165. Memorandum Prepared in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research1


Cuban rebels directed operators of plant supplying water to U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo to shut down water for varying periods on November 23, 25, and 27. If rebels continue present pattern, Naval Base expects a 6 to 8 hour shutdown by Saturday, November 29. Reasons for the rebel action are not clear. It may well be an effort to force the U.S. to recognize and negotiate with the rebels as a belligerent force, and possibly an attempt to cause the Cuban Army to move troops from major cities in Oriente Province into territory where the rebels can attack them. The Navy Department feels that U.S. Marines should be sent to the water plant to protect it, and our Embassy in Habana has recommended such action in the event of a further stoppage.

The rebels occupy the area in which the water plant is located and can at will cut off the supply for the U.S. Naval Base. The Department, through various channels, is attempting to communicate with Fidel Castro, the leader of the Cuban rebels, to point out our concern about the interruption of the supply. Should Castro guarantee that the water supply will not be interrupted in the future, he would be repeating a guarantee made last August. While the arrival of the Marines might insure a peaceful continuation of the water supply, we cannot be certain that such would be the case. In any event the use of Marines on Cuban territory, even with the consent of the Cuban Government, would produce a strong, unfavorable reaction from the Cuban populace and throughout most of Latin America.

  1. Source: Department of State, INR Files: Lot 58 D 776, Cuba Situation 1957–1959. Secret; Sensitive Situation. No drafting or clearance information is given on the source text.