Mr. Woodford to Mr. Sherman.

No. 81.]

Sir: Herewith I send you duplicate copies of each of the three decrees signed by Her Majesty the Queen Regent on November 25 instant, and which extend the provisions of the Spanish constitution over Cuba, fix the electoral laws of Cuba, and establish the new system of autonomy therein.

The first two were published on November 26 in the Gaceta de Madrid, and the third in same paper on this 27th day of November.

Last evening and before its publication the Spanish minister of foreign affairs sent me copy of the decree establishing the new system of autonomy in Cuba. I have had pleasure in acknowledging to-day very cordially his marked courtesy in this matter.

I have, etc.,

Stewart L. Woodford.

Official—Presidency of the Council of Ministers.

[Gazette of Madrid, Friday, November 26, 1897.]


Madam: At the time when an autonomic constitution is given to the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico, which intrusts to their own initiative the management and government of their local interests, it is of paramount importance to strengthen constitutional unity, as the staunchest basis on which the integrity of our territory rests.

[Page 618]

This aim of all the liberal parties, recognized in principle by the decree of April 2, 1881, has, however, failed of accomplishment in the form to which the people of the Antilles are entitled. They frequently complain of and deplore irritating inequalities which are of themselves sufficient to hamper, if not totally to preclude, the enjoyment of constitutional liberty. Indeed, these liberties, as they are disclosed in the fundamental code, consist of declarations of rights and guarantees that are subsequently sanctioned and developed in a series of organic laws, complements of the constitution, as provided in its fourteenth article, which devolves on special laws “the rules which must secure to the Spaniards reciprocal respect for the rights herein granted, and at the same time determine the civil responsibility and the penalty to which officers of all classes who infringe the rights set forth in Title I must be held liable.

It follows that if, through arbitrary provisions for which no remedy exists, through penalties imposed in the orders of governors-general, or through the omissions of laws of procedure, the citizen may be restrained, molested, or even deported to distant parts of the territory, he finds it impossible to exercise his right to speak, think, and write, or to enjoy freedom of teaching and religious toleration, or to avail himself of the right of meeting and associating.

And yet the whole foundation of modern law rests on the regular and orderly exercise of these rights; therefore, wherever it is limited equality before the law ceases and with it constitutional unity. Then arise these perverted feelings which are carried to the extent of attacking the integrity of the territory. The geographical bond with all its attractions and allurements can not cause that other aspiration to be forgotten, which, while it grows out of the same human instinct, is deeper and more essential.

It is therefore good policy, at all events it is an act of strict justice, to do all that is in the power of the Government, to the end that the constitution be at once extended in its entirety to the territory of the Antilles, that every vestige of inequality may be removed, and that our legislation be thoroughly revised, so that there can be no Spaniard who, through confusion or error, may lack the protection of the law.

This is certainly the intent of article 89 of the constitution. The provision by which it leaves to the discretion of the governments the time and manner in which the laws are to be applied to the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico does more than grant the authority; it imposes on the Government the duty to publish this decree at the very time when it submits to Your Majesty the other measure which is about to give to our brethren in the Antilles—the right to govern themselves. The full value of that measure would not be appreciated if suspicion and distrust, closely followed by arbitrariness, should prevail in the regions of the central power.

Inasmuch as we, in the Peninsula, have come to the belief that all executive functions can be discharged within the constitution of the State and under the laws enacted for its execution; inasmuch as instances of resort to force, against which, however, the law of public order is deemed adequate, are not lacking here, we should show ourselves to be illogical, and, consequently, lose the authority requisite for forceful government, if we did not proclaim, as the foremost and most signficant part of the transformation effected in our colonial régime, that constitutional unity which is the bond that unites all Spaniards, and under which the free local government of those valued territories will restore confidence in the mother country, and thus will unmistakable evidence be given of the sincerity with which she seeks to render her sovereignty beloved.

Resting on the foregoing reasons, the Government has the honor to submit the appended draft of a decree to Your Majesty’s approval.

At the royal feet of Your Majesty.

Praxedes Mateo Sagasta.

Royal Decree.

In accordance with the opinion of my council of ministers and by virtue of the authority conferred on my Government by article 89 of the constitution, in the name of My August Son, King Alfonso XIII, and as Queen Regent of the Kingdom, I hereby decree as follows:

  • Article 1. The Spaniards residing in the Antilles shall enjoy, on equal terms with the residents of the Peninsula, the rights granted in Title I of the constitution of the Monarchy and the guarantees whereby their exercise is secured by the laws of the Kingdom.
  • To this end, and conformably to article 89 of the constitution, the laws by which its provisions are supplemented, and especially that of criminal prosecution, that of compulsory expropriation, that of public instruction, that of the press, and of meeting and association, and the code of military justice, shall go into full effect in the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico, so that article 14 of the constitution may be executed in its entirety.
  • Art. 2. In time of war the law of public order shall be enforced in the Antilles with the limitation and in the manner prescribed in article 17 of the constitution.
  • Art. 3. The ministry of the colonies, after hearing the council of state, shall revise the legislation of the Antilles and the proclamations published by the governors-general since the promulgation of the constitution, and shall thereafter publish the results of such revision, to the end that henceforth there may be neither on the part of the executive, nor on that of the judiciary, any possibility, through error or neglect, either of citing or enforcing provisions that are at variance with the letter or spirit of the constitution of the Spanish Monarchy.

Maria Cristina.

The president of the council of ministers:

Praxedes Mateo Sagasta.


Madam: The complement of the decree that places the Spaniards on an equal footing as regards the use and enjoyment of their constitutional rights and the indispensable preparation for the organization of local government in the Antilles is the enforcement in those territories of the law of electoral suffrage that is in force in the Peninsula.

To effect this the Government might have confined itself to the reproduction, pure and simple, of that law; but the difficulty of so doing will be apparent when it is remembered that in order to give the greatest security to the electoral right the Cortes of the Kingdom, proceeding with forethought and in their desire to avoid impairing, through seemingly unimportant reglementary provisions, rights that have much value in public life, sought to include in the law even the last and most minute regulations that govern its execution.

For this purpose there are in it two kinds of provisions—one that comprises the definition of the right and the guarantee of the casting of the vote, the other that establishes the conditions, so to speak, preparatory to those purposes. Hence the necessity of discriminating between these two parts of the law.

The first undoubtedly possesses a character that yields in importance to constitutional provisions only, and therefore it must, like these, protect itself from the changes and modifications to which legislation is frequently exposed.

It merely behooves the Government to say that since we have considered it good and proper for the Peninsula, it is an obligation that can not be evaded, to extend it and apply it to our colonies.

The same is not the case, however, as regards the mode of procedure.

So far as it possesses that character in the exercise of suffrage, in the taking of the census, in the manner of casting the vote, in the preliminaries of the election, in the organization of the colleges, even in the qualifications of the electors, there are such different points of view, according to the traditions, the geography, and the component parts of a people, that it would be more than illogical, nay, would lead to a result diametrically opposed to that which is had in view, to shape the electorol procedure of the Antilles in the peninsular mold, especially when the creation of self-government and of parliamentary organisms that are to be the expression of the will of the people demand that the regulation of what relates to the exercise and security of the electoral right be intrusted to them.

In view of these weighty considerations, the Government has thought that after separating all that refers to the definition and recognition of the right of suffrage from what might be called the constitution of the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico, in order that, in any case, it may be modified by a law, it ought to intrust all the regulations, which will be many in number and complicated in their development, to the insular parliament, feeling certain that no one possesses to a greater extent the conditions necessary for success in adapting them to the habits and character of the population.

The flexibility thus acquired by the electoral procedure will undoubtedly enable it to identify itself with the conditions of those inhabitants, and to render the exercise [Page 620] of suffrage practical and fruitful, as no one can have more interest in its success than those who are to be governed by it.

On the basis of these considerations, the Government has the honor to submit to the approval of Your Majesty the accompanying draft of a decree.

At Your Majesty’s royal feet.

Praxedes Mateo Sagasta.

Royal Decree.

In accordance with the opinion of my council of ministers, and in virtue of the power conferred upon my Government by article 89 of the constitution of the monarchy, in the name of my august son, King Alfonso XIII, and as Queen Regent of the Kingdom, I decree as follows:

Article I. The electoral law of June 26, 1890, shall be promulgated and observed in the islands of Cuba and Porto Rico, with the modifications that have been introduced in the text that follows this decree, with a view to its adaptation to the conditions of those territories.

Art. II. The regulations and other necessary provisions for the execution of the present decree, which the Government shall before the Cortes, shall be prepared by the ministry of the colonies.

Maria Cristina.

The president of the council of ministers:

Praxedes Mateo Sagasta.

Adaptation of the Electoral Law of June 26, 1890, to the islands of Cuba and Porto Rico.

TITLE I.—General Provisions for Elections.

Chapter I.—Of the right to vote.

Article I. All male Spaniards over 25 years of age that shall be in the full enjoyment of their civil rights, and inhabitants of a municipal district in which they shall have resided at least two years, shall be voters in the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico.

Soldiers and sailors serving in the army or navy shall not be allowed to vote while so serving.

The same suspension is ordered as regards those serving under similar circumstances in other armed bodies depending on the State, province, or municipality.

Art. II. The following persons shall not be voters:

Those who, by an unappealable sentence, have been condemned to perpetual deprivation of political rights and public offices, although they may have been pardoned, unless they have previously obtained personal rehabilitation by means of a law.
Those who, by an unappealable sentence, have been condemned to imprisonment, unless they have obtained rehabilitation at least two years before their enrollment in the census.
Those who, having been condemned to other penalties by an unappealable sentence, shall not furnish evidence that they have served out those penalties.
Bankrupts, not habilitated according to law, and who do not furnish documentary evidence that they have met all their obligations.
Debtors to public funds, as second taxpayers.
Those who are inmates of charitable institutions, or who are administratively authorized, at their request, to ask for public charity.

Chapter II.—Of the electoral census.

Art. 3. In order to exercise the right of suffrage, it is necessary that the person be inscribed in the electoral census; that is to say, the register containing the names and the paternal and maternal surnames, where they exist, of the Spanish citizens who have a right to vote.

The census is permanent, and shall be amended only by the annual revision.

[Page 621]

Art. 4. The taking, revision, custody, and inspection of the census shall be under the charge, in accordance with their respective powers, of the central board established by the law of June 26, 1890, concerning provincial boards and of municipal boards, which shall be styled the electoral census boards.

The provincial boards shall sit in the capitals of each province, and the municipal boards shall sit in each municipality. They shall all be of a permanent character.

The provincial boards shall be presided over by the judges of the superior court (audencia) of such province as may be designated by the president of the superior district court to which that audencia belongs; and the municipal boards (shall be presided over) by the judges of first instance, or, in their absence, by public officers selected for that purpose by the president of the superior court of the province.

The number of the members of the provincial boards shall be fifteen, and the presence of nine members shall be requisite for deliberation or for taking action.

The following persons shall be members of the provincial boards:

The president and the vice-president of the deputation concerned.
The senior ex-president of the same deputation residing in the province.
Four taxpayers chosen by lot from among those paying the first assessment of the land tax, who are residents of the province.
Four taxpayers chosen by lot from among those paying the first assessment of the industrial tax, who are residents of the province.
Four residents of the province, furnishing proof by means of official documents, of their professional and academic character.

