The planter does not state the source of his knowledge, and it can only be presumed that there is a possibility of such a decree issuing. I am, etc.,


[Inclosure 1.- Translation.]

Columbian minister for foreign affairs to departmental governor at Antioquia.


Bogotá, July 10, 1901. To the GOVERNOR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ANTIOQUIA, Medellin:

I have pleasure in replying to your important telegram of the 20th ultimo, received yesterday.

Foreigners residing in Colombia are subject to the constitution and laws of Colombia in the same way as the natives, the compulsory military service being expected. Consequently, if very urgent necessities make iť indispensable to seize animals of foreign private individuals, for reasons relating to the maintaining or restoration of public order, you may give orders that they be taken ander the same conditions as from Colombians, avoiding outrage or violence, being careful to record the same and to make corresponding valuations, in order to avoid unjust claims.

Desertion being a military crime, and as recruiting (drafting) is authorized by our laws, you may order that deserters be pursued, and that soldiers be recruited from the establishments of foreigners, only the residences of diplomatic ministers being inviolable and protection restricted to them. The above relating to individuals also applies to foreign companies. Foreigners are obliged to maintain strict neutrality in all civil disputes of the country, under penalty of being expelled from the Republic's territory, in accordance with our act 145 of 1888. You will kindly give notice to this effect, and in the event of your having to expel any person or persons, you will previously inform this ministry in order that you may obtain the necessary authority. Yours, faithfully,

ANTONIO J. URIBE. Authentic:


[Inclosure 2.-Translation.)

Mr. Soto to Mr. Beanpré.

Bogotá, May 1, 1902. Sir: One of the owners of coffee plantations, debtor of Messrs. G. Ansinck & Co., of New York, whose attorney and agent I am in this city, has come to say to me that he has just been informed that the Government is thinking of issuing a decree expropriating the coffee still deposited in the different plantations which have their outlet on the Upper Magdalena, and which, on account of there being no navigation on that part of the river, has not been exported.

As your excellency knows, all the coffee, or at least the greater part of the coffee, deposited in the houses of that region is the property of Messrs. G. Amsinck & Co., of New York, who, by having advanced money for it, have already paid its value, as I have had the honor of communicating to your excellency through letters addressed to that legation, and as this measure of the Government, if it should be brought into effect, would cause heavy damages to those I represent, Messrs. G. Amsinck & Co., of New York, I hasten to let this fact be known to your excellency, with the object that your excellency may find out the truth about it, and if possible to prevent the said measure being put into effect, which would largely fall on the foreign houses doing business in this country, and very especially on that of Messrs. G. Amsinck & Co., of New York. It is highly honorable for me to subscribe myself, etc.,

Louis Soto L.

Mr. Ilay to Mr. Beaupré. . No. 397.]


Washington, June 5, 1902. Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your No. 599, of the 23d of April last, in regard to expropriations.

In reply I have to say that the benefit of the provisions of Article XVI of the treaty of 1866 between Colombia and Great Britain in relation to exemption from military contributions and expropriation of property in Colombia can not be claimed by the United States by virtue of the most-favored-nation clause of our treaty of 1846 with New Granada (Article II), by which the United States and New Granada mutually engage not to grant any particular favor to other nations in respect to commerce and navigation” which shall not immediately become common to the other party, “who shall enjoy the same freely if the concession was freely made, or on allowing the same compensation if the concession was conditional.”

As between the United States and Colombia, the matter is governed by the express terms of the treaty of 1846 between the United States and New Granada (Colombia), Article VIII of which provides that “the citizens of neither of the contracting parties shall be liable to any embargo nor be detained with their vessels, cargoes, merchandise, or effects for any military expropriation nor for any public or private purpose whatever without allowing those interested an equitable and sufficient indemnification. I am, etc.,


Mr. Hill to Mr. Beaupré.

No. 407.]


Washington, June 28, 1902. Sir: l inclose copy of a dispatch from the United States consul at Barranquilla, forwarding correspondence alleging the forcible expropriation by the Colombian military authorities at Santa Marta, without compensation, of the property of American citizens.

You will notify the Colombian Government that this Government will hold it responsible for any proven cases of the seizure of American property for military purposes without due compensation. I am, etc.,

David J. Hill,

Acting Secretary.


Mr. Colvig to Mr. Hill. No. 20.]


Barranquilla, Colombia, June 4, 1902. Sir: You will note by the inclosed letters that a very disturbed condition of affairs exists at Santa Marta, Colombia, which is at present occupied by a large force of Government troops. Messrs. Senter and Edwurn are American citizens engaged in business near the town and reside in said place. It is evident that the civil authoriities are unable to control the troops, and it would therefore seem important that the United States should take some appropriate measure to command respect and afford protection to the American residents there.

I respectfully lay the matter before the Department as to what measures should be adopted to effect the desired end. I am, etc.,

GEORGE W. Colvig, U. S. Consul.

(Subinclosure 1.)

Mr. Trout to Mr. Colvig.


Santa Marta, May 31, 1902. Sir: I beg to call your attention to the herewith inclosed statements of Messrs. Edwurn and Senter, in which a gross injustice is reported to have been done to American residents of this city, and which the chief authorities absolutely refuse to take notice of.

The facts are that the house of an American resident of this city has been entered by the Government troops, and without the knowledge of said American personal property has been taken there to the value of at least $300 gold, and, as above stated, on protest being made to the governor he refuses to take any notice of the action of his troops. I therefore believe that public exigencies require the presence of a United States man-of-war at this port, and would request that one be ordered to visit this port with as little delay as possible. I am etc..

William A. TROUT,

U. S. Consular Agent. F R 1902, PT 1-20

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