1. Memorandum of a Conversation Between the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Rubottom) and the Cuban Ambassador (Campa), Department of State, Washington, January 9, 19582
Ambassador Campa paid a courtesy call on Mr. Rubottom this afternoon, the first, subsequent to his return from the Christmas holidays in Cuba.
Mr. Rubottom inquired about the health of President Batista, the crop damage from recent storms, the general political atmosphere and prospects for elections. The Ambassador replied that the President was in good health, that the tobacco and banana crops were severely damaged by the recent storms and losses ran into millions of pesos. With respect to the political climate, he said everything was quiet in the Habana area and he heard no talk of rebel activities in eastern Cuba. He said that plans were going ahead for elections and that the Government coalition parties would hold their nation-wide assembly to choose their candidate for President on January 22 indicating that censorship would be lifted by then. It was not clear yet according to [Page 2] the Ambassador just who the Government candidate would be, but three names had been mentioned as having a good chance of obtaining the nomination. These three were Dr. Gaston Godoy, speaker of the House of Representatives; Dr. Anselmo Alliegro, leader of the Senate; and Eng. Amadeo Lopez Castro. According to the Ambassador, he was with Lopez Castro on a number of occasions while visiting in Cuba and the latter indicated that he did not wish to be a candidate. The Ambassador thought, however, that he would be a candidate if Batista so indicated. Both Mr. Rubottom and the Ambassador expressed the hope that a well respected person would be selected by the Government. With respect to opposition candidates, the Ambassador stated that Dr. Grau San Martin and Dr. Carlos Marquez Sterling would be the likely candidates of their respective parties.
After this general discussion, the Ambassador said that while he was not on a business visit, there were two matters he would like to take up with Mr. Rubottom. One was the question of our delay in approving certain small orders for arms. He said that President Batista had inquired of him while he was in Habana on this matter and indicated he could not understand why they had not been approved. Mr. Rubottom said that while he was not aware of the reason for this delay, this matter would have his personal and immediate attention. He informed the Ambassador that sometimes when other Departments were involved, delays unfortunately were unavoidable. The other matter he wished to mention was the question of recent articles in the New York Daily News and the Washington Post relative to gambling in Habana where inferences were made to Batista’s possible connection with this pursuit. He said that while he was not making a protest on these articles, he wanted to point out that there was nothing to the statements about Batista’s connection with gambling. He left a brief memorandum on the subject and copies of said articles for the Department’s information.3