Chargé Sleeper to the Secretary of State.
Habana, Cuba, August 21, 1906.
Sir: I have the honor to report that, as foreshadowed in legation No. 1478, of February 27, 1906,a an armed uprising against the Government exists in the provinces of Pinar del Rio and Habana.
The strength of the insurrectionists in Pinar del Rio is said to be between 1,000 and 1,500 men, under the command of Col. Pino Guerra, a liberal member of the present Congress and a veteran of the war of independence. In the province of Habana about 250 men are under arms, under the leadership of Gen. Quintin Banderas (colored), who also served in the revolutionary army. Both of these bands are daily receiving new recruits.
The Government relies chiefly upon the rural guard, in which, it must be confessed, there is some disaffection. In one instance a detail of about 30 men sent against the insurrectionists deserted to them. It is commonly reported that this disaffection extends to nearly one-half of the entire guard, and for this reason, as well as on account of the necessity for increasing the armed forces, the President, on the 20th instant, issued a decree, translation inclosed herewith, providing for the immediate recruiting of some 2,000 men, most of whom will be veterans of the last war, who will form a force which may be relied upon.
Up to the present time the insurgents have confined themselves to marauding, the cutting of telephone and telegraph wires, and other petty acts. Several minor encounters have taken place (the outcome of which has not been divulged by the Government), but no serious fighting has as yet been reported. I was yesterday informed by good, but not official, authority that the town of Consolacion del Sur, near Pinar del Rio, the capital of Pinar del Rio Province, has been invested by the insurgents, who compelled the small garrison of rural guards there stationed to entrench themselves in the town church.
The Government has made many arrests and seems to be acting with energy and determination. Among those in custody are Generals Carlos Garcia Velez, ex-minister to Mexico, Demetrio Castillo Duany, José de Jesus Monteagudo, and Mr. Juan Gualberto Gomez; these last three Liberals.[Page 455]
Gen. José Miguel Gomez, the central figure in the last uprising, is this morning reported, on good authority, to have taken the field against the Government.
Doctor O’Farrill, now acting secretary of government, informed me yesterday that the Government feels fully able to cope with the situation, and while I believe the outbreak to be more serious than the Government cares to admit, I also believe public opinion throughout the island to be clearly against any disturbance of the public order, and can see no reason why the Government should not crush the revolt with the resources at its disposal.
I confirm on the overleaf my telegrams of yesterday and to-day, and inclose herewith pertinent clippings from the Habana Post and Daily Telegraph of this date.a