No. 402.
Mr. Foster to Mr. Fish.

No. 207.]

Sir: The Mexican Congress, at the last session, submitted to the States of the Republic a series of amendments to the federal constitution creating a senate. These amendments having been ratified by the legislatures of a large majority of the States, they were, by instructions of the Congress, proclaimed by the President as a part of the federal constitution, and were on yesterday publicly acknowledged in this capital by the military and civil authorities, with the customary ceremonies. The first senate will assemble November 16, 1875.

I transmit herewith a copy of these amendments; also a translation thereof.

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 207.—Translation.]

Amendments to the Mexican constitution establishing a senate.

[From the “Diario Oficial,” November 15, 1874.]

Sehastian Lerdo de Tejada, Constitutional President of the United Mexican States, to all their inhabitants, greeting:

Know ye that the Congress of the union has decreed the following:

The Congress of the union, in the exercise of the faculty which the 127th article of the federal constitution grants to it, declares that the amendments which are hereafter expressed are approved by a majority of the legislatures of the States, and are a part of the said constitution. These amendments shall take effect on the 16th of September of the year 1875.

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Title III.

Section first.—Of the legislative power.

Article 51. The legislative power of the nation is vested in a general Congress which shall consist of two chambers—one of the deputies, the other of the senators.

Paragraph I.—Of the election and installation of Congress.

Article 52. The chamber of deputies shall be composed of representatives of the nation, elected, in their totality, every two years by the Mexican citizens.

Article 57. The duties of deputy and senator are incompatible with any commission or employment whatever of the union for which a salary is received.

Article 58. The deputies and senators proper, from the day of their election up to the day in which their trust is concluded, cannot accept any commission or employment by appointment of the federal executive, for which salary is received, without the previous license of their respective chamber. The same requisite is necessary for deputy and senator substitutes, when in the exercise of their functions.

The senate shall be composed of two senators for each State, and two for the federal district. The election of senators shall be indirect in the first grade. The legislature of each State shall declare elected whoever shall have obtained an absolute majority of the votes cast, or it shall elect from those who shall have obtained a relative majority in the manner which the electoral law prescribes. For each senator proper there shall be elected a substitute.
One-half of the senate shall be renewed every two years. The senators appointed in the second class shall vacate their seats at the end of two years, and in the succeeding two years, the earliest elected.
The same qualification shall be required for a senator as for a deputy, excepting that of age, which shall be thirty years, completed on the day of the opening of the sessions.

Article 59. The deputies and senators are inviolable for their opinions expressed in the discharge of their trust, and shall never be called to account for them.

Article 60. Each chamber shall decide with regard to the election of its members, and determine the doubts that may occur regarding them.

Article 61. The chambers can neither open their sessions nor exercise their duties without the presence, on the part of the senators, of two-thirds, and on the part of the deputies of one-half of the total number of their members; but those present of either body can assemble on the day fixed by law, and compel the attendance, under the penalties which the same law prescribes, of the absent members.

Article 62. Congress shall hold each year two ordinary sessions: The first, which can he prolonged for thirty working-days, shall commence on the 16th of September, and terminate on the 15th of December; and the second, which can be prolonged for fifteen working-days, shall commence on the 1st of April and terminate on the last day of May.

Article 64. Every resolution of Congress shall have the character of a law or decree. Laws and decrees shall be communicated to the executive, signed by the presidents of both chambers and by a secretary of each one of them, and shall be promulgated in this form: “The Congress of the United Mexican States decrees.” (Text of the law or decree.)

Paragraph II.—Of the introduction and passage of laws.

Article 65. The right of initiating laws or decrees belongs—

To the President of the union.
To the deputies and senators of the general Congress.
To the legislatures of the States.

Article 66. The initiatories presented by the President of the republic, by the legislatures of the States, or by deputations from the same, shall pass immediately to a committee. Those which the deputies or senators may present shall be subject to the action which the rules of debate prescribe.

Article 67. Every project of law or decree which shall be rejected by the chamber in which it originated, before passing to a revision, cannot be presented again in the sessions of the year.

Article 69. The day before the last of the first period of sessions, the executive shall present to the chamber of deputies the estimates of the coming year and the accounts of the last year. Both shall pass to a committee of five representatives appointed on the same day, to whom shall belong the duty of examining said documents, and presenting a report on them at the second session of the second term.

Article 70. The enactment of laws and decrees can commence indiscriminately in “either house, with the excerption of projects which relate to loans, taxes, or imposts, [Page 838] or the recruiting of the troops, all which must he discussed first in the chamber of deputies.

Article 71. Every project of law or of decree, whose resolution may not belong exclusively to one of the two chambers, shall he discussed successively in both, the rules of debate being observed in the form, intervals, and mode of proceeding in the discussions and votes.

