232. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Rubottom) to the Secretary of State1


  • Reaction in Latin America to Cuban Executions

With minor exceptions, official reaction and commentary in the press and by private citizens respecting the executions in Cuba have been uniformly unfavorable in Latin America. Reactions have varied from dismay and concern over the lack of proper judicial procedure in carrying out the trials to horror and repugnance at the wholesale killings. Reports from a number of the Latin American countries indicate that the Castro victory was received with gratification but he and his government are losing sympathy as a result of the executions. Some of the critics question whether Castro can establish a responsible government in the light of having inaugurated his regime with excesses, while others deplore the executions as a violation of democratic principles. Some churchmen have spoken out against the executions.

Reports from several Latin American countries state that the Communist press condones the executions on the ground that they are justified by the killings of the Batista regime. A similar line is taken by a few non-Communist commentators.

Two Governments have officially expressed their distaste over the recent executions. The Argentine Government last week delivered a note to the new Government in Habana expressing that country’s preoccupation over the summary courts-martial and expressing the hope that trials will be conducted in accordance with recognized juridical procedures. The Uruguayan Government, through its delegate in New York, presented a note to the Cuban United Nations delegation calling for a cessation of the executions. In addition, the president of the Bolivian Chamber of Deputies and a group of his colleagues sent a telegram to the Cuban Government asking that the executions be ended.

Copies of this memorandum are being furnished to Governor Herter and to Mr. Murphy.

  1. Source: Department of State, Rubottom–Mann Files: Lot 62 D 418, Cuba (Jan–Apr.) 1959. Official Use Only. Drafted by Little.