837.00/3803: Telegram

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

224. My telegram No. 222, September 9, 4 p.m.46 At 2:30 this morning the three remaining members of the revolutionary group in the Palace designated Dr. Grau San Martín as Provisional President of the Republic and immediately afterwards selected Dr. Antonio Guiteras Secretary of Gobernación; José Barquin Secretary of the Treasury; Dr. Carlos Finlay Secretary of Sanitation; Eduardo Chibas Secretary of Public Works. They were either unable to agree upon, or unable to find, candidates for the other Cabinet positions. They announced, however, that additional Cabinet appointments would be made this morning and that Grau San Martín would take the oath of Provisional President at noon today. None of the above have any party affiliation.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The creation of the presidential form of government was due to the strong antipathy which was noted in Habana to the commission form of government, with which the revolutionary group commenced, [Page 417] and to the belief that recognition by the United States would immediately be accorded if the type of government was changed. It should certainly be considered as a tendency towards a return to formality, The men who figure in the new Cabinet, with the exception of … are men whom I believe to be personally honest. I have no doubt that they are all sincere in the belief that the program of government which the student body has drawn up for them will meet the requirements of the Republic. The Army, I am advised by competent authorities, is showing signs of resentment at the promotion of Batista and the other ringleaders of the mutiny and that many of the other sergeants are demanding similar promotions. Even the appearance of discipline among the troops of Habana has vanished, there are continuous reports of local revolutionary movements in the interior particularly in Oriente Province and in Santa Clara, but it is impossible for me as yet to confirm the accuracy of any of them.

I am more than ever confident that in view of the very difficult situation which has now been presented the only path for the United States to take is that which the President indicated to me on the telephone the other night, namely one of watchful expectancy. None of the political or independent groups have as yet shown an inclination to support this government. None of them, however with the exception of the ABC has come out openly and strongly against it. It is as yet consequently a group which is solely representative of the student body and of extreme radical elements. The next 2 or 3 days will determine whether any strong revolutionary movement against it will be made. There appears to be no indication now that any successful counterrevolt can be carried through in Habana if after a reasonable period the government attracts popular support, appears to be able to maintain public order even nominally, appoints respond provincial and municipal authorities, and is able to function as a government in the sense that it complies with its obligations and collects and disburses public revenues; I should strongly recommend consulting with the Latin American Republics with a view to reaching a determination upon recognition; protracted period without recognition by the United State and our failure to recognize for an indefinite period if the requisites above-indicated are complied with would merely bring about in Cuba a more thoroughly chaotic and anarchic condition than that which already obtains.

At the moment, however, I cannot see much reason for anticipating so favorable an outcome. The leaders of the large political parties will not, I think, consent to the duration of a government of this character which is necessarily in the last analysis under the control of the enlisted men in the Army. It is most probable that open revolt will not take long in showing itself in the interior provinces.

[Page 418]

The local press is now undergoing as severe a censorship as it did in the time of the Machado Government. This censorship is exercised by groups of students who have even gone so far as to inform the Associated Press correspondent here that they will not permit him to send to the United States any material other than favorable regarding present conditions in Cuba; he has, of course, paid no attention to this demand.

The Embassy is being attacked because of its failure to accord immediate recognition to the revolutionary group and the possibility of intervention is being violently assailed. The proprietors of all of the chief newspapers of Habana have as yet, however, had sufficient courage to prevent the publication of any regular editorials criticising either the attitude of the United States or of the Embassy.

The refusal of the Latin American powers to accord immediate recognition has incensed the students who are sending violent cables on the usual subject of American imperialism to the universities and radical associations throughout Latin America.

  1. Ante, p. 414.