The substitutes for the taxpayers shall be eight persons residing in the province and paying the largest assessments of the land tax, and eight persons residing in the province and paying the largest assessments of the industrial tax, and the substitutes of the residents having official titles shall be persons possessing the same qualifications as are required of them. They shall all be chosen by lot.

The choice by lot of the taxpayers, professional men, and their substitutes shall be made publicly before the superior court of each province by the presiding judge of that court.

The following persons shall be members of the municepal boards:

The alcalde (mayor) and the syndic of the city council.
The municipal judge and the municipal attorney.
Ex-alcades residing in the principal district.
Four of the chief payers of the land tax, and four of the chief payers of the industrial tax, residing in the municipal district.
Four residents of the municipal district, furnishing proof, by means of official documents, of their professional and academic character.

The taxpayers and professional men shall be chosen by lot by the president of the municipal board, at a public meeting, before the city council, in the manner prescribed for the provincial boards.

The substitutes shall be chosen at the same time and in the same manner.

The municipal boards shall not deliberate nor take any action unless at least twelve members are present.

The clerks of the superior courts shall be the secretaries of the provincial boards, and the clerks of the courts of first instance, or, in their absence, the clerks of the municipal courts, shall be the secretaries of the municipal boards.

The secretaries shall have neither a voice nor a vote, and shall be assisted by the employees of the respective secretariats.

The respective presidents shall convene the members and such substitutes as they may deem necessary for all the sessions the boards may hold. If, in spite of this, a sufficient number are not present, the session shall be held on the following day, after the substitutes residing in the capital have been summoned, in addition to the members present.

Chapter III.—Of voting.

Art. 5. In every electoral precinct there shall be a board charged with the supervision of the voting, consisting of a president and the supervisors (interventores) appointed by the census board and by the candidates who have a right to nominate them, and who make use of that right.

This census board shall be the provincial board in the case of elections of deputies to the Cortes and of representatives or provincial deputies to the Cortes, and of representatives, and the municipal board when an election of councilmen (concejales) is to be held.

Art. 6. In every summons for a general or partial election a single day shall be designated for the voting, which day shall always be Sunday.

[Page 622]

The voting shall take place simultaneously in all the precincts on the day fixed, beginning punctually at 8 o’clock in the morning and continuing uninterruptedly until 4 o’clock in the afternoon, when it shall be declared finally closed, and the counting of the votes shall begin.

Art. 7. The voting shall be secret, by ballot, and shall be conducted in the manner prescribed by the regulations.

Art. 8. There shall in no case be an armed force at the door of the electoral college, nor shall any such force enter it, except in the case of disturbance of the public peace and upon the requisition of the President.

TITLE II.—Special Provisions for the Elections.

Chapter I.—Of the election of senators.

Art. 9. Spaniards possessing the qualifications required by article 22 of the constitution of the monarchy are eligible to the office of senator, provided they are not included in any of the cases of disability or incompatibility fixed by law.

Art. 10. Elections of senators shall be held in accordance with the provisions of the laws of February 8, 1877, and of January —, 1879.

The senators, after they have been admitted by the senate, represent the nation individually and collectively.

Chapter II.—Of the election of deputies to the Cortes.

Art. 11. All male Spaniards of the secular order, not less than 25 years of age, in the enjoyment of all civil rights, are eligible to the office of deputy to the Cortes, provided they are not included in any of the cases of disability or incompatibility fixed by law.

Art. 12. The deputies to the Cortes shall be elected directly by the electors of the electoral districts, subject to this law and the regulations; but after they have been elected, and admitted by Congress, they represent the nation individually and collectively.

Art. 13. Those provisions of the electoral law of the peninsula of June 26, 1890, which relate specially to the election of deputies to the Cortes and the discharge of their duties, apply to the deputies to the Cortes from the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico. Hence, the articles in question are inserted as an appendix to the present law, in the form in which they are to be observed in accordance with this law.

Chapter III.—Of the election of counselors of administration, representatives, provincial deputies, and councilmen.

Art. 14. Those Spaniards may be counselors of administration and representatives who possess the qualifications required for those offices by the constitution of the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico.

Art. 15. Spaniards having the qualifications required for deputies to the Cortes, and who are natives of the province, or who have resided four years consecutively in the province, may be provincial deputies.

Art. 16. Those electors may be elected members of ayuntamientos (councilmen) in municipal districts containing not more than 100 inhabitants, who, in addition to having resided at least four years in the municipality, pay a direct tax included in the first two-thirds of the local lists of persons paying a land tax, and an industrial and commercial subsidy; and in municipal districts containing less than 1,000 and more than 400 inhabitants, those paying taxes included in the first four-fifths of the said lists. In municipal districts containing not more than 400 inhabitants all the electors shall be eligible.

All those paying a tax equal to the lowest tax required to be paid in each municipal district in order to be eligible under the preceding paragraph shall likewise be included in the number of eligibles.

Those residents who pay any assessment of tax and furnish proof by means of official documents of their professional or academic character shall likewise be eligible.

Those persons who furnish proof that they are subjected to a rebate (reduction) in the incomes which they derive from general, provincial, or municipal funds shall likewise be eligible, provided the amount of the rebate is included in the qualification (proporcion) previously fixed for eligibles in towns of 1,000 and 400 inhabitants, respectively.

The assessment (tax) shall be calculated by adding together the taxes paid by the taxpayers, in and outside of the town, as a direct tax and for municipal taxes (charges). In calculating the taxes of the electors and the eligibles the following [Page 623] property shall be considered as theirs: In the case of husbands, the property of their wives, so long as the conjugal relationship exists; in the case of fathers, such property of their children as they administer legally; in the case of sons, their own property, the usufruct of which they do not enjoy for any reason.

Art. 17. Those persons who are included in any of the cases of disability or incompatibility established by the respective laws can not be elected to any of the offices mentioned in the three preceding articles.

Art. 18. Those persons designated in article 25 of the electoral law of the Peninsula relating to senators shall be electors of counselors of administration. The provisions of chapter 4 of that law shall be applied to the drawing up of the lists of electors and to the election of the counselors of administration in the manner prescribed by the regulations.

Art. 19. In the districts in which one representative, one provincial deputy, or one councilman (concejal) is to be elected no elector can legally give his vote to more than one person; when more than one, up to four, are to be elected, each elector shall have the right to vote for one less than the number of those who are to be elected in his own district; for two less (than the number of those who are to be elected) if more than four are to be elected, and for three less when more than eight are to be elected.

The other provisions relative to electoral procedure shall be such as are enacted in the respective organic laws and in the regulations.

TITLE III.—Penal Sanction.

Chapter I.—Of offenses.

Art. 20. Any forgery of documents relating to the provisions of this law, in any of the ways mentioned in article 310 of the penal code of Cuba and Porto Rico, shall constitute the crime of forgery in electoral matters, which shall be punished with the penalties provided in the said article, or in the following article, according to the status of the persons who are responsible.

Any intentional omission in the documents referred to in the preceding paragraph which may affect the result of the election shall constitute a similar offense, and shall be punished with the same penalties.

Art. 21. The courts shall, nevertheless, lessen the penalties one or two degrees, imposing them upon such person as they may think proper, according to the special circumstances of the case, the scandal or alarm that it has occasioned, and whenever there shall appear to be no connection with other offenses made punishable by the code.

Art. 22. For the purposes of this law, the census and authorized copies thereof, records, lists, certificates, and whatever may emanate from the person who is intrusted by law with the execution thereof, the object of which is to facilitate or insure the exercise of the electoral right or its result, or to guarantee the regularity of the procedure, shall be considered official documents.

Art. 23. The penalties of imprisonment and of a fine of from 500 to 5,000 pesetas, when the general provisions of the penal code do not fix a higher penalty, shall be imposed upon public officers who, by failing to faithfully and strictly fulfill the obligations imposed by this law or by the provisions that may be adopted for its execution, are accessory to any of the following acts or omissions:

To any failure to prepare with accuracy the lists of electors, whether preliminary or definitive, or to exhibit the same publicly during the proper time and in the proper place.
To any alteration of the day, hour, or place in which any public business is to be done, or to the method of its designations leading to error.
To any fraudulent manipulations in matters relating to the preparation of the census, the organization of electoral boards or colleges, the voting, the resolutions or ballotings, and the nomination of candidates.
To the improper and inaccurate preparation of records or documents relating to the election, or to their not being signed in the proper manner by all who should do so, or to the proper dispositions not being made of electoral records or documents.
To changing or altering in the ballot which the elector deposits in the exercise of his right, or to its being hidden from public view before it is deposited in the box.
To the placing of impediment or difficulty in the way of electors, candidates, or notaries in the examination of the box before voting begins, and, when the ballots are examined, in the examination of the ballots taken from the box.
To the preparation of an intentionally inaccurate list, such as to obscure the truth of the names of the voters at any election.
To an inaccurate counting of votes in resolutions relative to the taking or rectification of the census, or to electoral matters, and also to the inaccurate reading of ballots.
To violating the secrecy of the vote or of the election with a view to influencing its results.
To the issuance of an unlawful proclamation against any person.
To the making of untrue statements in the verbal declaration that is to be made on the occasion of an election, or to the prevention or impeding in any way of a proper knowledge of the truth concerning the election.
To the postponement of any election without grave and sufficient cause.

Art. 24. Private individuals who are directly accessory to the commission of any of the offenses enumerated in the preceding article shall be punished with the penalty of imprisonment in its minimum degree when the penal code does not impose a more serious penalty on those who are guilty of commission or omission.

Art. 25. Every act, omission, or manifestation contrary to this law or to the general provisions adopted for its execution that is not included in the foregoing articles and whose object is to restrain or exert pressure upon electors, to induce them to exercise their right, or to relinquish it against their will, shall constitute the crime of coercing voters, and if there is no more serious penalty provided for it in the penal code it shall be punished by a fine of from 125 to 2,500 pesetas.

Art. 26. The following persons shall also be considered as committing the crime of coercing voters, although the intention of restraining or exerting pressure upon the electors may not be obvious or apparent, and shall accordingly be subject to the penalties prescribed in the foregoing article:

Civil, military, or ecclesiastical authorities who advise or recommend voters to give or refuse their vote to a determinate person, and those who by the use of official means or agents, or the authorization of stamps, envelopes, seals, or notes that may have that character, recommend or advise against certain candidates.
Public officers who promote or take part in the issue of Government records relating to denunciations, fines, arrears of accounts, lands, forests, granaries, or any other branch of the administration from the time when notice is given until the election is terminated.
Officers, from the minister of the Crown down, who make appointments, removals, transfers, or suspensions of employees, agents, or clerks in any branch of the general, provincial, or municipal administration in the period between the giving of notice and the termination of the general balloting, when such acts are not based on legitimate reasons and affects in any way the precinct, college, district, judicial circuit, or province in which the election is held.

