General Enoch H. Crowder to the Acting Secretary of State

My Dear Mr. Secretary: Sessions of the Joint Committee, referred to in my communication of April 26, were resumed on Monday, April 28, and a further session was held today. Our agreement now covers the essentials of a population and electoral census, inclusion of municipal judges in a judicial category, constitution of electoral boards, permanent and temporary, and the registration and scrutiny. The political membership on all electoral boards, permanent and temporary, is to be advisory—without vote. The primary [Page 21] scrutiny is left with the college boards to be conducted under many new safe-guards, and we are to have the intervention of notaries public before canvassing boards.

I feel that substantial progress has been made, but much remains yet to be done. I have succeeded in getting the Joint Committee to appoint three members as a drafting committee, to co-operate with me in perfecting a final draft of an amendatory statute, and we held our first session this afternoon and outlined the work. Progress depends upon our ability to get competent translators to work the amendatory draft into Spanish and English.

This morning I submitted to the Joint Committee a memorandum reviewing the corrupt practice legislation of the United States Congress and of our forty-eight State Legislatures, for their information and study, with the request that they report at a future meeting whether a composite statute, embodying all the more essential, pertinent provisions, which I took the pains to draw, was applicable either in whole or in part in Cuba. I intended it as introductory to the discussion of the propriety of enacting as a part of the new electoral law, a chapter dealing with the organization and activities of political parties in Cuba, and regulating party nominations. I do not expect the Committee to report in favor of a corrupt practice act, but I do hope to get some of its provisions into the Chapter referred to.

The test of the attitude of the Committee toward real electoral reform will come tomorrow and next day, in the consideration of the provisions I have proposed regulating contested election cases before the courts. I hope to be able to report satisfactory progress and, perhaps, the conclusion of our conferences on the bases of the law in about ten days. I hope I shall be able to report at that date satisfactory progress in the framing up of the amendatory law. If so, I shall then be able to discuss a date of return to Washington.

Yesterday, there occurred some discussion in the Cuban House, of the action taken by the President, in agreement with political leaders, in appointing the Joint Committee to confer with me. A press account of this debate, published in El Mundo, is herewith.14 I am assured that the incident need not be regarded seriously and certainly this morning’s conference with the Joint Committee was the most harmonious one we have had. I make this mention of the matter in order that you may properly judge any press dispatches that may have been sent to the United States.

Very truly yours,

E. H. Crowder
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