451. Telegram From the Embassy in Cuba to the Department of State 1

1926. Consular agent Tate reported from Camaguey by telephone at 14:00 today that at approximately 11:30 today hostile demonstration of some 400 students assembled in front of his house after marching through main sections of city. Tate was warned shortly in advance, and informed police who had small group of officers there. Tate reports demonstration organized in local normal school apparently under leadership Sergio Rodriguez, student leader there. Most students of normal school, as well students of local institute of Secondary Education (high school) participated.

Tate closed house and grounds, and met students in street in front. He reports that their principal protests were: (1) Misrepresentation situation in Cuba by United States press, (2) Landing of U.S. Marines in Santo Domingo, and (3) Burning of Cuban sugar cane fields by aircraft coming from United States. Crowd carried hastily prepared banners and placards referring to foregoing points. Some signs also mentioned United States economic imperialism, but this did not appear to be important item.

Tate reports held lengthy discussion with group ten or fifteen leaders, which finally adjourned at his invitation inside grounds his home. He reports that he made following observations in connection numbered items above:

Information in U.S. press on Cuba based on data collected at first hand in country, cabled reports frequently prepared by Cubans and information from Cuban and American residents. Pointed out that Cuban press giving highly distorted and hostile treatment to United States and United States Govenment, and inquired whether they thought Adelante, governmental paper in Camaguey notable for violent, vicious, and continuing anti-Americanism, unbiased. Tate insisted that charges in American press of Communist penetration here true, and from own detailed personal knowledge of local situation was able to mention by name two or three known Communists holding responsible positions in GOC.
Tate said that he was not familiar with details landing of “Marines” in Santo Domingo, but pointed out that this was recreational visit, that Marines and sailors were unarmed when they went ashore, and clearly had no intention of intervening in any way in Dominican Republic internal affairs.
Tate said that no evidence had been adduced to establish that planes burning cane fields came from United States, that United States authorities were particularly vigilant to prevent such activities, and that he personally believed planes came from some other locality.

Tate reports that hostility of crowd appeared directed toward the United States Government rather than American people individually. He took position that United States Government reflects views of people, and had conducted itself in correct and sympathetic manner toward legitimate aspirations and actions of Cuban people and Government. He reports there were occasional expressions of hostility. The crowd arrived chanting “paredon” (“to the wall” in translation, currently used in Cuba to mean “execute him”). During his conversation a colored leader shouted at one point, “get a machine gun and we will kill him right now”. There were occasional strongly derogatory references to President Eisenhower and United States Government. One of the principal leaders remarked, “we may have Communist, or Venezuelan, or whatever other infiltration, but what we will never have again is American infiltration.”

Tate reports the demonstration peacefully dispersed after about one hour, and upon receipt of assurances that protest would be promptly reported to Embassy. He dismissed police, and feels that he is in no personal danger.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611. 37/2–860. Official Use Only; Priority.