132. Memorandum of a Conversation Between Former Prime Minister Varona and the Director of the Office of Middle American Affairs (Wieland), Department of State, Washington, September 23, 19581
- Cuban Political Situation and Other Matters
Dr. Varona visited Mr. Wieland’s office by previous appointment this morning and he expounded at length on various phases of the Cuban political situation. Below is a résumé of his comments by subjects:
Concern Over Lack of Direction and Organization in Castro Movement
Dr. Varona expressed his increasing concern over the direction in which the Castro Movement is going. He said that Fidel has once again indicated his unwillingness to accept a military junta which in Dr. Varona’s opinion is the only manner in which a relatively peaceful transition from Batista to democracy can take place. He feels that Castro has again indicated his lack of stability by his vacillation on this all important point. Also Castro once again has indicated his antipathy towards experienced politicians in the opposition and apparently feels that his organization is strong enough to hold Cuba together once the present regime falls. Dr. Varona plans to leave shortly for a Central American country (more probably for Venezuela) and from there will go to the Sierra Maestra to talk to Castro personally. Castro, he feels, appears to be receiving bad advice and Dr. Varona thinks he can convince him of the error of his ways. When Dr. Varona talked to Castro from Caracas during the deliberations leading up to the Caracas Unity Pact, he found Castro understanding and reasonable and still feels that he can be reasoned with. Dr. Varona believes that if Castro does not utilize men who have had experience in Cuban politics and Government such as himself, Dr. Felipe Pazos and Dr. Agramonte, Dr. Bisbe, etc., Cuba will be in a state of chaos for many many years after Batista’s fall. Dr. Varona thinks that if Castro would be willing to accept a military civilian Junta such as Venezuela now has, the transition could be a healthy one. He described the news stories of six columns of rebels marching into Camaguey as pure hyperbole.[Page 213]
Withdrawal of U.S. Military Missions
Dr. Varona discussed this matter again reiterating his views and Mr. Wieland explained the Department’s position that the missions were present in Cuba for hemispheric defense purposes and the United States must consider the long range aspects despite internal changes in governments which might take place in the hemisphere.
Proposed OAS Condemnation of Batista Regime
Dr. Varona mentioned his efforts to try to get the OAS to take action against the Batista Government in Cuba and said he recognized that despite the noble wording of the various OAS pacts there was in reality no teeth in the organization which could enforce the lofty desires espoused in the Charter of the Organization. He said he had not pursued this matter with the hope of getting any present action but to bring to the attention of member Governments the need for future Inter-American pacts to pursue more vigorously the matter of outlawing dictatorships. He left with Mr. Wieland a copy of a petition2 which the FRC was presenting to the Council of Foreign Ministers meeting in Washington.
Visa Problems of Cuban Exiles
Dr. Varona said that he himself had been treated with the utmost courtesy by our Immigration Service and had had no difficulties but that some of the esteemed members of the opposition in this country such as Dr. Miro Cardona were having problems and he hoped that we would realize that our treatment of these people might have an adverse reaction for the United States in Cuba and the rest of Latin America. Mr. Leonhardy explained the problems that some of these persons he mentioned were having and particularly referred to the fact that Dr. Miro Cardona had actually been illegally in this country for some time as he had failed to extend his period of stay prior to its expiration.