Chargé Sleeper to the Secretary of State.

[Extract.]
No. 181.]

Sir: In continuation of legation dispatch No. 178 of the 6th instant, I have the honor to state that the veterans met on the 6th instant and appointed an executive committee consisting of the following members: Gens. Mario Menocal, Augustin Cebreco, Javier de la Vega, and Enrique Collazo. They also decided to request the Government and the insurrectionists to suspend hostilities pending the peace negotiations. To this the Government practically agreed, and Gen. Gerado Machado and Senator Lazo were dispatched to Santa Clara and Pinar del Rio, respectively, to induce the insurrectionists also to cease fighting. The commissioner to Pinar del Rio reached there while the fighting which I mentioned in my cable of to-day was still in progress, and after the destruction of the bridges of the Western Railway (British), reported in my cablegram of the [Page 471]7th instant, General Menocal believes that General Guerra, who, it is thought, blew up the bridges because it was reported the Government proposed to send to the front an armored train carrying rapid-fire guns, was not fully advised as to the situation here or he would not have taken this drastic measure. Guerra has also, according to report, taken the offensive and offered battle to the government’s forces under Avalos near Pinar del Rio City. If a battle should take place and result favorably for the insurgents it will tend to greatly injure the prestige of the Government and make the rebels more exacting in their demands should they decide to negotiate for peace. Until the 7th prospects for some agreement were bright, but the destruction of the Western Railway’s bridges and Guerra’s recent activity has complicated the situation and made the outlook less hopeful.

The liberal party apparently favors an amicable arrangement of the present difficulties, but there appears to be some divergence of opinion among its members as to what demands should be made preliminary to the negotiation of peace. The majority, however, ask that Congress be convened, an electoral law be passed, and that new municipal elections be held under the provisions of this law. They also demand the resignation of Senators and Representatives elected in December, 1905, and that new elections be held to fill their places.

These demands, as they stand, will hardly be accepted by the moderate party, and Doctor O’Farrill characterizes them as altogether too onerous. Should it be decided not to accede to these terms, and an understanding with the liberals can not be arrived at, it is thought that the veterans may insist upon Palma’s resignation and the appointment of a provisional government.

General Menocal seems prepared to do everything possible to bring about peace, and confidently states that he can count upon the support of the majority of his fellow veterans in any course he may see fit to adopt.

Regarding the safeguarding of American interests, I have to say that, so far as I can ascertain, no effort has been made by the Government to afford the protection which I have from time to time requested through the foreign office. Fortunately, there has been no loss of life or destruction of property thus far, the rebels having confined themselves to the seizure of animals, arms, and equipment. In my No. 172, of the 4th instant, I stated that I did not believe the Government was able to protect American interests in Santa Clara Province, and I now feel that I must make the same statement in regard to the Province of Pinar del Rio, where the rebel strength is now some 3,500 men, more than half of whom are said to be well armed.

With reference to that paragraph of my dispatch No. 178 of the 6th instant ending on page 3 and relating to conditions in Santa Clara Province, I beg to quote from a letter addressed to me by the consular agent at Santa Clara, as follows:

The war appears in one respect to be assuming its most dangerous phase. Parties of the worst class of negroes are rising up under the pretext of being revolutionists, are robbing and sacking shops, and if this lasts much longer will soon be guilty of worse offenses.

The consul adds:

I have just received a letter from the manager of the Cuban Fruit and Sugar Company, of Palmas Altas, near the town of San Marcos. He says “the insurgents are all around us here.”

[Page 472]

The consul also states that there is a large amount of American property there in urgent need of protection.

The strength of the insurrectionists in Santa Clara is said to be some 2,500 to 3,000 men. I am informed that they have a fair amount of ammunition and are well armed.

In Habana Province the insurrectionists are said, upon good authority, to be about 1,200 strong and to possess both arms and ammunition.

The rebellion in Matanzas is not and never has been of much importance.

Santiago and Camaguey are still quiet. I inclose copies of letters from Consul Holaday, at Santiago, and J. F. Hanson, at Nuevitas, Camaguey, reporting on conditions in their respective districts.

I regret to say that the Government’s recent call for volunteers has met with only a weak response and that, on the other hand, defections to the rebels, both of members of the rural guard and militia, are of frequent occurrence. The general situation is unquestionably becoming more serious day by day. I inclose herewith newspaper clippings from the Habana daily papers of the 8th instant, touching on the situation.a

I have, etc.,

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

Consul Holaday to Chargé Sleeper.

[Extract.]

Sir: In regard to the political situation, I have to say that so far as I am able to learn quietness prevails throughout the entire province. Rumors of disturbances here and there are more or less frequent, but upon investigation are found to be groundless. Different reasons are advanced for the unusual quietness which prevails throughout this province and the one adjoining, Camaguey. Some assert that it is due to the fact that the majority of the people in this portion of the island are in favor of the Government and opposed to the revolutionary movement. Others state that the mass of the people are opposed to the Government and in favor of the revolutionary movement, and are prepared with arms and ammunition for a revolt, but that they lack a leader capable of taking the field against the Government; others that there is an abundance of arms in the hands of persons who are ready and willing to revolt, but they have no ammunition, and still others that the revolutionary forces in this province are perfectly organized, armed, and equipped with all the necessary material for warfare, but that they do not intend to make any demonstration or commit any overt act until the Government forces take a stand against the rebels in the western provinces, when there will be a revolt of some 3,000 to 5,000 men in the provinces of Camaguey and Santiago.

I have heard all these different stories from men of average standing in the community, and it is impossible to say which is the most worthy of credence. One thing, however, is clearly evident, and that is, the apathy of the public in general in regard to the situation, there being practically no interest manifested over the critical condition of affairs outside of Government circles.

I am, sir, etc.,

R. E. Holaday,
American Consul.
[Page 473]
[Inclosure 2.]

Consular Agent Hanson to Chargé Sleeper.

Sir: In compliance with instructions received from the American vice and deputy consul at Cienfuegos, Cuba, dated the 31st ultimo, I have the honor to submit the following report:

While the masses of this province are practically “Liberal” in sympathy, no disturbances beyond the published following of General Tello Sanchez and Dr. Garcia Cañizares at Arroyo Blanco, reported as numbering 600, have taken place.

Last evening a meeting of “veteranos” was held at the casino at Camaguey, about 200 being present. Speeches were made denouncing as odious the present situation, and declaring as fully as inconsistent any offer of support to the Government as it would be to join the rebel movement, after all their sacrifices in their long and bitter struggle for independence, peace, and prosperity. Resolutions were adopted to name a commission to employ every means to force an early adjustment of the difficulties.

Nuevitas and Camaguey cities appear quiet, although business is practically suspended. It may be added that the extreme quiet reigning here is regarded with suspicion and fear as indicative of a perfect organization of the rebel movement in anticipation of orders for a sudden uprising.

The weak response to the call for volunteers in this section is also commented upon unfavorably, the bulk of the recruits being of recent immigrants from Spain (Gallegos) and individuals physically unfit for service.

I am, etc.,

John I. Hanson,
American Consular Agent.
  1. Not printed.