Reported in the News Letter on January 3, 1959: Ulster linen bosses hit in the pocket by Cuban revolution

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Forces of the rebel leader, Dr Fidel Castro, took over Havana yesterday after a gun battle in which his militiamen, armed with tanks, sought out the last of the ex-President Batista’s supporters.

Castro himself broadcast from the provisional capital of Santiago that he did not seek power personally from this revolution.

The sound of tanks and artillery were heard in the background as he told the island republic: “We want to assure Liberty for the people.”

Castro militiamen are now guarding Havana and other airports throughout the country to prevent the possible escape of pro-Batista supporters.

Meanwhile, it is estimated that the Ulster linen industry has already lost up to £200,000 as a direct result of the unrest in Cuba, and will probably lose more before the situation becomes stable on the island.

Shipments worth tens of thousands of pounds have been held up in Belfast since the present trouble started, because manufacturers are loath to despatch valuable cargoes without definite instructions from their agents in Havana.

Mr H L Martin, chairman of the Latin-American Sub-Committee of the Irish Linen Guild, who was in Cuba about a year ago, told the News Letter yesterday that his firm – York Street Flax Spinning Company – had received no word from their agents since the latest fighting began.

In 1957 linen exports from the UK to Cuba (most of it Ulster linen) were valued at more than £600,000. In the first 10 months of 1958 the value of the exports totalled only about £380,000 – well below the average.