522. Letter From the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Rubottom) to the Ambassador in Cuba (Bonsal)1

Dear Phil: Spread before me are your letter of April 12, your two letters of April 14, your letter of April 22, that of April 25, of May 2, and of May 4, 1960.2 I greatly appreciate your taking the time to pass on these juicy comments of your diplomatic colleagues, the occasional morsels of real news, and your running interpretation of such reports and the over-all Cuban scene. Your letters3 reporting on the various views expressed to you by some of your colleagues at the big clambake with Fidel Castro will be the subject of another letter.4

Perhaps Amoedo’s activities have been helpful, although I am still not sure. With Castro seemingly bent on leaning exclusively on his most extreme-thinking as well as communist advisers, he seems neatly to slide two steps backward for every one step forward that he might gain in the estimation of Amoedo and others. Thus, their efforts to approach him and to drill a little reason into his head and his seeming lack of response other than momentary may have convinced Amoedo and others of the futility of dealing with Castro and his government. If such views are conveyed convincingly to the other governments of [Page 929] Latin America, following the inevitable exchange of opinions in Habana by the various Latin American envoys, the results will be beneficial to our cause.

Some comments on the items in your letters: Smith is still interested in Cuba, no doubt about it, but has maintained commendable reserve until now; the Trujillo regime is deteriorating but the timetable is hard to know for sure; your caution in dealing with Rufo is well taken; Lobo will have to do the fanciest footwork of his rather fancy life it he is going to stay on top of his situation for the next few months; any fiddling that Lobo may have done with Cooley certainly has not been helpful, although the signs are now that some of Cooley’s intransigence is beginning to melt.

I note your statement in the letter of April 22: “I do not believe that there is the slightest chance of influencing Castro in any constructive way”. I agree. It would set us back if he attempted any conciliation effort at this time. It has been quite remarkable the way Fidel, Raul and company have anticipated our thinking and planning, as well as the possible role of the OAS which involves far more than just the United States. [2 sentences (3 lines) not declassified]

The campaign of legal harassment regarding Guantanamo is picking up, witness the recent note5 about their desire to capture the dollars earned by their employees there. They know this will be hard for us to swallow. The press yesterday reported that Castro had said he didn’t know when Ambassador Miro Cardona would be sent to Washington. Your comments on this would be interesting to have including whether it would seem to affect your position. Incidentally, I have the impression that Roa has been decidedly hard for you to see recently. This is hard to explain and is a matter we shall eventually have to face if my impression is correct and his inaccessibility continues.

We have heard one or two rumors about the possibility of a get-together between Castro and high officials of this government but nobody takes it seriously. We certainly would oppose it. I was interested in your tactics in dealing with Amoedo as set forth in your letter of May 4. I believe you are correct in handling him this way in view of the extent to which he has injected himself into our relations with Cuba. That letter’s last line was also interesting reading, “the rapid growth of domestic opposition”.

I want you to realize that we are fully aware of the difficulties under which you are working and admire the way you are handling one of the toughest assignments an American Ambassador has ever had. Billy joins me in sending warmest regards to you and Margaret.

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R. R. Rubottom, Jr.6
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.37/5–460. Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted by Rubottom.
  2. Bonsal’s letters of April 22, May 2, and May 4 were not declassified. (ibid., 611.37/4–2260, 611.37/5–260, and 611.37/5–460, respectively) Regarding his letter of April 25, see Document 509. In his April 12 letter to Rubottom, Bonsal transmitted Amoedo’s account of a recent visit to Palm Beach, Florida, and his conversations there with former Ambassador Earl Smith and former Dominican Ambassador to the United States Porfirio Rubirosa. Bonsal reported Amoedo’s great concern, which Bonsal and other members of the Embassy shared, that Fidel Castro might be assassinated, “either by some of the people whose property and position he has destroyed or by the Communists, if they reach the conclusion that this would serve their purpose of creating further anarchy and confusion in Cuba.” (Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/4–1260) In one of the April 14 letters, Bonsal reported that Lopez-Fresquet had asked the Embassy to smuggle him out of the country so he could meet with Cuban refugees in the United States to “gather into his own hands all of the reins” of the anti-Castro movement, a request to which Bonsal had been noncommittal. Bonsal said he viewed Lopez-Fresquet with “considerable suspicion” and questioned whether he had cut all his ties with Castro. (ibid., 611.37/4–1460) In the other April 14 letter, Bonsal described his recent conversation with Cuban sugar mill owner Julio Lobo, who spoke of the growing disenchantment of workers and farmers with the Castro regime and urged the United States to provide funds to reliable opposition elements. Lobo also said that he thought he had been able to persuade Congressman Cooley of his belief that any cut in the sugar quota would be a mistake. (ibid., 737.00/4–1460)
  3. Not found.
  4. Rubottom’s letter has not been found.
  5. Not further identified.
  6. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.