Gets His Guns

SPUTTERING SOUTH of the United States like a fuse on a powder-keg which threatened to blow up the Monroe Doctrine, was the Revolution in Cuba. Led by young, bearded Fidel Castro, who has spent his fortune on guns, Castro kept going in spite of late Presidente Fulgencio Batista's efforts to dislodge him. How the revolt has kept going in spite of the opposition of the modern Cuban army is a story which has come near to embarrassing the United States government.

With Fidel's installing of Sr. Manuel Urrutia Lleo as rebel president, and their appeal to the world for recognition of their belligerent status under international law, the Cuban freedom fight might have become another Korea. Attempts to involve Communist arms and Communist influence in the revolutionary movement—which Castro's forces blame on Batista—could have meant U.S. intervention. But the revolt remained local. A few U.S. citizens have been indicted for shipping guns to Cuba, as have citizens of a dozen other Western Hemisphere nations who sympathized in cash and arms with Castro. And regardless of the merits or demerits of armed insurrection against the internationally-recognized Havana government, Castro's hideaway army in the "Big Mountains,"—the Sierra Maestra of Cuba's eastern Oriente province—furnished a good lesson on how to survive despite the operations of a stronger military force.

Arrayed against Castro were the arms of Batista's 30,000 soldiers. They used U.S. standard guns: Ml rifles and Springfields caliber .30; Thompson subs and .45 pistols; and of course light and heavy Brownings in .30 and .50 calibers. Mortars in 60mm and 81mm sizes are also used.

As a member of the western hemisphere defense organizations, Batista had in the past received arms on credit from the U. S. Cuba has no munitions factories. But since March, 1958, Batista no longer could buy on credit.

Newspaper readers may have noticed during March 1958 a squib about 1,000 Garand rifles being held up in New York, export licenses refused by our State Department. They were consigned to the recognized Batista government. Why the State Department refused to let them out is a secret locked in Munitions Control Division files. But with these arms stopped, Batista turned to other commercial sources for arms. I have seen an order given a large U.S. munitions broker, said to be of guns for Batista, which requires 1,500 Ml rifles, many other arms, and quantities of ammunition for a "shooting war," all in U.S. standard calibers. While "State Department export license is assured" on this order, it is not known that Batista had any success in getting them. More recently, an order for .45 automatics "for Havana Police" was stopped by State Department. Meanwhile, shipments of arms continued going to Castro.

Gobierno Fulgencio BatistaCuban Rebel Army

Castro lookout keeps eye on road leading to Sierra Maestra hideaway; has FN Mauser.

Sergeant Batista was raised to chief of staff In 1933 after army revolt that he helped lead.

The Cuban rebel arms agents are not suckers, and there were no fabulous profits to be made in smuggling arms to the rebels. But occasionally incompetent "gun runners" do get into the act. In Miami some months ago, two men were arrested in a motel with hand grenades which they were loading with black powder and homemade fuses. According to Florida gun cranks' scuttlebutt—Miami is filled with Cuban agents—the two erstwhile gun runners had driven to the Everglades to test their fuses. The grenade fuse assemblies were reprimed with shotgun caps, and fused with lengths of dynamite fuse. The grenade bodies were filled with black powder and the fuse assemblies screwed in.

But such gadgets are more dangerous to the grenadier than to his enemy. Flash-by of the primer cap past the dynamite fuse often set off the grenades as quickly as they are thrown. Ordnance grenade fuses are varnished and sealed against such flash-by, and loose sporting black powder is not the correct filler for hand grenades. Meanwhile, in Cuba, revolutionary fighters died because they did not have grenades. These were the young men of the Havana-area Directorio, the students' revolutionary movement.

Censorship in Havana gradually reduced the Cuban "crisis" of last spring from front to back pages, but the Directorio attack on the Presidential Palace made the headlines. Several trucks loaded with members of the Directorio crashed the gates, submachine guns sputtering. But Batista was not in residence, and the attack failed from lack of firepower. Rebellion, like good government, cannot succeed unless it is organized. The palace attack was not organized. Since that time, when he suspended the promised November free elections, Batista had taken to riding around in a heavily armored truck. Meanwhile, the Directorio set out to get grenades. The seizure of the bombs in the Miami motel by F.B.I, agents delayed their supply. But according to reports of the kind of grenades being made, it was probably a good thing for them that they never got there!

When I discussed some of the newspaper F.B.I, claims to capturing "50 per cent of the guns shipped to Castro," with a friend in Central Intelligence, I asked him if this really meant that "Uncle Sam lets half of the guns go through." His reply jolted me a little. Without any argument, he said, "That would be one way to state it." Some corroboration for this idea occurred with the confiscation in August, 1957, of a quantity of Italian Carcano 7.35mm rifles at the home of Gil DeGibaja in Miami. An American citizen of Cuban descent, DeGibaja was charged with violating the Neutrality Act, since the arms and ammo were believed bound for Cuba. Later, Miami newspaper columnists pretending to be in the know, published that the Cubans "no longer were interested" in buying Italian rifles. But the fact is that Castro's representatives have repeatedly and publicly stated that what they want are U.S. standard caliber arms which can be easily supplied with ammunition captured from the Batista troops. And while the Italian guns caught the attention of Miami's federal agents, dollars to doughnuts a big shipment of .30-06 and .45 caliber weapons were allowed to slip through.

American sporters are popular with Cuban rebel buyers who find M740 Remington .30-06 as effective as Garands.

The newspapers have often in the course of the revolution made mention of something or other that would lead the reader to assume the Communists were behind Castro. The time Batista himself ran for office on the Cuban Communist Party ticket is forgotten. Last summer a New York newspaper columnist declared "Czech Guns Used By Cuban Rebels! Czech machine guns are in use by Castro . . ." The fact is, that Czech rifles are very popular in Cuba. These same Czech rifles have been available in the U.S. as ordinary commercial imports, but were halted back in 1950 when we put the freeze on doing business with Czechoslovakia. Meanwhile, Castro's agents go to Mexico for arms. The Czech sporters are popular for hunting. There, where a secret rebel training camp operates, sporting rifles of the Cz 47 pattern, a neatly-styled modified Mauser in .30-06 caliber, are issued to revolutionary recruits. A cargo of these rifles plus boots, clothing, radios, and other gear so needed by the mountain fighters, was seized by Havana government officers in April, 1958, from the yacht El Corojo. But none of the new-type she 50 Czech military rifles are in use by Castro. This was denied in Chicago as recently as December, 1958, by President Urrutia on his way to Oriente Province to assume his office. The claims of Soviet-influence guns in the Castro rebellion were strictly "red herrings," was the sum of his statements. He was right: the Russian and Czech guns take special cartridges which are very good, but not standard anywhere in the west. After the first ammunition ran out, they could not have been used. To discredit the revolution, Batista arranged with the Dominican Republic to receive five cargo plane loads of arms. The rebels heard of the move and put on a surprise party when the planes landed, so the newspapers carried the story, "Batista Gets Dominican Guns." But as usual the papers had only half the story. For the arms were Czech military rifles, which the Dominicans had bought to send to Batista, and which he intended to "plant" on dead revolutionaries (Continued on page 58)

Surplus Colt .45 automatics from England bounced through US on way to Cuba but were seized by dictator Batista's troops before getting into rebels' hands.

"Ametralladora Colt" is prime arm for base of fire. Few guns are in use, surplus from other Latin states.

WARNING! American shooters! You may subject yourself to U. S. excise tax and other liability in I purchasing your guns from non-American sources! I

Ye Old Hunter illustrates all weapons by actual unretouched photographs so you can see how they REALLY look!





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