New York Times
March 1, 1958. p. 1.
By R. Hart Phillips
Special to The New York Times
HAVANA, Saturday, March 1—Cuba’s Roman Catholic hierarchy called last night for a “national union government” to halt bloodshed in the rebellion-torn island and restore “normal political life.”
The Episcopal statement was issued by Manuel Cardinal Artega, Archbishop of Havana, with the signature of six bishops. It was the first direct declaration by the Cuban church since Fidel Castro’s rebels opened their arms campaign fifteen months ago to overthrow the regime of President Fulgencio Batista.
The statement was interpreted as a call for neutral, non-political government that would preside over free elections. A general election is now scheduled to be held June 1, although Opposition groups have said they would boycott the balloting.
The statement deplored the rising death toll that has attended the state of virtual civil war in the nation.
It urged the Government, the rebel opposition, and all citizens to cease violence and to seek means to restore peace. It asked all those “who have responsibility” to make every sacrifice and to form a “national union government.”
The statement was issued after 11 P.M. The major radio station, CMQ, broadcast the text of the statement without comment twice in late news bulletins.
A CMQ spokesman said that it was not broadcast again at 12:30 A.M., because of a request from the Presidential Palace. Newspapers received similar requests that the statement be published in today’s morning editions.
The Diario de la Marina, a leading Havana daily which frequently reflects the opinions of the Church, El Mundo and Informaciones said they would print the statement. Other morning newspapers said they were studying the request.
Censorship was lifted in Havana last week.
The Church leaders said that such a move would have their ardent prayers. They said that they would extend their “moral support” to the “extent that it falls outside the partisan political domain.”
The Church statement did no suggest the means by which a unified regime might be achieved. It confined itself to deploring the effects of the civil strife and to calling for an end of the hostilities that have disrupted the life of the island since Señor Castro made his landing in Oriente Province on Dec. 2, 1956.
The text of the statement, issued by Cardinal Artega, follows:
“The Cuban episcopate contemplates with profound pain the lamentable state at which we have arrived throughout the Republic and, in particular, in the eastern region. Hatred is growing, charity is diminishing, tears and pain are penetrating our homes, the blood of brothers is being spilled in our fields and in our cities.
“Burdened with grave responsibilities before God and men by reason of our condition of spiritual leaders of our people, we feel obliged to try by all the means at our command so that charity may again reign and this sad state of our country end.
“Guided by these motives, we exhort all those who today fight in opposing camps to cease in the use of violence and, putting their eyes only and exclusively on the common good, seek immediately efficacious solutions to bring again to our country the material and moral peace which is so needed.
“To that end we do not doubt that those who truly love God know how to accredit themselves before God and history and will not refuse to make any sacrifices to achieve the establishment of a national union government which could prepare the return of our country to a peaceful and normal political life.
“Both the Government, as well as the other Cubans called upon to decide in this important matter, have our most ardent prayers and outside the field of partisan politics our moral support.”
The statement was signed by the Cardinal and by the Archbishop of Cienfuegos, Pinar del Rio, Matanzas and Camaguey, and by the auxiliary bishop of Havana.
A new group of rebels is operating around Nuevitas on the north coast of Camaguey Province.
Rebels in Oriente Province attacked and set fire to a passenger train near Santiago Thursday.
The bodies of three youths were found hanging to a tree near Santiago.