527. Memorandum of a Conference, Department of State, Washington, June 7, 19601


  • Cuban Situation: Meeting with Representatives of the National Foreign Trade Council


  • Representatives of the National Foreign Trade Council:
    • Mr. Harry Pike, H.H. Pike & Co., Chairman of NFTC Cuba Committee
    • Mr. John Akin, Secretary of the NFTC
    • Mr. M.L. Haider, Director of Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey
    • Mr. Scott Thompson, Lone Star Cement Co.
    • Mr. James Stebbins, W.R. Grace & Co.
    • Mr. H.W. Balgooyen, Director and Executive Vice President, American and Foreign Power Co.
    • Mr. Jules Jourbert, Otis Elevator Co.
    • Mr. Folsom, General Counsel, United Fruit Co.
  • Department of State:
    • The Under Secretary
    • Mr. Dixon Donnelley, Special Assistant to the Under Secretary
    • Mr. R.R. Rubottom, Jr., Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs
    • Mr. Harry R. Turkel, Director, Office of Inter-American Regional Economic Affairs
    • Mr. William A. Wieland, Director, Caribbean and Mexican Affairs
    • Mr. Edwin E. Vallon, Deputy Director, Caribbean and Mexican Affairs
    • Mr. Clarence W. Nichols, Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs
    • Mr. Carl Norden, Chief, Trade Negotiations Branch
    • Mr. John M. Raymond, Deputy Legal Advisor
    • Mr. Fabian Kwiatek, Legal Claims Division
    • Mr. Robert A. Stevenson, Officer in Charge of Cuban Affairs
    • Mr. Michael Balla, Trade Agreements Branch
    • Mr. Arthur Borg, S/S

After the exchange of amenities, Mr. Pike opened the discussion by stating that he would like to read a prepared memorandum2 on behalf of the group. The Statement recalled the December 22, 1959 [Page 940] meeting with this same group3 and indicated that since that time Cuba has moved closer to Communism. It continued that Castro’s invitation and Khrushchev’s acceptance4 might have repercussions in Cuba immediately and in the rest of Latin America soon. The memorandum suggested that the United States might take the following steps:

Initiate some sort of import and export trade licensing to cripple the Cuban economy. Specifically mentioned were export controls on spare parts for vehicles and machinery.
The sugar bill. The group is in favor of the Administration’s proposal but believes that the President’s authority to change the quota should be limited to one year and that the bill should be made bipartisan.
A “White Paper” should be released whenever decisive action is taken by the United States.
The United States should utilize TV and radio broadcasting as a means of getting the truth to the Cuban people and countering Castro propaganda.
The NFTC group, through its associates in Latin America, may be in a position to help by convincing Latin American countries to take concerted action in the OAS should the Department so desire.
Plans must be made for a democratic Cuba to follow the present Cuban regime.
Time is of the essence, and it is running against the United States. The United States should take firm action—any conciliatory moves should initiate with the Cuban Government and should not be invited or encouraged by the United States.

Mr. Stebbins then commented that in his opinion the United States could do a great deal more in the TV and radio fields stating that it would be to our advantage to “go over the heads” of Cuban officials and take the truth to the Cuban people as Castro does. Mr. Dillon agreed on the importance of informing the Cuban people and added that Spanish language medium wave broadcasts are now emanating from Florida and shortwave broadcasts from Boston on station WRUL, paid for by Cuban exiles. He added that there is likely to be further and extensive action along this line.

Mr. Akin brought up the serious problem of remittances, which the Government of Cuba is making no systematic efforts to resolve. In reply to a question by Ambassador Turkel, Mr. Akin and other members of the group said that there appears to be no discrimination regarding remittances as far as the nationality of the creditor is concerned. They added that a few United States exporters are now on a current 90-day payment basis for this year, but that the large remittance backlog from 1959 has remained untouched.

[Page 941]

Mr. Dillon explained that economic pressure alone would not achieve the desired objective in Cuba. He said that the Administration is prepared to accept a “one-year” sugar bill with the President having the authority to modify the quotas in our national interest. He stated that there is no reason to believe that the Administration’s bill is anything but bipartisan in nature. He then commented that some people on the House Agriculture Committee (one was later identified as Representative Cooley) want to delay the sugar bill and to obtain a one-year extension of the present law in order to be in a bargaining position on other agriculture bills coming up for action next year. In this connection, Mr. Dillon stated that members of the visiting group might be in a position to assist in obtaining the sugar legislation desired by the Administration. Mr. Pike asked if an appeal had been made to Mr. Cooley and his committee on patriotic grounds.

