452. Letter From the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Rubottom) to the Deputy Director of the United States Information Agency (Washburn)1

Dear Abbott: The proposed action program for USIA in Cuba as set forth in your memorandum of January 29, 1960, to Ambassador Bonsal2 has been read within the Bureau with considerable interest. With the modification noted below, we enthusiastically endorse the proposed program.

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Your suggestion that the tone of output in Cuba, at the present time, should be low-key, calm and friendly, and the content constructive and factual, meets with full approval here.

We have suggested a few small changes in your projects. For example, we do not feel it would be wise to push the idea of our sympathy for agrarian reform at this time because we might imply we agree with the way it is being done in Cuba. Also, regarding your point 3, a “well-documented study of Communist activity and penetration in Cuba” might be almost impossible to achieve; instead we suggest pamphlets showing Communist techniques elsewhere. This approach would be less subjected to Government of Cuba criticism. If the shoe fits the Cuban situation, the impact will not be lost on the Cuban people.

While the idea of a group such as “American Friends of Cuba” is a good one, for the moment we might drop from the paper any specific names, since some are controversial, and work out a panel in later discussions.

As to b. under point 4, we feel the tourist business will improve when the anti-Untied States campaign ends and the atmosphere is more conducive to United States travel to Cuba. Cuban officials should be reminded of this at every opportunity, of course, but a USIS project of this scope would seem unwise at this time.

The only other suggestions are to invite non-governmental people to TVA and other such projects, to specify that a study project on Cuba’s future be conducted by a private research organization in Cuba, and that private rather than Cuban Government sponsorship should be given cultural presentations at the Cuban end.

The projects as listed in the attachment3 have the concurrence of the Department, which hopes they will be undertaken as soon as possible.

Sincerely yours,

R. R. Rubottom, Jr.4
  1. Source: Department of State, Rubottom–Mann Files: Lot 62 D 418, Cuba (Jan.–Mar.) 1960. Confidential. Drafted by Cushing and cleared with Wieland and Ross and in draft with the CIA and Hill.
  2. Document 443.
  3. This February 10 memorandum, entitled “Revised Program for Cuba,” is not printed.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.