Page images
PDF
EPUB

worthy reward for their confidence in that country and their perseverance in developing its manifold resources. They are wise in their generation where the majority are foolish.

What Colombia buys and sells.

To-day Colombia is selling to the United States such exports as coffee, hides, alligator and goat skins, gold bars and dust, rubber, tobacco, and balsam of tolu, heron plumes and other feathers, straw hats, bananas, cocoanuts, chocolate, ivory nuts, quina, platinum, dyewoods, cedar and mahogany, orchids, etc. The value of these exports to the United States in 1905 approximated $6,300,000 gold. This amount will be tripled when Colombia is started on an era of permanent peace, and the productiveness is accordingly increased.

Colombian imports from the United States include flour, kerosene oil, agricultural implements, mining and sugar-refining machinery, railroad and steamboat equipment, novelties of all kinds, shoes, matches, arnis, and sporting goods, hardware, dyes and chemicals, toilet articles, some lines of cotton cloth and clothing, paper and printing supplies, etc.; but, excepting the first of these items, the greatest quantities are supplied by Europe. Imports from the United States in 1905 amounted in value only to $3,700,000, although the grand total of foreign imports amounted to approximately $12,000,000 to $15,000,000.

Adverse conditions of trade. If I were to make any special comment upon conditions working against foreign imports, I would call attention, first, to the excessively high fees charged by the Colombian consulates for certifying to invoices, and, second, to the frequent changes that are made in the Colombian tariff schedules. The sooner the Government lowers the former to reasonable figures and makes the latter more stable, the sooner will it foster foreign trade and increase its revenue. Chambers of commerce of the United States, England, and France have complained to their respective foreign offices, and they, in turn, have instructed their different diplomatic officers at Bogota to make earnest representations on these points, but the handicap still exists. It is to be hoped that President Reyes, with characteristic good judgment, will soon inaugurate the pew and necessary conditions,

Packing and transportation. While discussing commercial embargoes, I wish to remind American exporters that the necessity of strong, careful, and special packing is more apparent in Colombia than in almost any other country. Two peculiar features of the situation must always be borne in mind : First, the tropical atmosphere at all the ports of entry and in the lower sections; second, the mule-back transportation overland from the rivers to the cities and towns of the higher interiors. The dampness and heat of the former will ruin delicate and other shipments not incased in tin or other suitable air and water tight covering, while the limited carrying facilities of the latter require that packages shall not exceed 125 pounds in weight. These rules imply to the great average run of imports. Of course there is special provision for heavy machinery, but its transportation is always expensive, dangerous, and slow. The completion of the new railroads, now being laid down, should solve the problem of weight, but it can not provide against the dampness and heat.

Colombia should interest all classes.

As I wish to interest not only business men, but those of other callings and pursuits, permit me to say a passing word about two or three widely diverse features of my subject. The student of literature, politics, history, social and educational development can find much to attract his thought and attention in Colombia. Ever since Christopher Columbus discovered Cape Gracias á Dios, Colombia has been the scene of important and stirring events. The sway of Spain lasted nearly three centuries and the history thereof is full of romance and excitement. From the establishment of the Republic in 1810 until now, Colombia has been recognized as one of the forceful nations of South America, and she has provided her quota of men eminent in the economic, political, social, and literary life of South America. The national library of 40,000 volumes in Bogota holds abundant evidence of the valuable work of her statesmen, generals, scholars, poets, historical and romantic writers, scientists, and geographers.

A field for the sportsman and scientist. In contrast the true American who loves sportsmanship and hunting for exercise and rest, or the professional explorer and hunter who seeks new fields and prey, will find in Colombia unrivaled opportunities for pleasure or adventure. In the tropical and semitropical forests roam the jaguar, puma, bear, amardillo, tapir, sloth, deer, opossum, cavy. In the trees can be seen monkeys, and a multitude of bird species, like condors, parrots, cockatoos, turpials, and humming birds. In the rivers are legions of alliagtors, while along the coast are turtles in abundance. Cranes and storks fly over the damp lov’lands and boa constrictors crawl through their rank vegetation. In the high and colder country are deer, foxes, mountain lions, and tigers, and along the lagoons and among the fields, ducks, snipe, and pigeons.

Again, the geologist, mineralogist, botanist, forester, and average scientist can always find abundant lines of study and investigation, respectively, in the geological formation, mineral deposits, flora, and tree growth, and general physical characteristics of Colombia. In this connection it must be remembered that the great Humboldt found this part of South America the most interesting of his travels. The National Museum in the capital contains rare specimens of fauna, flora, mineral, and geological development that interest both the laymen and specialist.

