133. Telegram From the Embassy in Cuba to the Department of State 1
316. For Rubottom. When the Belgian Embassy approached Department for US views re advisability of Belgium supplying light arms to GOC, Department officer stated that if such shipments took place Belgium might well receive unfavorable publicity in the Cuban press.2 (Embassy considers this unlikely under current press censorship.) Belgian Embassy was further requested to keep Department informed of any arrangements which might be made re arms shipments. When Department was approached by British and Canadian Embassies with similar inquiries, attitude of former likewise discouraged sales. I consider this to be intervening against the GOC through “innuendo” and contrary to our best interests.
It is patently in interests of Communism for GOC to be violently overthrown and for madness of the crowd to prevail. The Communists are openly advocating this and are openly aiding and abetting the revolutionaries. If Batista falls, for a time no individual or group in Cuba will be able to preserve law and order except possibly a military junta. Opposition is united only in their desire to overthrow Batista. If military junta took over, it would still have Castro elements to deal with.
Believe it is in best interests of US that present GOC remain in power until February 24, 1959. Then it may be possible for new president to install cabinet of able and respected citizens to attempt to gain confidence of Cuban people. There will be a critical period for many months. Yet with support of army, declaration to call general elections within two years, and support of the US, new administration may survive and Cuba may be spared a holocaust, much to chagrin of Communists. I see no other solution which is in best interests of US.
As it is our policy to be impartial and not to intervene in internal affairs of Cuba, I recommend that we do not through innuendo attempt to discourage other nations from selling arms to GOC. I further recommend that a more sincere effort be made to enforce our neutrality laws and to prohibit the air drops, originating in Florida, which appear to be successfully supplying rebels with arms.[Page 215]
I am in hopes violent overthrow of GOC can be avoided not only because of danger to American life and property but also because out of chaos Communists may emerge greatly strengthened if not actual victors.3
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 437.558/9–2458. Confidential; Priority.↩
- The source of Smith’s account of the Belgian approach to the Department is not clear.↩
- In telegram 174 to Havana, September 26, the Department indicated that, although it understood that the Cuban Government was receiving arms from various European sources, the Belgian inquiry was the only one received by the Department since British and Canadian inquiries of the previous year. The telegram noted that Belgian officials were told that the U.S. Government had no objection, but that for their background they were told of the “adverse reaction which could be expected from Cuban opposition.” This was done in a “spirit of cooperation with friendly NATO power and not meant to discourage arms sales” to the Cuban Government. If similar inquiries were received in the future, Department officials would state simply that the U.S. Government “has no objections to transactions of this kind.” (Department of State, Central Files, 437.558/9–2458)↩