Chapter VIII - Latin America

Part 1


Section A - Canada-Cuba Relations

603. DEA/2444-40

Memorandum from Ambassador in United States to Secretary of State for External Affairs


Ottawa, January 13, 1962

Cuba; U.S. Policy; Further Trade Restrictions

After dinner last evening, the U.S. Under-Secretary of State (Ball) and the Secretary of the Treasury (Dillon) informed us that, soon after the forthcoming OAS meeting (January 22), it was the U.S. Administration’s intention to suspend remaining U.S. transactions with Cuba – if OAS did not take united action in this regard, the U.S. would proceed unilaterally.

  1. As I understood it, the Administration had come to the conclusion that it could no longer tolerate provision to Cuba from U.S. sources of some $30 million U.S. This revenue derived from U.S. purchases of Cuban goods remaining on the permissible list, including tobacco. Whether or not the forthcoming action will include all U.S. exports as well as imports was not clear.
  2. The U.S. Secretaries said that they were not asking us to take any consequential action; they simply wished us to know in advance what they proposed doing. So far as Dillon knew, there would be no particular effects of the new order on Canada (in answer to my question on U.S.-owned subsidiaries). There were no problems between us on administration of present U.S. regulations. Dillon did not know whether the action intended would be taken under the FAC regulations (Trading with the Enemy) or under new Presidential powers.

A.D.P. H[eeney]

604. DEA/11049-40

Ambassador in United States to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 207

Washington, January 22, 1962

Secret. Canadian Eyes Only. OpImmediate.

Reference: My personal memo to you Jan 13.
Repeat for Information: T&C Ottawa (OpImmediate), Finance Ottawa, PCO Ottawa (OpImmediate) from Ottawa.

USA Policy – Cuban Trade

At the suggestion of Martin (Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs), we saw Hurwich, Head of Cuban Desk (State Department) last week to obtain clarification of some of the points which came up in the private conversation between USA Secretaries and Canadian Ministers in Ottawa regarding future USA policy towards Cuba. Hurwich said that USA hoped that the current OAS Conference at Punta Del Este would result in a general condemnation of the Castro régime. He said that their latest information was twelve of the Latin American countries felt strongly about Cuba and would go along with the Colombian proposals for economic and diplomatic sanctions; however, seven Latin American countries including Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Chile were not repeat not prepared to go as far as this. It was not repeat not possible, therefore, to anticipate the exact nature of the decisions that might be reached at the conference.

  1. Notwithstanding, as Ball had indicated to you in Ottawa, USA Administration itself intended to proceed with further steps against Cuba. The timing of such measures would depend on the results of the OAS Conference. Final decisions had not repeat not yet been reached, but the likelihood was that USA would cease all further trade and economic relations with Cuba. USA imports from Cuba last year were about $30 million (mainly tobacco, fruits and vegetables). USA exports to Cuba of items outside the embargo (food and drugs) were about $12 to $15 million.
  2. On the basis of USA intelligence reports, Hurwich continued, it was apparent that economic and living conditions in Cuba were deteriorating rapidly and that there was increased dissatisfaction and resentment against the régime. Some 1500 Cuban refugees were coming to USA each week. Cuban Government was increasingly turning to repressive measures. USA wished to make conditions as difficult as possible for the régime and also to make Soviet support of Cuba as costly as possible.
  3. The next several months, USA estimates, will be a crucial period. Cuba was now launching its four-year plan and urgently required foreign exchange and essential equipment. Capital goods and equipment to be obtained from Soviet sources under trade agreements would not repeat not be arriving in Cuba until the end of the year. During this “hiatus” it was important to deny Cuba alternative sources of supply.
  4. We were told that the further economic action by USA was to be taken after the OAS Conference and (hopefully) some time in February. It had not repeat not yet been decided whether the action would be under the trading with the Enemy Act (foreign assets control), or under new legislation (Section 620(a) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (paragraph 23 of our letter 1621 November 17/61.) This new provision authorized the President to establish a “complete embargo on all trade with Cuba” and was being interpreted in broad terms along lines similar to the foreign assets control regulations. It was likely, therefore, that USA measures against Cuba would be all-encompassing, affecting exports, imports, in transit movements, financial transactions and operations of USA subsidiaries abroad.
  5. We reminded Hurwich of the discussions that had taken place last yearFootnote 1 (during the Washington meetings of the Joint Committee) between Canadian Ministers and USA Secretaries regarding subsidiaries in Canada and particularly the assurances we had then received that USA subsidiaries in Canada would be completely exempted from the operation of USA action. Canadian Ministers on that occasion, we emphasized, had made it clear that they would expect any such exemption to be unconditional.
  6. In response, Hurwich assumed that the position in this last regard continued unchanged. (This was subsequently confirmed to us in categorical terms by Martin, Assistant Secretary Economic Affairs.) Hurwich went on to say that, while exemptions for subsidiaries in Canada would doubtless be unconditional, he thought it likely that Canadian authorities would be asked whether it might be possible for them to review Canadian trade with Cuba, with a view to restricting exports of sensitive items (such as, transformers and parts for equipment). Hurwich understood that USA Administration was considering making similar requests also to other free world countries; without such cooperation USA embargo would fail in its purpose.
  7. We did not repeat not, of course attempt to forecast the response which Canada would make to any such request but took the opportunity to reiterate the Canadian position as previously expressed by Ministers (reference my telegram 820 March 15/61). We were assured that we would be given advance information as to the nature of USA decisions before any action was taken.
  8. As you know, the Cuban problem is presently before the OAS at Punte Del Este and, from current reports, it is as yet in doubt what action will be taken by the conference.

[A.D.P.] Heeney

605. DEA/4723-D-40

Ambassador in United States to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 354

Washington, February 6, 1962

Secret. OpImmediate.

Reference: Our Tel 327 Feb 3.†
Repeat for Information: T&C Ottawa (OpImmediate), Permis New York, NATO Paris, Paris, London (Priority), Prime Minister’s Office Ottawa, PCO Ottawa, Finance Ottawa (OpImmediate) from Ottawa.

USA and Cuba; Recent Development; Canadian Involvement

The February 3 announcement by the White House of additional embargo measures on trade with Cuba (our reference telegram) opened a further chapter in the Administration’s policy toward Cuba and Communism in the Western Hemisphere.

  1. You will recall that, when USA Secretaries were in Ottawa for the meeting of the Joint Economic Committee, there was some private discussion on this subject.Footnote 2 At the time, we were told that, soon after the OAS Meeting, it was the Administration’s intention to suspend remaining USA trade with Cuba (with the possible exception of USA exports of foods and medicines); if the Punta del Este Conference did not repeat not take action multilaterally, USA would proceed unilaterally. The point was made to us at that time that the Administration had come to the conclusion that it could no repeat no longer tolerate provision to Cuba from USA sources of USA dollars (estimated at some $35 million annually) from USA purchases of goods remaining on the permissible list (largely tobacco).
  2. Subsequently we reported (our telegram 207 January 22) on the basis of further information provided us by State Department officials on the steps USA planned to take.
  3. Following the meeting at Punta del Este, and the day before the presidential announcement and proclamation (my telegram 327 February 3), we were informed by the State Department of the substance of the proposed statement (our telegram 322 February 2†).
  4. Thus it can be said that USA authorities were careful to give us advance notice of their intentions. On none of these occasions, however, it should be noted, was there any suggestion of any action on our part.
  5. It should also be noted that the procedure employed thus far, i.e. the import embargo under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 is such as to minimize the likelihood of consequential problems for Canada (as might have been the case under the Foreign Assets Control Regulations). This is in accordance with what USA Secretaries told us in Ottawa.
  6. When the Secretary of State returned from Punta del Este, he met at once with the President, and shortly afterwards (February 1) with the press.Footnote 3 At his press conference, in reply to questions, Rusk forecast action on the lines taken and announced on February 3, expressing USA concern that Cuban dollar revenues were being used by Cuba for subversive purposes elsewhere in the hemisphere.
  7. It was on this occasion and at this point that zealous correspondents asked the Secretary whether a problem did not repeat not arise in connection with Cuban-Canadian trade. While I am satisfied that the Secretary did not repeat not wish or intend to highlight the particular case of Canada, he replied to the effect that this question “would be taken up” but that he had “no repeat no comment” at this time. In reply to an immediately supplementary question from a Canadian correspondent, Rusk made it clear that he was “not repeat not referring to any single country.” He did, however, express the hope that “other countries” would consider whether they might not repeat not align their policies with the policies of the Inter-American system (our telegram 313 February 2† reports the text).
  8. You will have seen from my telegrams 336† and 343† February 5 that the Secretary of State testified yesterday before the House Select Committee on Export Control. His general statement with regard to Cuba made no repeat no specific reference to Canada. He did, however, say, as you will have noted, that “We (USA) expect that increased control of trade with Cuba by USA and Latin American countries will make evident to the member governments of NATO and other states friendly to USA the need to re-examine their trade policies and the extent of their commerce with Castro Communist Government of Cuba.” You will also have noted the reference to Canada in answer to supplementary questions.
  9. In the period ahead it will be very important for us to continue to do what we can to ensure that the facts of the Canadian position are understood in USA Government (Congress as well as Administration) and, to the extent possible, by public opinion. So far as the Administration is concerned, there has been a good history of consultation between us on this subject. The press and public opinion constitute a more difficult problem. As you know, everything in this country to do with Cuba is charged with emotion and strong feeling. For this reason, Americans tend to be especially critical of those who take a different view, particularly of friends in the hemisphere. When one adds to this widespread public ignorance of the attitudes of others, the results can be most unhappy for Canadian-American “public” relations.
  10. The next step presumably will be for USA to approach other friendly governments engaged in trade with Cuba to learn whether and to what extent their trade policies can be reviewed in the light of the Punta del Este decisions.

[A.D.P.] Heeney

606. DEA/4723-D-40

Ambassador in United States to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 355

Washington, February 6, 1962

Confidential. OpImmediate.

Reference: Our Tel 354 Feb 6.

Repeat for Information: T&C Ottawa (OpImmediate), Permis New York, NATO Paris, Paris, London (Priority), Prime Minister’s Office Ottawa, PCO Ottawa, Finance Ottawa (OpImmediate) from Ottawa.

USA and Cuba; Press Treatment of Canadian Position

On February 2 and 3, several newspapers carried misleading and inaccurate accounts of the Canadian position on trade with Cuba. Because of this, and as we had just received the text of the Prime Minister’s statement in the House of February 2, I thought it wise to make the facts available over the weekend on as wide a basis as possible. We, therefore, prepared and issued from the Embassy the press release repeated in my telegram 327 February 3.† As you will have noted, it is based on previous official statements. Copies were taken by Embassy officers early that (Saturday) afternoon to all the wire services, the New York Times, the New York Herald Tribune (whose story that morning had been particularly inaccurate and mischievous) and the Washington Post, and delivered to all Canadian correspondents in Washington. The text was also wired for press use to all Canadian consulates in USA as well as to Ottawa.

  1. A check made since has shown that the Embassy’s statement was carried by UPI in USA and in Latin America, and by AP in USA. It was also carried by Reuters and by Agence France Presse. It went by special correspondent to at least one Brazilian newspaper. As is inevitably the case with such “corrections,” however, it did not repeat not receive as considerable or prominent treatment as the earlier (misleading) stories.
  2. On Monday, February 5, the same statement was sent by our information office to two hundred editorial writers, columnists, radio and TV commentators and Washington correspondents. Copies went to Senators and Congressmen who belong to the Canada-USA Interparliamentary Committee and to American members of the Canada-USA Committee. While the results of this distribution cannot repeat not be expected to “make news,” we believe they will be reflected over the coming weeks in editorial and other public comment.
  3. We will, of course, keep you informed of any further press treatment of Canadian policies. Meantime, it is of the greatest importance in this connection that we be sent in advance or immediately on delivery (for suitable distribution) any statements made in Ottawa from official spokesmen, particularly by the Prime Minister or ministers.

[A.D.P.] Heeney

607. DEA/4723-D-40

Ambassador in United States to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 410

Washington, February 10, 1962

Secret. Priority.

Repeat for Information: T&C Ottawa, NATO Paris, Permis New York, London (Priority), Finance Ottawa, PCO Ottawa (Priority) from Ottawa.

Trade with Cuba; Call on the Secretary of State; Punta Del Este

In the course of a call on the Secretary yesterday afternoon, February 10, Rusk outlined for me and commented on action which USA Government had taken and proposed to take as a follow-up to the Punta del Este meeting. He recalled that, at the last NATO Ministerial meeting, he had referred to the forthcoming OAS Foreign Ministers’ meeting and had expressed the hope that NATO governments would be prepared to consider the extent to which they could review their policies in the light of decisions which he then hoped would be reached at Punta del Este.

  1. In referring to the further embargo action which the USA had taken following the OAS Foreign Ministers’ meeting, Rusk pointed out that while this step was related to the resolution on economic relations (Resolution VIII), it had not repeat not been taken thereunder but under paragraph 3 of the Resolution dealing with security against the subversive actions of international Communism (Resolution II).Footnote 4 The principal motive had been to prevent USA dollar exchange obtained from Cuban exports to this country from being used for subversive purposes elsewhere in the hemisphere. Had USA-Cuban accounts been more or less in balance, he questioned whether this additional embargo measure would have been taken at all.
  2. The next step which USA authorities planned, Rusk continued, would be to raise the problem of Cuba in NATO Council. There USA would propose that trade with Cuba be considered in relation to COCOM and dealt with on the same basis as trade with Soviet Bloc. USA, for its part, had in mind the addition of Cuba to the COCOM list and hoped to persuade other members of NATO to do likewise.
  3. I took the opportunity of reminding the Secretary of the basis on which Canadian trade with Cuba had been for some time, and was now being, conducted. I pointed out again that it excluded military and strategic items: in addition, we did not repeat not permit any re-export from Canada of goods of USA origin. We had in fact gone beyond the Punta del Este decision on exports to Cuba.
  4. Referring to special problems to be dealt with in any collective look by NATO governments at the problem of Cuban trade, Rusk said that USA wanted especially to have considered such matters as ship charters. This would affect the British, Scandinavians and perhaps the Greeks. (I did not repeat not think Canada much involved, if at all). At this time, Rusk went on, [he] had no repeat no particular request to make of Canada. He would, however, like to review with me at greater length, perhaps towards the end of next week, the whole situation post-Punta del Este and the general perspective for future relations with Cuba. Such an exchange would help to minimize any misunderstandings which might still exist between us on the Cuban question.
  5. In referring to the attitudes of Latin American governments, Secretary told me that he expected that Uruguay and Chile might soon follow Argentina in breaking off diplomatic relations with Castro. Indeed Castro himself might take steps against them (though not repeat not, he thought, against Brazil or Mexico) which would precipitate rupture. Rusk emphasized, in this connection, that USA was not repeat not pushing Latin American governments in this direction. (He also referred to the difficult problem of “asylees” in Cuba now under the protection of, for example, the Argentine Embassy; some alternative arrangements would have to be made.) In passing, Rusk suggested we might think about using our Missions in Latin American capitals to explain to OAS governments policy towards Cuba, particularly with reference to trade. He thought the Canadian attitude was not repeat not understood in these countries, for example in Colombia and Venezuela.
  6. Finally, the Secretary made the interesting comment that there was some evidence that Castro had sought more aid of one kind and another from Moscow than the Soviet Government were willing to give him. There were indications that Soviets were being cautious about their commitments. This conformed with what Khrushchev had said to the President at Vienna when Khrushchev had taken the line that Soviet authorities had not repeat not pushed their position in Cuba but that it had rather fallen into their lap.Footnote 5
  7. It now seems likely that I will be having a longer talk with Rusk towards the end of next week when I shall, of course, report fully. Meantime, if you have any points which you would wish me to make, please let me know.

[A.D.P.] Heeney

608. DEA/7590-N-40

Ambassador in Cuba to Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs

Letter No. L-74

Havana, February 12, 1962

Secret. Priority.

Reference: Your letter No. XL-12 of January 22, 1962.†

Periodic Report No. 1 of 1962

The major development in the past quarter was the emergence of Cuba as a declared Communist state. This followed from Fidel Castro’s December 1 announcement “I am and always will be a Marxist-Leninist.” It is not clear why the Communist label was placed on the Cuban Revolution at that time. It is likely that following Blas Roca’s and Carlos Rafael Rodríguez’s visit to Moscow, the Communists demanded that Castro accept collective leadership and that he would have signed his political death warrant if he had remained a non-Marxist in a Communist-dominated politburo. An additional motive may have been the hope to force the Soviet bloc to provide greater military support against any United States or United States-supported intervention. The initial reaction in the Communist world suggests that Castro’s announcement caught them by surprise, and it took some weeks for the Cubans themselves to perfect their new propaganda line.

  1. Whatever the immediate explanations, Communists had clearly established a dominating position in the governing matrix which made it only a matter of time and tactics as to when the Revolution would become officially Communist. The Cuban Communists seemed pleased to be able to come out with their true colours. Efforts to train Marxist-Leninist cadres were stepped up as the Revolution moved from Castroism to Marxism. Fidel Castro was slated to become the Secretary-General of the new United Party of the Socialist Revolution but the propaganda spotlight was no longer directed solely upon his person. During the quarter Castro went an appreciable distance along the path from caudillo to chairman of the board.
  2. A Communist Cuba presented an undisguised challenge to the United States and the Inter-American systems and opened a new gulf between Cuba and the Latin American republics with which it still maintained diplomatic relations. The United States was able to secure at Punta del Este at least the tacit acquiescence of the major Latin American states for the exclusion of Cuba from the Inter-American system, which they would previously have opposed. The Cubans treated Punta del Este as an American defeat, but are apprehensive as to collective measures which may be taken by the OAS and NATO in the months ahead. They remain confident that a Cuba-inspired Communist revolution will sweep Latin America but are becoming uncomfortably conscious of the obstacles in the way of revolution.
  3. Cuba’s economic situation worsened and Government leaders warned of a hard year ahead. Cuba suffers from the loss of middle-class technicians and professional men who have fled the country. It is difficult to re-adapt from United States to Soviet specifications and trading with the Soviet bloc demands not only long-term projection of requirements but also a willingness in many instances to accept what is offered. An additional difficulty is the 1962 sugar crop which will be well down from that of last year. Continuing shortages of basic foodstuffs and essential consumers’ goods are increasingly costing the Government popular support and dampening the enthusiasm of its supporters.
  4. On the other hand, the one-year crash campaign which had theoretically wiped out illiteracy in Cuba by the end of December last seems to have had at least partial success in achieving its goal, and to have been of great propaganda value both at home and abroad. The adolescents used as voluntary teachers in the countryside were given first call on the 50,000 scholarships announced by the Government at the conclusion of the literacy campaign. The houses of wealthy Cubans who had fled the country have been transformed into dormitories for scholarship-holders, who seem to enjoy the lush quarters provided for them.
  5. The Government still retains the apparent backing of most of those under 25 (the prime military age), of a good proportion of the negro population, and presumably of the new managerial and Government elite; however, it is now opposed not only by the middle class but by substantial elements amongst the urban workers and the peasants. Opposition to Castro lacks any organized focus in Cuba and the conservative views of Cuban exile groups have limited political appeal within Cuba itself. Cuba now has a well-armed and well-trained professional army and this, combined with the Militia and the mass organizations which reach into every nook and cranny on the Island, probably makes the Government’s position as strong as before despite its loss of public support.

