The Chargé in Cuba (Reed) to the Secretary of State

No. 1358

Sir: Referring to my despatches Nos. 1345 and 1353 of September 9 and 13, 1932,25 I have the honor to report that Colonels Mendieta and Méndez Peñate, prominent opposition leaders, were yesterday returned to the Isle of Pines Penitentiary.

In reply to my inquiry as to the significance of this, Dr. Orestes Ferrara stated this morning that since the friends of the two prisoners felt that the latter could not make peace with the Administration without sacrificing their principles and consequent loss of prestige among their followers, it had been advisable to detain them in jail for some time longer. Dr. Ferrara said he did not know whether Cosme de la Torriente had seen Mendieta and Méndez Peñate during the week they passed in the Principe jail in Habana. He thought, however, that the time would soon be opportune for Dr. de la Torriente to visit them at the Isle of Pines.

With respect to the reenactment, with modifications, of the Law of Military Jurisdiction, Dr. Ferrara said there appeared to him to be nothing in this action inconsistent with the hope he had recently expressed to me that it would before long be possible to restore to the civil courts complete jurisdiction over all offenses committed by civilians. The new law would in fact facilitate matters, since the Government [Page 557] could now by a single executive act restore both the suspended guarantees and the jurisdictional authority of the ordinary courts.

To-day’s Heraldo de Cuba publishes the names of 19 students and labor leaders who have been ordered released from jail, in addition to the 84 political prisoners discharged on September 12, as reported in my despatch No. 1353 of September 13, 1932.

Respectfully yours,

Edward L. Reed
  1. Neither printed.