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

1844. Embassy increasingly concerned over incursions of unidentified aircraft over Cuba, which have become bolder and more numerous during past two weeks, and particularly those raids in which incendiaries have been dropped resulting in burning of sizeable quantities of sugar cane. Regardless of origin of aircraft, large portion of public convinced they come from US or are part of counter-revolutionary plan masterminded in US. While Fidel Castro has not returned to subject in his several public appearances since his January 20 blast,2 it is evident public becoming aroused. Consulate Santiago reports that in Camaguey and Oriente provinces situation building up quite a head of steam, with all blame being put on US. Embassy has noted similar situartion in Habana. Press is playing up aerial sorties with increasing sensationalism. Number of organizations denouncing attacks mounting. These include labor organizations as well as associations of cane growers and mill owners. Number of protest telegrams received by Embassy on rise. Many appear inspired by various sections of 26 July Movement.

Embassy believes that long-continued anti-American campaign, coupled with aircraft incursions and public reaction, is rapidly developing into a situation in which resentment, inflammatory public utterances and press treatment, and desire for retaliatory action could quickly develop into direct action with little warning. Should raids continue, or should Castro abandon present policy of refraining from [Page 779]attacks on United States, this potentially dangerous situation could erupt into demonstrations and/or attacks against United States property or individuals.

A responsible American businessman has suggested to Embassy that in order relieve tension and prove good faith GUS might offer assistance in air patrol of Cuban coast until sugar harvest completed. Embassy aware of pitfalls if patrol undertaken and raids continue, as well as complications which might arise from casualties resulting from aggressive action against unidentified aircraft. However, since offer would probably be declined, thus achieving main purpose from our standpoint, Department may wish to consider it.

Braddock
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737. 5400/2–160. Confidential; Priority.
  2. See Document 430.