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IMPORTATION OF SISAL AND MANILA HEMP.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 1916.

UNITED STATES SENATE,

SUBCOMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE AND FORESTRY,

Washington, D. C. The subcommittee met at 10.45 o'clock a. m., Senator Ransdell presiding.

Present: Senator Ransdell (chairman) and Senator Gronna.

The CHAIRMAN. The committee will please come to order. Mr. Wexler was on the stand and Mr. Fisher was cross-examining him when we adjourned.

Mr. SPENCER. Before the committee commences may I make a suggestion in reference to the facts that have come to our attention and which I think the committee ought to know at this time in order that it may take whatever action it may deem proper. We, of course, take it that the committee wants to get all the information possible relative to the sisal industry and relative to the binder twine situation.

The CHAIRMAN. That is the disposition of the committee, I assure

you.

Mr. SPENCER. Now, at the very beginning of this inquiry the committee, I understand, invited those people that were particularly and directly interested, namely, the people that knew something about the business, would be here to speak for both sides. Accordingly we have brought everybody that we thought could give the committee any light so far as our point of view was concerned; and we were very anxious to see that the people representing the harvester company would likewise come here and lay their side before the committee and give us an opportunity of examining them in reference to some of the charges which have been made against us. Now, on the very first day that this committee sat we asked that Mr. McCormick and Mr. Daniels and Mr. Legge and Mr. Perkins, of the harvester company, be requested to appear here; and Mr. Fisher, who I understand represents the harvester company, stated that the harvester company had every desire to give this committee full information and every fact in its possession. Now, it came to our knowledge that the people connected with the harvester company who knew more about this situation than anybody else have all left the country. Mr. M. J. Smith, who is the representative of Montes & Co., in New York, and the man who knows all about the things we have been talking about here, set sail, or left New York City on February 11, the day after notices went out for this hearing. And although we have made diligent inquiries at his office to find out

where he is and where he could be reached by telegram or otherwise, his office refuses to give any information whatever as to his whereabouts.

Mr. Montes, the man who we charge was the representative of the harvester company in Yucatan, set sail for Cuba with his family on the 14th of February, the following Monday.

Mr. MAYER. From New York.

Mr. SPENCER. From New York. And on last Saturday, while our friend Mr. Fisher was assuring us that all the information necessary would be presented to the committee, Mr. Daniels was sailing out of New York Harbor with his family for Porto Rico. I think the committee ought to be advised of this. I do not know that Mr. Fisher knew anything about it, probably he did not, but I think this should be brought to the attention of the committee in order that the harvester company may bring these people here, as they undoubtedly could by request. We would like to have them. We think it is necessary to a full and complete understanding of this situation that those three men above all others should appear before this committee.

The CHAIRMAN. You refer to Mr. Montes, Mr. Daniels, and Mr. Smith?

Mr. SPENCER. Mr. Daniels is the head of the fiber department of the International Harvester Co. He knew that he was wanted here, and he made free to say that he was not coming without a subpœna and that they did not have time to subpoena him between that hour

The CHAIRMAN. Do you know that he said that?

if

Mr. SPENCER. Yes, sir. He did not say that to me, because I was not there, but he said it to a perfectly responsible party who, necessary, will be willing to come here and testify to the fact.

Mr. FISHER. Mr. Chairman, we have become rather accustomed in the course of this brief hearing to a play of this kind being made at each session.

Mr. SPENCER. I am not making a play. I am simply reciting these facts so the committee can take action to get these men here. Mr. FISHER. It so happens, it is exceedingly fortunate, the chairman is fully aware of Mr. Daniels's movements, because before Mr. Daniels sailed for Porto Rico, while he was in New York, about the day before, I took the precaution to tell the chairman that he was planning to be gone and that he would be gone about three weeks, and asking the chairman whether he thought it would be proper for him to go or whether he would prefer to have him remain; and upon the suggestion of the chairman of the subcommittee I instructed Mr. Daniels he could go.

Mr. SPENCER. Is he coming back?

Mr. FISHER. Certainly, he is coming back. And he is at the end of a cable and can be brought back any time it is necessary. And he has gone only because Senator Ransdell told me that, in his judgment, it would be entirely proper for him to go.

The CHAIRMAN. The chair would like to state in that connection that Mr. Fisher did speak to him about Mr. Daniels and asked whether or not I thought the hearings would conclude before he could return. and if it was absolutely essential to keep him here, stating that he had made arrangements some time ago, as I understood you to say,

to sail with his family. It would be very unfortunate for him to be cut out of the trip. I said in reply that in my judgment we could hardly conclude the hearings before he would return, and if we did. and if it was essential to have him we would adjourn over until he could return. I told you that, Mr. Fisher.