A project having been approved in the chamber in which it originated shall pass for discussion to the other chamber. If this chamber shall approve it, it shall be remitted to the executive, who, if he shall have no observations to make, shall publish it immediately.
Every project not returned with observations to the chamber of its origin within ten working-days shall be regarded as approved by the executive power, unless, during this period, Congress shall have closed or suspended its sessions; in which case, the return must be made on the first working-day after it shall have re-assembled.
The project of law or decree rejected in whole or in part by the executive must be returned with his observations to the chamber of its origin. It must by it be discussed de novo, and if it be confirmed by an absolute majority of votes, it shall pass again to the revising chamber. If by it it be sanctioned by the same majority, the project is a law or decree, and shall return to the executive for his promulgation. The votings upon a law or decree shall be viva voce.
If any project of law or decree be rejected in toto by the chamber of revision, it shall return to the one of its origin with the observations which the former may have made upon it. If, being examined de novo, it be approved by an absolute majority of the members present, it shall return to the chamber which rejected it, which shall take again into consideration, and if it be approved by the same majority, it shall pass to the executive, to be acted on according to the provisions of Part A. But if it be rejected, it cannot be presented again until the following sessions.
If a project of law or decree be rejected only in part, or modified or amended by the revising chamber, the new discussion in the chamber of its origin shall relate solely to the part rejected, or to the amendments or the additions, without being able to alter in any manner the approved articles. If “the additions or amendments made by the revising chamber be approved by an absolute majority of the votes present in the chamber of its origin, the entire project shall pass to the executive for action according to the pro visions of Part A. But if the additions or amendments made by the revising chamber be rejected by a majority of votes in the chamber of its origin, they shall return to the former, in order that it may take into consideration the reasons of the latter, and if by an absolute majority of the votes present said additions and amendments be rejected in this second revision, the project in that part which may have been approved by both chambers shall pass to the executive for action, according to the provisions of Part A.
But if the revising chamber, by an absolute majority of the votes present, insists upon said additions or amendments, the entire project cannot again be presented until the following sessions, unless both chambers resolve, by an absolute majority of its members present, that the law or decree be issued only with articles approved, and that those added or amended be reserved for examination and vote in the following sessions.
In the interpretation, amendment, or repeal of laws or decrees, the same rules shall be observed that are established for their enactment.
Both chambers shall sit in the same place, and they cannot be removed to another without they before agree in the removal and in the time and manner of effecting it, designating the same point for the re-assembling of both. But if the two agreeing in the removal differ as regards the time or place, the executive shall settle the dispute by selecting one of the points in question. Neither chamber shall suspend its sessions for more than three days without the consent of the other.
When the general congress shall be assembled in extraordinary sessions, it shall be occupied exclusively with the object or objects designated in the call; and if these shall not have been completed by the day in which the ordinary sessions should be opened, the former shall close nevertheless, reserving the pending points to be acted upon in ordinary sessions. The executive of the union cannot make observations upon the resolutions of Congress when it prolongs its sessions or exercises the functions of an electoral or judicial body.

Paragraph III.—Of the faculties of the general Congress.

