75. Editorial Note

At his press conference on July 1, Secretary Dulles was asked whether he contemplated “any new actions to try to obtain the release of a number of citizens held in Cuba.” The Secretary replied:

“I believe that certain efforts are being made on an informal basis to obtain the release of Americans; also, some Canadians are included among those who have been kidnapped. We hope that those efforts will be successful. It is hard to understand exactly why these kidnappings are taking place or what gain can be expected from such conduct, and we hope very much that it will be reversed.”

Dulles later was asked whether there was any connection between the kidnapping of Americans in Cuba and similar incidents that had occurred elsewhere in the world. He said that there was no relationship among the incidents and observed further:

“The effort to get political advantage out of these things is, I think, a very improper course of action. I believe that it is going to be counterproductive for those who try it. I think, as soon as they realize that it is counterproductive, that then they will act accordingly. I can’t think of anything that would be worse than, in effect, to pay blackmail to get people out. We are willing to use any proper methods to get them out, short of paying blackmail. If we started doing that, then that would only encourage further efforts to use Americans as hostages.

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“I believe that we will obtain the release of those now held, whether they be in Cuba or East Germany or the Soviet Union, as soon as it is apparent that it is not possible to make political gains out of it.”

When asked what he meant by the term “blackmail”, the Secretary answered that, with regard to Cuba, the only inference that could be drawn was that the rebels wanted “to bring about United States intervention in the internal affairs of Cuba, which we do not intend to do.” When asked to comment on the rebels’ claim that the United States was intervening in the internal affairs of Cuba by supplying the Cuban Government aircraft and allowing them the use of Guantanamo as a base and that the kidnappings were retaliation for these actions, Dulles replied: “That allegation about the use of our base is totally unfounded.” (Department of State Bulletin, July 21, 1958, pages 104–111)