Category: History

Why the Communists are Winning as of 1976...
by William D. Pawley & Richard R. Tryon

The Russian Empire spread far and wide and by the late 1950s it was ready to move into our hemisphere in Cuba. Read how it happened.

Chapter Nineteen
With the success of our Guatemala effort to strangle a Communist beachhead in the Western Hemisphere, I had the high satisfaction of knowing that an effective blow to uphold the cherished Monroe Doctrine had been struck. Also, we who had engaged in that effort could realize with satisfaction that the position adopted by the Organization of American States - to unite against the spread of Communism in countries of this Hemisphere, had been forthrightly asserted.
One Communist fire had been put out. But a larger conflagration, which had been smoldering in Cuba for several years, had been gradually charring the timbers of President Batista’s regime to the point of destruction.
From late 1949 until early in 1951 I had a ringside seat in Havana, where I had been engaged to renovate the city’s chaotic transit service into an efficient transportation system. I substituted 1,200 modern buses for the 450 ancient electric streetcars, of which an average of seventy were breaking down every day, raising hob with traffic.
Unfortunately, a far worse mess disgraced Havana’s streets.
Under the Presidency of Dr. Carlos Prio Socarras, an attractive political leader with liberal tendencies, Cuba was unstable, with all manner of vice running rampant. Many people carried revolvers. Collective bargaining, as I learned the hard way, was often conducted by pistol-packing labor leaders, mostly Communists, backed up by menacing squads of goons. Open assassinations on the streets were commonplace. As would be the case two decades later in the United States, where the streets of many cities were no longer to be safe for their citizens even in broad daylight, a demoralizing disenchantment with politicians and government set in.
I observed the Communists busily fanning the embers of discord at the time, but I did not connect it in my mind with Fidel Castro, who was still an obscure Red plotter. Hence I paid little attention in 1956, some five years after my return to Miami from the Havana assignment, when I read in the papers that Fidel had taken to the hills of the Sierra Maestra with a small band of a dozen or so revolutionaries. The name, of course, rang a bell, since I had not forgotten Castro’s radio broadcast during the Bogotazo of 1948, in which he revealed himself as a hard-care Communist and urged on the Red rioters in their destructive work.
Still very much concerned with what was happening in Cuba, while devoting my time primarily to business interests in nearby Miami, I observed a strange phenomenon. Responsible officials in Dade County, of which Miami is a part, acting presumably under orders, or at least with acquiescence from Washington, were deliberately looking the other way while boatload after boatload of arms for Castro’s rebels were sailing unmolested for beaches in the “Pearl of the Antilles”, our near neighbor, Cuba.
On several occasions, I protested to President Eisenhower that arms smuggled out of the United States were being permitted to reach Castro in tremendous quantities.
Whatever corrective orders that President may have given were certainly not being carried out.
As Castro’s movement gathered momentum, visiting newsmen and free-lance writers, hot on the scent of a headline story, began puffing up Fidel’s image. These instant historians were accustomed to spend a few days in the new hero’s mountain retreat and emerge with paeans about this latter-day Moses preaching, as it were, “Let my people go.”
An early defector from the cause of accurate journalism was Herbert L. Matthews of The New York Times.
“It was easy to see,” Matthews wrote in the Times of February 25, 1957, “that his (Castro’s) men adore him and also to see why he has caught the imagination of the youth of Cuba all over the island.” Matthews wrote that Castro was a “man of ideals”. There was “no Communism to speak of in Fidel Castro’s 26th of July Movement...”
At the time, Castro was levying tribute on the sugar estates and refining companies. Their owners, in fear of having their crops burned, turned over millions of dollars to Castro which went speedily into the pockets of arms smugglers in the United States.
Within the State Department, William A. Wieland was the man primarily responsible for engineering the betrayal of Cuba into the Communist orbit. His immediate superior, Assistant Secretary of State Roy Rubottom, who, if I may remind the reader again, was with Wieland as an on-the-spot witness to the Red-inspired holocaust in Bogota featuring Fidel Castro, placed no restrictions on his subordinate that were visible to the naked eye.
During the critical period when Cuba was sacrificed to Castro and his Communists, Wieland was in charge of Mexican, Central American and Caribbean affairs under Rubottom. In this capacity, he did all that was humanly possible to brush aside, ignore, short-circuit or refute warnings by experienced American diplomats that Castro was a Communist and that his movement was infested with Soviet agents.
