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

No. 1282

Sir: I have the honor to report that the political situation, since the assassination of Captain Calvo on July 9, has been marked by an increase in violence on the part of both the Government and the groups loosely organized into the Opposition. The searches and detentions by the police have continued with unabated vigor, and it is probable that since the date above mentioned between two and three hundred people have been detained, charged with conspiracy in one way or another against the Government. At the same time, the shootings and bombings which have been ascribed to the opposition have recently become not only more frequent, but more reckless.

Several incidents of this kind have happened in the past few days. On July 21, a group of four individuals attempted to effect a temporary seizure of a radio station in Habana with the alleged purpose [Page 553] of giving an anti-government discourse, similar to the occupation of a broadcasting station several months ago when a short but violently subversive speech was delivered over the radio. Warned beforehand of this plan, the police were waiting for the individuals when they arrived. Three of them were apprehended; the fourth managed to escape, while one policeman was severely wounded in the shooting.

On July 22, in a Habana suburb, a package was delivered at the house of a family named Proenza which had been under suspicion of anti-government activities for some time. Upon being opened by the messenger, the package exploded, blowing the messenger to pieces and severely wounding two daughters of the house. A son of the family had already been arrested, while another daughter had been in hiding for sometime. In the latter’s diary, the police found a record of some of the recent bombings, with plans for more. Various subversive documents were also seized, and some of the family’s relatives detained. The police have not been able to escape the popular, but unconfirmed suspicion that the bomb was sent to the house on police authority.

On July 23, Colonel Esteban Delgado Acosta, veteran of Cuba’s War of Independence and opposition leader, was killed in a gun battle with members of the Secret Police who had been informed of suspicious meetings being held in Colonel Delgado’s house in Habana. According to the police statement, the Secret Police surrounded the house—a small wooden house on an alley-way—and, upon demanding that the door be opened, were greeted by a hail of bullets from inside. The door then opened and Colonel Delgado stepped out, shooting at the police, and was immediately shot down. According to the police, his companions escaped. Whether there was actually any fighting or not has been seriously questioned by many Cubans who pointed out that whoever shot Colonel Delgado must have been remarkably accurate from a distance, since he had no other wounds except two bullet holes in the forehead; according to the newspaper story, powder marks were found around one of his wounds. No police were injured. It should also be mentioned in this connection that last night the chauffeur ordinarily used by Delgado was mysteriously shot in a Habana street. The policeman who found the body said he heard the shot, saw the man fall, but could not see the assailant. Colonel Delgado had, for a long time, been active in the opposition and had been arrested in connection with the trouble at Artemisa two years ago, (see telegram No. 67, May 19, 1930, 4 PM)22 in which several officers and several civilians were killed and a score or so injured in [Page 554] an attempt by the Rural Guards to break up a Unión Nacionalista meeting.

On July 24, Captain García Sierra, Chief of the Fourth Precinct of the National Police, was instantly killed and four policemen were seriously wounded when a bomb exploded in a house on Revillagigedo Street, Habana. The police had been summoned to the house by an anonymous telephone call, stating that an opposition meeting was being held at that address. No one was in the house when the police arrived, but, upon searching the premises for subversive literature and arms, Captain García Sierra picked up a book on a table which in some manner exploded a bomb, inflicting the fatalities above mentioned.

As has been stated in previous despatches, the national and judicial police forces on the island have been coordinated under the general supervision of the Chief of Staff of the Army. The Army is now seeking, however, a more direct and effective command of the police forces, and it is reported that the President is considering some such project. The police as yet have been unable to apprehend the assassins of Captain Calvo, but Secretary of State Ferrara announced Saturday that the police claim to have a definite clew to their identity.

Respectfully yours,

Harry F. Guggenheim
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