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Recapitulation of the statistical and fiscal condition of the municipality of the province of Santiago de Cuba for the six months ending August 31, 1899—Cont'd.
Cost of beef per pound.
Cost of flour per pound.
This district has met all its obligations for the past six months
and has a small balance in the treasury, without assistance
else is in need of reconstruction and cattle are needed for them.
produce (cocoanuts and bananas) it will rapidly improve; it is
ploited; only one sugar mill in bad shape. Forest products
will be made in accordance with land.
REPORT OF MAJ. EDGAR S. DUDLEY, JUDGE-ADVOCATE, U. 8. V.,
JUDGE-ADVOCATE DIVISION OF CUBA.
HEADQUARTERS DIVISION OF CUBA,
Habana, Cuba, September 30, 1899. ADJUTANT-GENERAL, DIVISION OF Cuba.
Sir: I have the honor to submit the following report of this office in connection with civil affairs since January 1, 1899 :
Matters connected with civil administration of the island have, from the beginning, occnpied the attention of this office, the military work being but small in comparison with it.
On the 1st day of January, 1899, when the military governor assumed control of the government of the island, acting under the authority of the President of the United States, I received, by his order, and assumed charge of the following depart
1. That of the secretary of the general government;
The duties of the two former were most closely allied to former methods of administration, being intimately and directly connected with the governing power. Upon the assumption of control of government by tho military governor the duties of these two departments became, therefore, very small, and they were merged into the newly organized department of state and government, and subsequently abolished in the reorganization of that department February 24, 1899.
In the department of grace, justice, and government there were matters requiring immediate action, and which could not be delayed; such as release of prisoners, pardons, designation of place of imprisonment of convicts, etc., but all matters not of immediate necessity were held until the duly appointed secretary conld take charge. The appointment of José Antonio González Lanuza as secretary of this department was made January 12, 1899, but ou account of his absence ho did not take the oath of office until January 31, 1899.
The former departments of government were, on January 11, 1899, consolidated into four, viz: 1. The department of state and government; 2. The department of finance; 3. The department of justice and public instruction; 4. The department of agriculture, commerce, industries, and public works.
The oath of office to all the secretaries of the above departments was administered by me on January 16, 1899 (except the secretary of justice, to whom I administered it later, as above), in the presence of the military governor, members of his staff, and others.
CONDITION OF LAWS, ETC. It became at once necessary to examine into and understand the form of government which the military government was supplanting; its methods of administration; organization and methods of procedure of the courts; the nature of the laws and modificatiors most immediately needed to suit the changed condition of affairs.
The government of the island was that of monarchical Spain, ostensibly, but not actually, modified by the so-called government of autonomy, which had been in existence for about a year, and which was a concession to the protests of the United States against the system of oppression of the Cuban people, formerly pursued by the Spanish rulers. This government of autonomy was one in naine rather than in fact, for the Spanish Governor-General of the island still retained supreme power and control, laws passed being subject to his sanction before promulgation.
The laws existing were those of the Latin-speaking races of people generally, existing under a monarchical form of government.
While the laws themselves provided in most instances proper remedies, the law of procedure and the administration of the laws were entirely antagonistic to our modern methods of practice and recognition of the personal rights of men. The courts were said, and appeared from satisfactory indications, to be corrupt, largely due to the methods pursued in criminal cases.
In the prisons men were found who had been imprisoned for months for minor offenses without being brought to trial; and the trials in some similar cases had dragged through years, even, without being brought to conclusion. So manifestly unjust were some of these cases of imprisonment that in different provinces the military commanders set prisoners free without due process of law, and complaint thereof being made by judges and audiencias, the matter was only remedied by the necessary action of the inilitary governor in the exercise of his high powers.
These conditions of the laws and of methods of procedure were so contrary to American law and customs that immediate changes seemed necessary to insure justice to the people. But upon examination it was found that the entire system onght to be revised and altered, a work requiring much time and careful consideration, since the people had been born and bred to the existing methods, customs, and administration of law, and were averse to changes until they understood the full meaning of the change. Such was the condition as to the laws when the military government began its operations.
By his proclamation of January 1, 1899, the military governor stated that tho laws which prevailed prior to the relinquishment of Spanish sovereignty would continue in force, with such modifications and changes as may from time to time be found necessary in the interest of good government.
Customs affairs of the island were placed under the charge of an American officer appointed by the President, on the staff of the division commander, and designated by the military governor as “ chief of customs service," and charge taken of said duties January 1, 1899.
The duties formerly belonging to the “cuerpo de comunicaciones," consisting in the control of telegraph and telephone lines and postal service, hitherto under the charge of the secretary of public works and communications, were turned over to the American officials, the postal service to a civilian appointed by the President to be director of posts, and the telephone and telegraph lines to the chief signal officer of the division commander's staff. Those duties still devolve upon these officers.