Mr. Rubottom commented that indeed it has on several occasions. He added that the vote in the Agriculture Committee on Mr. Cooley’s sugar bill was before the announcement of Khrushchev’s invitation to visit Cuba and before the June 4 United States note to the Cuban Government5 and observed that in the light of the above the prospect for the Administration’s bill now looks somewhat better.

Mr. Dillon stated that he did not want to indicate that any direct Government participation is contemplated in the field of radio broadcasting to Cuba, but wished to give his opinion that stronger action in that field may soon be forthcoming. He informed the group that the United States has no intention of making any conciliatory moves, indicating that last Saturday’s note to the Cuban Government made that clear. He also mentioned that the termination of the ICA technical assistance program in Cuba is indicative of our firmer policy and added that other action is under consideration. He stated that extreme measures could not be taken at this time without the support of Latin America.

Mr. Rubottom observed that Mr. Khrushchev’s invitation and the heating up of the cold war were useful in that they awakened the thinking Cubans and other Latin Americans to the menace of Castro’s Cuba. He said that Departmental officers have long recognized that we could not do business with Castro. He added that the Department also recognizes that this view was not always shared by many Latin Americans nor by many people in the United States. He stated that the Cuban picture might be changed by 1) unilateral intervention by the United States, 2) multilateral action by the OAS, and 3) direct action by the Cuban people. He emphasized that the third approach is by far the most desirable. He said that the United States is not going to stand by and watch a Communist state develop 90 miles from our shore. [Page 942] United States policy has served to identify Castro for what he is and to demonstrate that Castro is not going to cooperate with the United States or the OAS. He added that the interventionist policy of Castro in the rest of Latin America is helpful to our cause and commented that the Dorticos visit to Latin America has been a flop despite what has been said in Cuban publications.

In reply to Mr. Pike’s inquiry whether his group could be of assistance in Latin America, Mr. Dillon said that it might very well be useful but that any action should be only with the knowledge and approval of the American Ambassador.

Mr. Rubottom stated that Central America might offer an especially fertile area for these activities, particularly Honduras, Salvador, and Costa Rica. He also mentioned the Bogotá Charter provision relating to economic aggression6 and stated that there is a danger that Cuba could be expected to move against us in the OAS and UN should we unilaterally take any action which could be interpreted as economic aggression.

Mr. Thompson stated that he has spent 40 years in Cuba and feels that he knows the Cuban people. He said that the Cuban people are looking to the United States and do not understand how the United States can stand idly by while the USSR is establishing a Communist government 90 miles from the United States. They have approved of our policy of patience but feel that this policy is no longer valid. He estimates that Castro supporters now consist of only about 40 percent of the total Cuban population compared with at least 90 percent a year ago. Mr. Thompson feels that the United States can no longer shrink away at criticism and that we must pay the price of leadership rather than to lose respect because of a weak policy. He added that the Cuban people want nothing to do with former Batistianos nor will they support old-line professional politicians such as Tony Varona.

Mr. Turkel mentioned that he had headed a Task Force to investigate economic pressure that might be utilized against Cuba. The conclusion was that the only effective measure that could be taken concerned sugar and that the Administration, with the present Sugar Act, does not have the power to take the necessary action.

Concerning the future Cuban Government, Mr. Rubottom stated that until Latin Americans, and especially Cubans, can approach politics with reason, we will always have problems in Cuba and elsewhere. He stated emphatically that the United States Government is fully aware of the Communist menace. He also said that in our approach to the Cuban problem we have been fully conscious of the position of the Batistianos and politicians such as Tony Varona.

[Page 943]

In response to Mr. Akin, Mr. Dillon said that we believe that about 30 percent of the resident Americans in Cuba have left. He stated that the United States has a flexible evacuation plan that can be placed in operation at any time it is needed. He mentioned that the alert phase of this plan has been in effect for some time and that American citizens would be notified if conditions worsen to the extent the United States feels that they should leave voluntarily and, of course, special plans for emergency evacuation of Americans exist.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/6–760. Confidential. Drafted by Torrey and approved in U on June 16.
  2. Not found.
  3. See Document 412.
  4. On June 4, the Soviet Government announced that Khrushchev had accepted an invitation to visit Cuba, but no dates were specified for the visit.
  5. See footnote 2, supra.
  6. Article 19; for full text of the agreement signed at Bogota on April 30, 1948, see 2 UST 2394.