823.00/268: Telegram

The Minister in Peru ( McMillin ) to the Acting Secretary of State

Your July 8, 6 p.m. Legation’s July 10, 5 p.m. Press this morning contains decree issued last night by Leguia and by others for change Constitution and election new Congress. The following is a textual translation:2

Whereas: 1. The national movement which ousted the former regime was inspired by a noble aspiration for the realization of constitutional reforms which would implant in Peru an effective democracy;

2. These reforms, because of their fundamental character, should have the sanction of the people itself in order that political or bureaucratic interests may not deflect them from their purely national purpose;

With the unanimous vote of the Council of Ministers;

It is decreed: 1. That there be called a general election of representatives in accordance with a decree to be issued separately.

2. That there be submitted to the plebiscitary vote of the nation the following constitutional reforms:

  • Article 1. The renewal of the Legislative power will be entire and the date of this renewal will necessarily coincide with that of the renewal of the Executive power. The term of office of both powers shall be five years.
  • Article 2. The Legislature shall consist of a Senate composed of 35 senators and of a House composed of 110 deputies. This number may not be altered except by amendment of the Constitution. An organic law shall fix the departmental and provincial districts and the number of senators and deputies which each shall be entitled to elect.
  • Article 3. The senators and deputies of the Republic shall be elected by direct popular vote. Only in case of the death or resignation of the President of the Republic, the Congress shall elect, within 30 days, the citizen who shall complete the presidential [Page 727] term, the powers of government being exercised meanwhile by the Council of Ministers. Vacancies occurring in Congress shall be filled by special elections.
  • Article 4. The regular session of Congress shall extend over a period of not less than 90 nor more than 120 days each year. A special session of Congress may be called by the Executive whenever he deems it necessary.
  • Article 5. The two Houses will meet in joint session only for the purposes of opening the sessions, of ratifying international treaties, and of fulfilling the electoral functions which the Constitution assigns to Congress.
  • Article 6. The legislative function is incompatible with every other public employment, whether in the national or in local administration. Employees of benevolent institutions or of associations dependent in any form on the State shall be included in this disqualification.
  • Article 7. Diplomatic representatives shall be appointed by the Government with the approval of the Senate.
  • Article 8. Individual guarantees may not be suspended by any law or by any authority.
  • Article 9. The judicial service shall be governed by a law which establishes definite and invariable rules for promotion. Judicial appointments for the courts of first and second instance shall be ratified by the Supreme Court every five years.
  • Article 10. The income tax shall be progressive.
  • Article 11. Conflicts arising between Capital and Labor shall be submitted to compulsory arbitration.
  • Article 12. Congress shall not make personal grants which result in expense to the Treasury nor increase the salaries of public functionaries or employees excepting upon the initiative of the Government.
  • Article 13. Fiat money with legal tender character shall not be issued except in case of a national war.
  • Article 14. There shall be three regional legislatures, one for the north, one for the center, and one for the south of the Republic, consisting of deputies elected by the provinces at the same time as the national representatives. These legislatures shall hold each year a session for a period of 30 days during which they may not be prorogued. Their functions shall be determined by a special law. They may not occupy themselves with personal matters of any kind whatever. Their resolutions shall be transmitted to the Executive for enforcement. If the Executive considers any of them incompatible with the general laws or with the national interest he shall submit them with his comment to the Congress, which shall follow in regard to them the same procedure as with bills which have been vetoed.
  • Article 15. The provincial councils shall be autonomous in the conduct of the affairs with which they are intrusted. The creation of new taxes shall be subject to the approval of the Government.
  • Article 16. There shall be organized a Council of State composed of six members elected by the Council of Ministers with the approval of the Senate. The cases in which the Government is bound to obtain its opinion and those in which it may not act contrary to its opinion shall be defined by law.
  • Article 17. The Government alone may, in accordance with law, grant pensions, retirement allowances, and compensations for disability, without the Legislature having power for any reason to intervene.
  • Article 18. No one may receive more than one salary or emolument from the State, no matter what the employment or function which he may exercise. Salaries or emoluments payable by local institutions or by associations in any manner dependent upon the Government are included in this prohibition.
  • Article 19. The next Congress shall convene on September 15th of the present year, shall be presided over by the President of the Senate and shall remain in session for 30 days as a national assembly for the purpose of promulgating such reforms as are approved by the plebiscite.

Given in Government House in Lima the tenth day of the month of July nineteen hundred and nineteen.”

Signed by the President and all the Cabinet.
  1. Corrected on the basis of comparison with the Spanish text published in Annuario de la Legislación Peruana, vol. 14, Anexos, pp. i-ii.