New York Times
April 1, 1958. p. 6.
Special to The New York Times
HAVANA, March 31—The Cuban Congress approved tonight a “state of national emergency” for a period of forty-five days and granted President Fulgencio Batista almost unlimited powers over the nation.
Under this legislation the President may declare martial law or take whatever steps he may consider necessary to combat the rebel forces led by Fidel Castro. The rebel leader has announced that he would call a general revolutionary strike at the “opportune” moment.
During the national emergency the President and Cabinet will assume legislative functions of Congress. The President was given authority to increase the armed forces and to organize new military units to meet the present situation. He was also authorized to create new taxes or increase present levies for the expenses of the increased military force.
Among the powers granted to the President were those to modify judicial, administrative and social procedure, fix penalties for crimes against the state and regulate the services of communication and transportation by land, sea and air. He also has almost complete control over commerce, industry and labor.
Congress met in special session following Government announcements that thirteen rebels had been killed in clashes with Cuban troops.
The army, meanwhile, took control of the Ministry of Labor as the Batista regime braced itself for the total war declared by the rebels.
A threat by Fidel Castro’s insurgent forces to attack the ministry, situated in midtown Havana, was said to have motivated the army move.
About 5,000 army troops have been fighting the rebels in Oriente Province without success while the number of insurgents has steadily increased. The Government has reinforced its garrisons and recently called for 7,700 recruits to add to its armed strength.
The Government has declared it will use every means at its command to prevent a general strike. The Confederation of Cuban Workers, the central organization controlling the island’s labor unions has warned its 1,200,000 members not to participate.
A cache of arms and ammunition valued at about $100,000 was captured this morning by the police at Santa Fé, a small beach village near Havana.
MIAMI, March 31 (UP)—Three Brooklyn men were arrested in a motel today and accused of assembling bombs that apparently were destined for use by Cuban rebels.
Those arrested were Glen Raymond Rowen, 23 years old, of 1906 Coney Island Avenue; Donald Joseph Heffren, 24, of 419 Quentin Road, and Bernard Lignowski (alias Ligin), 27, of 507 Fifth Avenue, or 1904 Kings Highway. They were charged with illegal possession of explosives.
WASHINGTON, March 31 (UP)—The State Department informed Representative Charles O. Porter, Democrat of Oregon, today that it had halted a shipment of rifles to Cuba “to allow us the opportunity of consulting further with the appropriate Cuban officials.”
Representative Porter has repeatedly called for a halt in the shipment of United States arms to Cuba while the revolution there is in progress. He read to the House the communication from the State Department, which he hailed as a sign of a “new and better Latin American foreign policy.”
BROWNSVILLE, Tex., March 31 (UP)—Fifteen of thirty-five Cuban rebels who have been on a five-day hunger strike “in the name of freedom” were in a hospital today. Although in a weakened condition, they still refused food. Their twenty comrades in jail also passed up meals.
The rebels were captured by the Coast Guard Thursday while en route to Cuba aboard a boat loaded with arms.
Sympathetic hunger strikes by two rebel Cuban factions continued here yesterday in protest against the arrest of the thirty-five men held in Brownsville.