George P. Kidd

609. DEA/4568-40

Ambassador in United States to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 515

Washington, February 19, 1962

Secret. OpImmediate.

Reference: My Tel 410 Feb 10.
Repeat for Information: T&C Ottawa, NATO Paris (OpImmediate), Permis New York, London, Paris (Priority), Prime Minister Ottawa, Finance Ottawa, PCO Ottawa (OpImmediate) from Ottawa, Bonn (Priority) from Ottawa.

Cuba; Meeting with Secretary of State

You will recall (my reference telegram) that when I saw him on February 10, Secretary of State expressed the wish to see me later and at length to review with me his assessment of Punta del Este meeting and the general question of policy towards Cuba. I called on him Friday last, February 16, with Rae and Schwarzmann. We spent an hour and a quarter together.

  1. Rusk began by saying that he wished to discuss Cuba with us not repeat not in the sense of a Canadian-USA problem but in terms of Canada’s own policy and interest as a nation in the hemisphere. He had been wondering whether Canada had fully thought out its policy towards Cuba as such, and not repeat not merely as part of its general approach towards dealing with the Soviet Bloc. In his own judgment, the Cuban situation possessed certain special features inasmuch as it posed a threat to the whole hemisphere. The serious penetration and intrusion of the Castro régime into the affairs of other Latin American countries (which admitted of no repeat no doubt) was of special concern. Rusk was prepared to furnish us with detailed information of subversive and violent actions in various countries (Rusk gave as an example the recent bomb attempt on President Betancourt of which USA intelligence sources in Cuba and USA had been able to warn the Venezuelans in advance). There was also substantial documentary evidence of subversive activities on the part of Cuban embassies throughout Latin America. Even during the Punta del Este Conference various delegations had provided information about such difficulties, which were causing concern among them. The French had recently brought to the attention of USA the threat of illicit arms-running from Cuba into the French West Indies. It was for such reasons, Rusk concluded, that the present Cuban régime was thus not repeat not a purely Cuban domestic phenomenon but rather a “conspiracy” affecting the rest of the hemisphere. He thought that Canada would wish to examine and weigh all these ramifications of the Cuban situation since he felt sure that “in the battle for the Western Hemisphere” Canada and USA were on the same side.
  2. Secretary then went on to review the history of USA and OAS relations with the Castro régime from its early days. One could ask whether any other policies could have been pursued; the record would show that repeated efforts had been made at solution, but they had met with little response from Cuba. He had, he went on, been particularly impressed by the much greater awareness of the danger and urgency of the situation among other Latin American countries at Punta del Este. It was true that six countries had abstained on two paragraphs of the resolution for Cuba’s expulsion. USA delegation (contrary to much public report) had not repeat not exerted great pressure on these delegations to vote in favour; indeed, USA had felt that this would not repeat not be wise because of internal elements within these countries, which made abstention a better and safer course for them. It would be recalled that Colombia had put the Cuban issue before the OAS Council. This had been done without consulting USA on the timing. Rusk thought that, considering the internal situations in some of the Latin American countries, USA would not repeat not in fact have picked this particular time for bringing the OAS Foreign Ministers together. However, while the timing had not repeat not been ideal, the results, in the USA view, had been helpful. Here, for example, Rusk contrasted Mexico’s constructive attitude at Punta del Este with that it had taken at San José only some six months before: “an extraordinary change.” Though they had some concern as to the legal implications of the resolution on expulsion, the Mexican delegation had been very firm on the question of the incompatibility of the Castro régime with the American system. This increased awareness on the part of Mexico of the problems posed by Cuba had developed quite independently of any pressure from USA.
  3. Reviewing the voting on the Punta del Este resolutions, Secretary pointed out that the countries most anxious to take firm action had been those which were experiencing special pressures from Cuba (the Central American countries, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and Paraguay). From USA point of view, the most important delegations at the conference were not repeat not those of the largest countries but from those which were under direct attack. USA would have derived little comfort from favourable votes by the larger and more distant countries if those under more immediate Cuban pressure had felt the OAS indifferent to their plight. It was also misleading to judge the results of the OAS votes on a population basis. In any event, Rusk concluded, it was not repeat not irrelevant that Punta del Este was an OAS Conference, and the population of USA could hardly be excluded in the count.
  4. Secretary then went on to other aspects of the general problem. Cuban medium-range stations were now jamming domestic USA broadcasts in Spanish, from radio stations in Florida and Louisiana, directed to Cuban refugees in these areas. This appeared to be in contravention of international radio regulations although he was not repeat not clear what could be done about it. Another example of Cuban intervention was that Castro was putting strong pressure on Haiti by threatening to repatriate tens of thousands of Haitians living in Cuba (of whom there were some 300,000). All in all, the present Cuban Government on its behaviour must be regarded as an “activist régime” intervening beyond its borders; there was, indeed, plenty of evidence that many of the Cuban leaders were not repeat not so much interested in governing their own country as in using it as a jumping-off place for greater adventures outside.
  5. USA Administration was convinced, Secretary continued, that Castroism was not repeat not the answer to the problems of the hemisphere. Over the long term this would become fully apparent but, in the meantime, USA proposed to make this clear by pursuing vigorously and simultaneously two complementary policies: on the one hand, to press forward with the Alliance for Progress to assist the other Latin American countries to strengthen their economies; on the other, to take steps to ensure so far as possible that nothing was done to contribute to the strength of the Cuban economy. In USA view, it was very important that the whole problem should be dealt with on a multilateral rather than a unilateral basis. It was for this reason that USA had wanted it brought into the OAS framework. Cuba had become a major preoccupation in the minds of USA public and of the Congress and was in danger of affecting USA policies and relations in other areas. Some Congressmen were already asking why USA should be worrying about such places as Southeast Asia with the Cuban problem on their own doorstep. Cuba was also affecting the attitude of other countries towards USA (possible German doubts as to the strength of purpose of USA on Berlin if unable to deal firmly with Cuba). There was also the prospect of growing difficulties and irritations within the Western Alliance unless the Cuban problem could be dealt with effectively. In the Secretary’s view, NATO should not repeat not look on Cuba as just “another member of the bloc,” but the NATO countries should be aware of the special features of the Cuban situation and its repercussions within the Western Hemisphere.
  6. In view of all these factors, Secretary continued, he would welcome, at our convenience, detailed discussions between Canadian and USA authorities. USA wanted to have a clear indication of how we appraised the Cuban problem in relation to the hemisphere, and in relation to Canada. They would be interested to know how we assessed the situation, looking at it from our own point of view and in terms of our own policies and interests; and also what we would consider to be the best response to it. Personally, Rusk thought, there might be certain items in the ledger which we might not repeat not have fully totted up so far, probably because we had not repeat not felt it necessary to do so.
  7. Secretary then referred to Khrushchev’s attitude towards Cuba. As he had said earlier, it was clear that the Cuban situation had not repeat not been deliberately engineered by the Soviets but rather had “fallen into their lap.” Nevertheless, Khrushchev was, to a limited extent, willing to use Cuba to exploit existing dangers in the hemisphere. USA intended to make Soviet efforts as unpromising as possible and as costly as possible.
  8. There were other points of view, Rusk went on, how best to deal with the Cuban situation. For example, Brazil had put forward a proposal to “negotiate” conditions of co-existence between Castro and the OAS; if the minimum conditions were not repeat not met, then military measures were to be taken by the organization. USA did not repeat not think this a sound approach, for (a) they did not repeat not accept that the present Cuban régime was a permanent situation and (b) it could lead to military measures which would be costly and unsatisfactory in many ways. Incidentally, USA had been keeping a careful watch on the military position in Cuba. There was no repeat no evidence of missile bases or of “modern (meaning nuclear) weapons.” Cuba was now receiving fairly modern aircraft and torpedo boats which would have nuisance value and would require careful handling. But there was no repeat no evidence of any military build-up in Cuba which could pose a threat to USA itself.
  9. Secretary then repeated his hope that, in the circumstances, as he had outlined them, we would wish to reconsider the Canadian long-range interest and the measures best calculated to protect the Canadian interest. So far as any formal USA approach was concerned, he was quite aware (as I had pointed out) that existing Canadian policy on exports to Cuba already went as far as the OAS resolution with regard to items on the COCOM list; USA was not repeat not asking its friends to go much further on export restrictions, although naturally if we wished to broaden our administrative interpretation of strategic items, this would be welcome. USA authorities believed that Canadian strategic controls (within their limits) were effective, though there had been some talk of evasion of our prohibition of re-export of USA-origin goods. (At this point I interjected that I would be surprised if our controls on USA items were being evaded since our licensing arrangements, as I understood it, were being strictly applied on all goods not repeat not of Canadian origin. I agreed, however, that it was important to ensure that USA were left in no repeat no doubt on this; Canadian authorities should be given promptly any information of alleged evasion which might come to USA attention. Rusk said he would have the USA Embassy in Ottawa check into this matter with Canadian officials and you will no repeat no doubt want to follow this up.)
  10. Apart from the strictly strategic items, the Secretary continued, there were certain other things, for example in the “key spare parts” category, included in recent Canadian exports. These could contribute to strengthening or maintaining the Cuban economy. President Dorticós of Cuba had boasted (at Punta del Este, I gathered) that, while spare parts had been a problem, this was no repeat no longer so since “a daily plane” now brought them to Cuba from Canada. USA was not repeat not now asking Canada to take any further steps (and Rusk emphasized this); the question was “whether Canada feels that it is in the long run to Canadian advantage to let the Cuban régime be supplied with such items on a normal basis.” Rusk had with him a detailed list of Canadian exports (over, I think, the first nine months of last year – our latest figures); he indicated that out of the $21 million total, some $6 million covered items which the USA would consider, in their definition, “strategic” or border-line.
  11. The Secretary then went on to say that, in USA view, the objective of policy was not repeat not to overthrow the Castro régime but rather to isolate Cuba and deny it the means of strengthening its economy, and thus of extending its influence and subversive activity over the rest of the hemisphere. Canada might wish “to take a look at those things which might affect the success of the régime in Cuba, because this has a direct effect on its influence in Latin America.” He was not repeat not suggesting what particular means Canadian authorities might see fit to employ; we would make our own appraisal of the facts and our own judgment as to what we thought might be appropriate and effective in the serious situation confronting the hemisphere. As a theoretical example, the Canadian Government might decide that the best contribution Canada could make would be to send “one or two destroyers” to the Caribbean to help prevent Cuban arms going to Central American countries. Czech agents were being used by the Cubans in Latin America; they might be free to travel back and forth via Canada (presumably on Czech or Cuban airlines). These were merely illustrations of possible avenues. The two important questions to be considered were (a) suitable measures to prevent or limit the export of revolution in the hemisphere and (b) suitable measures to prevent, or minimize, Castro’s domestic success; at the same time, positive steps to demonstrate that Castroism was not repeat not the answer to Latin American problems.
  12. Secretary went on to say that USA was proposing to discuss Cuba in NATO with particular reference to COCOM. In USA view, however, the position of Canada in this matter was different from that of other NATO allies; as a country in the Western Hemisphere, we had a special relationship to this difficult problem and the USA would be grateful for “a clear analytical statement” of Canadian views and policy after we had reviewed the situation. He would be interested in knowing first of all whether the Canadian Government accepted USA appreciation of the gravity of the Cuban problem and also in our assessment of the situation as seen from the point of view of another country in the hemisphere, directly interested and affected by developments. In appraising Canadian interests, Canada must, of course, take into account its relations with USA, although it was not repeat not in this context that our views were being sought. At the same time, he was, of course, anxious to minimize tensions between us on this subject. The whole matter was of such importance that it should, he felt, be discussed frankly and fully between us.
  13. Because of their importance, I have reported Rusk’s views fully and consecutively in a conversation which lasted well over an hour. Although for the most part I listened, I did take the opportunity at the end, and in interjections, to make a number of points which might be summarized briefly as follows:
    1. The distinction in the traditional Canadian position deriving from our history and the absence of any commitment to “the Inter-American system”; this gave us in Canada a quite different view of the Monroe doctrine, for example, and a different perspective from that of the OAS countries.
    2. Our action with respect to exports to Cuba was taken two years in advance of the OAS resolutions and, so far as I knew, was more restrictive than that of any other NATO ally and most, if not repeat not all, Latin American countries.
    3. The general Canadian (as compared to USA) policy with respect to diplomatic representation and normal trade contacts with governments of whose systems we totally disapproved.
  14. Nevertheless, I did, I said, agree with Secretary that we should continue to share our factual information on the Cuban situation and our assessments and appreciations of Cuban intentions. In drawing conclusions from the facts, I observed, there might continue to be differing views on the two sides of the border. But this did not repeat not mean that we should not repeat not, as he suggested, exchange information and consult with our usual [frankness?] and intimacy.

[A.D.P.] Heeney

610. DEA/4568-40

Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs to Embassies in Latin America

Letter No. XL-[various numbers]

Ottawa, February 22, 1962

Secret. Canadian Eyes Only.

Cuba: meeting with secretary of state

I attach copy of telegram no. 515 of February 19, 1962 in which the Canadian Ambassador in Washington reports on his conversation of Friday, February 16, 1962 with the United States Secretary of State. You will see that Mr. Rusk suggests that Canada should re-examine her policy vis-à-vis Cuba. His request is based essentially on the consideration that Cuba’s case cannot be assimilated to that of any other member of the communist bloc, since it is situated in the Western Hemisphere of which Canada forms part. The Secretary of State underlined the subversive aspects of Cuban policies which in his view constitute a real threat to the Americas. He suggested that our policies be reconsidered with a view to ascertaining whether they meet the two objectives set out as a result of United States appraisal of the Cuban problem, namely (1) preventing the export of Castroism to other parts of the Hemisphere and (2) preventing or minimizing Castro’s success at home by suitable measures.

  1. It would be appreciated if you could provide us with your views on the general problem of Canadian relations with Cuba in the light of Mr. Rusk’s approach, the results of the second Punta del Este Conference, and of Canada’s general interests in the country to which you are accredited. We would appreciate receiving a brief report by cable as soon as possible. More detailed comments should be sent by bag.
  2. The attached telegram is for your own information. You will note that this letter is marked for Canadian Eyes Only. In view of their sensitive character you will wish to ensure that appropriate security measures concerning these documents are observed.

A.E. Ritchie
for Under-Secretary of State
for External Affairs

611. DEA/2444-40

Memorandum from Special Assistant, Office of Secretary of State for External Affairs, to Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs


[Ottawa], February 23, 1962

Cuba – Trade Policy

The following is an attempt to recapitulate the views expressed by the Minister in two long discussions on our trade policy towards Cuba – a policy with which the Minister is anything but satisfied at the moment.

  1. The Minister broached the subject shortly after the Opposition had raised questions in the House concerning reports that Canada was continuing to export to Cuba substantial quantities of materials which bordered on the strategic category.Footnote 6 He strongly believed that the continued export of commodities of this nature was steadily leading Canada into a serious crisis in relations with the United States.
  2. The Minister stressed that we had to recognize that whatever the rights or wrongs of American policy may have been and however responsible the U.S. Government might be for the present state of affairs in their relations with Cuba, the fact remained that the Cuban problem had thoroughly aroused public and Congressional opinion in the U.S.A. It was therefore of the utmost importance that we cease treating the Cuban problem as simply one of trade or of relations with Cuba but rather as a highly sensitive issue in Canada/U.S. relations. It was “the most serious problem in this category since he had assumed office, one which might do irreparable harm to our relations with the United States if we did not amend our policy and might even lead the United States to take retaliatory action against us in other fields.”
  3. He declared that the strong stand he had personally taken on Cuba two years ago had been unwise; even if it had had some merit at the time, the situation in Cuba had changed radically since. The Cuban régime had been getting progressively more communist-oriented and he had satisfied himself during his Latin American tour in 1960 that there was good evidence of Cuban subversive activities in several of the countries he visited, particularly in Argentina and Peru. It was moreover not enough in his view, for Canada to apply the same trade restrictions to Cuba as we did to other communist states. Because this was a hemispheric problem, for the containment of which we had to share responsibility, more stringent criteria had to be applied. He believed we would lose stature in Latin America if we took a soft line on Cuba.
  4. The time had come to review the whole question of our relations with Cuba, approaching it from the point of view of our relations with the United States. In this connection he said it would be pointless to begin by analyzing in detail and challenging the view expressed by Rusk to Heeney as reported in Washington telegram 515 of February 19. By and large he agreed with Rusk’s assessment. In any event the important point to keep in mind was not whether the American arguments were valid or U.S.A. policies sensible but the strength with which American views on Cuba were held throughout the United States.
  5. In developing a revised approach to the problem of our trade relations with Cuba, action was required on three fronts:
    1. Commodity Control List
      A minimum shift in the Canadian position must be the elimination of “border line” strategic commodities. The embargoed list should include everything that could be considered as military, strategic or vital to the Cuban economy. It would include industrial dynamite, aircraft engines, machine spares, transformers, iron and steel, etc.
    2. Public Presentation of Canadian Policy
      In this field a great deal more restraint is required. There is a need to abandon the aggressive and almost boastful way in which Canada has dealt publicly with its relations with Cuba and with its right to continue to trade with that country. The Minister stressed that in dollar terms trade with Cuba was negligible and certainly not worth preserving at the risk of jeopardizing our relations with the United States.
    3. Cabinet Attitudes
      Here the Minister thought there was a great need for the Department to start the process of persuading Government departments and Ministers to see Canadian Cuba policy in a broader context than that of trade statistics or even the national right to determine Canadian trade policy free from external pressures. There had to be a new emphasis on the magnitude of the crisis we were facing in Canada/U.S. relations, an emphasis which the Minister thought had been lacking in previous memoranda dealing with the Cuba problem.
  6. In further discussions with the Minister concerning the manner in which his views might best be implemented, in the course of which some of the considerations militating against any sudden switch in policy were brought out, he agreed that his intention was not to reverse Canadian policy but to modify it, and then perhaps only gradually. Nevertheless, he insisted that we were vulnerable on the question of the commodities now being permitted for export to Cuba (Senator Croll in the Senate on February 21 and the latest issue of U.S. News and World Report are cases in point) and requested as a first step a paper from the Department examining in detail the commodities now being exported to Cuba and proposing measures for a tightening of control. If necessary, he said we should proceed by Order-in-Council to further limit permissible items.
  7. It would then be his intention to put to Cabinet a proposal for more stringent export controls and in the same memorandum to stress, for the benefit of his Cabinet colleagues, the extent of the crisis in Canada/U.S. relations which we face. He would at the same time put it to Cabinet that we should accept Mr. Rusk’s invitation to discuss Cuba policy on a bilateral basis, but should be ready to do so in a sympathetic, frank and friendly way.
  8. Just prior to his departure for the East coast, the Minister discussed Cuba policy with the Prime Minister. He said the Prime Minister agreed that while we could not back down on the stand we had taken we certainly should be more discreet in the public handling of the subject.

