298. Telegram 158509/Tosec 50138 From the Department of State to Secretary of State Kissinger in the Virgin Islands1
158509/Tosec 50138. Subject: Briefing Memorandum: Unusual Cuban Exercise in Politeness. To the Secretary from Rogers.
1. The Swiss Embassy informed us July 2 that Dr. Raul Roa, the Cuban Foreign Minister, called in Serra, the Swiss Ambassador in Havana on June 30 to request him to convey to the Department of State the appreciation of the Cuban Government for the courteous treatment accorded to Cuban participants in the Ninth International Congress of Mediterranean Agriculture in Los Angeles June 14–22. It was clear from the démarche (copy of Swiss Embassy Havana’s reporting telegram attached) that Roa was thanking the U.S. Government for issuing visas to the Cuban delegation. The phrasing is effusively polite.
2. My analysis of this unusual, if not unprecedented Cuban step is as follows:
—In accordance with standard policy guidelines we issued visas to the Cubans, after checking with the hosts of the conference in Los Angeles, that the Cubans would be welcome;
—The Cubans may have contrasted the Los Angeles conference with our refusal to permit Cubans to attend a comparable conference on sugar cane in 1971 and World Energy Conference in September 1974, and may only belatedly perceived our policy to liberalize issuance of visas to Cubans to attend non-governmental conferences or events in accordance with your decision last December;
—However, we did grant visas to Cuban law students to participate in a moot court at Johns Hopkins in April and also in April informed the American Ballet Company in New York that we would be prepared to issue a visa this month to the famous Cuban ballerina Alicia Alonzo to participate in their 30th anniversary celebrations;
—It thus seems more likely that the Cuban Government is responding to your recent public statements that we will discuss changes in attitude with Cuba in private (June 16 Public Broadcasting inter[Page 802]view) and that Castro knows how to get in touch with us (May 7 Today show).
(Informal translation of telegram dictated in French, on the phone, to ARA/CCA by Swiss Embassy Washington on July 2, 1975)
1. Minister of Foreign Relations, Dr. Roa, summoned me Monday, June 30, in the afternoon, upon his return from Santiago de Cuba where he had accompanied the Prime Minister of Sweden during his visit here. Roa wanted to stress his government’s gratitude for the help and excellent treatment received by the Cuban delegation which participated in the meeting of the non-governmental organizations of agricultural producers in Los Angeles.
2. Minister declared that this delegation returned delighted after a prolonged visit in the United States where it had been able to move freely, visit various factories of canning, port facilities and others regarding transportation and commercialization of agricultural products. Contacts were extremely cordial and educational.
3. Although necessary visas had been requested through the Czechoslovakian Embassy in Washington, Minister wanted that your Embassy be the one to express to the Department of State appreciation of Cuban Government for the gracious reception and confidence shown to the above mentioned delegation.
Summary: The Department informed Kissinger of a Cuban expression of gratitude for the courteous treatment of a delegation to a conference in Los Angeles, observing that the Cuban note might reflect a belated recognition that U.S. policies on visa issuance for Cuban officials had been liberalized or that it might represent a response to recent statements by the Secretary indicating a willingness to establish contacts with the Cuban Government.
Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D750231–1001. Confidential; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted by Gleysteen, cleared by Luers and Barbian, and approved by Rogers.↩