284. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Ford
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Cuba.]

Kissinger: We need to talk about Cuba.

The President: I noticed Panama attempting to rustle up support. It was turned down by Colombia.

Kissinger: Yes. But that won’t hold. Brazil is our only ally.

The President: Do you have any suggestions for a Cuban policy change?

Kissinger: There have been many appeals from Cuba. Castro wants to meet with me.

The Latin American Foreign Ministers are meeting in Buenos Aires next March. If we don’t violently oppose it, a consensus would probably develop to let the Cuban delegates come. They may quiet it. Or I could say we won’t be ready by March, but would discuss it then.

We have to loosen up or we isolate ourselves. But not high visibility like a Castro meeting; that would be a drastic policy change.

The President: What would we get out of it?

Kissinger: We would move grudgingly and hint of a change. We should work closely with Brazil. We should treat Cuba low-key as just another country.

The President: Would we give back the sugar quota?

Kissinger: Yes, but we shouldn’t do it. The issue is the trade embargo. We can lift it slowly or be blackmailed through U.S. subsidiaries. We don’t have to move for three months.

Nixon had strong personal views on Cuba. This would be a change of his policy.

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We should keep the initiative and not look like we were forced grudgingly.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Cuba.]

  1. Summary: Kissinger and Ford discussed the possibility of a change in policy toward Cuba.

    Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, 1973–1977, Box 5, August 15, 1974—Ford, Kissinger. Top Secret; Nodis. All brackets are in the original except those indicating text omitted by the editors. The meeting was held in the Oval Office.