The cause of the removal, transfer, or suspension shall be accurately stated in the order, which shall be published in the Gazette of Madrid or in those of Havana or Puerto Rico, if it emanates from the central administration, and in the official bulletin of the respective province if it emanates from the provincial or municipal administration. If these formalities are omitted it shall be considered as having been made without cause.

Royal decrees or orders relating to the civil governors of the provinces and to military officers shall be excepted from the above requirements. Removals, transfers, or suspensions decided upon, but of which the interested parties have not been notified before the electoral period, can not be made during said period, except in the exceptional cases and in the exceptional manner specified in this number.

Art. 27. The following persons shall be liable to the penalties provided in article 25, unless more serious ones are imposed by the penal code:

Those who, by means of a promise, present, or remuneration, solicit, directly or indirectly, the vote of any elector in favor of or against any candidate.
Those who incite voters to intoxication in order to obtain or secure their adhesion.
Any person who votes twice or more times at an election, who takes another name in order to vote, or who votes when incapacitated or when his exercise of such right is suspended.
Whoever knowingly consents, without a protest, when he might make one, to the casting of a vote in the cases mentioned in the foregoing number.
Whoever prevents or delays the admission, attention to, and decision concerning protests or complaints of voters, or who does not afford protection to those who make them.
Whoever omits the announcements and notifications required by law, or who does not issue or cause to be issued, as speedily as the law directs, a certificate of election when application is made therefor.
Whoever in any other, not provided for in this law, impedes or molests an elector in the exercise of his rights or the performance of his duty.
Whoever maliciously raises or maintains, without good reason, doubts in regard to the identity of a person or the legality of his rights.

Art. 28. Public officers who cause a voter to leave his domicile or residence, or remain away from the same, even under pretext of the requirements of the public service, on the day of the election, or on a day which he may be able and may desire to vote; or those who detain him, depriving him in similar cases of his liberty, shall be liable, besides the penalties mentioned in the second paragraph of article 210 and in article 221 of the penal code, respectively, to the penalty of absolute, permanent disqualification.

Art. 29. Those who impede or hinder the free entrance and exit of the voters to and from the place in which they are to exercise their right, their approach to the voting tables, the presence of notaries, candidates, or electors in the places in which the election is to take place, in such a way as to render it impossible or difficult for them to perform their duties or exercise their right, and to verify the regularity of such elections, shall be liable, if they are public officers, to the penalty of imprisonment in its minimum degree and to a fine of 500 to 2,500 pesetas; and if they are private individuals, to the penalty of imprisonment in its minimum degree, unless other and more severe penalties are provided by the penal code, in which case the latter penalties shall be enforced.

Art. 30. Public officers who do not deliver or who maliciously delay the delivery of documents required by special commissioners shall be punished as being guilty of the misdemeanor of serious disobedience to the authorities, without prejudice to the disciplinary responsibility which they incur at the same time.

Art. 31. Offenses provided for in the penal code, which are connected with matters relating to elections, shall be punished when the special provisions of the preceding articles are not applicable, with the penalties provided by the same code, and also with a fine of 125 to 1,250 pesetas, in case a penalty of this class is not applicable to them.

Art. 32. The following penalties shall apply to all the offenses directly connected with the provisions of this law, whether they are provided by this or by another law: That of special disqualification, temporary or permanent, for the right of suffrage, if the guilty person is a public officer, and that of suspension from the same right if he is a private individual.

In the case of the repetition of an offense of this class the disqualification for public officers shall be absolute for all time, and for private individuals shall be absolute for a temporary period, in addition to the penalties provided.

Chapter II.—Of infractions.

Art. 33. Any failure to fulfill the obligations and formalities which this law or the provisions that shall be adopted for its execution impose upon all persons who take part in an official capacity in electoral proceedings shall be punished by a fine of from 25 to 1,000 pesetas, in case it does not constitute a crime.

Officers who, for any reason that can not be shown to be one rendering it absolutely impossible for them to do so, shall fail to perform any of the duties made incumbent upon them by this law or the regulations for its execution shall be required to pay the fine for which provision is made above, the imposition of which shall be ordered by the census board before which the duty should have been performed, due regard being had to the provisions of article 42.

The president of the provisional and municipal boards shall incur the same responsibility if, when they should receive one of the documents provided for in any of the provisions of this law or of the regulations, they shall fail to order, on their own responsibility, that it be immediately collected by a special officer at the expense of the person whose duty it was to send it.

Those who in such cases shall fail to notify the central board that they have performed this duty shall be punished in a like manner.

Art. 34. The following persons shall, moreover, be punished in the manner provided by the foregoing article:

Those who are present at elections and who, in some way that does not constitute a crime, disturb order, or are lacking in proper respect.
Those who, not having a right to enter the electoral colleges or the ballot boards, shall not leave the place at the first intimation from the president.
Those who shall enter an electoral college, section, or board with arms, sticks, canes, or umbrellas, not being officers or not being physically impeded.
Notaries who, being about to perform the duties of their office, do not give previous notice of their intention to the presiding officer of the function.
Officers and individuals owing to whom the proper party fails to receive, within the time fixed and in the manner provided in the law, any communication, notice, instrument, or document that should be transmitted, without prejudice to the provisions of No. 4 of article 23.
Members of the census boards and their substitutes who, without just cause, shall fail to attend the sessions to which they shall have been summoned without furnishing a proper excuse.

The following shall be deemed sufficient causes for not attending the sessions:

Absence from the place at which the sessions are held.
Important matters connected with the public service.
Matters connected with one’s personal health or the health of one’s family, or private business that can not be deferred.
Causes in virtue of which the president or members of the central board fail to attend the meeting of that board.

Chapter III.— Provisions common to the two foregoing chapters.

Art. 35. For the purposes of this law the following persons shall be considered as public officers: Those appointed by the Government, and those who, by virtue of their office, perform any duty connected with the elections, and also the president and members of the electoral census board, and the presidents and supervisors of the ballot bureaus and boards.

Art. 36. The ordinary courts shall alone be competent to take cognizance of electoral offenses, whatever may be the personal status of the guilty parties.

For the purposes of the provisions of this title it shall be understood that the offenses specially provided for in this law are electoral offenses, and also those which, being provided for in the penal code, relate to electoral matters properly so called.

Art. 37. When any offense shall be committed in the college or electoral board the president shall order the arrest of the presumptive criminals, and shall place them at the disposal of the judicial authorities.

A penal action growing out of offenses specially electoral shall be public, and may be brought for even two months after the expiration of the term of the office conferred by the election.

For the bringing of such action no deposit or security shall be required.

Judges and courts shall proceed according to the rules governing criminal trials.

Art. 38. No authorization shall be required to bring any officer to trial.

Cases in which, by a sentence from which there is no appeal, exemption shall be granted from responsibility for due obedience, shall be referred without delay to the court that is competent to take action against the person who gave the order which has been obeyed. The term referred to in the foregoing article shall remain in abeyance with respect to the magistrate or person obeyed from the time when proceedings were first taken until the day on which the competent court shall have received the unappealable sentence in which shall be declared the exemption from responsibility of the person who has obeyed.

When the magistrate who gave the order is a minister of the Crown, or when his responsibility shall have been shown in any manner, the court taking cognizance of the case shall refer it without delay to the Congress of Deputies, when the sentence in which exemption from responsibility is declared is unappealable or the antecedents resulting therefrom indicate the responsibility of the minister.

Art. 39. The general and special provisions of the penal code shall in all cases be applicable to the offenses provided for in this law, when said provisions have reference to offenses as having been consummated, frustrated, and tentative to participation therein by the various persons who are the objects of the proceeding, to the circumstances modifying the responsibility, and to the consequent graduation and enforcement of the penalties.

Art. 40. The court to which belongs the execution of unappealable decisions shall order their publication in the official bulletin of the province in which the offense shall have been committed, and shall send a copy of that newspaper to the central board.

Art. 41. No attention shall be paid by the minister of the colonies (nor shall any report thereon be made by the court or the council of state) to any application for pardon on account of electoral offenses, unless it shall previously appear that the petitioners have served at least one-half of the time for which they were sentenced to personal penalties, and have paid the full amount of the fines and costs. The authorities and members of corporations, whatever their status may be, who shall violate this provision by causing the petition for pardon to be laid before the King for decision, shall incur the responsibility provided in article 369 of the penal code.

[Page 627]

The Government shall notify the central census board whenever a pardon is granted.

Art. 42. The punishment for infractions shall belong:

(1) To the presidents of the function or session in which they are committed.

(2) To the municipal or provincial census boards in which they are connected, respectively; with the acts of which said boards or their presidents are to take cognizance.

The municipal boards shall not, however, order any punishment in the case of superior boards, but if they understand that the provincial board has committed any infraction, they shall immediately notify the central board, that it may reach a proper decision in the matter.

When the judges fail to send to the census boards the documents which are necessary for the preparation or correction of the census, according to the regulations, said boards shall so inform the presiding judge of the proper superior court, that he may inflict the punishment, and shall send a report thereof to the central board.

(3) To the central board, the rest.

The imposition of fines shall take place in pursuance of a written decision, in which the grounds therefor shall be stated. Those imposed in pursuance of the provisions of paragraph 1 of this article or by the municipal board may be appealed from before the provincial board within two days following the notification, which board shall confine itself to affirming or annulling the decision.

The rescissory decisions of the provincial board and those of that board in the exercise of its own powers may be appealed from within the same term to the central board, which may increase, diminish, and approve, or remit the fine within the limit of its powers.

Art. 43. Presidents of electoral colleges or of boards for counting votes, municipal boards and the presidents thereof, shall not impose a fine exceeding 100 pesetas (francs).

Presidents of provincial boards, and those boards, may impose a fine to the amount of 500 pesetas.

The central board and its president may impose a fine to the amount of 1,000 pesetas.

Art. 44. The payment of these fines shall be made in special paper, which the department of public finance shall issue for the purpose, and shall deliver on account to the provincial deputations, collecting thereon a duty of 20 per cent of its value. The remainder of its value shall be paid into the proper provincial treasury.

If, six days after the decision shall have been pronounced, the fine shall not have been paid, compulsion shall be used for its collection.

In case the person fined is insolvent, he shall suffer imprisonment at the rate of one day for each 5 pesetas of the fine, but this term shall not exceed 10 days when the fine shall have been imposed by the municipal board, its president, or the president of the bureau; it shall not exceed 20 days if the fine shall have been imposed by the provincial board, its president, or by the boards for counting votes; and it shall not exceed 30 days if the fine shall have been imposed by the central board or its president.

transient provisions.

First. Within the three days following the publication of this law in the gazettes of Havana and Puerto Rico, a board shall be formed in each one of the capitals of the island, which shall be called the insular board for the electorial census. It shall be composed of the Governor-General, who shall be its president; of the governmental divisions of the superior courts of Havana and Puerto Rico, respectively; of two members, chosen by the Governor-General from among the most influential residents, to represent in the board the political parties of the island, and of the secretary of the general government, the latter to have the right of discussion, but no vote, and he shall perform the duties of secretary. Moreover, the civil governor of Havana shall be a member of the insular board for the electorial census of the island of Cuba.

