509. Editorial Note

In an undated note to Assistant Secretary of State Rubottom, the Deputy Director of the Office of Caribbean and Mexican Affairs, Robert Stevenson, reported as follows:

“Saturday morning, April 23, Mr. McComber [Macomber] called me on the telephone to ask for my views on how he should reply to a query he had received from Congressman O’Hara of Chicago as to the possibilities and desirability of arranging a get-together on the QT between Castro and President Eisenhower or Secretary Herter. O’Hara said that he had been approached in this matter by Constantine Kangles, Castro’s long-time registered agent in Chicago. Kangles allegedly said that Castro has gotten himself boxed in, that he wants to get off this anti-U.S. line, that he is genuinely worried, etc. I told Mr. McComber that the whole idea sounded fantastic to me; that there are several good reasons for rejecting any thought of it even if we were certain that the reports on Castro’s fear are correct, which I, personally, do not believe for a moment. I pointed out that such a maneuver, or even a rumor that it was being considered by us, would serve to undercut the Ambassador’s position and would harm our position vis-à-vis Castro in the rest of the Hemisphere, the position that we have been working so hard to create. Mr. McComber agreed completely and said that he would tell O’Hara that the he should send back word that Ambassador Bonsal is in Habana as the President’s representative and they should take their problems to him.”

Attached to Stevenson’s note is a copy of a letter of April 25 from Ambassador Bonsal to Rubottom, in which Bonsal indicated that he had been approached two days earlier by Bud Arvey, son of Chicago Democratic party leader, Jake Arvey, about a “negotiation” he had been conducting to arrange a meeting between President Eisenhower and Fidel Castro. Arvey had told Bonsal that the possibility of such a meeting had been conveyed to him by his father and by Senator Everett Dirksen. Bonsal noted that Arvey was informed that “such an interview could only be considered on the basis of a formal suggestion [Page 901] in writing from Castro to this Embassy.” Bonsal told Rubottom that Arvey had some time before briefly mentioned the idea to Braddock and Gilmore at a cocktail party and asked whether Rubottom had heard anything about it. Rubottom wrote in the margin of the letter: “I recall some mention of young Arvey, but not of such a proposal.” Beneath this Hill wrote: “Nor me.”

At the end of his undated note to Rubottom, Stevenson wrote that, after reading Bonsal’s letter, he suspected that Arvey rather than Kangles was behind O’Hara’s approach. Both Stevenson’s note and Bonsal’s letter are in Department of State, Central Files, 611.37/4–2560.