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

44. Reference: Embtel 39 and Deptel 32.2 I have asked for appointment with President Batista today and have sent instructions to Wollam to return to base.

Re Deptel 313 and 32 Embassy understands Department’s first preference is for Wollam to endeavor to arrange a meeting between the Castro brothers by fastest means. This would be by helicopter lift. GOC has already indicated strong disapproval of this step. Publicity would be unavoidable as there are 16 American reporters on base and six American reporters with Raul Castro. In my opinion GOC will not agree to a proposal, but I plan to bring it up as a first alternative in conversation with President Batista.

With reference to the second alternative outlined in Deptel 31, for Wollam to go by land to Fidel Castro will require several days and would necessitate safe-conduct by both GOC and rebels. It may be possible for me to arrange with Batista for Wollam alone to contact Fidel Castro by using helicopter from Guantanamo base. If such a plan were carried out, Wollam should endeavor to obtain written instructions from Fidel to Raul. This would assist in obtaining prompt return of captives. If Batista agrees, Embassy will endeavor through radio channel at Guantanamo to make suitable arrangements for such contact with Fidel Castro.

The only other contact is possibly for Wollam to talk to Fidel Castro by radio through Guantanamo or to attempt to establish radio contact through channel mentioned in Niact 1 from Caracas.4 Communications by radio and phone are monitored by GOC. Fidel Castro obviously will be cautious in any radio converstions.

With reference Embtel 435 Wollam message was sent exactly as received. We understand that rebels still prefer to return naval personnel by helicopter, against receipt given by Consul, though Wollam aware Admiral Ellis would prefer they come out by bus as they went in.

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We believe transportation difficulties mentioned by Wollam refers to problem of assembling widely scattered naval personnel and moving them within hills to pick-up point.

FYI: In phone conversations W–l W–2 are Wollam and Wiecha.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/7–1058. Confidential; Niact.
  2. Documents 86 and 87.
  3. See footnote 3, Document 86.
  4. See footnote 2, Document 84.
  5. In telegram 43, July 9, Smith indicated that he had received a report that afternoon from Wollam relayed through the U.S. base at Guantanamo that the rebels were still insisting that the Naval personnel were in the process of being released but there were “transportation difficulties.” Wollam also reported that these difficulties were holding up the release of the Canadian citizen, who was the only remaining civilian being held. (Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/7–958)