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Many changes, having in view the better administration of the government, were made by General Brooke and his successor, General Wood, but the scope of this report will not permit a detailed account of them. The object has been gradually to confer on the Cubans full civil rights, together with all the powers of local self-governmentmunicipal, provincial, and insular—and to do this as rapidly as local conditions and the serious international obligations to protect life and property in the island, assumed by the United States under the treaty of Paris, will permit.


By a royal decree of 1810 Cuba was given representation in the Cortes. Two deputies were sent, one each from Habana and Santiago, who took part in framing the Spanish constitution of 1812. With the abrogation of this constitution in 1814 the representation ceased, but was reestablished in 1820. It ceased again in 1823 and there was no representation in the Cortes until 1831, when, under a royal statute of that year, representatives were again admitted.

By a royal decree of 1837, however, a resolution of the Cortes of 1836 was published, which provided that the provinces in America and Asia be governed and administered under laws especially adapted to them and that they cease to be represented in the Cortes.

The electoral laws of 1877–1879 again gave Cuba representation in the Cortes, in the proportion of 1 deputy for every 50,000 people. Under the electoral law of 1892 Cuba sent 13 senators and 30 representatives to the Spanish Cortes, but, as a majority of the deputies were Spaniards, the native Cubans felt that they were never fairly represented.


A republic has been twice proclaimed in Cuba by revolutionists, viz, during the ten years' war and again in 1895, but these governments proved to be provisional and expired with the revolutions which produced them.


Intimately connected with the government of Cuba was the judiciary, and as no account of administration under Spain would be complete without some reference to the courts, a brief outline is presented.

At the date of American occupation the jurisdiction of the Spanish Government over court officials was exercised through the department of grace and justice, which, by the military decree of January 11, 1899, became the department of justice and public instruction, and by a decree of January 1, 1900, the department of justice. The duties which devolve on the department of justice are those which usually pertain to such departments, but in Cuba it has also supervision over the registers of property and notaries public, to which reference will be made further on.

The courts of Cuba were essentially insular, the judges being appointed either directly by the Government or indirectly through its officials, and were of four classes or kinds, viz, municipal judges, judges of first instance and instruction, criminal audiencias, and terri torial audiencias. The last named were reduced to three by a decree of June 15, 1899, giving all the audiencias the same civil and criminal jurisdiction. The municipal judges were distributed to the municipal districts, one or more in each, and were appointed by the presiding judges or presidents of the audiencias from among three persons nominated by the judges of first instance of the judicial districts; they held office for two years. At the same time a substitute was appointed, who performed the duties when from sickness or other cause the regular judge could not officiate.

The municipal judges receive no salary or allowances and their seryices are requited by fees, paid according to regular schedule.

They had and still have civil jurisdiction over all suits not involving more than $200, and of suits to effect settlements without trial; they take cognizance in first instance of cases involving the challenge of other municipal judges; they appoint the family council for the care of minors or incapacitated persons and commence the investigation of all cases of emergency requiring an immediate decision by a judge of first instance, when the latter is not available, to whom the record is sent for a continuance. In criminal cases they have jurisdiction over all misdemeanors where the penalty imposed does not exceed thirty days' confinement or a fine of 325 pesetas. They make the preliminary investigation into all kinds of crimes, if urgent, and the judge of instruction is not present. The municipal judges also keep the civil registers of births, deaths, and marriages. Each municipal court has a public prosecutor (fiscal), and a substitute prosecutor, who are appointed by the fiscals of the territorial audiencias; a secretary appointed by the judge of first instance and instruction; and a bailiff or constable. All officials of the court were paid from court fees, according to schedule.

The judges of first instance and instruction are located at the seat of the judical districts to which they are appointed, and there are as many judges as districts (see “Government”). They are appointed by the Governor-General and when unable to perform their duties are substituted by one of the municipal judges in the district. They are paid according to their classification, those in Habana receiving $4,500 per annum, those in the cities of Puerto Principe and Santiago de Cuba $2,750, those of Matanzas, Cardenas, Pinar del Rio, Guanajay, Santa

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Clara, Cienfuegos, and Sagua la Grande, $2,250, and those of Bejucal, Guanabacoa, Guines, Jaruco, Marianao, San Antonio de los Baños, Marin, Alfonso XII, Colon, Guane, San Cristobal, San Juan de los Remedios, Sancti Spiritus, Trinidad, Baracoa, Bayamo, Guantanamo, Holguin, and Manzanillo, $1,875 per annum.

The judges of first instance have original civil jurisdiction in all cases where the amount involved exceeds $200, and appellate jurisdiction from the municipal courts; they decide questions of competency arising between municipal judges of the same judicial district, take cognizance, in first instance, when the competency of other judges of first instance is in question, and of appeals in similar cases of municipal judges; they hear cases in bankruptcy and for the discharge of such commissions or other duties as may be devolved on them by superior courts or of courts of the same category of other judicial districts.

The other officials of a court of first instance are one secretary, four court or record clerks (escribanos), one physician, and two bailiff's or constables. The secretaries are appointed by the judges of first instance, while the clerks are appointed by the government on the recommendation in ternary of the audiencias. The secretaries and clerks are paid from fees according to a schedule established by the government and collected from litigants.

Prior to American occupation there were three criminal audiencias and three territorial audiencias. The criminal audiencias were located in Pinar del Rio, Santa Clara, and Puerto Principe, and each was composed of a presiding judge and two associate justices. They were appointed by the Governor-General and paid as follows: Presiding judge $4,280 per annum; associates, $3,500. These courts had original and exclusive jurisdiction over all crimes committed in the island from chicken stealing to murder, until the establishment by General Wood of the special criminal court (Juzgado de Guardia) of Habana, by a decree of February 1, 1900, a brief account of which will be given later. The criminal audiencias had no civil jurisdiction.

The other officials of the criminal audiencias were one public prosecutor (fiscal) one deputy prosecutor, one secretary, one assistant secretary, and two clerks.

Territorial audiencias were established in the provinces of Habana, Matanzas, and Santiago, and had criminal jurisdiction in the provinces where located, and civil jurisdiction in the territory assigned them; thus, the audiencia of Habana had criminal jurisdiction in that province and civil jurisdiction over Pinar del Rio and Habana; the territorial audiencia of Matanzas had criminal jurisdiction over that province and civil jurisdiction over Matanzas and Santa Clara; the territorial audiencia of Santiago had criminal jurisdiction over the province of Santiago and civil jurisdiction over Santiago and Puerto

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