Mr. FISHER. Right. So much for Mr. Daniels, as to whom this unknown gentleman is going to testify about the subpoena and all that sort of thing. We get a lot of hearsay statements by counsel. Now, as to Mr. Montes, we have no control over Mr. Montes, and the information with regard to his movements and those of Mr. Smith, which Mr. Spencer has just given us, is the first information on that subject that I have had. I do not know how often it is going to be necessary to assure the gentlemen on the other side that we do not control Mr. Montes's movements; that he has acted simply as a broker in this matter, and that according to the testimony of Dr. Rendon himself Mr. Montes bought large quantities which were not sold to the International Harvester Co., but were sold by Mr. Montes on his own account as an independent broker. That is the record in this case. As to the movements of Mr. Montes, let me say once and for all that I do not control them. I do not seek to do so.

There have been numerous suggestions made with regard to persons who might throw light upon this inquiry. The inquiry, as I understand and the chairman has said already, is proceeding somewhat informally, and no subpoenas have been issued or have been considered. What happened, as I understand it, is this: Mr. Wexler having requested an opportunity to discuss before a committee of Congress these matters which he thinks are unjust criticisms of him, this resolution is offered, and the opportunity was afforded Mr. Wexler and his associates to tell their story. The International Harvester Co. was merely notified by the chairman of the subcommittee that the hearing would occur. The chairman can in this case also give us, if he thinks it is at all enlightening, the precise telegram he sent. The International Harvester Co. replied that they had not received a copy of the resolution, but would be very glad to do so, and that any information in their power was at the service of this committee. I have made that statement some several times before the committee and I make it again.

The perfect futility and silliness of asking the high officials of the International Harvester Co. to come down to Washington and sit around while we go through testimony which, as has already been stated, is going to occupy the rest of this week and probably all of next week in the mere introduction-the testimony which Dr. Rendon and Mr. Wexler and their associates desired to offer-ought to be apparent even to counsel on the other side. It is apparent to me, and I stand upon it that it would be perfectly silly to ask the high officials of this company to come down to Washington and sit around here waiting for the time when they may be reached. Whenever it occurs that in the opinion of this committee or in the opinion of anyone it is desirable to have them here, or all of them, or any of them, they will be here.

The CHAIRMAN. Gentlemen, we had better pro eed.

Mr. SPENCER. I am glad to hear that they will be here.

Mr. I ISHER. You have heard it now several times. I do not know how many times you want it.

The CHAIRMAN. I am going to ask counsel to push this along as rapidly as possible. We desire to give to this matter all the time that is necessary, but you know we have a great many matters to attend to.

Senator GRONNA. I want to say, as one member of the committee, that I, of course, expect these men you refer to, Mr. Fisher, will be here.

Mr. I ISHER. Absolutely, Senator.

Senator GRONNA. For one, I wish them to be here.

The CHAIRMAN. And I think they ought to be here. I understand from Mr. Fisher they will be here when called.

Mr. SPENCER. This information came to us that these people at or about the time this hearing began were leaving the country. I do not charge that they were running away or anything of that kind, but it is a singular coincidence.

The CHAIRMAN. Let us proceed. I must ask that you proceed, gentlemen. Go ahead with your cross-examination, Mr. Fisher.

STATEMENT OF MR. SOL WEXLER-Resumed.

Mr. FISHER. Mr. Wexler, have you ever been in Yucatan?
Mr. WEXLER. Never.

Mr. FISHER. So the information with regard to conditions there which you have detailed to the committee is based entirely on hearsay statements of persons who have talked to you about it?

Mr. WEXLER. And persons whom we sent down there for the purpose of obtaining the information and who brought it back.

Mr. FISHER. Who were they?

Mr. WEXLER. Mr. Charles Lee Browne, who formerly lived in Merida, and who, was at one time connected with the United Railways of Yucatan.

Mr. FISHER. Is he the only one?

Mr. WEXLER. The only one we sent down.

Mr. FISHER. I did not get this quite clearly the other day. Was he connected with the Reguladora Comision?

Mr. WEXLER. Not at all, so far as we know.

Mr. FISHER. Now, take the statements you have made with regard to obstacles thrown in the way of financing in this country. Have you any personal knowledge of your own, directly, and not derived from hearsay, upon that subject?

Mr. WEXLER. Those obstacles which were put in the way of borrowings on the part of the Comision Reguladora prior to the taking up of negotiations with us-that is information which came to me from Dr. Rendon.

Mr. FISHER. And from that source only?

Mr. WEXLER. And from that source only. The information I gave with regard to obstacles placed in the way of the Pan American Commission Corporation is information that came to me from these gentlemen connected with the institutions and banks themselves, the heads of them, the presidents and officers of those institutions with whom Mr. Perkins and Mr. McCormick had the conversations. It is very natural I would not be present at those conversations when those efforts were made.

Mr. FISHER. I am just getting at the source of your information.

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