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297. Memorandum of a Conversation Between the Director of the Office of Central American and Panamanian Affairs (Stewart) and Herbert L. Matthews of The New York Times, Department of State, Washington, April 28, 19591

SUBJECT

  • Aftermath of Fidel Castro Visit to United States

Mr. Matthews called for information on Panama but in view of the fluid situation he said his newspaper would refrain from editorial comment for another day at least. I commented favorably upon Cuba’s attitude in the OAS and Mr. Matthews replied that the following information he had just received should be of interest to the Department:

1.
Fidel Castro sent an emissary to tell Mr. Matthews that Castro decided to attend the Committee of 21 meeting in Buenos Aires2 so that he would have an excuse to be absent from Cuba on May 1. The reason, his emissary explained, is that Castro does not want to be associated with any communistic maneuvers that may take place on that day.
2.
The same emissary was instructed to tell Mr. Matthews that Castro plans when he returns to Cuba to clean out all communists from official positions in the Cuban Government, specifically including the armed forces.

Mr. Matthews expressed the belief that Castro laid down this line to Raúl Castro in Houston and during their flight yesterday to Trinidad. In discussing Fidel’s trip to the United States, Mr. Matthews said it was generally beneficial but was particularly helpful in that Castro’s United States friends were able to point out the dangers of communism [Page 492]in a more effective way than in a Latin American country, where the menace is regarded more lightly. Mr. Matthews said that he felt that Castro’s message to him was the result of his visit to the United States.

As for Castro’s attitude toward the invasion of Panama by a Cuban-based group, as reflected by Ambassador Roa’s speech in the OAS today, Mr. Matthews said that the Premier’s thinking evolved gradually from the attitude that if he had staged his movement from Mexico why shouldn’t other revolutionists use Cuba to one of recognizing the responsibility of his country in maintaining the integrity of the inter-American system.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 033.3711/4–2859. Confidential. Drafted by Stewart.
  2. Castro cut short his visit to Canada and flew to Houston, Texas, on April 26, where he conferred with his brother, Raul. From there they proceeded to Buenos Aires to attend a meeting of the Special Committee of the Council of the Organization of American States to Study the Formulation of New Measures for Economic Cooperation (Committee of 21).