Chargé Sleeper to the Secretary of State.

No. 172.]

Sir: In continuation of legation dispatch No. 167, of the 1st instant, relative to the insurrection, I beg to say that the advisability of its prompt settlement is being agitated by all classes. The President never loses an opportunity to publicly declare that he is in favor of crushing the rebellion by force of arms. His statement of yesterday, however, to the correspondent of the Associated Press, that he would be pleased to have peace brought about through the intervention of private parties or organizations, is of good augury, and I am able to say that in a personal conversation with a gentleman of my acquaintance the President expressed the wish that the trouble might be brought to an end by reaching some understanding with the insurgents.

I understand there is to be a meeting shortly of the Habana Chamber of Commerce and of business men in general to appoint a committee to meet the leaders of the two parties and urge them to come to some amicable arrangement. It is hoped that peace may be brought about by mutual concessions, the moderates to pledge the enactment of new electoral laws, fair elections, and some system of municipal autonomy, as cabled you on the 3d instant. It is rumored that the liberals demand the resignation of all members of Congress chosen at the last election, preparatory to a new partial election.

Regarding the electoral law, President Palma stated to an interviewer that he has already drafted a strong recommendation for a new electoral law and other reforms in his message to the Congress of next November.

The prolongation of the present situation for another month will, as I have previously stated, have a most disastrous effect on the tobacco and sugar crops, upon which the commercial life of Cuba is dependent. It must not be forgotten that the trouble is occurring at one of the most difficult seasons of the year; on the eve of the harvest; should the struggle develop into guerrilla warfare, which is feared, the general consensus of opinion is that it would be impossible for the Government to stamp it out under six months or possibly a year. It is persistently reported that unless some peace arrangement is made before the 15th of this month the rebels will begin burning foreign property.

The military situation in Pinar del Rio has become somewhat worse at this writing owing to the return of Colonel Avalos to San Juan y Martinez, as cabled you on the 3d instant.

In Santa Clara Province the whole central part from the city of Santa Clara to Cienfuegos still appears to be under the control of the insurrectionists. I do not believe the Government can give effective protection to foreign interests in this province. As an instance: The Cuban Railroad Company was requested by the Government to operate an armored train between Santa Clara and Cienfuegos. The company promised compliance with the request and asked for an armed guard to accompany the train. This request was referred to the commanding officer at Santa Clara city, who declared that he could not grant it, as the men could not be spared. The insurgent leader Guzman seized the occasion to threaten to burn the company’s [Page 468]property and blow up its bridges, because it had placed an armored train at the service of the Government.

The property of the Santa Clara Fruit and Cotton Company at Grand Rapids, mentioned in your telegram of the 2d instant, situated at Santo Domingo, would appear to be in the very center of the disturbed district, and I have strong doubts as to the ability of the Government to afford the required protection.

The situation in Habana Province remains about the same. The rebel leader Asbert is reported slightly wounded near Guines. He is being pursued by General Boza with a force of 60 mounted men, as well as the command under Captain Cardenas, but is employing the same evasive tactics which Pino Guerra has been using successfully, and avoids an encounter.

Speculation is rife concerning a rumored plan for the forces of Guerra, Asbert, and Guzman, operating in the provinces of Pinar del Rio, Habana, and Santa Clara, respectively, to ultimately effect a junction and move on Habana.

I have not yet received official confirmation of rebellion in the provinces of Camaguey and Santiago. In this connection I beg to inclose herewith copy of a letter received this day from the consul at Santiago.

I beg to inclose herewith clippings from Habana daily newspapers touching on the situation, and confirm on the overleaf my telegrams of the 1st, 2d, and 3d instant.a

I have, etc.,

Jacob Sleeper,
Chargé d’Affaires ad Interim.
[Inclosure 1.]

Consul Holaday to Chargé Sleeper.

Sir: I have to confirm on overleaf my telegram of to-day in regard to the arrest of Urbano Sanchez and the political condition in my district.

The political situation in this province is unchanged. Quietness prevails throughout the entire district, and I am of the opinion that the majority of the people are disposed to support the Government in maintaining law and order. There are, however, not a few who are bitterly opposed to the Government, and it is believed that should the present insurrection existing in the western portion of the island continue much longer these persons will be able to organize a force that will openly revolt against the Government. I have effected an organization for the purpose of keeping in touch with conditions, and believe I will be able to obtain notice immediately should an uprising occur. If you receive no news from me in regard to the situation, you may know that it is unchanged since my last report.

The authorities here appear to be exercising the greatest diligence, and claim that they are now sufficiently well organized and equipped to suppress immediately any revolt against constituted authority. The city is patrolled nightly by large numbers of policemen and rural guards, and I am informed by the governor that detachments of rural guards have been stationed at those places throughout the province where it is thought any disturbance is likely to occur. The governor has issued a proclamation reassuring the people that [Page 469]they will not be arrested or molested on account of political affiliations, but that all will be protected alike in their lives and property; that complete tranquillity reigns throughout the province, and that the Government is abundantly able to maintain law and order.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

R. E. Holaday,
American Consul.
  1. Newspaper clippings not printed.