In four or five meetings with Eisenhower during those years, in which I warned him of a Communist takeover if Castro ever came to power, I specifically urged him to weed out Wieland before he could bring about further, and possibly irreparable, damage to our national interests. I was not fully aware at the time of the extraordinary influence exerted by Dr. Milton Eisenhower on the President. Ike idolized Milton. Unfortunately, Milton Eisenhower was protecting his proteges, Rubottom and Wieland. They were misinforming Milton on Cuba and Latin America. In this connection, Dr. Mario Lazo, author of Dagger in the Heart and one of Cuba’s most distinguished lawyers, makes a pertinent point -
“A striking example of the extent to which doctrinal thinking may blot out reality remains etched in my memory. It was a conversation I had in early 1965 with Dr. Milton Eisenhower, the distinguished former President of John Hopkins University, whose character and dedication to noble causes have never been open to question.
“Dr. Eisenhower’s book, The Wine is Bitter, published in 1963, contained some wild misstatements about conditions in Cuba under Batista. In my view it is possibly the worst book on Latin America published in the last quarter-century. He wrote, for example: ‘Every person wanting an export permit, every foreigner who purchased property in Cuba...paid tribute.’ My law firm obtained export permits covering Cuban products worth a great many millions of dollars and supervised the purchase of property in Cuba that also ran into many millions. No ‘tribute’ (graft) was paid in any instance.”
Astonished at such statements by a man of Dr. Eisenhower’s reputation, Mario Lazo asked for and obtained an appointment with him. To start the conversation, Lazo asked him when he had last been in Cuba. “I have never been there,” Dr. Eisenhower replied. And he added: “I do not even speak the language.”
I am not the first, of course, to point out Ike’s virtual obsession, militarily ingrained, for orderly staff work routed through the proper channels. Many sound arguments support the validity of Ike’s modus operandi, among them the principle of delegation of authority. It works fine, in business, government, or the Army, if the right people are in the right slots.
Ike’s critics have faulted him for weakness as a decision-maker, but certainly it must be evident from these pages, and elsewhere in his record, that he was fully capable of reaching painful and bold decisions. But like most executives, he had a loathing for firing people. His instinct was to find some other way, which was at the root of the only difficulties that came between us.
It was not surprising, then, that instead of ordering the necessary disciplinary measures, Ike always wound up sending me over to the State Department to confer with the top officials responsible for Latin American policy, leaving a selling job up to me, and hoping for the best. No doubt he would have pursued a more vigorous course had the CIA not failed to warn him about the dire consequences for the United States of a Castro victory over Batista until a few weeks before the event.
Knowing that I was licked before I started, I nevertheless followed Ike’s instructions. I held a number of meetings, face to face with Rubottom and Wieland. After citing the experience of all three of us at Bogota, I asked them point blank how they could possibly be so naive as to question Castro’s credentials as a flat-out Communist, despite the mountains of evidence that had already been accumulated.
“If you permit this man to seize power,” I said, “You’re going to invite more trouble than you’ve ever seen in your life.”
“Mr. Ambassador, Castro may have been a Communist,” Wieland replied blandly, “or a Communist sympathizer in his youth, but we know enough about him now to feel confident that he is in no way associated with the Communist movement.”
I didn’t believe him. And I knew later that I was in good company when friends of Wieland testified under oath, quoting statements of Wieland’s that were diametrically opposite to his straight-faced professions to me. Thus, Frank Becerra, a Puerto Rican business executive, describing a social evening with William Wieland in Havana in 1957, declared:
“...My wife made the statement that she felt that Castro would be a wonderful thing for Cuba, and I remember distinctly Bill’s (Wieland’s) reaction was, as far as I can recall his words, ‘June, just like a lot of housewives, you just don’t know what you are talking about. Fidel Castro is a Communist. Fidel Castro will be the ruination of Cuba if he gets into power. Fidel Castro was one of the leaders of the famous uprising in Bogota in 1948 at the time when Dr. Jorge Eliecer Gaitan was assassinated...’.”
In the fall or winter of 1958, Wieland was playing poker in Washington with Samuel Shaffer, Chief Congressional Correspondent for Newsweek. Shaffer’s testimony follows:
“ ‘Fidel Castro, whom many of your newspapermen are romanticizing, is surrounded by Commies,’ he (Wieland) said. ‘I don’t know whether he himself is a Communist,’ but, he said, ‘I am certain that he is subject to Communist influences.’
