The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Cuba (White)

No. 167

Sir: The Department is very desirous that the approaching elections shall be properly held and wishes to do nothing to embarrass well intentioned Cubans. Such however, is the importance to be attached to this Government’s attitude with respect to the approaching elections that it is deemed to be appropriate in any event to make clear its position. To this end you are authorized to issue, as soon after the publication of the purport of the Department’s note of June 4 as you deem to be expedient but not later than September 12, the following statement:

“During the past few months there have appeared in the Cuban newspapers various statements to the effect that the Government of the United States favored certain designated persons for the presidency of Cuba. My Government has authorized me to state that the sole interest of the Government of the United States in the approaching presidential elections in Cuba is that these elections shall be conducted in such a way as to secure the freest and fairest expression of the popular will of the Cuban people, and that the candidate thus securing the highest popular vote shall be declared President-elect of Cuba.

“When the United States Government was requested to pass judgment on the 1916 elections, it found a woeful lack of properly taken evidence to serve as the basis for reaching a decision. The new electoral law supplies the machinery for collecting evidence of irregularities, and it is hoped that the Cuban people will make use of the agencies thus placed at their disposal.

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“When the United States Government was requested by one of the political parties in Cuba (October 1919) to supervise the 1920 presidential elections, the American Legation cons lilted with President Menocal and accepted his assurance that he would answer for the strict fulfillment of the new electoral law in the 1920 elections, in so far as such fulfillment depends upon the Government.

“The responsibility for the conduct of a fair and free election thus rests with the Government and people of Cuba. The United States Government hopes and believes that there will result from this new procedure that clear definition of each and every electoral situation which will eliminate all controversies as to the actual facts and facilitate a conclusion upon the issues raised by those facts.

“Notwithstanding the expectation of this Government that the new procedure will be followed by the Government of Cuba, still the exceptionally close relations existing between Cuba and the United States; the fact that the new electoral law is for the first time being put to the test; and the further fact that the United States may again be called upon by the Cuban people for a decision regarding the fairness of the election, makes it incumbent upon the Government of the United States to use all available means to observe the conduct of the electoral procedure in Cuba, as well as the spirit in which the electoral law is being enforced.

“The Government of the United States does not propose actually to supervise the elections. However, it is by treaty pledged to ‘the maintenance of a government in Cuba adequate for the protection of life, property and individual liberty’. It is, therefore, unalterably opposed to any attempt to substitute violence and revolution for the processes of government. I am desired to emphasize the fact, however, that it is no less opposed to intimidation and fraud in the conduct of elections as such procedure might be effective in depriving the people of Cuba of their right to choose their own government.

“The Government of the United States hopes and expects that the Government and people of Cuba will profit by the new electoral machinery and by the lessons of the past to hold elections which may be recognized as just and fair, and which may inspire confidence for the future.”

This instruction should be considered as supplementary to Department’s No. 166 of August 25, 1920.

I am [etc.]

Bainbridge Colby