United States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign Commerce.

Consular reports, Issues 188-191 online

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during the half year in question. Either the full amount of such deficiency
or such jxirt thereof as the Government may consider sufficient is then author-
ized by national decree to be collected from the San Juan del Norte mer-
chants and shopkeepers. This is known as the commercial tax, but is
sometimes called the contribution tax. Other than those mentioned, neither
real nor personal taxes are levied. There is no poll tax.

Immediately preceding the ist of July and ist of January in each year,
the commercial tax being payable on such days, the governor intendant ap-
points a committee of three inhabitants to make apportionment of such tax.
This committee is called the ** Junta de la contribucion.*' In making the
semiannual apportionment, a list is first prepared by the committee showing
the names of all commission merchants, keepers of wine or liquor shops (can-
tinas), and shopkeepers not importers, and the amount of commercial tax to
be paid by each. Shopkeepers are assessed I15 and liquor dealers ^25 each.
Each commission merchant is required to pay 5 per cent on the total amount
of his commissions during the six months immediately preceding the appor-
tionment.

In 1895, there were but two commission merchants and three shopkeep-
ers. There is not a store in town, except the two drug stores, in which
wines, beers, and liquors are not sold by the drink, and the number of can-
tinas is twenty-six.

The aggregate of the assessments against commission merchants and the
keepers of shops and cantinas is comparatively small, and the payment of at
least nine-tenths of the commercial tax falls upon the importers. The amount
to be paid by each importer is ascertained and determined by the propor-



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NICARAGUA: NATURAL RESOURCES, ETC. 419

tionate value of his imports during the six months then ending. In fixing
such value, reference is had to the proper invoices and manifests. There
were eleven importers in 1895, ^"^ ^^^ commercial tax for the year amounted
to ^25,549.81. Of the importers, but four import extensively.

The commercial tax for the six months ending June 30, 1896, was fixed
at J 10,000, of which the importers paid ^9,095. Of this amount, all but
1690 was paid by the four leading importers.

In 1895, the municipal receipts and expenditures were as follows, in local
money, |i of which is worth but 50 cents in United States currency

Receipts.

Commercial tax $25,549.81

Land and house taxes 2,468.61

Fines 2,206.40

Slaughterhouse, etc 1,429.65

Post-office 1,392.59

Telegraph 548.51

Balls and entertainments 197-83

Sealed paper 26.25

Total 33,819.65

Expenditures.
Salaries and expenses:

Officials, clerks, etc $12,723.50

Police of San Juan del Norte 4*857.33

Police of America 2,049.88

School teachers 2, 735- 60

Post-office 1,787.94

Telegraph office 1,943.30

Oil and tenders of street lamps 1,360.00

Labor in public cemeteries 945.00

Labor in creek channels 597-50

Repairs to public buildings 556.00

Feeding prisoners 195.60

Transportation of paupers I7'09

Official receptions * 220.50

Not itemized 3,830.41

Total 33,819.65

WAGES AND COST OF LIVING IN NICARAGUA.

House rents run from J 2 to J 20 (gold) per month. As in England, the
house servants are unwilling to do general work ; the cook will do nothing
outside of the kitchen, the chambermaid will not wait on table, and the
laundress would quit if asked to clean a window. Carib boys are generally
employed as table waiters.

The tables given below show the rates of wages paid and the retail prices
of necessaries in each of two towns on the Atlantic coast (Bluefields and San
Juan del Norte) and in the interior city of Granada. For convenience, the
rates and prices are given in United States money.



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420 NICARAGUA: NATURAL RESOURCES, ETC.

Rates of wages.



Employment.



Bakers

Blacksmiths

Bookkeepers

Bricklayers

Cabinetmakers

Carpenters

Clerks :

Dry goods

Grocery

Miscellaneous

Cooks:*

Men

Women

Dressmakers*

Engineers (stationary engines)..

