837.00/3747: Telegram

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

191. To be handed to the Secretary immediately upon receipt. At 10 o’clock tonight as the result of a concerted movement which apparently exists throughout the Republic the soldiers in the garrisons of Habana have deposed all officers and have declared themselves in control of the Army. The action taken has been fomented by the extreme radical elements. The subversive movement has been announced by radio from the various barracks and in all probability violent disorder will break out before morning. From latest reports from Santiago an identical situation exists there. The President who has been visiting the provinces affected by the cyclone is absent from the capital.

The Cabinet Ministers who were holding a Cabinet meeting to determine what action should be taken have abandoned the Palace fearing an attack. There is consequently no semblance of authority remaining. The Secretary of War has just telephoned me to state that there is no hope of solution in his judgment.

The extreme gravity of the situation is apparent. There will by morning in all likelihood be a complete collapse of government throughout the island. For the moment I recommend the immediate necessity of sending at least two warships to Habana and one to Santiago de Cuba at the earliest moment. The commanding officers of the vessels sent to Habana should receive the same orders as those issued previously and the commanding officer of the ship sent to Santiago de Cuba should be instructed to report to the Consul with whom I will be in touch. I anticipate a renewal of the general strike as soon as the public becomes aware of the Army situation.

Since telephone communication with Washington is interrupted I beg to request advice by rush cable of whatever action is taken in response to this telegram.