The Ambassador in Cuba (Welles) to the Secretary of State
[Received 2:45 p.m.]
275. My 271, September 17, 2 p.m.; and 273, September 17, midnight. The session of leaders of the political groups opposed to the government sat until early this morning. It was attended by the leaders of the Unión Nacionalista, A.B.C., O.C.R.R., Menocalistas, as well as by Miguel Mariano Gómez in representation of his own party. The determination was reached that the parties represented would act jointly and present a united front on all matters at issue. Gómez has decided to join the opposition groups without further hesitation and in confirmation of this decision read a letter addressed by him to Grau San Martín in which he maintained that the government neither had popular support nor was able to maintain order and, furthermore, attacked him bitterly for the hostility demonstrated by the governmental group towards the United States and the policy followed by the Roosevelt administration and this Embassy.
It was decided that under no conditions would they support Grau San Martín as President in view of the fact that he is generally considered in great part responsible for the crisis in which the country has been plunged. There was no difference of opinion as to the program [Page 447] to be followed by the Provisional Government and the acceptance in the same manner of a non-political Cabinet. They further decided that they would hand their written reply to Grau San Martín this afternoon at 2 o’clock but would refuse to have further conferences with him.
It is highly unlikely that Grau San Martín and the students will give in. However, from the reports I have received this morning, the student leaders are more reasonable than Grau San Martín himself.
The political leaders are decided that no government can govern the Republic so long as the students dominate the political life of the country and are not in the university where they belong. They furthermore believe that Batista and the Army will not continue to lend support now that it is evident that public opinion throughout the Republic has crystallized strongly against the government and that under these conditions recognition from the United States will not be forthcoming. They feel that he will either seek an understanding with the political parties to oust the Grau San Martín regime or, failing that, seek to install himself in control of the government. In the latter contingency they seem to believe that the student groups will be definitely eliminated by the Army and that in this manner this disturbing element will be removed from the scene. Those of them who have personal contacts with Batista appear to be very confident that a direct understanding with him is possible and will avoid the danger of a military dictatorship.
One healthy sign at least seems to have appeared and that is that the leaders of the political parties have reached the conclusion that the Government of the United States is not going to impose a solution and that the responsibility of finding a solution now rests upon their own shoulders. I am more than ever confident that the wisest policy for us to pursue is to keep our hands off except insofar as the protection of American lives is involved. If the solution is long postponed it will be difficult to lift Cuba from the economic and financial prostration towards which it is rapidly headed. It is also within the bounds of possibility that the social revolution winch is under way cannot be checked. American properties and interests are being gravely prejudiced and the material damage to such properties will in all probability be very great. All of these contingencies seem to me preferable to intervention. By intervention we not only would seriously jeopardize our continental interests but we also would once more give the Cuban people and particularly the Cuban leaders to understand that they do not have to assume the responsibility for their own lack of patriotism or lack of vision, and that the United States Government stands always ready to repair the damage which they [Page 448] themselves cause their own country. It is my sincere belief that Cuba can never become a self-governing republic so long as this feeling persists.