279. Telegram From the Embassy in Cuba to the Department of State 1

1199. Castro’s trip to United States has assumed increasing importance in minds Cubans during past several days and now generally regarded as one of crucial events of his regime. More revolutionary-minded members of group around Castro look upon trip as historical precedent, considering it first time a Cuban ruler has visited United States representing fully sovereign and equal nation, free from any domination or control. They obviously expect Castro to be firm and independent but there is no indication they expect or wish him to adopt an anti-American attitude. This view is reflected in Revolucion and Diario Nacional, two papers most closely identified with thinking of regime. As to be expected, Commie paper Hoy goes beyond that stand stating there is no need for Castro Kowtow to American imperialists.

Foregoing attitude of confidence and assured independence is not shared by more moderate members of government including cabinet members accompanying Castro. Those people are disturbed over recent public statements by Castro showing anti-Americanism and desire to be neutral in East-West struggle. They are most careful to avoid any appearance of concern or reservation in public statements but [Page 467] their worry is apparent in private conversation. Their concern is at least partly due to their realization of shaky financial prospects of government. They hope to obtain at least promises of financial assistance, but do not appear particularly confident. Their attitude of cautious and discreet concern is shared by most of Habana press.

View of general Cuban public is that visit can make or break Castro. All circles seem aware of nature and importance relations between two countries. Those who are friendly to Castro hope visit will be uneventful and that Castro will behave well. But there are great many, including former ardent supporters now disenchanted or wavering, who appear to hope visit will lead to definite break between United States and Castro. A number of such people, including persons now in government, have privately expressed to Embassy officers hope that United States will be firm in handling Castro, and either force him to reverse his present trends of irresponsibility and radicalism internally and neutrality internationally or break with him.

All circles, both public and private, seem deeply aware of importance of trip both to Cuban internal developments and to Cuban-United States relations and are waiting for show to start with bated breath. This in line with traditional and continuing Cuban tendency to blame all their troubles and problems on United States as well as to look to United States for solutions. That tendency has not altered significantly since beginning year. All statements and actions by United States public figures in connection with trip will be given great significance and exhaustively interpreted and analyzed in Cuba.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 033.3711/4–1559. Confidential; Priority.