The Ambassador in Cuba (Welles) to the Secretary of State
[Received 5:18 p.m.]
236. My 231, September 11, 1 p.m. [noon]. The Unión Nacionalista last night issued a statement signed by the four leaders of the party—Colonels Mendieta, Hevía and Mendez Peñate and Dr. Torriente—in which the party declared that its advice that in these moments of danger to the Republic only a strong government of concentration could govern the country until a permanent constitutional government had been installed as the result of national elections had been disregarded by the group now in power and that the party consequently notified Cuba that it “refuses to accept any responsibility for the circumstances which now exist”.
With the attitude of open opposition to the Grau San Martín regime adopted by the four most powerful party organizations in Cuba, namely, the Unión Nacionalista, the A.B.C., the Menocal party and the OCRR it is very apparent that a majority of the Cuban people will not at present support the government now in power. Cuban commercial circles are unanimously opposed to the regime. During the past 8 days no revenues have been collected, no taxes are being paid, and if the insistent demands of the soldiers for the payment of back pay are complied with no available cash will remain in the Treasury.
Grau San Martín this morning announced the following Cabinet: Marquez [Sterling], Secretary of State; Antonio Guiteras, Secretary of Gobernación; Carlos Finlay, Secretary of Sanitation; Manuel Costales Latatu, Secretary of Public Instruction; Gustavo Moreno, Secretary of Communications; Colonel Julio Aguado, Secretary of War; Dr. Ramiro Capablanca, Secretary of the Presidency; Director Joaquín del Rio Balmaseda, Secretary of Justice.
Dr. Capablanca, Dr. Costales Latatu and Dr. Finlay are all university professors, identified with the student movement. Colonel Aguado was imprisoned by the Machado Government for having been involved in a revolutionary plot. Jointly enjoy a favorable reputation. Judge del Rio Balmaseda is a judge of a Court of First Instance of Santiago. Gustavo Moreno, appointed Secretary of Communications, was connected with the Unión Revolucionaria, the smallest of the revolutionary groups participating in the mediation negotiations.
Announcement was made at the same time that Colonel Manuel Despaigne had been appointed Secretary of the Treasury. Colonel Despaigne was Secretary of the Treasury under President Zayas and was appointed administrator of the national lottery by President Céspedes. [Page 426] He is a man of absolute integrity and of the highest character, but he is now very old and he accepted the position offered him by President Céspedes with the understanding that he would only retain it a short period since he advised me his health would not permit him to undertake any arduous work.
There is no politically organized strength represented in the Cabinet. With the exception of Marquez Sterling and Despaigne, none of the individuals mentioned have held any public office before and they are all with the same exceptions closely identified with and responsive to the student group.
The present outlook therefore in brief is as follows:
All of the important political parties have announced themselves as opposed to this Government; the financial situation of the Government is disastrous; the new members of the Cabinet with two exceptions have no governmental experience and will be entirely under the domination of the student group; the Army officers with few exceptions have positively refused to support the Government or to return to the troops and the discipline within the ranks of the troops is degenerating; such public order as now prevails in the Republic is being maintained by civilian committees acting in some instances in the conjunction with the soldiers. Under these conditions the Government of the United States can do nothing more than await developments. None of the political leaders will agree even to tacit support of the present regime and while I have consistently urged the force of public opinion be the only weapon they employ should they desire to attack the Government I have every reason to believe that it is only a question of a short time before General Menocal will attempt to lead a revolution. The sole action I have been able to take in order to prevent this is through the leaders of the other parties who have refused him their cooperation in such a movement at the present time and have counseled him consistently that he await developments without resorting to violence.