Tuesday, October 6, 2009

1958: Civic Associations Organization letter

Cuba History Timeline Events
March 14, 1958
Concerned with the worsening political situation, US Ambassador Smith met with Raúl Velasco Guzmán, chairman of Cuba’s Civic Associations Organization (Conjunto de Instituciones Cívicas de Cuba). He urged Velasco to recommend that his members publicly support the June elections, and tell them that Batista had agreed to having US, UN, or OAS observers supervise the elections if the civic associations requested it.

With apparent reluctance Velasco said he would call for a meeting of his association to discuss Amb. Smith's request. He never did. Two days later, Velasco sent Smith an open letter listing more than 40 civic associations as signatories (but without signatures). This public letter from the Civic Associations Organization which implicitly rejected Smith’s call did not even mention Batista’s offer for election monitoring by international observers. The public letter from the Civic Associations Organization called on Batista to resign and implicitly supported Castro’s demands.

Smith doubted Velasco's good faith and his claimed "non-partisanship". The revelations of history confirm his doubts. It was later revealed that Velasco was a loyal and trusted closeted Castro supporter, and M-26-7's first choice to be Provisional President on the fall of Batista. Unknown to Smith, the "non-partisan" Velasco had been offered the revolutionary government Provisional Presidency a few months before, prior to its being offered to Urrutia.

Raúl Velasco and Che Guevara- Havana Cuba 13jan59 Raúl Velasco (2nd from R) and Che Guevara (2nd from L). Havana, Cuba 1959

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

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