123. Memorandum of a Conversation Between the Ambassador in Cuba (Smith) and Foreign Minister Guell, Havana, August 15, 19581


  • General Political Situation

In a conversation with Dr. Guell today I attempted to give a tentative estimate of possible developments in Cuba within the next few months. In my opinion President Batista will hold honest elections (free access to the polls and fair counting of the ballots) and that Rivero Aguero would be elected. However, at present it appears that the elections will not resolve the political problems confronting Cuba for lack of a favorable atmosphere. I then said that it would probably be necessary for the newly elected President to try to remove Fidel Castro as the center of active opposition. This might entail giving Castro a large sum of money and making him a Senator. Another crucial period could well be after February 24, 1959 when Batista leaves office. The big question is will President Batista choose to remain in Cuba, or will he leave the country? If he decides to leave Cuba, it will be most difficult for the newly elected President to survive, unless he has the complete support of the armed services and the police. Dr Guell chose to make no comment.

I further remarked to the Prime Minister that it was my earnest hope, for the past year, that the political problems in Cuba would be resolved through elections. Such elections would not only have to be honest but would have to held in a proper atmosphere. Under present conditions the possibilities of bringing about such an atmosphere are slight. In my last meeting with President Batista, on July 31,2 I saw no point in suggesting the early restoration of constitutional guarantees, because it is obvious that such a step is not feasible for the GOC under present political conditions.

Dr. Guell replied that it was his impresssion that President Batista had intended to restore constitutional guarantees 45 days before the elections. However, President Batista had expected, by this time, the GOC would be much further advanced in their aim to eliminate the 26th of July Movement in Oriente. Dr. Guell further stated that in [Page 196] Batista’s opinion the tardiness of the GOC effort in eliminating the 26th of July Movement is due to the failure of the GOC to receive the necessary arms from the United States.

  1. Source: Department of State, CCA Files: Lot 70 D 149, Cuba-Political. Confidential. Drafted by Smith.
  2. See Document 117.