Chargé Sleeper to the Secretary of State.

No. 165.]

Sir: I have the honor to advise the department that the general aspect of the insurrection has not materially changed. The so-called amnesty order, on the subject of which please note inclosure 1, has not yet had the anticipated effect. It has indeed caused a few men to give themselves up, but the small bands roving through the country districts and seizing horses and supplies, keep the spirit of revolt alive and active.

At present Guerra seems to be awaiting for the Government to make the first move; a move which the latter is not yet prepared to make on account of lack of men and arms. It is rumored, nevertheless, that Colonel Avalos with 500 men has been sent by sea to attack the Guerra command some place near the Bay of Cortes, south of San Juan y Martinez, and there establish a base of operations, thus opening a waterway for the Government, in case traffic over the Western Railroad should be interrupted.

In this connection be it noted that Guerra has again notified the general manager of this railroad that he will dynamite his bridges if the transportation of government troops continues.

In the province of Habana, the rebel leader, Asbert, whose interview I cabled on the 29th, continues to harass the Government, but avoids a fight.

From Matanzas and Santa Clara provinces come many conflicting reports. The situation in Matanzas I do not consider threatening, but the state of affairs in Santa Clara is generally considered to be far more serious. I expect to receive reports from our consular officers in these provinces next week, and hope to then be able to more definitely advise the department. Although there are some disquieting rumors from the eastern portion of the island, I have received no official report as to any trouble there.

I have, etc.,

Jacob Sleeper,
Chargé d’ Affaires ad interim.
[Page 462]
[Inclosure 1.]

DECREE, WAR MEASURE, OR WHAT?

(From the Daily Telegraph, August 29, 1906.)

Much misconception has been awakened by an incompetent translation published in a bilingual paper of this city, of the order sent by Secretary Montalvo on Monday, directing the chief of the forces in operation to send instructions to the commanders in the provinces of Pinar del Rio, Habana, Matanzas, and Santa Clara, “recommending” them to permit those abandoning the arms they have taken up against the Government peacefully to return to their homes.

The paper referred to translates the opening paragraphs of the order as follows:

General: At the order of the President of the Republic of Cuba I make the following decree:

Give instructions to all the chiefs who are operating in the provinces of Pinar del Rio, Habana, Matanzas, and Santa Clara:

First. Allow all insurrectionists who present themselves and are repentant for what they have done to return quietly to their homes.

In the correct translation of the order, the text of which, printed by us yesterday, will be found reproduced on another page of this morning’s issue of the telegraph, there is no use of the word “decree,” which would be obviously out of place, and there is the important word “recommending.”

This in passing: the most serious question awakened by the order, reading it as it was really worded, is, however, one of its constitutionality.

So far as we know, martial law has not been declared, nor any suspension of the constitution. That the Government does not recognize the existence of a state of war is well exemplified by the fact that the rebels placed under arrest are at once handed over to the instructional judges, who represent the judicial branch of the Government. This being the case, on what ground does the President assume jurisdiction and promise immunity from penalties which it is the prerogative of the judicial branch of the Government to impose, for crimes which it is the court’s prerogative and duty to punish? His pardoning power is, of course, unquestionable, but can it be exercised before conviction by the courts? And, moreover, there is a wide difference between the pardoning power and the granting of immunity from prosecution. The executive, the judicial, and the legislative functions are clearly differentiated by the constitution, and each is strictly limited within its own sphere. The cases in which the Executive may supply the shortcomings of the legislature are carefully specified in article 68 of the constitution, but nowhere, except in case he shall suspend by executive decree the constitutional guarantees, is there any provision in the constitution for his infringing upon the judicial prerogative.

Paragraph 17 of article 68 says in its last paragraph:

Whenever there may be danger of invasion, or when any rebellion may gravely menace the public safety, the Congress not being assembled, the President shall convoke it without delay, that it may adopt such measures as the occasion may demand.

Inasmuch as the President has not convoked the Congress, as required in the case of rebellion seriously menacing the country, it is to be adduced that there exists no such serious menace, and therefore the constitution is in full force.

As the wording shows, the order is not a presidential decree, and, as a state of war has not been declared to exist, it can not be a war measure. Therefore we would ask what it is, and if it has any legal force. We do not do this with intention captiously to criticize the administration, but in the belief that, with the best intentions in the world, a blunder has been committed.

[Inclosure 2.]

cuba’s dilemma—intervention or economic ruin.

(From the Daily Telegraph, August 30, 1906.)

The attention of our readers is invited to the editorial from the Diario de la Marina, printed on another page under the caption “On Horns of a Dilemma.”

Therein is forcibly set forth the fatal consequences inevitably to be entailed upon Cuba by a continuance of the rebellion, but our colleague seems to feel [Page 463]a delicacy about proposing a way to bring it to an end, saying: “That is something which it is not our duty, nor perhaps our right, to say.”

The Diario declares that the revolution must, if not quickly ended, bring about one of two results, both equally deplorable, namely, American intervention or the discrediting of the Piatt amendment.

One of these will entail the loss of Cuba’s independence, the other the ruin of her credit.

That this is true there is not the slightest room for doubting, and it being true it is certainly incumbent upon all having Cuba’s welfare at heart to make every effort to end the struggle. How can it be done? We do not know, but we venture to suggest a way which seems to us at least worthy of a trial before confessing that Cuba’s attempt at independent self-government is a failure.

Unless American intervention is to come, Cubans must settle the conflict themselves, and settle it quickly. There has been some talk of the leading business men of the country getting together and proposing a basis of arbitration. This, we think, would be impracticable, for the reason that most of the leading business men are foreigners, for the most part Spaniards, with a sprinkling of American citizens. Cuba’s independence is presumably dearest and should be safest in the keeping of the best of those who fought for and suffered for and won it. Among these there are a number of general officers who, having performed a patriot’s duty and achieved as a patriot’s reward their country’s independence, have since held aloof from the warping influences of politics, and are capable of acting impartially, impelled by no impulse but their love of country.

If, as many now declare, the Government is powerless to quell at once the insurrection which so fast is hurrying it to either political or economic ruin, would it not be well for it to call to its assistance a few such men as we have suggested—not to go against the rebels with arms in their hands, but to approach them with an offer to arbitrate the difference between them and the Government? Whatever justification or lack thereof may exist for the armed protest of those arrayed against the administration, Cuba is threatened with ruin, and to avert that should absorb the thoughts of all Cubans to the exclusion of every other consideration.