286. Memorandum From Stephen Low of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Visas for Cuban Delegation to the Ninth World Energy Conference

In late July President Nixon decided against admitting Cubans to the U.S. in order to participate in the World Energy Conference (WEC) in Detroit, September 23rd (Tab A). This decision was communicated to the State Department on August 2nd and the Conference organizers were informed that visas would not be issued.

Subsequently President Ford received a letter from Walker Cisler, a personal friend and president of the WEC, appealing for authorization of visas to permit entry of the Cuban delegation (Tab B). George Schultz has also called Brent Scowcroft a number of times in Cisler’s support.

The Conference has the support of the Congress and the Executive. President Ford will make its opening address. Refusal to admit the Cubans will undoubtedly occasion adverse publicity because of the high visibility of the meeting, the non-political nature of WEC, and USG vigorous support for the meeting. The State Department has reviewed the matter and again recommended in favor of admitting the Cubans. It contends that their participation would not be a sufficiently significant departure from present practice to signal a basic change in policy, and that the attention which may be aroused can be dealt with in terms of the worldwide nature of the Conference and its similarity to the type of gatherings we normally permit Cubans to attend (Tab C).

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On the other hand, the Cubans have made known their intention to send a high-level delegation headed by a vice minister. They will undoubtedly draw considerable attention. Their participation, together with the story, which would undoubtedly become known, that President Ford had reversed a decision of President Nixon on the matter, would be taken as a clear signal of our intention to modify our bilateral Cuban policy. This would lead to increased pressure on us from exporters, academic and other groups seeking full resumption of diplomatic and trade relations with Cuba. Undecided Latin countries would also take such a decision as further evidence that we were modifying our basic Cuba policy, causing a weakening of the bargaining leverage we retain in the OAS.


Based on the above considerations, I recommend that you sign the attached memorandum to the President, recommending against permitting Cuban entry for the WEC (Tab I).

Dave Elliott and Clint Granger concur.

  1. Summary: This memorandum raised the question of attendance by Cuban representatives at an upcoming World Energy Conference and recommended reaffirming the decision not to make an exception to rules limiting the issuance of visas to Cubans.

    Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Latin America, 1974–1977, Country Files, Box 3, Cuba 1. Confidential. Sent for action. Attached but not published are: an undated, unsigned draft memorandum from Kissinger to Ford (Tab I), an August 2 memorandum from Kissinger to Ingersoll reporting Nixon’s decision not to admit Cuban attendees (Tab A), an August 23 letter from Chairman Walker Cisler of the International Executive Council of the World Energy Conference to Ford asking that visas be made available for a Cuban delegation to the meeting (Tab B), and a September 5 memorandum from Springsteen to Scowcroft giving the Department of State’s view that the Cubans should be permitted to attend (Tab C), and a September 12 note from Scowcroft to Low that reads: “The decision is reaffirmed. Cubans will not be invited.” (Ibid., NSC Latin American Affairs Staff Files, 1974–1977, Box 3, Cuba—Scientists’ Problems 2)