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

1240. In public ceremony at Habana University last night Raul Castro said political exiles would find refuge and livelihood in Cuba but could not use the country as base for expedition against other nations. He said all groups preparing to depart on expeditions for other regions of LA would be arrested. Said each people must gain its own freedom and expressed hope that those peoples now suffering under dictatorship would rebel but with only moral support from Cuba.

Foregoing remarks contained in speech which was essentially unrestrained and savage attack on various “enemies of Cuban revolution.” Specifically mentioned were Figueres, Cuban writer and intellectual Portell Vila (leading figure in Cuban-American cultural institute, whom Raul accused of being a traitor and in pay of US Government), international press and United States. Castro maintained that American aid to Batista only lessened when rebel army kidnapped half hundred Americans and showed them the barbarities being committed against the Cuban people. He said after kidnapping aid became more indirect though it continued until the fall of Batista. Raul said that charges of communism were really a weapon being used by enemies of revolution. Said he was a principal target and that charge was stylish at moment. Did not define his political orientation. He also said that charges that expeditions against other countries were being organized in Cuba came from enemies and might be used as pretext for attempted invasion or overthrow of Cuban revolution. Implied that international police proposed by Smathers was maneuver directed against Cuba in which Figueres involved. Claimed it was significant that an expedition preparing to invade Nicaragua from Cuba detained by Cuban army, including two Nicaraguans, 28 Cubans and one American who would be presented press within few hours. American not otherwise identified. Warned Cuban armed forces not to be tricked by these maneuvers which were really intended to create pretext for international police force to act against Cuba. Said Cubans would fight any such force which attempted to enter country. Said Cuba was not Guatemala and first person like Castillo Armas who landed here would be annihilated. In conclusion said revolutionary [Page 480]government had firm policy non-intervention in other countries, would permit no intervention in Cuban internal affairs and would carry out revolution regardless any attempted interference.

This may signal ending or considerable lessening of invasion activities within Cuba. It is also further indication of strong anti-American feeling of many of Fidel Castro’s closest associates including Raul. Though the speech obviously handicaps Fidel Castro’s current efforts to explain revolution to American people and to improve Cuban-American relationships, Raul stated it was not impromptu and had been carefully considered.

Bonsal
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/4–2159. Official Use Only; Priority.