The Minister in Cuba (Gonzales) to the Acting Secretary of State

No. 985

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of Department’s instruction No. 775 of March 24, 1919,8 in reference to a statement given out from the Palace concerning the invitation to General Crowder.

Following the publication of the public statement by me (see my cable of February 15, 11 [10] a.m.9) there were several press political comments and statements which, while appearing quite cordial to the coming of General Crowder, indicated that Congress could or would do all that might be needed for the revision of electoral laws, and conveying the idea that the President’s action was a reflection on Congress. This was more or less trivial, but Doctor Montoro, Secretary to the President, published a statement, a translation of which follows—a copy of the original in Spanish, as furnished me by Doctor Montoro, is enclosed:

“Some time ago the President had occasion to mention to the Minister of the United States his purpose, stated in his last message to Congress, to persist in his recommendations for revision of the electoral law, as made and reiterated in successive messages since 1914; and recalling the prominent participation taken in drafting the electoral law and in directing the electoral census of 1907 by the then Colonel and now Major General Crowder as Chairman of the Advisory Commission, as well as his great gifts of intelligence, wisdom and uprightness, the President expressed the wish to invite his cooperation in formulating recommendations to be in due course [Page 16] communicated to Congress, in order that that body might, in the free exercise of its functions, accepting or not the recommendations thus made to it, proceed to dispose once and for all of this important matter pursuant to the unanimous demand of public opinion.[”]

As I regarded this as simply a defence of the President’s action, and as a confirmation of my more direct statement authorized by the President, no other importance was attached to it. I still hold that view.

In order to obtain the opinion of General Crowder I submitted to him the statement by Doctor Montoro, stating I understood it had been drawn out by allegations that the plan proposed contemplated an interference with congressional prerogatives, and said “I would be glad to know whether you consider this statement in any way inimical or obstructive or threatening to the success of your work here.” To this inquiry General Crowder replies:

“I do not consider the statement as in any sense obstructive or inimical to the successful accomplishment of my work. It must have been understood by both the Cuban Government and our own that I was not sent here to enact a law, but to recommend one, and that my recommendations while presumably persuasive with the Cuban Congress, were in no sense controlling. I do not see how, under the circumstances you mention, Doctor Montoro could have answered otherwise than he did.”

As I considered General Crowder the best authority as to the “present attitude” of President Menocal toward him, he having seen the President since I have, and being in daily personal touch with leaders and politicians of both parties, I asked him the question propounded by the Department about the President’s attitude toward him and he replied “most cordial”.

I have [etc.]

William E. Gonzales
  1. Ante, p. 10.
  2. Ante, p. 9.