Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Relations With The United States

Gonzalez:  I am now going to bring up to the fullest extent the
so-called fear of the Americans.  It is well known that Cuba, through you,
recently won the war against the foreign press, the vendor of poison, which
represented the executions before firing squads as a matter of government
cruelty, etc.  However, there seems to be a sort of hidden plot that is
endeavoring to have the Revolutionary Government and you especially appear
as enemies of the United States Government.  I was at the Palace on a night
in which you spoke to Dubois, I believe, and explained to him exhaustively
what your position was.  However, it would be useful for the purpose of
the triumph of the Revolution if you went over this matter again; that is,
tell us what is your real concept of the relations between Cuba and the
United States.

Castro:  Look.  The Cuban Government does not wish to be the enemy of
the Government of the United States nor the enemy of any government in the
world.  I believe that at this time we are an entirely sovereign and free
people, and as a sovereign and free people, one that has the right to
follow its political line, due to the same right that the United States has
to follow its own, and therefore, what we cannot permit is allow a policy
to be imposed upon us, do you understand?  Now, it is natural that there
has been some reference to the United States because we are very near the
United States and the interventions, the threats, those things have always
come from that country.  And inasmuch as that proximity is what has caused
that kind of preoccupation, that is why our problems are caused by it, and
besides, because you know that this is the real truth, and we want to say
the truth.  We have been historically the victims of the powerful influence
of the United States in the destinies of our country.  That is something
that Maceo as well as Marti and all the leaders of our independence
understood and were greatly worried about.  You also know that in Cuba
there has always been an annexion current, that annexionism was the current
in the history of the nation which opposed the current of independence,
that a part of the people, the pro-slavery part, the part that was
interested in maintaining the institution of slavery was chiefly in favor
of annexion to the United States, that that current seeking annexion has
lasted throughout our history and that very often, when the difficulties
Cuba confronted to obtain its independence from Spain were realized, that
current that was more conformist, that current that was most lukewarm,
which looked at independence only through economic factors toward the
United States, always came to the surface.  Everyone remembers the
statements of Saco in favor of Cuba's independence, in defense of Cuban
nationalism.  Thus it is that annexionism was always a danger here.  At the
end of the war of independence when it seemed that at last there was the
thesis that had been fully triumphant, when the Spanish armies were
virtually defeated, because we have also engaged in a war very similar to
the war fought by the Cubans against the Spaniards, I say to you that the
Cubans would have defeated the Spaniards in the end.  I guarantee that the
Cubans would have ended by defeating the Spaniards, that even if there had
not been American intervention the Cubans would have conquered their
freedom and above all they would have conquered it very at one point he was
timed at over three hundred words per minute.  He was somewhat incoherent.
He left the impression that this was the true, intimate Castro, with all
concealment discarded and his innermost thoughts revealed.  His statements
on relations with the United States, and on the Organization of American
States, are therefore of particular interest.  Translations of the passages
in which he discussed those subjects are enclosed.


Castro makes what has not come to his standard caveat:  He has no
quarrel with the bulk of the American people, and wants to be sincere
friends with anyone who will be friendly with him.  Then come the "buts".
He feels that the United States is to blame for everything that is or has
been wrong with Cuba since 1898.  The Cubans had their war for independence
won--they would have won it sooner but for the malicious policy of the
United States in preventing arms shipments from reaching them.  The United
States intervened for selfish political and economic reasons, prevented the
Cubans from cleaning house by killing off their opponents, and eventually
gave Cuba a government controlled by corrupt people who lacked true
patriotism.  Cubans got rid of Machado, and then the American Ambassador,
Jefferson Caffrey, encouraged Batista to step in.  The United States kept
him in after that, except for a period in the forties, and the United
States supported him to the last.  The American wire services and most of
the press, were and are opposed to the new government.  Castro insists that
this is all historically accurate, and indicates that the history texts
used in the Cuban school system  be revised to teach it.

Castro's proposals for improvement of relations are clear:  The United
States should stop threats and intervention, they should follow a policy
based on the interests of Cuba, they should buy all the sugar Cuba wants to
sell, and they should be tolerant of Cuban actions which might adversely
affect American interests, because the affected interests are only a
millionth part of American riches.  He says it it true that "There has been
a hostile attitude against the Cuban people and their interests for 50
years.  The hostile attitude has not been ours.  The hostile attitude has
been theirs, it is not for us to correct ourselves, the correction should
come from them".


Castro sums up his opinion of the OAS in a nutshell:  "I honestly have
no faith in the OAS".  He looks upon it as an organization that should be
principally interested in implanting democracy in all Latin American
countries.  He feels the OAS should take active steps against countries
whose governments he considers undemocratic.  At present these are the
Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Paraguay.  He says Cuba will recognize
any rebel movement that is launched against those governments, and that
exiles from those countries can count on Cuban sympathy and active support.
He says that unilateral breaking of diplomatic relations is a meaningless
gesture.  Joint rupture of relations might have importance, especially if
accompanied with aid to the opposition to the governments, but this is not
the time for such actions.  He is determined to get rid of those
governments, and has little confidence that it can be done within the
framework of the OAS.


Castro was clearly speaking for his audience, and his statements are
extreme.  But he was also speaking freely and without restraint, and his
remarks reflect his underlying convictions.  There can be little doubt that
his basic attitude toward the United States is one of distrust and
unfriendliness.  Also, the downfall of Batista has left him and his
movement without a convenient whipping-boy, and consciously or not he tends
to fill that void with the United States and certain Latin American
governments.  At heart he is still, and unfortunately may always be, a
revolutionary, with the revolutionary's need for something to attack or at
least to oppose.  For the present at any rate he finds the needed symbols
in the United States and in "dictatorial" governments.

But as far as the United States is concerned, Castro leaves the door
open to friendly relations, on terms which we would find it hard to meet.
It seems unrealistic for him to expect that his views, and his proposals,
will be accepted completely.  It is not clear whether his attitude will be
translated into anti-American action.  So long as we continue to display a
basically sympathetic and tolerant approach, and our actions do not
irritate him, it is probable that the friendly and cooperative atmosphere
which has characterized our political and economic relations will continue.
This means that the manner in which problems are handled will be equally as
important as the substance.  But Castro has shown that he is highly
sensitive to and irritated by criticism.  In addition, it is improbable
that the entire American press, and all public figures, have the patience
and forbearance to be continuingly tolerant of Castro's more extreme and
inaccurate statements.  It seems logical to expect that there will be
frequent changes in the temperature of our relations, at least for the
immediate future, and that officers of our government dealing with Cuban
affairs should get used to the feeling of walking gently around the edges
of a volcano that is liable to burst forth with sulphurous fumes at the
slightest provocation.

For the Ambassador:

Daniel M. Braddock


1.  Excerpts from Castro's TV
Appearance Feb. 19, 1959--on U.S.

2.  Excerpts from Castro's TV
Appearance Feb. 19, 1959--on OAS.

3.  Castro's TV Appearance on
Feb. 19, 1959 - in Spanish.