837.00/3528: Telegram

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

66. My telegram No. 61.20 On May 27 the Diario de la Marina published an officially inspired interview with President Machado. Among the significant statements made by the President were the following:

“A little generosity and good faith on the part of my opponents would be sufficient to enable Cuba to recover moral peace.

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I wish my political opponents would be willing like good Cubans to discuss without prejudice the problems at issue with me around a table. If they convince me I am wrong they would save themselves from the hardships of exile and they would save the country the effects of the prolonged agitation from which it is suffering: I would go to my home with my conscience clear of all blame”.

The interview contains no definite commitments on the part of the President but the intimation that the President is willing to reach a compromise by negotiation is made emphatically plain.

In a conference with Ferrara yesterday afternoon I expressed to him my gratification at the initiative taken by the President. I remarked that it might well be considered as a fair approach towards a solution of the political problem. Dr. Ferrara said that that was in fact the President’s desire. I was likewise assured that the President would welcome my mediation.

I had immediately afterwards a conference with Dr. de la Torriente. The latter told me that since my last interview with him he had received additional assurances from important opposition leaders that they would support him in negotiations through me providing for an adjustment of the political situation through compromise. He further stated that he had received positive assurances from leaders of the two secret societies known as the A B C and the O C R R21 that these organizations would refrain “from further, violence in the hope that a peaceful settlement with the Government could be reached. Dr. de la Torriente has requested General Menocal’s brother to proceed to Miami to endeavor to persuade General Menocal to give his formal consent to the negotiations which it is desired to initiate. Dr. de la Torriente hopes by the end of the present week to have received authorization from the great majority of the political leaders and the non-political Opposition groups to represent them in this effort at mediation.

The principal danger in the present situation lies in the fact that while President Machado is now inclined to follow a policy of conciliation which has been made evident by his removal of Major Ortiz from military command, by the continuing release of political prisoners and by the gradual relaxation of police and censorship regulations, and while the principal elements of the Opposition, both political leaders and secret societies, are making, I believe, a sincere effort to prevent for the time being any resort to open violence and terrorism, the directors of the Opposition activities are very far from possessing a complete control over all the organizations in the Opposition. Any return to violence on the part of a dissident group will bring about prompt action necessary by the Government and should this then provoke counter-reprisals, negotiations might break down at any time.

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Furthermore, while the political leaders are secretly only too anxious to obtain our mediation they are at the moment jockeying for political advantage in the next national elections and in some instances this advantage will be sought through an appeal to the more radical element of the population by public announcements that they will not countenance diplomatic intervention in any guise by the United States.

Since I have now received assurances both from the President and from a leading representative of the Opposition in the person of Dr. de la Torriente that my mediation is desired I shall discuss the general bases of an agreement as of my own initiative both with the President and with Dr. de la Torriente as soon as I am confident that the latter is in fact backed by a sufficient number of Opposition groups to make these discussions of positive value.

I beg to request that a copy of this telegram be sent to the President for his information.

  1. May 25, 4 p.m., p. 295.
  2. Organización Celular Radical Revolucionaria.