430. Telegram From the Embassy in Cuba to the Department of State 1

1712. Prime Minister Castro made five hour television appearance night January 20. Characterized by sustained attack on United States policies and treatment of Cuba. Generally did not mention United States by name, but referred to policies and plots designed and directed [Page 754] in “certain chancery”. Never left audience in doubt as to which chancery meant. General theme was that campaign against revolution was organized and directed by United States interests, which determined to defeat revolution. Said Cuban people now facing gravest threat ever, and will have to fight and sacrifice to retain achievements of revolution. Said United States robbed Cuba of its reserves and exploited country for 57 years. Stated United States had always robbed, killed, and forced concessions in Latin America. United States hostile to Cuban revolution from beginning, and its actions following definite plan for liquidating revolution. United States very powerful, and now attempting to isolate Cuba in hemisphere. GOC would counteract campaign, and would bend every energy to offsetting United States influence. Said current talk of alterations in Cuban sugar quota part of United States campaign. Added United States view that quota constituted subsidy for Cuba inaccurate, since quota system actually designed to protect United States sugar interests. Strongly condemned recent statements by Vice President Nixon and Senator Smathers. Repeatedly stated as fact that “bombardment of Havana October 21 last was by plane based in United States”, also said that flights of incendiary aircraft originated in United States, and strongly implied done with approval GUS. Said GOC had documentary proof of campaigns against GOC “emanating from several chanceries”, which would present at proper moment.

A panelist asked if GOC considering protest to OAS, and Castro said thinking of presenting case to UN.

Panelist inquired why GOC now training and arming Cuban people. Castro replied militia now necessary because of international conspiracy against Cuba, and that decision triggered by “bombing of Habana” October 21, 1959. Said conspiracy had as basic objective physical elimination of principal leaders of revolution, and is encouraged by “notes from certain Embassy, actions certain chancery, statements of Senators, and calumnious campaign in foreign press”. Implied key force within Cuba for counter-revolution was “30 to 40,000 former soldiers”. Said history showed that every revolution had to confront counter-revolution from abroad, and made exceptionally confused and inaccurate references to French revolution as example. Said only correct policy for “certain chancery” was to leave [in?] peace and respect Cuban sovereignty. All other policies would fail.

Asked about proposed conference underdeveloped nations, Castro preferred title under-industrialized nations, explaining other wording had derogatory implications. Said currently planned for Habana in June, but decision must wait return of Minister Foreign Relations Roa. Expected some 50 nations to attend, including many Latin American countries. Decision LA nations attend would depend on whether they had “sufficient self-determination” to do so.

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Castro spent large portion of appearance in what Embassy considers inaccurate and exaggerated accounts of achievements of Cuban Agrarian Reform to date. Claimed again, as several times in past, that Cuban Agrarian Reform first in world to achieve immediate increase in total production agricultural products. In contradictory statements, said this caused by GOC decision not break up large production units, but rather form cooperatives. At same time, said great number workers already given title to individual parcels land.

Castro also said GOC not currently considering additional laws affecting urban property or rentals, but might if conditions later warranted, nor contemplating gasoline rationing. Questioned concerning nationalization heavy industry, said matter academic since no such industry in Cuba. Claimed exchange reserves now increasing at rate million dollars daily (this inaccurate).

During program Castro read portions of what he said was “letter from sister-in-law Pedro Luis Diaz Lanz to his brother”, dated December 16. Embassy understands letter was from Eugenia Alvarez Martinez to her brother-in-law, Marcos Diaz Lanz. She was arrested December 17, but told an Air Attaché contact that day that such a letter had been intercepted by GOC. As read by Castro, letter was highly indiscreet report of conspiratorial activities and request for further instructions. Writer stated had good relations with Spanish and American Embassies, which sympathetic their cause. Said Spanish Embassy had been prepared help in getting Lt. Manuel Artimes out of country, but later told her that he had been gotten out by others, through Guantanamo. Castro said this obviously meant United States Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay. (This statement untrue.) Letter said writers group had obtained some arms and printing press, with assistance some monks and nuns, and press now concealed in convent. Castro said he left it to Cuban people to pass judgment on actions Spanish Embassy, and expected hierarchy Catholic Church to correct behavior some its members. Emphasized he felt Church as whole not involved in such actions.

Shortly afterwards Spanish Ambassador Lojendio appeared in studio, pushed way to moderators desk, and demanded right to reply to “insults”. Lojendio clearly furious, Castro said he had no right interrupt program without invitation, Lojendio replied decision up to moderator, whose permission he had requested, and not Castro. Castro lost temper completely, and two engaged in heated verbal exchange. Great confusion in studio, and program went off air. When resumed in few minutes, moderator explained that at request Castro, Ambassador denied permission speak and escorted home by members armed forces. Said Ambassador would be offered facilities to reply immediately after program. (View later developments, this not done.) Castro then launched into savage, deliberately insulting attack on [Page 756] Lojendio personally and on Spanish Government. Remarks greeted by repeated applause by studio audience. Castro said that Lojendio had 24 hours to leave country, subject approval President Dorticos, who in audience. Dorticos approved. Castro added Cuban Ambassador to Spain Miro Cardona would be recalled. Dorticos approved. (Role of Dorticos in this pathetically lacking in dignity. Castro obviously remembered him as complete after-thought.) Castro said relations would not be broken for time being, but continuation relations obviously impossible after his remarks.

Remainder of program, some two hours, was anti-climatic. Included expected character assassinations of Lt. Artimes and Major Antonio Michel Yabur, as well as Jorge Zayas and his newspaper Avance.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.37/1–2160. Official Use Only; Niact. Received at 5:53 p.m.