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I have the honor to submit, with a view to its transmission to Congress, the following report and recommendation relative to the claims against the United States arising out of the occupation by American forces of Vera Cruz, Mexico, in 1914:
On April 20, 1914, the President of the United States addressed the two Houses of Congress in joint session, asking the approval of that body for his action in using the armed forces of the United States in such ways and to such an extent as he deemed necessary to obtain from General Huerta, of Mexico, and his adherents the fullest recognition of the rights and dignity of the United States. This approval was voiced by joint resolution approved April 22, 1914, in the following terms:
That the President is justified in the employment of the armed forces of the United States to enforce his demand for unequivocal amends for certain affronts and indignities committed against the United States.
Be it further resolved, That the United States disclaims any hostility to the Mexican people or any purpose to make war upon Mexico.
In the execution of the President's Mexican policy as outlined in his address to Congress, United States marines and sailors were landed at Vera Cruz, Mexico, April 21, 1914, and immediately took possession of the cable office, post office, telegraph office, customhouse, the railroad terminal and yards with rolling stock. There was considerable firing upon the American troops, which necessitated forcible measures by them. As a result of these operations a number of complaints were made by local residents to the commander in chief of the United States Atlantic Fleet in regard to damage to property said to have been incident to the occupation of the city.
The commander in chief appointed a board of naval officers to investigate these complaints and to make a record of any evidence that might be submitted on behalf of the several claimants.
This board met from time to time at the United States consulate at Vera Cruz and submitted reports on 99 claims. Claimants were advised that it would be necessary for them to make formal application for reimbursement through diplomatic channels for the value of property alleged by them to have been damaged or destroyed, but in no case was a claimant.given any assurance of ultimate reimbursement.
The total claims presented before this board amounted to approximately $283,000 Mexican, plus about $15,700 United States gold.
The Governments of Spain, Great Britain, and France have filed with the Department of State a list of their nationals whose claims were passed upon by the naval board, and have asked the Government of the United States to pay indemnities for the damage sustained.
In addition to the above claims heard by the naval board at Vera Cruz, there was referred to the War Department for its consideration a claim of the Vera Cruz Terminal Co. (Ltd.) and railways connected therewith, amounting to $114,154, which was presented diplomatically by the British Government, and covers compensation for the use of the company's properties at Vera Cruz by the American forces, including the railroad terminal facilities, besides the use of two of the railroads for which the claimant acts as agent, in addition to damages to the property. On receiving the first complaint of this
company the papers were referred to the commanding general at Vera Cruz for investigation, and the board of officers appointed by him held hearings in that city from August 17 to September 17, 1914, to determine the facts and a fair and reasonable basis of compensation
Subsequently the Quartermaster General of the Army made a careful examination into the whole matter, collecting data to cover the period between the action of the board and the date of withdrawal of the forces from the city. He concurred in the recommendations of the board, and upon the basis so submitted found the aggregate amount which should be allowed for the entire time of occupancy by the United States Army and the United States Marine Corps to be $11,303.80, United States currency. The case was then reviewed by the Judge Advocate General and by the Chief of Staff of the Army, each of whom fully concurred in the recommendations of the Quartermaster General, and approval was given thereto by the Secretary of War.
Another claim arising out of the same circumstances, brought to the attention of the department by the Spanish ambassador, is that of Valentin Perez. It appears that Mr. Perez sustained personal injury during the occupation of Vera Cruz by the American forces which has deprived him of the use of an arm. On submitting the facts in the case to the Navy Department that department made reply on July 12 and 30, 1914, detailing the injuries Perez had sustained, and on May 4, 1922, suggested that he be paid $2,500, as an indemnity for his injuries.
The department has made an examination of the claims upon which the naval board has rendered decisions and concurs in the recommendations made by the board, which may be grouped for convenience under four titles: (1) Where a recommendation for a full or partial allowance was made in full settlement of the claim; (2) where a partial allowance was recommended with a suggestion that the claim is deserving of further consideration if, upon presentation through the usual diplomatic channels to the Government of the United States, satisfactory evidence of actual loss is submitted; (3) where no allowance was made but the same suggestion made as set forth under 2; and (4) where the claims were dismissed.
The record of the proceedings of the board as received from the Navy Department is voluminous, comprising in the case of each claim the minutes of the naval board, transcript of testimony, staiement of losses by claimant, supported in some instances by affidavits, and a certificate of the claimant's nationaltiy. In view of the voluminous character of this record it is not transmitted herewith, but all or any part of it will, of course, be furnished, should the Congress so desire.
In the examination of these claims they have been considered as falling under one of two groups: First, claims for damages to premises and permanent electrical equipment, such as cables, telephone wires, etc., the taking of property and merchandise used by the naval forces; and, second, claims for merchandise lost or destroyed through looting.
In considering cases in the first group where damage was done to premises, the statement of naval officers usually fixed the responsibility for the damage and this, coupled with the result of an inspection of the premises by the board formed the basis for the decision rendered. The taking of property and merchandise used by the United States naval forces was readily proven by receipts given therefor, or statements made by naval officers that the property in question was taken, or that the merchandise was used for military purposes.
The question of the amount to be allowed for the value of the property taken or merchandise consumed was determined by the statements of such naval officers. Apparently, no consideration was given to the question of allowing claimants damages for the time they were deprived of the use of their property.
