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

No. 1089

Sir: I have the honor to report that during the past few weeks, I have several times been approached by mutual friends of General Menocal, Colonel Mendieta and myself, urging the advisability of a meeting. To these overtures, I replied that I had no reason to seek [Page 542]a meeting with these gentlemen, both of whom were personal friends of mine, and who knew that, if they desired an interview, I would be only too happy to receive them at the Embassy.

General Menocalcalled me on the telephone yesterday and requested an appointment for himself and Colonel Mendieta. I received them yesterday afternoon at the Embassy residence. After a lengthy conversation about personal matters, General Menocal said that he would very briefly state the object of his visit. It was unnecessary to rehearse the conditions that had brought about Cuba’s present evil situation, but that there were only two ways in which this situation could be remedied; the first was by action of Washington, and the second, by another revolution which, if Washington were loath to act, they were prepared to set in motion. In his opinion, the time had come when the United States should settle the chaotic conditions in Cuba, and such action was entirely warranted by the Permanent Treaty.7

When General Menocal finished his statement, Colonel Mendieta entered upon a more lengthy, eloquent appeal to the United States to end the tyranny and restore personal liberties in Cuba. Neither General Menocal nor Colonel Mendieta said anything that they have not said before, or that has not previously been reported to the Department.

In reply, I informed them that the policy of my Government, in accordance with the so-called Boot interpretation8 of the Platt Amendment,9 was not to intervene in the internal affairs of Cuba; that this policy, as they must realize, was a policy that was conceived in friendship and carried out in justice, and one that had been generally pursued by the Hoover Administration in all of its Latin American relations; that I hardly need tell them it was a policy adopted to support no particular administration; that they must further realize the attitude of my Government has been one of strict impartiality, which must have been particularly apparent during the last revolution. In answer, they both argued that the time was fast approaching when the United States would have to intervene in the affairs of Cuba anyway, and that it were far better that it did so before blood had been spilled and a state of complete chaos reached.

Upon leaving, they asked that further thought and consideration be given to what they had said. The attitude of these gentlemen was free, I feel, from any antagonism or feeling of bitterness towards [Page 543]the United States. I think this is a reflection of the general attitude of the Opposition today in Cuba. There is a growing realization of the impartiality of the United States in the internal affairs of Cuba. I think it of the utmost importance that everything should be done to maintain and foster this opinion in Cuba. My views to this effect, as expressed to the Secretary verbally last autumn and reiterated in my strictly confidential despatch No. 1005 of January 25, 1932, have been reenforced in the time that has elapsed since then.

Within the past few months Doctor Torriente has called at the Embassy on several occasions to confer with me. He has not been successful in his attempts to bring about a formation of a new political party of the united opposition. The opposition leaders claim that they are unwilling to undertake a political battle under the suspension of constitutional guarantees and a state of martial law.

A few days ago Juan Gutiérrez y Quirós, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court since 1925, asked that his resignation be accepted. In handing in his resignation, Doctor Quirós addressed a lengthy communication to the Sala de Gobierno of the Supreme Court. In this statement he emphasizes the increasing difficulties experienced by the judiciary in the discharge of its functions; the disregard of its prerogatives by the other branches of the Government, and the encroachments, either with or without the authority of law, of the military authorities upon the jurisdiction of the civil courts. He attaches a list of measures which, in his opinion, should be adopted immediately in order to restore confidence in the administration of justice. A copy and translation of this document are transmitted herewith.10 The censorship has prevented its publication in the press.

The Opposition attach great importance to Doctor Gutiérrez y Quirós’ action, as he enjoys the highest reputation in Cuba and in the past has always observed a friendly attitude toward President Machado.

Respectfully yours,

Harry F. Guggenheim
  1. Treaty between the United States and Cuba, signed at Habana, May 22, 1903, Foreign Relations, 1904, p. 243.
  2. See footnote 11, p. 545.
  3. See Foreign Relations, General Index, 1900–1918, p. 202.
  4. Not printed.