Gardeners

Governesses*

Housekeepers*

House servants*

Jewelers

Laborers:

AgricuUuralf

Misccllaneous..„

Laundresses

Machinists

Milliners

Music teachers

Pharmacists

Printers. ...«

Railway employees :

Brakemen ,

Conductors

Engineers

Firemen „

Station masters

School teachers ,

Schooners :

Caplaius* ,

Mates*

Seamen* ,

Seamstresses*

Shoemakers

Steamboats :

Captains* ,

Deckhands*

Engineers*

Firemen* ,

Mates*

Pursers* ,

Stevedores

Stone masons

Tailors..^

Teamsters ,

Telegraphers

Tinsmiths...

Wagon makers



Period.



San Juan del
Norte.



^o.



x.oo
oo to lOO. oo



1.50
1.50

>.ooto 50.00
>. 00 to 40. 00
>. 00 to 30. 00

>. 00 to 25. 00
i. 00 to xo. 00

.50



18.00

>. 00 to 10. 00
Loo to 9.00
S.5010 6.00



;.ooto 17.50

. 50 to . 75

•75

1.75



Bluefields.



15. CO to 35.00

10.00

5.00 to 7.00

1.50

17.5010 20.00
x.oo to 1.35

1.25

2.50

1.50

.50



15.00 to 25.00

35.00
15.00
zo.oo

.40

•75

43.50 to 50.00
10.00
30.00
15.00
17.50
25.00

35.00 to 100.00



.75
.75

35.00



15.0010 35.00

35.00
15.00
10.00

.75
X.50

62.50
25.00
45.00

25.00
35. 00 to 30. 00

37- 50

50. 00 to 62. 50

3.50

I- 50
x.oo



Granada.



$1.50
"•as

$50.00 to X35.00

X.50

"•75
X.75

35.00 to 75.00 I
35.00 to 40.00
20.00 to 55.00 '

15.0010 40.00

6.00 to xo.oo

x.oo

25.00



I0.50
.50

$15.00 to 40.00

•75
x.oo
•75

15.00 to ao.oo
x2.ooto 30.00
8. 00 to 15.00

10.00 to 20.00

4.0010 xo.oo

• 30 »o • 55

15.00

7.50

5.00 to 7.50

750

5- 00

•75



3.00 to



13.5010 15.00
. 35 to . 50



• 25

15. 00

.60

28.50
30.00

45- 00

32.50

15.0010 35.00

15. 00 to 40.00



. 20 to .40
.6a

43. 50 to 50. 00
10.00
30.00
15.00
17.50

25- «>

25.0010 40.00

x.oo

.55

•so

X5.00

•50

.75



* With board.



t With board, $8 to $xo.



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NICARAGUA: NATURAL RESOURCES, ETC.
^ Retail prices of provisions y



421



Articles.



Apricots w

Bacon

Baking powder

Butter :

Fresh

Canned

Calico

Candles :

Sperm..

Tallow

Cheese .^ ,

Chocolate

CoaL

Codfish

Coffee

Com

Com meal

Cornstarch

Crackers :

Soda

Sweet

Dress goods (woolen)..

Eggs

Fish (fresh)

Flannel

Flour (wheal)

Frijolcs

Ham

Kerosene

Lard

Meats:

Beef-
Corned

Fresh

Chickens

Mutton

Pork

Salt pork

Milk :

Fresh...

Condensed

Highland cream...

Mince-rocat

Molasses

Muslin

Oatmeal

Peaches

Pears

Pease...

Pepj>er

Plantains

Potatoes

Quaker oats

Raisins

Rice

Rubbers

SaU «



Quantity.



San Tuan del
Norte.



Can

Pound..
do..



do..

..do..

Yard....



Pound...

-do...

„do...

do...

Ton..

Pound...

-do...

Can-

Pound. .
do...



-do

do

Yard

Dozen

Pound

Yard

Half barrel.

Pound

do

Gallon

Pound



do...

do...

