76. Editorial Note

On July 2, the Department of State decided to suspend the shipment of the T–28 aircraft to Cuba. The following day Rear Admiral Robert B. Stroh of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations called William Wieland to inquire whether the suspension had taken place. According to a memorandum for the files, July 3, Wieland confirmed the suspension. Their conversation proceeded as follows:

“He [Stroh] expressed considerable concern at this development and asked what had happened. I told him that the action was taken yesterday. He inquired why. I asked if he wanted to see the Americans in the hands of the rebels killed. He said ‘no’ and, in fact, the Navy is following the matter closely.

“He added that he assumed that as soon as the people had been delivered the transaction would be resumed. I said that the entire question would have to undergo very careful study.” (Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/7–358)

In telegram 13 from Havana, July 2, Ambassador Smith pointed out that if there were any significant delay in resuming the shipment of the T–28 aircraft once the American hostages had been freed, the Cuban Government’s cooperation with the United States would decrease because it had “considerable money tied up in the aircraft” and it would have to pay the expenses of “ferry crews standing by to make [Page 124] deliveries.” Smith also said that Batista had a “personal interest” in the matter and urged that the United States stand by its original commitment. (ibid., 737.00/7–258)

Later that day, Smith reported in telegram 17 that Guell had informed him that Batista was “very much disturbed” at the suspension. Smith further noted:

“I have explained delivery was postponed because our main concern is now obtaining release of all kidnapped Americans and Canadians and that it was our duty not to take any steps which might have hindered or delayed such release.

“I have informed GOC their delivery will again be considered after all individuals have been released.

“I concur with GOC in their opinion that if the news of this action should leak it will be damaging. Strongly recommend that Department prohibit any leak.” (ibid.)