533. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, June 23, 19601


  • The Cuban Situation


  • Ambassador Sir Harold Caccia, British Embassy
  • Lord Hood, British Embassy
  • The Secretary
  • The Under Secretary
  • ARA:CMA—Mr. Robert Stevenson, Cuban Affairs

After a discussion of disarmament problems, Secretary Herter called to the attention of Ambassador Caccia the news ticker report of the recent pronouncement by the new Cuban opposition organization know as the Frente Revolucionario Democratico which was issued in Mexico. He indicated to the Ambassador our interest in the fact that opposition to the Castro regime has at last coalesced to this degree. He pointed out that the signers are all well-known in Cuba as anti-Batista figures who had at one time supported the Castro Government. Ambassador [Page 953] Caccia asked if the Secretary feels that this opposition movement might soon be able to bring pressure to bear on the Castro regime—if we feel that Castro might soon be toppled. The Secretary said that it is too soon to expect this but that the formation of the group is a most encouraging development. [3 sentences (5½ lines) not declassified]

Mr. Dillon observed that we also share this concern and would hope for British support in the U.N. should the Cubans eventually try to make a case there. Ambassador Caccia said he hoped our representative in the U.N. might work closely with the British representative there and inform him of our desires as to how to handle a possible Cuban approach through the United Nations. For example, would we want support in urging that the question be referred back to the OAS as the proper regional body? The Under Secretary said we can’t tell as yet, because we don’t know how the Cubans will play their cards, but would appreciate British support. The Secretary expressed his fear that the OAS is not a very strong arm on which to lean, that although the Latin American Governments would like to see Castro kicked out they are not yet ready to support us publicly on this point.

Ambassador Caccia said that he would like to get the Secretary’s views with regard to the situation of the petroleum companies in Cuba. He inquired whether the U.S. Government wants the companies to withhold crude shipments or does it consider that there is still some possibility of the companies working out an agreement with Castro. The Secretary said that he was gratified at the present firm position being maintained by the companies and hopes they will hold steadfast, that should the refineries be seized and companies stop shipments of crude, it will raise a considerable problem for Castro. The Under Secretary said that with regard to an agreement, if Ambassador Caccia means should Castro back down, then we would probably have no objection. This though, seems unlikely and while an oil shortage alone might not topple Castro, we would not be unhappy if it should have this result. Should the USSR have to supply all of Cuba’s petroleum needs it would require about one tanker per day from the Black Sea, a long haul. Ambassador Caccia inquired as to the possibility of oil from other sources. The Secretary observed that this is, of course, possible but that the Venezuelan Government has given evidence that it would not look with favor on Russian crude going to Cuba and would therefore probably not condone shipments by independents at the expense of present producers.

The Secretary expressed agreement with Ambassador Caccia’s suggestion that should he encounter the press upon leaving the Secretary’s office he would state that they had been talking about disarmament problems.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/6–2360. Secret. Drafted by Stevenson and approved in U on July 9 and in S on July 15.