117. Oral Statement From President Kennedy to Chairman Khrushchev0

The President wishes Mr.Khrushchev to know that he shares his view that the signing of the Test Ban Treaty and the recent exchange of views with the Soviet Government is encouraging, and he hopes it will be possible to proceed to the solution of other problems. The President is hopeful that the Test Ban Treaty will be approved by the United States Senate in the course of next week.

With respect to the Cuban situation, the President also agrees that the emergence of a new crisis would be in the interest neither of the Soviet Union nor of the United States, and can assure him that the United States will faithfully carry out its commitments.

With respect to any air attacks on Cuba, it can be stated categorically that not only was the United States not involved in any way in such attacks, [Page 308] but has been making every effort to prevent them. It is possible, but not likely, that a light private aircraft could take off from one of the large number of private fields in the southeastern portion of the United States. No such illegal flights have been detected by the means available to us. The President has directed, however, that the measures already taken be reviewed to see what further steps could be taken.

In keeping with the March 30, 1963 declaration by the Departments of State and Justice concerning hit and run attacks by Cuban exile groups against targets in Cuba, the law enforcement agencies are taking vigorous measures to assure that the pertinent laws of the United States are observed.

Apparently it is assumed that the United States exercises control over the policies and actions of the other sovereign, independent states of this Hemisphere. This assumption betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship between the United States and the other American Republics. The history of inter-American relations makes abundantly clear that the American Governments will not tolerate interference with their foreign or domestic affairs. The states in this Hemisphere jealously defend the principle of juridical equality of states and reject any insinuation that difference of size and power in any way modifies this fundamental rule governing their relations.

The United States could, of course, consult with any government in this Hemisphere from whose territory we have information indicating that flights were originating against Cuba, but, in all candor, we must point out that such consultation would be greatly complicated by the increasing sense of outrage among the governments of this Hemisphere about Cuba’s deliberate stimulations and support of subversive activities throughout the Hemisphere in direct violation of international norms. This is not simply a matter of speeches or words by Castro, as has sometimes been indicated. Clear evidence of Cuban involvement in this form of aggression is to be found in the fact that:

The Cuban Government is recruiting Latin Americans, sending them to Cuba for training in guerrilla tactics and returning them to their countries to engage in terroristic activities. A case in point is the Cuban-trained Peruvians captured on May 14 and 15, 1963, at Puerto Maldonado as they attempted clandestinely to enter Peru from Bolivia.
The Cuban Government is furnishing funds to revolutionary groups seeking the overthrow of governments by force and violence. By way of illustration, in May 1963, two leading members of the Ecuadorean Communist Party, Jose Maria Roura and Alejandro Roman were seized as they were returning to Ecuador. They were carrying over $30,000 which they confessed had been given them by Chinese and Cuban sources.
The Cuban leaders continue to exhort revolutionaries in Latin American countries to resort to sabotage, terrorism and guerrilla action. Premier Castro returned to this theme in his July twenty-sixth address when he called on activists in Venezuela and other countries to “open the breach” and begin fighting. Major Ernesto Guevera, in an article published in the September issues of Cuba Socialista, strongly advocates guerrilla warfare as the surest road to power in Latin America. Information available to us shows a direct connection between terroristic activities in Venezuela and the Castro regime. In addition to being guilty of such aggression against other American Republics by promoting these and other activities, the Cuban Government recently embarked on a most risky venture of direct violation of the territory and territorial waters of another country in this Hemisphere using units of its armed forces. On August 14, 1963, a Cuban helicopter and two patrol boats furnished by the Soviet Union forcibly removed from Cay Anguila, one of the islands of the Bahamas group, nineteen persons who had sought refuge on the island. This incident led to a vigorous protest by the British Government on August 21, 1963, requesting an apology and return of the persons taken prisoners.

In sum, it is not the United States, but the behavior of the Castro regime that is to blame for the difficulties in the Caribbean area.

  1. Source: Department of State, Presidential Correspondence: Lot 77 D 163. Secret. The source text is attached to a memorandum of conversation by Llewellyn Thompson that indicates that Thompson made the oral statement to Dobrynin on September 13.