to Mr. Fish.
Madrid , March 9, 1874. (Received April 2.)
Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith for your perusal an interesting letter from the Porto Rican correspondent of “LaEpoca,” published [Page 877] in that journal last evening. It is valuable as representing the views held by the reactionists in the lesser Antilla, and the satisfaction the partisans of the old régime find in the prompt removal of General Primo de Rivera from command by Marshal Serrano’s government and the investment of General Sanz with the powers he held two years ago. The wise and patriotic administration of General Primo de Rivera is denounced as an epoch of sheer communism, to be condemned by all order-loving Spaniards. The reforms inaugurated in the last months of Amadeo’s reign are deplored as unmixed calamities; joy is expressed that the baleful influence of the “filibusters” is brought to an end, and confidence is felt in the happy results of the energetic measures adopted by the newly-replaced captain-general. That they were most energetic hardly admits of doubt. The liberal press was promptly suspended as a preliminary. Within a week General Sanz, by virtue of the extraordinary powers conferred upon him by the government of the 3d of January, suspended all the constitutional guarantees; dissolved the provincial legislature and appointed another in its place, under the presidency of the Marquis de la Esperanza, the old leader of the pro-slavery party in the island; replaced all the existing town-councils by others appointed by himself, and removed the three protectors of the freedmen appointed under the late emancipation act, filling their places by honorary appointments in the interest of the partisans of reaction. The powers given to General Sanz are understood to be discretionary to the full, as his introductory decrees show, and it is expected that they will shortly be followed by others equally energetic, tending to restore the old status of Porto Rico. Since the measures adverted to, and those established by General Jovellar in Cuba in the exercise of the absolute authority recently restored to the commander of that island, are clamorously applauded by all the adherents of the actual government of the mother country, they may safely be accepted as the expression of the colonial policy of Marshal Serrano’s administration. I need do no more than allude to the now-famous batch of decrees issued by the captain-general of Cuba early last month, and of which the text was doubtless in your possession before their publication here. These measures were for the most part resolved upon in cabinet council here in January, and responded to the anxiety caused to the new ministry by the increasingly-critical condition of affairs in Cuba, by the alarming activity and boldness of the insurgents, by the near close of the fifth campaign of the rebellion, as yet profitless of any decisive results in favor of Spanish domination, by the impossibility of dispatching reinforcements to make good the numerous annual losses, and by the desperate state of the insular finances. The best results are anticipated from General Jovellar’s action, and much stress is laid on the circumstance that he is no longer subject to fanatical legislative interference in insular matters or the unwise and hampering control of the executive. In short, they have awakened conservative confidence to such an extent that the journals already announce the insurrection as in its last agonies, an announcement which at least lacks the merit of novelty if not of trustworthiness.
I am, &c,