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

1036. Paid official call on Fidel Castro this afternoon. Interview lasted 90 minutes. Minister State Agramonte was present.

Castro in cordial, effusive mood devoted much time explanation his plans agrarian reform, industrialization, reduction rentals, financing low cost housing et cetera describing them as vital elements revolution. He failed present precise details and scheduling but I gather decree on reduction of rentals together with decree for easy financing low cost housing imminent.

I endeavored get across following ideas:

US is proud its achievements in democracy, economic progress and human rights; US people equally devoted these as Cuban and equally sensitive misinterpretations.
American interests in Cuba have made contribution to Cuban economic progress and can continue to do so.
American private enterprise can be attracted to contribute further developments here.
It is my hope maintain frank cordial relationship with Castro even on matters on which there may be disagreement.

Interview while hardly conclusive was useful and atmosphere was cordial and I believe promising.

[Page 421]

Castro expressed hope his acceptance ASNE invitation had not embarrassed White House or Department. I followed line of Department’s statement yesterday.2

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/3–559. Confidential.
  2. Not further identified. Sometime toward the end of February, the American Society of Newspaper Editors invited Fidel Castro to address its annual meeting in Washington scheduled for April 16–18. At a press conference held in Havana on February 28 for a visiting delegation from that society, Castro said he hoped he could accept the invitation, but he was concerned about his inadequate command of English. (Telegram 1024 from Havana, March 2; ibid., 737.00/3–259) Bonsal learned from a reliable source that Castro accepted the invitation on March 3. (Telegram 1031 from Havana, March 4; ibid., 737.00/3–459)