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The first was composed of the bishop of San Juan and the treasurer of the church, and was for the management of all church affairs. Over this tribunal, as well as ov er the bishop and other prelates and the business relations and proceedings of the church, the Captain-General, as vice-patron, had supervision and control. He had authority to compel the observance of all church regulations or orders, to appoint all curates, and to suspend the bishop or any other prelate from office, reporting his action to Madrid.
The naval tribunal'had supervision and control over everything connected with the navy, including the trial of offenses committed by persons in the navy. It was presided over by the naval commandant, assisted by a legal adviser. From the judgment of the naval tribunal appeal could be made to the Spanish admiral commanding in Cuba. While the administration of this tribunal was in a measure independent of the Captain-General, he was in supreme command of all the naval forces.
The consulado was a tribunal for the settlement of all mercantile disputes arising under the commercial and mercantile laws applicable to Porto Rico. It consisted of a consul and two persons selected by the litigants or parties in interest. Before the tribunal the disputants appeared with their legal advisers. Cases were either arranged to the mutual satisfaction of the contestants or decided in favor of one or the other.
Other features of the insular government were a civil secretary, a bureau or board of public works, and a chief of staff for the administration of military affairs.
From this brief description it will be seen that the entire government of Porto Rico—executive, legislative, and judicial—was for many years vested in the Captain-General, and that such boards or tribunals as existed were merely for the transaction of routine business.
In short, up to 1870 Porto Rico was governed by the Captain-General as a Spanish colony under the laws of the Indies and such special decrees and orders as were proclaimed from time to time by the King.
By a law of August 28, of that year, Porto Rico was made a province of Spain and given a provincial deputation consisting of deputies elected by universal suffrage. At the same time the island was divided into the seven departments of Aguadilla, Arecibo, Bayamon, Guayama, Humacao, Mayaguez, and Ponce, having as capitals the cities of corresponding name. In 1874, through the fall of the Republican Government of Spain, the constitution of 1869 was suppressed, and, as a result, the provincial deputation was abolished, and Porto Rico returned to the government existing prior to the law of 1870. In February, 1877, the new Spanish constitution of 1876, together with the provincial and electoral laws of December, 1876, were extended to Porto Rico, and the provincial deputation was reestablished, the members of which were elected by all male residents 25 years of age or more who had received a professional diploma, or paid taxes to the amount of 25 jIesos.
In 1897 Porto Rico, in common with Cuba, was given an autonomous government. It was inaugurated February 11, 1898, and continued in operation until the time of American occupation, October 18, 1898.
The government consisted of a Governor-General and cabinet and a representative assembly of very limited legislative powers, elected by universal suffrage.
On October 18 Maj. Gen. John R. Brooke, United States Army, was.appointed Military Governor of Porto Rico. On November 29 he abolished the provincial deputation and made other changes in the insular administration. He was followed by Maj. Gen. Guy V. Henry, United States Army, December 6, 1898, who, by executive order of February 6, 1899, dissolved the insular cabinet or council of secretaries, and constituted the departments of state, justice, finance, and interior, each presided over by a chief or minister, with a salary of $6,000 per annum.
On May 9 General Henry was succeeded by Gen. George W. Davis as Military Governor. By executive orders of August 12 General Davis abolished the departments of state, treasury, and interior, and their respective chiefs or secretaries, and at the same time created a bureau of state and municipal affairs, a bureau of internal revenue, a bureau of agriculture, a bureau of education, a board of public works, a judicial board, a board of charities, a board of health, a board of prison control, a board of insular policy, and the office of civil secretary to the Military Governor. The last official received a salary of $4,000, while the chiefs of the bureaus of state, internal revenue, and agriculture received a salary of $2,000 per annum. Through these bureaus and boards General Davis administered the affairs of the island wisely, thoroughly, and economically.
On May 31, 1899, provision was made for issuing the writ of habeas corpus by any judge of instruction, and on June 27 trial by jury was authorized.
By the act of April 12, 1900, which took effect May 1, Congress made provision for a civil government to consist of a Governor and an executive council to be appointed by the President for four years, and a house of delegates of 35 members to be elected biennially by the qualified voters.
The executive council is composed of the insular cabinet and 5 other persons of good repute. The cabinet includes a secretary for civil affairs, an attorney-general, a treasurer, an auditor, a commissioner of the interior, and a commissioner of education, all appointed for the term of four years. The executive council and house of delegates comprise the legislative assembly of Porto Rico.
On May 1 this government was established by the inauguration of Governor Charles H. Allen, of Massachusetts, and is now in operation. MUNICIPAL, DISTRICT, AND DEPARTMENTAL OOVERNMENT.
Municipal government existed in Porto Rico from the beginning of its history, and by the commencement of this century there were 28 municipalities. Owing to the political agitation resulting from the revolutions of the Spanish-American colonies all the municipalities except those of San Juan, Aguadilla, San German, Mayaguez, Ponce, Guayama, and Humacao were abolished in 1823, and seven military divisions or districts were established for civil and military purposes.
At the head of each of the seven geographical divisions of the island was an officer of the army as the representative of the Captain-General. He had his headquarters in the capital city and had limited civil jurisdiction. Similarly, all towns and villages of any importance had an alcalde or mayor, appointed by the Captain-General, who performed the duties of magistrate, and a committee of 12 property owners appointed by the Captain-General, who had charge of the public highways and the general affairs of the community. They met by order of the Captain-General, and at no other time, for the consideration of such matters as might be referred to them.
