101. Memorandum From the Presidentʼs Special Assistant (Schlesinger) to President Kennedy0


  • Conversation with Dr. Miro Cardona

On April 13 Mr. Berle and I had a conversation with Dr. Miro Cardona at the Century Club in New York.

Our purpose was to put over to him the two points mentioned in last Wednesdayʼs meeting:1 (1) that no U.S. troops would be sent in support of the Cuban anti-Castro operations; and (2) that, if the Revolutionary Council goes to Cuba and proclaims itself a Provisional Government, recognition will not be automatic.


On the first point, Dr. Cardona displayed considerable resist-ance. He said that, if the Cuban movement against Castro failed, not only the Revolutionary Council but the United States would be held responsible. Everyone knows, Dr. Cardona said, that the United States is behind the Cuban operation.

Dr. Cardona declared that, if the Cuban patriots succeeded in establishing a provisional government on a Cuban beach-head, and if things then began to go wrong, he plans to call for help from all the countries of the hemisphere—including the United States. “This help must come,” Dr. Cardona said. If the Cuban patriots win as a result of U.S. intervention, no one will care. If they lose, then the U.S. will have suffered a severe defeat on its own doorstep, Communism will be consolidated in Cuba, and the Castro movement will move on to tear down the Inter-American system. “You must understand what will happen to your interests if we lose. You must commit yourselves to full support of our efforts.”

On the question of recognition, Dr. Cardona seemed to understand that this was dependent on circumstances and would not be automatic.
On the question of possible negotiation with the Castro regime, Dr. Cardona argued that any suggestions to this effect coming from pro-Castro quarters were serving Castroʼs purposes. “Negotiation is the maneuver of a man who is losing.” If such suggestions were taken up, the only effect would be to prolong Castroʼs tenure of power. The proper response to such suggestions should be that this is a Cuban affair and that, so long as Castro remains in power, there is nothing to negotiate.

Dr. Cardona raised the question of the operational plans. “There must be some military plan I donʼt know about. I would like to know about it for purposes of coordination. I donʼt want to know these things—but I have to know to make our efforts effective.” He suggested the establishment of some sort of liaison with the operational side. We said that we would pass this request on but offered him no hope that it might be fulfilled. We see no reason why it should be.

Dr. Cardona predicted that, once landings take place, 10,000 Cubans would immediately align themselves with the “invading” forces.

Dr. Cardona struck me as a proud, intelligent and liberal minded man. He is a serious person and will not be easily moved from his present position. Nonetheless I think a very tough effort should be made to get him to accept the Presidentʼs press conference statement concerning the non-commitment of U.S. troops as the basis for his future relations with the United States.2
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.3
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 731.00/4-1461. Secret.
  2. April 12; see Document 92.
  3. In response to a question during a press conference at the White House on April 12, President Kennedy stated that “there will not be, under any conditions, an intervention in Cuba by the United States Armed Forces. This Government will do everything it possibly can … to make sure that there are no Americans involved in any actions inside Cuba. (Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1961, p. 258)
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.