Memorandum of Conversation, by Harvey R. Wellman of the Office of Middle American Affairs



  • Political Situation and Possible Political Settlement in Cuba
  • Participants: Ambassador Concheso
  • Mr. Wellman, MID

Ambassador Concheso argued that the proposition of Dr. Cosme de la Torriente for a restoration of the 1940 Constitution which he admitted had considerable popular support, would be impossible legally and constitutionally. He contended that a constitution can be imposed in one of two ways, namely (1) by a constitutional assembly elected by the sovereign people, and (2) by a coup d’état which imposes a constitution by the authority of force. He said that while the Batista Government had the authority to destroy the Constitution of 1940 and to impose a new constitution, neither it nor the Supreme Court had the authority (the poder constituente) to restore the 1940 Constitution.

Ambassador Concheso expressed the opinion that the Supreme Court would deny the appeal against the 1952 Constitutional Statutes [Page 896] after permitting Zaydin,1 who is arguing the appeal, to talk as long as he wished against the Batista Government.

The Ambassador referred to President Batista’s plan to have partial elections in June 1954 and thereafter to have a plebiscite on the 1940 Constitution. He said that it was possible that Batista might change this plan and have at the same time both general elections and a plebiscite on the Constitution.

The Ambassador expressed doubt that it would be feasible to establish a “neutral” provisional government to supervise the elections. He questioned whether any individual or group in Cuba is neutral. He observed that Batista has a very good record for fair supervision of elections and abiding by the result though it might be adverse to him or his party. Ambassador Concheso acknowledged that the present governmental situation is a temporary one and that Cuba must return to democratic government since the genius of the Cuban people requires it.

  1. Apparent reference to Ramón Zaydin, Cuban Minister of Commerce until Mar. 7, 1952.