837.00/1626 suppl.: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Minister in Cuba ( Long )

54. Department’s No. 45, March 13, 5 p.m.

You are authorized to transmit the following to President Menocal: The Department has given careful study to the pending project of the amendment of the electoral code and has reached the conclusion that none of these amendments are at the present time vital to the conduct of a fair and free election in Cuba. The Department desires to reiterate the statement contained in previous telegrams that it [Page 5] would be unwise now that the election machinery has begun to function to undertake unnecessary amendments to the electoral law. After the present electoral period is over, it will be possible to profit by the experience accumulated during the elections. It may then be desirable to undertake a revision with a full record of the facts. Inasmuch as none of the amendments proposed are shown to be vital to the conduct of a fair and free election, the Department has reached the conclusion that it would be most unwise and would give rise to misunderstandings if any unnecessary amendments were undertaken at the present time. The proposed amendments seem to strike at some of the safeguards deliberately recommended by the Joint Parliamentary Committee and deliberately enacted by the Cuban Congress.

In case you find it advisable to give the more detailed reasons which have led the Department to its conclusions, you may orally place before President Menocal the following considerations. In so doing, however, you are to refer to them as coming within your knowledge as some of the reasons which have led the Department to its conclusions. They should not be presented as having been textually transmitted to you. These reasons are as follows:6

  • Article 6: Because it seeks to revive in principle for the Political Party Registers the hitherto discredited method of inclusion and exclusion by party agents which method has led to such gross frauds in the electoral Registers in prior electoral periods; and further because, it transfers jurisdiction of such inclusions and exclusions from the Municipal Electoral Board to the Secretary of that Board.
  • Article 3: Because the appellate procedure therein provided is broadly inclusive of all decisions by the Central Electoral Board under Article 52. This article as drawn is open to the construction that it would operate to establish the civil branch of the Supreme Court as a kind of Superior Central Electoral Board and to deprive the orders and decisions of the existing Central Electoral Board of the finality they now have and which they must have if the administration confided to the Central Electoral Board is to be characterized by that promptness and expedition so necessary in electoral administration and particularly during the emergency periods thereof. It is not shown in any of the explanatory memoranda that the existing recourse to the courts to insure the conformity of the decisions and orders of the Central Electoral Board to the Constitution and the statute law is not now sufficient.
  • Article 1: Because it rejects the deliberate conclusion and recommendations of Special Committee of the Camara and of the Joint Parliamentary Committee for reasons which appear inconclusive.
  • Article 4: Because it will, in effect, establish a preponderant influence and control in the ex-officio members of party assemblies as [Page 6] to all matters to be determined by a party Executive Committee notwithstanding the effort in the revision of the Electoral Code to reduce to a minimum the influence of ex-officio delegates and devolve upon members and delegates directly selected for the purpose, the resolution of all important matters to be determined by party action.

Referring to letter to Mr. Polk, March 19.9 Department is of the opinion that no good purpose will be served by a conference in Washington with the representatives of the Liberal or any other political party of Cuba. Any attempt to transfer the forum of political activity from the Island of Cuba to Washington is harmful to the best interests of Cuba and is fruitful of endless misunderstandings.

  1. The files do not reveal the source of the Department’s information regarding the following articles.
  2. Not printed.