File No. 123.B38/97.
The American Minister to the Secretary of State.
Habana, June 16, 1913.
The Cuban Government, desirous that I “should leave Cuba with only pleasant memories,” prevailed upon Congressman Soto to make public retraction of his charges in a speech before the House. As this speech was not adequate or satisfactory, the Secretary of State induced the newspaper “Cuba” to make more definite retraction and apology. This was done by the “Cuba” of its own motion, and is very gratifying in that it shows a desire to do such justice as the Cuban Government is in a position to secure unaided. It does not of course dispose of the question of congressional immunity. However, in view of the short time remaining before my departure, I trust that I may not be instructed to press the matter further. Personally I am disposed to accept the action of the Cuban Government in the way it is intended, and drop the matter. The Department should understand, however, that the principle involved is far more serious and important than the incidental phase which has affected me. The real question is whether congressmen can abuse their constitutional immunity as a cloak for vulgar crimes, libel, blackmail and character assassination. Past and present abuse of this immunity constitute a real and constant menace to honorable men, to reputable business and to other diplomats who are not so well able to defend themselves as we are. The Cuban Government and the best business elements, both American and Cuban, have looked confidently to the Government of the United States to put forth its best legal and diplomatic talent to secure protection of decent men against the outrages of the press. I trust that the Department, for the good of Cuba, will exert its best efforts to put an end to the present shameful conditions.