Fuach

Pound...

-do...

do...



Quart

Can-

do

Package. .

Gallon

Yard

Pound

Can

do

do

Pound

Dozen

Pound

do

-do

-do

Pair

Pound



fo-07J4 to



^.25
.30
.50

.30
.50
•»5



•50



.05



.30 to



•75
.40
.05
•37'/^

.07 14
■as
•25
.»5



•50
•»5



..o

.17J4



.OlViXQ .15

.12'^

.15 to .30

•25

•«5
.90
.05
.07^^



Price.



Bluefields.



.25

.05

.03KI



^0.35
■50

•25

.50

^.06^ to .10

.«5
•>5
.20
.50
la. 50

.«2«4
.25
.I2J4
.05
. 10



.aaj^ to



.04 to
.12*4 to



.20

.50
.37M
.05
.32j^

3-»2^

•05

•>7H
.20
. 10



•IS
.10

.37^
• iS

.I2M

. 10



.I2j4
.20

.12)4



.O7>>^to
.12^10



• 035^10 -05 I
.50 to .62K



Granada.



pi. 40 to |k>. 50
.50
■75





• 30




.60


.0510


• 15




.22H


.40 to


•so




.50




.30




.20




.30




.25




.20


.1510


.50




. 10


.5010


.75



3-40
.04

.4010 .60
•45
.21



.05
•25



.I2»4



.40
.40



12!^


.05 to


.20


10




.10


25


.4010


•50


25


.40 to


■50


>5




.30


22 J4




.25


05








.04



. 10

•25

.04 to .05
1. 00
.02



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422 NICARAGUA: NATURAL RESOURCES, ETC.

Retail prices of provisions y etc, — Continued.





Quantity.


Price.


Anlcles.


^*Von?.'^''* Bluefields.

i


Granada.


Satinet


Yard


fo.as to|o.30

.x3^to .90
.125^ to .80

. xo to .15

.xo to .12^

.50 to x.oo
x.oo to a. 50

1.50

x.50 to 2.00
3.75 to 4.00

X.75 to 3.00
2.50 to 3.00

■07

.xo
.«5


$0. 20 to fo. 25

. xo to . X3^
.XO

.50 to .8754
.75 to 3.00

x.oo to X.2S

x.25 to x.75

2. 50 to 3. 50
X.50 to X.t2%

2.00 to 3.37J4

.07K
.07H

.07J4

.10

.xo

• 50

x.oo

.50

.1254 to .X5

2.25

■05


|0.07j4t0|0.5»

.05 to .xaH
.05 to . xo

.ao to .35
. xo to 90


Shirting :

Bleached


^o


Unbleached


do


Sheeting :

Bleached


^do


Unbleached


„do


Shirts :

Cotton „


Each


.75 to 1.50
x.oo to 2.50


Woolen


do


Shoes:

Children's (common).....


Pair


Men's-

Common


do


2.00 to a. 50
a.oo to 4.00


Fine..


^o


Women's—

Common


do


Fine


do


3.00 to 4.00
.05


Soap (common)


Pound

do


Starch


String beans


Can


.30
.30

.08


Succotash .


do


Sugar:

Brown„


Pound.

.... ..do


.075^

.10

.xo


Granulated




Loaf«


„do




Sirup:

Native ,


Gallon .




Imported


„do






Tea

Ticking


Pound

Yard


.623^

•»5

.15

4.00

.05


.50 to x.oo

.15


Tomatoes


Can„


Wood


Cord




Yams


Pound.









Mr. Samuel Weil, an American merchant in Bluefields, and Mr. Eugene
Southworth, an American merchant in Granada, respectively furnished the
figures appearing in the Bluefields and Granada columns of wages and prices.

PUBLIC RECORDS IN SAN JUAN DEL NORTE.

