217. Memorandum From the Secretary of State to the President 1


  • Recognition of the New Government of Cuba

In the early morning hours of January 1, 1959, President Batista of Cuba fled the country in the face of general deterioration of his position and recent military successes of the revolutionary movement led by Fidel Castro. On January 2, Castro announced the designation of Dr. Manuel Urrutia Lleo as Provisional President of Cuba, and Dr. Urrutia arrived in Habana on January 5, where he established himself in the presidential palace.

On January 6, 1959, our Embassy at Habana received a note from the Ministry of State2 to the effect that a government headed by Dr. Urrutia had been constituted. This note adds that the Provisional Government has complete control of the Republic, that peaceful conditions have returned to Cuba, and that all the Republic’s international commitments and agreements in force will be fulfilled.

I believe that the statements of intention of the new government have been made in good faith and that it is in our national interest to recognize the Provisional Government of Cuba without delay. The Provisional Government appears free from Communist taint and there are indications that it intends to pursue friendly relations with the United States.

I request your authorization to take the necessary steps to recognize the present Provisional Government of Cuba.3

John Foster Dulles 4
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Project “Clean Up” Records, Cuba. Confidential. The source text bears the handwritten note, “1/7/59. DE.” Also published in Declassified Documents, 1983, 248.
  2. Text of the note, which the Embassy received on the morning of January 6, was transmitted to the Department in telegram 755 from Havana, January 6. (Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/1–659)
  3. Ambassador Smith returned to Havana in the morning of January 7. Telegram 453 to Havana, January 7, transmitted the text of a note, which Smith was instructed to deliver to Minister of State Agramonte, in which the United States extended recognition to the new government. In his memoirs, Smith recalls that immediately upon his arrival in Havana, he arranged an appointment to deliver the note to Agramonte. Smith wrote that the Department “held an open telephone line with the Embassy, so that they could at once release the news.” (Smith, The Fourth Floor, p. 196) In circular telegram 831 to all diplomatic posts in the American Republics except Havana, January 7, the Department reported that recognition had been accorded at 5 p.m. that day. (Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/1–759)
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.