300. Editorial Note

On May 1, a parade and mass meeting was held in Havana under the auspices of the Cuban Confederation of Workers and with a large number of foreign guests in attendance. Summaries and analyses of the major addresses given, a list of the foreign guests, and a discussion of Communist participation in the event were included in despatch 1265 from Havana, May 7. (Department of State, Central Files, 737.00–MAY DAY/5–759) The Embassy summarized the event as follows:

“The mammoth May Day parade ending in a mass meeting of the workers at the Civic Center where addresses were made by Government officials, officers of the Confederación de Trabajadores de Cuba (CTC), and invited guests representing the trade unions of Europe and Latin America, was characterized by a holiday atmosphere among the participants and unmarred by any incidents. An intensive publicity campaign in the press and on radio and television brought large crowds to the streets although not to the extent of the million claimed. As a result of poor organization however the parade of the unions to the Civic Center dragged on for about twelve hours. As a consequence most of the spectators drifted away and the crowd at the Civic Center when the speeches were made was relatively small. The officials and guests, most of whom had been in the reviewing stand for more than twelve hours, were obviously tired and at times bored. The absence of the dominant figure in the local scene, Fidel Castro, also had a somewhat dampening effect.

[Page 500]

“The principal speakers for the occasion were Raul Castro speaking for Fidel Castro, Minister of Labor Fernandez Garcia, Secretary General of the CTC David Salvador, and President Urrutia. The basic themes of these talks were loyalty to the leader, Fidel Castro, and unity in support of the Revolutionary Government and its programs.

“The representatives of the foreign trade union groups, about 35 in number were introduced from the speakers platform. Most of these made fairly brief remarks limited largely to congratulations to the CTC and expressions of good wishes to the Revolution. In a few instances the talks were highly emotional and expressed some anti-American sentiment. The most notable instance was perhaps that of Santiago Tortosa of Venezuela, who spoke heatedly and at considerable length emphasizing the ‘emancipation’ of Cuba and comparing the United States ownership of the Cuban sugar industry with the United States ownership of the Venezuelan oil industry. The fact that this foreign representation included Communist as well as Christian and democratic trade unions was emphasized by several of the official speakers as well as in the publicity preceding and following the event.”