The feeling toward Americans. The question is continually asked me: What is the attitude of the Colombian Government and people toward Americans and American interests on account of the Panama affair? Without entering upon any political discusssion, I wish, in answering this pertinent inquiry, to take advantage of the opportunity to pay a just and frank tribute to Colombia. Speaking in the first place for myself as minister, I can truthfully say that, ever since my arrival here seven months ago, I have been treated with a generous kindness and sincere hospitality that have made a deep impression on me and increased my respect for Colombians in particular and Latin Americans in general. The l'nited States minister has been extended invitations official and personal, and the United States legation in turn has been continually frequented by leading men of all parties, as if nothing had ever happened to mar the entente cordiale of the two countries.

In the granting of concessions and in the hearing of claims the Government has treated Americans with as much consideration as Europeans. During my stay here, and up to this writing, there has not been one complaint lodgeil by Americans in this legation of unkind treatment by Colombians due to any political or anti-American feeling. In my own travels in various parts of the country, officials and peons alike have everywhere accorded me polite and even gracious attention. To let it be known that I was l'nited States minister has always lead to extra courtesies rather than to any lack of them.

The future full of hope. I could not, however, have it understood abroad that there is not still strong feeling against the United States. It does exist, but the passing of years, and generous, fair treatment of Colombia and Colombians by the t'nited States and its citizens, in international relations and friendly social and commercial intercourse, can effect its gradual disa ppearance. Such feeling does not take the attitude of personal enmity toward Americans. The Colombians, high and low, are too polite and sensible for that. It is a feeling in the minds and hearts, based on high political and patriotic grounds, which, however, with commendable philosophy, recognizes the inevitable and now turns to the future to bring blessings that will counterbalance the losses and sorrows of the past. The very courage and nobility of this attitude of Colombia is one of the chief reasons why I predict for her a magnificent future. Already this policy--if I may call it a policy-is bearing fruit in the development of a greater and more friendly and sympathetic interest throughout the United States in Colombia, which is destined to lead to a mutually favorable understanding and settlement of all differences in the near future.

Concluding obserrations. Before concluding this report one or two points should be touched upon. Great credit is due Gen. Rafael Reyes, President of this Republic, for his untir

59605-F R 1906-29

ing efforts to restore the prosperity of his country to the position it occupied before the last civil war and the loss of Panama. If he succeeds, he will deserve a place in history like that of President Diaz in Mexico. He has so far effectually stopped revolutions, and, if his life and health are spa red, Colombia would seem to be assured of peace at least during his administration.

A word of credit should also be given the press of the country for its efforts to promote the welfare of the nation. Such newspapers as the C'erreo Nacional and Nuevo Tiempo in Bogota, El Porvenir in ('artagena, El ('ouservador and Rigoletto in Barranquilla, La Patria in Medellin, and Correo Del Cauca in Cali are enterprising, public spirited and well edited. They are especially to be commended for their fair treatment of the United States and of Americans residing in Colombia.

For the benefit of those desiring further detailed information about Colombia, I would refer them to the International Bureau of the American Republies in Washington, and to the excellent reports of the United States consulgeneral at Bogota, and consuls at Cartagena and Barranquilla, published in the Commercial Relations of the United States and the Daily Consular and Trade Reports, issued by the Bureau of Manufactures of the Department of Commerce and Labor. Any questions addressed to me care of the Department of State, Washington, will also be carefully and promptly answer to the best of my ability.

JOHN BARRETT. I'NITED STATES LEGATION,

Bogota, Colombia, June 7, 1906.

INCREASE OF DUTY ON FLOUR.

Minister Barrett to the Secretary of State.

[Extract. )

No. 38.]

AMERICAN LEGATION,

Bogota, February 7, 1906. Sir: I regret to report that the Colombian Government, by an order of which no previous notice was given, has placed an additional duty of 8 cents gold a kilogram on foreign flour. Heretofore the duty has been 8 cents with 70 per cent added, or an equivalent of $0.136 per kilogram. The new arrangement makes the total duty approximately 21} cents a kilogram, or nearly 11 cents per pound.

This tariff is almost prohibitive in its effects, and will make the cost of foreign flour so high that good quality of bread will be practically a luxury and beyond the purchasing capacity of the masses of people. The tax is imposed under the statement that it is for the benefit of the wheat and grain growing interests of Colombia and to develop native industry. This reason seems, however, hardly convincing to foreigners and Colombians with whom I have conversed, because the cost of freight from the United States and other foreign countries to Colombia plus the heavy charges of transportation in the interior is entirely sufficient for the protection of native flour, while, on the other hand, the foreign product does not essentially compete with the native flour, and the former is absolutely required to mix with the latter to make good bread.

The result can not be otherwise than almost to stop the importation of flour from the United States, which is now one of the principal articles shipped to Colombia from our country. I have, etc.

JOHN BARRETT,

Minister Barrett to the Secretary of State.

No. 41.]

AMERICAN LEGATION,

Bogota, February 13, 1906. Sir: Referring to my No. 38 of February 7, 1906, in regard to an additional duty on foreign flour, I have the honor to inclose a rough translation of the decree imposing this duty.