Ross Campbell

612. DEA/4035-40

Ambassador in United States to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 627

Washington, March 1, 1962

Secret. Canadian Eyes Only. OpImmediate.

Reference: My Tel 515 Feb 19.
Repeat for Information: Prime Minister, Finance, PCO Ottawa (OpImmediate) from Ottawa, T&C Ottawa, Permis New York (for Ritchie on return) (OpImmediate).

Cuba Policy

It seems to me that serious consideration might well be given to a further comprehensive exposition of Canadian policy with respect to Cuba. I mentioned this in conversations with the Minister and the Under-Secretary, when I was in Ottawa on Monday last, as most desirable in terms of our relations with USA, if for no repeat no other reason.

  1. It is true that there have already been a number of statements by Prime Minister in Parliament and by others in the House and elsewhere. Nevertheless, there persists in the USA a widespread misunderstanding of and, even where the facts are known, an inability to comprehend our present policy and practice, particularly with regard to trade but also generally concerning our relations with the Castro régime. We attempted to set the record straight by a press release from the Embassy on February 5 and this has been very widely used by our offices in this country. However, public understanding here has been further aroused and confused by the most recently published details of our exports and the questions to which these gave rise in Parliament on such items as “peaceful” explosives, machinery, aircraft engines, etc.
  2. Our current scan of USA newspaper opinion will show a marked increase of critical editorial comment upon what continues to be regarded widely as our virtually unrestricted trade with Cuba. I would be surprised if the intended mission to promote export of Canadian fish products did not repeat not occasion further outbursts.
  3. What I have in mind is that, following upon my long conversation with the Secretary of State (my reference telegram) and after reviewing the position in the light of such additional information as may be provided us by USA and after a careful scrutiny of our list of permissible exports (which I understand to be underway now) there should be an extended and authoritative statement of Canadian policy, probably in Parliament and by Prime Minister himself.
  4. I am bound, of course, to look at this problem primarily in terms of our relations with this country. As I tried to emphasize in my talks with the Prime Minister, the Minister and officials in Ottawa earlier this week, there is no repeat no doubt that, quite irrespective of the merits, Cuba continues to cast a deepening shadow upon our reputation here. The whole question is deeply emotional among Americans; their attitude is rooted in their history and their frustration compounded by the very mistakes of the recent and less recent past. The clumsy publicity which attended the efforts of the Administration to obtain support from their European allies,Footnote 7 far from advancing their case, bids fair to being counterproductive as the reaction in NATO has shown. This will mean more frustration, and judgment, which may extend to affairs beyond the hemisphere, will, I am afraid, continue to be clouded by emotion. In such circumstances, and despite what we regard as a reasonable, cooperative and realistic attitude on our part, Americans will go on expecting Canada to be closer to them than any other ally, even in this hemisphere, and will continue to be disappointed, hurt and even angry when we do not repeat not share their views and follow in their footsteps.
  5. What I am trying to say is not repeat not that USA policy on Cuba is correct or calculated to achieve its objective; the arguments against the efficacy of trade embargoes and breaking diplomatic relations are well known and I have made them here many times in public and in private, nor am I suggesting any important change in our own policy. What I am seeking to convey is the pervasive importance of the Cuban problem in terms of our relations with our closest ally and making a suggestion as to how the traditionally friendly Canadian “image” among Americans might be restored.
  6. Finally, and on a less exalted plane, it seems altogether likely that the Cubans will have less and less hard currency to pay for Canadian exports which, in any conceivable future circumstances, cannot repeat not be very large. On the other hand, our reputation with our largest customer is of material commercial importance.

[A.D.P.] Heeney

613. DEA/4568-40

Chargé d’affaires in Ecuador to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 15

Quito, March 2, 1962

Secret. Canadian Eyes Only. OpImmediate.

Reference: Your Let XL-35 Feb 22.
By Bag: Bogota from Ottawa.

Canada-Cuban Relations

It seems to me that some of elements of problem in brief are

  1. Cuba will be principally Communist until present government or its similar successor falls.
  2. Cubans are both activists and a symbol making them a grave danger to Latin American political stability but at the same time they have salutary policy acting as a goad, if anything can, to reform.
  3. Menace to Latin America is increased since USSR and China have been provided with a base for information and an agent through which they can operate. The minority bloc is therefore most unlikely to allow Cuban economy to collapse.
  4. West will be loser if USA becomes increasingly preoccupied for a protracted period with Cuban problem.
  1. I see problem as being important chiefly in the light of Canada-USA relations. The latter who is our most important ally is of course highly emotional about Cuba and I wonder therefore whether for partly psychological and self-advantageous reasons we might not repeat not consider stiffening (group corrupt) our attitude towards Cuba by e.g. broadening definition of strategic materials and deprecating publicly (group corrupt) aspects of régime. Our non-membership in OAS does not repeat not seem to me to be material: Cuba is a base for subversion and it is not repeat not in our interest or that of West to have this additional constant threat to political stability hanging over Latin America nor to have attention of USA diverted from more vital areas. Of course whatever we do one way or other will have a minimal effect on political stability of Cuban régime but as long as latter continues to meddle in affairs of its neighbours I think we have grounds for attempting to avoid giving appearance of supporting it.
  2. My thinking on this subject has shifted recently through receipt of a congratulatory letter on Canada’s stand on Cuba from 15 prominent Ecuadorian Communists or Communist sympathisers (attached [to] my letter 5 February 27†). In logic I support cogent argument for trade with countries of differing ideologies; I (fear?) in this instance that in Ecuador Canadian trade with Cuba is generally being equated with political support. The Foreign Ministry does not repeat not accept this but referred to our increasing trade (second paragraph of its release on Sévigny statement; [see] my telegram 7 February 11†). There could be some danger in this if impression were to grow here that we are profiting by USA embargo. I doubt however that whatever we do will greatly affect Canada’s relations with Ecuador.

[G.C.] Langille

614. DEA/4035-40

Ambassador in Argentina and Uruguay to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 24

Montevideo, March 2, 1962

Secret. Canadian Eyes Only. OpImmediate.

Reference: Your Let XL-33 Feb 22.

Canadian Relations with Cuba

Following is view of Buenos Aires and Montevideo. Continuance of our present Cuban policy is likely to do more harm than good to fundamental Canadian interest, partly because (it is?) misunderstood and partly because it is no repeat no longer appropriate. Reiteration of our present policy is not repeat not likely to be generally effective in dispelling widespread impression repeat impression Canada’s sympathies are with Cuba in its difference with USA and other Hemisphere states. If we are to retain goodwill of USA and of responsible elements in Latin America, some gesture is needed to alter the current image. Unless it is altered our trade with USA e.g. oil could be adversely affected purely as a result of Congress attitudes. No repeat no serious effect on trade of other countries likely for moment.

  1. Secondly, our policy does provide aid and comfort to Cuba which (2 groups corrupt) many Latin American states consider constitutes a threat to their security and which all consider incompatible with Inter-American system. Cubans are misrepresenting their relation with Canada in order to encourage other Latin American countries to stand up to USA and also to poison relations between USA and Canada.
  2. Third, Cuban Communist threat is more serious throughout Latin America than that of any other Communist country. “Viva Castro” still draws crowds. “Viva Khrushchev” or “Viva Ulbricht” has little appeal. This fact justifies different treatment on our part.
  3. What to do is difficult. Answer might be to announce although not repeat not member of OAS we have no repeat no desire to do anything in current situation which would have effect (group corrupt) even in part objectives of majority number and that we would favourably consider taking whatever steps majority took in matters relating to Cuba. This might require minor policy changes but would provide gesture which present situation appears to call for.
  4. Any such move on our part should not repeat not weaken [reputation] we enjoy in Latin America of independence in foreign affairs, and could gain us marks for cooperation.

[R.P.] Bower

615. DEA/4568-40

Ambassador in Colombia to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 16

Bogotá, March 5, 1962

Secret. Canadian Eyes Only. OpImmediate.

Reference: Your Let XL-31 Feb 22.
Repeat for Information: Quito.


Apparently only first seven pages Washington’s telegram 515 February 19 were attached your letter. Would appreciate receiving final page or pages in next bag.

  1. Keeping in mind our interest both commercial and political in maintaining long-term stability in all countries of Latin America, I am inclined to see some merit in Rusk’s analysis. I would balk at such an overt move as sending destroyer to Caribbean. Castro’s propagandists have been taking advantage of our imaginary support of present Cuban régime (e.g. Dorticós’ statement re daily plane from Canada with spare parts), and there might be some value in a statement reiterating, as did all nations in Americas including those who abstained on exclusion resolution, our strong opposition to Communism as exemplified in Cuba. Concept of controlling trade for political ends is of course one which both sides in Cold War have accepted for many years. The principle involved in interference for political reasons with our natural flow of trade with Cuba is clearly not repeat not at stake since, through control of strategic goods and re-exporting of USA products, we are already carrying out such intervention. Question must resolve itself then into whether commercial advantages to Canada of that portion of Canada’s trade with Cuba which USA and presumably its Latin American allies find objectionable is worth adverse publicity which we are receiving in such Latin American states as Colombia, and in USA itself.
  2. With regard to latter, I understand that at recent conference of Canadian Trade Commissioners serving in USA some concern was expressed over cool attitude engendered towards Canada in some parts of that country by “misunderstanding” of our position on Cuba. I do not repeat not think we should delude ourselves into thinking problem is merely one of “misunderstanding.” Basic difference in policy on Cuban question exists between USA and ourselves and this fact cannot repeat not be concealed.
  3. Second Punta del Este Conference showed an increased awareness in Latin America of threats posed by Communist Cubans in marked contrast, as Mr. Rusk pointed out, to San José meeting six months earlier. The willingness of even Mexico and Brazil to support what amounted to a vigorous condemnation of Cuba’s Communist ties appears to represent a hardening in positions of those two countries. While from USA standpoint conference might conceivably have had a more favourable result, many valid reasons exist for State Department to be satisfied with achievement of USA delegation in Punta del Este.
  4. In view of previous reports to you, especially in our telegram 15 February 26,† you will be aware that a change in our policy toward Cuba would much improve our standing with Colombia Government and business community. Colombians have become to a degree emotionally concerned with Cuban question, partly because of fear of Communist subversion and partly because of involvement of their prestige in outcome of conference. Canada’s position finds support here, and that not repeat not very vocal, only among left-wing Liberals and Communists, neither of which groups is likely to be running the Government for some time to come. Speaking therefore in terms of Colombia alone, Canada might be well advised to enlarge list of goods which for strategic reasons may not repeat not be exported to Cuba. Although complete approval of Canada’s policy by Colombia would probably only be forthcoming if we broke relations with Cuba entirely, any gesture on our part in this direction would help our reputation here.

[T.F.M.] Newton

616. DEA/4568-40

Ambassador in Cuba to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 28

Havana, March 6, 1962

Secret. Canadian Eyes Only. OpImmediate.

Reference: Your Let XL-43 Feb 22.

Canadian Cuban Relations

As a useful starting point for this review I am summarizing below main direct Canadian interests in Cuba today

  1. Trade: In 1961 our favourable balance of trade was substantial and represented cash in hand and for some sectors of economy an increase in normal exports. However 1962 trade is likely to be drastically reduced owing to Cuba’s shortage of foreign exchange and reduced sugar available for export unless Russians provide considerable quantity of convertible currency. In addition some of last year’s items are probably a non-continuing requirement.
  2. Commercial Interests: Our banks have apparently been satisfactorily recompensed. Our insurance companies with no repeat no future in present day Cuba would not repeat not be severely hurt by nationalization, which would enable them to withdraw without breaking faith with their policy holders. Our remaining interests of some half dozen subsidiaries facing (group corrupt) represent an investment of $500,000 at most.
  3. Church: Compensation of Church property nationalized last year does not repeat not appear to be an active issue since Church is essentially playing a waiting game with a view to a subsequent changing government.
  4. Protection of Canadian Citizens: The majority of Canadians have left Cuba, with total now reduced to under ninety. About half are members of religious orders whose positions have been improved by recent (softening?) in Cuban line toward Vatican. All our citizens have recourse to Embassy’s assistance periodically and would be dependent on mission in an emergency.
  5. Mission: Apart from regular operations mission has value as a listening post. Any Canadian influence in moderating the trend of Cuban development is minimal.
  1. The next consideration is our relations with USA, on which it is not repeat not my position to comment. Despite Mr. Rusk’s demurrer that this was not repeat not the sense in which he was raising question of Canadian policy towards Cuba, it is presumably a major factor from our standpoint.
  2. Turning to Rusk’s general appraisal of Cuban problem I would agree that Cuba cannot repeat not fairly be viewed as just another star in Soviet constellation. First it represents initial intrusion of the Bloc into a Western area and specifically an American spherical influence as well as a potential threat of deeper intrusion into Latin America. The Cuban Government has thrown its lot in with the Bloc and must stand by this decision to maintain itself in power. Moreover, given way in which revolution has developed the country’s racial associations and unnatural pattern of its present ties, Cuba has a vested interest in breaking through its present hemispheric isolation which has been stimulated by its exclusion from OAS. As reported in my telegram 24 March 2,† (all?) energy is therefore directed to promoting tension if not repeat not revolution in its sister republics and speaking to Latin American people over heads of their governments. It badly needs ideological allies in Latin America to ensure its durability just as it equally must maintain image of a voracious wolf on its doorstep to divert attention from domestic ills. The concept of withdrawing from Hemisphere and creating a Communist show of peace in isolation is politically too costly and difficult to sustain in present straits and furthermore caters to (group corrupt) idea of revolutionary leader.
  3. One can accept the two objectives of USA policy outlined by Rusk even though harbouring doubt as to some of the measures employed to achieve them. Both as a Western and North American nation we can hardly be indifferent to spread of Communist influence in Caribbean. Also now that Cuba has presumably cast the die for Marxism and so closely oriented itself with Sino-Soviet Bloc I do not repeat not see it as in our interest to extend any aid or comfort to them. A related point is question of USA prestige in hemisphere which was particularly damaged by April fiasco leaving impression in some quarters that eagle had lost its claws. Thus it seems to me (plainly?) our interests [lie] in cooperating whenever possible with reasonable USA objectives.
  4. Another factor bearing on our policy is question of stability of Castro régime. There is little doubt that Cuba is in serious economic difficulties which are likely to worsen before they improve. The revolution has lost some of its steam. The marriage between Castro and Communism has already run into trouble. As circumstances of life have deteriorated dissatisfaction has grown. The possibility that present government might later begin to stumble, perhaps also creating condition for USA intervention, cannot repeat not be ruled out. Furthermore although Rusk has talked about reducing effectiveness of government, he has also indicated that coexistence with Cuba is unacceptable. One cannot repeat not help but wonder whether USA intends if conditions are propitious to adopt a more forceful policy. Should revolution prove to be short lived then there is some advantage in ensuring we are not repeat not albeit mistakenly regarded as having prolonged its existence by those who follow.
  5. In general and depending particularly upon weight given Canadian-USA relations my feeling would be that Canadian policy could afford to reflect somewhat more emphatically the liability of Cuban situation. Certainly our direct national interest in Cuba need not repeat not place any great restraint on such a policy modification. However I remain unconvinced that there is anything very decisive we could do to influence course of events here. Essentially it comes down to a shift in emphasis without engaging in any form of open antagonistic act which would be counter-productive if we wish to maintain diplomatic relations and protect our residual interest in Cuba.
  6. Trade would appear to be one field for effecting some modification. While recognizing that practical results would be very limited we could with some justification and for presentational reasons place Cuba in same category as other Sino Soviet Bloc states for export control purposes. We might also be a little more restrictive in denying permits for quasi-strategic items such as industrial spare parts. Again a case could be made for our prohibiting re-export to USA of Cuban imports into Canada now that USA has embargo on such imports.
  7. One can appreciate Rusk’s desire for Canada to have a community of views with USA on a hemispheric problem that has in due course wide implications. However I am not repeat not certain it necessarily follows that our policy toward Cuba should be identical or in fact that this would be in our or America’s best interests. While agreeing on desirability of not repeat not contributing to strength of revolution and containing its expansionist tendencies there is a risk that any indication of ganging-up on the part of Western states only enables Cuban government to blame domestic failings on outside pressure.

[George P.] Kidd

617. DEA/4568-40

Ambassador in Chile to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 30

Santiago, March 6, 1962

Secret. Canadian Eyes Only. OpImmediate.

Reference: Your Tel XL-48 Feb 22.

Cuba – Meeting with Secretary of State

It can be agreed with Mr. Rusk that Canada shares with USA the ultimate aim of encouraging Latin America to develop in democratic tradition and to remain outside Soviet orbit. It may be also agreed that Canada as a western hemisphere nation has a special interest in obligations in Latin America. It is in assessing Cuban and Latin American situation and means likely to achieve our commonly sought objectives that Canada differs with USA. It is suggested here however that while Mr. Rusk’s presentation of USA views and policy contains nothing to justify a fundamental change in Canadian Cuban-Latin American policy, the time may be opportune for a shift in emphasis of that policy, especially in view of Mr. Rusk’s indirect emphasis on importance of some such Canadian effort in broader context of USA-Canadian relations.

