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

No. 1411

Sir: I have the honor to report that on November 1, 1932, elections will be held in Cuba to select 69 representatives, governors and provincial councillors in the six provinces and mayors and municipal councillors in all the municipalities. One senator is to be elected in Camagüey and one in Pinar del Río, to fill vacancies caused by deaths.

Interest in the elections has been so slight that I have not thought it worth while to burden the Department with accounts of the progress of the campaign. In Habana the attitude of the public is apathetic, [Page 561] while in the smaller cities and rural districts the contest has centered around the personalities of the opposing candidates rather than the principles and platforms of the different parties.

The Government has repeatedly proclaimed its impartiality and announced that all possible measures were being adopted to prevent frauds and ensure freedom of voting. Military supervisers have been sent to many districts where there was indication of strife or where bitterness between candidates and their supporters had already resulted in bloodshed. There have been a number of such affrays, in one of which 3 persons were killed. No public meetings of a political nature have been permitted anywhere in the island.

As regards the probable results of the elections, it may be predicted with absolute safety that they will in no way affect the administration’s control of congress, excepting in so far as its large majority consisting of Liberals, Populars and Coöperating Conservatives may be increased. In the provincial governments some changes may occur. The Conservatives are not attempting seriously to challenge the Liberal strength in the four eastern provinces, but in Pinar del Río, long a Conservative stronghold, the Liberals appear to have a fair chance of victory.

In Habana Province the principal opposing candidates for governor are the present Liberal incumbent, Antonio Ruiz, and President Machado’s son-in-law, José Emilio Obregon. The latter’s acceptance of the Conservative candidacy caused considerable surprise and conjecture in view of the President’s position in the Liberal Party. It is, however, not known whether he has acted with or without the consent of his father-in-law. The fact that he has been plentifully supplied with funds for campaign purposes would seem to indicate that there has been no complete estrangement between them, but if Obregon is in fact receiving support from the President, the motive is not easily apparent. The governorship of a province in Cuba is neither a very influential nor remunerative position. The only possible explanation would be that the President desires to have a representative of his family in the higher councils of the Conservative Party. On the other hand, the theory that Obregon is acting independently of, if not in opposition to, his father-in-law’s wishes finds support in the fact that a decree has been issued denying the national police of Habana the right to vote in the elections. It is recalled that the defeat of the Liberal candidate for mayor of Habana by Miguel Mariano Gómez in 1926 was attributed to the large vote given the latter by the Habana police.

Respectfully yours,

Edward L. Reed