The powers of these boards shall be:

To inspect and direct all services connected with the preparation and preservation of the census.
To preserve the printed copies of the final lists which shall have been taken from the provincial registers.
To communicate, through the president, with all public authorities and officers.
To receive and decide all complaints that are addressed to them.
To exercise disciplinary jurisdiction over all persons taking part, officially, in electorial operations, imposing fines to the amount of 1,000 pesetas, which, the case arising, shall be collected by their order, by judges of first instance.
To settle questions that may arise in connection with the execution of this law and its regulations, adapting the provisions of both to the condition of the island so as to secure independence and a genuine vote.

The insular board of Cuba shall, moreover, issue such orders as it may think proper for the holding of elections in those districts in which the state of the insurrection shall not permit the taking of the electorial census in time, or to hold such elections according to the provisions of this law and the regulations for its execution. For this purpose each of the districts in question shall appoint delegates who, together with seven of the largest taxpayers on agricultural and manufacturing property, and seven capacities (?) shall proceed to hold the election, according to such instruction as may be communicated to them by the insular board.

Second. In execution of the provisions of article 4 of this law, before the 26th day of December next, the presiding judges of the superior courts shall appoint the magistrates who are to preside over the provincial electoral census boards, and the officers who are to preside over the municipal boards in those localities in which there are no judges of first instance.

Third. In order that the elections may be held as speedily as possible, and the new political and administrative officers may perform their functions in the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico, the following shall be the mode of procedure:

On the 1st day of January, 1898, at 8 o’clock a.m., the president of the municipal electoral census board, having been appointed by the superior court of the province, shall proceed, in the hall of sessions of the municipal district, and in public session, to organize said municipal board in the manner provided in Art. 4 of this law.

The alcalde shall then state the result of the last census, and shall deliver to the president of the board a duplicate list, in alphabetical order, and with correlative numbering of all the inhabitants above 25 years of age whose names appear in said census, in which shall be stated their ages, residences, and occupations, and whether they are able to read and write. All the sheets belonging to this list shall be signed by the alcalde and the secretary of the municipal board.

The president on his own responsibility shall immediately cause one of the copies of this list to be posted in the usual place for municipal edicts and proclamations, and shall at the same time make known by a proclamation or through the crier that, on the 5th of the aforesaid month of January, at 8 p.m., the municipal census board shall meet in public session in the hall of sessions of the municipal board.

Before the said 5th day of January the judges of first instance shall send to the presidents of the respective municipal census boards a certified list of the judicial decisions which affect the electoral capacity of the inhabitants of each municipal district, and the municipal judges shall send a list, likewise certified, of the aforesaid inhabitants who shall have died since the date of the last quinquennial census.

On the 5th day of January the municipal board shall organize, in public session, at the time and in the place aforesaid, and the president shall lay on the table the list of residents prepared by the alcalde, the last census, and the certificates sent in by the judges.

The board shall hear all representations that shall be made concerning enrollments, exclusions, and corrections. For claims with regard to enrollment it shall be sufficient to furnish evidence by means of two witnesses that the person whose enrollment in the list is desired possesses the requisites that are legally required to make him an elector.

The public session being terminated, the junta shall proceed to the preparation of the following lists:

A list of all the inhabitants who possess the right to vote, according to the census list.
A list of those who have died since said list was prepared according to the data furnished by the respective municipal judges.
A list of those who are disqualified.

These lists shall be published as provided for in the first paragraph of this resolution, for the three following days, during which time an appeal may be taken to the provincial board.

In the same session the municipal board shall order the division of the voters of the municipal district into sections if their number shall exceed 500, assigning to each section a number approximately equal, according to the conditions of each locality.

This having been done, a copy shall be made in duplicate from the first list in alphabetical order of the names of the voters of each municipal district, divided into sections, and these copies shall constitute the final lists. On the 9th of January one of them shall be transmitted, together with a certificate of the order for the division of the municipal district into sections, and of the complaints which have been presented, [Page 629] to the provincial census hoard, which shall adopt such decisions as it may think proper, making the proper modifications for the case arising, and shall cause to be printed in the Boletin the lists of the voters of the province before the 20th of January.

A printed copy of the list for each municipal district, authorized by the president and secretary of the provincial board, shall be transmitted, certified, the leaves being all under seal, to the respective president of the municipal board, who shall inform the board, and who shall cause to be posted in a public place for three days, a copy of that document, which shall be placed in the archives. The president and secretary of the junta shall be responsible for the absolute correctness of this copy.

Similar copies shall also be transmitted by the president of the provisional board to the authorities that are declared by the regulations to be entitled to receive them.

There shall be no appeal from the decisions adopted by the provincial boards in virtue of this temporary provision, excepting a complaint to the insular board.

The day previous to that appointed for the first elections to be held after the promulgation of this law the municipal census boards shall meet and order the enrollment in the electoral lists of those who have applied for it up to that date who have the testimony of two witnesses to show that they possess the conditions which this law requires in order that they may vote.

Those enrolled by virtue of these orders or by the decisions of the insular board shall exercise their right in the section in which they are domiciled.

Fourth. Until a new division shall have been made in the electoral districts for deputies to the Cortes in the territory of the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico, the one now existing shall remain in force.

The insular electoral census boards shall divide the territory of the islands into districts and sections for the election of representatives, pursuant to the royal decree of this date.

Approved by Her Majesty.


Articles of the electoral law of the Peninsula of June 25, 1890, in the form in which they are to be enforced, according to article 13 of the law of Cuba and Puerto Rico.

Art. 4. The following are indispensable requirements for admission as a deputy to the Congress:

To possess the qualifications required by article 29 of the constitution on the day on which the election in the electoral district is held.
To have been elected and declared elected in an electoral district, or in the Congress, in accordance with the provisions of this law and those of the regulations of that body.
Not to be disqualified by any reason of personal incapacity for holding the office on the day on which the election is held.
Not to be included in any of the cases established by the law concerning disqualifications.

Art. 5. Disqualified for admission as deputies, although validly elected, are:

Those found to be included in any of the cases mentioned in article 2 of this law.
The rehabilitation mentioned in No. 2 of article 2 of this law must be secured for the eligibility of a deputy at least two years previous to his election.
Contractors for works or public services paid for out of the general funds of the province or municipality; those who, as the result of such contracts, have claims pending in their own interest against the administration and in the sureties and partners of such contractors. This incapacity is to be understood as relating solely to the district or section in which the works or public service is performed.
Those who fill, or have filled within a year, in the district or section in which the election is held, any office, charge, or commission, by appointment of the Government, or who have exercised authority in a popular election, among whom are included presidents of deputations, and deputies who, during the previous year, have been members of provincial commissions.

Excepted from this are the ministers of the Crown and officers of the central administration of the islands and of the Peninsula.

The disqualifications referred to in No. 3 are confined to the votes cast in the district or section or within the limit of the authority or functions with which the deputy has been invested.

Art. 6. When a deputy shall become disqualified after admission to the Congress from any of the causes enumerated in Article 5, his incapacity shall be declared and he shall immediately forfeit his office.

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Art. 7. Those who already hold the office of deputy to the Cortes shall not be admitted to the same Congress by virtue of a partial election unless they have resigned the same before notice has been given to the district of such partial election.

Art. 8. The office of deputy to the Cortes is gratuitous and voluntary, and may be resigned before and after taking the oath of office; but no resignation shall be admissible without the previous approval by the Congress of the deputy’s certificate of election.

Art. 22. In districts in which a deputy is to be elected no elector shall have the right to vote for more than one person; when more than one and as many as four are to be elected he shall have the right to vote for one less than the number to be elected; for two less if more than four are to be elected, and for three less if more than eight are to be elected.

Art. 37. The following candidates shall have the right to appoint supervisors for the electoral bureaus of the precincts comprising the district or section:

Ex-deputies to the Cortes, who have represented the same district or any other on the island.
Those who have been candidates in the same district in former elections and obtained at least one-fifth of all the votes cast.
Ex-senators elected by the island to which the district or section belongs.
Candidates for the office of deputy to the Cortes, proposed by means of tickets signed by electors of the respective district or section, or by notarial instruments, in the preparation of which a competent officer has taken part, the number of such electors being equal to at least one-twentieth of the entire number of those included in the final list of the district or section.

Art. 73. Only in pursuance of a resolution of Congress shall it be possible to proceed to a partial election for deputy in one or more districts, or because the post of representative of such district or districts has become vacant.

Art. 74. For the districts which, according to this law, are to elect three or more deputies, it shall be understood that there is a vacancy in their representation in the Cortes only when, for any reason, at least two deputies fail to act as such.

Art. 75. The royal decree convoking the electoral colleges of one or more districts for the partial election of deputies to the Cortes shall be published in the Gaceta de Madrid within eight days, reckoned from the date of the communication of the resolution of Congress. In the said royal decree the day shall be fixed on which the election shall take place, and that date shall not be fixed before twenty or after thirty days, reckoned from the day of the convocation. The royal decree shall be simultaneously published in the gazettes of Havana and Puerto Rico, according to circumstances, the proper order being communicated for that purpose by telegraph to the respective governors-general of the two Antilles.

Art. 76. The partial election shall take place on the day appointed, according to the procedure and in the form prescribed by this law for general elections.

Art. 77. Congress, exercising the prerogative belonging to it according to article 34 of the constitution, shall examine and judge of the legality of the elections according to the procedure provided by its regulations, and shall admit as deputies those who are found to have been legally elected and proclaimed in the districts, if they possess the capacity necessary to enable them to discharge the duties of the office, and are not disqualified in any of the ways defined by law.

Art. 78. In the case of an election in which the votes for each candidate are equal in number, if only one of the candidates who have received the same number of votes shall possess legal fitness to be deputy he shall at once be proclaimed and admitted, provided that the election is approved.

He who is shown to be legally elected shall likewise be at once admitted and proclaimed by Congress if there shall be, in the certificate of election, protests which seem justified against the votes cast for the other one or more candidates having an equal number of votes.

If there are no such differences, that one of the candidates having an equal number of votes shall be proclaimed deputy who—

Has most frequently filled the office;
Who has filled it for the longest time;
Who is the oldest in years.

Art. 79. The certificates of the ballot board having been sent to the central board, agreeably to the provisions of article 69, shall be delivered by the latter, as they come into his possession, at the office of the secretary of Congress, at whose disposal that board shall, in all cases, hold the other documents relating to certificates of election.

Art. 80. The deputies elect or presumptive, who have proclaimed by the examining boards (ballot boards) at general elections, shall present their respective credentials [Page 631] within two months, reckoning from the day of the meeting of the Cortes. For those proclaimed elected at partial elections the time shall be reckoned from the day of their proclamation by the examining board (ballot board). It shall be understood that he who does not present his credentials within the period fixed by this article resigns his office, and, consequently, a vacancy in the district or college concerned shall be declared after Congress shall have decided concerning the legality of the election.

Art. 81. If the same individual shall be found to have been elected by two or more districts at the same time, he shall make choice before Congress of one of them within eight days after the last of his certificates of election shall have been approved, if he shall then have been admitted as a deputy, or within thirty days if otherwise.

In default of a choice within either term, the district that belongs to him shall be decided by lot in Congress, and a vacancy shall be declared with respect to the others.

