Monday, October 19, 2009

1958: Congress declares State of Emergency

Cuba History Timeline Events
March 31, 1958
In response to the escalating terrorism and the M-26-7 “Total War” initiative, the Batista government invoked constitutional provisions that gave congress the authority to declare a national state of emergency giving the executive exceptional temporary powers. The congress, at the request of the Council of Ministers, passed special legislation declaring a “State of National Emergency” granting Batista extraordinary powers for a forty-five day period.

The law was publicly announced in Cuba’s Gaceta Oficial de la República on April 1, 1958. This act gave the President broad emergency powers including including the right to impose martial law, govern by decree, and use troops against strikers. These provisions effectively remained in force until the end of the Batista regime, renewed by passing extensions. These were enacted on 17 May (Special Act #2, State of National Emergency), 23 July (Decree 2418), 7 September (Decree 3023), and 22 October (Decree 3548), all published in Gaceta Oficial.

Contemporaneous coverage in the NY Times reflected the increasing and ever bolder attacks of the rebels as they prepared for their impending total victory on April 9 when they unleashed their “ultimate weapon”- the General Strike that would paralyze the island with military and terrorist support from the revolutionaries. This coverage acknowledged that the union leadership (CTC) had decided not to support the strike. The NY Times coverage in reporting the increased intensity and scope of rebel attacks, prepared its readers for the impending triumph of Castro in April:

Cuba is waiting anxiously for the “total war” that Fidel Castro, rebel leader, has threatened to start in Oriente Province today against the Government of President Fulgencio Batista.

Military action by the rebels is scheduled to be accompanied by a Cuba revolutionary strike as a supreme effort to overthrow the Batista regime

based on Manuel Márquez-Sterling's Cuba 1952-1959 and
Cuba 1952-1959 Interactive Timeline

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