235. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1 2

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  • Cuban Fishing Boat Case

It now appears that the problem created by the seizure of four Cuban fishing boats for fishing within the 12 mile limit will be resolved within the next several days. You will recall that the Coast Guard seized one vessel and the Florida Marine Patrol seized an additional three boats which were being escorted outside territorial waters by the Coast Guard at the time. The net result was a potentially serious problem between ourselves and the Cubans and also a problem of conflict between state and federal authority. The affair was partially untangled late last week when the State of Florida ceded jurisdiction to the federal government over the three vessels it had captured providing the federal government agreed to prosecute.

The Cubans, through their representatives, have now agreed to settle out of court for the payment by them of $25,500 in fees and fines. This amount should be paid today, but it may be several days before the necessary legal procedures have been completed and the boats can leave.

Although the Cuban Government has made no public declarations the press has already denied that the vessels were fishing inside the 12 mile limit and referred to US actions as blackmail. It is possible that the Cubans will retaliate at the first opportunity, perhaps when the next US-airliner is hijacked to Cuba. Charges equalling the amount of fines paid in this case may be levied against the aircraft. In addition charges equalling the $5,000 a day which the Cuban Government claims the arrest of the four vessels has cost the Cuban economy may be levied. It is also possible that the aircraft and its crew may be held for a time equalling that which the Cuban vessels were held in Florida.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 781, Country Files, Latin America, Cuba, Vol. III, 1971. Confidential. Sent for information. Although not initialed by Kissinger, an attached NSC routing sheet indicates that this memorandum was sent to the President on March 8.
  2. Kissinger reported on the status of the Cuban fishing boat case.