While Washington may be aflutter, and some may fear the United States is on the brink of a superpower showdown, the Cuban people have had no cause for concern about the Soviet troop "crisis."
Until yesterday most Cubans did not know a crisis supposedly existed. While Washington leveled charges and the U.S. press quoted and analyzed the subject at length, Cuba's leaders issued no domestic statements on the affair.
The Cuban press did not mention the troop situation. The only broadcasts referring to it came from the Voice of America and Miami commercial radio stations faintly picked up here.
With Friday's decision by President Fidel Castro -- apparently coordinated with similar statements by the Soviet Union -- to comment publicly on the U.S. charges, however, the Cubans decided to let their own people in on the international confrontation.
In a lengthy front-page article headlined, "Summary of the Development of an Artificial Crisis Created by the United States," the official Communist Party newspaper Granma printed a blow-by-blow rundown of the affair.
It began with Sen. Frank Church's Aug. 30 assertion that the presence of a Soviet combat brigade in Cuba had been "confirmed."
"Siginificantly," Granma said, echoing Castro's statement to U.S. reporters Friday, "the beginning of the campaign (by the United Sates) coincided with the opening of the sixth summit of nonaligned nations in Havana."
Castro charged Firday that the troop crisis, which he labeled "artificial" and "a complete comedy," initially had been made to embarrass him as host of the recent summit of nonaligned nations here.
The Cubans also announced yesterday that Castro's entire hour-and- 20-minute Friday press conference would be broadcast on Cuban television last night.
During the press conference, Castro called President Carter "dishonest, insincere and immoral" for creating a crisis over Soviet troops whose number and function Castro maintained had not changed in the past 17 years.
Cuba's domestic handling of the troop situation has followed a long established pattern. Foreign policy issues on which Castro makes no public statement usually are not mentioned in the Cuban press. While most Cubans were aware in late 1975 and early 1976 that men were being mobilized and shipped overseas, for example, they were not told where the troops were headed. There was no public acknowledgement or press speculation that mobilization even was occurring until the government made a foreign policy decision to reveal this information.
"We have no crisis here," one Cuban official said last week, when asked why Cubans had not been informed of the troop issue. "We don't like to alarm people."
The official asked why Cubans should become upset now over Soviet military personnel they have lived with for years.
Castro customarily summons the major U.S. media to Havana when he wants to send a message to Washington. A similar series of events, including the invitation of several specified reporters to talk with Castro, occurred last year when he decided to deny publicly the U.S. charges that Cuba had aided the Katangese invasion of Zaire.
The Cuban press, and even foreign correspondents based in Havana, generally are not allowed at these meetings. Once a statement has been made internationally, however, Cubans usually are informed of it immediately.
The current situation does not appear to be a decision to reveal the "crisis" to Cubans, but simply part of a pattern of broadcasting all of Castro's press conferences, regardless of who attends them.
In the broadcast, which probably will be shown several times on Cuban television in the next several days, Cubans will find out for the first time that the pending strategic arms limitation treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union is in trouble, and that Carter is in danger of losing his reelection campaign.
But they will not be told whether their government is training leftist guerrillas from such military-ruled countries as Guatemala and El Salvador -- which the United States has hinted could be one reason for basing the Soviet brigade here.
Asked that question at his press conference, Castro said he would leave it "for the CIA to figure out. Maybe in the next 17 years they can."