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

Dear Phil : Our discussions about Cuba with the Secretary, Livie Merchant, and others—as well as the NSC discussions of the situation there—have made clear the firm decision of the Government to do everything possible to get the true, discrediting facts about the Castro regime into public information media in the other American Republics as well as to Latin American governments.

Underlying this concept is the belief that the wire services do not report on Cuban developments with sufficient depth and with sufficient creditability to influence Latin American opinion to the extent necessary and that an under-staffed diplomatic representation of Latin American countries in Habana also cannot be counted on to get the full story to their own governments. It is, therefore, essential that the United States, using the utmost discretion, play an active role in getting the facts to the rest of the hemisphere; otherwise we cannot expect the other American Republics to see the situation in the same light as we do.

As I believe you are aware, we long ago established a Task Force which has the primary task of coordinating the dissemination of unattributed information between the Department, the USIA, and another agency of the Government. In addition, we have now established within ARA a small section under Harry Sylvester (who succeeded Dick Cushing) to prepare and disseminate material on an unattributed basis through these channels on a daily basis. To date the efforts of the various agencies have, in my opinion, made an important contribution to the increasing realization in Latin America of what is actually going on in Cuba. We are generally satisfied with the trend of the public and governmental opinion in the area, but believe that this effort must be further accelerated if we are effectively to isolate Castro and to neutralize and counter the extensive propaganda effort which he, and the Communists on his behalf, are mounting everywhere. Perhaps the most important remaining task in this field is to dissolve or at least dilute the remaining pro-Castro sentiment among such groups as students and labor leaders. It is apprehension about the reaction of these pro-Castro elements that more than anything else inhibits governments from taking a more forceful anti-Castro line.

[Page 933]

Your Embassy is expected to play an important role in this effort, especially by making available an adequate amount of information of low enough security classification to be used in unattributed ways. The Embassy has sent in many valuable reports which, however, are of such high classification that they cannot readily be used for this purpose. We also need, on a daily basis, usable information—including human interest material—which will illustrate what is actually going on in the universities, the militarization of labor, the cost of living, arrests, and violations of human rights, etc.

I would be grateful if you would take personal charge of this effort and assure that we have the material that we need to carry forward this part of our work, which I believe to be indispensable if we are to have the support of the American Republics in our policy. We have spoken here with the representatives of USIA and of the other agencies, and I am sure that you will find them more than willing to have their representatives play a full role in the project.2

Sincerely yours,

R. R. Rubottom, Jr. 3
  1. Source: Department of State, Rubottom–Mann Files: Lot 62 D 418, Cuba (April–June) 1960. Secret; Official-Informal. Drafted by Hill.
  2. In a June 10 letter to Rubottom, Bonsal wrote that he would be happy to cooperate and pointed out that “this type of information channeled through respectable Cuban sources or respectable Latin American sources is apt to be most effective—much more so than if it comes from United States sources, even unofficial.” Bonsal added:

    “I believe that the WRUL programs with Vargas Gomez, Tony Varona and others are being useful. If it were possible to have these programs reproduced and circulated here on a clandestine hand-to-hand basis, this would be most valuable.”

    Alongside this paragraph is written, apparently in Rubottom’s hand: “Good idea! Why not do it.” (ibid.)

  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.