837.00/2085b: Telegram

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

97. Department’s March 28, 5 p.m.17

In view of General Crowder’s recommendation that the present is an appropriate moment for issuing the statement referred to there is transmitted to you herewith the statement which the Department desires the Legation to issue in the same manner in which the statement of August 30, last,18 was published. Before publishing this statement, however, the Department desires you to consult with General Crowder and in the event that you or General Crowder have any modifications or amendments to suggest to cable your views to the Department. If neither you nor General Crowder have such changes to suggest, you are authorized to issue at once the statement quoted below:19

“On August 30, 1920, the Government of the United States had occasion to make known to the Cuban people, through the American Legation in Havana, its hope that the Presidential elections in Cuba would be conducted in such a way as to secure the free expression of the popular will of the Cuban people, and made plain its belief that since the new electoral law supplied the means of providing evidence to serve as the basis for reaching a decision as to the result of the elections, the responsibility for the conduct of these elections rested, [Page 687] and should rightly rest, with the Cuban Government and with the Cuban people.

Voters of both political parties went to the polls in the elections of November 1. After the elections were held, both parties likewise were apparently content to test the validity of those elections in the Courts and to abide by the results, and both parties have had the fullest opportunity to have considered by the Courts every controverted question raised in their protests and appeals.

During the long period in which the contested election cases were being considered by the Courts the Government of the United States was apprized of no complaints charging unfairness, incompetency, partizanship or undue influence against either the six provincial audiencias which heard the cases in the first instance nor against the Supreme Court which decided them on appeal, nor is it aware that individual judges or justices have been so charged.

After the fullest deliberation the Courts decreed annulment of the previous elections in 189 electoral colleges, and partial elections were held on March 15, and March 26, in these colleges, as well as in a few additional colleges where no elections had been held on November 1. The Liberal Coalition Party, however, withdrew from these partial elections alleging as the grounds of their withdrawal conditions of intimidation and violence for which the public authorities were responsible. At the same time, the Liberal Party urged that there be held in all six provinces of Cuba new general elections on November 1, 1921, in substitution for those which had been held and which would be held, and the election by the Cuban Congress of a provisional President to succeed President Menocal on May 20, next, and to serve until the result of the new general elections had been proclaimed.

The Government of the United States was unwilling to consider this proposition, inasmuch as this departure from the procedure provided by the Cuban Constitution and the Electoral Code would create a precedent which would menace the orderly development of Constitutional government in Cuba, and would seriously threaten the stable government in Cuba contemplated in the Treaty obligations of the Government of the United States to the Republic of Cuba.

The Government of the United States assumed the position that if the Liberal Party was satisfied with the decision of the Courts of Cuba as to the elections held on November 1, last, upon the question of the lack of guarantees against intimidation and violence, there could be no reason why the Liberal Party should be unwilling to trust the Courts of Cuba to decide upon the same question as to the partial elections to be held on March 15, and March 26. The Government of the United States, after the most painstaking investigation, reached the conclusion that there was no reason why the Liberal Party should be apprehensive that violence was threatened in the partial elections and believed that all necessary safeguards and guarantees had been provided so that all voters could freely go to the polls. The Government of the United States is confident that if the Liberal Party had gone to the polls in the partial elections on March 15 and March 26, those elections would have proceeded without organized disturbance and free from disorder, except that which might [Page 688] have resulted from the acts of irresponsible individuals of both parties.

The Government of the United States considers that the safeguards and recourses provided by the Electoral Code of Cuba have been placed at the disposition of the Cuban people without partiality or discrimination. The result of the elections has shown that the Presidential candidate of the Liga Coalition Party has been elected President. In the judgment of the Government or the United States the Cuban people should accept this decision as final and no attempt should be made by the members of the minority in the Cuban Congress to impede the orderly procedure provided by the Constitution and the laws by preventing the Congress from proclaiming the successful candidate President of Cuba.”

  1. Not printed.
  2. See telegram no. 197, Aug. 30, 1920, from the Chargé in Cuba, Foreign Relations, 1920, vol. ii, p. 19.
  3. The following changes were in the text of the statement as it was submitted for publication by the Minister in Cuba (file no. 837.00/2089):

    Paragraph one, “free expression” changed to “full expression”;
    Paragraph two, second sentence, “likewise” omitted;
    Paragraph two, second sentence, “have had the fullest” changed to “had full”;
    Paragraph four, third sentence, “At the same time” changed to “About the same time”;
    Paragraph five, “Constitutional government in Cuba, and would seriously threaten” omitted;
    Paragraph six, first sentence, “assumed” changed to “assumes”;
    Paragraph six, second sentence, “all” omitted before “voters”;
    Paragraph seven, second sentence, “has shown” changed to “signifies.”