Mr. Sherman to Mr. Dupuy de Lôme.
Washington , July 6, 1897 .
Sir: In the note which I had the honor to address to you on the 26th ultimo, concerning the conduct of the war in Cuba, I referred to General Weyler’s announced policy of the destruction of resources in all places where his orders are not carried into effect, whereby a vicious chain of recurring injury is set up, plantations and estates are deprived of the capacity to earn returns, while the burden of contribution remains unabated, so that the arrears of taxation keep pace with the withhold-ment of the means of paying taxes, and, to complete the circle, withdrawal of protection from the denuded and bankrupt property becomes the necessary result of the condition which the military policy has devised and carried out.
Since that note was written I have received from the consul-general at Havana translation of a communication addressed to General Lee on the 22d ultimo, in reference to the sugar estate “Victoria,” in the Sagua district, from which it appears that protection is withdrawn from that impoverished estate because the stoppage of operations thereon during the last two crops has left it without the means to pay the guard necessary to its protection. This communication affords timely confirmation of all that I said in my note of the 26th ultimo in this regard, and I therefore take the liberty of sending you a copy.
It is proper in this relation to advert to an additional and special feature of hardship which is imposed in the case of the “Victoria” estate by a constructive decision of the Captain-Generalcy of the island. The requirements of the recent bando in regard to the maintenance of protective guards at the cost of the property are in terms applicable only to such estates as may resume the production of sugar, and to that end may require an additional special guard for the surveillance of their mills and the force of temporarily reconcentrated laborers. The “Victoria” estate has not resumed the production of sugar 5 it only appears that certain tenant farmers upon the estate have cut and sold cane to another mill presumably authorized to grind. To apply the bando in question to this “Victoria” estate under the circumstances is obviously unjust. This Government can not admit that the responsibility of Spain for the protection of American property within the sphere of Spanish control is to be measured by any other test than that of actual ability so to protect it. To be able to protect and yet to refuse protection upon a self-formulated pretext can not, in the view of this Government, exempt that of Spain from its just liabilities in the premises should injury to American rights result from the removal of protection. The consul-general will, consequently, be instructed to remonstrate against the withdrawal of military protection from the “Victoria” estate upon the grounds advanced in the letter of the Marquis de Ahumada to General Lee, reserving all rights in the matter.