Records have been made and preserved of San Juan del Norte deeds
and mortgages since 1861, but the records kept prior to that time are miss-
ing. A set of abstracts has never been made. Under the treaty of Managua,
the Nicaraguan and British commissioners confirmed about one hundred and
forty-five grants of land made in the name of the Mosquito Indians between
1848 and 1859. Copies of such grants were entered in two books, one of
which is in the Government building at San Juan del Norte and the other
in the Foreign Office in London.

THOMAS O'HARA,

San Juan del Norte, February 12^ i8g6, ConsuL



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MARKET FOR UNITED STATES GOODS IN NICARAGUA. 42 ^



MARKET FOR UNITED STATES GOODS IN NICARAGUA.*

A letter has just been received here from a firm in Rochester, N. Y., in
which mention is made of the sale of their boots and shoes in England. If
the Rochester house can sell boots and shoes in England, they can sell them
in Nicaragua. They may not be able to sell the same kind, but they can
sell boots and shoes. Michigan lumbermen and Pennsylvania miners wear
shoes and pay for them. Their money is just as good as the money that
Boston and New York people pay for shoes of finer quality.

It is not uncommon for an American manufacturer to send fine buggies
to one section of the United States and buckboards to another. The buck-
boards are sent to districts where buckboards are used. Men that wear
derby hats manufacture cowboy hats for cowboy districts. If the manager
of a St. Louis house takes it into his head to invade Chicago territory, he
sends his drummers out with samples of the grades and styles popular in that
territory.

In the matter of credits, the large bills in each section are made to ma-
ture at the end of the harvest. The crop may be wheat in one section ; cot-
ton in another; corn, strawberries, peaches, apples, or sugar in others;
while in some sections the bills may be payable at the close of the log-drive
season.

It has been said by one of our consuls in Mexico that although our
wholesale merchants from Boston to San Francisco are familiar with the
requirements, styles, customs, and resources of the smallest hamlet in Texas,
scarcely an American merchant or manufacturer has accurate knowledge of
either the people or the country 2 miles south of the Rio Grande. However
true the observation may have been at the time, the statement is too sweep-
ing to be made again. Within the past two years an American salesman is
said to have sold, inside of nine months, ^1,000,000 worth of American
goods in Mexico alone. He sold on commission and took orders to be filled
by many different houses.

But while commercial relations between our country and most of our
southern neighbors are closer now than when our consul in Mexico made
the statement mentioned, it remains true that our merchants and manufac-
turers, ambitious to sell their wares and products in Spanish America, have,
up to this time, been indifferent respecting many features of trade in the new
fields which they would not dream of neglecting if presented in the home
markets.

They consult Massachusetts styles and preferences, but also aim to meet
the requirements of the people in every other section of the United States.



* Unless where otherwise stated, all prices and values given in ihis report are expressed in United States
currency.



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424 MARKET FOR UNITED STATES GOODS IN NICARAGUA.

If Idaho or Montana merchants complain that their goods are better boxed
or baled in St. Louis than in Chicago, the Chicago merchants, instead of
ignoring the complaints, will go their St. Louis competitors one or two bet-
ter. Boston, New York, and Philadelphia houses may be crowded out oc-
casionally by Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit, or St. Louis rivals, but whether
he lives East, West, or South, the American merchant never neglects to
canvass certain territory simply because its trade has long been monopolized
by the wholesalers and manufacturers of other cities.

The people of these southern countries have styles of their own. They
are partial to certain brands of goods and to certain patterns, colors, widths,
and lengths of dress materials.

Domestic manufactures in most of the countries are of small proportions,
and all importations, whether from the United States or from Europe, are
long in transit. Many of the harbor entrances are choked with sand, and
all goods must be lightered from i to 3 miles. At many points, the rains are
heavy and long continued, the seas run high on the bars, and in some harbors
the lighters are nothing but open scows or boats. Railways and wagon roads
are not as common as in the United States, and it not infrequently happens
that packages are weeks in reaching their ultimate destination, the only con-
veyances being small steamers, canoes, carts, or little pack mules. ■

It is not unreasonable to ask that goods destined for such places should
be packed a little better than goods that are shipped from St. Louis to
Kansas City. As our consuls have written, time and time again, the Eng-
lish, French, and German merchants never fail to pack or bale goods as
directed by their Central and South American customers.

