420. Memorandum From Samuel E. Belk of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Gray)1


  • Cuba

The following questions are offered for your possible use in connection with Mr. Rubottom’s briefing of the Planning Board on January 11, 1960. I may submit an additional list before the briefing.

How strong is Communist influence in the Castro regime? How accurate are we in differentiating the real Communists from the purely anti-U.S., nationalist factions?
The Castro regime has alienated large numbers of its former supporters. What is your estimate of the possibility that the regime may be overthrown? If overthrown, isn’t it possible that a successor regime would be just as unfavorable from the U.S. point of view?
What course is the regime likely to follow with respect to the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo? What would our reaction be to a request by Castro that the U.S. evacuate the base? (It might be interesting to get the JCS representative to comment on the importance of this Base to the United States’ defense posture in this hemisphere.)
Congressman Craig Hosmer (R. Calif.) suggested on January 3 that he intended to introduce a resolution in Congress to the effect that the U.S. should reaffirm the Monroe Doctrine and tell the Communists to keep their hands off Latin America. He also said he had sent a letter to the President2 asking for this support. What do you think of this idea?
The Sugar Act must be renewed during this session of Congress. Isn’t it possible to use this to the United States’ advantage? Doesn’t it provide the U.S. with an opportunity to introduce a more active policy toward Cuba?
With respect to the sugar problem, two members of Congress already have introduced resolutions on behalf of domestic producers.3 Isn’t there now a danger that Congressional action is going to take the problem away from the Executive Branch?
With respect to the Sugar Act, what alternatives are there to the present version? Should our subsidies be kept as they are, decreased or increased?
Just following Castro’s successful revolution there were a number of moderates in the regime who were the best vehicles for maintaining U.S. interests on the island. It is my impression that these moderate groups have constantly diminished until there are no real moderates left. What does this portend for the remaining U.S. interests on the island? Is there any hope that we can re-establish our close relationship with the Cuban government in the foreseeable future?
With reference to the Dominican Republic, it is known that General Trujillo is not as popular or as strong as he once was, but isn’t he still very tightly in control of the Dominican Republic? General Franco is supposed to have been on the downgrade for the past fifteen years, yet he is still very much in control of Spain. It seems to me that in the case of both dictators they have had a decline in their popularity but the decline has not been so great that either man is imminently in danger of slipping from the summit of power. Would you care to comment on this observation?
Is the Dominican Republic actually in danger of being invaded by Castro forces? Isn’t Castro far too occupied at home to undertake such a venture in the near future? Does Castro have enough military strength to carry out an invasion of the Dominican Republic without considerable help from the Dominicans themselves?4
Samuel E. Belk
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Project “Clean Up” Records, Cuban Situation. Secret.
  2. Not further identified
  3. By Mr. Budge: (R. Idaho)

    H.R. 9313. A bill to amend the Sugar Act of 1948 to revise the quotas for 1960 in such a fashion as to increase the quota for domestic sugar-producing areas by 350,000 short tons, with corresponding reductions in the quota for Cuba; to the Committee on Agriculture.

    By Mrs. St. George: (R. N.Y.)

    H.R. 9376. A bill to prohibit the importation of Cuban sugar for so long as the price which U.S. importers are required to pay for such sugar is above the world market price; to the Committee on Agriculture. (From Congressional Record, January 6, 1960) [Footnote in the source text.]

  4. In a January 11 memorandum to Lay, Belk submitted three additional questions furnished by the NSC staff for the Planning Board’s discussion:

    • “1. Can you imagine a situation developing in Cuba when it would be in the United States’ interest to intervene militarily?
    • “2. What attitude should the United States take toward Cuban and Dominican dissident groups operating from the U.S. mainland. For instance, do we wish to close our eyes to anti-Castro activities or should we take stringent prohibitive measures? (I am sure you will recall that Attorney General Rogers posed this question during a discussion of Cuba in the Council.)
    • “3. Draw the attention of the Planning Board to the paper circulated to them with reference to Cuban nickel. (Bob Amory has some useful information on this subject.) The size of the U.S. nickel stockpile also should be explored.” (Eisenhower Library, Project “Clean Up” Records, Cuban Situation)