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

880. Re Embtel 879.2 Since January 21 Castro made several remarks, both public and private, that he aware need more restraint his part and closer cooperation with government. He told one American newsman [he] expected withdraw from limelight soon. Nevertheless, he still unquestionably dominant figure local scene and center attraction, and enjoying it. There strong tendency identify him with success revolution and look to him as final arbiter all matters. Indications his power, and his feeling its permanancy are: (1) situation command armed forces clarified January 21 with announcement he supreme commander all Cuban armed forces since January 2, by designation Urrutia. (2) In speech January 21 he designated brother Raul his successor as leader 26 July movement in event he killed. (3) At press [Page 383] conference January 22 said everyone knew he had rejected Presidency, and had picked Urrutia for position. Clearly, Castro now considers his movement permanent one, and himself its permanent leader.

Becoming more apparent Castro not anti-American but also not friendly. He has now publicly taken position that “campaign of calumny” against Cuban revolution fomented by “monopolistic” international news services. Blames them for misinformation spread both in US and Latin America, and excuses criticism new regime by Latin American Governments on grounds that hostile campaign promoted by large economic interests friendly to dictators. By innuendo and occasionally by direct reference, indicates those interests US origin. At various time has mentioned electrical, telephone, and nickel interests, and United Fruit and Cuban American companies specifically. At press conference January 22 he said Puerto Rico should be independent. When reminded people had voted for present status, expressed view vote not free. Roundly upbraided for that by Puerto Rican newsmen present.

Castro also irresponsible in remarks concerning other countries. At press conference said Nicaraguans should take to the mountains and fight for their freedom as Cubans had done, and could count beforehand on complete support of Cuban people. He has stated publicly that Cuba wants no relations of any kind with Dominican Republic. On January 22 he said other LA Governments should force UN or OAS to hold free elections Nicaragua, and said he sure relations between Cuba and dictatorial Governments would worsen.

As exultation caused by sudden complete success and international prominence wears off, Castro may modify present erratic and unfortunate behavior, but only time will tell.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/1–2359. Confidential; Priority.
  2. In telegram 879, January 23, Braddock reported that Miro Cardona had withdrawn his resignation of January 20 and had told Topping that he would remain indefinitely as Prime Minister. Miro Cardona said that a number of influential people had urged him to stay in the government and that Fidel Castro, who also had paid him a call, insisted that he continue in the government and promised his closest possible coordination with the government. Miro Cardona said, however, that the decisive factor had been the Embassy’s approach. (ibid.)