No. 362.
General Sickles to Mr. Fish.

No. 506.]

Sir: I have the honor to forward herewith a report, taken from the official Gazette, of a debate between the minister of the colonies and Mr. Martinez Villergas, a republican deputy, on a proposition to order prosecutions against certain high functionaries in the colonies for misdemeanors in office. The remarks of Mr. Gasset are in part translated in Appendix B.

It is gratifying to see the minister recognizing the necessity of a redress of grievances in Cuba as being quite as essential as force in effecting the pacification of the island. You will also observe the significant doubt expressed in relation to the real parties sustaining the war in Cuba, and their motive.

[Page 833]

The flagrant misconduct of the Spanish officials in the island is unhesitatingly confessed.

I am, &c.,

[Appendix B.—Translation.]

Extract from the reply of the colonial secretary to Mr. Martinez Villergas. Chamber of Deputies, December 12, 1872.

The Minister of the Colonies, (Mr. Gasset y Artime): * *

There is at the bottom of Mr. Villergas’s proposition (and in this I find an additional reason to deplore its inopportuneness) some trace of a spirit in opposition to the views I believed were held by him as a republican, in common with all republicans, concerning the colonial question. Is it possible, Mr. Villergas, for the transmarine provinces to remain in the same situation as before the revolution of September? Is Mr. Villergas a partisan of the statu quo? Is he a defender of certain interests? Does he imagine that the best way to defend them is to sustain the statu quo at all hazards? As Mr. Villergas has skimmed over these points with great prudence, it is but fair for me to show the same prudence, and not go beyond him on this ground.

Mr. Villergas has said that measures to re-establish, restore, and give honest government to Cuba never come. It is an arduous, a difficult enterprise; but I demand of Mr. Villergas’s sense of justice, of his upright spirit, of his sincerity, as revealed in his words to-day, that he tell me what any government here has done what has been done to this end by the government of which I am a member? I beg that Mr. Villergas, who has a thorough knowledge of events in Cuba, will tell me when he has ever seen greater energy shown by its authorities, or greater decision on the part of the government in helping them on their road. When has he seen eighteen officials brought to trial in a single month, or when has he seen the customs revenues of Havana increased by two millions in October and five and a half in November? Is this nothing to Mr. Villergas? Does Mr. Villergas know what takes place in the island of Cuba? Does he not know what the government is accomplishing, in spite of the difficulties it meets,” in the way of restoring honesty in that corrupt administration! Ah! if I was in Mr. Villergas’s place, if I were not bound to silence by the position I occupy, how much I could say on this point!

Mr. Villergas has gone some distance in a path where I cannot follow him, for although the colonial minister is a sort of universal minister, I have the good fortune not to be the minister of war; but as the colonial minister I have my opinion, and that is, that the war in Cuba is to be combated, rather than with soldiers, or at the same time as with soldiers, by political means, for in the present state of affairs measures of policy will be more efficacious toward success than soldiers. It is, gentlemen, very problematical by whom, and why, the war in Cuba is kept up as it is; and I, who have studied the matter a little, as in duty bound, have not yet been able to solve this problem.

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