113. Telegram From the Embassy in Cuba to the Department of State1

144. Alternatives confronting US policy in Cuba are:

To allow situation to drift, which in Embassy judgment will result in sharper polarization of centers of power represented by Batista regime and revolutionary opposition. Consequences of this alternative are that US gets blamed by all sides; there is increase in danger of extreme violence in Cuba and anti-US feeling when and if reaction sets in; and loss of opportunity for peaceful solution through elections.
To do everything possible to promote free and open elections and to discreetly encourage political opposition to unite behind one candidate.

With regard to second alternative it is my firm conviction that US interests coincide with desire of majority people of Cuba to have a new government elected, not committed to either extreme, capable with US support of restoring normalcy to Cuba.

I have recently had luncheon meetings with all of the principal presidential candidates for an exchange of views. In each instance I have made it clear to all candidates and every one concerned that US will not endorse any particular candidate. However, US is hopeful for a proper atmosphere under which free and open elections may be held.

On the basis of my conversations with opposition party leaders, I find the following:

The supporters of Autentico and Free Peoples Party are anxious to consolidate, although the two leaders are somewhat antagonistic toward each other. If two principal opposition parties succeed in unifying behind one ticket, they will publicly announce that they will go to elections with the following program: A. Political amnesty; B. Cabinet of national unity; C. Promise that elections will shortly be held for a Constitutional Assembly which will have power to call for new national elections within two years; D. Revisions of “censor electoral”.

The important factor is to have an atmosphere conducive to holding proper elections. In order to obtain this atmosphere, it is essential that constitutional guarantees be restored at least 60 days prior to elections. It is also essential that press censorship be lifted at that time. I believe that I may obtain the cooperation of President Batista to take these steps 60 days prior to elections if the US will follow the recommendations [Page 174] outlined in Embtel 79.2 This would mean a reversal of US policy in effect since the middle of March. When Batista last lifted suspension of guarantees on January 25, he did so in the belief that US would curtail prior activities and that the 20 armored cars would be delivered. Contrary to his expectations Department has followed a policy since mid–March, which GOC considers helpful to rebels.

If Batista is again to assume the risk of lifting the ban on constitutional guarantees and suspending press censorship, it is essential that I be in a position to offer him concrete assurances that our present policy will be modified.

Furthermore, modification of our present policy is, in my opinion, necessary to enable Batista to step up his offensive against the Communist infiltrated rebel elements in Oriente Province, whose elimination is essential for the restoration of normalcy in Cuba.

I recommend Department urgently consider foregoing two alternatives and advise me soonest of its approval of recommendations Embtel 79 for use in proceeding along lines of second alternative.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/7–2558. Secret; Priority.
  2. Document 103.