221. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Cuba 1

474. For Ambassador only from Secretary and Herter. Pleased have information urtel 783.2 Have never doubted that your spontaneous reaction at time of Santiago incident must have conveyed to all Cubans, including Batista, the extent of U.S. devotion to fundamental principles, including humane treatment of individuals and freedom with justice.

As Herter informed you Tuesday evening,3 President deeply appreciates your splendid performance under very difficult circumstances. Unfortunately, as experience has proven time and again, U.S. interest is best served by changing Ambassadors following governmental upheaval as explosive as that which has just occurred in Cuba. This in no way reflects adversely on you but would apply to any Ambassador in such a situation due to conditions over which he has no control. Your assignment required that you maintain satisfactory relations with the Batista Government, and this you did to the time of his departure, notwithstanding the many problems created for you in carrying out our own policies.

[Page 352]

Our conviction that you should leave Cuba soon is not due to fact that 26th of July group may or may not desire a change. It is independent judgment based on long Departmental experience. Agramonte’s statement to you and the information regarding Urrutia’s attitude pave the way to carry out gracefully a decision which we have reluctantly concluded needs be taken in US interest. We suggest that you seek an appointment with Agramonte on Monday or Tuesday of next week4 to tell him of your firm plans. Also, you will undoubtedly want to send President Eisenhower a letter stating your desire return to private life at this juncture which provides a natural occasion, and to which feel sure he would make appropriate reply. Letters could be published simultaneously.

Do not believe you should attempt discussion your personal situation with Urrutia, but Department will be glad to have your observations regarding him.

We send this message with deep personal regret, but know you will share our feeling that national interest is paramount.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 123–Smith Earl E.T. Secret; Niact; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Rubottom, cleared with the Secretary in draft, and approved by Herter who signed for Dulles.
  2. Document 218.
  3. January 6; see Document 215.
  4. January 12 or 13.