837.00/3861: Telegram

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

246. The general political situation has not changed materially since yesterday. Dr. Grau San Martín has sent an urgent request to Colonel Mendieta for an interview which has been accorded and will be held at 6 p.m. today. I shall cable the Department tonight the result of the conversation. There are increasing and apparently well-founded rumors of dissension and the part of the soldiers. The student body is with frantic haste attempting to organize a student militia with its headquarters in the university. My informants, who belonged to the student group although opposed to the present regime, advise that this effort is due to the realization by the students that the feeling among the soldiers is becoming increasingly dangerous both in so far as the present government is concerned and likewise in so far as communist propaganda is involved.

I was visited this morning by General Asbert, a former Governor of the Province of Habana and a former very prominent member of the Liberal Party who created a personal following during the last 2 years of the Machado administration. He gave me to understand although without saying so openly that he desired to join those groups of the opposition to the present regime who desired to commence an immediate revolution for the purpose of restoring the Céspedes Government. I counseled patience and a waiting policy. I am informed that the students are now dissatisfied with the constitution of the Grau San Martín Cabinet and that they are insistently demanding that all Cabinet members other than those identified with the student body be dismissed from office.

The officers remain at the National Hotel. They were joined last night by a small group of additional officers from the interior and apparently succeeded in getting into the hotel an additional quantity of arms and ammunition. While the ordinary water supply is cut off they have enough stored in tanks to last them for 10 days as well as food supplies for a much longer period. General Sanguily [Page 432] has taken command. All immediate hope of agreement with the present regime appears to have failed and the officers now appear to desire an encounter if the soldiers are willing to provide it.

Welles