Our consuls, too, have frequently asked our merchants and manufacturers
to consider that while the American retail merchant generally receives the
goods purchased by him on sixty or ninety days' credit within a very few
days after the purchase, the merchants in many parts of Central and South
America do not receive their goods for weeks after their shipment. For this
reason, our merchants have repeatedly been advised to give as favorable
credits as are given by England, France, and Germany.

But the great obstacle in the way of American success in these countries
is that the Americans do not try to succeed as they do at home. Local
styles and preferences might be disregarded, goods be packed as they are at
home, and credits for long periods be refused, and we would still be able to
.sell more goods than we do if we did not take it for granted that other na-
tions could undersell us. Within a few years, bright and competent sales-
men, representing American houses, have canvassed Mexico, Brazil, the
Argentine Republic, and other parts of Spanish America, but there has not
been the American competition for the trade of these countries that the
trade as a whole deserves. The American houses doing business with mer-
chants in Spanish America are comparatively few. There has been smart
competition in picking up coffee and other southern products for the Amer-
ican market, but we have not as yet made even a fair start in the sale of



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MARKET FOR UNITED STATES GOODS IN NICARAGUA. 425

American goods. With a few exceptions, the American goods sold in these
markets have, to use a drummer's expression, sold themselves. They have
been bought because they are cheaper than even the Germans can sell them.
Even in the matter of the purchase of coffee and other southern productions,
we are hampered by the scarcity of exchange, and so long as commercial
paper remains scarce and these people continue to purchase European goods,
so long will a certain quantity of the products of Spanish America be shipped
to Europe.

Instead of our factories sending out their own salesmen, as is generally
done at home, the sale of their goods and manufactures in foreign countries
is too frequently either confided to export agents or effected by commission
merchants acting on their ''own hook." In many cases, one of these ex-
port agents represents many different mills and factories and has the exclusive
charge of the sales in foreign countries of different varieties of goods and
manufactures. His commissions and the extra charges he ** claps on*' gives
him an annual income of from ^5,000 to j; 25, 000 a year. He is satisfied
with that. The manufacturers have apparently been satisfied with it. It is
true that some of our manufacturers at home arrange with one or two houses
to handle all their products, but the time has never been when they would
renew contracts with men or houses that had failed so signally to sell and
popularize such manufactures as these export agents have failed in building
up an American trade in Spanish America.

The United States is a good market for goods of all kinds, but the suc-
cess at home of the average American merchant has always been due, and
in the future will be due, principally to his push and energy. American
wholesalers who expect to work up trade in Spanish America should not de-
part entirely from the methods they have employed at home.

In the United States, it seldom happens that from four to eight traveling
salesmen do not dine together in a railway town of 1,500 population. Dur-
ing the past year, but two American salesmen have been in San Juan del
Norte. Our people should send out more salesmen, and each great house
should have its own salesmen and representatives. Our people should not
expect to make money the *'very first clip," but should send out careful,
conservative, and well-paid agents — men who will study and note all that
pertains to the sale of their employers' goods, and at the same time give due
attention to the commercial laws and customs of the different countries, and
to the pecuniary responsibility of local merchants.

The temptation to report the sale of J 100,000 worth of goods in a single
trip is not apt to be as strong in the case of a salaried salesman as it is in the
case of one who sells on commission. This temptation, perhaps, is, the world
over, strong enough at times, but in the United States the reports furnished
by commercial agencies, while not always reliable, are yet well calculated
for the keeping of such abuses within narrow limits. In Spanish America,
however, commercial reports are so meager that they afford but little benefit
or protection to merchants invoking their assistance.



