501. Memorandum of Discussion at the 440th Meeting of the National Security Council, Washington, April 7, 19601

[Here follows discussion of matters unrelated to Cuba.]

General Cabell reported that the Castro regime in Cuba continued to further communist objectives in Latin America. The Fourth National Congress of the Youth Section of the Communist Party in Cuba, meeting in Havana, had drawn delegates from Soviet Bloc as well as Latin American countries. A preparatory meeting for an ostensibly non-communist Latin American Youth Congress is scheduled for April. A Cuban mission is touring Latin America to publicize this Youth Congress. Other Latin American communist efforts centered in Cuba include a Latin American Peace Conference, a Latin American Conference “to create the apparatus to fight imperialism” and hemisphere labor meetings. General Cabell said the trend toward closer Cuban economic and trade contacts with the Soviet Bloc continued. Cuba recently concluded with Poland a trade agreement which was reported to provide for the shipment of helicopters from Poland to Cuba. This agreement had followed trade agreements with the Soviet Union and East Germany; Cuba also appeared to be negotiating with Hungary. The first shipment of Russian crude oil is now enroute to Cuba, which has announced a plan for the establishment of government gasoline stations selling gasoline made from Soviet oil. In this connection, General Cabell thought the Cuban Government may be planning to take over the Texaco refinery in Cuba. Seventy Cubans would leave this month for a tour of the USSR and seventy Russians would tour Cuba. Some of the top Cuban communists were going to Moscow to explore Soviet willingness to make military commitments to Cuba. Internally, Castro was tightening his political controls. He had accelerated his plans for dominating the universities. The government-dominated leaders of student organizations had established special courts for the trial of students accused of counter-revolutionary activity. Two thousand students from rural areas had been selected by Castro to attend the University of Havana and help control the student bodies. Anti-American tirades in Cuba, including personal vilification of President Eisenhower, continued. As against these developments General Cabell wished to report on two somewhat more favorable aspects of the situation. There was an increasing possibility that the Conference of Underdeveloped Nations would not be held at all or would turn out to be a much less significant conference than Cuba had anticipated. Replies to the Cuban invitation for this conference had been much less enthusiastic than the Cubans had expected, a development [Page 888] which was due in part to the U.S. attitude. For example, Venezuela, Cuba’s closest friend, had recommended postponement of the conference. A second favorable development concerned the campaign to expose Castro in Latin America. In Brazil, for example, a correspondent [1 line not declassified] had written a series of articles emphasizing Castro’s trend toward communism. These articles had been prominently displayed in the Brazilian press and had apparently had a great deal of impact on the Brazilian leaders.

[Here follows discussion of matters unrelated to Cuba.]

Mr. Dillon said the information related by General Cabell on the Cuban-Polish trade agreement apparently came from Cuban sources. We had talked to the Poles about this agreement and had been informed by them that no helicopters or military equipment of any kind would be sent to Cuba. The Poles had insisted that the only aircraft involved in the trade agreement were small Piper Cub-type planes for crop dusting. Mr. Dillon noted that in the Shergalis case, the Department of Justice intended to convene a grand jury in Miami. We have affidavits from Shergales and from his common-law wife stating that he was a Castro agent. Apparently Shergalis, under pressure from the Castro Government is now about to retract this testimony. Mr. Dillon said we had queried our Havana Embassy as to the number of Americans now in Cuba and had been told that only 6000 U.S. citizens remained on the island, a decrease of 3000 since the last estimate was made.

The President asked whether President Lleras directly or indirectly referred to Cuba in his speech yesterday.2 Mr. Dillon said he had found no reference to Cuba in the press reports of the speech. The President said Lleras was very much on our side and had given the impression that he hoped the OAS would take Castro and the Cuban situation more seriously in the future. Before Lleras left Colombia he asked other Latin American leaders a number of questions about Castro. The President added that if we could get Latin America on our side, we could do whatever we wished with respect to the situations in Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Mr. Dillon believed that any anti-Castro statement or action by Lleras would be more effective if it were taken after his return to Colombia. If he took action when he was in the U.S., it might be interpreted to be a result of U.S. pressure. The President agreed and pointed out that Lleras took some action before coming to the U.S. The Vice President said that Lleras’ speech had been couched in general terms with a great deal of emphasis on the [Page 889] concept of freedom. His speech could be aimed at any country violating the precepts which it contained and there had been no specific mention of the situation in Cuba.

Mr. Gray reported that in conversations with State Department officials, he had noted an intense concern with respect to the sugar legislation pending in Congress. Mr. Gray wondered, in view of the importance of sugar legislation to our general security position in Cuba, if everything was being done that could be done to secure passage of the legislation. The President said he understood the legislation was in the Agricultural Committee of The House. Mr. Dillon said Representative Cooley was adamant on this question. The Congressional leadership appeared to prefer a one-year extension of the Sugar Act which would incorporate the flexible provisions desired by the Administration. The provision for flexibility might be written into the measure when it reached the Senate. Mr. Dillon believed that a one-year rather than a four-year extension would be passed by Congress. The President wondered how it would be possible to make economic arrangements on a one-year basis. Mr. Dillon agreed that operating on a one-year basis was virtually impossible, but said that Representative Cooley had special reasons for wanting only a one-year extension. These reasons were connected with his desire for passage of a broad agricultural act next year. Mr. Gray wondered whether the sugar legislation should not be discussed on a bi-partisan basis with the Congressional Leaders at an appropriate time. Mr. Dillon said the difficulty was that Cooley’s position was supported by both parties because sugar legislation was such an emotional issue that the leadership feared that a debate on the floor on a plan for a four-year extension could not be kept within proper bounds.

The National Security Council:3

Noted and discussed recent developments with regard to the situation in Cuba.

[Here follows discussion of matters unrelated to Cuba.]

Marion W. Boggs
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret. Prepared by Boggs.
  2. Not further identified. Colombian President Lleras Camargo issued a statement on April 8 at the conclusion of a visit to Washington; see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1960–61, pp. 111–112.
  3. The following paragraph constitutes NSC Action No. 2211. (Department of State, S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, Records of Action by the National Security Council)