396. Letter From the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Rubottom) to the Ambassador in Cuba (Bonsal)1

Dear Phil : As you are well aware, Cuban problems occupy a primary place in our thinking and planning these days.2 All of us are most appreciative of the fine work which you are doing in Habana and are well aware of the peculiar and in many respects unprecedented nature of the problems confronting you.

The most serious consideration has been given at all levels in our Government to the developing situation in Cuba, and it has been widely recognized that some hard decisions must be made. With considerable reluctance we have found ourselves forced closer and closer to the realization and frank recognition of the fact that it may be unduly optimistic and even unrealistic to assume that we shall ever be able to do business with the Castro Government on a basis which could be termed even reasonably satisfactory. This, of course, suggests the most serious type of implications with respect to the general complex of our Latin American relations, none of which, I am sure, are lost upon you.

In the face of this situation, in the light of most recent developments in Cuba, and only after long and serious consideration in the course of which your own excellent reports have been taken fully into account, the enclosed paper3 setting forth the basic elements and criteria to guide an appropriate policy toward Cuba has been drawn up. This has been approved by the Secretary and, in fact, by the President, with the understanding that its content would be used for your own guidance and that of certain other agencies of our Government [Page 677] in future dealing with the Cuban problem. I cannot over-emphasize to you how closely this matter and this paper are being held and must ask you to treat it with the utmost discretion.

My Special Assistant, John Hill, will be visiting you within a week or so. John is very familiar with the enclosed paper and I am sure you will find it worthwhile to discuss it with him during the course of his stay in Habana. John will probably be in a position, incidentally, to answer any questions which may occur to you upon reading the enclosure.

With all best wishes,

Sincerely yours,

R.R. Rubottom, Jr. 4
  1. Source: Department of State, Rubottom–Mann Files: Lot 62 D 418, Cuba (Sept–Dec.) 1959. Secret; Official–Informal; Personal. Drafted by Devine and cleared with Wieland and Vallon. In a memorandum of November 19 to Rubottom, Stevenson said that he heard from Devine that Rubottom would be writing to Bonsal about the new policy statement on Cuba. Stevenson suggested that Rubottom review the memorandum of the conversation with Bonsal on October 1 (Document 365) and particularly called Rubottom’s attention to the last sentence in the second paragraph and to the comments in the section entitled “Economic Aid”. (Ibid.)
  2. On November 17, the Department announced that the President had accepted on November 14 the Secretary’s recommendation for the establishment of a small committee to advise the Secretary on inter-American relations. The National Advisory Committee on Inter-American Affairs was established pursuant to the recommendation contained in Dr. Milton S. Eisenhower’s report on his trip to Latin America. The press release is printed in Department of State Bulletin, December 7, 1959, p. 823. See also vol. V, pp. 265 and 267. Assistant Secretary Rubottom was a member of the Committee.
  3. See the attachment to Document 376.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.