No. 459.
Mr. Lowell to Mr. Evarts.

No. 81.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose copy and translation of an incident in yesterday’s session of the Còrtes, which I think may interest you. The interpellation of General Salamanca may either indicate that there is some doubt in the mind of the party to which he belongs as to the complete pacification of Cuba, or that he thought it a good topic about which to ask a question that might be embarrassing to the ministry. The answer of Señor Canovas admits, as you will see, that armed resistance still exists, and seems to imply even more than it admits. But I am not sure that it would be safe to draw any inference from this, as Señor Canovas has, from the first, shown great discretion and reserve with regard to the recent events and Cuba. He has shown no elation, and has prudently forearmed himself and others against the reaction of disappointment which follows exaggeration.

[Inclosure in No. 81.—Translation.]

Interpellation in the Còrtes.

Señor Salamanca y Negrete: About a year ago I asked for various documents referring to the war in Cuba, which have not been laid before us, nor have I insisted upon their presentation because the war was then obstinate, and because I was told that their presentation might lead to some difficulties.

The war, it is said, is over, and accordingly there is no objection to the furnishing of those documents; for I think that we may now be made acquainted with the capitulation, convention, or whatever it may have been, and of the results obtained, and also a report of the chiefs and armed men who have submitted.

Time enough having now passed, peace being a fact, as it is said, and there being therefore no objection to the discussion of the business, I ask the government to lay [Page 785] these documents before the chamber, for I think it an undignified position for Congress not to know by this time what to expect in this matter, for the understanding of which, should the government persist in its silence, I shall make a motion in order to bring on a debate.

President of Council (Canovas del Castillo): The government has brought to this chamber and made known to the country the dispatches on the state of the war which have been sent by the governor-general of that province, and by the general in chief of the army of operations. Congress then knows officially, and the country knows all it can know up to the present time on this point. The government has not yet made any announcement to Congress of a general character, and accordingly it has not announced that the war in Cuba was entirely over.

If General Salamanca will consult the reports he will see that the government has made no such announcement nor anything like it.

The government began by bringing hither the dispatch about the capitulation sent by the general-in-chief of the army of operations; then it read the dispatches in which he announced the forces which, and the leaders who, in fulfillment of the capitulation, had laid down their arms and submitted to the government.

After this, and in consequence of a question of General Salamanca, I had the honor to inform Congress that the suspicions manifested in his first dispatch by the general-in-chief in giving notice that the capitulation was being complied with, had been confirmed, since a colored leader at the head of some forces, wholly or almost wholly composed also of colored people, persisted in rebellion. So I stated in this place about a fortnight ago, and this is the condition in which things still continue.

The leader, Maceo, at the head of his faction, principally composed of people of color, persists in rebellion.

So long as resistance still continues, even though, in the opinion of the distinguished leaders who command the armies of the King in the Island of Cuba, that resistance is insignificant, and will soon disappear; so long as it exists, insignificant and ephemeral though it be, the government cannot consider the war wholly at an end, and cannot consider itself In a position to give an account here of its result, nor to take initiative in a discussion of this nature. Consequently the government will not present, following in this the parliamentary precedents not only of Spain, but of all countries which are governed by the representative system, will not present, I say, any other documents than those which, in its opinion, cannot prejudice the cause of Spain in the Island of Cuba.

Señor Salamanca y Negrete. After what the president of the council of ministers has said, I cannot now enter upon that discussion, nor do I propose to do it; but-1 shall call it up at the proper time, taking all the responsibility which the honorable gentleman wishes to lay upon me, and which I accept with pleasure.

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Señor Canovas del Castillo. As respects the first and principal part of this incidental debate, I must begin by saying to Señor Salamanca that I do nothing new and nothing personal in wishing that gentleman to take upon himself the responsibility of a debate which the government deems inopportune. * * * For the rest, the government, in fact, knows concerning the internal Condition of the island of Cuba, concerning the preliminaries of capitulation, and concerning other points, more than it has hitherto had occasion to lay before the members of this chamber. But this is not what I said before; I did not say that the government had not more information on this than it had communicated to Congress, for, if that were the case, I should not have had occasion to suggest what I have suggested in respect of this discussion. I said only that, with regard to the external actual state of the war, Congress knows as much as the government, because, in this particular, there is no room for any kind of secrecy. Concerning what preceded the capitulation, concerning the capitulation itself, concerning what the government expects after the capitulation, concerning what it believes will result from the capitulation, concerning the possible length of the war, concerning the reasons the government has for hoping what it may hope and for fearing what it may fear, the government has its own knowledge and thinks it inopportune, at present, to enter into discussion. But concerning the fact of the forces which have submitted, concerning what remains to be done in the way of pacification, the government has no kind of secret. It is a question of fact, and concerning this fact, public, tangible, known to everybody, even the very inhabitants of Cuba, the government has had and will have no objection to telling this chamber what it knows, and has told what it knows; that is, that a vast majority of those in insurrection having laid down their arms, that what filled the place of a government, what had a distinct organization, what had a certain character of power opposed to power, having disappeared, there remains only a faction composed of men of color, under the orders of a colored leader, which, as the general-in-chief said in his first dispatch and I repeated a fortnight ago, continues in arms and maintains the insurrection, though reduced to its natural limits.

[Page 786]

This is a question which loses nothing—absolutely nothing—by being deferred, because the capitulation once offered by the general-in-chief of the Spanish army to the rebels, the conduct of the general-in-chief once accepted and approved by the government, there remains and can remain only a question of responsibility.

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