April 23, 1957.p. 18.
HAVANA, April 22 (AP)—President Fulgencio Batista laughed when told that his political opponents called him a “dictator.”
“Yes, I’ve often heard that,” he said, “but I think the only dictatorship around here is that which my beloved wife and four sons exert upon me.”
The stocky Cuban President, confident that his political enemies cannot succeed in overthrowing his Government by revolt, announced the restoration of full constitutional guarantees a week ago after a lapse of forty-five days.
In an interview with an Associated Press correspondent in the heavily guarded and sandbagged Presidential Palace, where a small band of revolutionaries attempted to kill him March 13, the President said the constitutional guarantees had been suspended to “protect the people against terrorism.”
Getting in is not an easy job.But once in President Batista’s spacious office with its long French-style windows bordered with red and gold draperies, one finds a man who never hedges on a question.
Sitting behind a big mahogany desk, he talked easily in English.
“I would like to know,” he said “how I could be a dictator.Everywhere I go, people embrace me, and I know the people are happy and with me.”
“There has never been a military man in my Cabinet.There are no restrictions on freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of religion.There are no concentration camps in this country.The Congress can override any legislation I might veto, or refuse to pass what I want passed.
“There is no libel law in Cuba.Everybody says what they want.Is this what dictatorship means?”
The President estimated that Fidel Castro, 30-year-old former Havana university student who is attempting to wage guerrilla warfare in Oriente Province, had only “a handful” of supporters.The President said he doubted they were hiding out in the Sierra Maestra and suggested they had found concealment in villages.
“Castro is a natural criminal,” the President declared.“He is a Communist sympathizer and was involved in Communist student activities in Bogota in 1948.
“I do not understand why he can be compared to a Robin Hood, as he has been in some newspapers.”
President Batista said President Carlos Prio Socarras, now in Miami, Fla., had spent $5,000,000 to $6,000,000 in buying and shipping arms into Cuba to be used in revolutionary attempts.The President said Government employees had opened every box or package coming into the country to see if it contained arms while Constitutional guarantees were suspended.
“We have seized arms flowing into this country—from Prio sources—valued at more than $3,000,000 in the last two or three years,” he said.
Referring to the heavily guarded palace the interviewer asked President Batista if he kept a pistol in his desk.
“And, why not?”He laughed, reaching into a drawer and pulling out what looked like a small .25-caliber pistol.
The weapon spat fire as he pulled the trigger four times.An unarmed military aide charged into the room.
“Just practicing,” President Batista explained smilingly as he laid the top cap pistol upon his desk.
HAVANA, April 22—Students of high schools, normal and craft schools in Havana and elsewhere today declared a week of mourning for four university students killed by policemen last Saturday.
The board of governors of the university protested the killing of the four students.Accusations against theses students by the police do not justify the manner in which they were killed, the board said.
A wave of sabotage of public power lines cause blackouts in the towns of Sagua La Grande, Remedios and Santa Isabel de las Lajas of Las Villas province and Moron of Camaguey province.