11. Editorial Note

In briefing the National Security Council on January 5, 1961, on significant world developments affecting U.S. security, Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles offered the following assessment of developments relating to Cuba:

“Mr. Dulles reported that Castro had reacted violently and defiantly to the rupture in U.S.-Cuban diplomatic relations. The controlled Cuban press had hurled a great deal of invective at the U.S. On the eve of the rupture in diplomatic relations, Khrushchev had said at a Cuban reception in Moscow that the U.S. was pursuing a dangerous policy in attempting to suppress the Cuban revolution; while reiterating Soviet support for Cuba, he had remained vague as to the character of that support. [Page 18] Peru was pleased at our action in breaking off diplomatic relations; Chile had indicated it would not follow our example; Venezuela, Honduras and other countries were considering a rupture but will take no immediate action. Newspapers in Brazil are calling the present situation a crisis and suggesting that Latin American countries do not follow the U.S. lead. The President said this was a typical South American reaction. Continuing, Mr. Dulles said Panama seemed on the verge of declaring the Cuban Ambassador persona non grata while Mexico had remarked that it would now be difficult to influence Cuba and get rid of Castro. Secretary Herter said the reaction from Mexico had been much more moderate than anticipated.

“Mr. Dulles said that all Latin American Communists and Communist front groups were urging support for Castro. Apparently, Canada will continue to maintain relations with Cuba. Mr. Dulles said the 50,000 applicants for U.S. visas in Cuba were very distressed at the severance of diplomatic relations. He added that [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] the Soviet, Czechoslovakian, Polish, and Chinese Communist embassies in Cuba now contained about 100 persons and that 200 additional Bloc nationals not directly attached to the embassies were in Cuba. Five more Bloc countries—Hungary, Roumania, Albania, North Vietnam, and Mongolia—had been recognized by Cuba. Military equipment from the Bloc continues to arrive in Cuba.

“Secretary Anderson pointed out that economic controls had not been applied against Cuba. He thought such controls would have little effect now although they might have had some effect if applied a year ago. The Treasury Department was prepared to apply these controls if a political decision were made to do so. Secretary Herter said the application of these controls would involve invoking the Trading-with-the Enemy Act. Secretary Gates asked why it would not be desirable to apply such controls. He thought this would mean a desirable psychological move even though there was not much U.S.-Cuban trade at present. The President said that the Secretary of Commerce should be consulted with respect to our trade with Cuba. The Vice President noted that many people in Florida objected very strenuously to such trade as we still carried on with Cuba. Mr. Dulles said the businessmen he talked to believed that the elimination of our lard exports to Cuba would have a desirable effect because the Cuban people would blame Castro for the lack of lard.

“The President asked whether economic controls could be applied to Cuba without a public order. Secretary Herter said an Executive Order would be required. Secretary Anderson said the application of such controls would not have much economic effect now, so that the decision for such application should rest on a political judgment. The Vice President felt that economic controls should be applied to Cuba now that diplomatic relations with that country had been severed. In response to a [Page 19] question from the President, Mr. Randall said that while he had been opposed to the early invocation of the Trading-with-the-Enemy Act, he now favored using all the instruments at hand against Cuba and would, therefore, favor economic controls. The President asked Secretary Herter, consulting as necessary with Secretaries Anderson and Mueller, to let him have recommendations on the imposition of economic controls against Cuba.” (Memorandum of discussion at the 473d meeting of the National Security Council, prepared on January 5 by Deputy Executive Secretary Marion W. Boggs; Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records) The Trading with the Enemy Act was enacted on October 6, 1917. For text, and revisions, see 40 Stat. 411, as amended.