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

48. Re Deptel 31 and 32.2 I had 2-hour exchange of views with Batista July 10. I stressed US Government anxiety to bring about release of all US captives and that we understood Fidel Castro had issued orders for their release. In our opinion, if we could arrange a meeting between Castro brothers in the presence of Consul Wollam, or alternatively a meeting between Consul Wollam and Fidel Castro alone, we hoped to bring about immediate release of captives. Such meeting would also determine whether Raul Castro would comply with instructions of Fidel Castro.

After full discussion of possibilities of arranging such meetings as outlined in Deptels 31 and 32, Batista’s reaction was firmly negative on all points. He said as head of the nation he could not authorize such steps. Those individuals who have contacted the Castros, in the past, have done so at their own risk.

Batista maintains that Fidel is surrounded and that GOC troops are in close contact with rebels. If Wollam were to contact Fidel Castro with GOC approval, latter could then pinpoint his whereabouts. This would give GOC opportunity to kill Fidel Castro. Batista further stated that US Government and GOC would then be accused of having acted in collusion in causing death of Fidel Castro.

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Troops in San Cristobal have been withdrawn, according to Batista, because of US captives, and rebels have gained much territory. Hence, after release of hostages GOC task of eliminating Raul Castro will be that much more difficult.

Batista further said GOC was not only suffering from lack of arms but US was also depriving GOC of communications equipment.

Batista stated Fidel Castro has already called upon Raul Castro to release prisoners over Caracas radio, and he saw no objection to Consul Wollam making appeal through that channel. I made no mention of possibility US attempting contact through Guantanamo radio.

In answer to my query as to best method for obtaining quick release, Batista said US must be firm. Otherwise, rebels will surely stall on release. He suggested a statement calling for release of all prisoners in one week or US would take action. In his opinion “action” should not be defined. Uncertainty will have desired psychological effect.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/7–1158. Confidential; Priority.
  2. See footnote 3, Document 86, and Document 87.