Article 72. Congress has the power—

III. To form new States within the limits of those existing, it being necessary for this purpose—

  • First. That the fraction or fractions which ask to be erected into a State have a population of at least one hundred and twenty thousand inhabitants.
  • Second. That it be established before Congress that they have the elements sufficient to maintain their political existence.
  • Third. That the legislature of the States whose territory is in question may be heard, upon the propriety or impropriety of the erection of a new State; they being obliged to make their report within six months, counted from the day on which is remitted, to them the relative communication.
  • Fourth. That likewise the executive of the federation be heard, who shall send his opinion within seven days, counted from the date on which it may have been asked.
  • Fifth. That the election of the new State may be voted by two-thirds of the deputies and senators present in their respective chambers.
  • Sixth. That the resolution of Congress be ratified by the majority of the legislatures of the States, upon examination of the copy of the record; Provided always, That the legislatures of the States whose territory is in question may have given their consent.
  • Seventh. If the legislatures of the States whose territory is in question shall not have given their consent, the ratification of which the above part speaks must be made by two-thirds of the legislatures of the other States.
    The exclusive faculties of the chamber of deputies, are—
    To constitute itself an electoral college in order to exercise the powers which the law may designate respecting the appointment of the constitutional President of the republic, magistrates of the supreme court, and senators of the federal district.
    To examine and decide upon the resignations which the President of the republic and the magistrates of the supreme court of justice may make. The same power belongs to it in treating of the leaves of absence requested by the President.
    To supervise, by means of an inspecting: committee of its own body, the exact discharge of the functions of the chief auditor’s office.
    To appoint the chiefs and other employés of the same.
    To constitute itself a jury of impeachment for the high functionaries of which the article 103 of the constitution treats.
    To examine the account which the executive should annually present to it; to approve the annual estimate of expenses; to initiate the taxes which, in its judgment, ought to be decreed in order to cover the same.
    The exclusive powers of the senate are—
    To ratify the treaties and diplomatic conventions which the executive may make with foreign powers.
    To ratify the appointments which the President of the republic may make, of ministers, diplomatic agents, consuls-general, chief clerks of the treasury, colonels, and other chief officers of the army and national navy, according to the terms which the law may designate.
    To authorize the executive to permit the passage of the national troops beyond the limits of the republic, the passage of foreign troops through the national territory, and the station of squadrons of other powers for more than one month in the waters of the republic.
    To give its consent in order that the executive may make disposition of the national guard, out of their respective states and territories, determining the force necessary.
    To declare when the constitutional, legislative, and executive powers of a State may have disappeared, that the exigency of appointing for it a provisional governor has arrived, who shall call for elections, conformably to the constitutional laws of the same state. The appointment of a governor shall be made by the federal executive, with the approbation of the senate, and, in its recesses, with that of the permanent committee. Said functionary cannot be elected constitutional governor in the elections which may take place in virtue of the call which he may have issued.
    To determine the political questions which may arise between the powers of a State, when any of them may apply with this end to the senate, or when, by reasons of said questions, the constitutional order may be interrupted, a conflict of arms intervening. In this case the senate shall dictate its resolution, being subject to the general constitution of the republic and to that of the state.
    The law shall regulate the exercise of this faculty and that of the former.
    To constitute itself a jury of sentence conformably to article 105 of the constitution.
    Each one of the two chambers has the power without the intervention of the other—
    To dictate economic resolutions relative to its interior management.
    To communicate between each other and with the executive of the union by means of committees of its own body.
    To appoint its secretaries, and to establish the internal regulations of the same.
    To issue the calls for extraordinary elections for the purpose of filling the vacancies of their respective members.

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Paragraph IV.—Of the permanent deputation.

Article 73. During the recesses of Congress, there shall he a permanent committee composed of twenty-nine members, of whom fifteen shall be deputies and fourteen senators, appointed by their respective chambers, the evening before the closing of the sessions.

Article 74. The powers of the permanent committee are—

II. To determine by itself, or at the proposal of the executive, consulting him in the first case, the convocation of Congress, or of one chamber only, in extraordinary sessions, the vote of two-thirds of the individuals present being necessary in both cases. The call shall designate the object or objects of the extraordinary sessions.

Article 103 of the constitution shall remain in these terms:

“The senators, the deputies, the individuals of the supreme court of justice, and the secretaries of state are responsible for the ordinary offenses which they may commit during the term of their office, and for the crimes, faults, and omissions of which they may be guilty in the exercise of this same trust.” The governors of the states are likewise responsible for infractions of the constitution and the federal laws. So also is the President of the republic; but during, the term of his office he can only be accused for the crimes of treason against the country, express violation of the constitution, attack upon the electoral franchise, and grave crimes of the common order.”

There shall be added to the former article—103—of the constitution the following: “The high functionaries of the federation have no claim to constitutional right for the official crimes, faults, or omissions of which they may be guilty in the discharge of an employment, office, or public commission which they may have accepted during the period in which, conformably to the law, that right may be enjoyed. The same shall happen with respect to the common crimes which they may commit during the discharge of said employment, office, or commission. In order that the cause can be initiated when the high functionary may have returned to the exercise of his own functions, the procedure must be in accordance with the provisions in article 104 of the constitution.”

The articles 104 and 105 of the constitution shall remain in these terms:

“104. If the crime be ordinary, the chamber of representatives, sitting as a grand jury, shall declare, by an absolute majority of votes, if there be cause of proceeding against the accused or not. In the negative case no further proceedings shall take place. In the affirmative, the accused is, by virtue of this, deprived of his office and subjected to the action of the ordinary tribunals.

“105. Of official offenses the chamber of deputies, as jury of impeachment, and that of senators, as jury of sentence, shall take cognizance.”

The jury of impeachment shall have for its object to declare, by an absolute majority of votes, if the accused is or is not culpable. If the declaration be one of acquittal, the functionary shall continue in the exercise of his trust. If it be condemnatory, he shall be immediately deprived of said trust and shall be placed at the disposal of the chamber of senators. This, sitting as a jury of sentence in the presence of the offender and of the accuser, if such there should be, shall proceed to apply, by an absolute majority of votes, the punishment which the law designates.

temporary article.

This declaration shall be promulgated by a national proclamation.

Palace of the Legislative Power,
Mexico, November 6, 1874.

(Here follow the signatures of the deputies of the Congress of the union.)

Therefore I order, that it be printed, published, circulated, and that due compliance with it be observed.