837.00/3428: Telegram

Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (White)

The Cuban Chargé d’Affaires, Mr. Barón, called and after first discussing briefly the Chaco matter4 said that he had a letter from Señor Ferrara directing him to discuss with me the events that took place in Cuba last week. He said that the Government regretted very much the bloodshed that had occurred and then Mr. Barón gave a somewhat involved description of what took place when the students were killed. One student pulled out a gun and the police, as well as the terrorists, he said, are jumpy on account of what has taken place; each side is looking out to save itself and when the student pulled out his pistol the police shot him. With regard to Alvarez, he said that the police had found that this man was the one who had participated in the assassination, if he had not indeed been the principal assassin, of Vásquez Bello.5 The police found that this man was being hidden in a certain house belonging to a Señor Cuervo and had gone there to get him. Mr. Barón was not clear as to what happened from that point on except that Alvarez was finally shot. Mr. Barón then said that he had made an aide-mémoire for himself to remember what Ferraira’s letter contained. He said that this memorandum contained the main points in Mr. Ferrara’s letter although the wording was somewhat different and he left it with me. It is attached hereto.6

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I told Mr. Barón that I had been much shocked by the news that came from Cuba last week and that this sort of thing was doing Cuba and President Machado’s government a great deal of harm. Mr. Barón said that he agreed and he thought it most unfortunate. I told him that having known Ferrara for some time I had great hopes when he went down to Cuba that this sort of thing would cease. I said I realized the difficulties the Government is having with the Opposition but that nevertheless I could see no excuse for this sort of thing and that these continual assassinations, the closing of universities, muzzling of the press, et cetera, were certainly doing Cuba a great deal of harm in the outside world. Mr. Barón said he agreed but that the situation was very difficult; that the Opposition were without leaders and could not be dealt with. I said I realized the difficulty of dealing with some of the opponents of the Machado Administration but I thought it incumbent upon the Government, as its first task, to try by some means to reestablish confidence in Cuba. I said that from this distance it was not possible to indicate the means by which this could be done; that that was something which the Cuban Government would have to study over and find out for itself. I said I thought they should direct their attention primarily to this matter. I said that of course Ambassador Guggenheim had taken an interest in this matter but he was only interpreting the general public sentiment in this country in counselling the Cuban Government as I was doing, to do something to better conditions.

Mr. Barón said he realized the bad effect that this was having and referred to the attacks that came out in La Prensa of New York against Cuba. I told him that it was not just La Prensa but American papers as well. Mr. Barón said yes, that he had seen a number of articles recently in the New York Times which were not favorable to Cuba. I told Mr. Barón that they would have to expect this same sort of thing as long as present conditions prevail in Cuba.

F[rancis] W[hite]