  1. Before proceeding to suggestions for a possible positive response to Mr. Rusk’s approach three fundamental points may be explored:
    1. Is Mr. Rusk’s analysis of Cuban problem and defined USA policy objectively convincing?
    2. Can Punta del Este results be interpreted as confirming soundness of current USA-Cuban policy?
    3. Would it be in Canada’s interest in Chile to follow USA line?
  2. USA-Cuban Policy Objective
    Mr. Rusk stated by isolating Cuba and denying it means of strengthening its economy USA aims to prevent extension of Cuban influence and subversive activities throughout Latin America until Alliance for Progress takes effect. In connection with these objectives I should like to make following comments:
    1. Cuba cannot repeat not be fully isolated politically or economically from West and not repeat not at all from Soviet Bloc. To extent however that Cuban economic relations with West are cut off they increase with East not repeat not only in trade but in aid as well. It is obviously in Soviet interest to grant economic concessions to Cuba on a massive scale in order to build up Cuba as a growth model for Latin America. Is it impossible as Mr. Rusk assumes, for Cuba to achieve economic success in these circumstances? Surely the adverse political consequences in Latin America flowing from such a development would be infinitely greater than those resulting from Cuban penetration and subversive activities.
    2. The basic tenet of USA Alliance for Progress programme is that unless Latin America introduces fiscal economic and social reforms, liberalizes their regimes and redistributes incomes in favour of depressed classes, Communist forces in many of their countries could ultimately gain power. USA-Cuban policy on the other hand is forcing progressive and non-Communist left forces who share this view and whose support is necessary if Alliance reforms are to be implemented, to align themselves with Castro for domestic political reasons. This fundamental contradiction in USA policy seriously weakens prospects for successful Alliance programme and at the same time is so alienating [to] political forces which will (advance?) to power in event of programme’s failure that USA could soon find itself cut from some key countries in Latin America as a result. We have pointed out for example that such a left wing element could come to power in Chile in 1964.
    3. While sympathizing with USA desire to counteract threat of Cuban penetration, I believe it is a mistake to assign more importance to propaganda and penetration than to the cause of the great receptivity in Latin America to Cuban propaganda and Cuban example. “Sanitary” measures alone will not repeat not root out existing pro-Castro elements in Latin America. As for other forms of Cuban intervention, e.g. Rusk’s example of Castro’s pressure on Haiti by threatening repatriation of thousands of Haitians – surely USA approach encourages rather than discourages this form of pressure?
  3. Second Punta del Este Conference
    It is difficult to share Mr. Rusk’s views that Conference results indicates substantial Latin American support for USA-Cuban policy:
    1. Whatever ingenious construction is put on vote at Punta del Este, the fact remains that key governments chose to abstain on expulsion.
    2. It is remarkable that in his approach to us Rusk chose to emphasize desire for further sanctions while failing to mention that support for this existing USA policy was so obviously lacking at Conference it was not repeat not even introduced for formal discussion.
    3. Rusk’s remarks imply that stand taken by most Latin American countries at Punta del Este was spontaneous. Whatever restraint USA delegation may have exercised was probably related to tactical considerations since both Colombia and Peru were doing the running for USA. Chilean delegation for one (see my despatch 48 February 12†) returned with impression that USA pressure was a factor at Punta del Este.
    4. USA spokesmen are (paragraph 2b Washington telegram 398 February 9†) on extremely shaky ground when they say if not repeat not for (divergent juridical?) approach there would have been a larger degree of unanimity of views on Cuba at Punta del Este collusion [sic]. Chile was one of countries that used legal argument at Punta del Este collusion [sic] but only because they provided an easy and tactical attractive presentation to a touchy political case.
  4. Canadian Interest in Chile
    Canada maintains a small but significant trade relationship with Chile. Canadian missionary activities, capital investment and ECIC backed loan in Chile must also be taken into account. Canada also has an interest in maintaining cooperative relationship enjoyed with Chile in international forums such as UN. The best protection for these interests in the long run would be afforded if Chile remains outside Soviet orbit. At the same time it would be in Canada’s best interest in Chile to align itself with Chilean-Latin American view on such divisive issue as that of Cuba when it is doubtful that USA views command general support in area. In Chile specifically the line pursued by government regarding Cuba is identical to that followed by Canada. This will remain so in the predictable future in addition to which there is a strong possibility that a left-wing coalition more sympathetic to Cuban régime might come to power in 1964.
  5. Possible Positive Response
    Mr. Rusk’s approach to us makes propitious the consideration of a shift in emphasis in a policy which would render it both more acceptable to USA and perhaps more fully consistent to Canada’s assessment of the Latin American situation and its ultimate aim in the area. The following suggested points contain two elements which might be registered as contributing to such a shift of emphasis:
    1. Continue to observe control on strategic goods and transhipment of USA goods to Cuba. Canada might also offer to participate in other security arrangements within limits of our traditional approach to such questions. I might note that, according to Argentina’s Ambassador here, USA is considering possibility of a SEATO type Caribbean treaty organization. Canada could hardly agree to participate in such a pact. However consideration might be given to Canada’s participation in a less formal hemispheric arrangement designed to control illegal transhipment of arms in Caribbean.
    2. Canada might offer to participate in any arrangement ultimately decided upon by OAS to counteract Communist penetration and propaganda activities.
    3. Finally, to be consistent with our assessment that social and economic development in Latin American countries is ultimately the only effective antidote to Cuban threat, Canada might offer to commit itself to objectives of the Alliance for Progress programme. This would certainly involve a Canadian aid contribution to the effort although not repeat not necessarily affiliated directly with Alliance for Progress. Specifically I would think that a substantial contribution to the Inter-American Development Bank would be simplest and most effective form in which Canada could make this contribution (see paragraph 17 my despatch 189 May 30/61). The overall effect of a Canadian policy debate on above line would be to commit ourselves publicly and in practical terms to ultimate aims in Latin America identical to those expressed by USA. To this extent, we would be demonstrating to USA and to Latin America our fundamental solidarity with USA despite our difference of views on trade with Cuba and as well our determination to follow our independent concept of how best to achieve these aims.Footnote 8

[Paul] Tremblay

618. DEA/4568-40

Ambassador in Costa Rica to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 9

San José, March 7, 1962

Secret. Priority.

Reference: Your Let XL-21 Feb 22.

Canadian Relations with Cuba

I believe situation created by Castro régime and consequent attitude of other American states as shown at Punta del Este warrants thorough re-exam of Canadian policy toward Cuba.

  1. The serious Communist threat from Cuba for Latin America cannot repeat not be overestimated. In Central America at least Communist organizations are active in promoting Castro’s ideology through press, literature, groups and plentiful financing. Agitation is conducted among workers particularly in banana areas and seaports. Groups of sympathizers and students go to Cuba from time to time for indoctrination, the guests of Cuban Government.
  2. While I do not repeat not believe there is any serious danger of Cuban armed invasion to these parts despite claims made at times by Presidents of Guatemala and Nicaragua, it remains that Communist infiltration is a reality and there seems to be no repeat no doubt all this activity is directed from Cuba in cooperation with Soviet agents. Central American countries I feel are justified in showing serious concern over Castro’s declared intentions and visible efforts to set up regimes of his brand in this area. I do not repeat not think chances to bring about progress through democratic ways should be jeopardized through Castroist interference.
  3. Although only a limited measure of social reform has heretofore got underway in Central America I believe present situation on whole warrants a fair try for Alliance for Progress and other help from Western international sources. There is hope for greater and faster improvement in every one of five countries of this post where, except for Nicaragua, progressive democratic governments are in power. The necessity for reform and self-help is permeating more and more the minds of government and public opinion. There is therefore a very good case for holding Communists at bay and making it possible for these countries to try to work out freely their salvation with Western help.
  4. In this context Canada’s (divergence?) from OAS policies as well as Canadian press hostility toward present USA policy in regard to Latin America on one hand and Canada’s growing trade with Cuba on the other hand appears somewhat strange on the part of a nation often regarded as leader of secondary democratic powers. As seen from here Canada’s behaviour is tantamount to indifference and selfishness in presence of hemispheric problems of real gravity. Canada’s goodwill in these parts has so far more or less escaped unfavourable reaction but I believe this will not repeat not go on for long if we continue saying nothing about our awareness of solidarity with other American countries in present struggle between Castroism and democracies.
  5. I believe therefore that Canadian Government should at least emphasize publicly and clearly its dislike of totalitarian régime in Cuba and its disapproval of subversive activities in Latin American countries. As a first positive step in helping to contain Castroism Canada might revise and broaden its list of strategic exports to Cuba. It seems this revision should take into account potential supplies for guerilla warfare in addition to materials for modern warfare which presumably make up NATO list. Perhaps also some manufactured items, the supply of which is particularly sensitive for Cuban industry, could be included. Such a measure would I think do much to demonstrate in practical terms to Latin America our solidarity and understanding of their situation. The psychological value of an announcement to the effect the list of strategic materials has been broadened would be important for Canada’s prestige and interest.
  6. I would not repeat not for the time being advocate an overall embargo on non strategic trade for apart from humanitarian aspects involved in regard to Cuban people, I would doubt its effectiveness as long as other countries are likely to step into our shoes in supplying same exports. I have doubt also about wisdom of help in addition to (amendments?) for arms shipments as suggested by Mr. Rusk unless we were asked to fulfill a mission of this sort both by Cuba and other Latin American countries. I do not repeat not think we are qualified thus to intervene actively between two camps but believe we should at least assert in some unmistakable way where our sympathy and conviction lie and do our part within our trade relations with Cuba to avoid giving impression Canada is bringing undue strength to Cuban economy and Communist apparatus and thus contributing indirectly to further Castro designs in Latin America.

619. DEA/4568-40

Chargé d’Affaires in Ecuador to Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs

Letter No. 65

Quito, March 8, 1962

Secret. Canadian Eyes Only.

Reference: Washington’s tel. 515 of February 19 and my telegram 15 of March 2, 1962.

Canada – Cuban Relations

These comments, which you have requested, are supplementary to those given in my telegram under reference. Since, as I stated there, “I doubt however that whatever we do will greatly affect Canada’s relations with Ecuador,” I will be more concerned here with Canada’s relations with Cuba in the light of Mr. Rusk’s approach.

  1. I would find it difficult to quarrel with Mr. Rusk’s analysis of the activist nature of the Cuban régime. However, I think it could lead to a few difficulties for the Americans if they continue to believe that because “Khrushchev was to a limited extent willing to use Cuba to exploit existing dangers in the hemisphere” (paragraph 8 of Washington’s telegram) the extent of this willingness will continue to be “limited.” This is what I had in mind in point (c) of paragraph 1 of my telegram; Cuba is a base from which and an agent through which the Soviet bloc can operate. The possibility of increased use adds considerably to the menace to the hemisphere. In passing I should mention that I note I worded the second sentence of that point incorrectly. I should have said that the Soviet bloc would go to considerable lengths to prevent (rather than “unlikely to allow”) the Cuban economy and consequently the régime (be it of Castro or a more communist one without him) from collapsing.
  2. The activist side of the Cubans has been clearly demonstrated in Ecuador in the year I have been here. The Embassy has grown to seven members on the diplomatic list, not including the absent Ambassador; this makes it the largest Latin American mission in Quito although the Brazilians will also have seven diplomats when an Ambassador is accredited. The Embassy here is notoriously a centre of Castrista intrigue. For example, it is known that Dr. Manuel Araujo Hidalgo was a frequent visitor at the Embassy before his political eclipse. The events recounted in paragraphs 10 and 11 of the annex to Canadian JIC 413/2(61) attached to your letter DS-184 of October 11, 1961, clearly show that the Cuban Embassy (and the Cuban government) are active in local politics. I have reported that it was most likely that former President Velasco received money from the Cuban Government for his June 1960 campaign. The political party URJE was formed for the sole purpose of supporting the Cuban revolution and while, of course, it cannot be proved, it would be surprising if the Cuban Government, through its Embassy, was not instrumental in the founding of this party and was not its chief financial supporter. Similarly there must be Cuban money in the weekly news magazine Mañana (established just two years ago) which trumpets the Castro line. There have been a few cases when Cuban diplomats have been caught out. The former Cuban Ambassador and the Cuban Cultural Attaché (as I have reported) made ill advised speeches at Ambato and Ibarra respectively in praise of the Cuban revolution. In the dying days of the Velasco régime the Cuban Chargé d’Affaires was asked to leave the country for his political activities. Similarly the Cuban Consul in Guayaquil late last year was withdrawn at the Ecuadorian Government’s request. Plans are afoot, as I have reported, for taking 300 Indian peasants to Cuba for “training,” and, as I informed you in early January, sixty-two selected Ecuadorians spent three weeks in Cuba at the Cuban Government’s expense.
  3. That Cuba has been and is a divisive political issue in Ecuador is not, of course, solely attributable to subversive actions by Cubans or Castrista agents. Much of the responsibility lies on the shoulders of past governments who have done little in the way of social reform. Ecuador was ripe for social unrest and the aims and ideals of the Cuban revolution enabled it to become the focal point for this discontent. That is why in my telegram I suggested that while the activist side of the Cuban régime constitutes “a grave danger to Latin American political stability,” it has acted and can act as a goad to reform. It has often been truly said that without Castro we might not yet have the Alliance for Progress trying to get off the ground. In the sense of keeping the pressure on Latin American countries from Cuba (and consequently from the U.S.) to institute reforms, it could be an excellent thing for the continent if Castro or a similar régime could remain in power in Cuba for the next five years or so. However, I agree with Mr. Rusk’s point that Castroism is not “the answer to the problems of the hemisphere,” but I am afraid that reforms, having been so long delayed, possibly cannot come quickly enough in many countries to avoid the establishment of some Castro-like régimes. That, as I see it, is the danger in Ecuador.
  4. Turning to the internal situation in Cuba, I was surprised to read in paragraph 9 of Mr. Heeney’s telegram that the United States does “not accept that the present Cuban régime was a permanent situation.” I suppose it is not, in the sense that Castro may be replaced by the older converts to communism who now seem to be in the process of taking over, but surely that latter type of government will take much longer to dislodge than the normal type of Latin American caudillo, such as Castro in many respects is. It is easy to become involved in semantics as to whether or not Cuba is now a communist state but I think that Mr. Kidd’s informative despatch No. D-628 of December 16, 1961, can only lead one to believe that Castro’s only hope of remaining the titular head of the government in succeeding months is on sufferance of the communists. In considering the Cuban problem it seems to me that for planning purposes we have to assume that Castro or a similar régime (given no armed intervention) will be firmly in power in Cuba for the foreseeable future.
  5. This latter point assumes that the Soviet bloc will be willing to buttress the flagging Cuban economy (which I believe) in order to counter-act to a sufficient degree both the effect of the U.S. embargo itself and any success which the latter might have in getting its friends to reduce their trade, and, secondly, that it will be able to do so, to keep enough goods and loans flowing to prevent an utter economic collapse (which may be an inaccurate assumption). It seems to me that the U.S. will meet with some success, but to a degree only, in denying Cuba “the means of strengthening its economy” (paragraph 12 of Washington’s telegram) because while the Soviet bloc will make good some of the difference, there are bound to be less funds than otherwise available for Cuba to extend “its influence and subversive activity over the rest of the hemisphere.” It remains to be seen whether the U.S. will get sufficient cooperation from Latin American countries to enable it “to press forward with the Alliance for Progress” and whether whatever projects may be implemented will sufficiently and promptly enough “assist the other Latin American countries to strengthen their economies” (paragraph 6 of Washington’s telegram) to enable some of the more vulnerable governments to withstand the challenge of Castroism.
  6. Since I believe that Cuba (with or without Castro) will plague Central America and the continent for some years, we are likely to find the United States if not more involved at least as much involved as at present with this additional constant threat to the political stability of Latin America. Rather than growing accustomed to the situation I would think that there is a good chance that the Americans will grow increasingly frustrated that that small island should continue to require so much attention. Their emotionalism will tend to increase and it is for this reason in my telegram I suggested that the problem was more one of Canada-United States relations than those of Canada-Cuba. In this connection I think that Mr. Rusk’s statements concerning Canada-United States relations in paragraph 13 of Washington’s telegram are of considerable significance. Here, of course, I have left my field of Ecuador but I can’t help wondering for how long the Americans will curb their emotionalism in their relations with us. It would be a different problem, I believe, if the Cubans were to relax into peaceful co-existence with their neighbours. (In so far as their relations with the United States are concerned, the fault is not all theirs.) However, as long as they are a threat to our interests – both political and commercial – in having Latin America as stable as possible and in having the United States free to devote its full attention to more vital areas, I believe we would be justified in going some little distance further to satisfy the United States (and all the countries of Latin America who at Punta del Este condemned communism in Cuba) that we, too, disapprove of the régime’s activities.
  7. This could have no effect on the stability of the Cuban régime although it would get rid of Cuban propaganda (if our definition of strategic materials were broadened somewhat) that Canada was a good source for spare parts. There is always a possibility too, I suppose, that if the United States were to become sufficiently exasperated with us on the grounds that they thought we were taking advantage of their embargo to expand our trade, we might suffer in United States tourist dollars and in some of our exports. It wouldn’t take long to lose more than the, say, $6 million referred to by Mr. Rusk which he said was for items in our exports to Cuba which the United States would consider either “strategic or border-line” (paragraph 11 of Washington’s telegram). Again, if the feeling of frustration in the preceding paragraph were to grow in the United States, we might just possibly be in a position to counsel restraint, should armed intervention be again considered, if we have previously shown an increased sympathy for the problem which the United States is facing.
  8. Much of this, of course, is what I take to be self-interest and in my opinion it is worth considering whether we might not therefore broaden the definition of strategic materials and make a declaration supporting the Punta del Este condemnation of communism in Cuba. One other possibility occurs to me (I don’t consider destroyers to the Caribbean or travel restrictions as possibilities) and that is the granting by Canada of some financial aid to those Latin American countries which appear to be carrying out effective reforms, to supplement to a small degree Alliance for Progress assistance. I am convinced that development linked to reforms is the only effective answer to Castroism. To help modestly in development areas not touched by the Alliance (if it starts to function effectively) would show that, even though not members of the O.A.S., we are sympathetic to the plight of the under-developed countries of this hemisphere. At the same time such a programme might help us, eventually, to expand our trade; at least we would be doing our part to try to achieve that stability on which our present trade depends.

G.C. Langille

620. DEA/4568-40

Ambassador in Brazil to Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs

Letter No. 132

Rio de Janeiro, March 8, 1962


Canada and Cuba

Despite a few tendentious UPI reports in the press at the time of the Punta del Este Conference, and some indications of bad humour on the part of some of our American friends in their interpretation of Canada’s policy in regard to Cuba, it remains that generally the press here has treated our position fairly in reporting it, and has even in some cases given it as an example of maturity in its editorials.

  1. Even newspapers which lean to the fire and brimstone in regard to Cuba and to Brazilian policy in regard to Cuba, gave our rebuttal of the UPI articles a good report.
  2. Two cases have come to my attention in recent times which exemplify the treatment of our position. On February 4 the Estado de São Paulo, which is not tender to the position taken by Brazil at the Punta del Este Conference and would have liked it to have been fully lined up with the United States position, reported on the imposition of the United States embargo on trade with Cuba. In its report from Washington under the byline of its correspondent James Minifie, the Estado had one section entitled “Canada’s Position,” which listed the rules applied by the Canadian Government in regard to Canadian trade with Cuba as made known by the Canadian Embassy in Washington: 1) that Canadian exports of arms, munitions and military equipment to Cuba had been prohibited for two years already; 2) that strategic materials were not being exported to Cuba; 3) that exports to Cuba of other products which could have a strategic importance were carefully watched and export licenses were required; and 4) that re-exports through Canada of United States-produced items had been prohibited since October 1960, when the United States had imposed restrictions on their trade with Cuba.
  3. The liberal-minded Jornal do Brasil, which approved of the attitude taken by Brazil at Punta del Este and therefore looks for support abroad, had an editorial on March 2 commenting on a statement by Senator Gunnar Thorvaldson, which had already been reported in most papers.Footnote 9 It points out that Senator Thorvaldson is the President of the Conservative Association of Canada and a close collaborator of our Prime Minister. The Canadian position, comments the Jornal, is fully consistent. It is not a result of systematic opposition to United States ways; it stands on its own; it has majority support in Canada; and is not meant to show, obviously, any veiled sympathy with Castro’s dictatorship. In one word, it is showing Canadian good sense. The same, the editorialist concludes, applies to Brazil. The Brazilian position does not mean ideological preferences or sympathies for a dictatorship. It means solely that Brazil does not desire to burn its vessels, vessels which are required in a democratic way as much to reach as to leave an island (Cuba).
  4. The Canadian position is at least understood by a majority of people here, even amongst those who oppose the Brazilian Government’s attitude and would like Canada to show Brazil the way back to the United States fold. It is fully appreciated in Government circles and in the bourgeois liberal press, such as the Jornal do Brasil and the Correio da Manhã. We need not expect an unpleasant press unless a campaign were mounted by some of the United States agencies independently of or helped along by suggestions or unofficial releases from United States Government sources. In such a case the manoeuvre would be quickly noticed and we could count on sympathetic support from most quarters who retain a sympathy for the “underdog.”
  5. Many United States businessmen locally will continue to look askance at our position: one can understand their apprehensions and lack of understanding. I have, I regret to say, a little less patience with such as former Foreign Minister Horacio Lafer, – a good friend nevertheless – who already before I left on leave last December had expressed to me his regrets that Canada were not taking a harder line on Cuba, which would help tip the scales in this area. Mr. Lafer had not shown such intransigence when he was in the seat of responsibility (until January 30, 1961), although to his credit it must be admitted that his attitude was moving towards greater sternness in the months before he had to surrender his portfolio with the termination of the term of office of President Kubitschek. It will also be remembered that he was one of the four former Foreign Ministers who earlier this year signed a letter to the present Foreign Minister expressing their regrets at the present lack of firmness of the policy of Brazil towards Cuba (our letter no. 60 of January 29, 1962†).