By a royal decree of December 13,1872, the municipal laws of Spain were extended to Porto Rico, the number of municipal districts was largely increased, and the districts were changed to the seven departments now existing. The members of municipal councils were elected by all males 25 years of age paying 5 pesos in taxes, or holding a professional diploma.1
By executive order of September 21,1899, General Davis established the qualifications of an elector as follows:
He must be a bona fide male resident of the municipality, 21 years of age and a taxpayer of record, or able to read and write. He must also have resided in the island for two years next preceding the date of his registration, and for the last six months of said two years within the municipality where the election is held. Mayors, councilmen, municipal judges and their substitutes, and school trustees are elected annually.
Prior to the year 1832 the laws and mode of procedure were the same as in Cuba and other Spanish colonies. The courts were limited, however, to the judges of first instance and the municipal judges. There were no audiencias in the island, as it was under the civil and criminal jurisdiction of the audiencia of Santo Domingo, which, in 1795, was removed to the province of Puerto Principe, Cuba. By a royal decree of June 19, 1831, a territorial audiencia was established in San Juan, Porto Rico, and appeals were then made direct to the supreme court of Madrid.
IFor a description of municipal government, see Report of the Census of Cuba, 1899.
At the date of American occupation each municipal district had a municipal judge, and there were twelve judicial districts each having a judge of first instance and instruction, with original jurisdiction in civil actions involving more than 200 pesos, as well as appellate jurisdiction over civil cases begun in the municipal courts. In criminal cases they prepared evidence and made recommendations to the aiidiencias.
There were three qudiencias, one territorial of six judges, having its seat in San Juan, with both civil and criminal jurisdiction, and two criminal audiencias of three judges each, located at Ponce and Mayaguez, respectively. The judges were appointed by the Captain-General.
A full description of the judicial system of Spanish colonies will be found in the Report on the Census of Cuba, and it is not considered necessary to repeat it here. It does not appear that the administration of the system in Porto Rico was free from the intricacies, delays, and defects of the system in Cuba, or that the court officials were different in character. In criminal cases the prisoner was supposed to be guilty until his innocence was established, and the burden of proof was thrown on him.
Since the American occupation many salutary and important changes have been made in the Spanish system, as established in Porto Rico, including the discontinuance of the theory of the guilt of an accused person, ex parte investigations, and the incomunicado. For these, speedy and impartial trials, by jury, or otherwise, have been substituted, while the writ of habeas corpus protects those who mav have been unjustly confined. In August, 1899, on the recommendation of the judicial board, Military Governor Davis reorganized the courts, reduced the number of judicial districts from 12 to 5, and gradually introduced many American rules of procedure, and the system observed generally in the courts of the United States.
As in Cuba, the jails and prisons were found filled with prisoners who had been in confinement for years either without trial or awaiting sentence, and their condition was one of great moral and physical degradation. This has all been corrected, and the penal institutions of Porto Rico will compare favorably in point of sanitation and good administration with such institutions in any other tropical country. Not until suitable buildings are erected can the discipline which prevails in the prisons and jails of a majoritv of the States of the Union, be maintained in Porto Rico. To this subject, however, the authorities are giving close attention.
The Indian population of Porto Rico at the date of its colonization by Spain is said to have numbered between 100,000 and 600,000 souls. According to the historian, Fray Inigo Abbad, who published an account of the island in 178S, "it was as thickly populated as a beehive." It is not likely that a correct estimate of the population was made by Ponce de Leon or any of his companions, and, as in the case of Cuba, the number will doubtless remain a subject of conjecture.
Of the traits of the Indians of Porto Rico, Fray Inigo remarks that they were copper colored, although sallow and of darker complexions, short in stature, well proportioned, with flat noses, wide nostrils, bad teeth, and narrow heads, flat in front and behind, "being pressed into this shape at the time of their birth." They bad long, thick, black, coarse hair, and were weak and indolent, regarding with aversion all exertion which was not necessaiy to their amusement or involved in fishing, hunting, or in obtaining food from other sources. They were governed by caciques, or chiefs, whose rights descended to the eldest son or to the eldest son of a sister. In an interesting account of the aborigines compiled by F. Bed well, British consul to Porto Rico in 1879, he remarks that "the orders of the caciques were announced as emanating from their tutelary god, Cemi, who was made to speak as desired by means of the buhitis, or medicine men, who were at the same time the priests. The buhitis hid themselves behind the statue of the Cemi and declared war or peace, arranged the seasons, granted sunshine and rain', or whatever was required, according to the will of the cacique who dictated, and when announcements or promises were not fulfilled, they declared that the Cemi had changed his mind for wise reasons of his own.
"The chiefdoms were divided into small provinces, which for the most part only comprised the inhabitants of a valley; but all were subject to the head cacique, who at the time of the conquest was Aqueybana. He was actually governor in chief, the others being his lieutenants, who carried out his orders in their respective districts.
"Men and unmarried women wore no clothing, but painted their bodies abundantly and with much skill, drawing upon them many varieties of figures with the oils, gums, and resins which they extracted from trees and plants. In this uniform they presented themselves in their military expeditions, public balls, and other assemblies. This simple costume, which was acquired with little labor, and was varied according to individual taste, was not without its ornaments and trimmings, in respect of which opportunity was afforded for the display of skill and inventive powers, not only in the various figures and colors with which each one painted himself or herself, but also in the head dresses that were made with feathers of exquisite colors. They put small plates of gold on their cheeks, and hung shells, precious stones, and relics from their ears and noses, and an image of their god. Cemi, was never forgotten. The chief used as a distinctive emblem a large golden plate worn on the breast. Married women w-ore an apron which descended