If the foregoing testimony by reputable men is reliable, we have a mystery on our hands that is unsolved to this day. Why would Wieland warn casual friends against Castro as a “Communist” and a catastrophe to American interests, as was testified, while doing everything in his power to guide his superiors in the United States Government to the opposite conclusion?
Even after Castro had seized power, Wieland did everything he could to cover up the Communist stamp on the Cuban regime. Robert C. Hill recounted that when he was American ambassador to Mexico in 1959, he attempted to brief Dr. Milton Eisenhower, on the Cuban situation during an airplane trip to Mazatlan. Raymond Leddy, one of the most knowledgeable men in Latin American affairs at State, participated, as did Colonel B.E. Glawe, air attache in Mexico and an experienced intelligence officer. Wieland was on the plane as a very close friend of Milton Eisenhower, whom he frequently accompanied on his travels - a fact understood by friends of both men.
An almost unbelievable scene occurred during which a relatively low-ranking Air Force officer had the commendable guts to risk his career by laying it on the line to a powerful superior, right in front of the brother of his Commander-in-Chief. Ambassador Hill’s testimony:
“Each time Mr. Leddy would say, ‘This is Communist’ or ‘This man is a Communist’, he was met with Mr. Wieland saying, ‘It is not true...’
“Mr. Leddy had an intelligence report for the month of June 1959, which supported many of Mr. Leddy’s conclusions. It was obvious that Mr. Wieland had not read the report, although he was directly responsible for the area. But when Mr. Leddy attempted to project the actual documents into the picture, an argument ensued...Colonel Glawe referred to Mr. Wieland as ‘either a damn fool or a Communist’ and, of course, it caused tempers to flare and Dr. Eisenhower said he did not want to hear any more about the situation.”
Hill added, concerning Wieland:
“Well, I did not regard him as a competent officer or a man who could be trusted. I was warned by members of the Foreign Service about Mr. Wieland; that he was an opportunist and a dilettante, and that I should be very careful in my dealings with him.”
At about the time of the run-in between Colonel Glawe and Wieland on the flight to Mexico City, the State Department, probably through the machinations of Wieland and the flabby acquiescence of Rubottom, pulled the rug from under the Batista regime by announcing to the world that the United States would no longer supply arms to the Cuban Government. Moreover, delivery of $10 million of U.S. arms which Batista had ordered and paid for was blocked by Wieland.
Had these arms been delivered, Cuba might now be free.
Thus we placed on the same level a recognized government, that had been cooperating with us in every way possible, and a revolutionary band of guerrillas under a leader who was a Communist. Having done so, we served notice on the entire Western Hemisphere, and specifically on the Cuban Army and the Cuban people, that, so far as Uncle Sam was concerned, the Batista regime was down the drain. Batista’s officer corps could scarcely have been given a keener incentive for rushing to join Castro’s bandwagon. Fortunately, most of them did not.
Shortly before Christmas of 1958, a group of Latin American ambassadors and officials of the State Department and CIA were in Miami to participate in a forum, which I moderated. The Americans were guests at my home. Among them were Henry Holland, former assistant secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs; J.C. King of CIA; and William Pennell Snow, deputy assistant secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, who would serve later as Ambassador to Burma and to Paraguay.
We would sit up until three o’clock in the morning discussing the Cuban situation.
I suggested that unless we were ready to throw in the towel on Cuba once and for all, which I still refused to accept, we must persuade Batista to capitulate to a caretaker government satisfactory to us. We would then immediately recognize the new government and give it the $10 million of arms that were being withheld from Batista.
My friends assured me that the plan had sufficient merit to justify my flying to Washington for a meeting with the President. I hated to phone Secretary Dulles, who was desperately ill in Washington, but I considered that his approval was essential before I made any other move. He went along with us.
President Eisenhower agreed with my stratagem and instructed State to work out an approach that would include inducements attractive enough to make Batista’s acceptance probable. I spent several busy days with State officials hammering out the details of the inducements as suggested by Ike.
First, Batista, his family and his close friends would be permitted to reside in Florida, where he already maintained a home. Second, no reprisals would be permitted against any political faction.
Finally, such a regime would be recognized immediately by the United States and given the $10 million worth of arms needed to eliminate the Castro threat, should he continue in rebellion. The caretaker regime would remain in office eighteen months, long enough to restore order and prepare the way for fair and free elections. Thereafter, the courts would be free to prosecute and try anyone indicted for crimes committed by either side.
