Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between the Secretary of State and the Ambassador in Cuba (Welles), September 6, 1933, 10 a.m.

Secretary: How is everything looking?

Ambassador: I had four hours of sleep last night and I feel somewhat better.

Secretary: How are conditions?

Ambassador: There was some trouble in the city last night, but not as bad as might have been expected. I think the presence of the destroyer did a great deal to prevent more disturbance. The situation in the interior seems to be becoming very serious and while Santiago during the early night was quiet, there is no word as to what happened after midnight.

Secretary: Have you any new suggestions over the telephone or not?

Ambassador: I think I had rather keep those in the cables, Mr. Secretary. I have gone into full detail in the cable I am sending you now.

Secretary: We have been discussing this last evening and this morning as best we could. It seems to us that the whole thing down there revolves around the army, and the question comes up with us as to whether the landing of men before we are absolutely compelled to do so if we should land a thousand men there—it would in all probability mean intervention, and while we will not hesitate to go in if compelled to, we do not want to unless compelled. Because if we have to go in there again, we will never be able to come out and we will have on our hands the trouble of thirty years ago. We feel that if conditions would justify your continuing your present and past policy of absolute neutrality towards each group and especially towards the group in power, Keeping their confidence and goodwill as you have with each group in the past, that that would give the Cubans themselves all the more opportunity to do something, to take steps to preserve some degree of law and order. Then when the crisis has passed there would be an opportunity to reorganize the present army to whatever extent they might feel would be helpful, as that cannot be done on short order if undertaken and if considered desirable. Now if in the meantime some of our American friends should get unduly alarmed, we might consider dropping submarine destroyers in at such ports as Guantanamo, Santiago and Cienfuegos for the time being. Everything is revolving abound the army now and if they were to receive some cooperation from the different leaders, whether they are immediately a part of the army or not but very helpful. At a distance several of us are wondering how long any group of leaders representing each faction even would stay in power if they were put [Page 390] in, in view of the experience of Céspedes and those people, and that means the army, as now constituted, for the time being is in supreme control.

Ambassador: I am in full accord with what you say.

Secretary: I am just getting these facts before you for what they may be worth, because we have implicit confidence in your judgment and in your ability to keep yourself ingratiated with all groups while we are giving Cuba and the dominant forces in it an opportunity to work out of the snarl or to take such steps as would make intervention by us unnecessary. I do not know whether I have said anything at all which would fit in there according to your judgment, but I wanted to get these things before you.

Ambassador: I agree absolutely with everything you have said. One or two members of the present group in power I know and one was here with me for an hour and a half last night. I will be in touch with them constantly, but for the time even to consider recoganizing any government of this character, in my opinion.

Secretary: Until it has shown its ability to preserve law and order.

Ambassador: What they want is an expression of opinion from me and I have refused to give any opinion whatever except to insist on the maintenance of orders.

Secretary: It is natural that from their viewpoint they would be urging us, just like our Chamber of Commerce friend last night, to rush in and intervene. But of course you and I are keeping our eyes on the other side of the thing as well and we can only hope that those people will be patient and give such cooperation as the dominant forces are willing to receive. Have you anything further to suggest or to say over the telephone?

Ambassador: No. I had rather have the suggestion come to you in cable form.

Secretary: We will keep in touch with you by cable and over the telephone.

Ambassador: I will keep you informed all the time during the day.