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

886. Re Embtel 876.2 In move to head off coalescence public support around Major Huber Matos, Fidel Castro addressed crowd in Camaguey estimated at 4 to 5,000 at 1 p.m. in which he attempted discredit Matos through character assassination in much same way he handled Urrutia and Diaz Lanz. He accused him of being traitor, conspirator, bad revolutionary who tried to spring revolt Camaguey, seize that province, and move on to other provinces. He said Matos had picked this particular time to launch his traitorous move in effort to embarrass government and defeat revolution when thousands of ASTA representatives in Cuba. He declared this is sabotage of government’s economic program. Castro said that Matos, like Diaz Lanz and Urrutia (three musketeers), had failed to understand people firmly behind revolution and will not be turned against it by petty conspirators. He said great conspiracy has been eliminated without firing shot or shedding blood. Tomorrow ASTA activities can continue normal schedule. He told people of Camaguey they could feel easy as situation under control, adding in obvious threat that it had been accomplished even though government had not had time to mobilize peasants with their machetes.

Consular Agent Tate reported 2:35 p.m. there was much excitement but no indication this would be transferred into action. Tate said despite Castro efforts to confine situation to person of Matos, latter’s resignation has had widespread effect upon provincial leaders loyal to him. He said all officers are confined to barracks. Provincial and municipal commissioners and provincial coordinator for 26 July movement had reportedly tried without success to see Castro this morning to persuade him refrain from denouncing Matos. He reported students at public high school continued to display large sign outside school saying “we want this situation clarified—we do not want communism”. Tate reported all private schools closed and I thought public ones too.

Castro said Matos free to travel and speak as he wished. Some reports reaching Embassy indicate Matos under arrest, but no confirmation as yet.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/10–2159. Confidential; Priority.
  2. Supra.