164. Editorial Note

Late in November, a plan was adopted to send the former Ambassador to Peru and Brazil, William D. Pawley, as a secret emissary to President Batista. According to Pawley, at a meeting held toward the end of November at his home in Miami, the subject of “this Cuban problem” came up. Present at the meeting were Deputy Assistant Secretary of State William P. Snow; former Assistant Secretary of State Henry Holland, and J.C. King of the Central Intelligence Agency. Pawley expressed his belief that “everything we were doing was wrong.” Pawley made the following suggestion:

“I told them that we should now, to try to save the place, see if we can go down there to get Batista to capitulate to a caretaker government unfriendly to him, but satisfactory to us, whom we could immediately recognize and give military assistance to in order that Fidel Castro not come to power, and they thought it had sufficient merit to justify my coming up with them the next day and have meetings in the State Department and in Central Intelligence Agency.

Foster Dulles was then sick but he was still available to the telephone. I was selected to go to Cuba to talk to Batista to see if I could convince him to capitulate”. (Communist Threat to the Caribbean, Hearings Before the Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, Eighty-sixth Congress, Second Session (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1960), Part 10, pages 738–739)

Also in late November, Mario Lazo, a Cuban lawyer and adviser to Marquez Sterling, learned from “a responsible and confidential source” in the United States that the U.S. Government was planning to send Pawley to negotiate with Batista. Lazo had been told that Pawley would offer Batista a chance to live with his family in Florida if he would appoint a caretaker government consisting of five of his political opponents. Lazo also learned that Ambassador Smith would be recalled to Washington, but would not be informed of the plan.

On November 27, Lazo told Smith of the plan and gave the Ambassador the names of the persons to be suggested for the caretaker government. According to Lazo, Smith was surprised by this information and made no comment. (Mario Lazo, Dagger in the Heart: American Policy Failures in Cuba (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1968), pages 157–158) For Smith’s recollections of the conversation and the plan to send Pawley to Cuba, see The Fourth Floor, pages 164–165.