Art. 82. The electors and the candidates who have taken part or been concerned in an election may have recourse to Congress at any time before the approval of the respective certificates of election with such complaints as they may desire to present with regard to the validity or result of such election, or with regard to the legal qualifications of the deputy-elect previous to his having been admitted.

Art. 83. When, in order to be able to appreciate and judge of the legality of an election concerning which complaint is made before Congress, it shall be thought necessary to make some negotiations in the locality where such election was held, the president of the chamber shall give and directly communicate orders to the judicial magistrate of the territory whom he may think proper to commission for the purpose, and the commissioned magistrate shall consult with the said president in the performance of his duty without any necessity for the intervention of the Government.

Art. 84. After an election has been approved by Congress and the deputy elected by it has been admitted, no complaint shall be received, nor shall any subsequent discussion be permitted respecting the validity of the said election, or regarding the legal fitness of the deputy, unless on account of incapacity that has occurred since his admission.

Approved by Her Majesty.


Official.—President of the Council of Ministers.

[From the Gaceta de Madrid, Saturday, November 27, 1897.]


Madam: In endeavoring to solve the problem of introducing colonial autonomy into the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico, which task, together with that of the pacification of the territory of Cuba, constitutes the engagements which the Government has contracted with the nation, the ministers think that detailed explanations and comments on the complex matters embraced in the plan should give way to a temperate but full statement of its fundamental character, or of the spheres of action to which it extends and of the consequences which, in their opinion, must be the result of the régime which they propose to Your Majesty for the government of the Spanish Antilles.

Criticism and analysis will speedily elucidate all that relates to the details; the essential ideas and the inspiration of the decree have their appropriate place here and at this time only.

This is the more necessary since the first and most essential condition of success in reforms of this kind is absolute sincerity of purpose. With this sincerity the Government has examined the best form of an autonomic constitution for the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico, and it hopes clearly to demonstrate, in these observations, that the intention and the results have gone hand in hand.

It was proposed, in the first place, clearly to establish the principle, to develop it in its entirety, and to surround it with every guaranty of success, because, when it is sought to intrust the direction of affairs to peoples that have reached the age of virility, either no mention of autonomy should be made to them or it should be given to them complete, with the conviction that they are started on the right road with the restrictions or shackles which are born of distrust and suspicion. [Page 632] Either the defense of nationality is confided to repression and force or it is turned over to a reconciliation of affection and tradition with interest, and this reconciliation is strengthened according as it is developed by the advantages of a system of government that teaches and gives evidence to the colonies that under no other will it be possible for them to attain a higher degree of welfare, security, and greatness.

This being the case, it was a condition essential to the attainment of the purpose had in view to seek for that principle a practical form and one that was intelligible to the people that had to be governed by it, and the Government found this in the programme of that insular party, considerable in numbers, but still more important by reason of its intelligence and perseverance, the predictions of which party have, for twenty years past, made the people of Cuba familiar with the spirit, the procedure, and the great importance of the serious innovation which they are called upon to introduce into their political and social life.

It is asserted by the foregoing that the project is in nowise theoretical, and that it is not an imitation or copy of other colonial constitutions which have been justly regarded as models in the matter, for although the Government has carefully considered what those instruments teach it realizes that the institutions of peoples which, in their history and their race, differ so much from that of Cuba, can not take root where they have neither precedent nor atmosphere, nor that preparation which is the outgrowth of education and belief.

The problem having been thus defined, inasmuch as the question was to give an autonomic constitution to a Spanish territory peopled by a Spanish race and civilized by Europe, there was no longer any doubt as to the decision to be reached; autonomy had to be developed according to the ideas and the programme which bears that name in the Antilles, without eliminating anything of its contents, and especially without altering its spirit, but rather by completing and harmonizing it and giving it greater guaranties of stability, as should be done by the government of a mother country which feels itself called to establish such a programme, from a conviction of its advantages, from a desire to carry peace and tranquillity to those highly prized territories, and from a consciousness of its own responsibility, not only to the colonies, but also to its own vast interests which time has connected and woven together in the impenetrable net of years.

Being thus sure of the form which best fitted its design, the Government found it easy to distinguish the three aspects offered by the establishment of an autonomic constitution. In the first place, the sacred interests or the mother country, which, being alarmed and distrustful on account of the course pursued by many of her sons, and wounded by the ingratitude of those who put more trust in the selfishness of the speculator than they do in brotherly affection, desires above all things that the change for which she is prepared should draw closer and strengthen the bond of sovereignty, and that in the midst of a blessed peace the interests of all her sons, which are not at variance with each other, although they may be at times different, should be harmonized and developed by the free consent of all.

Next are to be considered the aspirations, the needs, and the desires of our colonial population, which is anxious to be treated like an unfortunate daughter instead of being crushed like an enemy, which is obedient to the call of affection, and ready to rebel like Spaniards against the brutal imposition of exterminating force. These people expect from the mother country a form in which their initiative may be molded and a mode of procedure that may authorize them to manage their own interests.

And finally, this vast and interesting mass of relations created of interests developed in that long past which nobody, still less a government, is at liberty to disregard or forget, and whose preservation and development involve the fulfillment of the destiny of our race in America, and the glory of the Spanish flag in lands that were discovered and civilized by our ancestors.

These three orders of ideas find their answer in the fundamental provisions of the draft submitted to Your Majesty for approval. To the first, that is, to the pofnt of view of the mother country, belong the questions of sovereignty which have been confided to the highest authorities of the Spanish nation. The representation and authority of the King, who is the nation itself, the command of the army and navy, the administration of justice, diplomatic understanding with America, the constant and beneficent relations between the colony and the mother country, the pardoning power, and the upholding and defense of the constitution are intrusted to the Governor-General as the King’s representative, and under the direction of the council of ministers. Nothing that is essential has been forgotten; the authority of the central power is in nowise diminished or abated.

The insular aspect is, in its turn, developed in a manner as full and complete as could be desired by those who are most exacting in central, provincial, and municipal [Page 633] autonomy; in the application without reserve or equivocation of the parliamentary system; in the powers of the insular chambers and in the creation of a responsible government, at the head of which, and forming the supreme bond of nationality as regards the executive power, again appears the Governor-General, who, on the one hand, presides through responsible ministers over the development of colonial life, and, on the other, associates and connects it with the general life of the nation.

And that third aspect, in which is recapitulated the history of the relations between the Antilles and the mother country, and within which their commerce, their credit, and their wealth must also be developed, is defined in a series of provisions of a permanent character, which connects the two executive powers—the insular and the national, and at times their chambers—in such a manner that at every moment they lend each other mutual aid, and assist each other in developing the common interests.

And all this manifold and complex, though not complicated, system is sanctioned and rendered practical by a series of guaranties of associations of constant understandings and public discussions which will absolutely prevent, so far as it is allowable for man to predict that which is to come, unyielding dilemmas, insurmountable difficulties, and collisions between the colonies and the mother country.

This is a point of so great importance that the Government would certainly have subordinated all other questions to it if such subordination had been necessary, which it can not be, nor is there any reason to fear it, since the bases of the new régime are established upon harmony of interests, scrupulous respect for the rights of others, and the desire in the mother country unremittingly to aid the development, prosperity, and peaceful aggrandizement of her beautiful Antilles, which desire the Government does not doubt will be fully shared there.

This does not mean that no questions will arise in which the two spheres of action will be confounded, and that there will be no legitimate doubts as to which is the predominant interest in them, or that there will not be, after the doubts, more or less of passionate discussion. In no colony enjoying autonomy has this failed to happen; in none has the case arisen in which the central government was always and systematically in accord with the acts of the colonial government. Long is the list of the legislative enactments of Canada which have been vetoed by the British Government, and curious and exceedingly interesting is the list of judicial decisions which have defined the diverse jurisdictions of their local assemblies, either among themselves or with their governors. This has been the case notwithstanding the fact that the great decentralization, the antecedents of Canadian history, and freedom of trade greatly simplify the relations between the two countries.

The excellence of the system, however, lies in the fact that when such cases arise, and especially when they are frequent, the balance of power both within the colonial constitution and in the relations of the colony to the mother country is such that a remedy is always to be had, that a basis of understanding is never lacking, and that a common ground is always to be found on which interests are either harmonized or their antagonism is settled or the will of the people bows to the decision of the courts.

If, therefore, the rights which are recognized by the constitution as belonging to the citizens are violated or their interests are disregarded by the town boards and deputations which are, in their turn, within the system, entirely autonomous, the courts of justice will defend and uphold them. If corporations go beyond their powers, or if, on the other hand, the executive power undertakes to impair what the constitution of the Kingdom or the provisions of this decree declare to be powers belonging to the town boards or the provnicinal corporations, the accused party has the right to appeal to the courts of the island, and as a last resort to the supreme court, whose duty it will be to settle disputes of jurisdiction between the Governor-General and the colonial parliament, whoever may have given rise to such disputes. Both will have the same rights to complain and to seek legal redress for their wrongs.

Thus, whatever difficulties may arise from the establishment of a system, or be the outgrowth of its exercise, will be decided by the courts, which have been, since ancient Rome down to modern England, the most progressive source of right, and which have afforded the most flexible procedure for the harmonization of the growing demands of real life and the slow process of legislation.

Thus the autonomic constitution which the Government proposes for the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico is not exotic or copied, nor is it an imitation. It is an organization sui generis, conceived and upheld by the natives of the Spanish Antilles, gladly inscribed by the liberal party in their programme in order that the nation might know what it had to expect from that party when it should come into power, and characterized by a feature which no colonial régime has thus far presented, viz, that the Antilles can be wholly autonomous, in the fullest sense of the word, and at the same time have their representatives and form part of the national parliament.

[Page 634]

So that, while the representatives of the insular people direct from their local chambers the special interests of their country, others elected by the same people aid and cooperate in the Cortes in the making of those laws in whose mould are formed and unified the different elements of Spanish nationality. And this is not a small or paltry advantage; still less does it furnish ground for surprise, as some might, perhaps, think, because this present of the deputies from the Antillas in the Cortes is a close bond of the nationality which is raised above all the unities which live in its bosom, now sought as one of the greatest political steps in advance of our day by the autonomous English colonies which are anxious to take part in an Imperial Parliament in the supreme function of legislators and directors of the great British Empire.

This form, therefore, which is characteristic of the system now adopted by Spain, while it gives it its own meaning, signifies, if not a step in advance, such as those engendered by the present time, an advantage which circumstances offer us as a just compensation for the immense disasters which our colonial history recounts.

The Government frankly acknowledges that for the success of its work public discussion in Parliament would have been better, together with the analysis of public opinion in the press, on the lecture platform, and in books; but it is not its fault, as it was not that of the previous Government, if the pressure of circumstances compels it to do without this precious guaranty. Yet if the party which now serves the interests of the Crown and the country in the Government did not hesitate a moment to approve, in its day, the initiative taken by the conservative party, or in voting for the appropriation which it asked from the Cortes, it has a right, now that the weight of circumstances is still heavier than it was then, to hope that public opinion will approve to-day the course pursued by it, and that the Cortes will do so to-morrow.