Jean Chapdelaine

621. DEA/288-40

Memorandum from Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs to Secretary of State for External Affairs


[Ottawa], March 8, 1962

Relations with Cuba

As a result of the discussions in NATO and the talk between Mr. Rusk and Mr. Heeney in Washington in mid-February, ministers will undoubtedly wish to re-examine carefully our policy with respect to Cuba.

  1. The implications of our relations with Cuba, particularly in terms of U.S.-Canada relations, are complicated and far-reaching. Our policy has frequently been misunderstood and occasionally distorted both at home and abroad.
  2. To simplify the re-examination of our policy and to enable ministers to focus on what seem to us to be the key issues, the problem might be divided into four fundamental questions:
    1. Has the Government been able to implement effectively its announced policy? Do we need to tighten up our procedures?
    2. What response should we make to the U.S. approach in NATO?
    3. Since the U.S. clearly has in mind that Canada should go farther than what has to date been proposed in NATO, what, if any, additional measures should Canada agree to undertake in co-operation with the United States?
    4. How can we explain and present our policy more effectively both to the public in Canada and abroad and to the United States administration?

    1. Has the Government been able to implement effectively its announced policy?
      1. The policy of the Government has been to prohibit the shipment of arms and military items (whether of Canadian or foreign origin) to Cuba for over two years. Although a few minor items on the COCOM strategic list may have been exported to Cuba in the past year, at the moment, in practice, the Department of Trade and Commerce are not granting export licences to Cuba for any items on the COCOM list (whether of Canadian or foreign origin). Finally, in keeping with a long-standing practice with the United States, we do not permit the shipment to Cuba of any goods of purely U.S. origin which the United States itself would not export to Cuba.
      2. We are assured by the departments concerned with the enforcement of our regulations that our control with respect to arms and strategic material has been effective in practice. It is always, of course, conceivable that there may be a few instances where U.S.-origin goods are slipping through, but the authorities are watching this possibility very closely. A dozen or so cases of attempted circumventions of these regulations have already been picked up by our people. Co-operation with the United States here is satisfactory, but we might show a willingness to examine procedures jointly to ensure that there is no evasion.
      3. The embargo on trans-shipment of U.S.-origin goods, however, begs the question of how to define U.S.-origin. In the light of statements that we would not permit back-door evasion, it might be fair to assume that this embargo extended only to goods imported from the U.S. into Canada with the specific purpose of re-shipping them to Cuba. However, a number of so-called Canadian items which are being shipped to Cuba probably include a varying degree of U.S. content (as is in fact true of much of our export trade of manufactured items generally). In some cases this U.S. content may be very high. While, on the face of it, it might be possible to establish a percentage for U.S. content above which the item would be regarded as of U.S. origin for embargo purposes, such a step gives rise to difficult problems.
      4. It could be represented that a policy related to a definition based on content was in fact a result of pressure by the U.S. Government or by U.S. parents on Canadian subsidiaries. It would open up generally the question of whether or not Canada was able to pursue an independent policy with respect to export trade, since so much of our normal exports contain a high proportion of U.S. content. In the circumstances, it would appear to us not desirable to establish a general content rule. It might, however, be desirable to prevent the re-export of not only goods which are entirely of U.S. origin but also of goods which for all intents and purposes were manufactured in the United States and then exposed to some simple form of packaging, labelling or processing in Canada with a view to avoiding control.
    2. What response should we make to the U.S. approach in NATO?
      1. When Rostow appeared before the NATO Council, he asked the alliance to join in the following measures:Footnote 10
        1. Deny arms to Cuba and forbid trans-shipment of all items of U.S. origin;
        2. Apply COCOM regulations to Cuba;
        3. Report to NATO all credits extended to Cuba;
        4. Assess individually the meaning of all resolutions agreed at Punta del Este and adjust their trade policies accordingly;
        5. Re-examine their trade policies with respect to the whole of Latin America. (This point was not elaborated on and is probably not as important in the present context as the previous four requests.)
      2. From subsequent discussions it seems that the U.S. are going to concentrate on obtaining a NATO resolution that the alliance will apply the COCOM regulations to Cuba and therefore deny all arms and strategic materials to Cuba. The views expressed by other governments so far have shown little enthusiasm for such a decision, which the United States would probably wish to make public. The wisdom of NATO extending its operations to the Caribbean has been questioned and it is difficult to assess how much support in the last analysis the U.S. will be able to muster within NATO. At your instruction we have prepared a memorandum† seeking Cabinet’s guidance for the discussions in NATO with respect to a resolution concerning applying COCOM controls to Cuba.
    3. Since the U.S. clearly has in mind that Canada should go farther than what has to date been proposed in NATO, what, if any, additional measures should Canada agree to undertake in co-operation with the U.S.?
      1. It has become apparent as a result of the Rusk-Heeney talks and further conversations with U.S. officials that the United States really wishes Canada to join them in a quarantine of Castro. It is reasonable to think that they will follow up their limited success at Punta del Este by pressing their OAS partners to take steps in a similar direction. Although we are outside the OAS, the direct pressures on us may be even greater. During the meeting of the U.S.-Canada Parliamentary Group, the U.S. side, time after time, stressed that they were not interested in what we did with respect to one or another item in our trade. They maintained that the struggle with Castro was a question of principle on which they expected Canada to stand with them.
      2. In recent talks with U.S. officials, they have suggested that appropriate measures for Canada to take would extend well beyond the application of COCOM controls. These might include:
        1. Denying certain items of essentially Canadian origin to Cuba which, although not on the COCOM list, have a strategic significance to the Cuban economy;
        2. Make stronger and more critical statements about the Castro régime;
        3. Deny transit and landing rights for Cuban or Bloc aircraft enroute through Canada to Cuba;
        4. Join U.S. in preventing export of Cuban arms to Central America by, as Mr. Rusk suggested, possibly sending Canadian destroyers to the Caribbean;
        5. Although not mentioned specifically by Mr. Rusk, there have been indications that the U.S. would like us to break diplomatic relations with Cuba and thereby deprive Castro of any semblance of respectability which he might derive through his contacts with us.
      3. With the exception of the first and perhaps the second, all these proposals are very extreme. If we adopt some of these proposals but stop short of the furthest limit, there undoubtedly will be many critics in the United States and Latin America who will give us no credit for having moved at all. If we were to go the whole or most of the way with proposals such as these, we would no doubt be credited with having belatedly joined in, but some unfortunate results would undoubtedly be produced as well. A complete disruption would, of course, occur in our own relations with Cuba and probably the door would be closed for any effective contact in the future for as long as the Castro Government remains in power. Such a drastic change in position would probably be represented throughout Latin America as Canada “knuckling under” to U.S. pressure. The spreading of such an impression would not be in our own interest nor in the interest of the United States. Such a substantial shift in our policy could make the positions of such friendly Governments as those in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico much more exposed and difficult. The OAS and the Alliance for Progress might suffer in the process.
      4. Although the facts are not entirely clear, it is not impossible that U.S. economic pressure on Cuba may create chaos and destroy Castro’s position. There is, however, little assurance that if Castro should come down, he would be replaced by a non-communist régime or one better disposed towards the United States.
      5. If the United States intervened with force, they would probably find themselves supporting, as they have in so many parts of the world, a puppet régime which would have little appeal throughout the rest of Latin America. As long as Canada maintains the type of contacts we now have with Cuba, the existence of such links might conceivably lessen the possibility of such drastic action by the United States. This, however, to some extent will depend on how effectively we can present our case in Washington. It will also depend on presenting the facts to the public in both countries in such a way as to keep temperatures down; in particular, we cannot leave ourselves open to the charge of being insensitive to any real threat of Soviet-controlled communism in this hemisphere.
      6. At the same time, in view of our interest in the orderly progress of Latin America, we should presumably help to keep the way clear for these nations to achieve changes in their own social and economic order, sometimes at revolutionary pace.
    4. How can we explain and present our policy effectively both to the public in Canada and abroad and to the United States Administration?
      1. We now have before us an invitation to sit down and discuss with the United States fundamental relations with Cuba. To comment merely on the detail of various proposals put forward may avoid the fundamental question which Mr. Rusk has raised: Are we prepared to join the United States in an effort to weaken the Castro régime and to prevent the re-export of Castro’s revolution to other parts of Latin America?
      2. The single-mindedness of the United States to date has made it difficult to work with them on anything short of the latter promise. Nevertheless, if we take advantage of the United States’ invitation to discuss these questions in a frank and co-operative manner, we would be obliged to question whether it would be desirable or possible to bring Castro down through external pressure and even if this were possible, whether a subsequent régime (and the repercussions elsewhere in the hemisphere) would be an improvement.
      3. In essence, we would be questioning the fundamental wisdom of basic United States policies, both past and projected. This means that great skill would be required to avoid the impression that a small power was telling a major power how to run its affairs. Because of the particular relations between United States and Canada, we would also have to avoid the impression, particularly with the public, that our independence of view was based on a “plague on both your houses” view towards the Cold War. Finally, and perhaps most important, it would have to be clear that our policy was not calculated essentially as a mere demonstration of independence for its own sake regardless of the merits of the case.
      4. If we are to engage in a frank discussion with the United States, we need to take to the conference table not only carefully-thought-out views on the points raised earlier in this memorandum but also new evidence that we were prepared to play a constructive role in hemispheric relations.
      5. There are numerous ways in which the latter might be achieved. We should examine in advance any proposals which would demonstrate to both the United States Government and to the public everywhere that we were serious about decreasing tension in the Caribbean.
      6. This might be done through an extension of our aid activities to other areas where Castroism may be threatening, e.g. British Guiana, West Indies. These areas have a longstanding link with Canada and development aid from us would undoubtedly be well received. To the extent that we could demonstrate to the United States that we were taking an enlightened and effective interest in the future of these areas, we would be much better placed to refute any inference that Canada was insensitive to the dangers involved in the spread of communism through the Caribbean. A Colombo plan for aid to the Caribbean of the kind which we were considering some months ago could, by excluding Cuba, be a very effective and constructive form of “quarantine.” It might in fact encourage a more moderate régime in Cuba, which might be forced by economic necessity and domestic opinion to seek entry into the Aid Programme. (In a sense, it could then be said that the aid being given by us to the Caribbean area outside Cuba represented earnings from our continuing trade with Cuba. Insofar as this trade in the future will have to be based largely on the dollar income received by Cubans working on the U.S. base at Guantanamo, it could also be said that to that extent our trade with Cuba and our aid to the West Indies would be absorbing for constructive purposes the dollars which the U.S. pretty well has to put into Cuba so long as it occupies Guantanamo. From all points of view our trade and aid activities should be welcomed by the United States.)
      7. Another positive act which may be forced upon us in any event by our relations with Latin America would be a more active participation in the Alliance for Progress.
      8. Finally, perhaps the most positive act in the eyes of both the United States and Latin America would be Canadian membership in the OAS. The Americans could maintain that we could take an independent view of the Cuban issue and the future developments in the Caribbean even if we were members of the OAS. To some extent this contention is borne out by the Punta del Este Conference where several Latin American countries appear to have held out against the most extreme U.S. requests. Some Latin American countries may think that Canada declines membership in the OAS simply to avoid being drawn into disputes which are likely to become more prevalent in the future where members of the OAS will have to stand up and be counted.
      9. To summarize, I think it should be our objective to look towards a very careful presentation of our views to the United States. We should be able to point out that there is within the bounds of our existing policy room for an adequate degree of co-operation on trade controls. You might also consider that it would be possible for us to volunteer a well-publicized statement of support for the spirit of the Punta del Este resolutions even though not subscribing to them formally. In discussing steps that go beyond this, we would be obliged to question some of the basic premises of the United States. We would be better placed to do this if we had carefully worked out our policy in advance both with respect to membership in the OAS and to the provision of additional aid to the Caribbean.
      10. Several months might be required for such a fundamental re-examination of our policy. Clearly, these may be issues of such importance that the Government may not wish to act before an election. It is vital, however, not to give the impression to the United States that we are delaying deliberately. In these circumstances and in the light of any discussions which you may have on this subject with Mr. Rusk in Geneva, you might wish to suggest technical consultations on the official level in advance of any thorough ministerial discussion. Arrangements might, for example, be made for a more thorough review of the intelligence picture as both we and they see it. A joint examination might take place of the scope for further co-operation with respect to trade controls, particularly regarding evasion of existing regulations but perhaps also with regard to the possible extension of our lists. There could also be closer and more forward-looking consultation, at both the technical and policy level on the role of economic aid in the Caribbean both for its own value and as a protection against the spread of Castroism (or perhaps even as an inducement to Cubans to seek closer links again with the West). In addition, consideration could be given to the kind of public statement which might improve our appearance in the United States without losing the political advantages for ourselves and other Western countries in a continuation of relations with Cuba.

N.A. Robertson

622. DEA/4568-40

Ambassador in Venezuela to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 11

Caracas, March 10, 1962

Secret. Canadian Eyes Only. OpImmediate.

Reference: Your Let XL-43 Feb 22, our Tel 9 Mar 1.†

Canadian-Cuban Relations

As seen from Venezuela, Cuba poses a real and immediate threat to security and peaceful development of Americas. Their own proximity, ease of travel by legitimate or clandestine means, the turbulence of own extreme left which has become more violent and noisy as popular support for Fidelismo here has seemed to dwindle, explain Venezuela’s concern and indeed contribution to their decision to break relations with Cuba last November. Since outbreak of terrorist activity here coinciding with second Punta del Este Conference, Government has been arresting known Venezuelan leftists who return from visits to Cuba. Yesterday Government communiqué announced discovery of guerrilla training camps in several mountain areas and arrest of 52 persons believed involved. The Venezuelan Government therefore has own good and sufficient reasons for its attitude towards Castro-Cuba, which it now fits into “Betancourt doctrine” of excluding from OAS regimes of usurpation i.e. governments not repeat not freely elected.

  1. Nevertheless when I called on Foreign Minister earlier this week to present copies of my letters of credence Dr. Falcon indicated his complete understanding of Canadian position regarding Cuba and his appreciation of our willingness to continue our trade in non-strategic material. The moderate Socialists of government coalitions are not repeat not critical of our stand and opposition parties, generally farther to left, if moved to comment would probably applaud what they would regard as Canadian independence. The conservative and far right elements here currently have no repeat no party. Such criticisms as we have heard come in private conversations with members of this group and local American businessmen. Nor has Venezuelan press, some of which is centrist or inclined to the right, itself initiated any criticism of Canada’s Cuban policy. Newspapers have from time to time reproduced the criticism of others. However to date we have not repeat not felt it necessary to issue locally any “defence” of Canadian policy.
  2. It would seem therefore that in the terms of purely Venezuelan-Canadian relations and in present circumstances here Canada’s Cuban policy is not repeat not a complicating factor. However the trend has been for government to move gradually closer to Washington lines and it may be forced to rely more heavily on support of the Venezuelan armed forces if Congressional situation deteriorates further. If a rightist dictatorship emerges here, a possibility which can never be completely ruled out, it would probably need no repeat no Washington urging to adopt a critical line toward Canada on Cuban issue.

[Yvon] Beaulne

623. DEA/4568-40

Chargé d’Affaires, Embassy in Uruguay, to Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs

Letter No. 91

Montevideo, March 12, 1962

Secret. Canadian Eyes Only.

Reference: Mr. Bower’s telegram 24 of March 2, 1962, from Montevideo.

Canadian Relations with Cuba

As suggested by Mr. Bower in his telegram under reference, the time has come to review our policy towards Cuba. Castro’s public profession of Marxism-Leninism on December 1, 1961, the decision of the OAS Foreign Ministers at Punta del Este to exclude Cuba from the Inter-American System, and the rebuffs met by Cuba at the United Nations are all important factors which have a bearing on our position. Something must be done to counteract the impression that Canada has sympathy for Cuba or at best is neutral in the conflict which opposes her on the one side and the U.S. and Latin American Governments on the other. The failure of the larger Latin American countries to support at Punta del Este the exclusion of Cuba from the OAS did not stem from their sympathy for Castro but was due mainly to domestic political preoccupations as well as to their concern lest the decision to exclude Cuba would set a dangerous precedent which might threaten the sovereignty of the other member states and the solidarity of the OAS. Insofar as Uruguay is concerned, it has become obvious over the last few weeks that Canada’s policy towards Cuba is misinterpreted, both by those who approve of it and those who are critical of it, and that some clarification and/or modification of our public stand is required.

