The Representative on Special Mission in Cuba (Crowder) to the Secretary of State
[Received February 17—2:17 a.m.]
30. Yesterday evening, late, Secretary of State Desvernine came on board the Minneapolis for conference. He informed me that two gentlemen, assuming to represent the Liberal Party and General Gómez, had proposed to President Menocal that both Gómez and Zayas voluntarily retire immediately from the race, leaving their respective presidential electors to be voted for in the forthcoming special elections entirely unpledged; that the electoral colleges would meet in due course and vote for some compromise candidate whom President Menocal would designate. This move by the Liberal Party undoubtedly prompted by advance information that the Supreme Court, in an opinion prepared but not yet published, has sustained decrees of nullity in but 11 colleges in Camaguey. If true, it would be reasonably certain that the special elections would not greatly reduce Zayas majority in that Province.
I replied that my offhand first impressions were that while the plan suggested would not be found lacking in constitution [al] and statutory validity, it was novel and unprecedented; that it would probably be received with the suspicion that some ulterior and concealed motive was involved and that the retirement of Zayas was not voluntary; that whatever of immediate advantage to Cuba might result from such a plan would probably be largely offset by the distrust it would create among the Cuban electors and by the unstabilizing effect it would have on future elections in Cuba for President and Vice President; that this expression of first impressions [Page 676] must not be construed as [representing?] the views which might be expressed by my Government if the plan was communicated to it.
Held another conference this afternoon with President Menocal and Secretary Desvernine. President stated that the executive committee of the Liberal Party had been in session all day; that he understood their plan was to appoint a committee of six to call on General Gómez, himself, and myself to present the plan above referred to; that he anticipated Zayas would not become a party to such an agreement in which event he believed that General Gómez and the [rest?] of the Liberal Party would withdraw from the special elections, assigning as a reason therefor a patriotic duty to save the country from the strife and agitation of the new elections.
I informed President Menocal that I should answer the committee that General Gómez could not consistently withdraw because of lack of guarantees for the special elections for the very excellent reason that many of his demands for guarantees had already been met and none of them had thus far been denied and that I should strenuously object to his assigning the lack of guarantees as a reason for withdrawal.
If General Gómez withdraws and Zayas remains the situation will be simple for in that event the partial elections would proceed without excitement and Zayas will be duly proclaimed. If both candidates withdraw either voluntarily or under coercion the situation will become complicated, particularly in the designation of a compromise candidate to be voted for by the Presidential electors. In this latter case you may wish to give me instructions, pending receipt of which will endeavor to delay final action.