For this reason it does not hesitate to face the responsibility, and it intends to put into immediate action and practice the solutions which are implied in the present decree with the same sincerity with which it has prepared it, thus removing the suspicion of any indecision in its course or of reservation in its promises. If the régime shall be found wanting in practice for lack of good faith in anybody it will never be—and we are proud to proclaim this—the fault of the men who are actuated above all things by the noble desire to pacify their country.

The Government thinks that it has thus said everything necessary to make known the genesis, the inspiration, and the character of the plan which, establishing in Cuba and Puerto Rico an autonomic régime, it now submits to Your Majesty.

To those who are familiar with the constitution of the Monarchy, the plan will certainly not present any great difficulties, for the Government has, as far as possible, taken for its guide the organic system of that instrument, the division of its titles, and even its wording. The modifications of the constitutional articles are accessory and circumstantial; the additions respond to its specialty and seek to secure the efficiency of its provisions and the facility of their execution.

Doubtless something will remain to be done, and some reforms will be needed; this will be shown simultaneously by the defense of its provisions and the criticisms made thereon, and gradually the good grounds upon which both are based will be ascertained; this will render it possible to incorporate what is good in the plan and to reject what does not harmonize with its fundamental ideas when the time comes for it to receive the sanction of the Cortes.

Let it be understood, nevertheless, that the Government will not eliminate from it, nor will it consent that anything be eliminated that goes to form colonial liberties, guarantees, and privileges, because, being prepared to complete its work or to throw light upon doubts, it does not intend that when it presents its plan for parliamentary sanction the concessions made shall suffer any impairment, nor can it consent to do so if it has a majority in the chambers.

But though all that the Government considers necessary to explain in the general lines of the decree has been set forth in the foregoing, it still deems it indispensable, for reasons which will readily be understood, to fix the sense of the articles which refer to autonomy with regard to the tariff and which refer to the debt which burdens the Cuban treasury.

The export trade from the Peninsula to Cuba, which amounts to about $30,000,000 per annum, and which, moreover, furnishes ground for important combinations for navigation on the high seas, has hitherto been subjected to an exceptional regime which is absolutely incompatible with the principle of colonial autonomy.

This implies the power to regulate the conditions of its import and export trade and to have free control of its custom-houses. To refuse these privileges to Cuba or Puerto Rico would be tantamount to nullifying the value of the principles laid down; to endeavor to defeat their object would be incompatible with the dignity of the nation. What it behooves the Government to do, after recognizing the principle in its [Page 635] entirety, is to endeavor to cause the transition to take place without violence or injury to the interests which have been developed under the old system, and for this purpose to pave the way to an understanding with the governments of the Antilles.

The most earnest advocates of autonomy have never denied the willingness of those countries to recognize, in behalf of genuinely national industry and commerce, a margin that should secure that market to them.

This assurance has always been given by their representatives in the Cortes, and is still given by their representatives in the Cortes, and is still given by all parties in the island of Cuba, according to statements which the Government considers irrecusable. Complaints arose, not from the existence of discriminating duties, but from the fact that those duties were too high, and that this prevented the Antilles from securing the markets which they needed for their rich and abundant productions, and from the lack of reciprocity. Thus, as no insurmountable difficulties exist, there is ground for saying that an understanding is more than possible; that it is certain, especially when it is considered that the exports from the Peninsula to Cuba consist of about fifty articles of the four hundred that are specified in the tariff, and that of these fifty many, owing to their special character, and owing to the customs and tastes of the Cubans, will never have reason to fear the competition of foreign articles.

The manufacturers and shipowners of the Peninsula have no cause for alarm owing to the establishment of a system of autonomy, which, while it modifies the conditions on which the tariff is based, does not alter the essential bases of the economic relations between Spain and the Antilles. There will doubtless be some difficulties to be harmonized, or it will be necessary to settle the inevitable differences accompanying any change of the mercantile régime; it will be necessary to combine both tariffs in some way; but neither are the interests of Cuba opposed to those of the Peninsula, nor is it in anyone’s interest to diminish the commercial relations existing between the two countries.

If, then, the insular government were already established, and if with it it had been possible to agree upon a system of mercantile relations, this question would not have assumed proportions which it does not possess; nor would there be any cause for predicting ruin and disaster; the facts would put suppositions to silence. Notwithstanding this, the Government has thought that in order to quiet alarm it was proper for it to anticipate events, and that instead of leaving the settlement of the question to the natural working of the new constitution, it was proper to fix without further delay the bases of our future mercantile relations. In doing this, and with a view to removing all cause of distrust, it has gone so far as to fix a maximum for the differential duties that are to be obtained by Peninsular goods, offering, as was right and just, the same rates to insular productions.

The basis of the understanding having been fixed and determined, the principle of autonomy having been guaranteed, the equality of powers having been established in an unquestionable manner in the procedure that is to be observed, and the spirit which actuates those islanders being known, the negotiation will be easy and its results will be advantageous to both parties.

As to the debt which burdens the Cuban treasury, either directly or owing to the guarantee which it has given to that of the Peninsula, and which the latter bears analogously, the justice of dividing it in an equitable manner when the termination of the war shall render it possible to fix its definitive amount is not to be doubted for a moment.

This debt, let us hope, will not be so enormous as to amount to an insupportable burden upon the energy of the nation, nor is the nation so lacking in resources that it needs to feel alarm at the prospect before it. A country which during the past few months has given such strong evidence of virility and social discipline; a territory like that of Cuba, which, even in the midst of its political convulsions and of war scarcely interrupted for thirty years, has produced so great wealth by cultivating only a small part of its fertile soil, and which has done this by its own strength alone, with few institutions of credit, struggling against sugar on which a bounty is paid, the American market being closed to its manufactured tobacco, and at the same time changing slave labor into free labor, may calmly contemplate the payment of its obligations and inspire its creditors with confidence.

Consequently, in the opinion of the Government, it is important to think from this time forward of the manner in which the debt is to be paid, rather than of its division, applying the economic methods of our day to the great wealth which the soil of Cuba secures to agriculturists and which the bowels of the earth secure to miners, and taking advantage of the extraordinary facilities offered to the commerce of the world by the insular form and the geographical situation of what has rightly been called the “Pearl of the Antilles.”

If no legislation can yet be enacted concerning these things, it is proper to bear [Page 636] them in mind very carefully and to pay much attention to them, since it has occurred to others who certainly can not be charged with being visionary or forming illusions—it has occurred to them, I say, to take advantage of this great germ of wealth, not, indeed, for the benefit of Spain or to uphold her sovereignty; when they do this, it would be folly not to follow their example and not to convert into a redemption of the past and a guaranty of the future what has perhaps been an incentive to war and the origin in a great measure of the evils which we are now so eagerly seeking to remedy.

Basing its action on these considerations, the Government has the honor to submit the inclosed draft of a decree to Your Majesty for approval.

Madam, at Your Majesty’s royal feet,

Práxedes Mateo Sagasta.

royal decree.

By the advice and consent of my council of ministers; in the name of my august son, King Alfonso XIII, and as Queen Regent of the Kingdom, I decree as follows:

Title I.—Of the government and administration of the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico.

Article I. The islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico shall hereafter be governed and administered in accordance with the following provisions:

Explanatory note.

To facilitate the understanding of this decree and to prevent confusion as regards the legal value of the terms therein used, the following definitions must be remembered:

  • Executive central power: The King with his council of ministers.
  • Spanish Parliament: The Cortes with the King.
  • Spanish Chambers: The Congress and the Senate.
  • Central Government: The council of ministers of the Kingdom.
  • Colonial parliament: The two chambers with the Governor-General.
  • Colonial chambers: The council of administration and the chamber of representatives.
  • Colonial legislative assemblies: The council of administration and the chamber of representatives.
  • Governor-General in council: The Governor-General, with his secretaries.
  • Instructions of the Governor-General: Those which he received when he was appointed to his post.
  • Statute: Colonial provision of a legislative character.
  • Colonial statutes: The colonial legislation.
  • Legislation or general laws: The legislation or laws of the Kingdom.

Art. 2. The government of each one of the islands shall be composed of an insular parliament, divided into two chambers, and of a Governor-General representing the mother country, who, in the name of the latter, shall exercise supreme authority.

Title II.—Of the insular chambers.

Art. 3. The insular chambers, together with the Governor-General, shall have power to legislate concerning colonial affairs in the manner and on the terms provided by law.

Art. 4. The islands shall be represented by two bodies, whose powers shall be equal, viz: The chamber of representatives and the council of administration.

Art. 5. The council shall be composed of 35 members, of whom 18 shall be elected in the manner prescribed in the electoral law, and the remaining 17 shall be designated by the King, and in his name by the Governor-General, from among those possessing the requirements enumerated in the following articles:

Art. 6. To be entitled to a seat in the council of administration it shall be necessary to be a Spaniard; to have attained the age of 35 years; to have been born in the island, or to have resided there uninterruptedly for four years; not to be under criminal prosecution; to be in the full enjoyment of one’s political rights; not to have one’s property embargoed; to have had for two or more years an income of one’s own amounting to $4,000, and to have no part in contracts with the central government or with that of the island.

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Stockholders in joint-stock companies shall not be considered as having a contract with the government, although the society to which they belong may have one.

Art. 7. Those who, in addition to the requirements mentioned in the foregoing article, possess any one of the following, may be elected or designated as members of the council of administration:

(1) Being or having been a senator of the Kingdom, or having the requirements specified in Title III of the constitution for the discharge of the duty of that office.

(2) Having discharged for two years the duties of one of the offices mentioned below:

That of presiding judge of the superior court of Havana, or of the govrenment attorney attached to that court; that of rector of the University of Havana; that of a member of the old council of administration; president of the chamber of commerce of the capital; president of the Economic Society of Friends of the Country, of Havana; president of the Club of Landholders; president of the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Union; president of the League of Merchants, Manufacturers, and Agriculturists of Cuba; dean of the Illustrious College of Lawyers, of the capital; alcalde of Havana; president of its provincial deputation for two terms of two years each, or president of a provincial deputation for three such terms; dean of any of the cathedral cabildos.

(3) The following persons may likewise be elected or designated: Land owners whose names appear in the list of the 50 largest taxpayers on land held by them, or in that of the first 50 for trade, professions, industry, and arts.

Art. 8. The appointment of the members of the council whom the Crown may designate shall take place by special decrees, in which the ground on which the appointment is based shall always be stated.

The members of the council thus appointed shall hold their office during life.

One-half of the elective members of the council shall be renewed every five years, and all shall be renewed whenever the Governor-General shall dissolve the council of administration.

Art. 9. The requirements necessary to be appointed or elected councilor of administration may be changed by a law of the Kingdom at the request or in accordance with the suggestion of the insular chambers.

Art. 10. Members of the council of administration shall accept no office and no title or decoration while the sessions last, but both the local and the central government may confer upon them, within their respective office or categories, such commissions as the public service may require.

The office of secretary of the government shall be excepted from the provisions contained in the foregoing paragraphs.

Title IV.—Of the chamber of representatives.

Art. 11. The chamber of representatives shall be composed of the persons named by the electoral boards in the manner provided by law and in the proportion of one to every 25,000 inhabitants.

