591. Memorandum for the record, January 71

[Facsimile Page 1]


  • Meeting of DCI with James B. Donovan

1. Mr. James B. Donovan met with the Director of Central Intelligence at Mr. McCone’s residence on the evening of 7 January 1963. Also present were Robert Hurwitch of State Department and [less than 1 line not declassified] of CIA. Mr. Donovan gave a brief summary of the [Typeset Page 1550] negotiations which resulted in the release of the Bay of Pigs prisoners. Donovan emphasized that his mission was still unfinished as there were Americans still imprisoned in Cuba. He said that he had recently sent a cable to Premier Castro thanking him for the courtesies extended during the recent negotiations and assuring him that future deliveries of Red Cross goods to Cuba were on schedule.

2. Mr. McCone asked Donovan about the effect recent stories about Government involvement in the prisoner release and the President’s speech in the Orange Bowl had on Donovan’s future relations with Castro. In terms of his status these events and stories were not particularly helpful, Donovan thought, particularly if Castro is listening to his dedicated Communist advisors. On the other hand, because he did not participate in the Orange Bowl ceremonies and has disassociated himself from the Government role in the prisoner exchange, he feels that the effect on his future negotiation role will be minimal. Donovan emphasized that in all of his negotiations he made it clear to the Cubans that his role was as a private citizen with no connection with the United States Government. Overall, because of his public disassociation, he feels that his position with Castro may be strengthened.

3. After a discussion of the present status of Red Cross shipments to Cuba, Mr. Donovan said that Castro had asked him [Facsimile Page 2] to look into the resumption of Pan American service to Havana. According to Donovan, Castro gave no reason for his great interest in this service. The Director then explained to Mr. Donovan that he was very interested in these facts because he would like to come to some decision as to the next move with regard to the release of the Americans, the resumption of Pan American flights, and the future flow of refugees from Cuba. Mr. Donovan said that partial information on these points could be gained by cable communication from Donovan to Castro stating that Donovan believed there was a good chance of resuming Pan American service. Mr. McCone, however, felt that the best way for accomplishing those enumerated objectives would be for Mr. Donovan to meet personally with Premier Castro, particularly in view of Castro’s personal invitation for Donovan to vacation in Cuba. Donovan agreed. Donovan pointed out that he has received a great deal of mail asking about the release of the American prisoners in Cuba. Donovan believes that the fate of these Americans is of the highest priority in any negotiations in Cuba.

4. Donovan summarized some of his impressions on the personalities of Minister of Economic Planning Boti and Commandante Vallejo, who is an advisor to Premier Castro and who, Donovan believes, is sympathetic to better relations with the United States. Mr. Donovan also gave some background on the question of his talks with Castro which are the basis for Castro’s invitation to Donovan to come to Havana to discuss philosophy of future relationships between the [Typeset Page 1551] United States and Cuba and “other things.” Mr. Donovan said that he had passed to Castro information on Toure’s disillusionment of Soviet aid and advisors, which information Mr. McCone had given to Donovan in October. According to Donovan, Castro told him that he wished to study this information. Donovan also said that he made a point in dealing with Castro, Boti, and Vallejo to make it clear that he considered them Latins and not Marxists. However, Donovan said that he had emphasized throughout his negotiations that he was not there to talk politics and therefore had little opportunity to discuss Cuban involvement with the Soviets.

5. Donovan agreed to initiate arrangements for a return to Havana with a target for his arrival shortly after the “Shirley Lykes” off-loads the second shipment of Red Cross goods in Havana. It was agreed that Donovan should go again as a private citizen to conclude certain arrangements which had been discussed in [Facsimile Page 3] connection with the release of the Bay of Pigs prisoners. The priority of his objectives in his talks with Castro shall be (1) the release of American prisoners (2) the resumption of Pan American flights to Havana and (3) the approval of the Cuban Government of travel to the United States of Cuban refugees. In connection with those three objectives the United States Government is most interested in any information Mr. Donovan can get from Premier Castro on the future alignment of Cuba.

6. According to Donovan, Castro told him that he was interested in the return of three Cubans facing trial in New York on charges of sabotage.

7. The initial move in Donovan’s return to Havana will involve Berta Barreto, who is in New York and a close personal friend of Celia Sanchez. Mrs. Barreto will be asked by Donovan to arrange permission for him to return to Cuba. Mr. McCone told Mr. Donovan a focal point for all Cuban problems including Donovan’s mission will be a new Office of Cuban Affairs. In summary Mr. McCone said the President had requested him to talk to Mr. Donovan about going to Cuba, and with the past history of negotiations and the fact that Donovan had done so well personally with Castro it suggested that Donovan should continue his successful rapport with Castro to the benefit of the United States. Mr. McCone said he realized that Mr. Donovan’s services were creating a personal financial hardship and hoped that something could be done to alleviate it, at least to extend the period over which taxes can be paid. Mr. Donovan will keep in regular contact with Messrs. Hurwitch and [less than 1 line not declassified] on developments.

[text not declassified]
  1. Meeting between McCone and James B. Donovan re outstanding issues in Bay of Pigs operation. Secret. 3 pp. CIA, DCI (McCone) Files: Job 80–01258A, Box 2, Memos for Record.