The Ambassador in Cuba (Welles) to the Acting Secretary of State
[Received 9:30 p.m.]
72. My No. 68 , June 2, noon. I had a further interview with the President last night.
I told the President quite frankly that I felt it was a mistaken policy on his part to reiterate in public statements his determination not to leave the Presidency until 1935 and particularly to allege in such statements that the Opposition is inconsiderable and that an overwhelming majority of the Cuban people support him and his followers. I remarked that while I was entirely in accord as I had previously stated to him with belief that he should not at the present time give any indication that he would consider retiring from the Presidency before the expiration of his term of office inasmuch as such indication would weaken his control over the Congress and over the Army yet I did not feel that it was in accord with his determination to pursue a conciliatory policy for him to continue to provoke by intemperate statements the hostility of the Opposition factions. I told him that after his last public interview it had caused me the greatest personal effort to prevent certain of the Opposition factions from a further resort to terrorism and violence and that I had no confidence whatever that I could prevent a recurrence of open hostilities if he persisted in such provocation.
I stated that three of his foremost political opponents, the directors of the student and professorial groups and the directors of the A B C organization, now supported my mediation and that if we were to have any useful results therefrom it was, in my judgment, essential for the President not only to determine, as he has, upon a policy of conciliation but also to make known to the public that such is his intent.
I suggested therefore, that he advise the Cuban people within the next few days that he had reached a decision on the following three points:
- That he considered the basis of an adjustment of the political situation could be reached through a reform of the existing constitution which reform should be taken with a minimum of delay and [Page 303] in the drafting of which all shades of public opinion should have full representation in order that the new constitution should favor no individual and no political party but should be of benefit both immediate as well as future to the Cuban people as a whole.
- That in his opinion the suppression of the Vice-Presidency by the last constitution had been a fundamental error and that the Vice-Presidency should be restored not only for the constitutional term commencing in 1935 but through a transitory provision in the new constitution for the remainder of the existing Presidential term as well.
- That in his judgment, in view of the present political situation, the individual to hold the office of Vice-President during the remainder of the present Presidential term should be a citizen of outstanding reputation who had not taken an active part in political strife and who should be recognized as impartial by all groups and by all parties.
The President told me that he would comply with my suggestion and that he would make such public declaration on Thursday of this week. He further stated that before making such public statement he would submit a draft of it to me for any amendment that I might desire to suggest.
I further requested the President now to relax the censorship on the representative newspapers of the Republic in such a manner as to permit reasoned declarations to be made by members of the Opposition. I said that I was anxious that Doctor de la Torriente, for example, be given full liberty to make statements of this character through the press. I told him that Dr. de la Torriente had already prepared a statement urging the acceptance of mediation on the Government of the United States in order that an adjustment of the political situation here might be found and that I felt the publication of such a statement would be highly useful at this juncture. The President gave orders in my presence that this be done. I believe that with the publication of the President’s declaration above referred to there will be a very distinct change for the better in public sentiment here. The revulsion caused by the President’s last public statement was extremely violent and during the whole day of last Saturday I was very fearful that the situation could not be controlled. Both former Chief Justice Gutierrez Veneos and Doctor de la Torriente, as well as the leaders of the student and of the so-called intellectual groups, have, however, been extremely helpful and it was due in great part to their cooperation that the situation improved.
Notwithstanding the statements made yesterday by Doctor de la Torriente I am positively advised that Mendieta, Mendez Peñate, and Gómez will join in the mediation negotiations. Menocal, however, is still recalcitrant and insists that the only sortition he will accept is one to be obtained through revolution. In this connection I beg to inquire [Page 304] whether the Secretary before his departure from Washington requested, as I had asked, that the Department of Justice take immediate steps to prevent the shipment of arms and ammunition from Florida to Cuba as well as the sending of any expeditionary forces from there. It is imperative, as I indicated in my personal letter to the Secretary of May 20th,23 that local authorities in Florida be prevented from assisting General Menocal and his followers in Miami to violate the neutrality laws of the United States and by so doing jeopardize my present hope of succeeding in finding a peaceful and constitutional solution for the Cuban problem.
I beg to request that a copy of this telegram be sent to the President for his information.
- Not found in Department files.↩