Art. 12. In order to be elected a representative it is necessary to be a Spaniard, not in clerical orders, of full age, to be in the enjoyment of all one’s civil rights, to have been born in the island of Cuba, or to have resided there for four years, and not to be under a criminal prosecution.

Art. 13. Representatives shall be elected for five years, and may be reelected indefinitely.

The insular chamber shall decide with what functions the office of representative is incompatible, and shall determine in what cases a representative may be reelected.

Art. 14. Representatives upon whom the central or local government shall confer a pension, an office, a promotion out of the regular course, a commission with salary, honors or decorations, shall cease to hold their office, without the necessity of any declaration if, within the fifteen days immediately following their appointment, they do not inform the chamber that they decline to accept the favor conferred.

What is contained in the foregoing paragraph does not include representatives who are appointed government secretaries.

Title V.—Of the manner in which the insular chambers are to perform their functions, and of the relations between them both.

Art. 15. The chambers shall meet every year. It shall be the duty of the King, and in his name of the Governor-General, to convoke or suspend them, to close their sessions, and to dissolve separately or simultaneously the chamber of representatives and the council of administration, with the obligation to convoke them again or to renew them within three months.

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Art. 16. Each one of the colegislative bodies shall draw up its own regulations and shall examine both the qualifications of the persons who compose them and the legality of their election.

Until the chamber of representatives and the council of administration shall have approved their regulations, they shall be governed by the regulations of the congress of deputies or by those of the senate, respectively.

Art. 17. Both chambers shall choose their president, vice-presidents, and secretaries.

Art. 18. One of the two legislative bodies shall not be in session unless the other is also.

The case is excepted in which the council of administration shall perform judicial functions.

Art. 19. The insular chambers shall not deliberate together or in presence of the Governor-General.

Their sessions shall be public, although in cases in which secrecy is required each one may hold a secret session.

Art. 20. It shall be the duty of the Governor-General, through the governmental secretaries, just as it shall be that of each one of the two chambers, to initiate and propose the colonial statutes.

Art. 21. The colonial statutes concerning taxes and public credit shall be first laid before the chamber of representatives.

Art. 22. Resolutions in each one of the colegislative bodies shall be taken by a plurality of votes; but in order to pass enactments of a legislative character, the presence of one-half plus one of the total number of members composing it shall be required. The presence of one-third of the members shall, however, be sufficient for deliberation.

Art. 23. In order that a resolution may be understood to have been passed by the insular parliament, it shall be necessary for it to have been approved both by the chamber of representatives and by the council of administration.

Art. 24. The colonial statutes, when approved in the manner provided in the foregoing article, shall be laid before the Governor-General by the officers of the respective chambers for his sanction and promulgation.

Art. 25. The members of the council of administration and those of the chamber of representatives shall be inviolable as regards their opinions and votes in the discharge of the duties of their office.

Art. 26. The members of the council of administration shall not be prosecuted or arrested without a previous resolution of the council, unless when they are taken in flagrante delicto or when the council is not in session; but in all cases a report shall be made to that body as speedily as possible, in order that it may reach a proper determination. The representatives shall, moreover, not be prosecuted or arrested during the sessions of the chamber without its permission, unless they are taken in flagrante delicto; but in this case, and in that of their being prosecuted or arrested when the chambers are closed, a report shall be made as speedily as possible to the chamber of representatives, for its information and decision.

The superior court of Havana shall take cognizance of criminal cases against members of the council and representatives, in such cases and in such manner as the colonial statutes provide.

Art. 27. The guarantees provided in the foregoing article shall not be applicable to cases in which a member of the council or a representative shall declare that he is the author of articles, books, pamphlets, or printed matter of any kind in which soldiers are incited to sedition, or in which the Governor-General is insulted or slandered, or an attack is made upon the national integrity.

Art. 28. The relations between the two chambers shall be regulated, until further orders, by the law concerning the relations between both colegislative bodies bearing date of July 19, 1837.

Art. 29. In addition to holding the colonial legislative power, it shall be the duty of the insular chambers:

To administer to the Governor-General the oath that he will uphold the constitution and the laws which guarantee the autonomy of the colony.
To make effective the responsibility of the governmental secretaries, who, when accused by the chamber of representatives, shall be tried by the council of administration.
To address the central Government through the Governor-General in order to propose to it the abrogation or modification of the laws of the Kingdom which are in force, to request it to present drafts of laws concerning determinate matters, or to request it to adopt resolutions of an executive character on subjects which interest the colony.

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Art. 30. In all cases in which, in the opinion of the Governor-General, the national interests may be affected by the colonial statutes, the presentation of drafts of ministerial initiative shall be preceded by their communication to the central Government.

If the project shall be the outgrowth of parliamentary initiative, the colonial government shall ask for the postponement of the discussion until the central Government shall have expressed its opinion.

In both cases the correspondence that has passed between the two governments shall be communicated to the chambers and shall be published in the Gazette.

Art. 31. Conflicts of jurisdiction between the different municipal assemblies, provincial and insular, or with the executive power, which owing to their nature shall not be referred to the central Government, shall be submitted to the courts of justice, in accordance with the provisions of this decree.

Title VI.—Of the powers of insular parliament.

Art. 32. The insular chambers shall have power to legislate concerning all matters that have, not been specially and determinately reserved to the Cortes of the Kingdom or the central Government, according to the present decree or to the provisions that may hereafter be adopted as provided in article 2 additional.

Consequently, the enumeration presuming no limitation of their powers, it shall be their duty to decide concerning all matters that belong to the ministries of grace and justice, government, finance and fomento, in its three divisions, public works, education, and agriculture.

It shall likewise be their duty to obtain special information with regard to all matters of a purely local nature which principally affect the colonial territory; and in this sense they may decide concerning administrative organization and division, whether territorial, provincial, municipal, or judicial; concerning public health, both on sea and land; concerning public credit, banks, and the monetary system.

These powers are to be understood as not interfering with those belonging, in connection with the same matters, according to law, to the colonial executive power.

Art. 33. It shall likewise be the duty of the insular parliament to prepare the regulations for the execution of those laws enacted by the Cortes of the Kingdom that shall be expressly confided to it. In this sense it specially belongs to it (and it may do so at its very first meeting) to decide concerning electoral procedure, the preparation of the census, the qualifications of electors, and the manner in which elections shall be held; but its decisions shall in nowise affect the rights of citizens as they are recognized by the electoral law.

Art. 34. Although the laws relating to the administration of justice and the organization of the courts are of a general character, and therefore obligatory upon the colony, the colonial parliament may, subject to them, adopt such rules or propose to the central Government such measures as may facilitate the entrance, retention, and promotion in the local courts of the natives of the island, or of those who practice the legal profession there. The Governor-General in council shall exercise the powers which, as regards the appointment of legal officers, subordinates, and assistants, and as regards other matters connected with the administration of justice, are now exercised by the ministry of the colonies so far as the island of Cuba is concerned.

Art. 35. It shall be an exclusive power of the insular parliament to prepare the local budget both of expenditures and receipts, and to prepare that of the receipts necessary to meet the portion of expense of the national budget which is payable by the island.

To this effect, the Governor-General shall lay before the chambers, before the month of January of each year, the budget for the following fiscal year, divided into two parts, the first of which shall contain a statement of the receipts necessary to meet the expenses of sovereignty; the second, the expenditures and receipts which properly belong to the colonial administration.

Neither of the chambers shall deliberate concerning the colonial budget without having definitely passed upon the portion relating to the expenses of sovereignty.

Art. 36. It shall be the duty of the Cortes of the Kingdom to decide what are to be considered, from their nature, as obligatory expenses inherent in sovereignty, and also to fix every three years the amount thereof and the receipts necessary to meet them, the Cortes having always the right to change this provision.

Art. 37. The negotiation of treaties of commerce affecting the island of Cuba, whether they are due to the initative of the insular government or to that of the central government, shall always be conducted by the latter, assisted in both cases by special delegates, duly authorized by the colonial government, the conformity of which treaties to what has been agreed upon shall be shown when they are laid before the Cortes of the Kingdom.

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These treaties, if they shall he approved by the Cortes, shall be published as laws of the Kingdom, and as such they shall remain in force in the territory of the island.

Art. 38. Treaties of commerce in the negotiation of which the insular government shall not have taken part shall be communicated to it when they shall become laws of the Kingdom, in order that it may, within three months, declare whether it desires to adhere to their stipulations or not. In case of its desiring to adhere to them the Governor-General shall publish a statement to that effect in the Gazette as a colonial statute.

Art. 39. It shall further be the duty of the insular parliament to prepare the tariff and to designate the duties to be paid on goods, both when imported into the territory of the island and when exported therefrom.

Art. 40. By way of transition from the present régime to that for which provision is hereby made, and without prejudice to what may be agreed upon at the proper time by the two governments, commercial relations between the Peninsula and the island of Cuba shall be governed by the following provisions:

(1) No duty, whether of a fiscal character or not, and whether established for imports or exports, shall be differential to the detriment of insular or peninsular productions.

(2) A list of articles of direct national origin shall be prepared by both governments, for which articles there shall be established by common consent a differential duty on those similar to them of foreign origin.

In another similar list, prepared in the same manner, those productions of insular origin shall be determined which are to receive privileged treatment when imported into the Peninsula. The rate of the differential duties shall likewise be determined.

This differential duty shall in no case exceed, for both origins, 35 per cent.

If, in the preparation of both lists and in the fixing of the protective duties, there shall be an agreement between the two governments, the lists shall be considered definite and shall be adopted at once. If there shall be any disagreement, the point in dispute shall be submitted for decision to a commission of deputies of the Kingdom, consisting equally of natives of Cuba and of the Peninsula. This commission shall choose its president. If no agreement shall be reached concerning his appointment, the oldest officer shall preside. The president shall have a vote by virtue of his office.

(3) The tables of valuations for the articles enumerated in the two lists mentioned in the foregoing number shall be adopted by common consent, and shall be revised every two years, a hearing being granted to both parties. The modifications which it shall be proper to make, in view thereof, in the tariff, shall be at once carried out by the respective governments.

Title VII.

Art. 41. The supreme government of the colony shall be vested in a Governor-General, who shall be appointed by the King, on motion of the council of ministers. In this capacity he shall exercise, as a vice-royal patron, the powers inherent in the patronate of the Indies; he shall have the chief command of all the armed forces, both naval and military, in the island; he shall be the representative of the ministries of state, war, navy, and the colonies; all the authorities of the island shall be subordinate to him, and he shall be responsible for the preservation of order and of the safety of the colony.

The Governor-General, before assuming the duties of his office, shall make oath before the King that he will perform them faithfully and loyally.