The keystone of the plan was that I be authorized to speak for the President. At a time of acute crisis and civil war, Batista could not be expected to take the time to listen to elaborate proposals, arrived at by persons with no authority.
Before leaving Washington, I stopped by to thank the President. As I was leaving the White House, J.C. King told me that acting Secretary Christian Herter wanted me to see Rubottom before my departure. My instinct warned me to ignore Herter and leave immediately. Had I done so, this chapter might well have had a different and happier ending. Partly because there was no point in merely postponing some unpleasant surprise, if that were indeed in store, which would catch up with me anyway by phone or cable in Havana, I went over to State and was ushered into the presence of Under Secretary Herter. Rubottom, Wieland and other officials concerned with Latin America were waiting for me.
Sure enough, there was a “modification” in the plan, as Rubottom put it. I felt the point of a knife being thrust between my shoulder blades as I was informed that the modification was nothing less than a categorical order forbidding me to disclose to Batista or anyone else that I was speaking for Eisenhower. I was to advance the plan as my own private suggestion, wait for Batista’s reaction, and then tell him that I would try to get the U.S. Government to accept it.
I knew, of course, that this last-minute “modification” would probably destroy the entire plan, and I could only assume that it was concocted for precisely that purpose. But they had me over a barrel. I could not appeal to Secretary Dulles, for he was too ill. Nor could Eisenhower reasonably be expected to overrule his acting Secretary of State.
It might seem that my obvious course was to have inquired, “Has the President, personally, approved this alteration in my instructions?” But I could already hear the answer: “The President has delegated full responsibility in this matter to us, or we wouldn’t be here.” Nonetheless, I summoned forth my most persuasive arguments against the removal of my ace card in my serious approach with Batista.
Rubottom stifled further discussion by reiterating that the decision was basic and irreversible.
Simmering with frustration, I seriously considered refusing to continue with my mission. But so long as there was a chance, any chance, of a miracle, I decided that I owed it to my country and to my Cuban friends to try it.
Edna and I flew down to Havana on December 7th and checked in at the Country Club, where we were able to test the latest temperature of the political waters with trusted friends. Next day, I met with Foreign Minister Gonzalo Guell and spent four hours going over the ramifications of my proposal. He recommended that I send a telegram to the Cuban President, to which I received the reply that Batista could see me the following evening at six o’clock.
When the appointment was postponed another 24 hours, I returned to the foreign minister and managed to convince him that my plan was vital for Cuba, after which he urged me to go all out to persuade Batista to cooperate.
Ten years later, I was to discover that a State Department official had violated security regulations by telephoning the contents of my top-secret directive to a distinguished Cuban. In his definitive book on the betrayal of Cuba, Mario Lazo wrote:
“In late November, my partner and I learned from responsible and confidential sources in the United States that William D. Pawley, the former Ambassador to Peru and Brazil and a personal friend of Eisenhower, was about to be sent as a secret emissary to negotiate with Batista. Our information was that he would be authorized to offer Batista an opportunity to live with his family in Daytona Beach, Florida, if he would appoint a ‘caretaker government’ composed of five men who were his political opponents. This represented a complete reversal of the policy supported up to that time by Rubottom and Wieland, under which all plans had been arbitrarily ruled out. It was an astonishing but heartening report.”
Lazo informed Ambassador to Cuba Earl E.T. Smith of this phone call, but shortly before my arrival, at my request the President recalled Smith to Washington for consultation.
Now I could pursue negotiations without disturbing protocol or embarrassing Mr. Smith. The unidentified informant from State who phoned Lazo also tipped off a person friendly to Batista, adding the false information that the proposals I was about to present would not be acceptable to the United States.
Although my session with Batista was scheduled for thirty minutes, we wound up talking for three hours, during which I exhausted every resource at my command to persuade my host that it would be in the best interests of his country and of himself for an honest provisional government of his political opponents to assume power. I gave him their names, which included such distinguished Cubans as Colonel Ramon Barquin, General Diaz Tamayo, Colonel Borbonnet and “Pepin” Bosch, who ran the Bacardi enterprises and had been Finance Minister.
“I’m positive it’s the only way to save Cuba,” I pleaded. “If you accept, I’m confident that I can go back to Washington and get the plan approved as United States policy.”
I sensed that he was within a hair’s breadth of accepting. But then his expression changed.
“Your State department,” he answered finally, “has turned down every suggestion for compromise which my administration has offered. So why should they endorse your plan?”