Claims in the second group include items for the value of goods or merchandise which were lost or destroyed. The proceedings in these cases indicate that the board was careful to insist on the production of evidence showing the responsibility of the naval forces for the overt act and the damage sustained thereby. In the absence of such proof, the items of compensation claimed were disallowed. Items for traveling expenses, board and lodgings, and wages were likewise disallowed.
Where the claims include items for merchandise, principally liquors, foodstuffs, and furniture lost or destroyed through looting, the claimants were obliged to prove that the American forces were responsible for such acts. In these cases the board considered the statement of claimants alone as to the value of such merchandise insufficient to determine the amount to be paid. The board inspected the premises in each case and had first-hand information of the damage done. However, although the destruction of liquors was made under military orders, the commanding officers failed to ascertain or estimate the loss through such destruction and no allowance was made therefor by the board but on presenting the facts to the Secretary of the Navy that official was of the opinion that items for destruction of liquor should be included in any award made. Approximately $14,046.93 Mexican has therefore been added to the allowance made by the board in the claims, which included items for the destruction of liquors by the naval forces.
A list giving the nationality of the claimants, amounts of claims, and action recommended by the naval board is submitted herewith.
Finally, the Acting Secretary of State has the honor to request the President to recommend to the Congress the adoption of the findings of the naval board in the settlement of claims arising out of the occupation of Vera Cruz, Mexico, by the American forces in 1914, and the appropriation of the sum of $34,214.89 in payment of the awards rendered by that board, and to cover indemnity to Valentin Perez, and to compensate the claimants for the value of liquors which were destroyed under military orders, and, furthermore, that there be appropriated in addition the sum of $11,303.80 in satisfaction of the claim of the Vera Cruz Terminal Co. (Ltd.).
It will be noted from the inclosed communication from the Director of the Bureau of the Budget, to whom the matter was referred, that the proposed action is not inconsistent with the financial program of the Government. Respectfully submitted.
Acting Secretary of State. DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, September 1, 1922. MY DEAR MR. SECRETARY: I have your letter of August 30, inclosing a copy of a proposed report to the President recommending that Congress be requested to take certain action which will embrace an authorization of an appropriation of $45,518.69 for the settlement of claims of foreign nationals arising out of the occupation of Vera Cruz, Mexico, by the American forces in 1914, and asking whether the proposed action is in harmony with the financial policy of the President.
Under the provisions of Budget Circular No. 49, issued by direction of the President December 19, 1921, this matter has been submitted to the President, who has instructed me to advise you that the proposed request for legislation authorizing an appropriation of $45,518.69 for the settlement of these claims is not in conflict witb bis financial program. Sincerely yours,
R. O. KLOEBER,
Acting Director. The ACTING SECRETARY OF STATE.
83 Philip M. Walker....
Vera Cruz Terminal Co.
Vera Cruz Terminal Co... 18 W. Young Smart...
Vera Cruz Railways (Ltd.) 8 Vera Cruz E. L. P. & T. (Ltd.). 12 P. Mortimer Walker... 84 Vera Cruz Constructing Syndicate..
Vera Cruz Telephone Construction (Ltd.).
1 390.61 . 317.50 *114, 154.00 •$ 11,303. SO
461.00 107, 869.79 • 15,081.9212,487 55
601.39 251.39 1,847.77 1,719. 45
137. 20 63.31
1 Auditor lor Navy Department disallowed this claim on July 1, 1915. (Letter from Solicitor of Navy, Sept.7, 1920.)
Allowed by the board but disallowed by Solicitor of Navy. • Considered by Navy Department. • United States currency. . See note to British embassy, Mar. 14, 1917. . Not allowed.
Presented by British embassy May 9, 1922; referred to Navy, and decided July 1, 1922.
Total of British claims made
$129, 235. 92
$111, 532. 76
2, 259. 15 Miguel Orejas Gonzales. 35
Valentin Perez 1. 6
Manuel Allende Lopez.
Antonio Cornejo. 20
Ralael P. Cornejo.. 15
Domingo Zavala. 22
J. Galainena (Sucs.). 14
Modesto Arenas. 48
José Fernandez.. 28
José Rubio l'erez. 26
Longo y Gonzalez.. 37
Manuel Vasguez.. 45
José Martinez.. 46
471.46 4,029.00 2.083.00 3.344.00 6.3.74 1,394.50 4,670. 18 1,597.04
242.00 5,073.98 5,613.00 1,831, 00 2,923.00 3,387. 26 8, 112.39 1,079.06 2,870. 74 7,903. 61
242.00 1,033. 43 2, 425.00
105.00 (2. 752 01
Julian Fernandez. 31
Pedro Lopez. 53
Manuel Gonzalez. 34
Pedro Gonzalez Diaz. 29
José Sierra. 52
Felipe de la Riva.. 51
Marcelino Riario. 41
Alfred Chamarro Plata.. 47
Francisco Mora Gutierrez. 95
José Ortega Soto.. 32
Mujares Hermanos. 59
Maximino Gonzalez.. 39 91 Antonio Lopez.... 1 Presented diplomatically by Spanish ambassador, Feb. 26, 1919. * United States currency. " Allowed by secretary of Navy, May 4, 1922. Not allowed.
876. 90 673. 61
30.00 1, 172 78
591. 28 352.83