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426 MARKET FOR UNITED STATES GOODS IN NICARAGUA.

The German salesman, especially the Hamburg man, will sell anything
that is wanted, and Sheffield cutlery, French perfumeries, Kentucky whiskies,
or anything else required will be duly manufactured, stamped, and labeled
in Germany, and then be shipped to foreign markets.

Much of the trade of these countries may be honorably won by Americans,
but they must cater to the local styles and customs.

Since February 19, 1895, more than fourteen hundred official letters and
dispatches have been sent from this office. Of all the American merchants
and manufacturers from whom letters have been received here during that
period, the Rochester firm is the only one that has ** talked as if it meant
business.*' The secretary writes :

We presume that a large percentage of the supply of shoes in Nicaragua is supplied by
England, France, and Austria. We lielieve that we are able to compete satisfactorily in
quality and prices with such manufacturers.

The secretary then inquires as to the shape, material, etc., of popular
shoes, and impliedly says that if American shapes and styles will not take,
his firm will make English, French, and Austrian shapes and styles and enter
the Nicaraguan market in dead earnest. In doing this, the Rochester firm
would not b? guilty of illegitimate practices. They do not purpose to do as
the Hamburg man does — counterfeit trade-marks and labels — but make shoes
of the same styles, shapes, and materials as English, French, and Austrian
shoes. The shoes, when made, will be marked with the firm name, Roches-
ter, U. S. A.

A few months ago, it was published in an American newspaper that "a
trade of magnificent proportions might be worked up in Nicaragua by Amer-
ican merchants and manufacturers.'*

The country has a population of less than 375,000. Hundreds of Nica-
raguans have attended schools in Europe and the United States. The school
system of the country is not as good as our own, but there is no scarcity of
either public or private schools. Many of the Nicaraguans have traveled
extensively in the United States and in Europe, especially in France, Ger-
many, Belgium, Switzerland, and Simin. Perhaps 75,000 of the people
live and dress as well as the people of any other country, but four-fifths of
the inhabitants are extremely poor. There is no begging, no crowding of
almshouses, and the people are apparently satisfied with their condition;
but they have few comforts and very little money. Their wants are simple
and the store purchases of one laborer in the United States amount to more
in a year than like purchases of four Nicaraguan laborers during the same
period.

Comparatively little of the land is cultivated. There are no wagon roads
to speak of, and but few of the natural resources of the country have been
developed.

The trade of the country is far from being one of ** magnificent propor-
tions " — the trade of two or three Michigan or Wisconsin counties amounting
to more than the entire trade of Nicaragua — but, nevertheless, it is worth



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MARKET FOR UNITED STATES GOODS IN NICARAGUA. 427

looking after. The trade of two or three ordinary counties in Michigan
is not to be despised. Nicaragua, too, is a country of bright possibilities.
But while the trade of Nicaragua may itself be small, it helps to swell the
trade of Spanish America — a trade that has really assumed '* magnificent
proportions'* and one that will keep step with other great trades in the
future.

Certain statistics have been gathered here and there respecting the figures
at which goods commonly used in Nicaragua are purchased and sold. These
statistics may enable our merchants and manufacturers to determine how
much further, if any, the sales of American goods may be increased in Nica-
ragua.

LIGHTERAGE CHARGES IN SAN JUAN DEL NORTE.

Freight and passenger rates to Atlantic ports in Nicaragua were reported
April 2, 1895, and are published in Special Consular Reports, Highways
of Commerce, p. 75. Since the publication of that report, certain changes
have occurred, the most important of which was occasioned by the loss on
June 17 of the only steam tug in the harbor of San Juan del Norte. Prior
to that time, the lighterage charges at this port were $2 to I3 per ton.
These figures, as well as all others herein mentioned, are expressed in United
States currency.

Immediately following the loss of the tug, lighterage charges, as reported
December 3, were established as follows :

Beer per 6 dozen pints... $0.45

Brick per i,cxx>... 10.50



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