Having held up his dinner guests to the limits of politeness, Batista now concluded our conversation, and arose. I tried one more plea. Might I return the next day and discuss the plan further? He shook his head emphatically.
“We will waste time for nothing,” he said, “I must carry on. But by all means return to Washington and ask your people to permit me to remain in power until March, when a new president will succeed me. It is crucial that Cuba not fall to Castro before March.”
“Your Presidency can’t last much longer in any case,” I answered, “and I think your best choice is to leave, now that Cubans have lost confidence in your ability to maintain order.”
“I have a duty to remain at my post,” he replied. “And that is what I intend to do.”
I returned to Washington and reported to the President that my mission had failed. Five days later, December 14, 1958, Ambassador Smith carried out instructions given to him by the Department of State and informed Batista that he no longer enjoyed the support of the United States, and that he must vacate his office.
On December 31, 1958, a day before the bearded dictator seized power, Assistant Secretary Rubottom testified before a Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that “there was no evidence of any organized Communist element within the Castro movement or that Senor Castro himself was under Communist influence.”
Nearly two years later, I was called to testify before the Internal Security Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate. When the subject got around to those two subversives in the State Department, Roy Richard Rubottom, Jr., and William Arthur Wieland, the committee chief counsel questioned me:
Sourwine:“I think this question should be asked for the record: Have you any reason to believe that William Wieland is a Communist?”
Pawley:“No, I do not have any reason to believe that. I only know that many of these men that get involved in this type of thing over the years that I have had any connection with are serving the cause of our enemies, that is all.”
Sourwine:“You think he is doing this unwittingly, unintentionally?”
Pawley:“I have got to say that he is either one of the most stupid men living or he is doing it intentionally.
Thanks in no small degree to the support he had received from left-wing American journalists of the stripe of Herbert L. Matthews, and from State Department officials whose motives were obscure, Castro assumed power on New Year’s Day of 1959.
Fortunately, for Batista, I had arranged some time previously for the re-establishment of friendly relations (I acted in an unofficial capacity) between Cuba and the Dominican Republic. With the doors to the United States closed - door which in former times had been open to political refugees - Batista, together with about fifty immediate relatives, friends and supporters found refuge in the island sanctuary of Generalissimo Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, controversial dictator of the Dominican Republic.
Before going further, let me explain why I was to be able to exert some influence over Trujillo.
Back in 1930, when a devastating hurricane wrought havoc and suffering on the population of the Dominican Republic, I mounted a maximum effort of disaster relief from Havana through the Cuban airline I was running. Trujillo was deeply grateful.
Years later, in 1955, our paths crossed again when I went to Ciudad Trujillo to address a business group, later attending a large dinner, as guest of honor, of 400 Dominicans and Americans, evenly divided, with high officials at the head table. I sat between Trujillo and our Ambassador Pheiffer. Trujillo and I fell into a conversation about mining and oil ventures which led into the subject of the need for the Dominican Republic to develop its abundant natural resources. The upshot was his invitation for me to bring American know-how to bear as an adviser on petroleum and mineral exploration.
Over the following years, results were spectacular, especially in the development of one of the most valuable nickel mines anywhere.
After Trujillo had been in exile about a week, Batista phoned me and invited me to come down to see him. I flew to Ciudad Trujillo the same day and met him at his hotel. Gonzalo Guell, who had escorted me to the exiled president’s suite, discreetly withdrew.
“Mr. President,” I said, after an exchange of the customary amenities, “I am now in a position to tell you something that I couldn’t reveal in Havana. When Minister Guell arranged our meeting, I came as the direct representative of the President. He had authorized my proposal.”
Batista remained silent for a moment, his thoughts evidently racing. When he spoke, it was in a hushed tone.
“If only you could have told me!” he said.
When I reflect upon all of this today, and the narrow margin between the success or failure of my mission, I often wish that I had violated my instructions, as I believe that the Admiral commanding at the Bay of Pigs should have violated the orders he was to receive from President Kennedy. Either violation could have saved Cuba from Communism. Under normal conditions, a government official is honor-bound to abide by his instructions. But in a time of such unusual crisis, the admiral could have answered Kennedy, “Sir, I didn’t get your message in time.”
I am compelled to conclude that the deliberate ouster of Batista by Wieland and Matthews and Rubottom combined, is nearly as monumental a tragedy as the surrender of China to the Communists by a similar group of State Department officials, abetted by others, a decade earlier.
We shall not be able to pay the full price in American lives and American treasure for these blunders and betrayals during the lifetime of the present generation.

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