General Sickles to Mr. Fish.
Madrid, January 6, 1874. (Received February 16.)
Sir: I have the honor to forward herewith a copy and translation of a decree dated 30th December ultimo, appointing anew commission to consider and report the modifications necessary to adapt the penal laws of Spain, and its code of procedure in criminal cases, to the colonies.
You will observe the statement in the preamble, that a similar commission was created in 1869, and continued until 1872, when it was dissolved without having made a report. On November 28, 1872, another commission was named, which in turn is now broken up without having done anything. The present board was practically disbanded four days after it was appointed, since the government by which it was created fell on the third of January.
In my No. 472, I reported the debate in the Cortes which resulted in the appointment of the second commission in November, 1872. A promise was then made by Mr. Martos, on behalf of the government, that the serious grievances shown to result from the existing legislation should be at once removed, and three months was accepted as a sufficient time for the labors of the commission.
Another illustration is here afforded of the unwillingness of Spain to do anything toward the amelioration of the condition of the colonies, Since the revolution of 1868, the governments of Prim, Serrano, Sagasta, Zorilla, Figueras, and Castelar, have all promised to reform the administration in Cuba; and yet it is, perhaps, not too much to affirm that the situation of the island to-day is worse than ever.
I am, &c.,