549. Editorial Note

On July 9, in an address before the All-Russian Teachers’ Congress in Moscow, Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev made the following remarks:

“It is clear to everyone that the economic blockade of the American monopolies may prove to be the beginning of preparations for intervention against Cuba. We must therefore raise our voice in Cuba’s defense and give notice that these are no longer the times when the imperialists plundered and carved up the world as they wished, when each took his pick of the morsels.... And we for our part shall do everything to support Cuba and its courageous people in the struggle for the freedom and national independence they have won under the leadership of their national leader, Fidel Castro....

“It should not be forgotten that the United States is not so inaccessibly distant from the Soviet Union as it used to be. Figuratively speaking, in case of need Soviet artillerymen can support the Cuban people with their rocket fire if the aggressive forces in the Pentagon dare to launch an intervention against Cuba. And let them not forget in the Pentagon that, as the latest tests have shown, we have rockets capable of landing directly in a precalculated square at a distance of 13,000 km. This, if you will, is a warning to those who would like to settle international issues by force and not by reason.” (American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1960, page 207; ellipses in the source text.)

Later that day, President Eisenhower, who was in Newport, Rhode Island, issued the following statement:

“The statement which has just been made by Mr. Khrushchev in which he promises full support to the Castro regime in Cuba is revealing in two respects. It underscores the close ties that have developed between the Soviet and Cuban Governments. It also shows the clear intention to establish Cuba in a role serving Soviet purposes in this hemisphere.

“The statement of the Soviet Premier reflects the effort of an outside nation and of international communism to intervene in the affairs of the Western Hemisphere. There is irony in Mr. Khrushchev’s portrayal of the Soviet Union as the protector of the independence of an American nation when viewed against the history of the enslavement of countless other peoples by Soviet imperialism.

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“The inter-American system has declared itself, on more than one occasion, beginning with the Rio Treaty, as opposed to any such interference. We are committed to uphold those agreements. I affirm in the most emphatic terms that the United States will not be deterred from its responsibilities by the threats Mr. Khrushchev is making. Nor will the United States, in conformity with its treaty obligations, permit the establishment of a regime dominated by international communism in the Western Hemisphere.” (Department of State Bulletin, July 25, 1960, pages 139–140)

Memoranda of telephone conversations Secretary Herter had that day with Goodpaster, Rubottom, and Hagerty regarding the text of this statement, along with various drafts of the statement showing handwritten revisions, some suggested by the President, are in Eisenhower Library, Herter Papers, Telephone Conversations.

On July 10, the Cuban Government staged a mass rally in front of the Presidential Place in Havana. The Embassy transmitted periodic telegraphic reports to the Department on the progress of the rally; these telegrams are in Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/7–1060. At the rally it was announced that Prime Minister Fidel Castro was suffering slightly from pneumonia and was unable to attend. President Dorticos, during his speech, read the following July 9 message which had been addressed to Prime Minister Castro by Soviet Premier Khrushchev:

“I have been apprised that the President of the United States, Mr. Eisenhower, has signed on July 6 the law passed by Congress that gives him the right to reconsider the Cuban sugar quota. Mr. Eisenhower immediately after the law went into effect declared his decision to reduce your quota by 700,000 tons.

“It is known to all the world that this measure was adopted by the United States Government as economic pressure against the people and the Government of Cuba in relation to the just measures of information [intervention?] of the oil companies, properties of the monopolies, which took the road of resistance and organized acts of sabotage against these measures of the Cuban Government. History is full of examples of such imperialistic attempts at economic blockade against countries fighting for their economic and political independence but the imperialists are seriously mistaken when they think that such countries stand alone. These times have passed. The Cuban people and Government have many friends disposed to enter into friendly and mutually profitable cooperation.

“The Government of the Soviet Union, expressing the will of its people, sees with sympathy the struggle of the Cuban people and shows indignation over the decision of the United States Government.

“If the Government of Cuba finds it difficult to sell the sugar, the Soviet Government expresses its disposition to acquire, as additional quantities in Cuba, for delivery in 1960 the 700,000 tons the United States has refused to buy.

“The Government of the Soviet Union has charged the Ministry of Foreign Trade with entry into negotiations with the competent Cuban organ.”

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This unofficial English translation was transmitted to the Department in telegram 148 from Havana, July 11. (ibid., 737.00/7–1160)

In telegram 153 from Havana, July 11, the Embassy reported its own view, which was confirmed by several other sources, that the rally had been comparatively unsuccessful from the Cuban Government’s perspective. The attendance was the smallest recorded at such mass demonstrations. Many people left before Dorticos spoke, although the Embassy conceded that this was in part due to Castro’s absence.

Bonsal noted that, in light of Khrushchev’s statement of July 9 and his letter of July 10 to Castro, no Cuban could any longer contend that Cuba was not completely aligned with the Soviet orbit. Because this was, in Bonsal’s opinion, contrary to the wishes of the majority of the Cuban people, the Ambassador felt it would be “a powerful influence in developments here” in the near future, although the opposition was still unorganized and leaderless.(ibid.)