10. Letter From the Director of the Office of Middle American Affairs (Wieland) to the Ambassador in Cuba (Smith)1

Dear Earl: In the Embassy’s telegram No. 402 of January 242 you mentioned that you had stressed certain points with President Batista in your discussion with him on January 23 which he was to have incorporated in his speech of January 24 to the National Convention of the four coalition parties supporting him. On reading over his speech, however (Embassy’s despatch No. 573 of January 27),3 I gathered that he decided to bide his time before indicating what further steps he may plan to create a climate conducive to acceptable elections other [Page 17] than the partial restoration of constitutional guarantees. Until some further steps are taken by the President, such as a partial amnesty, we here feel we should go no further than the action which we planned together when you were here on the armored cars which is summarized in Deptel 384.4 However, I realize that you may have other views following your talk with Batista, the outcome of which we have not yet received here. So I eagerly await your summary of the situation and your recommendations.

With respect to the Department’s taking public cognizance of the partial restoration of constitutional guarantees, we were prepared to express our satisfaction with such action if we had been queried by the press. Unfortunately, the members of the press did not choose to make an inquiry on this question. However, we had concluded together, such a statement would be much more effective if some other constructive steps are taken by Batista. If he does so, we’ll push the statement to the press. We hope you advise us on this point when opportune.

I note that an opposition Senator has asked for amnesty in the Cuban Senate. While we do not have the details on this proposed amnesty, it might serve as a basis for at least a partial compromise by the Government.

We continue to be hopeful that the Government will be able to weather the test of the next few weeks and make further concessions during this period. In our recent discussions with revolutionaries here such as Dr. Pazos and General Garcia Tunon, they sound more conciliatory in their attitude towards elections. I think this is significant.

The off-the-record remarks which you made at your press conference here on January 165 seem to be a matter of public knowledge. Where the leak occurred, we do not yet know and are investigating. I am enclosing a copy of a letter of January 24 and enclosure from Herb Matthews in this respect and a copy of a résumé of that portion of your conference which is supposed to have been transmitted to Castro himself.6 We have heard that the latter may be printed verbatim in Bohemia.

With respect to Castro, I am still hopeful that some effective way can be found to get the other side of the Castro story to the United States press as well as to Congress. You will recall that I suggested to you while you were in Washington that American businessmen in Cuba might be told when they expound their views to you on Castro that maybe they should get their views to their respective representatives in Congress. At the present time the correspondence we are [Page 18] getting from the Hill is very one sided. Any suggestions you might have on this point will be appreciated.7

Sincerely yours,

William A. Wieland8
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/2–1258. Confidential; Official-Informal. No drafting information is given on the source text.
  2. See Document 8.
  3. Not printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/1–2758)
  4. Document 7.
  5. See Document 6.
  6. None of the enclosures has been found.
  7. In a February 12 letter to Wieland, Smith noted that he had expressed his ideas and recommendations in telegram 443 (Document 12), and remarked:

    “As you said, American business men in Cuba are very quiet until they are personally affected; then they do not hesitate to express their views. As a result, the correspondence which you consistently receive from the Hill is very one-sided.

    “Although I have hesitated to make any suggestions at a meeting of the Board of the Chamber of Commerce, I think it may be possible for me discreetly to point out to the president of the Chamber (Paul Heilman) that the State Department is continually under pressure from sympathizers of the Opposition and that members of Congress very rarely ever receive any expressions regarding the political situation from American business men in Cuba. Heilman may be able to get the idea across to Americans in Cuba and obtain some result”. (Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/2–1258)

  8. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.