  1. The Cuban crisis has posed a conscience problem to all Latin Americans. Basically, the average Latin American is resentful of U.S. economic and political domination or supremacy. Even those who profess to be pro-Americans are not loath to criticize the U.S. on some of its policies when it suits them. There is therefore no wonder that the vast majority of Latin Americans hailed the Cuban revolution as the forerunner of a movement of economic and social emancipation which they hoped would sweep through all the other Latin American countries. However, the excesses of the Cuban revolution, such as the mass trials and executions staged by the Castrist forces, the curbing of freedom, particularly that of the press, gradually had the effect of dampening enthusiasm in the rest of Latin America. Castro’s declaration of faith in Marxism-Leninism as the only means of bringing about the emancipation of Latin America came as a severe blow to those responsible elements outside Cuba who were still hoping that the Cuban revolution would return to a democratic form of Government. By falling [into] the lap of the Soviets, Castro has also shown the difficulty for Latin America to free itself from U.S. tutelage without running the risk of becoming a stooge of the Communist world. In fact, Castro’s basic mistake, as suggested to me recently by the Bolivian Ambassador Siles Zuano (the former President of Bolivia), is not to have waged a Socialist revolution, but simply “to have changed the foreign masters of his country.”
  2. This leads us to the heart of the problem. The Communist leanings of the Castrist régime can no longer be ignored even by those who still believe that the Cuban revolution, at least in its original form, has set the pattern for economic and social reforms in Latin America. A choice has to be made. The Communists, of course, are more than ever supporters of Castro – even more so than at the beginning of the Cuban revolution. A good many Socialists and other extreme leftists (at least in Uruguay) have become too compromised with the Castrist régime to backtrack. For others, “Yankee imperialism” remains the main threat and must be fought by all means. For the majority of former pro-Castrists, however, the choice is more difficult to make, if only because it appears to be a choice between Cuba and the U.S., or between the Cuban revolution and the U.S.-inspired Alliance for Progress Programme, in which they have little faith. It is for the latter group, which includes members of the left as well as of the right, that Canada’s position towards Cuba assumes a particular importance. By making it quite clear that we disapprove of the Cuban régime as it has evolved and that we support the Alliance for Progress Programme as the only means of making orderly advances on the road to economic and social development, we could have a salutary influence on progressive elements throughout Latin America which are still hesitant. Such a reaffirmation of our policy would also reassure those conservative elements which may be in doubt as to where our sympathies lie in the Cuban issue. In either case, it would appear necessary to resolve our present differences with the U.S. on Cuba.
  3. It is a matter for regret that some U.S. officials did not see fit to exert more restraint in their criticism of Canada’s policy on trade with Cuba. Surely the Canadian Government, if only to preserve its reputation of independence in foreign affairs, had no alternative but to resist these undisguised attempts at dictating our policy. However, it seems that we should not allow these incidents to becloud the more important issues of our relations with the U.S. and the rest of Latin America, and of the security of the Western Hemisphere to which we belong. We must recognize that Cuba presents a different problem to us than Communist satellites in Europe. If it is admitted that Cuba, willingly or not, has become the spearhead of Communist infiltration in Latin America, we must accept the fact that it poses a more direct threat to us than, say, Czechoslovakia. And yet, we have never left anyone in doubt as to our opposition to the Czech Communist régime. The fact that we have been trading with the latter country has never been interpreted either as a sign of sympathy for its rulers. The situation is not so clear with respect to Cuba. Several Latin American countries, including Uruguay, have purposely refrained from trading with Cuba. Last year, for instance, Uruguay turned down a tempting offer by the Cuban Government to buy Uruguayan surplus rice in exchange for sugar, at a time when Uruguayan exporters were facing difficulties on the Canadian market because of the decision of the U.S. authorities to allow the export of U.S.-subsidized rice to Canada. While the average Uruguayan would probably not object to Canada’s maintaining normal trade with Cuba, an attempt on our part to take advantage of the present situation to increase our sales to Cuba would certainly raise questions. One of the most important local newspapers, El Dia, recently pointed out that Canada was the only NATO country which had actually increased its trade with Cuba. I am not in a position to confirm or deny this assertion, but if it proved to be true, we could expect further criticism. The Bolivian Ambassador, whose Government as you know is definitely of leftist tendencies and opposed to sanctions against the Cuban Government, told me quite frankly that Canada’s trading policy with Cuba was slightly “mercantilist and opportunist.” It seems, therefore, that we should pay more attention to the views of our Latin American friends on the question of trade with Cuba. This is not to suggest that we should stop trading with Cuba, but perhaps the time has come to be somewhat more selective in granting export permits and in controlling the volume of our Cuban trade.
  4. It is recognized that if we wish to play a role in Latin America, we must preserve our independence from the U.S. We should also guard, however, against any expressions or appearances of sterile anti-Americanism, which could only provide comfort and encouragement to those irresponsible Latin American elements who are determined to bring about upheavals under the guise of anti-imperialism or Castrism. It seems that the best way of avoiding the pitfalls of pro-Americanism and anti-Americanism is to relate our policy on Cuba to the OAS decisions. One step which could be taken without involving us in any dispute with the U.S. and/or Latin American Governments would be to endorse the OAS declaration of incompatibility of Communism and, by way of consequence, of the Cuban régime, with the Western Hemisphere democratic system and way of life. A second step might be to indicate our willingness to support or abide by any decision taken by the OAS member states to protect against Cuban subversive activities. Could we not, for example, offer to cooperate, outside the OAS framework, with the Security Committee which has just been set up as a result of a recommendation of the last Punta del Este Conference? There are no doubt other avenues which could be explored. The important thing is to give some tangible evidence of our solidarity with the OAS in its quest for economic and social development and also in its concern for the security of the Western Hemisphere. This we can do without seeking OAS membership and while maintaining normal diplomatic and trade relations with Cuba.

F.X. Houde

624. DEA/4568-40

Ambassador in Brazil to Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs

Letter No. 134

Rio de Janeiro, March 12, 1962

Secret. Canadian Eyes Only.

Reference: Washington’s Telegram No. 515 to External

Cuba – Mr. Heeney’s Talk with Secretary of State Rusk

In paragraph 11 of this telegram it is stated that “President Dorticós of Cuba had boasted (at Punta del Este, I gathered) that, while spare parts had been a problem, this was no longer so since ‘a daily plane’ now brought them to Cuba from Canada.”

  1. I was not able to see Lincoln Gordon, the United States Ambassador, until Saturday March 10 from the time of my return on February 23. Until that time he had been very busy with the negotiation of Aid Agreements, the complications of the expropriation of the IT&T subsidiary in Rio Grande do Sul and some travel to Brasilia and Bahia as well as his participation in carnival festivities. We had a long chat on Saturday morning, March 10 at the end of which, he had kept the bouquet for the end, he told me that he had this little story for me. We had been discussing Cuba and Punta del Este and he gave me the story in all amity and good humour. He nevertheless would like to know, he said, what I thought of it.
  2. As you may remember President Dorticós wanted to meet with President Goulart en route down to Punta del Este. President Dorticós had to detour to finally meet up with President Goulart, very briefly, on the airstrip at Florianopolis, in the south of Brazil. On the plane which took Dorticós and company to Florianopolis, they were accompanied by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office, Renato Archer. According to the report which Gordon had had from Renato Archer, the atmosphere was not of the most cordial, and the conversation, to say the least, spasmodic on this trip. Dorticós had had to run around to see Goulart. One of Archer’s gambits had been to ask how Cuba looked after itself for spare parts, to which the rejoinder had been, I could not be sure whether it was from Dorticós or one of his party, it was not Raúl Rao, who kept completely silent as he later did in Punta del Este, that while there had been a problem, this was no longer so … etc.
  3. Whether the boast was repeated publicly at Punta del Este or whether Secretary Rusk used Gordon’s report, I do not know, I would be inclined to believe it was the latter.
  4. Lincoln Gordon’s inclination was to believe that the Cuban statement was a boast with very little foundation.
  5. I repeated to him what our policy was, on exports to Cuba generally and on re-exports; and added that there would be required ingenuity beyond compare on the part of the Cubans to make good their boast. I concluded my statement in the same vein as Mr. Heeney did in the last paragraph of his telegram No. 15.
  6. The above will clear up a point of history. You may think, however, that Washington deserves a factual rebuttal of the Dorticós boast. If one were given there, it would be useful if I were also apprised of the line you have taken in Washington. I would like to go back to Gordon on this, and if I could draw Renato Archer on it, I could also correct the impression which he may have carried from the Dorticós boast.

Jean Chapdelaine

625. DEA/4568-40

Ambassador in Argentina to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Letter No. 111

Buenos Aires, March 13, 1962

Secret. Canadian Eyes Only.

Reference: Your letter No. XL-57 of February 22.

Canadian Relations with Cuba

Our telegram No. 24 of March 2, 1962, from Montevideo requires little elaboration. Canada’s policy with respect to Cuba has not generally been a controversial issue in Latin America, whatever may have been the reactions in the United States. Judged from Buenos Aires, there appears to be waning sympathy for Castro throughout Latin America, – probably less marked in Brazil than elsewhere. This is partly due to Castro’s now obvious and professed links with communism, and partly to a belief that the Alliance for Progress will succeed in improving conditions in the area more assuredly and acceptably than would be possible through closer links with the Iron Curtain countries. Punte del Este focussed attention on the unity of the area in its opposition to communism, and has led to a vague but nevertheless widespread inclination to face realities, – to admit that if a choice must be made between the U.S. and Cuba, the U.S. presents by far the sounder course. This is not to say that there are none left to write “Cuba Sí, Yanquis No” on the walls. It means that many who were sympathetic to Castro in the early days are that way no longer. This change in Latin America is similar to the one which took place in attitudes in the U.S. itself: the main difference is that it has come later here. In Argentina, for example, a pro-Castro line was largely responsible for the victory of the Socialist candidate Sr. Palacios in elections to the Senate in February 1961. Within six months, Palacios and the bulk of his followers were attacking Castro and all he stood for. During the recent Punte del Este Conference, a number of Argentine trade unions passed a resolution urging the government to take a firm stand against Cuba. Almost certainly these same unions would have backed him 18 months before.

  1. While many who previously supported Castro, or were uncommitted, have swung against him, the attitudes of those traditionally opposed to him have hardened. This charge has naturally produced a change in the reactions to Canadian policies, and tended to make them more critical of those aspects which “appear” to conflict with Argentine viewpoints.
  2. It must be admitted that very few Argentines or Uruguayans really know what Canada’s policy is towards Cuba. Nevertheless the impression is widespread that we are:
    1. taking advantage of U.S.A./Cuban difficulties to increase our export trade;
    2. if not supplying a full list of strategic materials, at least sending enough to seriously undermine U.S. efforts to contain the Communist threat represented by Cuba;
    3. sympathetic towards Cuba in its differences with the U.S.A. – and with various Latin American countries as well.
  3. It is true that these are false impressions, but this does not mean that they are not widely held. Dorticós’ statement at Punta del Este that a regular air service between the two countries had solved an acute spare parts problem conjured up visions of the Berlin air lift. The Cuban Chargé d’Affaires here, as well as the one in Montevideo, congratulated our officers at both missions on Canada’s enlightened trade policy, implying of course that it helped Cuba in its struggle against the U.S.A. Such statements seem to make much more impact (and to receive better press notice) than do our reiterations of the true Canadian policy. In our day-to-day contacts here, we encounter more criticism of the “supposed” Canadian position than we do praise, – perhaps understandable because we meet more people of centre or rightist persuasion. Such misunderstanding of the Canadian position is not doing us any harm in an economic sense in Argentina, – our trade is unlikely to suffer unless the situation gets a great deal worse. On the other hand, the “image” is not one we can be very proud of. We cannot say what the trade impact will be in other Latin American countries, but the chances are in favour of it doing us harm in the U.S. Rusk, if he didn’t threaten reprisals, let it be known that public opinion in the U.S. might make them necessary. It is clear from press clippings that the average U.S. citizen misunderstands the Canadian position despite all our explanations, and resents what he believes to be the true situation. (I gather that Rusk himself doubts the effectiveness of our strategic controls.) Unless this U.S. attitude can be corrected, the consequences to Canadian trade interests in the U.S. could be very serious. For example, we have a privileged position in that market with respect to oil. This could easily be withdrawn if we should lose general sympathy in Congress because of what is generally thought to be an unhelpful policy on Cuba. Other interests of considerable importance could also suffer.
  4. In their quarrel with the U.S. the Cubans can be expected to do all they can to exacerbate Canadian/U.S. relations. Similarly Cuba will do what it can to poison relations between Canada and those other American states that have taken the hard line against Cuba, – e.g. Venezuela, Peru, Colombia, etc. Those countries that feel themselves particularly threatened with Cuban Communism will be bound to resent any Canadian policy which they believe aids Cuban influence in the area. No doubt the same misunderstandings exist in these countries as in the U.S.A. with respect to Canada’s Cuban policy. Because our relations with these countries are less intimate the consequences of any misunderstanding are not so serious but they could easily be worrying. These countries see a threat from Cuba which they do not sense from Russia, China, or any of the other Iron Curtain countries.
  5. Our cable contained our thoughts on one line we might take. We said:
    “Answer might be to announce that although not member of OAS we have no desire to do anything in the current situation which would have the effect of thwarting even in part the objectives of the majority of the members and that we would favourably consider taking whatever steps the majority took in matters relating to Cuba. This might require minor policy changes but would provide the gesture which the present situation appears to call for.”
  6. Such a statement would not materially affect our current policy, but should satisfy the bulk of the Latin Americans. The U.S. could hardly expect us to do more than their associates in the O.A.S. so that they too might be able to relax.
  7. A notice in this morning’s paper to the effect that food rationing is to be imposed on the Cuban people is complicating. It would be unfortunate in our long-term relations with Cuba if the impression were to be left that food shortages on the island were due in any part to Canadian economic pressure. However, as long as we allowed food and medicines to move freely the damage would be minimized.

R.P. Bower

626. DEA/4568-40

Ambassador in Mexico to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Despatch No. 161

Mexico City, March 14, 1962


Reference: Your letter XL-68 of February 22, 1962.

Canada and Cuba

This despatch is our reply to your request for comments on the general problem of Canadian relations with Cuba in the light of Mr. Rusk’s remarks to our Ambassador in Washington, of the result of the Punta del Este meeting, and of Canada’s general interests in Mexico. Since we had already reported on the Punta del Este Conference by cable and sent two despatches on the subject,† we did not reply by cable, as we felt these previous reports, in some measure at least, had dealt with the questions you raise.

Mexican Estimate of the Cuban Threat

  1. As regards the Punta del Este Conference itself, we have nothing further to add to our description of Mexican policy bearing thereon. However, we have sounded the Foreign Ministry on its views on follow-up action to the Conference; and it is clear that whereas the Ministry agrees in some measure with the U.S. appreciation of the nature of the Cuban threat it differs sharply with the views advanced by Mr. Rusk, and by Mr. Rostow in Paris as to how the threat should be met.
  2. The Mexicans are prepared to agree that Cuba represents a threat to the hemisphere along more or less the same lines described by Mr. Rostow, namely:
    1. as an agent of Communist power;
    2. as a rallying symbol for the Latin American left;
    3. as a base for subversion.
    Acting on the basis of this assessment, the Mexican Government is taking measures to prevent Cuban agents or Cuban propaganda from entering Mexico, and does not hesitate to harass those political groups in the country which admire and support Castro. Mexicans returning from Cuba are searched at the airport, and whatever literature they may have which is regarded as suspect, even though it may have nothing to do with Cuba, is liable to seizure. Demonstrations or meetings which may be planned by left-wing groups are not infrequently subjected to controlled limitation or even banned.
  3. Internally, therefore, the Mexican Government is by no means timid in taking action against certain of the more overt forms of Cuban infiltration. It is still possible, however, to voice support of Cuba in the press, particularly in the periodical press. Speakers with pro-Cuban views are in frequent demand at the National University. Occasionally, they may be heard on university radio programmes, although not on commercial broadcasts. Communist literature is available in bookstores even though publications of the Cuban government are not. Thus, in general, the Government is attempting to follow a policy mid-way between repression of left-wing opinion and activities stimulated by the Cuban example, or in some cases by Cuban agents, and complete freedom for Cuban supporters to publicize their beliefs. This is not a policy easy to implement, as the Mexican Communist party is quite legal, even though numerically small. Groups supporting Cuba, therefore, could hardly be banned if the party is not. Nor would it be easy to reconcile a more restrictive policy with the necessity of the Government’s maintaining support from the left, or with the provisions of the Mexican Constitution.

Mexican Aversion to “Intervention”

  1. This somewhat ambivalent attitude, to some extent at least, also affects Mexico’s attitude toward her formal relations with Cuba. At Punta del Este, the Foreign Minister argued the incompatibility of a Marxist-Leninist Cuba with the inter-American system; nevertheless, Mexico’s bilateral relations with Cuba continue on a normal basis in accordance with the Mexican creed that the kind of government which a country supports is its own business, and is of no concern to Mexico unless such government interferes in Mexico’s internal affairs. Thus far, the Mexican Government apparently has found no reason to believe that intervention is taking place on a scale sufficiently significant to warrant modification of its formal relations with Cuba, even though, as already stated, it sometimes acts internally as though it believed that Cuba may represent a threat to Mexican political stability.
  2. Exactly what constitutes intervention is, of course, one of the basic problems, but the Mexicans are more prepared to take a broader view on this aspect of the matter than some other Latin American countries because of their deeply-rooted devotion to the concept of non-intervention deriving from their history. Mexicans have suffered much from intervention and, despite their advocacy of the incompatibility thesis they fear that direct action against Cuba would establish a precedent which could be used against other countries including themselves in other circumstances in the future, with consequent undermining of the whole basis for peaceful co-existence in Latin America. On the other hand, if it could be proved that Cuba was committing actual physical aggression, as was demonstrated in the case of the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, then presumably Mexico would support more direct sanctions against Cuba.
  3. Furthermore, on a purely pragmatic basis, the Mexican authorities feel strongly that policies aimed at economic strangulation of Cuba will not achieve the overthrow of the present Cuban government. On the contrary, they argue that such measures would tend to strengthen the Cuban Government’s position, both in terms of domestic popular support and in support from other Communist countries, and would thus be counter-productive. They would argue that Cuba should be left alone, either because they do not believe the Cuban people will support a Communist form of government indefinitely, or because they think that Cuba, if left alone, ultimately would loosen its ties with the Soviet Bloc, and perhaps develop into a sort of western hemisphere Yugoslavia. Finally, many Mexicans are conscious of the parallel between the Cuban revolution and their own revolutionary experience, and they are by no means ready to write off the Cuban revolution as a failure.

United States Appreciation and Policy

  1. All of the above is by way of background to consideration of Canadian relations with Cuba and their effect on our relations with the United States. If I correctly understand Mr. Rusk’s views as reported by our Ambassador in Washington, the U.S. would characterize the Cuban development as being essentially and principally a conspiracy whose objective is the subversion of the hemisphere, or at least of the Latin American parts of it, rather than as simply a domestic revolution seeking to replace an old order with a new one. The Secretary speaks of the “Battle for the Western Hemisphere,” asks us whether or not we accept the United States appreciation of the situation, and requests our views as to the best means of dealing with it.
  2. He defines the aims of United States policy as not the overthrow of Castro (this I regard with some scepticism), but as:
    1. The isolation of Cuba;
    2. The denial to Cuba of the means to strengthen its economy, and thus prevent or limit Castro’s domestic success;
    3. The denial to Cuba of the means of extending its influence and subversive activities to the rest of the continent;
    4. Development of positive steps to demonstrate that Castro is not the answer to Latin America’s problems through implementation of such projects as the Alliance for Progress;
    5. Enlistment of the cooperation of its allies in achieving these objectives on a multilateral basis.
  3. To all this, the Secretary adds that Canada, as a western hemisphere country, has a special responsibility toward the Cuban problem, and that NATO countries generally should not regard Cuba merely as another Communist Bloc country, but as a special situation which constitutes a serious threat to the western hemisphere.
  4. In general, I should think that one must agree with the U.S. appreciation of the seriousness of the threat if not with the appreciation of the fundamental reasons for the seriousness. There is substantial evidence to indicate that Cuba is attempting subversion in various parts of the continent. Moreover, there is no doubt that Castro has been a rallying symbol for the Latin American left, although lately the symbol may have lost some of its original bloom. Furthermore, to some extent at least, Cuba is functioning as a proselytizing agent of Communist power.
  5. Nevertheless, I do not agree with the minimizing of the importance of the domestic aspects of the Cuban upheaval. It seems to me of cardinal importance to remember that the Cuban revolution is primarily and essentially an attempt to reconstitute a society which suffered from the political, economic and social ills common to many Latin American countries. One may condemn the methods used and oppose its current international orientation, but the essence of the threat, it seems to me, lies in the degree to which the movement succeeds in achieving its internal objectives and in establishing itself as an example to other Latin American peoples in search of release from conditions of life which they regard as intolerable.
  6. One agrees with, of course – and welcomes – the Secretary’s assessment that Cuba does not constitute a direct military threat to the United States (and ipso facto to Canada). It is reassuring, moreover, to note that he dismisses military action against Cuba as a possible solution on the ground that it would be costly and would be “unsatisfactory” in many ways. The adjective I would apply to this solution would be “disastrous,” both in terms of its effects on United States relations with Latin America and with the non-committed countries, and, to a lesser degree, even with her allies.

