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

No. 1375

Sir: Referring to my telegrams Nos. 103 and 104 of September 27 and Nos. 105 and 106 of September 28, 1932,26 I have the honor to report that the assassination of Dr. Vázquez Bello and the even more brutal murders of Congressmen Aguiar and Freyre de Andrade, and of the latter’s two brothers, have inspired feelings of horror and terrified apprehension to a degree which it would be difficult to exaggerate. Practically every prominent member of the opposition who is not in prison fears that he may be the next victim of Vázquez Bello’s avengers.

There is no doubt in the public mind that these murders were acts of reprisal. There is, however, a difference of opinion whether they were carried out with or without the connivance of the authorities, the more rabid adversaries of the Administration even insisting that the Government is to blame.

In discussing these deplorable events with me yesterday, Dr. Ferrara pointed out that every political “boss” in Cuba is surrounded by a group of persons dependent upon him for preferment, maintenance or funds. If their chief is removed, these persons suffer the consequences which may entail the ruin of all their hopes and aspirations. It was, therefore, not unnatural that Vázquez Bello’s henchmen should have sought to avenge his murder on the persons of his political enemies. Dr. Ferrara reminded me that there had been two previous attempts on Vázquez Bello’s life. It was understood, he said, that Vázquez Bello had instructed certain of his people, in the event of his meeting a violent death, to kill three men: Gonzalo Freyre de Andrade, Miguel Aguiar and Ricardo Dolz. Two of these had been immediately [Page 558] accounted for and the third was in hiding. The Government would gladly do everything possible to protect Dolz (ex-Senator and now Rector of the University) but it did not know his present whereabouts.

I asked Dr. Ferrara about Carlos Manuel de la Cruz, leader of the Orthodox Conservative faction in the House, who is also in hiding and who was insistently reported to have sought refuge in this Embassy. The Secretary replied that he understood that de la Cruz was at the Uruguayan Legation and that if this were true, the Cuban Government would raise no objection. He regarded such asylum as entirely justifiable in the circumstances, since it might protect the refugee from acts which the Cuban Government would be the first to condemn. Furthermore, de la Cruz was not a fugitive from justice.

The police report progress in running down the assassins of Vázquez Bello. The automobile which they used has been found and identified and they are working back from this important piece of evidence. The discovery yesterday of a 200 pound dynamite mine at Colon cemetery, close to the mausoleum in which Vázquez Bello would have been interred had it been determined to bury him in Habana, is regarded as furnishing definite proof that Vázquez Bello’s assassination was but the prelude to a wholesale slaughter of government officials. This would seem to eliminate the theory that Vázquez Bello’s death might have been due to dissention within the Liberal Party.

The authorities have adopted extraordinary precautions to maintain order and to prevent the escape of the criminals. I was informed this morning that the issuance to all Cubans of permits to embark for foreign ports has been indefinitely discontinued.

Respectfully yours,

Edward L. Reed
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