While it may be noted that in the terms of the decree imposing this additional duty of 8 cents (making a total of approximately 211 cents per kilogram) is only placed on foreign flour leaving the Atlantic ports and not upon the same entering the Atlantic ports, it must be borne in mind that the duty on flour leaving these ports amounts practically to the same thing as on flour entering, because the great consumption thereof is in the interior. The amount consumed in Barranquilla, Cartagena, and other places on the Atlantic coast is very small, compared to the total used in the country.

I have thought it best to forward a copy of the decree because flour from the United States is one of the principal imports into this country, and the trade in it was developing into considerable proportions. It must not, however, be construed that the imposing of this duty is intended to be in any way hostile to the interests of the United States. It is prompted purely by local conditions and would have been as quickly ordered if the flour came chiefly from some other country. I have, etc.,

John BARRETT.

[Inclosure-Translation.] Decree No. 166 of 1906 (February 5), which places an additional duty on

foreign flour.

The President of the Republic exercising his legal powers and considering:

That the importation of flour from abroad threatens to destroy the industrial production of wheat in the interior of the Republic, and

That it is the duty of the Government to aid the national industry without doing any injury to the region where certain crops do not exist, and that it is necessary to favor the importation of some articles,

DECREES:

Art. 1. The foreign flour which leaves the Atlantic ports for those of the Magdalena River from Cala mar, inclusive, for those up the river, either for local consumption or for that of other places shall pay an additional duty of 8 cents for each kilogram.

ART. 2. This duty shall be paid in the custom-house and port where the flour for the interior is dispatched, and the collector of customs, on the receipt of the duty, will deliver to the interested party a permit which he must take from a receipt book containing stubs in which must be registered the following: The name of the sender, the name of the receiver, the name of the river port to which it is to be shipped, the number of packages, and their total weight.

ART. 3. The owners of the steamboats that carry freight on the Magdalena River shall not issue bills of lading for foreign flour which has not been duly registered in the prescribed form about which the preceding article treats; and if they should give a bill of lading without the prescribed form having been presented, they shall be considered as smugglers, and they will be prosecuted as such according to the laws relating to smuggling.

ART. 4. The permit must be presented to the administrator of the national hacienda of the port of destination or landing in order that he may countersign and concede with the countersign the right to pass if the flour is for interior towns.

ART. 5. All the flour that is carried without the formalities which this decree imposes will be considered as contraband, and those who bring it, or its owners, will be punished according to the law governing the case.

Art. 6. In the cases of fraud to which the present decree refers the prosecuting officers will be the same as those of which article 78 of decree No. 339 of April 4, 1905, treats, and they shall similarly observe the same measures of proceeding as the decree just referred to and decree No. 72, January 16, 1900, establish.

ART. 7. This decree shall be telegraphed to the custom-houses of the Atlantie, and it shall be put in force from tie day it is received by the authorities at these ports, who will immediately publish it by proclamation and in the press. Given at Bogota, this 5th day of February, 1906.

(Signed) R. REYES. The MINISTER OF HACIENDA AND TREASURY.

(Signed) FELIX SALAZAR J.

Minister Barrett to the Secretary of State. No. 18.]

AMERICAN LEGATION,

Bogota, February 24, 1906. Sir: Referring to my No. 38 of February 7, and No. 41 of February 13, 1906, in regard to the additional tax on foreign flour, I am glad to report that, in response to my representations on behalf of American firms or their agents in Cartagena and Barranquilla, the Government of Colombia has seen fit to modify the application of the tax so that it will not prove so severe a hardship as first indicated.

This new tariff as originally imposed applied to all flour leaving Cartagena and Barranquilla coming up the river for the interior, and practically prevented American firms or their agents from disposing of the flour they had on hand, intended for the interior, without great loss. The modification of the decree, made in response to my representations, is not to place this additional tax on foreign flour until it reaches Puerto Berrio, on the Magdalena River, thus allowing the flour to be introduced for consumption in the Departments of the Atlantic and in the important interior provinces of Antioquia and Santander without this additional tax of 8 cents a kilogram. In other words, the change practically limits the new tax to the Departments of Tolima, Cundinamarca, Huila, and Quesada.

As the largest proportion of American flour goes to Antioquia and Santander and the Departments of the Atlantic, it will be seen that the alteration is for the benefit of American trade. I have, etc.,

Joux BARRETT.

The Secretary of State to Minister Barrett. No. 16.]

DEPARTMENT OF STATE,

Washington, March 19, 1906. Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your No. 41, of the 13th ultimo, in regard to the additional duty of 8 cents (making a total of approximately 211 per kilogram) imposed on foreign flour.

It would appear that the figures given by you state the duty in Colombian currency. If so, the equivalent in American gold might be stated for greater convenience. I am, etc.,

E. Roor.

« PreviousContinue »