The Policy of Isolation

  1. Coming now to the first three objectives of American policy, enumerated in Paragraph (9) above, namely, isolation of Cuba – and by this I take it that the Secretary means isolation achieved by positive rather than passive means – and the denial to the revolution of the means to internal success and external subversion, I would be inclined to question the feasibility of isolation as a road to these ends. It is a self-evident fact that, short of military measures which are admittedly unacceptable, the United States has not the power to isolate Cuba from the Communist world; and I would doubt whether it has the power to isolate it from the non-committed world. Furthermore, unless it succeeds in convincing its NATO allies of the soundness of its current tactic, there is doubt as to whether it can isolate Cuba from significant areas of the Western world.
  2. At the moment, there is an obvious disposition on the part of some Latin American countries to follow the U.S. line, but I would question whether or not even this measure of support is likely to continue on a long-term basis. Prospects are that we shall have more upheavals in Latin America like that of Cuba, or at least that governments which represent the aspirations of the people for social justice and a higher standard of living will come to power. Such governments would be unlikely to go along with the policy of isolating Cuba for, whether or not they agreed with the forms and methods of the Cuban revolution, they would inevitably be sympathetic toward its basic objectives.
  3. Moreover, I am inclined to agree with the Mexican view that it would not be wise to seek to isolate Cuba by positive means even if this were feasible. We cannot be at all sure that such a policy would lead to a new revolution in Cuba. It would not cure the Cuban “infection” in Latin America, for the very fact that the Cuban revolution has happened is what “infects.” Indeed, the spectacle of continuing Cuban resistance to continuing American pressure might well tend to increase Cuba’s prestige and her power to influence the rest of the Americas.
  4. I would argue, moreover, that it is a somewhat naïve view of the politics of Latin America to assume that the cutting off of Cuban efforts at subversion in Latin America will substantially increase the prospects for political and social stability in the region. I would contend that, not subversion, but the conditions of life of the mass of the people and the reluctance of entrenched power groups to accept peaceful change are the primary factors behind the drive toward reform and revolt.

Constructive Counter-Measures

  1. If this view is valid, then it would seem to me the prime emphasis should be placed on the fourth and fifth objectives of U.S. policy enumerated in Paragraph (9) above, namely, on measures to meet the social and economic needs, and to satisfy the political aspirations, of the Latin American peoples, together with enlistment of the cooperation of the allies of the United States in achieving these objectives on a multilateral basis. This, of course, is an enormous undertaking, fraught with innumerable difficulties, but if it is not accomplished – Cuban subversion or no Cuban subversion – the consequences are likely to be seriously adverse to the interests of the Western world. In other words, I would argue that our tactic should be one of seeking to align ourselves with the forces of change in Latin America and trying to direct their expression along channels which would achieve consequences more or less acceptable to us. This approach may well fall short of complete success but any other it seems to me, is certain to fail. And frankly, I feel strongly that Canada, not only as a western hemisphere country but as a member of the Western Alliance, should be participating in this enterprise to a much greater extent than is at present the case.
  2. Meanwhile, one asks, what should we be doing about current relations with Cuba? Here, I would be inclined to go along with the Mexican view and argue that for the time being at least, we should maintain a patient but watchful attitude toward events in Cuba itself, while at the same time seeking to counteract attempts at Cuban subversion in the rest of the hemisphere by encouraging constructive counter-measures by the West in the countries, towards which such subversion is directed. In other words, our offensive should be marshalled at the point of attack, not at the point of origin. This tactic may run counter to accepted military doctrine but this is not a military problem and it would seem to me to be sound psychology to concentrate our offensive on the areas where the issue remains to be resolved rather than on an area where, for the time being at least, it has been resolved.

Trade Policy

  1. I would also urge the desirability of some elements of the West keeping open lines of political and commercial communications with Cuba; although in the case of Canada, I would agree that in seeking to follow this policy we should consider the susceptibilities of the U.S. Government and its problems with U.S. public opinion.
  2. I do not believe we should embargo all trade with Cuba; in fact, if I understand Mr. Rusk correctly, he is for the time being at least not asking that we should do this. I do think, however, that we should try to reach an understanding with the U.S. as to what items should be included in the strategic list, and that where there is doubt as to individual items, we might go so far as to lean towards the U.S. view. I also think that we should make certain there is no evasion of our prohibition of re-exports of U.S. goods to Cuba. There should be no possibility of doubt on this aspect of the matter. Further than this, while maintaining our position on the desirability of keeping open some channels to Cuba, we might wish to consider taking such administrative measures as might tend to limit our trade with Cuba more or less to its traditional components and dimensions. I realize this could well present administrative difficulties, and that to a great extent the success or failure of such a manoeuvre would depend on its presentational handling; nevertheless, the price might be a reasonable one if it alleviated tension with the United States while at the same time enabling us to maintain our basic policy line.
  3. I should perhaps add that Canadian official statements on our Cuban trade policy have received some publicity here, but that so far we have seen no adverse published comment; rather, the opposite. On the other hand, we would not be surprised to see or hear criticism in those quarters which habitually take a strong anti-Castro line, chiefly the business community and the Church, and during the past month I myself have encountered such criticism in a few individual instances.


  1. I would conclude from the above that, barring overt aggressive action by Cuba against the territory of some other Latin American state, it is in Canada’s general interest not to alter substantially our present relations with Cuba, although as mentioned we might take a careful look at certain items in our trade. For Canada to align her policies on Cuba with those of the United States, although it might please a number of Latin American countries, would not be welcome here. Mexico rather looks upon Canada as a hemispheric ally despite our hesitations about involvement in the affairs of Latin America, and they attach importance to our capacity for exercising some influence on American policy. United States views on such matters must, of course, weigh more heavily with us than those of Mexico. But the fact that Mexico’s views are shared by other important countries in Latin America and the probability that the forces of social change will triumph sooner or later throughout Latin America are also factors to which, I would argue, we should give careful thought.

W.A. Irwin

627. DEA/4568-40

Ambassador in United States to Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs

Secret. Personal.

Washington, March 22, 1962

Dear Norman [Robertson],

Thank you for sending me with your letter of March 13† a copy of the memorandum on relations with Cuba which was put to the Minister before his departure for Geneva.

I am attaching, in response, a memorandum of our comments thereon. You will observe that I concur heartily in the final recommendations for early joint consultations with the United States and for the long-term study of the situation “in depth.” At the same time, I have a number of comments from the Washington point-of-view.

We will look forward eagerly to the decisions that may be taken.

Yours sincerely,

Arnold [Heeney]


Memorandum by Ambassador in United States


Washington, March 22, 1962

Canada’s Relations with Cuba: The View from Washington

The re-examination of our policy to which the Departmental memorandum on Cuban policy of March 8, 1962, is directed, and which will necessarily require the careful consideration of Ministers, is essentially what I had in mind in following up the report of my discussion with the Secretary (our Telegram No. 515 of February 19) by my message No. 627 of March 1. The memorandum itself provides a useful basis on which such a re-examination can be conducted. As it, rightly, points out, such a re-examination will take a considerable time. It must necessarily include not merely a study of our present trade policies and their administration but also the important substantive political aspects of the problem posed by a Communist Cuba in the Western Hemisphere and how best to deal with it. I agree, therefore, as the memorandum concludes, that, with this in mind, it would be valuable for us to participate in preliminary exchanges of view at the official level with the Americans.

Accordingly, I agree heartily with the final recommendations of your memorandum for early joint consultations with the U.S. and for the longer-term study of the situation in depth (paras. 24 and 25). At the same time, you will not take it amiss if I make a number of specific and critical comments on various points raised in the body of the memorandum:

Paragraph 9: I am glad to note that the guidance of Ministers is being sought with respect to the discussions in a NATO context in the possible application of COCOM controls to Cuba. While such action would not involve any substantial modification in our own policy, I believe it is true to say that the Americans attach considerable importance to action by NATO governments to deny arms and strategic materials to Cuba. For geographic and other reasons, they regard Canada as having a special concern with this problem.

Paragraph 10: It is not accurate to suggest on the basis of my talk with the Secretary (I realize there have been other conversations with United States officials in Ottawa as well as here) that the United States “really wishes Canada to join in a quarantine of Castro.”Footnote 11 Rusk did not say this in terms, nor did he imply it; in fact, he took care not to do either. The opinions expressed by United States Congressional leaders during the meeting of the U.S.-Canada Parliamentary Group are something else again; our concern here is with the U.S. Administration.

Paragraph 11: None of these points ((i) to (v)) were raised as requests to us by the Secretary. Indeed, Rusk was meticulous in avoiding any request other than that we review the position ourselves in its broadest aspects and as a nation in the hemisphere. Nor has any U.S. official ever raised with me the question of our continued diplomatic relations with Cuba. If these points have been put to us in the way suggested in the memorandum, it must have been in talks (presumably in Ottawa) with “other U.S. officials.”

Paragraphs 12 - 15: The problems with which this section of the memorandum deals are, of course, of great importance in the review that is contemplated. I am sure that the Department will want to give careful study to the various reports which are coming in from our missions in Latin America in response to the Department’s request of February 22 for comments on the Secretary of State’s discussion with me. We have not yet seen all of these messages here. I think it fair to say, however, on the basis of those we have seen that there is a good deal of support among our colleagues in Latin America for a more positive emphasis in Canadian policy vis-à-vis Cuba. A number of our missions share our view here (again, our message of March 1) that a clear public statement of the Canadian position, including not only our trade measures but also our attitude with regard to Communist penetration in the hemisphere, would be useful at this time.

United States policy is not based on the assumption that economic pressure on Cuba will destroy Castro, or “bring him down” (para. 13 and the reference in para. 17), but rather that it will help to prevent the Castro régime’s gaining strength at home and abroad. It is directed at reducing the capacity of the régime to engage effectively in subversion in the Caribbean area and elsewhere in Latin America. The Americans may wish that we would adopt the same policy and measures; no doubt they do. But, apart from the requests put forward in NATO, decisions have been and are left to us.

Paragraphs 16 - 25: The latter part of the memorandum is, I think, particularly helpful and constructive. Our trade arrangements with Cuba cannot and should not be isolated from the broader perspective of our role in Latin America as a whole. It is in this area, I believe, that a fruitful exchange of views could take place. The memorandum makes some useful and positive suggestions about action that might be taken to put the Cuban problem in its proper framework. These include consideration of our current aid measures in the area and, in some form, closer relations with hemispheric institutions. I am not sure that aid to the Commonwealth Caribbean countries alone would have much impact in terms of our relations with Latin America. There are, however, a number of other measures – our membership with ECLA, our export finance facilities which are being used considerably in Latin America, and trade missions in the area as a whole – all of which could profitably be brought out in any new statement of policy as evidence of the importance we attach to the principles of the Alliance for Progress.

Perhaps of greatest importance in any review of the situation would be a thorough-going re-assessment of our own relationship to the inter-American system.

From the two Punta del Este meetings a number of general conclusions can, I think, be drawn:

  1. The OAS role in hemispheric affairs has been enhanced and strengthened;
  2. The OAS is the chosen instrument for implementing the Alliance for Progress to strengthen the base of democratic societies in Latin America by economic means;
  3. Economic and social problems facing the Latin American Republics have taken on new urgency against the backdrop of Communist subversion based on Cuba and fed by Castro;
  4. Failure in the cooperative effort to improve the living standards in Latin America could result in the division of the hemisphere with grave political consequences for the North American countries.

In fact, there are grounds for concluding that the OAS is gaining vitality, not only on the economic side but also as a more effective political and security entity. Such developments are of significance to Canada.

So far, we have had well-founded misgivings about joining the Organization. We have been reluctant to get involved in the political turmoil which often prevails in Latin American countries. We have recoiled from the prospect of being wedged between the United States and the Latin American countries. We have also feared that participation in the OAS might cause undue strain upon our resources.

Be that as it may, I am inclined to believe that, sooner or later, mainly because of geography, but also because of our broader world interests, Canada will have to join the OAS or accept increasing criticism from the Latin American countries. At this crucial time when they are confronted with the threat of Communist subversion and economic instability, I believe that a gesture of solidarity on our part could be of considerable importance. Quite apart from views of the United States, there is reason to believe that the Latin Americans feel disappointed and mystified at Canada’s unwillingness to join the Organization and to take a more active part in the problems of the hemisphere.

My own hope is that there will be a thorough and serious re-examination of our relationships to the hemisphere and to the OAS in particular. It will, I believe, be more and more difficult for us to postpone a decision on membership, and the later it is taken, the more likelihood there will be that our decision will have to be taken under pressure.

Finally, when our review is completed, careful attention should be given to the public presentation of our position both in the United States and elsewhere, particularly in the hemisphere. At the level of public, including Congressional, opinion in this country, the Cuban problem is an extremely serious one in terms of Canadian-U.S. relations. While our first attention should be devoted to developing an adequate response to the Administration’s suggestions for consultation, we should follow up actively the related question of measures to ensure so far as possible that our position is not intentionally or unintentionally distorted, but is understood as widely as possible. In this last connection we should, I believe, put our attitude and policy with respect to Cuba in the broad context of our interest in, and concern for, the problems facing Central and South America and the Caribbean area.

A.D.P. H[eeney]

628. DEA/4568-40

Memorandum from Head, Latin American Division, to Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs


[Ottawa], March 23, 1962

Canada – Cuba Relations

As you know, most of our missions in Latin America were requested to send in their views on the question of Canada’s relations with Cuba in the light of the Rusk-Heeney interview of February 16, 1962, the results of the Second Punta del Este Conference and of Canada’s general interest in the country to which they are accredited.

  1. Our missions generally recognize the validity of Mr. Rusk’s contention that Cuba is a threat to the security of the Hemisphere, to the stability of Latin American governments and to the peaceful development of the area. The majority point out that the danger comes on the one hand from the exemplary value of the Cuban experiment and on the other from the subversive activities orchestrated from Havana.
  2. It would appear that Canada’s policy of maintaining diplomatic relations and trading in non-strategic goods with Cuba has not led to misinterpretations in the more important countries of Latin America. In particular, the policies of Brazil, Mexico and Chile are practically identical to those pursued by Canada vis-à-vis Cuba. The independent stand of Canada is also generally approved by Venezuelans and understood by the Venezuelan Government in spite of their own particular grievances against Castro. However, Canada’s treatment of Cuba appears to be widely misunderstood in those Latin American countries which adopted a hard line against Cuba at Punta del Este, last January: Peru, Colombia and the Central American states. These countries seem to equate trading with Cuba with political support of the régime, or more generally with indifference to other than purely mercantile considerations.
  3. None of our missions suggests that substantial changes are needed in Canada’s current policy. Nevertheless, considering the general context of our relations with the United States and the recent approach of the State Department, most missions recommend that Canada should go some way towards meeting Mr. Rusk’s suggestion that we should review our Cuban policy.
  4. The majority emphasize the need for a clear-cut statement of Canadian policy designed to remove current misunderstanding (such a statement should contain a strong censure of Cuba). In general, practical recommendations are limited to a possible broadening of the list of strategic exports to Cuba. Two missions specify that this broadening should be in the direction of spare parts or manufactured goods, the lack of which is particularly damaging to the Cuban industry.
  5. Our missions in Rio de Janeiro, Santiago and Lima refer specifically to economic and social progress as the most effective answer to Castroism or Communism in the Hemisphere, and recognize the merits of the Alliance for Progress in this connection. They suggest that even though she is not a member of the OAS, Canada should contribute aid to Latin America through the Alliance for Progress programme or through other aid media such as the Inter-American Development Bank. Mr. Tremblay suggests that a substantial contribution to the latter would constitute the simplest and most effective demonstration of our “fundamental solidarity” with other countries of this Hemisphere despite differences of view on trade with Cuba.
  6. To sum up, Canada need not introduce major changes in her Cuban policy. However, it is generally felt that some gesture on our part is required if we care to avoid further antagonizing the United States, and that a shift of emphasis is indicated if we wish to correct the impression created in many Latin American circles that Canada is moved principally by mercantile considerations.Footnote 12

J.R.B. Chaput

629. DEA/2444-40

Memorandum from Assistant Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs to Economic Division


[Ottawa], March 23, 1962

U.S. Controls on Imports with High Cuban Content

Mr. Willis Armstrong of the United States Embassy told me at noon to-day that the U.S. government will be announcing to-morrow a ban on imports into the United States of goods from third countries which have a very substantial Cuban content. He was not certain of the proportion of Cuban content which would bring any product under the ban. His understanding was that the main items affected would probably be cigars and tinned pineapple.

  1. Mr. Armstrong indicated that this action would be taken under the Trading with the Enemy Act. It would not, however, involve any attempt to apply controls to activities of U.S. subsidiaries or U.S. nationals abroad. While the legislative authority was the same as that for the Foreign Assets Control Regulations, the United States Government was not in fact taking this action under those regulations. The new decision would only affect goods which were being imported into the United States.
  2. Mr. Armstrong emphasized that there is no intention of interfering in anybody else’s affairs; all that was being sought was an effective method of preventing evasion of the United States embargo on direct imports from Cuba.

A.E. R[itchie]

630. DEA/4568-40

Ambassador in Cuba to Head, Latin American Division

Personal and Confidential.

Havana, May 17, 1962

Dear Alfred [Pick],

I wanted to drop you a line to send you my very best wishes on your new appointment. It is certainly good to know that Latin American affairs will be in such capable hands, and I personally look forward to renewing our former association.

Over the past year I have followed with interest your many reports analyzing events in Peru, as well as the accounts of your visits to Bolivia. From your valedictory despatch† I gather you are leaving Lima with some concern as to the course of future developments.

It may perhaps be useful to take this occasion to mention one or two matters related to the operation of this mission. The first point on which I should like to say a word or two is that of Canadian policy towards Cuba. When I was first posted to Havana last summer I had hoped to get some sort of policy statement from the Department on this subject. For various reasons this did not prove possible at the time, and it was therefore my hope that this gap would be filled when my Letter of Instructions was sent down. However, I gather that this document has also encountered certain roadblocks. After almost a year in Havana the Letter is no longer as essential as it first was, but a guidance memorandum on Canadian policy towards Cuba would still be most useful.

