5. Central Intelligence Agency Intelligence Information Cable1
- Mid-February 1977
- Cuban Desire to Begin Direct Negotiations for Renewed Relations With the U.S. as Soon as Possible
- [1 line not declassified]
- [3 lines not declassified]
Summary: [2½ lines not declassified] Cuba wants to begin direct negotiations with the U.S. for renewed relations as soon as possible. The Cubans hope to achieve full diplomatic relations quickly through direct negotiations with agreement on both sides to pursue immediately thereafter specific issues, such as the release of U.S. prisoners, U.S. economic sanctions against Cuba and the existence of the Guantanamo base. He said the Cubans also want these negotiations to begin immediately so the anti-hijacking agreement with the U.S. may be renegotiated. End summary.
1. [3 lines not declassified], regarding the possibility of renewed relations between Cuba and the U.S. According to the Cuban official, the Cuban hierarchy is in unanimous agreement that negotiations with the U.S. should begin as soon as possible and that these negotiations should be conducted directly between representatives of the two countries rather than through an intermediary such as Mexico. The Cuban official said that the Cubans are interested in the possibility of renewed relations because of the desire to adhere to the socialist concept of peaceful coexistence and for obvious pragmatic economic reasons. They believe that such negotiations should begin as soon as possible before U.S. politicians jeopardize their commencement through assertions that the U.S. must insist on preconditions before meeting with Cuban officials. He explained that Fidel Castro Ruz, Cuban President of the Coun[Page 12]cils of State and Ministers, in defense of his own political considerations might react negatively to such statements and torpedo the negotiations before they even get started.
2. The Cuban official enumerated several of the obstacles to renewed relations with the U.S., such as U.S. economic sanctions against Cuba, imprisoned U.S. citizens in Cuba, and the continued existence of the Guantanamo base. He insisted, however, that relations with the U.S. now have such a high priority that senior Cuban officials would not allow any issue to block negotiations. He added that the important first step of direct communication should lead quickly to full diplomatic relations with agreement on both sides to pursue the specific issues immediately thereafter. As an example, the Cuban official said that he believed all U.S. prisoners would be released very soon after negotiations begin but that such topics as U.S. implementation of the 200-mile fishing zone and frozen Cuban assets in the U.S. might take longer to resolve.
3. The Cuban official said that another motive for Cuba’s wanting negotiations to begin immediately is the need to renegotiate the anti-hijacking agreement which is of great importance for both nations. Referring to the crash of the Cubana airliner in October 19762 which resulted in Cuba’s withdrawal from the anti-hijacking agreement with the U.S., he said the world is full of demented persons against whom both the U.S. and Cuba must take precautions.
4. The Cuban official said that perhaps the most significant benefit which the U.S. would gain from renewed relations is access of U.S. business to the nearby Cuban market. He said that at high levels in Havana the Cubans are talking in terms of U.S. business gaining U.S. $900 million the first year following renewed relations through trade with Cuba. As to benefits to be gained by the Cubans, he said, Cuba’s economic problems might be somewhat alleviated by the ability to sell its sugar to the U.S. market, which is scant hours away by ship.
5. (Headquarters Comment: A regular source [1 line not declassified] reported that in late January 1977 a Cuban military attache in Latin America said that the Cuban Government expects the new U.S. administration to establish diplomatic relations with Cuba. The military attache said that Cuba needs to renew relations with the U.S. because of Cuba’s economic problems and its need to regain the U.S. market. He also said that the U.S. would have to lift the economic blockade before Cuba will make any move toward improving relations with the U.S.)
6. Field Dissem: None.
- Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Pastor, Country, Box 10, Cuba, 1–2/77. Secret; Sensitive; Noforn; Nocontract.↩
- Cubana Flight 455 crashed on October 6, 1976, en route to Jamaica, killing 73 people. A subsequent analysis of the crash concluded that the plane was brought down by two bombs on board. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–11, Part 1, Documents on Mexico; Central America; and the Caribbean, 1973–1976, Documents 319, 320, 321, and 322.↩