237. Telegram From the Embassy in Cuba to the Department of State1

864. In forty minute talk with Minister of State Agramonte today I expressed desire of US Government to establish as quickly as possible close, friendly relations with new government. He said this also his desire and appeared mean it. I said I was anxious at misunderstandings that had occurred over trials and executions of war criminals, and suggested GOC carefully distinguish between unofficial statements in US and those of US Government. In reply to question I said Congressmen did not speak for government. I said Embassy was doing what it could to ease situation and showed him Embassy unclassified telegram 853.2 He read it carefully, and said it completely accurate, including statement great majority Cuban people not anti-American and asked if he might show it to President. I gave him copy, requesting it not be publicized.

I directed Minister’s attention to Department’s press release of January 153 re US policy toward Cuba and military missions. He said Cubans had no complaints against American people or US government, but did have against Ambassador Smith, American press, and military missions. Only specific things he mentioned against Smith, other than general friendship with Batista, were Smith’s statement to US press last January,4 his acceptance of Batista’s suppression of human rights, and his advocacy of the November elections as solution to Cuban conflict. I said Minister apparently unaware that it had been as result Ambassador’s insistent appeal to Batista that constitutional guarantees were restored in January 1958; moreover, that while Ambassador had hoped elections might provide solution he himself recognized after elections this not the case and had so reported. Agramonte said GOC was greatly pleased at nomination of career officer as new Ambassador and felt that normal good relations would be quickly reestablished.

Minister stated $100 million is being spent by Batista to discredit revolutionary government in American press. He referred to this several times and evidently is most anxious about it.

Re military missions, which I said was a primary purpose of my call, see Embtel 863.5

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I told Minister I had been invited as member diplomatic corps to attend mass rally at Presidential Palace tomorrow afternoon and was concerned lest anti-American statement be made, not so much because of embarrassment to us as because of harmful effects on US-Cuban relations. He said he believed this would not occur, but that he would check with President and let me know. I said my fear was that Castro in unguarded moment might say something inflammatory. Agramonte did not offer to speak to Castro, and I had feeling he has practically no direct contact with Castro.

Last subject I discussed was CARE shipment of food packages for relief of people in Oriente. He was genuinely pleased to hear about this and said cabinet would publicize gift, which was timely and acceptable.

As I was leaving, Agramonte showed me list of prominent Americans whom GOC intends to invite to visit Cuba for purpose of forming their own impressions. List included Senator Morse, Ed Murrow, Marquis Childs, Milton Eisenhower and others.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.37/1–2059. Confidential; Priority. Also published in Declassified Documents, 1982, 2470.
  2. Not printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 820.181/1–1959)
  3. See footnote 2, Document 228.
  4. See Document 6.
  5. Supra.