532. Notes on the Discussion at the Special Meeting of the National Security Council, White House, Washington, June 22, 1960, 2:30–3:15 p.m.1


  • Richard M. Nixon, Vice President; Gordon Gray, Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs; James S. Lay, Jr., Executive Secretary, NSC; Christian A. Herter, Secretary of State; Thomas S. Gates, Jr., Secretary of Defense; Leo A. Hoegh, Director, Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization; Lawrence E. Walsh, Deputy Attorney General; General Wilton B. Persons, Assistant to the President; Douglas Dillon, Under Secretary of State, Robert B. Anderson, Secretary of the Treasury; General C.P. Cabell, Acting Director of Central Intelligence, Richard M. Bissell, Col. J.C. King, and J.D. Esterline
[Page 950]
Following a briefing on Cuba by General C.P. Cabell, USAF, Acting Director of Central Intelligence, members of the National Security Council discussed for approximately 20 minutes national policy vis-à-vis Cuba.
Vice President Nixon queried the Department of State as to the progress made in organizing support of the U.S. position on the Cuban issue from other member states of the OAS. Secretary Herter responded that although considerable efforts had been expended it appeared unlikely that the heads of state of other Latin American countries, with few exceptions, are willing to take a strong anti-Castro position. Mr. Herter explained that this reluctance apparently stems from a fear of strong pro-Castro elements in the respective countries which might upset the political balance of power should a strong anti-Castro position be adopted by the government.
The Vice President said the most disturbing effect of the CIA intelligence briefing was that section of the report that indicated that Cuba’s economic situation had not deteriorated significantly since the overthrow of Batista. Mr. Nixon asked what specific measures could be taken by the U.S. which would result in placing greater economic pressure on Cuba. Secretary Anderson and Under Secretary Dillon responded to this question. Three specific measures were suggested:2
Amendment of the preferential sugar quota act to provide for a reduction from 20 to 25 per cent of Cuba’s quota. This quota would then be redistributed to other Latin American sugar-producing countries.
Application by the U.S. of the “Trading with the Enemy Act”.3 Secretary Anderson stated that it was important that American refineries in Cuba maintain their firm refusal to refine Soviet oil. It was important that Cuba be denied tankers to move the oil because neither the Soviets nor Cuba have individually or collectively sufficient tankers to move the quantity of oil required to meet Cuba’s needs. Cuba should also be denied any U.S. assistance in refining the oil and we should boycott the refined Soviet oil products. For example, it was suggested that American airlines should refuse to use Soviet oil and oil by-products on the premise that they were of improper grade or not adequate in terms of octane.
Secretary Anderson stated that a basic question had to be answered before any economic warfare action should be taken; i.e., it must be agreed that we are prepared to go the whole way in economic action before we undertake any action. He specifically referred to [Page 951] tariffs, sugar quotas, and oil. Mr. Anderson said that time is on the side of the Cubans and, therefore, if we are going to do anything we cannot delay. Secretary Anderson also indicated that discreet economic cooperation with U.S. interests should be possible. Reference was made to recent discussions with major U.S. oil producers. Secretary Herter remarked that sections 15 and 16 of the OAS Charter4 make such actions somewhat difficult and that we must be most careful to properly disguise these actions. Vice President Nixon emphasized that the time has come to take strong, positive action to avoid becoming labeled “Uncle Sucker” throughout the world. He referred to incidents which have taken place in other areas of the world recently, and said they have not gone unnoticed in Latin America.
Secretary Gates suggested that we might consider greater mutual assistance to certain Latin American nations, possibly giving bonuses to those which have been particularly cooperative. Vice President Nixon commented that he did not think we should give more arms to Latin America. Secretary Anderson said it is of the utmost importance that we firm up our position on mutual security in Latin America. He made reference to the fact that Fidel [Raúl?] Castro will soon be visiting the Soviet Union and a Soviet-Cuban mutual assistance pact could emerge from this visit. Vice President Nixon replied that it is essential that we do something on mutual security before the fact. He said that a statement should be made by the President within the next day or so along the lines that a mutual security assistance pact between Cuba and the Soviet Union would be regarded as an “intrusion” in the Latin American area. The Vice President agreed with Secretary Anderson’s position vis-à-vis economic warfare saying that if we are going to do anything, we should do everything or nothing.
Mr. Gordon Gray said that Khrushchev apparently is trying to get an invitation to Cuba in the near future. He asked whether anything could be done to block this. Secretary Herter replied that an effective method would be to deny Khrushchev invitations from other Latin American countries because it seemed apparent that invitations from other countries would figure heavily in Mr. Khrushchev’s decision to visit Cuba.5
Secretary Herter referred to General Cabell’s briefing and asked whether any action should be taken by the Department in Latin America or throughout the world to play up the identity of the newly-formed Cuban “Frente”. There was general agreement that this should not be done at the present time since close identification with the United States would be counterproductive. It was stressed that members of the Frente are fairly well-known in Cuba and Latin America and should be able to stand on their own.

Note: While the foregoing does not go into minutia of the policy discussion, I believe it does cover basic points and positions taken by the people making these points.

Jacob D. Esterline6
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Project “Clean Up” Records, NSC Special Meetings. Secret. The notes were made by Esterline and were included in his June 25 memorandum to Gordon Gray. The time and place of the meeting are taken from an unsigned, undated memorandum, which summarized the decisions reached at the meeting and included a slightly different list of participants. It also noted that Gordon Gray subsequently informed the President of “the nature of the discussion” at the meeting. (ibid., Records of the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs)
  2. Only subparagraphs a and b follow.
  3. For text, see 50 USC Appendix 1.
  4. Signed at Bogota, April 30, 1948; for text, see 2 UST 2394.
  5. Attached to the source text is a June 29 memorandum from Gray to Lay in which Gray notes:

    “With respect to the attached I believe that Item 6 is somewhat inaccurate. As I recall it, I said that in connection with Khrushchev’s invitation to visit Cuba it was apparent that his going to Cuba would be largely dependent upon whether he could get invitations from other Latin American countries. I expressed the view that most Latin American countries had indicated they would not issue invitations but there seemed to have been some reason for concern about Mexico. It was then expressed by Colonel King that recent word gave us greater reassurance with respect to Mexico. Secretary Herter stated that we were doing everything we could to encourage other Latin American countries to deny invitations to Khrushchev.”

  6. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature