583. Memorandum of Discussion at the 461st Meeting of the National Security Council, Washington, September 29, 19601

[Here follows discussion of matters unrelated to Cuba.]

Mr. Dulles believed that under the Castro regime, Cuba was now virtually a member of the Communist Bloc. [1 sentence (2½ lines) not declassified] On September 10 the first major Soviet Bloc arms shipment reached Cuba. This shipment included ten tanks, 100 anti-aircraft guns, and a large number of machine guns plus ammunition and electronic equipment. Additional armaments shipments were probably [Page 1075] on the way from the Bloc to Cuba. A number of Cubans had been under military training in Czechoslovakia for some months. Mr. Dulles thought these Cubans were receiving jet flying training. It was reported that Cuba was preparing to sever diplomatic relations with the U.S. or, alternatively, was attempting to provoke the U.S. into breaking relations. Apparently the Castro regime had now decided to undertake an all-out propaganda campaign against the Guantanamo Naval Base. Mr. Dulles did not believe a direct attack against the Base would be mounted but felt the propaganda campaign would probably include a large number of incidents, including possibly cutting off the water supply of the Base. Castro’s bitter anti-American speech last night2 indicated that Guantanamo would now be a major propaganda theme in Cuba. Efforts to tighten the Castro dictatorship and develop Communist control of Cuba are continuing. The last independent radio chain has been taken over by the Castro forces and the last vestige of an independent judiciary is fast disappearing. Castro is attempting to build a political machine at the grass roots. The CTC (Cuban Workers Confederation) has now been virtually captured by the Communists. Despite these developments, the Castro government was facing growing unrest throughout the country and active guerrilla operations in the Escambray area. The U.S. engineers working in that area had reported that travel on the roads was now hazardous and that gun fire continued through the night. However, the guerrilla groups in this area are not cooperating effectively. Cuban waterfront workers are dissatisfied. The Cuban economy is weak, consumer goods are scarce, prices are rising, and the oil refineries are curtailing their operations because of the corrosive effects of Soviet oil and a lack of spare parts. [Here follows discussion of matters unrelated to Cuba.]

Secretary Dillon said the U.S. was now beginning to implement certain actions with respect to Cuba and was clearing the decks for the forthcoming implementation of certain other actions. We had delivered a notice to the Cuban Government that the Nicaro plant would be shut down in thirty days.3 As a result of inter-agency agreement in Washington, recommendations had been sent to the President for the abolition of preferences for Cuba in the U.S. tariff.4 This action would have no immediate economic effect but might have some psychological repercussions and would, in any case, clear the way for later actions with respect to trade. The evacuation of U.S. citizens from [Page 1076] Cuba has been speeded up. Military dependents have already been evacuated and the dependents of diplomatic personnel are expected to be out of Cuba by Saturday.5 The evacuation of the dependents of U.S. Government employees is intended as an example to the other members of the U.S. community in Cuba, who have been advised to leave the country. Mr. Dillon said it was anticipated that recommendations would subsequently be made for strong economic action such as an embargo on the sale of any commodity to Cuba aside from food and medical supplies. The U.S. would also probably recall Ambassador Bonsal. We did wish to maintain a listening post in Cuba but feel that representation there at the ambassadorial level is no longer effective since the Ambassador’s movements have been restricted by the Castro regime and he has no influence with that regime. Mr. Dillon said all of these preparatory actions were the beginning of strong measures against the Castro regime.

The National Security Council:6

Noted an oral report by the Acting Secretary of State on recent and contemplated U.S. actions with respect to the situation in Cuba.

[Here follows discussion of matters unrelated to Cuba.]

Marion W. Boggs
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret. Prepared by Boggs.
  2. Apparently a reference to Castro’s speech upon his return to Havana on September 28. A summary of the speech printed in The New York Times, September 29, 1960, however, makes no mention of Guantanamo.
  3. For text of the Department of State press release of September 29 indicating that the Cuban Government had been informed that day of the U.S. Government’s intention to shut down operations at Nicaro in 30 days’ time, see Department of State Bulletin, October 17, 1960, pp. 604–605.
  4. This recommendation was made in a memorandum of September 19 from Dillon to the President. (Department of State, S/SNSC Files: Lot 66 D 95, Cuba Briefing Memos)
  5. October 1.
  6. The following paragraph constitutes NSC Action No. 2309. (Department of State, S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, Records of Action by the National Security Council)