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

762. I called meeting this afternoon of Ambassador’s businessmen’s consultative committee in order ascertain their views re question of recognition of provisional government, for forwarding to Department and Ambassador Smith. Present were: Amoss, Electric Company; Heagney, Bank of Boston; Brewer, Esso; Thompson, Portland Cement; Pine, PAA; Duys, Duys Company (tobacco); Steward, Woolworth Company, Viveres, SA; Colligan, Moa Bay; French, Cuban American Metals.

Every man present expressed individually and emphatically the view that it would be in interest of US and of American business in Cuba for US to recognize provisional government as quickly as possible and preferably before arrival of Castro in Habana, which is now expected sometime Thursday, January 8.

They were unanimously of view that present government was much better than they had dared hope for, and that it has broad base of popular support (one previously strong Batista supporter said this was most popular government he had seen in Cuba in his sojourn of more than 30 years). They felt that 26th July had shown intelligence [Page 346] and discipline in handling situation to date, and that Castro was unquestionably boss in Cuba. They considered that prompt recognition was necessary to establish most favorable possible climate in which to carry on business, and said that without recognition by US they would be unable to deal satisfactorily at all on the many problems confronting them. (This view shared by Amoss of Cubana de Electricidad, whose special labor problem outlined in Embtel 7562). Group felt that early recognition would assist in strengthening 26th against more radical elements in revolutionary movement, and would also assist in curbing possible growth of Communist strength. Embassy officers have discussed same subject and likewise hold view that earliest possible recognition in best interest of US. Before meeting, Gilmore felt it would be prudent to await further indications of government’s attitude toward US trade and investment, but after hearing businessmen say they needed benefits of prompt recognition, he also favors prompt affirmative action.

Please pass to Ambassador Smith this recommendation of his staff.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/1–659. Confidential; Niact. Received at 9 p.m. A note on the source text indicates that Stevenson was “informed” at 10 p.m.
  2. In telegram 756, January 6, the Embassy reported that a self-constituted committee of employees at the Cuban Electric Company, with the backing of 26th of July armed guards, had taken control of President Amoss’ office and made sweeping demands, including an immediate 20 percent wage increase and the dismissal of certain Cuban personnel. (ibid., 837.2614/1–659)
  3. In telegram 765 from Havana, January 6, received at 10:50 p.m., Braddock said that Guillermo Belt had called on him to express his view that the present situation was “one of the miracles of America.” Belt had expected that chaos and bloodshed would follow the overthrow of Batista, but the revolution was bringing “unity and stability” and Castro was behaving in a “statesmanlike manner.” Belt urged that the United States, for its own interests and those of Cuba, immediately recognize the new government. (ibid., 737.00/1–659) In telegram 775 from Havana, January 7, the Embassy noted that Marquez Sterling had told an Embassy official that morning that the revolution was completely different from previous ones in that from it was emerging “a well-organized and strong group with authority concentrated in one man” who “unquestionably” had behind him the support of the “whole Cuban people.” Marquez Sterling thought the Cabinet was “good”, particularly Prime Minister Miro Cardona and National Bank head Pazos. (ibid., 737.00/1–759)