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The supreme political power resides in the people and the constitution is the present expression of its will. The form of government is republican and the delegated power of the nation is vested in three coördinate and independent branches—the legislative, the judicial, and the executive.
The legislative branch is composed of two chambers, the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. The Senate consists of one member for each department, or province. The Chamber of Deputies is formed by one member for each 3,000 voters.
The Congress thus constituted has the power of making laws; establishing courts and regulating the administration of justice; caring for the welfare, peace, and independence of the Republic, the protection of individual rights and the promotion of education, agriculture industry, and commerce; making appropriations for the support of the Government, establishing the taxes necessary for meeting these expenses, approving or disapproving, in whole or in part, the accounts presented by the Executive; contracting public debts, and, in general, regulating the public credit; declaring war, and approving or disapproving treaties of peace, alliance, and commerce, or any other which the Executive may make with foreign nations; fixing each year the number of the armed forces of the nation, land and naval, needed in time of peace or war; creating new departments, or provinces, establishing ports and custom-houses and import and export duties; fixing the weight, fineness, and value of coins, their kind and denomination, regulating the system of weights and measures; permitting or prohibiting the entry of foreign troops
into the territory of the Republic, and, in the former case, determining the time when they should leave the country; creating or abolishing public offices, determining their duties, and salaries; granting pensions or pecuniary or other rewards; bestowing public honors for great services; granting pardons or amnesties in extraordinary cases, by a vote of at least two-thirds of the chambers; making regulations for the national militia, and the time of their assembling, and their number; appointing the place of residence of the chief authorities of the nation; approving or disapproving of the creation of new banks, or the constitutions and rules of those already established; choosing in joint session the person who shall exercise the executive power and electing the members of the High Court of Justice.
The judicial power is vested in several courts of first instance, and in a High Court of Justice; but as the latter has not been established as yet, its functions are performed by the respective Courts of Appeals. There are 3 civil courts for ordinary cases, 2 for commercial cases; 1 for cases affecting the Treasury; 2 criminal courts; 1 police court; and 19 local or departmental courts. There are also justices of the peace elected by the people.
The executive power is vested in the President, chosen for a term of four years, by a majority of the General Assembly or Congress in joint session of its two chambers. He is ineligible for reëlection during the two successive terms. He is aided and advised in the execution of his official duties by a cabinet composed of five ministers. The following decree, dated February 6, 1891, will show the different ministries and their respective functions:
Article. 1. The cabinet offices spoken of in article 85 of the Constitution, shall be five, and shall be denominated Ministry of Government, Ministry of Fomento (Promotion of Public Welfare), Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of War and of the Navy.
Art. 2. To the Ministry of Government belong all matters relative to police, public safety, elections, justice, prisons, public beneficence, health, postal and telegraphic communication, and local and departmental government.
Art. 3. To the Ministry of Fomento belong all matters relative to instruction and public works, internal communication, immigration, colonization, agriculture, and industries in general.
Art. 4. To the Ministry of Finance belong all matters relative to Government expenses, collection of customs and internal revenue, accountancy, public credit, and the renting or selling of all kinds of fiscal properties.
Art. 5. To the Ministry of Foreign Affairs belong all matters relative to the diplomatic and consular corps of the Republic and to negotiations with foreign governments and with the Holy See. To this ministry is further entrusted all matters concerning the exercise of the national church patronage and the religion of the State.
Art. 6. To the Ministry of War and of the Navy belong all matters relative to the Army and Navy, the guarding of the coasts, administration of light-houses, and all fluvial and maritime regulations.
Art. 7. In case one of the ministers is prevented from acting for any cause on any particular matter, the President of the Republic shall indicate the minister who shall act in his place, and the orders thus given by this substitute shall be countersigned by the chief clerk of the ministry to which the matter originally belonged.
Art. 8. The secretaries of the ministries shall take charge of the archives respectively corresponding to the branches ascribed to each by the present decree. . Art. 9. Let this be communicated, etc.
HERRERA Y Obes.
Ramon L. LOMBA. There is a Vice President of the Republic, who ex officio is the
a President of the Senate, and who, in case of death or disability of the Chief Magistrate of the nation, acts in his place.
Congress meets annually and its sessions last from January to June.
Each Department or province of the Republic has a governor appointed by the Executive, and an administrative council, whose members are chosen by popular vote.
Foreign powers are represented in Uruguay by 16 ministers, 10 consuls-general, 24 consuls, 49 vice-consuls, and 17 commercial
The Republic is represented abroad by 9 ministers, 18 consulsgeneral, 121 consuls, and 132 vice-consuls.
The religion established by the Constitution is the Apostolic Roman Catholic, but all other forms of worship are tolerated throughout the country in consequence of the liberality of the laws and tolerant disposition of the native inhabitants. This is evidenced by the existence of the English Protestant church in Montevideo, of an Evangelical church in the Swiss colony, and of the Protestant church in Salto.
The financial aid given by the Government to the Church is very limited, only $19,712 appearing in the annual budget for that
purpose. The contributions of the faithful in the different parishes is sufficient for the maintenance of the priest and the church
expenses. In 1889, the number of churches in the country was given as 43, 13 of these being in Montevideo. Seven others were in course of erection. The number of officiating priests in the various places of worship was 161. There are 5 organizations of Sisters of Charity, devoted to the instruction of children and to service in the hospitals and asylums of the country. They have 15 houses in the capital and 10 in the other departments. The number of Sisters of Charity belonging to the order is 280.
A religious seminary, with 28 teachers and 50 pupils, also exists in Montevideo.
The charitable institutions are well conducted and are under the charge of a special commissioner. During the year 1889, the Hospital de Caridad admitted 5,308 patients, of whom 4,016 were foreigners. The Insane Asylum had 898 insane persons in its care. The Orphan Asylum, the Asylum for the Aged, and the British Hospital are well-managed institutions, supported by public aid and private subscriptions.
By the terms of the constitution, all citizens of the Republic are equal before the law; no distinction is recognized between them on account of birth or wealth, but all possess the same right to protection in the enjoyment of life, liberty, security, and property. No one can be deprived of these except by due process of law. The creation and existence of rights of primogeniture are forbidden; all kinds of entail are prohibited, and no authority of the Republic can confer any title of nobility, honor, or rank. The private acts of men, which are in no way injurious to the public welfare or to each other, are beyond the notice of the courts; and no person can be compelled to do that which is not demanded by the law, or be prevented from doing that which is not prohibited. The house of the citizen is an inviolable asylum, and may not entered at night without his consent; or by day, unless by express order of a competent judge, given in writing, and in cases determined by the law. No one can be punished or confined without due form of law and by legal sentence. The private papers of citizens and their correspondence are inviolable, and shall not be examined or intercepted 'except in such cases as the law provides.
The expression of thought is free, whether by speech, private writing, or the press, and shall not be subject to censorship; but the speaker, author, or publisher is responsible for abuses according to the law. Every citizen has the right of petition to all and any
of the authorities of the State. The security of the individual can not be suspended without the consent of the Legislative Assembly, or, when this is not in session, of the permanent commission, in extraordinary cases of treason or conspiracy against the State, and then only for the apprehension of the offenders. The right of property enjoyed by all, except subjects of foreign governments, is inviolable. In case the nation needs the private property of any individual, he must receive from the public treasury a just compensation for the same; and the same is the case for