837.00/3656: Telegram

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

159. At 3 a.m. this morning President Céspedes announced the formation of his Cabinet as follows:

  • Gobernación, Colonel Federico Laredo Bru, Unión Nacionalista;
  • Justicia, Dr. Carlos Saladrigas, A.B.C.;
  • Hacienda, Dr. Joaquín Martínez Saenz, A.B.C.;
  • Obras Públicas, Dr. Eduardo J. Chibas, Liberal;
  • Agricultura, Dr. Rafael Santos Jiménez, Marianista;
  • Instrucción Pública, Dr. Guillermo Belt, Unión Nacionalista;
  • Sanidad y Beneficencia, Dr. Antonio Presno, University of Habana;
  • Comunicaciones, Dr. Nicasio Silverio, O.C.R.R.;
  • Guerra y Marina, Demetrio Castillo Pokorny, non-partisan;
  • Presidencia, Dr. Raúl de Cardenas y Echárte, Conservative.

In addition to the Cabinet appointments the President appointed Dr. Estanislao Cartana, Liberal, Mayor of the Central District of Habana, the most important political post in the province; and Miguel Angel Cisneros, another prominent Liberal as Chairman of the Municipal Council.

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Yesterday was a day of as much political stress as it was of stress’ in the maintenance of public order. The Cabinet as finally constituted represents a thorough new deal for Cuba. There is not a man appointed to the Cabinet who is not of high personal integrity and of individual ability. The younger generation and the ideas for which the organized groups of the former opposition have been struggling are very much in the fore. Because of the financial difficulties in which the new government finds itself in view of the fact that the members of the Machado Government systematically cleaned out the public treasury during the last days of their regime it is not easy to forecast how soon an effective administration can be set to work, At this juncture I can only state that I have the utmost confidence in the ability, integrity and patriotism of the President and of the members of his Cabinet. A great deal of criticism will undoubtedly ensue on account of the fact that the two leading secret organizations which have in the past engaged in terroristic activities are represented in the Cabinet in very important posts. In this matter my point of view has been that it was impossible for any constitutional government to exist in Cuba if strong terroristic secret societies remained in existence and that the only possible solution was for these organizations to be brought into the light and to seek to achieve the ends for which they are working through political and constitutional methods. The A.B.C. has a definite program and a definite purpose. This program is radical in character but includes two salient features—social reconstruction and honesty in administration with punishment by law of those guilty of malfeasance in office. If these two ideals can be carried into effect now or later nothing could be more salutary for the Republic of Cuba.

I am considerably concerned by the increasing demand by the newspapers and by the members of the opposition for the immediate abolition of the existing Congress on the ground that the elections under which the members were sent to the Congress were unconstitutional. If this point is carried general elections would have to be held for the vacancies in the Senate and in the House in the immediate future and I do not think the country is in a state to stand a national political campaign. I am endeavoring to urge the acceptance of the same compromise which was accepted prior to the overthrow of the Machado Government in the mediation proceedings, namely, the retention of the existing Congress until the elections of 1934.

A good many omnibuses and taxis are circulating in the streets; many of the stores have opened; and I am informed the street cars will again be in operation by noon today and that the railroads will commence operating before nightfall. Conditions in the city this morning appear to be rapidly becoming normal and for the time being [Page 365] the danger of an anarchistic condition at least in the Province of Habana appears to have been averted. I have not as yet had reports from the interior.