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July 1959

[Reference: OCB Dade County, Florida file #31324-B.  Miami News 9 July 59]

Our Town Off Limits To Cubans?

Mayor Robert King High said today he was considering an appeal to federal authorities to put Miami off limits for some Cuban political refugees.

The mayor broached his plan after Cuban Consul Alonso Hidalgo, beaten in a near riot Saturday night, was whisked out of a hospital here and back to Havana.

Hidalgo, 32, was to have been tried in city court tomorrow for inciting the disturbance.
"I don't think the Cubans should expect us to permit Miami to be used for a battleground," said High.  "It is grossly unfair to our people.

"At the same time, it is only human nature for some of the Cubans, when they see enemies who have done them and their families great harm, to take physical action.
"I think the only answer is to keep them apart."

High said the government night hold hearings in another part of the country for Cubans coming here to seek political refuge.

"Federal Judge (Emett) Choate has ruled that persons seeking asylum here are entitled to a hearing," the mayor said.  "But he didn't say the hearing has to be in Miami.

"It seems to me such persons could be sent to some part of the country where there isn't the explosive situation which exists in Miami.  And I believe they could be required to stay in the place where the hearings were to be held."

Police Chief Walter E. Headley Jr. and Sheriff Thomas J. Kelly both promised a crackdown on warring Cubans here.  But high said he doubted if that would be any solution.  "You can't crack down on them until they do something," he said.  "And then it's too late."

High told of a Cuban here who was tortured and kept in a semiconscious condition in jail for 27 days during the Batista regime.

The Cuban, he said, recently spotted on a Miami street corner the former Army lieutenant who presided over his torment.

"Things like that are happening here all the time," he said.  "There are Cubans in Miami who just explode - and quite naturally - at the sight of some of their old enemies.

"We must keep them apart somehow."

Cuban supporters of Fidel Castro's government, meanwhile, were aroused over the battle in which Hidalgo was hurt.
"If this had happened to one of your officials in another country," Havana Mayor Jose Llanusa declared, "you would send the Marines."
Llanusa, who came her on a friendship mission to help Miamians celebrate the fourth of July, returned to Havana last night.

In parting, he said: "How did you feel when your Vice President Nixon was beaten and spit on in Venezuela?  Well, we feel the same way in Havana about this case."  But chief Headley, in a 15-page report to City Manager Ira Willard, blamed Hidalgo for most of the trouble. Headley said police had control of an outbreak involving Cuban factions in front of the home of former Cuban Sen. Rolando Masferrer when Hidalgo arrived in a car.

The consul, said Headley, rallied supporters of the present regime to attack the friends of Masferrer, who is considered Castro's No. 1 enemy.

In the fighting around Masferrer's home at 1105 SW 2nd Ave., Hidalgo received a head injury.  He was taken to Doctors Hospital, and was charged with creating the disturbance.

There were conflicting reports about the seriousness of Hidalgo's condition, but High said the Cuban official at one point was near death. "I was informed they almost opened his chest to be ready to massage his heart if it stopped," High said. "He was revived without surgery.  But he is in serious condition, and I am sure he would not have been able to appear in court tomorrow." Hidalgo was taken from the hospital by Cuban officials, who put him on a military plane for the flight back to Havana.

Rafael Valdez, 20-years-old official of the Cuban Tourist Commission who also faces trial tomorrow as an instigator of the fight, remained here.

In Havana, Nicholas Rivero, press secretary for the ministry of State, described the Miami incident as "barbarous," and said the melee apparently had the approval of Miami police.
Rivero charged that the attack was planned and directed by Julio Lauren, former chief of naval intelligence in the Batista dictatorship.  Lauren is in exile in Miami.

The battle put Havana-Miami relations back where they were before Castro seized the Cuban government Jan. 1.

Justo Luis Pozo, mayor of Havana under Batista, charged last year that Miami was unsafe for law-abiding Cubans because of the presence here of Batista's enemies.

Cubans Are Troublesome.

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