597. Memorandum From John C. Pool of the Office of Caribbean and Mexican Affairs to the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Mann)1


  • US Diplomatic Representation in Habana in the Event that Castro Breaks Relations with us

With reference to my memo to you of October 4th (copy attached)2 suggesting that we ask the British to represent us in Habana in the event that Castro breaks diplomatic relations with us, you will in the meantime have seen the three memos of conversations which CMA has had with Miss Gillian Brown of the British Embassy, the matter having been brought up by her, not by us. From the last one of [Page 1101] these, dated October 21st (copy attached)3 it is abundantly clear that the British do not want to assume our representation and that they feel strongly enough about it to attempt to stave off the request. If we should ask them to do so it is believed we would be turned down—unless the request were made at a very high level. I do not recommend that the request be made.

As for the British suggestion that we ask the Canadians, that should be ruled out because of the way the Canadians are acting about our export control policy. It is rather apparent that (1) they want to maintain their favored position in Cuba and would be reluctant to do anything which might undermine it, (2) they would therefore not want us to ask them and (3) they would probably turn us down if we did.

That would leave us the following countries to choose from: Belgium, The Netherlands, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Japan. West Germany is out, for she will be breaking relations with Castro herself if Castro recognizes East Germany, which seems quite likely. (West Germany has already approached the Swiss re: representing them in that event). Thus the field is narrowed still further.

All things considered, I would recommend that we ask the Swiss. Switzerland is, of course, a neutral country and is quite accustomed to representing others. On October 25th, we informally and confidentially requested the Swiss Counselor of the Embassy to sound out his government regarding its willingness to assume our representation in Habana.4 His personal reaction was favorable and we are now awaiting the official reaction of the Swiss Government.

According to the latest Habana diplomatic list the Swiss have an Ambassador and one attaché there. If we can maintain a Consulate in Habana, whoever represents us would presumably not have too much to do. If Castro does not let us keep our staff in a consular capacity, we could presumably have some of our officers assigned to the Swiss Embassy—this contingency is already provided for in the Dominican Republic. Or, if the Swiss must have additional local employees because of the work they would be doing for us, we can make arrangements to pay them, Tom Linthicum says.

When the time comes, if we should announce that the Swiss are representing us, the press and others might well ask why. Everyone knows it is our usual practice to ask the British, and would wonder whether the fact that we did not do so in this case might represent a split in the allied camp. We could well say that we did not ask them [Page 1102] because they too have been targets of attack by the Castro regime; that we did not want to jeopardize their position in Cuba; that we decided to ask the Swiss, who are well known as neutrals, and have had long experience in handling the diplomatic representation of other countries.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.37/10–2660. Official Use Only. Drafted by John C. Pool and Vallon and routed to Mann through Vallon and Coerr. Initialed by Pool, Vallon, and Coerr.
  2. Not printed. It was drafted by Pool, but sent from Vallon to Mann and other addressees in ARA.
  3. Not attached to the source text; a copy is ibid., 611.37/10–2160. A memorandum of Pool and Vallon’s conversation with Brown on October 3, at which time she raised the question of British representation of U.S. interests in Cuba in the event of a break in U.S.-Cuban relations, is ibid., 611.37/10–360. A memorandum of Pool’s conversation with Brown on October 19 is ibid., 611.37/10–1960.
  4. A memorandum of this conversation is ibid., 611.37/10–2560.