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

848. Cabinet last night dissolved Ministry National Defense and established Ministry Revolutionary Armed Forces with Major Raul Castro as head. Former Ministry National Defense Augusto Martinez Sanchez appointed Ministry Labor, replacing Manuel Fernandez Garcia. No announcement future role Fernandez Garcia. Embassy understands he would be interested in presidency new Social Security band [board?].

In dissolving Ministry National Defense its various dependencies dealing with non-military matters transferred other agencies. For example, Departments of Technical, Material and Cultural Service to Peasants to INRA; Department of Delinquents, Requisitories and Citizenry transferred Ministry Interior; National Commission Popular Housing transferred Ministry of Labor.

Army, Navy, National Police and Joint Chiefs Staff abolished and reconstituted as Rebel Army, Air Force, Revolutionary Navy and Revolutionary National Police (sic)2 under centralized command new Ministry Revolutionary Armed Forces. That Ministry must present organic law for approval within 60 days. Meanwhile personnel serving in former armed forces continued in position.

Comment: This appears to be completion of move for centralization control armed forces mentioned Embassy’s 702.3 Changes significant as indication further expansion of control of extremists at expense moderates. Raul Castro and supporters now confirmed in notably strong position, exercising centralized control all armed forces including police and investigative agencies. New Minister Labor is Raul Castro man who served as his “premier” in second front territory during fight against Batista regime, with control over several “departments” [Page 628] of “government” established by Raul. He was also prosecutor at second trial of pilots of Batista air force in Santiago in March this year after their earlier acquittal and Fidel Castro’s condemnation of verdict. He demanded and obtained conviction. He is extreme leftist, frequently alleged to be Communist. This is disturbing development.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.13/10–1759. Confidential; Priority.
  2. As on the source text.
  3. In telegram 702, September 24, the Embassy commented on a recently-passed law that abolished the secret police, noting that the law was part of a move “to unify and centralize full investigative and law enforcement organizations” under command of Raul Castro. (ibid., 737.13/9–2459)