Minister Squiers to the Secretary of State.

No. 1241.]

Sir: * * * With reference to contract for sewering and paying Habana, I have the honor to inclose translation of a Presidential message sent to Congress April 28 and a newspaper reporta of the debate following the reading of the message in the Senate.

Mr. O’Farrill in a recent interview agreed that a message should be prepared and sent to Congress.

Mr. Palma’s prompt action indicates the pressure of interested persons who will without doubt push matters to a favorable issue, if it is possible to do so. * * *

I am, etc.,

H. G. Squiers.

Message of the President of Cuba to the Cuban Congress.

It is the duty of the Executive to submit to the consideration of the Congress a matter of serious importance, as it comes within our obligations respecting the United States. I refer to the plan for the sewering and paving of the city of Habana. These works, besides being included by their nature in article 5 of the constitutional appendix, are specifically mentioned in the letter of transfer of the government of the island, addressed by Gen. Leonard Wood on the 20th of May, 1902, to the President of the Republic and to Congress. The paragraphs of said letter concerning this matter and other works of a like nature are as follows:

“The following are the plans devised for the sanitation of the cities of the island and to prevent a recurrence of epidemic and infectious diseases, to which the Government of the United States understands that the provisions of the constitution contained in the fifth article of the appendix applies, viz:

  • “(1) A plan for the sewering and paying of the city of Habana, for which a contract has been awarded by the municipality of that city to McGivney, Rokeby & Co.
  • “(2) A plan for waterworks to supply the city of Santiago de Cuba, prepared by Capt. S. D. Rockenbach, in charge of the district of Santiago, and approved by the military governor, providing for taking water from the wells of San Juan Canyon and pumping the same to reservoirs located on the heights to the east of the city.
  • “(3) A plan for the sewering of the city of Santiago de Cuba, now under construction by virtue of the contract with Messrs. Michael J. Dady & Co.”

In order that this contract be fulfilled, the Government at Washington has advised us thereof, through its diplomatic representative, in terms which reveal its desire that the works of sanitation of the city of Habana be concluded according to the sewerage and paving plan approved by the military governor in 1901. Moreover, the American Government understands that the municipality having adjudged the contract for said works to Messrs. McGivney, Rokeby & Co., with the approval of the said governor, and these having, furthermore, deposited as a guaranty one-half million of dollars, they have the indisputable right to undertake them and no one else, whether paid for by the municipality or by the National Executive.

In order to give a clearer idea of what the Washington Government thinks about the matter, I shall translate below certain paragraphs of the note addressed to our state department by the American minister:

* * * * * *

“From the foregoing it will be observed that the general covenant contained in the Piatt amendment and the appendix to the Cuban constitution whereby Cuba agreed with the United States to sanitate the cities of the island was thus made definite and specific so far as concerned the city of Habana. Thus did Cuba specifically agree in May, 1902, to sanitate the city of Habana by carrying out the McGivney & Rokeby contract. Under such circumstances an international obligation to raise the funds necessary for the purpose of carrying out the McGivney & Rokeby contract rests upon the National Government of the Republic of Cuba.”

Now whatever our opinion may be about the extent or limit of the municipal contract with that company there remains anyway the obligation which the Government of the Republic of Cuba has contracted with that of the United States relative to the sewering and paving of the city of Habana. And as the lack of fulfillment of this obligation has resulted in our attention being called to the matter by the Washington Government, I comply with my duty in presenting to the Congress a matter of such extreme importance in order that it may decide what it sees fit with the promptness which the case requires.

T. Estrada Palma.
  1. Not printed.