604. Airgram From the Embassy in Cuba to the Department of State1


Cuban Government line past few days had been to stress imminence of armed invasion by counter-revolutionaries supported by U.S. Government-controlled press has been accenting this theme. In speech Saturday2 at graduation 55 cadets from Rebel Army’s officer school at Managua, Prime Minister Fidel Castro repeatedly referred to the “imminence of an attack”. He declared that opposition must logically attack now, because longer attack postponed stronger Cuban Government will become. He also indicated as another reason for believing an attack was imminent, that since Cuba had become a matter of contention in U.S. presidential campaign, there was danger present administration would attack Cuba to satisfy interests which support it and to outdo other political party. Concentration of all male militia in Habana area for day of training on October 30 contributed to invasion psychology.

Effect of this Government campaign has been to increase tension in capital and to create public anticipation of imminent armed attack.

It is probable that some elements in Cuban Government, including possibly Prime Minister Castro, believe that armed invasion with U.S. support must be anticipated and may come at any moment. Embassy has no evidence, however, of any preparations by opposition for imminent armed attack upon Government. Opposition sources to which Embassy has access do report that combined invasion-uprising is being planned but is not to take place until several weeks after U.S. elections. These sources speculate that Government may be planning behind smoke screen of invasion reports to simulate an invasion with its own forces in order to trick opposition elements into exposing themselves in situation where they would be easy prey for waiting Government forces. Opposition source claims they are prepared for such a maneuver and will not be tricked.

Apart from such speculation, which Embassy unable to evaluate, Government may have interest in keeping Cuban people in state of agitation at this time with reports of imminent armed attack. This has double effect of (1) maintaining revolutionary fervor of supporters of regime at high pitch so that maximum effort can be obtained for defense effort, especially in militia, and (2) diverting attention of Cuban people, supporters and opponents alike, from disappointments of [Page 1113] urban reform law, economic sacrifices and dismal future economic prospects. If time passes, however, without any invasion taking place campaign could backfire on Cuban Government.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/11–160. Confidential. Drafted by Harvey R. Wellman. Ambassador Bonsal had left Havana October 28.
  2. October 29.