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United States Department of State / Papers relating to the foreign relations of the United States with the address of the president to Congress December 2, 1913

Honduras,   pp. 590-607 PDF (6.2 MB)

Page 604

~ e'i 1 ~ the Go\ ei nment of the [Tilted States of Amei ica is convinced
thrt the Collector of Customs at Puerto Cortés must have misinterpreted
his Government's instructions, since the action threatened by the Collector
appears from the representations made to the Department of State at Washington
to be entirely arbitrary and lacking the legal formalities and guaranties
' with which governments customarily surround the exercise of the high sovereign
powers involved. '  
 In order that the concessionary be unmolested in the exercise of his rights
as granted in the contract of March 2, 1896. subsequently extended on August
20, 1907, until 1920, and that the Collector of Customs at Puerto Cortfls
be cccrected in any misunderstanding entertained by him in this matter, it
is the urgent desire of the Government of the TJnited States of America that
the Government of ' Honduras, at as early a moment as possible, will instruct
him to cease any interference of whatsoever kind with the operation of the
wharf by the concessiona ry. 
Tegucigalpa, May 27, 1912. 
[Inclosure 2—Translation.1 
The Minister for Foreign Affairs to the American Chargé d'Affaires.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Honduras has the honor
to reply to the memorandum which the Chargé d'Affaires ad interim
of the United States of America directed to him under date of the 27th instant,
regarding the exploitation of the wharf at Puerto Cortés by Mr. Washington
S. Valentine, in the following manner: 
It is true that the Government of Honduras through the Inspector General
of Finance celebrated a contract with the Messrs. Washington S. Valentine
and George Isham Scott on March 2, 1896, approved by the National Congress
Decree No. 75, of March 24 of the same year ' 1896, by which another contract
was modified which had been approved in favor of Valentine by the Assembly
of Honduras on June 7, 1895, for the contract and exploitation of the wharf
at Puerto Cortés in the Deiiartment of Cortfls. 
But it is equally true that in section No. 9 of the same contract it was
declared that "the contract will last for a term of twelve years, to be prolonged
at the will of the Government, and will commence to be in force from the
date of its approval by Congress. Upon conclusion of this term the Government
can ta/ce the wharf, paying its value according to the just valuation by
ea~perts, or it will permit that the convessionaries dispose of it as they
see fit." 
It is also true that the Government of Honduras, upon request of Mr. Washiiigton
S. Valentine of July 15, 1907, granted him by means of a simple resolution,
not decree, as Mr. Valentine states (to issue the latter being a right reserved
for Congress) a concession by means of which the contract of the 2d and 24th
of March, 1896, was prolonged for another term of twelve years, to begin
March 2, 1908. 
But it is also true—and this was concealed by Mr. Valentine in his
cornplaint—that in order to make a concession complete and valid, it
needs, by means of an appropriate decree, the approval of the National Congress
of the Republic, according to number 21, article 90 of the Constitution of
Honduras, without which it has not and can not have any legal value. 
The concession of August 20, 1907, prolonging the contract of March 2, 1896,
was not approved by Congress, for which reason it was never perfected. Besides,
on March 17, 1909, Mr. W. S. Valentine, "for himself and as representative
of his associates," concluded an agreement with the Government by means of
which (article 2) he revoked "the prolongation of the wharf contract at Puerto
Cortés concluded August 20, 1907." 
Article 5 of this agreement declared that "the value of the wharf and Its
appurtenances" "will be estimated by t\vo experts, one named by each party,
who will have the power to name a third in case of disagreement." 

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