File No. 837.00/1064
Habana, February 11, 1917—11 p.m.
Your February 10, 7 p.m. At three o’clock this afternoon I delivered to the President a memorandum covering your instructions. At eight o’clock to-night he sent me a personal note accompanied by official reply from Secretary of State Desvernine. The Secretary says the Foreign Office neither exercised nor thought of exercising any power except to make disposition required by vigilance and nothing contrary to law and justice. It will permit no one to disturb order or, with fraudulent proceedings or violence, to change the legal process by which elections are regulated. Illegality will be handled by the courts, as the criminal courts are now investigating the plot against the President’s life.
In respect to the publication of the Department’s message, the Secretary of State says the President does not think he should take the initiative in its publication but is quite willing that I should do so.
In his personal note to me President Menocal expresses fear that biased reports have reached the Department. He says his past history and life, he thinks, entitle him to the American Government’s confidence, and that he would never consent to a subversion of the reign of justice by violation of the fundamental laws of the Republic.
This afternoon the President spoke feelingly of his patience in bearing past abuse and assaults of agitators which had lately culminated in attempt on his life. He asserted that the only leaders in [Page 354] the present agitation against him were those who inaugurated the revolution in 1906; that the future peace and happiness of Cuba depended upon the suppression of revolutions engineered by selfish bad men. He had the situation well in hand, he declared, and was determined only to enforce the law and crush lawlessness.
There was a miniature uprising at one point in Habana Province and one point in Santa Clara today. One man was killed. A few men took to the woods and are being pursued by rural guards. About forty soldiers, expecting, it is alleged, to take part in a general uprising against the Government to-day escaped from Camp Columbia last night. Two were wounded and two of the guard were wounded. They are being hunted in the country. Numbers of civilian suspects have been arrested by the secret police. The action of soldiers is evidence of attempts to corrupt army, as alleged by the President, and developments outside past two days indicate some organization by liberals to revolt. It is an interesting coincidence that every important liberal leader is absent from Habana today. There is a feeling that these violent manifestations before election are harmful to liberal cause.
I understand warrants have been issued for a number of liberals said to be implicated in plans for revolution and attempt on the life of the President.
The President seems absolutely calm and confident of quickly suppressing any possible outbreaks. He asks for an understanding of his obligations and motives and patience.