503. Editorial Note

In late March and early April, Lloyd A. Free, a former official with the United States Information Agency, visited Cuba with the primary purpose of arranging a survey of Cuban public opinion. The impressions which he gained from his trip were set forth in a paper entitled “The Cuban Situation”, dated April 13. Free’s conclusions included the following:

  • “1. The Cuban situation has become a good deal more grim in recent weeks. It is rapidly worsening. No tendency toward moderation is evident; in fact, quite the reverse. The country is rapidly being taken to a point of no return.
  • “2. A marked trend toward a monolithic state is obvious, not only in terms of governmental ‘interventions’ in general (i.e., nationalization), but particularly in the creation of a government monopoly over the media of mass communications. The expression of dissenting opinions is rapidly becoming impossible. (I witnessed the mob action that prevented Conte Aguerro from broadcasting.)
  • “3. The moderate elements in the government have been almost entirely squeezed out, including of course some of Fidel Castro’s most fervent original supporters.
  • “4. The Communists are unquestionably wielding increasing power; in fact, they are acquiring something of a monopoly of influence. As is well known, it has become lèse majesté to criticize them—or even to raise the question of Communist infiltration and influence.
  • “5. The middle and upper classes are clearly being systematically destroyed. The majority of these elements, including most of Castro’s original supporters in the middle and upper groups, appear by now to be jittery, demoralized and disillusioned. Some of them are still hoping against hope. Most of them have not yet reached the stage of open resistance to the Castro regime. However, it is my tentative impression that they are rapidly reaching a potential turning point, where with proper leadership they could be mobilized against Castro.
  • “6. Most Cubans remain personally friendly toward individual Americans. However, as a result of Castro’s psychotic anti-American campaign, they are becoming afraid to show evidences of pro-American [Page 892]feelings. Many of them, particularly in the upper groups, have even become apprehensive in recent weeks about being seen in the company of an American.” (Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, International File)

A handwritten note on the source text reads, “I think William Pawley brought to President 4/25.” Regarding the President’s conversation with Pawley on April 25, see Document 510. Free’s memorandum is also published in Declassified Documents, 1985, 773.