Modifications of the law were found necessary, and were made as rapidly as practicable, to carry out the purposes of the administration of affairs by the military governor for the benefit of all the people of Cuba, and those possessed of rights and property in the island, as stated by him
in his proclamation. Oppressive taxes were remitted; restrictions upon personal liberty removed; provision made for relief of debtors, to the future benefit of both debtor and creditor; property restored to its owners, and in many ways the laws modified to the material bonefit of all inhabitants.
Radical changes in the law which might be made in territory wholly subject to the United States, with a view to the introduction of American systems of law or procedure, can not well be made in a country which we are holding, as a friendly territory, under belligerent rights acquired through our war with Spain, with the object of enabling a stable government to be established. It is necessary to consult the views of the representatives of the people who are to form the new government as to such changes, and to act in accordance with what will be for the best interest of their future, setting aside our own personal views; for they have grown up under an entirely different system of government from our own, are accustomed to their own laws and methods of procedure, and it is not easy to change the entire customs of a people, even for the better, until they are educated to the necessity therefor and the wisdom of doing it. It is necessary also, before such changes are made, to consider the effect upon the entire system of laws, as some proposed changes, if many in number, wonld result in the necessity for a complote change of the system, and for that the people are not yet prepared.
We must have regard to the race of men, their education, customs, conditions under which they were born and have lived, and the ideas with which they are imbued. Thus it will be seen that in Cuba it is better to “wake haste slowly” than to enforce laws antagonistic to the people, and which they will not appreciate until educated to it.
JUDICIAL SYSTEM. The judicial system of the island, beginning with the lowest court, consisted of the municipal courts, the jurisdiction of whose judges was local, for minor criminal offenses; the courts of first instance and instruction, which formed the lower branch of the judicial organization of the state; the audencias, or provincial courts, one for each province, but only three of which (those at Habana, Matanzas, and Santiago) had both civil and criminal jurisdiction; the other three had criminal jurisdiction only, the civil cases in the province of Pinar del Rio coming before the audencia at Habana, those of the province of Santa Clara going to Matanzas, and those of Puerto Principe to Santiago. The supreme court (trib inal supremo) was at Madrid,
REORGANIZATION OF COURTS.
Upon the transfer of sovereignty tho jurisdiction of the supreme court at Madrid over new cases arising in the island ceased, and it became necessary to replace it
by a court in the island. This was done by the organization of a supreme conrt for the island, by order of the military governor, April 14, 1899, and its methods of procedure prescribed July 21, 1899.
The audencias were also reorganized by him July 15, 1899, one being established in each province, having both civil and criminal jurisdiction.
Experience has shown that the evils formerly complained of in obtaining justice and early action in the courts were due rather to the personnel of the courts and their methods of procedure than to the laws governing the cases. The law of procednre, especially in criminal cases, was not based upon any consideration of the rights of men, but rather appears to have been a relic of the dark ages, with a slight touch of the inquisition, in the powers held by judges, under the incomunicado" system which existed. Much injustice and many hardships have been due to the absence of those remedial writs which give to the Anglo-Saxon legal assurance of proper regard for his personal rights of liberty and to property.
Much of the corruption which existed in the courts under the Spanish régimo was due to the system of payment of municipal judges, and the subordinate clerks or employees of all courts, especially in criminal cases, by fees instead of salaries. The demand for fees outside of the legitimate allowances was so habitual that it became a “custom of the country,” and in important matters payment thereof was necessary to secure prompt transaction of business. The methods of collection of such illegal fees had, through long years of use, attained the highest point of perfection, and it was difficult to say what official was free from it. It was so customary that the thought of moral wrong does not seem to have attached to it, and it will probably only disappear under new methods of procedure and education as to moral principles of right and wrong in money matters.
The system of government at a distance by Spain, through officials who apparently used their offices for personal purposes and to attain private wealth, has left its effect npon these people who have for centuries lived under it, and it will probably take some years to completely change the wrong ideas with which many officeholders seem to have become imbued.
Changes in the law of procedure have already been made, the “incomunicado" system abolished, and the judges, clerks, and employees of the supreme court and of the audiencias, and the judges of first instance and instruction now receive regalar stated salaries. Steps are being taken to provide salaries for the municipal judges and all clerks and employees of courts not now salaried.
These reforms, with needed changes in the law of procedure, and the appointment of new judges, clerks, etc., will, it is hoped, procure the honest administration of justice, free and untrammeled, and rid the island of many of the corrupting influences which heretofore existed under Spanish rule.
An incorruptible judiciary is indispensable to the welfare and even to the existence of a nation.
