File No. 837.911/20.

The American Minister to the Secretary of State.


Since the date of the Department’s telegram of February 7 I have repeatedly urged definite action, in conferences with the President Secretary of State, leaders of both parties and other officials. They [Page 410] have promised to do whatever they can but there is manifest a pronounced disinclination to prosecute Soto. Three weeks ago, after long delay, request was made to Congress to permit prosecution, but the matter is being delayed on ridiculous pretexts. The committee to which the request was referred finally appointed one of its members to prepare a report. After several days delay he announced, yesterday, that he would have to be excused as he was not a lawyer and was therefore unfitted for the work; and that, being a Liberal, any report unfavorable to Soto, a Conservative, would be construed as party hostility. It is announced that the committee will “probably” meet again in the course of a few days to consider the question and appoint someone else to prepare a report. Congress will probably adjourn in the course of ten days, and the matter is evidently being delayed in the hope that if in the meantime no action is taken prosecution can be indefinitely deferred. A campaign by Soto and his friends is being made in Congress and the press to create belief that it is unnecessary to permit prosecution as the new administration at Washington will drop the matter in pursuance of an absolute hands-off policy which is being industriously attributed to it. I have exhausted the means at my disposal in the hope of securing action without calling on the Department, but am now convinced that no action can be hoped for unless the Department makes known to the Cuban Government in unmistakable terms its expectation that effective means will be found for dealing immediately with the libelers of the Legation. If respect for the United States and its representatives here is to be maintained, it is essential that the wholesale libels to which they have been subjected for months past be brought to an end by vigorous insistence upon effective prosecution. Failure earnestly to press the case would give encouragement to the worst elements here in their efforts to create anti-American feeling, and would leave the Legation in a deplorable situation.