175. Editorial Note

Ambassador Smith, who had returned to Washington on December 4 for consultations, recalled that he attended a meeting on December 10 in Murphy’s office. Also attending the meeting were Rubottom, Snow, Wieland, and the CIA liaison with the Department of State. According to Smith, the following discussion took place:

“At this meeting I was informed by Deputy-Under-Secretary Murphy that Batista was to be approached by someone with no official connection with the government, with the suggestion that he (Batista) absent himself from Cuba and appoint a military junta. Possible suggestions for the junta were General Cantillo, Colonel Barquin, General Sosa, and one other. My opinion was asked and I agreed that I had been convinced for some time that Batista should leave the country to avoid more and more bloodshed and, further, that I agreed to the plan in the hope that a military junta would be successful in setting up a provisional government excluding Castro, and later would hold general elections.” (Smith, The Fourth Floor, pages 165–166)

No other record of this conversation has been found.

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While Smith was apparently en route to Havana, Rubottom sent him a telegram with the following instructions: “If questioned by Batista or Guell on any aspect of your consultation in Washington, you should confine yourself in reply to saying that you reported on and fully discussed the Cuban situation with officials of the U.S. Govt, all of whom shared considerable concern over what they judged to be the deteriorating political situation of the country with its attendant disorders, loss of life and destruction of property.” (Telegram 336 to Havana, December 11; Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/12–1158)

Smith returned to Havana and resumed charge of the Embassy on the morning of December 12. (Telegram 660 from Havana, December 12; ibid., PER)