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

39. The latest information from Wollam indicates Raul Castro plans to hold hostages.

Wollam has brought letter signed by Raul Castro 2 stating “the US reply makes reference to statements of the Department issued on various dates, all of which were previous to the development of the present problem and that US reply brought nothing new to the debate; that the US statements implicitly admit that the US has been making military aid available to the GOC up to March of this year in spite of the fact that serious political disturbances have existed within the Republic since December 1956; that with a view to preventing a continuation of this situation Raul Castro firmly demands that the Department of State declare publicly, making reference to the detention of North Americans in rebel territory, that the US (A) will not supply war materials to the GOC; (B) will not permit the use of the GTMO Naval base by the Cuban Air Force for the supply of war material, gasoline, or technical assistance.”

Raul Castro further states that in order to confirm his desires to reach a reasonable agreement they will maintain in suspense the military order number 30/582 which originally put in effect the seizure of Americans.

The Embassy further understands that the Marine and Naval personnel are being held incommunicado presumably for purposes of brain-washing. Neither reporters nor Consuls have been permitted to see them. We believe their area of detention is in the vicinity of Sierra Puriol at considerable distance from rebel headquarters at Calabasas. Embassy recommends Department issue strong press release including statement that unless the hostages are released within seventy-two hours the US will be forced to take following actions: [Page 135]

Announce that consultations will be initiated with GOC on concerted actions to effect release.
Suspend all visas to sympathizers of the 26 of July movement.
Ask Navy to instruct Admiral Ellis to immediately take over control of the Yateras Aqueduct. (This has already been requested by GOC.)
Ask Navy to instruct Admiral Ellis to withdraw from Caminerra and GTMO City American dependents of base personnel.

Recommend that Department work into statement reiteration that US has suspended shipment combat arms to GOC and Naval base GTMO is not resupplying CAAF planes. This would sugar coat pill for rebels in that it appears to satisfy their demand in Raul Castro’s July 7 letter and gives Wollam additional talking point.

Reference Deptel 31,3 we believe control Fidel Castro over actions on second front tenuous. Only feasible fast method would be for US Navy helicopter to arrange meeting between Castro brothers. Resulting publicity would only irk GOC and benefit rebels. GOC has already indicated to me its serious concern of such a move and Army General Staff has announced that only CAAF planes may fly over Sierra Maestra.

As regards (2) consider Fidel’s ability to effect immediate release doubtful. Furthermore consider it inadvisable to give him this recognition.

Helicopter returned without passengers at 1130 a.m.

Recommend that implementation of the foregoing recommendations be subject to no further release of hostages today, or no further word from Wollam indicating a change of present status.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/7–958. Confidential; Niact.
  2. See footnote 3, Document 81.
  3. See footnote 3, Document 81.
  4. In telegram 31, July 8, the Department suggested to Smith that if Raul Castro’s letter indicated that the rebels intended to hold the remainder of the U.S. captives in order to prevent bombings, he should instruct Wollam to try either to arrange a direct contact between Raúl and Fidel Castro with Wollam present, or to contact Fidel directly and urge that he follow through on a promise to release the prisoners. (Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/7–858)