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

1208. Following cabinet changes announced early morning November 26 after extended session. Minister Public Works Manuel Rey replaced by Osmani Cienfuegos. Ray designated President National Institute of Sciences and Technology, to be established. Minister for Recovery Misappropriated Funds Faustino Perez replaced by Lt. Commander Rolando Diaz Asterain, career navy officer, and Perez given unspecified “new revolutionary duties”. In addition, Felipe Pazos designated Ambassador in charge economic matters in Europe. Replaced as President National Bank by Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Not known at this time whether Guevara will continue to hold his position in INRA or who might succeed him there.

Embassy comment: Ray disagreed with Fidel Castro over treatment of Huber Matos, and submitted resignation when decision made to reestablish revolutionary tribunals. Resignation accepted at cabinet meeting November 20. Delay in announcement caused by search for solution which would disguise disagreement. Perez took same position as Ray. Understand they strongly supported by Minister Communications Oltuski and Minister Finance Lopez Fresquet. Predicted by several reliable sources that Oltuski will shortly be dismissed. Dismissal or new assignment for Lopez Fresquet appears virtually certain, since he has recently strongly disagreed with several decisions by Fidel Castro. Reliably informed Castro pressing Jose Llanusa now Habana Municipal Commissioner, take Ministry Finance. Llanusa reluctant partly because ill with ulcers and poor circulation, and secretly entered hospital November 25.

Pazos has been in disagreement with policies GOC for several weeks at least. He has recently complained that his efforts to protect the nation’s financial situation are destroyed by ill conceived actions other sectors of government. About three week ago he reliably reported to have vehemently told President Dorticos that country was headed for economic collapse and attempted Communist take-over. Dorticos brought up charges in cabinet, and decision made oust Pazos. His new assignment is result face-saving maneuvering between Pazos, Fidel Castro and Minister Economy Boti who originally considered as Pazos’ replacement. Resignations of Justo Carrillo, head of National Bank for Agrarian and Industrial Development (BANFAIC), Ernesto Betancourt, member directorate National Bank and in charge monetary [Page 681] stabilization fund, and Jorge Beruff, delegate of President National Bank in charge of Bank for Economy and Social Development (BANDES), are said to be involved.

The aforementioned group constitutes the bulk of the moderate and pro-American elements within GOC. Their replacements to date are extremists with exception Diaz, whose political orientation unknown. Osmani Cienfuegos, brother of disappeared Camilo Cienfuegos former Chief of Staff of Army, studied architecture and worked for several years as draftsman. He long and reliably reported crypto-Communist and reliably reported to have joined Communist Party Cuba recently through influence of wife who is said to be Communist. He was considered brains behind Camilo within army, where he was Director of Cultural Affairs. Considered dedicated and hard-working, without significant qualifications for position.

Guevara needs no introduction. His anti-Americanism, his hositility to US private interests in general, and his extreme leftist position are well-known.

These developments stress that Fidel Castro and GOC are increasingly committed to extreme leftist policies and are increasingly receptive to guidance by Communist oriented elements who are openly hostile to US and our local and international interests. Embassy officers who are in contact with moderate elements both within and outside GOC have all gathered impression those elements recognize they have been losing influence for some time, and now have virtually none. At same time, those elements have no immediate plans and are despondent and disorganized. They show no evidence wanting take united stand to force showdown with Castro. They take the attitude that “the people are still with Fidel”, and that the country is rapidly heading for economic collapse. They hope that they will be able to obtain control after the collapse occurs, but there are few signs that they are attempting to organize for that purpose.

While trend of economic conditions and popular support is now against GOC, whether or when they will lead to fall of that government cannot now be predicted. Factors influencing the situation include (1) continuing emotional attachment to Fidel Castro as national symbol by bulk of Cuban people, (2) continued belief by virtually all Cubans in the need for social and economic changes, embodied to date only in Castro’s revolutionary program, (3) dedication and determination of present leading members GOC, and (4) lack of organized opposition leadership offering equal prospect for desired reforms.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.13/11–2659. Confidential; Priority.