The Secretary of State to Chargé Sleeper.

No. 569.]

Sir: The correspondence had with your legation, especially during the current year, will have shown the great interest, mutually shared by the two countries, which is felt in the carrying out of the engagement contained in the appendix to the Cuban constitution and affirmed in the fifth article of the treaty of May 22, 1903, between the United States and the Republic of Cuba for the maintenance and, so far as necessary, the extension of the plans then already devised or other plans mutually to be agreed upon for the sanitation of the cities of the island of Cuba.

In this regard reference may be made to the note which Minister Squiers addressed, in pursuance of the Department’s instructions, to Secretary O’Farrill on March 31, 1905, to the reply of Señor O’Farrill, dated April 18, and to the message communicated to the Cuban congress by the President on April 28 last. The latter paper in particular shows the extreme importance attached by the Cuban Executive to the faithful execution of the existing engagements in the premises.

Legislation has since been proposed in the Cuban congress looking to the adoption of extensive measures of sanitation throughout the island. The matters especially brought to the attention of that body by President Palma’s message of April 28 do not appear to have been acted upon. That this inaction is not due to any misconception of the importance or urgency of the matter is evident from the first “considerando” of the bill introduced in the House of Representatives on September 29 last, which reads:

Considering that the Cuban State could not in any case elude the responsibility that would fall upon it if, for lack of attention or vigilance in sanitary matters, the American Government should demand the fulfillment of the agreement between us on the subject of hygiene, and that, in view of the fact that international duties directly affect the central authority, it is not possible to delegate them to any other organization, either provincial or municipal;

as well as from the concluding paragraph of article 1 of the said bill, which reads:

The city of Habana shall continue with its present organization in this respect, using the amounts set down in the general budget for services already established and the legislative credits appropriated for special works under way.

While the needful measures for improving the sanitary conditions of other cities of the island, devised and set on foot by the military authorities of the United States, were to some extent incomplete owing to the magnitude of the task and the briefness of the term of American occupation, those adopted with regard to the capital city were matured with care and applied with success, so that the health of Habana was bettered to a notable degree. Conditions were established and improvements set under way which have continued up to a recent date to maintain the salubrity of Habana, and which have demonstrated by their results the practical wisdom of their choice. What shortcomings may now be apparent are obviously attributable, not to defects in the devised scheme, but to its ineffective completion in all its parts.

The present conditions in the island naturally attract attention in this country. The great and growing intercourse between the United States and the Republic is mainly carried on through the capital and in large part through the populous provincial cities, in all of which [Page 276]effective sanitation is an imperative need and the consummation of adequate measures to that end a public duty. None realize this more than the Cubans themselves.

It appears to the President to be a timely, and at the same time a truly friendly act, to call the attention of the Cuban Government anew to the question of public sanitation and; in view of the very prosperous condition of the finances of the Republic, of the importance of allowing no hindrance to check the increasing commerce of Cuba, and of the occasion which now seems to call for earnest efforts to maintain and perfect the good work of the past few years, to urge that there be no further delay in the execution of the unfinished part of the compreheusive plan heretofore set under way, particularly in regard to the paving and draining of the city of Habana.

I am, etc.,

Elihu Root.