Art. 42. The Governor-General, as the representative of the nation, shall perform by himself, and assisted by his secretaries, all the duties mentioned in the foregoing articles, and that may be incumbent upon him as the direct representative of the King in matters of a national character. It shall be the duty of the Governor-General, as the representative of the mother country:

To designate freely the employees of his secretariat.
To publish, execute, and cause to be executed on the island the laws, decrees, treaties, international conventions, and other instruments emanating from the legislative branch of the Government, and likewise the decrees, royal orders, and other instruments emanating from the executive branch that shall be communicated to him by the ministries, whose representative he is.
When, in his judgment, and that of the secretaries of his administration, the decisions of Her Majesty’s Government might cause injury to the general interests of the nation, or to the special interests of the island, he shall suspend their publication and execution, making a report thereof and of the causes upon which his decision is based to the proper ministry.
To exercise the pardoning power in the name of the King within the limits which shall have been specially marked out for him in his instructions, and to suspend the execution of capital punishment in cases in which the gravity of the circumstances may demand it, or the urgency of the case may not allow time to solicit and obtain pardon from Her Majesty, the opinion of the secretaries being heard in all cases.
To suspend the guaranties named in articles 4, 5, 6, and 9, and paragraphs 1, 2, and 3 of article 13, of the constitution of the State, to enforce the laws relative to public order, and to take all such measures as he may deem necessary for the preservation of peace within, and of security outside of, the territory that is intrusted to him, the council of secretaries being previously heard.
To take care that justice be speedily and properly administered in the colony, in which it shall always be administered in the name of the King.
To communicate directly concerning matters of external policy with the representatives, diplomatic agents, and consuls of Spain in America.

Correspondence of this kind shall be communicated in its entirety and simultaneously to the minister of state.

Art. 43. It shall be the duty of the Governor-General, as the superior authority of the island and the head of its administration:

(1) To take care that the rights, powers, and privileges recognized or hereafter to be recognized as belonging to the colonial administration, be duly respected and upheld.

(2) To sanction and publish the enactments of the insular parliament, which shall be laid before him by the president and secretaries of the respective chambers.

When the Governor-General shall consider that an enactment of the insular parliament goes beyond the powers of that body, violates the rights of citizens which are recognized in Title I of the constitution, or the guarantees fixed by law for the exercise of those rights, or jeapordizes the interests of the colony or of the State, he shall send the enactment to the council of ministers, of the Kingdom, which, in a period not exceeding six months, shall approve it or return it to the Governor-General, with a statement of the reasons that it may have for objecting to its sanction and promulgation. The insular parliament, in view of these reasons, may again deliberate concerning the matter and modify the enactment, if it thinks proper, without the necessity of a special proposition.

If two months shall pass without the central Government’s having expressed its opinion concerning an enactment of the chambers that shall have been transmitted to it by the Governor-General, that officer shall sanction and promulgate it.

(3) To appoint, suspend, and remove the employees of the colonial administration, on motion of the respective secretaries of the government, and in accordance with the laws.

(4) To appoint and remove freely the secretaries of the government.

Art. 44. No order of the Governor-General, issued in his capacity as representative and head of the colony, shall be carried out unless it is countersigned by a secretary of the government, who by this act alone, becomes responsible therefor.

Art. 45. The secretaries of the government shall be five:

  • Grace, justice, and of the interior.
  • Finance.
  • Public instruction.
  • Public works and means of communication.
  • Agriculture, industry, and commerce.

The secretary who shall be appointed by the Governor-General, shall be president. The Governor-General may likewise appoint a president without a determinate department.

The insular parliament shall have power to increase or diminish the number of the secretaries of the government, and also to determine what matters belong to the department of each.

Art. 46. The secretaries of the government may be members of the chamber of representatives or of the council of administration, and take part in the discussions of both bodies; but they shall only have a vote in that to which they belong.

Art. 47. The secretaries of the government shall be responsible for their acts to the insular chambers.

Art. 48. The Governor-General shall not modify or revoke his own orders when they shall have been sanctioned by the government, whether they are declaratory of rights, or have served as a basis for a judicial decision, or shall have reference to his own competency.

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Art. 49. The Governor-General shall not delegate the powers of his office on absenting himself from the island without the express permission of the Government.

In cases of absence from the capital, which shall prevent him from transacting business, or of the impossibility of his doing so, he may designate a person or persons to act in his stead, if the government shall not previously have done so, or if, in his instructions, there is no provision made for the appointment of a substitute.

Art. 50. The supreme court shall take cognizance, without appeal, of all charges defined in the penal code that shall be made against the Governor-General.

The council of ministers shall take cognizance of any malfeasance in office committed by him.

Art. 51. The Governor-General, notwithstanding the provisions contained in the various articles of this decree, may act by himself and on his own responsibility, without granting a hearing to the secretaries of the government in the following cases:

When the question is of the transmission to the government of the enactments of the insular chambers, especially when he considers that the rights guaranteed in Title I of the constitution of the monarchy or the guarntees provided by law for their exercise are violated by those enactments.
When the law relative to public order is to be executed, especially if there is no time or any way to consult the central government.
When the question is of the execution and fulfillment of laws of the Kingdom sanctioned by His Majesty, and operative in all the Spanish territory or that of its Government.

A law shall provide for the procedure and means of action that may be used in such cases by the Governor-General.

Title VIII.—Of the municipal and provincial régime.

Art. 52. Municipal organization shall be obligatory in every center of population containing more than 1,000 inhabitants. Localities containing a smaller population may organize services of a common character by special agreements.

Any municipal board that is legally constituted shall have power to legislate concerning public instruction, communication by land, river, or sea, concerning local health, the municipal budgets, and to appoint and remove its employees at will.

Art. 53. At the head of each Province there shall be a deputation, elected in the manner provided by the colonial statutes and composed of a number of members in proportion to its population.

Art. 54. The provincial deputations shall be autonomous in everything relating to the creation and dotation of establishments of public instruction and charitable institutions, provincial means of communication by land, river, or sea, the preparation of their budgets, and the appointment and removal of their employees.

Art. 55. Both the municipal boards and Provinces may freely provide for the receipts necessary to meet the expenditures of their budgets without any limitation other than that of making them harmonize with the general system of taxation of the island.

The means derived from the provincial budget shall be independent of those derived from the municipal budget.

Art. 56. The councilmen elected by the municipal districts shall be alcaldes and acting alcaldes.

Art. 57. The alcaldes shall perform the active duties of the municipal administration without any limitation whatever, as executors of the enactments of the municipal governments and as their representatives.

Art. 58. Both the councilmen and the provincial deputies shall be civilly responsible for any injuries that may be caused by their acts.

They may be held thus responsible before the ordinary courts.

Art. 59. The provisional deputations shall freely choose their presidents.

Art. 60. Elections for councilmen and provincial deputies shall be held in such a manner that the minorities may be legitimately represented therein.

Art. 61. The provincial and municipal law now in force in Cuba shall continue in force, so far as it is not at variance with the provisions of this decree, until the colonial parliament shall decide concerning these matters.

Art. 62. No colonial statute shall deprive the municipal boards or the deputations of the powers recognized in the foregoing articles as belonging to them.

Title IX.—Of guarantees for the enforcement of the colonial constitution.

Art. 63. Any citizen may apply to the courts when he thinks that his rights have been violated or his interests injured by the enactments of a municipal board or of a provincial deputation.

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The Government attorney, if he shall be requested to do so by the agents of the colonial executive power, shall likewise prosecute before the courts any infractions of law or abuses of power that may have been committed by the municipal governments and the deputations.

Art. 64. In the cases referred to in the foregoing article the following courts shall be competent:

For complaints against the municipal boards, the superior court of the territory.

For complaints against the provincial deputations, the superior court of Havana.

These courts, when they have to decide cases of abuses of power by the aforesaid bodies, shall decide in full court. Appeal may be taken from the decisions of the territorial courts to the superior court of Havana, and from the decisions of this latter court to the supreme court of the Kingdom.

Art. 65. The privileges granted in article 62 to any citizen may be exercised collectively by means of a public action, an attorney or representative being appointed for that purpose.

Art. 66. Without prejudice to the powers granted to him in Title V, the Governor-General, when he shall think proper, may have recourse, in his capacity as head of the colonial executive power, to the superior court of Havana, to the end that that court may decide conflicts of jurisdiction between the colonial executive power and the legislative chambers.

Art. 67. If any question of jurisdiction shall arise between the insular parliament and the Governor-General in his capacity as representative of the central Government, which, on petition of the former, shall not be submitted to the council of ministers of the Kingdom, each of the two parties may submit it for decision to the supreme court of the Kingdom, which shall decide in full court and without appeal.

Art. 68. Decisions having reference to the cases provided for in the foregoing articles shall be published in the collection of colonial statutes, and shall form part of the laws of the island.

Art. 69. Any municipal enactment having for its object the contraction of municipal loans or debts shall have no executive force unless it shall be approved by a majority of the residents when a demand to this effect shall have been made by one-third of the members of the municipal board.

A special statute shall determine the amount of the loan, or of the debt which according to the number of residents of the municipal district shall be necessary, in order that the case may be referred to the vote of the residents.

Art. 70. All provisions of a legal character emanating from the colonial parliament or the courts shall be compiled under the name of colonial statutes in a legislative collection, the preparation and publication of which shall be intrusted to the Governor-General as head of the colonial executive power.

additional articles.

  • Article 1. Until colonial statutes shall have been published in due form the laws of the Kingdom shall be considered applicable to all matters that are to be acted upon by the insular government.
  • Art. 2. When the present constitution for the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico shall have been approved by the Cortes of the Kingdom, it shall not be modified otherwise than by a law and at the request of the insular parliament.
  • Art. 3. The provisions of the present decree shall be enforced in their entirety in the island of Puerto Rico; but in order to adapt them to the population and the nomenclature of that island they shall be published in a special decree for Puerto Rico.
  • Art. 4. Contracts relative to public services common both to the Antilles and the Peninsula that are in course of execution shall continue in their present form until their termination, and shall be governed in all respects by the conditions of the contract. With regard to contracts that have not yet begun to be executed, but have been already agreed upon, the Governor-General shall consult the central Government or the colonial chambers, if necessary, and the definitive form in which they shall be concluded shall be determined by common consent between the two governments.

transient articles.

Article 1. In order to accomplish with the greatest rapidity possible, and with the least interruption of the services, the transition from the present system to that which is created by this decree, the Governor-General, when he shall think that the proper time has arrived, shall, after consulting the central Government, appoint the Government secretaries to whom reference is made in article 45, and with them shall conduct the interior government of the island of Cuba until the insular chambers shall have been constituted.

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The secretaries appointed shall cease to hold their offices when the Governor-General shall take his oath of office before the insular chambers, when they shall immediately be replaced by the governor with persons who, in his opinion, most fully represent the majorities of the chamber of representatives and of the council of administration.

Art. 2. The manner of meeting the expenditures occasioned by the debt which now burdens the Spanish and the Cuban treasury, and that which shall have been contracted until the time of the termination of the war, shall form the subject of a law wherein shall be determined the part payable by each of the two treasuries, and the special means of paying the interest thereon, and of the amortization thereof; and, if necessary, of paying the principal.

Until the Cortes of the Kingdom shall decide this point, there shall be no change in the conditions on which the aforesaid debts have been contracted, or in the payment of the interest and amortization, or in the guarantees of said debts, or in the manner in which the payments are now made.

When the apportionment shall have been made by the Cortes, it shall be for each one of the treasuries to make payment of the part assigned to it.

Engagements contracted with creditors under a pledge of the good faith of the Spanish nation shall in all cases be scrupulously respected.

María Christina.

Práxedes Mateo Sagasta,
President of the Council of Ministers.