210. Telegram From the Embassy in Cuba to the Department of State1

680. Department pass Navy, Air, CIA, FBI, Army for ACSI, CINCARIB, USARCARIB, USARANT. Following is roundup of conditions 7 p.m. January 1. Undisciplined groups engaging in destruction, sacking and looting, principally in downtown Habana and in town of Marianao. Plant of Masferrer paper Tiempo destroyed. Buildings of two Ministries reported looted. Several casinos wrecked with consequent damage to some hotels. Several stores and bars wrecked and looted.

Secretary of Presidency Andres Domingo arrested when attempting seek asylum. Former Minister and Senator Santiago Rey in Chilean Embassy. Their homes looted. CTC Secretary General Mujal in Agentine Embassy.

Spokesmen for 26th July Movement and Directorio Revolucionario appearing constantly on radio and television strongly condemn such actions and order people to maintain order. Several reports that rebel militia and rebel columns arriving to maintain order, but no signs such forces.

Mob of several thousand forced open Principe prison and freed all prisoners, both political and criminals.

Mauretania arrived 6 a.m. Some 300 passengers permitted to go ashore. They all were located and returned to ship, which sailed 6 p.m.

General strike slowly spreading. All transportation except private cars paralyzed. Domestic and international airline operations suspended. More than 200 American tourists stranded.

26th July Movement demanding unconditional surrender of army and installation Urrutia as Provisional President. Whereabouts Castro and Urrutia not known. They not in Habana.

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After consulting Supreme Court, Justice Carlos Piedra refused designation as Provisional President. Government appears entirely in hands of Cantillo, no civilian members of junta.

Santiago reports rebel radio has called for complete strike, except for power facilities. Rebels began entering city shortly before 6 p.m. One hour later they were in control of city hall, military district headquarters, airport, and all principal installations. Wollam reports press statement just released by acting military commander in Santiago states majority of armed forces cooperating with rebels and complying their instructions. Wollam describes situation as one of tension and expectancy, with quiet at present, but future developments unpredictable. Nicaro reports rebels entered plant and village early this morning, but have not interfered with operation. Adds there is some tension, but that general atmosphere is quiet and no immediate danger to foreigners apparent.

Moa Bay Company reports operation shut down when workers left at 8 a.m. to celebrate. Adds all foreigners are on the job, and there is no danger for them at present.

Situation Las Villas and Camaguey provinces unclear. No indication army and rebels fighting, but army apparently not accepting rebel surrender terms.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/1–159. Confidential; Priority. Received on January 2 at 4:03 a.m.