New York Times

May 29, 1957.  p.1,3.


Rebel Battles Reported in Cuba; Dynamiters Cut Havana Utilities


By R. Hart Phillips

Special to The New York Times


            HAVANA, May 28 – Cuban Government troops fought a battle today with the rebel forces of Fidel Castro at Uvero, near the coast in southeastern Cuba, the Army announced.

            Both Government and rebel forces suffered casualties, the Government headquarters said, but no number was given.  The action took place near the southern coast of Oriente Province.

            A second battle was reported across the province near the northern coast.  According to Cuban Army headquarters, Government troops there clashed for the first time with insurgents who had landed from a yacht last Friday.

            Sixteen rebels were killed in the battle, an announcement said.  Army headquarters added that Government troops had suffered no casualties and were pressing their pursuit of the insurgents.

            In Havana, meanwhile, an underground dynamite explosion knocked out the city’s power system.  The blast was attributed to terrorists.

            Four hundred soldiers under the command of Col. Fermin Cowley, chief of the Holguin military district, were reported pursuing the insurgents near the northern coast of Oriente Province.  Torrential rains were said to have hindered the operation, which was taking place in the Sierra del Cristal, just south of the Nicaro nickel plant owned by the United States Government.

            The Batista Government said only twenty-seven rebels had landed from the eighty-foot yacht Corinthia in the secluded bay of Carbonico.  The army reported five had been captured.

            Reports from Oriente, however, put the number of attackers at 150.  They have split up into groups of fifty each and are armed with rifles equipped with telescopic sights and with machine guns, according to the stories told by residents of the area who say they have seen them.

            Government authorities say the rebel invaders are headed by Calixto Sanchez, World War II aviator who until several months ago was a union delegate of the air workers at the International José Marti Airport, which serves Havana.

            Señor Sanchez fled to Miami when accused of being implicated in the attack on the Presidential Palace last March 13.

Difference in Terrain

            It is noted here that the Sierra del Cristal is a rocky area, unlike the jungle-covered Sierra Maestra on the south coast of Oriente Province where Señor Castro, leader of the “26th of July” revolutionary movement, has been pinned down since last December when he landed with his expedition.

            The Sierra del Cristal do not offer facilities for obtaining food and water as do the Sierra Maestra.

            The Army reports that at a place in the Sierra del Cristal known as Zollita, a quantity of armament, radio and other equipment was found, apparently abandoned by the rebels fleeing deeper into mountains.  The Army surrounded a building in Cienfuegos and captured thirty-five insurgents after a brief battle, said a report from there.

            In the Havana terrorism, electricity was cut off by the dynamiting of a gas and electric distribution center.  The city’s suburbs were not affected.

            A policeman, a woman and daughter and a 78-year-old man were injured.

            According to the police, terrorists had rented a house and dug a tunnel under the street to reach the distribution center.  Dirt from the tunnel was found in the kitchen of the house.

            Most of the morning newspapers were just getting ready to go to press at the time of the explosion and failed to publish.

            Telephones throughout the business district in Havana were put out of commission.  An official of the telephone company said the emergency plant would be unable to carry the load and that within a few hours possibly all of Havana would be without service.

            Big department stores, such as El Encanto and Fin De Siglo, which depend on electric power for air conditioning and lights did not open today.

            The Cuban Electric company announced late today that damage was more extensive than first estimated and that possibly forty-eight hours would be required to repair it.

            The downtown section of Havana was blacked out tonight as authorities strove to prevent further bombings and sabotage.

            Automobile and pedestrian traffic ceased.  All cafes, bars, night clubs and motion picture theatres in the section were closed.

            Powerful searchlights at the Cabana fortress across the bay from Havana were turned on the city to aid the police in maintaining order.

            In the Vedado residential section a bomb exploded at an intersection, damaging two automobiles parked near by and the home of Dr. Andres Morales del Castillo, Secretary to the President.