447. Memorandum of a Conference With the President, White House, Washington, February 2, 1960, 2:30–2:39 p.m.1

PARTICIPANTS

  • Secretary Herter, General Goodpaster

[Here follows discussion of matters unrelated to Cuba.]

Mr. Herter next spoke of the Cuban situation. The composite reaction to the recent statement by the President has been very good.2 Favorable reactions have occurred everywhere, even in Mexico and Venezuela which were question marks. He said the President of Cuba has replied in a rather non-inflammatory way. Some Latin-American diplomats have suggested that Bonsal should return, but the State Department feels there are several essential steps that would have to precede that. He showed the President a memorandum of instructions to our Chargé in Havana,3 calling on the Cubans to give assurances regarding proper treatment of our Ambassador, before Bonsal returns.

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The President thought this was all right as a statement to be made orally by our Chargé. He said he would have shortened it to its essentials—that the Cubans will repudiate any charges of complicity and insults against the United States, and will stand ready to talk on all problems. Mr. Herter said that the Cuban Foreign Minister (Roa) has returned to Havana and is being rather unhelpful. He has stated that the Cuban government would like to see a Democratic Administration come to power in the United States since he thought the Cubans could deal more successfully with them. The President asked that the specifics of this statement be furnished to an appropriate member of the White House Staff.4 [Here follows discussion of matters unrelated to Cuba.]

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, DDE Diaries. Secret. Prepared by Goodpaster on February 8. The time of the meeting is taken from the President’s Appointment Book. (Ibid.)
  2. Press and official reaction in Latin America to the President’s January 26 statement was summarized in a memorandum from Herter to the President on February 2. (Department of State, Central Files, 611. 37/2–260) The memorandum is also published in Declassified Documents, 1983, 917.
  3. Presumably a copy of Rubottom’s memorandum of February 1 to Herter, which discussed the possibility of Bonsal returning to Cuba, to which was attached a draft telegram to be sent to Braddock requesting that he first obtain certain assurances from the Cuban Government. (Department of State, Rubottom–Mann Files: Lot 62 D 418, Cuba (Jan.–Mar.) 1960) The telegram as sent to Braddock is infra .
  4. Roa’s televised remarks on January 28 were quoted in Revolución the following day and were the subject of a memorandum, February 4, from Calhoun through Goodpaster to Robert Merriam. (Department of State, Central Files, 611. 37/2–460)