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An experiment, in a small way, has been made with much success in the tobacco region near Sagua la Grande of supplying farmers with oxen and implements at cost price and on reasonable terms of payment, and sending them out from the town to establish themselves in colonies. It was desired to locate them on land where they could eventually buy their farms at fair prices, to be fixed beforehand. It was found, however, that the owners of large tracts were generally unwilling to part with small pieces for fear that they should have the remnants on their own hands. The experiment is, however, entirely successful in its main features. The farmers are all self-supporting and many of them will anticipate the payments upon their cattle and implements. A similar experiment has been made and similar results obtained at Sancti Spiritus under the supervision of Captain Fremont, Second Infantry, aided by Father Castillo, a worthy parish priest of that city. At the urgent solicitation of the civil governor of the province of Matanzas help of the same sort was extended to twenty-two families in the neighborhood of the city of Matanzas, but owing to the lateness of the season and the less advantageous situation of the farmers, the result has not been quite so satisfactory. The cattle were young and unbroken, but have materially improved in value and in several instances the purchasers will be able to anticipate payments due upon them, but for the most part the experiment has not gone far enough to justify the statement that it is entirely successful.
What has been said about small farms applies only to the tobacco country, of which little is found in the province of Matanzas. This province is specially adapted to cane, and even in localities similar in appearance to the best districts of Santa Clara, it has not yielded good results to the tobacco grower. The province of Matanzas is divided into large sugar estates and sugar-cane farms, and on account of the unusually dry summer and autumn of last year but a very small crop was raised. This province has consequently not felt the stimulus that was expected, but great additions have been made to the acreage of sugar cane, and the growing crop, with average weather, should be a remarkably good one. It is estimated that the output of sugar for the season of 1900–1901 will be double that of last year, or at least 600,000 tons.
While I feel sure that a large majority of the people of the province are in favor of independence and are impatient at what appears to them to be the slow progress that has been made in that direction, yet there are others who, while wanting annexation in its full sense or a dependency in some measure, still feel the same impatience with the existing delay. There are few, principally the owners of large sugar estates, who are urging delay and would delay indefinitely so long as the measures proposed do not lead positively toward the realization of their wishes.
The impatience alluded to above is perhaps natural. Obviously the Foraker resolution, so long as it continues in force, will be regarded by many as standing in the way of prosperity, but in my judgment it should not be repealed until the government of the island is definitely established. Meanwhile no enterprises requiring public franchises can be undertaken.
It will be observed in this connection that the greatest needs of the island are not at present for transportation, street railroads, water and light companies, but for the establishment of such trade relations with the United States and other neighboring countries as will stimulate agriculture, commerce, and immigration. Many Cubans who have been abroad, on their return to the island after the close of the war, looked confidently for a large extension of railroads, for the reduction of freight rates, and for the introduction of American methods in handling freight and passengers as the surest panacea for the ills under which the agricultural classes at least are suffering. So far none of these expectations have been realized, nor can they come until prosperity has been reestablished, which in turn will most surely be delayed until favorable commercial treaties have been negotiated and local selfgovernment has been established. Beyond slight repairs to the road beds and a little retouching of passenger coaches there is no improvement apparent in the railroads of this department.
The highways which have been undertaken by the department of public works have made but little progress, and the poorer
people who were accustomed to bringing their produce to market on the backs of sumpter animals feel but little necessity for better roads, which can come only with such a degree of prosperity as will justify the people in taxing themselves sufficiently to pay the expenses of the highways now so loudly called for in some localities.
Our experience and observation for the year and a half of occupation has shown that the expense of covering the island with a network of good wagon roads, passable at all seasons with loaded teams, would be such as could be borne only by a dense and prosperous population. The nature of the soil and the presence almost everywhere of loose bowlders or ragged coral rock just below the surface, together with the terrific washing of the tropical rains, destroys and renders useless any road not thoroughly drained, macadamized, and provided with substantial bridges. After the first rain a dirt road, however well built, is cut up by the wheels of carts and wagons, and when dry is as rugged as though it were rock. The next rain enlarges the ruts, and practically obliterates the road.
In conclusion, I invite attention to my previous reports and their accompanying appendixes, calling attention to the fact that every statement as to existing conditions, every inference drawn therefrom, every expression of opinion based thereon, and every recommendation and prediction I felt called upon to make has been fully justified by the course of events in this department during the official year just closed. I predicted that the elections would result in the selection of the same men then in office, or of men of similar character. This prediction has been fully verified, and it is to be noted that in every instance the mayor and councilmen elected are revolutionists who either actually served in the field, or actively aided the insurgents with their money and influence.
In leaving the scene of my labors of the past year and a half, my cordial thanks are due and are rendered with great pleasure to Gen. Pedro E. Betancourt, civil governor of the province of Matanzas, and to Gen. José M. Gómez, civil governor of the province of Santa Clara, for their uniformly loyal and cordial support in the work of adjusting and modifying the government to suit the conditions that have been changing from day to day, and have often given rise to annoyances and vexations, which have always been satisfactorily disposed of through their intelligent cooperation.
To Gen. José de J. Monteagudo, chief of the rural guard of the province of Santa Clara, my thanks are also due for his active and untiring efforts in preserving order and restoring confidence of the agricultural population in the province of Santa Clara. Nor can I forget to thank Capt. Frederick Rasco, of the guard (his secretary), for the intelligent and soldierly manner in which he has always placed his remarkably fluent command of the best English and Spanish at the disposal of the military authorities. My thanks are no less due to Mr. J. Bernardo Junco, for his constant and intelligent attention to the duties of his position as official interpreter at these headquarters.
Whatever success has attended my efforts in behalf of the Cuban people and the maintenance of peace and the promotion of the general welfare is due largely to the cordial and intelligent support which has been extended to me by the military and civil officers whom I have mentioned in this report.
With the completion of this report at noon of this date, July 23, the Department of Matanzas and Santa Clara ceases to exist. A telegram just received announces its consolidation with that of General Lee, under the name of the Department of Western Cuba, with headquarters at Quemados.
In conclusion, I feel it my duty to say that, with a continuance of the good and successful management of insular affairs by the representatives of the intervening government, aided, as they have been, by the tranquility, patience, and tractability of the Cuban people, I do not doubt Cuba will become at an early date a rich, independent, wellgoverned country. Very respectfully,
JAMES H. WILSON,
REPORT OF BRIG. GEN. FITZHUGH LEE, COMMANDING
DEPARTMENT OF WESTERN CUBA.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF WESTERN CUBA,
Quemados, Cuba, August 23, 1900. The ADJUTANT-GENERAL UNITED STATES ARMY,
Washington, D. C., (Through Headquarters Division of Cuba.) Sir: I have the honor to submit the following report concerning the administration of department affairs for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1900:
LIMITS OF DEPARTMENT.
Until May 1, 1900, the provinces of Pinar del Río and Habana, excepting the city of Habana and immediately surrounding country, constituted the limits of the department. The city of Habana formed the Department of Habana, and its extent was fixed and published in General Orders No. 4, Headquarters Division of Cuba, 1898.
On May 1 the territorial limits of the department were extended, pursuant to the following orders: