File No. 837.00/1062
Minister Gonzales to the Secretary of State
Habana, February 10, 1917—10 p.m.
Urgent. As result of alleged plot against the life of the President three lieutenants of artillery attached to palace guards were arrested this morning and imprisoned and four lieutenants of infantry suspected of complicity were sent aboard a Cuban gunboat. Both Zayas and former President Gómez are absent in Santa Clara Province where partial elections will be held next Wednesday.[Page 353]
So far as it is possible to judge from opinions of business people with interests throughout the country and from general public apprehension, conditions could not be more critical. The President holds there will be no revolution. He asserts that the disposition of armed forces in Santa Clara and other elaborate precautions taken are solely for the purpose of maintaining order; the opposition and many of the President’s own party contend they are intended to terrorize people and prevent their appearance at the polls. In the circumstances this view is reasonable but it is impossible to establish its accuracy. My opinion is that if force is actually used by conservative party it will be through more or less organized civilians. Some newspapers on both sides are inflammatory and unscrupulous in allegations.
If the conservatives carry the elections and the generally apprehended revolution takes place it would have early manifestation in wholesale burning of cane which is now extraordinarily inflammable. The Government would immediately attempt to arrest liberal leaders and I would regard the lives of Gómez and Ferrara in peril, even if they were not publicly participating in revolt.
The situation is unquestionably grave. Does Department consider it advisable that I ask the President if he objects to my sending military attaché to Santa Clara to observe elections? One drawback is that his presence might be construed to give endorsement to result, but it might avert bloodshed at one or two points.