273. Circular telegram 43380 From the Department of State to Certain Diplomatic Posts1

43380. Subject: U.S. Policy Toward Cuba. For Ambassador.

1. At the earliest opportunity you are instructed to call on the Foreign Minister to give him the following message from the Secretary: Quote Dear ______:

As you know, the United States and Cuba have recently concluded an agreement on hijacking which we are hopeful will serve as an effective deterrent to this serious crime. We are aware, however, that the agreement may have raised some question about our general position on Cuba.

It is important that there be no misunderstanding on this matter, and for this reason President Nixon has asked that I assure you that the United States Government firmly supports the OAS sanctions respecting Cuba and intends to continue doing so until Cuba alters its policies toward the hemisphere. If Cuba’s policies and actions should some day warrant a change on our part, I also wish to assure you categorically that we would not proceed unilaterally but only in concert with our fellow members in the OAS after full and prior consultation with you. Sincerely, William P. Rogers. Unquote.

2. In discussing this letter with the Foreign Minister you should emphasize that in his February 15 statement on the signing of the hijacking agreement the Secretary carefully pointed out that this does not [Page 728] quote constitute a change in our overall policy toward Cuba unquote and in his press conference following the signing the Secretary repeatedly made it clear in response to questions that, quote this (the agreement) does not foreshadow a change of policies as far as the United States is concerned toward Cuba unquote and that, quote we don’t notice any change in the policies and attitudes (of Cuba) and therefore our position remains the same unquote. In this connection you may also wish to recall the President’s comment on Cuba in an interview with the Washington Evening Star published after the election that quote there will be no change whatever (in U.S. policy toward Cuba) unless Premier Castro changes his policy toward Latin America and the U.S.—and I do not anticipate this will happen. Unquote.

3. Should the Foreign Minister raise questions about the specific Cuban policies to which we object you may say that they include Cuba’s hostile attitude toward the U.S., its efforts to assist subversion in other hemisphere countries as well as its military ties with the USSR. As appropriate, additional material you may wish to draw on includes: the still valid statements on Cuba in the President’s February 1972 Report to the Congress on U.S. Foreign Policy and in the Secretary’s Annual Report on U.S. Policy for 1971; Deputy Assistant Secretary Hurwitch’s vision article of September 9 which discusses the policy at some length (State’s 171684); Mr. Meyer’s comments on Cuba in a November 8 Associated Press interview (State’s 203974); and the Department’s reaction to the establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba by Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana stressing our view that any change in application of the OAS sanctions should only result from collective action by all OAS member states after the OAS has decided that Cuba is no longer a threat to the peace and security of the hemisphere (State’s 224911).

4. Please report the reactions of the Foreign Ministers.

  1. Summary: The Department instructed Ambassadors to many Latin American countries to inform their host governments that the hijacking agreement with Cuba did not signal a change in U.S. policy and that the United States still firmly supported OAS sanctions against Cuba.

    Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files, 1970–1973, POL CUBA–US. Limited Official Use. Drafted by Philip Johnson in ARA/CCA; cleared by Hurwitch, Norbury, Ford, and Meyer; and approved by Rogers. Sent to Asunción, Bogotá, Buenos Aires, Brasilia, Caracas, Guatemala City, La Paz, Managua, Panama City, Bridgetown, Georgetown, Kingston, Lima, Port of Spain, Mexico City, and Santiago. In a March 23 memorandum to Kissinger, Eliot reported that the Latin American governments that received this message appreciated the U.S. statement but that their reactions had indicated that the OAS sanctions policy was on an uncertain footing. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Country Files, Box 781, Latin America, Cuba, Vol. IV, 1972) In telegram 58440 to Asunción, Bogotá, Buenos Aires, Brasilia, San Salvador, Guatemala City, La Paz, Managua, Montevideo, Port-au-Prince, San José, Santo Domingo, and Tegucigalpa, March 29, the Department requested that Ambassadors reemphasize the United States’s position on Cuba “if you now have any doubts about your host govt’s intentions.” (Ibid., RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, [no film number]) Telegram 171684 was not found. Telegram 203974 to Mbabane is dated October 15. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, [no film number]) Telegram 224911 to Marshall Islands is dated November 14. (Ibid.)