837.00/3753: Telegram

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

192. My telegram No. 191, September 5, 1 a.m. All of the officers in the Habana Government have been forced to leave their posts by the non-commissioned officers and enlisted men. Some of the officers have been permitted to leave freely; some are detained in the barracks; and a few have been sent to the Army prison. Sergeant Batista has either named himself or been selected by the enlisted men at Camp Columbia as Chief of Staff of the Cuban Army. Major Boffil, Chief of police of Havana has been jailed; Lieutenant Laurent who was imprisoned by Machado for complicity in a plot against his Government 2 years ago has been named Chief of Police in his place.

The troops in Habana have announced that the mutiny in which they are engaged is receiving the support of the troops throughout the Republic but on account of the difficulty of communication since the cyclone I am unable to confirm this. The American Consul at Santiago reports troops there remain loyal to constituted Government.

At 5 o’clock this morning a so-called revolutionary government was proclaimed and has made the following announcement:

“The revolutionary group of Cuba composed of enlisted men of the Army and of the Navy and of civilians belonging to various sectors headed by the university student group declares:

  • First. That it has constituted itself in order to carry out in whole the revolutionary program for which the great majority of the Cuban people is contending and will continue to contend within ample lines of modern democracy and based upon the pure principles of national sovereignty.
  • Second. This program in brief is as follows:
    Economic reconstruction of the nation and political organization on the basis of a constitutional convention to be held immediately.
    Immediate elimination and full punishment of all those responsible for the previous situation both in civilian life as well as in the Army without which the reestablishment of real order and authentic justice is impossible, protecting at the same time the life and property of nationals and foreigners.
    Strict recognition of the debts and obligations contracted for by the Republic.
    Immediate constitution of adequate courts to insist upon the responsibilities above mentioned.
    Reorganization within as brief a period as possible of all services and national activities obtaining a rapid return to normality.
    Finally to take all of the measures not foreseen in this document in order to commence the march towards the creation of new Cuba founded upon an immovable foundation of justice and of the most modern conception of democracy.
  • Third. Believing that the actual government is not responsive to the urgent demands of the triumphant revolution notwithstanding the good faith and patriotism of its members, the revolutionary group of Cuba takes charge of the reins of power as a provisional revolutionary government which will resign the sacred trust conferred upon it by the people as well as the Constitutional Assembly which is to be convoked to the constitutional government which will guide our destinies until the first general elections.

This provisional government will issue decrees and regulations which will have the force of law before the people of Cuba and with the unquestioned support of the people of Cuba, which we greet in the name of liberty and justice. This new government will march forward fully guaranteeing the stability of the Republic and will operate in accordance with existing treaties confident that Cuba will be respected as a new sovereign nation which arises full of vigor to take part in international life”.

This proclamation is signed by Sergeant Batista who adds the title of “Sergeant and Revolutionary Chief of all the Armed Forces of the Republic” and is likewise signed by a group of the most extreme radicals of the student organization and three university professors whose theories are frankly communistic. Five of the signatories of this proclamation have constituted themselves an executive committee to govern the Republic and have announced their intention of taking possession of the Palace during the course of this morning.

President Céspedes will arrive in Habana about 11 o’clock. The members of his Cabinet are now in session at the house of one of the members and a group of them will come to the Embassy to see me in an hour’s time. I feel it inadvisable for me to make any specific recommendations until I have had an opportunity of talking with President Céspedes and his Cabinet.

The situation in the city this morning appears to be quiet. I repeat that it is urgently necessary in my judgment, however, that two destroyers arrive here at the earliest moment possible and that a battleship likewise be sent. As stated in my previous telegram a warship should be sent to Santiago without delay. It is very likely on account of the serious labor agitation which had existed already that additional vessels should be sent to other ports to guarantee the safety of American lives. I shall so recommend if I later believe it necessary.

I wish to make it emphatically plain that I shall do my utmost to prevent in every possible way the necessity of any armed intervention by the United States. Since such a step, however, may have later to be taken by our Government I strongly urge the desirability now of [Page 383] explaining the Cuban situation fully to the representatives of all of the Latin American Republics. It appears hardly likely that a so called revolutionary government composed of enlisted men of the Army and radical students who have occupied themselves almost exclusively during the last 10 days with the assassination of members of the Machado Government can form a government “adequate for the protection of life, property and individual liberty”. All of the important leaders of the existing political parties in the Republic notably the Unión Nacionalista and the A B C are definitely hostile to this movement and it is highly problematical how many hours or days will elapse before violence and open dissensions take place throughout the Republic.