The Ambassador in Cuba ( Guggenheim ) to the Secretary of State

No. 493

Sir: Referring to my telegrams No. 177 of December 29 and No. 178 of December 31, 1930,4 I have the honor to report that the Habana Yacht Club was permitted to reopen last evening and that Colonel Puyol, as well as a number of other more or less well known persons arrested recently on charges of conspiracy to overthrow the Government, were released from jail in the course of the last few days.

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As already reported in my telegram No. 175,5 the Diario de la Marina was allowed to resume publication on December 25 after a week’s suspension. Another paper, the comic weekly Karikato, which had been suspended at about the same time, was permitted to resume publication last week.

While these events might possibly appear to indicate a more lenient attitude on the part of the Government, they are largely offset by other activities by the authorities who have in no way relaxed their vigilance to prevent disorders or their determination to punish persons involved in plans to create disturbance. Colonel Aurelio Hevia, accused of instigating a plot to seize the arsenal on Christmas Eve, is still a prisoner in Cabañas fortress and all efforts of his friends to secure his release on a writ of Habeas Corpus have been unavailing due to the suspension of constitutional guarantees. The entire directorate of the university students organization, including several young women, was arrested and imprisoned on January 4. It is further reported in the newspapers that scores of men and women who declared themselves to be in sympathy with the student movement have been ordered to appear in court to answer charges of sedition.

Yesterday a small number of students organized a demonstration of protest against the detention of their directorate and succeeded in creating a considerable disturbance in one of the city’s principal shopping streets before the police could disperse them. The newspapers report that a good many shop windows were broken by missiles thrown by the students as they marched along the street and that 15 of the ringleaders were taken into custody.

In spite of the announcement by the authorities that extreme penalties would be meted out to persons found to be illegally in possession of explosive materials, hardly a night passes without the explosion of one or more small bombs in different parts of the city. On several occasions unidentified persons have dropped tear gas and stink bombs with effective results at large social gatherings.

The authorities have succeeded in apprehending very few of the persons responsible for these activities but they do not appear to be greatly perturbed by them. The Government continues to have the upper hand and there is as yet no question of the loyalty of the army and police force. President Machado replying to criticism of his administration in a speech on New Years Day once more announced that he had no intention of resigning, declaring that “presidents are not overthrown by scraps of paper”.


Harry F. Guggenheim