The modifications made in the laws, the abolishment of the “incomunicado” system, the proposed introduction of remedial writs, which it is hoped may be found available in connection with the existing system of laws, and the payment of salaries instead of fees, with the change in personnel of the court, will introduce a new era of justice and a recognition of personal rights not heretofore enjoyed.
Not only have matters affecting proposed changes in the form of government of the island, of provinces, and of municipalities, and also in the laws, constitution of courts, etc., been considered in this office, but questions of relationship to foreign countries and to the United States; questions arising under the protocol and treaty of peace with Spain; construction of laws, not only Spanish and American, but constitutional and international law, with questions relating to all sorts and kinds of claims, petitions, appeals, protests, reports, etc., with which the office of the military governor has been overburdened from the beginning of bis administration; and innumerable questions as to taxes, lands, mortgages and conditional sales, and almost everything conceivable that could properly, or improperly, be brought before the military governor, have been acte i upon.
GRANTS AND CONCESSIONS.
Among the most important matters, which from the beginning of the military gov. ernment began to appear, were those relating to grants, concessions, and claims, including requests for approval of the military governor thereto. Many of these were claimed to be completed concessions by act of the Spanish authorities, and all that was necessary was the permission of the military governor to proceed with the work. Some of them involved millions of dollars; one alone, the so-called “Dady concession,” involving about $14,000,000; and there were also extensive concessions for tramways and railways claimed.
Upon examination of these various claims, it was found that in most instances the concessions were incomplete, some lacking the final approval of the authorities of the island, or in Madrid, while rights to others were in dispute, and the title thereto, and questions involved, ought to be decided in the courts rather than by the executive.
Some concessions granted by the Spanish Governmont appeared to be contrary to public policy and the interests of the people, as giving to the concessionaries rights which were an incumbrance upon the community and inconsistent with modern systems of government. One of these was what is known as the “O'Reilly concession,” or hereditary right, originally granted in 1704, to perform certain duties in connection with the slaughterhouse of the city of Habana, and to collect certain sums therefor. This was abolished by order of August 10, 1899.
Several grants were made by the Spanish Governor-General of the island after the signing of the protocol, and some of them of such character that they appeared as if purposely secured in anticipation of the change of government in order to have some claim to present to the new government.
These were carefully scrutinized, and the ground taken by this office in all cases where grants had been made by the Spanish Captain-General after the signing of the protocol, which would give the parties rights, extending through a series of years, in some instances, into the future, that this authority had no right to bind the future govornment of the island by any act of his, done after he knew his own Government was to lose control, and that such concessions were to be looked upon with suspicion as an attempt to bind a succeeding government to terms and conditions which that Government itself would not have conceded.
The “Foraker amendment” prohibits the granting of any property, franchise, or ✓ concession of any kind whatever by any military or other authority whatsoever
while Cuba is under occupation by the United States. This has not only prevented attempts upon the part of speculators to secure, in the unsettled condition of affairs, concessions which might be found later it would have been better to have withheld, but it also had the effect to prevent the progress of works, public and private, which would greatly have benefited the island. There is no doubt that the construction of certain
railroad lines in the island, if it could have been proceeded with, would not only have benefited the island, but would have given needed work to the people. There are several cases of desired concessions where, if grants could have been given, both the island and people would have been greatly benefited.
Among other questions which have come before this office, and the decision of which will affect the immediate future of the island, has been that of citizenship, or rather of the status of certain Cuban-born persons who during the late war or before, had become naturalized citizens of another country, and now desire to acquire the rights, duties, and privileges of other Cubans who remained subject to Spain.
It was proposed by the secretary of state and government of the island that by renunciation of such foreign allegiance and registration under existing (Spanish) law there would be a restoration to all the rights, etc., enjoyed by other Cubans not naturalized in foreign countries. But it was held by this office that mere renonciation of their foreign allegiance and registration would not give them the rights of citizenship, that something more is necessary; it being held in the United States and in other countries that persons who have formally renounced their allegiance thereto and have assumed the obligation of citizen or subject of another power, in other words, have denationalized or expatriated themselves, are aliens, and “can become citizens only by virtue of the same laws and with the same formalities and by the same process by which other aliens are enabled to become citizens.
This subject seems to be one of immediate importance, for the census of the people is being already taken preparatory to determination as to their future government. There are many native-born Cubans who, through force of circumstances, became citizens of other countries, but whose interests in the future of the island are not less than those who permanently remained here, who are now in the island, working for its recuperation and regeneration.
When a government is about to be formed with whom rests the decision as to who shall participate in the birth and control of this governmental organization? This is an important question and should be met before the time for action comes.
The final decision as to the civil rights and political status of inbabitants of this “relinquished” territory may, as in cases of "coded” territory under the treaty, rest with Congress. If not acted upon by it, this decision must be made by the President or by the military governor of the island.