392. Editorial Note

On November 13, the Cuban Government delivered to Ambassador Bonsal a note in reply to the presentation made to President Dorticos and Minister of State Roa by Bonsal on October 27 (see Document 379). A copy of the note, which the Cuban Government released to the public, is in Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/ 11–1759.

Attached to this copy of the note was a memorandum of November 17 from Rubottom to Secretary Herter which analyzed the note as follows:

“Athough the Cuban note of November 13 (Tab A) is considerably less violent in tone and attitude than we had expected it would be it nevertheless contains beneath its turgid prose a firm reiteration of the Cuban point of view and a rejection of the U.S. position on the various issues with which it treats. As Ambassador Bonsal observed in his cable of November 16 (Tab B) ‘this note will be generally well received in Cuba as an expression of the nationalistic attitudes cherished by the present Government and its supporters as well as by most of its opponents.’ Even former Cuban UN Ambassador Dr. Nuñez Portuondo, presently Castro’s most vocal opponent in the United States, has referred to the note in a private conversation as ‘very clever’ and ‘well written’. I find its cleverness extremely superficial but I believe its propaganda value is such that the U.S. will wish to rebut many of its assertions by a reply note or otherwise.

“Perhaps the most interesting points raised in the note are the request that our sugar trade should be governed by a bilateral trade agreement and the suggestion that it is ‘premature to judge beforehand that such solutions as Cuba may propose [regarding expropriation] will deviate from international law.’ We nave also noted the absence of a reference to ‘the bombing and machine-gunning of Habana citizens’ in connection with the Diaz Lanz incident. We are giving immediate attention as to how best to answer the inaccurate but extremely persuasive argument that the United States has been the ‘favored party’ in the commercial relations between the two countries.” (Ibid. Brackets in the source text. Bonsal’s telegram referred to is telegram 1122 from Havana, November 16; ibid., 611.37/11–1659.)

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In telegram 1092 from Havana, November 12, Bonsal had indicated that, because of the “continued tension and uncertainty” of the Cuban political situation, he was instituting the warning phase of the emergency and evacuation plan for the Embassy. Key Embassy officers were on 24-hour standby alert. (Ibid., 737.00/11–1259) In telegram 1114 from Havana, November 14, Bonsal noted the tension was “considerably relieved” by Castro’s relatively mild speech of November 12 and the tone of the Cuban note of November 13. He recommended that the warning phase be discontinued for the present. (Ibid., 737.00/ 11–1459)