170. Editorial Note

On April 22, 1961, Chairman Khrushchev wrote to President Kennedy in reply to Kennedyʼs letter of April 18 concerning Cuba (attachment to Document 130). In an 8-page letter, Khrushchev reiterated and expanded upon the charge of aggression against Cuba that he had leveled against the United States in his letter to Kennedy on April 18 (see Document 117). It had been proved beyond doubt, he stated, “that it was precisely the United States which prepared the intervention, financed its arming and transported the gangs of mercenaries that invaded the territory of Cuba.” Khrushchev dismissed Kennedyʼs concern for “freedom” in Cuba as in fact concern on the part of the United States to reestablish control over the Cuban economy, and he again pledged Soviet support for the revolutionary government of Fidel Castro. As he had done in his previous letter, Khrushchev implied that the Soviet Union would retaliate against U.S. aggression in Cuba by menacing United States interests elsewhere: “there can be no stable place in the world if anywhere war is aflame.” He stated, however, that the Soviet Union did not seek advantages or privileges in Cuba. “We have no bases in Cuba, and we do not intend to establish any.” (Department of State, Presidential Correspond-ence: Lot 77 D 163, Pen Pal Series, 1961-1964, Special US-USSR File, 1961) For text of the letter, see Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, volume VI, pages 1016.

The Department of State issued a statement on April 22 in response to the letter from Khrushchev that day. The Department dismissed the letter as unworthy of further reply: “The President will not be drawn into [Page 325] an extended public debate with the Chairman on the basis of this latest exposition of the Communist distortion of the basic concepts of the rights of man.” (Department of State Bulletin, May 8, 1961, page 663)