New York Times

Sept. 15, 1957.Sec. IVp. 11.

Batista is Dependent on Loyalty of Army

Cuba Tense as Fidel Castro’s Band Gets Support From New Sources

By R. Hart Phillips

HAVANA, Sept. 14 – Maj. Gen. Fulgencio Batista, who rose from the rank of sergeant to his present position as President of the Republic of Cuba and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, faces today the severest ordeal of his career.

From the moment of his spectacular rise in 1933 President Batista has been confident that the Army, Navy and police force were solidly behind him.Today he is not so sure.

The recent bloody revolt in Cienfuegos on the south coast of Cuba about 180 miles from Havana, in which Navy officers and personnel joined the followers of rebel leader Fidel Castro against the Government, has shaken his confidence.

Batista’s Purge

Fighting went on in Cienfuegos for about twenty-four hours before the Army, by the use of tanks and planes, put down the revolt.The exact number of dead still is unknown because of strict censorship, but reports coming into Havana give varied estimates of 100 to 200.
Since that flare of revolt Sept. 5 in Cienfuegos President Batista has been weeding out suspicious officers and personnel of the Navy.No official information is available as to the extent of this shake-up.

Only two naval officers stationed at Cienfuegos at the time of the revolt have been cashiered, according to the Official Gazette.However, this is only in commands in the Navy, and many other officers undoubtedly will be transferred, relieved of duty or discharged within the next few days.

This opposition to President Batista comes from three sources.

First there is the revolutionary movement known as the “Twenty-sixth of July” headed by Señor Castro. He has been hiding in the jungle-covered and almost impenetrable Sierra Maestra of Oriente Province from the time he landed on the south coast of that province last Dec. 2 with an expedition of eighty-two men. Since then Señor Castro has kept a considerable portion of the Government troops occupied in pursuing him and in defending their own lives from his attacks.Meanwhile his youthful followers have carried on a spasmodic terroristic campaign throughout the island.

Castro’s Threat

While it is clearly conceded that Señor Castro never can overthrow the Batista Government from his hide-out, he remains a serious threat to the Government because he has become the living symbol of armed revolt and has steadily gained followers among the youth of the nation.
Second are the adherents offormer President Carlos Prio Socarras, who was deposed March 10, 1952, by General Batista in a military coup.This group is reported to be amply supplied with arms and is a constant irritant to the Government.

The followers of Señor Prio collaborate with the Castro group at times, but it is not obvious that there is any close connection between the two except for their common ambition to overthrow the Batista Government.

The third source is the group of Opposition political parties.The majority of the parties have shown varying degrees of willingness to participate in the Presidential elections scheduled for next June 1.Yesterday the President announced that he would not seek re-election.

The people of Cuba view the situation with growing apprehension.The outbreak in Cienfuegos, following the terroristic campaign carried on for months by the youthful oppositionists, has created a feeling of fear and uncertainty.

Today the island is an armed camp.The maintenance of order is in the hands of the military authorities and soldiers patrol the streets of many towns in the interior.Opposition elements are being rounded up throughout the country and the jails are full of prisoners charged with revolutionary activities.

Revolt’s Effect

The effect on the life of the nation has been serious.Merchants all over the republic complain that sales are steadily declining.The motion picture theatres are empty and many in the interior towns have closed.Other places of diversion have also suffered heavily.
In Havana the tourist trade has fallen off sharply.The big casinos and night clubs in Havana are losing money.Two of them were said to be desirous of closing, but have not been permitted to do so by the Government.

Cubans have lost all faith in the old political parties, both Government-sponsored and Opposition. They are apathetic about the scheduled election.When the period for registration of voters opened last Sept. 6 there was little response.Even the parties themselves made no effort to attract voters.They unanimously regard the situation as being too tense to start campaigns.

Commerce, industry and capital, which have wholeheartedly supported President Batista since he took over the Government in 1952, are growing impatient with the continued violence in the island.

President Batista has received credit for the economic recovery of the country since 1952.Sugar surpluses have been liquidated.

At the same time foreign investments, particularly those from the United States, are pouring into the island despite the disturbed situation.

Buildings continue to be constructed at a fantastic rate, particularly in Havana, and new homes and commercial establishments are being built up and down the Central Highway which runs the length of the island.

However, many feel that the situation is getting out of control.Friends of President Batista concede that the harsh repressive measures of the armed forces of Cuba have been a prime factor in turning many Cubans against the Batista Government.

It is generally conceded however, that the majority of the people have little or no confidence in Señor Castro, as a potential President or director of Government policy.His youth and reported radical ideas have brought him no friends among the conservative elements of the island.

Fear of Chaos

What is most feared at this time by the Cubans is a breakdown of authority with aresulting state of chaos.
Admittedly the position of President Batista today is difficult.There is no doubt that centers of the opposition continue to plan his assassination as a means of throwing the country into a state of confusion that will permit them, aided by some sectors of the armed forces, to seize power.

The constitutional guarantees that were to have been automatically restored at midnight are being suspended again by the Government for forty-five days, and censorship will be maintained.

However, despite the bloody revolt, the terrorism and other efforts of the Opposition to force President Batista out of office, he undoubtedly will continue to control the island as long as his Army, the most powerful branch of the armed forces, remains loyal to him.