Castro's men pour into Havana
Gamblers feel the pinch
Philip Deane in Havana
Havana, the capital of Cuba, is still paralysed by a general strike and plagued by sporadic fighting between the rebel militia and looters or remnants of the deposed dictator Batista's secret police.
The guerrilla troops of Fidel Castro are pouring in and they are not opposed by the Army.
The provisional President-designate, Manuel Urrutia, tonight swore in members of his Cabinet at Oriente University in Santiago de Cuba, which has been declared the provisional capital. He named Castro as "Delegate of the President for the Armed Forces" and Colonel Jose Rubido as chief of the Army.
Fidel Castro, aged 32, leader of the revolution, is meanwhile driving triumphantly along the whole length of the island towards Havana, becoming the centre of mammothcelebration at every hamlet he passes.
Heroes on TV
In the capital bearded heroes from the mountains are paraded into television
studios one after the other to shout a patriotic phrase and blow a kiss
to mamma. The
commanders, chests stuck out but heads modestly bowed, allow themselves to be driven around the streets in vast honking Cadillacs. The whole thing becomes more like a mad Samba, although the rebel radio announced to-night that Colonel Joquin Lumpay, who commanded the last Government drive in Las Villas province, and a MajorMirabel had been executed.
United States citizens stranded and frightened by the revolt are being evacuated by their Embassy in chartered planes or by sea. This is a peevish, not a tragic, evacuation.
Perhaps the most obvious victims of the revolution may well be the American Embassy's junior officers who organise the convoys and are bullied by matronly ladies in jewelled sun glasses, impossibly brief shorts and masterful voices all demanding immediate attention for such problems as how to recover the sun suit they gave to thecleaners some days ago.
Husbands in shade
There are also violent threats about "speaking to my Congressman". Husbands,
for the most part, have arranged their suitcases into beds and lie in the
shade trying to
keep out of the argument while waiting for the car convoys escorted by United States Marines.
Other obvious victims are the gamblers, nearly all American and nearly
all exact copies of musical comedy chorus boys of the tough variety. They
sit disconsolately in
small hotel rooms, discuss their physical ailments, and endlessly stake money at poker. They are worried about their situations.
"That Castro guy is reported to dislike gamblers and plans to nationalise the casinos. I saved a fortune to get my concession. What would you do in my situation?"
Meanwhile, the strike, in its third day, is beginning to take effect. Many in Havana rely on bottles of water for drinking and there have been no deliveries. Several of the Embassies have run out of bread.
A fabulous Argentine soldier of fortune, Ernesto Guevara known generally as Che (Argentine for "Chum") is now supposed to be in command of Havana. He is one of Castro's oldest and most trusted lieutenants.
The strike was called by Castro to show his strength and to prevent a movement by anyone who did not belong to his side. The military junta, to which Batista handed over when he fled on New Year's Day, evaporated into impotence and was never a threat but there seems to be a Communist challenge.
If there is any anti-foreign feeling it is against Britain, because
she gave Batista planes and tanks he could get from nowhere else. But even
this is good-natured resentment because the general mood is one of jubilation,
a fiesta, an occasion for young men to be more manly by carrying lethal
weapons and for girls to wear the new revolutionary uniform: a tight red
sweater and a tight black skirt. Red and black are Castro's colours.