Admittedly one can glean something from ministerial statements, and clues as to the trend of thinking in the Department also appear in various official papers. This, however, does not fully satisfy our needs here, particularly as our policy has at times appeared from this vantage point to be somewhat ambiguous, and in any event the situation here has undergone a change. It would therefore be of great value to have some clear indication of the lines of our present policy thinking, even if only informally. This would help in such matters as judging what attitude to adopt when aspects of Canadian policy come up in discussions with Cuban officials, in shaping our reaction to Cuban policies, as well as deciding what public functions to attend here, which increasingly are employed by the Cubans as a propaganda forum directed against not only the United States and other “imperialist” powers but against the West in general.

I fully appreciate the difficulty of doing anything on this score during the next month, but would be grateful if you could bear it in mind for later in the summer. If you should find it possible even on a personal basis to give me an outline of how you see current Canadian policy towards Cuba and the relationship of the inevitable American shadow to this question, this would be extremely helpful.

While on this subject I was also wondering if the mission could in future receive more Departmental papers dealing with Cuba than we have been getting in the past. We have, for example, seen no Departmental memo on the results of the survey of our posts conducted following the Heeney-Rusk talks. I realize that in many cases memos going up to the Under-Secretary and/or to the Minister may be of a tentative nature or may not always crystallize fully, but it would nevertheless be useful to see these as an indication of the trend of Departmental thinking. If you prefer, I would be very happy to get such material on a “read and destroy” basis only so that it would not form any permanent part of the mission’s files. Anything you feel you can do in this regard will, I assure you, be most welcome since I have at times in the past felt a little out of touch in this field.

You may perhaps have already heard from Supplies and Properties or Defence Liaison (2) that we are anxious to find new chancery premises. Our present location is not only very inadequate from a security standpoint but, like so many facilities in Cuba today, the building in which our offices are located has sadly deteriorated and it is no longer very suitable for a mission for a variety of reasons, and would be particularly vulnerable if we had to face another emergency situation again. We have a house in mind but have not yet succeeded in prying it loose from the Cuban authorities.

Finally, let me say that I should be only too happy to hear from you at any time if there is a particular aspect of the Cuban scene on which you feel the need for additional information. We naturally try to cover the waterfront within the limit of our capacities but may not always be cognizant of the special requirements of the moment.

I trust you found your charming home in Rockliffe had been well looked after in your absence and are getting well settled into the pleasures of Ottawa life again. Lola joins me in sending Patricia and yourself our very best wishes.

Yours sincerely,

George P. Kidd

631. DEA/4470-A-40

Ambassador in Cuba to Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs

Letter No. 401

Havana, August 16, 1962


Soviet Military and Economic Advisers for Cuba

In recent weeks there have been widespread rumours in Havana that Soviet troops have been landed in Cuba. These rumours were picked up by the United States and Canadian press. As you know, a State Department spokesman has said that a large number of Soviet experts, both military and economic, have been brought to Cuba during the past three weeks on five Soviet ships, but that the story of the landing of 4,500 soldiers appeared to be without foundation. The U.S. keeps a watch on shipping to Cuba and a specially equipped radar vessel was visible off Havana at the time the Soviet ships were arriving.

  1. For its part, the Havana press reported that a large group of experts of “different levels” who will work in the various branches of the national economy arrived here on August 6 aboard the Admiral Najinov. They were greeted by Che Guevara and Carlos Rafael Rodríguez. A number of local reports suggest that in addition to those who came ashore openly, others may have been brought in surreptitiously at Havana itself, Mariel, Matanzas and Casilda, which is the port of Trinidad on the south coast of Cuba. Rumour also has it that 100 men, taken from a Soviet ship on the high seas, were brought into Bahia Honda at night on two small pleasure cruisers.
  2. There are various stories that non-Cuban soldiers have been seen; seven groups of twenty-five men at the base near La Coloma; twenty trucks filled with troops on August 6 at Guanito near Pinar del Rio; a column of tanks and vehicles with Russian drivers on a highway leading from Mariel and Russian manned tanks participating in military manoeuvres near Trinidad. Another claimed that there were movements of tanks and artillery, starting on the 7th of August, at the San Julien Air Base near Las Martinas and that a number of Orientals were seen. The Torrens Reformatory School, near Havana, was cleared out about a month ago and turned over to the armed forces. A member of the Embassy drove by and saw a number of young men in blue shorts who did not appear to be particularly Cuban in appearance. He noticed no Negroes amongst them, but he saw at least one man who was undoubtedly Slavic. The area was guarded by Cuban soldiers and there are known to be Cuban troops stationed in the neighbourhood. The Reformatory had extensive sleeping accommodation but, nonetheless, a number of small tents had been put up.
  3. We usually try to avoid wasting our time and yours in reporting unsubstantiated rumours. In the present case, however, the rumours have been both more wide-spread and more specific than usual and in some instances we have received accounts alleged to be first hand. Indeed some claim that the rumours were initiated by government sources. Like the State Department, I discount the more far-fetched rumours; for example, that there are now 18,000 international volunteers on the island including a large contingent of North Koreans or that actual Soviet units are in the country. It seems reasonable to assume, however, that a fair number of Soviet military advisers are now working with the Cuban armed forces.
  4. Given the local situation it would be a perfectly plausible development. It stands to reason that the armed forces are in as much need of technical advice as other sections of the Cuban community. If it is necessary to teach Cubans how to care for Russian tractors, the same must hold true for tanks, artillery or helicopters. Indeed, the need may be greater because the Cuban army was completely rebuilt from guerrilla forces and new recruits and as a result lacks officers and technicians fully trained to use modern equipment. It has been the local assumption that at least a few Russian and Czech advisers have been helping the Cuban armed forces for some time. It is likely that the number has now been increased and may possibly include experts in some special fields such as paratroop training. I would think that the Russians would view this as strictly a question of providing military advisers rather than stationing troops in Cuba, but if the number of advisers were to reach a certain point, there might be little difference between the two.
  5. All this appears to be a part of a general stepping-up of technical assistance to Cuba. The Russians are training a group of young Cubans, who recently graduated from a fishery school, aboard five Soviet fishing vessels which are to be turned over to the Cubans when they have mastered the necessary techniques. Over 1,000 Cubans are to go to the Soviet Union for training in agriculture, farm management, and the operation and maintenance of farm machinery. This is more than went last year and they are being selected with greater care. They are to be sent over on the ships bringing in the Soviet experts. A new group of Soviet agricultural specialists are thought to be included amongst the experts that have just arrived. More Soviet technicians are apparently on the way. It was announced from Moscow this week that doctors, musicians, singers and dancers, as well as 100 Russian language professors, are to be sent here as teachers.
  6. The flight of the Cuban middle-class and the earlier departure of American and other foreign residents has deprived Cuba of a large part of its educated, trained manpower. Soviet technical assistance is desperately needed to fill this gap. From the Soviet point of view it may be the easiest kind of assistance to provide for there may well be a greater supply of agricultural experts than agriculture produce available for export. Moreover, there is no point in sending tractors or tanks if the Cubans are going to break them after only a few months of use. It remains to be seen whether the Soviet experts can deal successfully with the technical and human problems they will run up against. Past experience would point to limited rather than complete success, for the Cuban is not psychologically disposed to view the Russians as the repository of all technical know-how and often does not take too readily to advice and direction from foreigners. In any event, it would seem that the Soviet Union is launching a greater effort both in a military and an economic field to provide the Castro government with the skills necessary for survival. I will send a further report on the latest developments in the technical assistance field when more information becomes available.

George P. Kidd

632. DEA/4470-40

Ambassador in Cuba to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 172

Havana, September 13, 1962

Confidential. OpImmediate.

Cuba and USSR

This week’s Soviet declaration on CubaFootnote 13 came at a time when Cuban leaders were showing some signs of nervousness at strong reaction in USA over presence of Soviet military personnel in Caribbean. With limited additional Soviet military assistance predictably provoking rather than deterring USA, the Cubans were right to press USSR for a statement of support. The Castro régime knows value of USA enmity for rousing patriotic fervor but it prefers for this purpose a paper tiger, not repeat not a live one.

  1. The declaration has been enthusiastically welcomed by Cuban press with one paper featuring it in a full page headline “Khrushchev to Kennedy, Rockets on USA if it Invades Cuba.” Raúl Castro has commented that Cuba has no repeat no words with which to express its gratitude to USSR. Fidel Castro, however in a fiery address delivered just before declaration was released in Moscow spoke at length of threats of a USA invasion and of Cuba willing to die in resisting it but he avoided any mention of Soviet assistance in such an eventuality. Indeed he presented issue as a moral one, of a small country wishing to work out its revolution in peace which was menaced by a forceful and voracious aggressor. Perhaps he had been bluntly told that USSR would make its own statements with regard to any aid which it intended to provide or perhaps he recognized risk inherent in Cuba becoming just another Cold War question.
  2. While Soviet declaration is designed for maximum propaganda advantage it would also seem to represent a new stage in Cuban-Soviet relationship. Following on the heels of recent accord signed in Moscow earlier, it represents deepest Soviet commitment yet made to Castro régime. Moreover Cuba has been placed more prominently in (group corrupt) East-West differences to be dealt with in the same context as Berlin and disarmament. Soviet prestige has also become almost as much bound with success of Cuban Communism as USA prestige with its failure. Whether or not the USSR would make good on its threat it might feel impelled to take retaliatory action of some kind in an invasion of Cuba.
  3. If USSR is really accepting increased responsibilities for Cuban defence it would not repeat not be unreasonable to assume it would insist on exercising greater control over Cuban policy and centre of gravity for major Cuban policy decisions may shift even further from Havana to Moscow. It would be intolerable for USSR to be at mercy of unpredictable act of a small undisciplined ally. I doubt however that control can be fully exercised without creating friction.
  4. Despite all verbal sounds and fury both USSR and Cuba seem to be proceeding in fact with some caution and to have taken note of President Kennedy’s warnings. The Soviet’s declaration specifically states that long-range missiles will not repeat not be installed in Cuba and Cuban authorities are being careful to avoid incidents at Guantanamo, on high seas or with USA planes. Despite some press reports to the contrary the Cubans have not repeat not claimed that they have received an iron-clad military guarantee from Russians and Roa in a conversation with me last night specifically denied such a guarantee existed.
  5. The Cubans might easily take formal Soviet assurance of assistance as a green light for a more reckless policy in promoting Castro’s Communism in Americas. For this reason alone the USSR may keep extent of their commitments ambiguous. Jingoism is in full flower among Cuban extremists and they unfortunately have inherited strange Spanish combination of preoccupation with and disregard for death, buttressed in their case by a blissful ignorance of facts of modern warfare and Cuba’s intrinsic importance and strength. On the other hand there is no repeat no indication that Cuban authorities expect an early attack and security measures especially two weeks ago (see my telegram 161 August 31†) have been relaxed somewhat. If USA retains its composure the Cuban exultation should soon subside and Cuba will be face to face once more with their less heroic and very intractable economic problems. The need for Soviet economic and military aid is a confession of failure by régime but there is no repeat no reason to suppose with help [of] this aid and machinery of control at hand it cannot repeat not retain power for immediately foreseeable future.

[George P.] Kidd

633. DEA/4470-A-40

Ambassador in Cuba to Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs

Letter No. 451

Havana, September 14, 1962


Reference: Our letter No. 401 of August 16, 1962.

Soviet Military Assistance to Cuba

The presence of Soviet military personnel in Cuba was an open secret well before it was publicly acknowledged in the communiqué issued at the conclusion of Che Guevara’s recent trip to Moscow. Russian soldiers could not function in Cuba without being seen, but the initial security precautions gave time for them to be landed before United States public opinion became aroused.

  1. We are not equipped to secure full information on the number of Soviet troops here or the functions they are performing. The information released by President Kennedy, however, strikes us as reasonable and in accordance with such information as we have been able to gather. Convoys of military trucks driven by seeming Soviet soldiers have now been seen by many westerners here, including members of the Embassy. While the men are clad in civilian garb, sometimes wearing sportshirts which come in three or four different colours, there can be no mistaking their military bearing and Slavic physiognomy. A convoy we saw on the road from Quiebra to a small naval base in the bay of Mariel consisted of tank trucks, an enclosed canvas-covered truck seemingly for transporting personnel, and trucks pulling small square trailers, the function of which was unclear.
  2. The Soviet personnel appear to be operating in self-contained units. Whether or not they are all going to be employed in training Cuban forces remains to be seen. In fact, the permanent use of Soviet supporting units would provide a measure of Soviet control over Cuban freedom of action, not altogether unwelcome to Moscow in view of the present tense situation and the Cuban penchant for irresponsible action.
  3. The Russians are reputedly operating radar and other electronic equipment required for guiding MiG planes and for anti-aircraft and ship-to-ship missiles. Although such aid is essentially defensive, the Soviet Union might later try to slice the salami further, if this could be done without triggering U.S. intervention. There are, no doubt, ways that Cuba could be militarily useful to the Soviet Union (missile tracking stations, radar installations, submarine refuelling and supply depots, etc.). On the other hand, for security reasons alone, the Soviet Union might be reluctant to send its latest equipment to Cuba.
  4. We assume that there were substantial military reasons from the Cuban standpoint that led to the agreement to station Soviet forces personnel in Cuba. Possibly the efficiency of the Cuban Army, its ability to use Soviet equipment and its overall capacity to prevent any exile incursions or the establishment of guerrilla beachheads was considerably lower than the Cuban Government had managed to make out. Even now it may prove difficult and prohibitively expensive to police, effectively, the extensive Cuban coastline, particularly when the three-mile limit makes it so easy for small vessels to nip in and out. (This could have an effect upon the U.S. approach to the law of the sea.) Nevertheless there have been some indications recently of a strengthening of the coastal and air defences of Havana. President Kennedy has termed this upsurge in USSR military aid as essentially defensive in character and said that it would not notably impede any action against Cuba which the United States might at some future time be compelled to undertake. If this is correct the aid would, therefore, seem destined to increase the Castro régime’s ability to prevent exile-sponsored attack or subversion. A secondary objective may well be to raise the military cost of direct U.S. intervention. It is also worth bearing in mind that a strong well-trained military force in Cuba could, the U.S. permitting, send emergency help to a revolutionary régime newly established elsewhere in the Caribbean, as well as providing covert assistance and training to Latin American revolutionaries. To the extent that the aid may be designed to improve the Government’s capability of controlling the population it could have serious domestic political repercussions. Even now the presence of Soviet military personnel in Cuba and the publicity given to them creates a certain impression of satellite status to the Cuban people which runs the risk of offending national pride.
  5. Early this spring the Soviet Union had to decide whether to accept the likelihood of the ultimate collapse of the Communist experiment in Cuba or to try to bolster the régime by increased military and economic assistance. They obviously chose to stand by their problem child, for the present anyway. The decision must have been made around the time Kudriavtsev, the previous Soviet Ambassador, was removed. The visit of Raúl Castro to the Soviet Union this summer can be seen in retrospect to have had more military significance than we gave it originally, although in view of the time factor he can have done no more than reach final agreement on measures probably already provisionally agreed upon.
  6. Our Embassy in Moscow is doubtless in a better position than we are to speculate on the motives for the Soviet action, but perhaps it is worth passing on some of the ideas of myself and others in Havana. One theory is that the Soviet Union was deliberately trying to provoke the U.S. into taking armed action against Cuba which would damage the U.S. image abroad, and particularly in Latin America, and thus allow the Russians to take retaliatory action in a part of the world of greater intrinsic value to them. I doubt myself that this is the reason for their help, but it obviously provided them with a fall-back position. In any case, from a Soviet point of view, it might have been preferable to force the marines to move in and destroy the Revolution than to see the Cuban experiment with its Communist label crumble of its own weight as a result of its domestic shortcomings. Another possibility is that the Soviet Union knew that the United States was unlikely to attack Cuba, but counted on Soviet assistance calling forth bellicose statements which would damage the United States’ reputation in the neutralist world and throughout the hemisphere by presenting a picture of an Uncle Sam nasty, vicious, weak and senile. The Soviet Union could then impress the world by rattling its rockets to prevent an attack of which, in fact, there was no danger. This view, I think, is overly Machiavellian, although Soviet propaganda would naturally exploit any opportunities open to it.
  7. The volume of aid now being provided and the risks which the Russians are accepting, in view of the uncertainty of what reply the United States would make, suggests to my mind that a Communist Cuba has become a matter of greater importance to them or at least that its demise at this time was too grave a blow to bear. The Soviet Union has its position as the leader of the world Communist movement to take into account. The establishment of Communism in Cuba and the aid being provided can be used to demonstrate, in refutation of Chinese insinuation, that the Soviet Union has the wisdom and generosity required of the leader of this movement. Nor should one perhaps overlook an element of revolutionary romanticism and Communist idealism in the minds of Soviet leaders. But, possibly over and above these considerations was the prospect of Cuba’s potential future value in the cold war. In the international chess game Khrushchev may wish, in the words of The Economist, to say to the United States “Take my pawn in Cuba and you risk your castle in South Vietnam or your Berlin queen.”Footnote 14 From choice the Soviet Union might have preferred to avoid a direct challenge to U.S. power in the Caribbean, but it not unnaturally took advantage of the opportunities which so unexpectedly opened up in Cuba, and it must have seemed like sweet revenge to follow precedents established by the U.S. on the periphery of the U.S.S.R. Besides, if you are preaching a religion, it is hard to refuse converts.
  8. It is unpleasant for North America to have Soviet power take root in the Caribbean. There are, however, perhaps one or two minor assets in an otherwise dismal situation. Strategically Cuba is as vulnerable as Berlin; in one way even more so, since an air-bridge could not keep its economy afloat. In the same way that U.S. world-wide commitments have limited its freedom to take action against Cuba, the Soviet Union may now find its stake in Cuba politically inhibiting in Berlin and elsewhere, at least to the extent that it values the survival of the régime here. Moreover, the level of aid required by Cuba could serve as a warning of the possible economic cost to the Soviet Union of Communist advances in the underdeveloped world. If so much must be spent on Cuba, what would be required for the 70 million citizens of Brazil? The Soviet bloc has taken Cuban sugar, but could they absorb Venezuelan oil? Finally, even with aid, the long-term survival of a Communist régime in Cuba is far from assured and, indeed, the deeper Soviet involvement in the island may ultimately weaken further the popular basis of Castro’s original support. A rejection of Communism by Cuba would represent a serious blow to the myth that the Communist tide comes in but never goes out.

George P. Kidd

634. DEA/288-40

Memorandum from Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs to Secretary of State for External Affairs


[Ottawa], September 26, 1962

Relations with Cuba

The Cuban Ambassador called on me today by appointment on what was said to be an urgent matter. He wanted to know whether Canada was changing its commercial policy towards Cuba as he claimed there was some concern in Havana about this possibility. He said they had received a recent indication that Japan was about to curtail or terminate its commercial relations with Cuba or had done so. Up to now there had been a fair volume of trade between Japan and Cuba, I think mainly Cuban sugar for Japanese machinery. I told him that we had no knowledge of a change in Japan’s trade policy on Cuba (we shall try to learn about this from our Embassy in Tokyo).

  1. He could provide no basis for the alleged concern that we might be about to restrict our present trade with Cuba. When I mentioned the withdrawal of the commercial officer from Havana, he said that he knew of this and realized that it should not affect our trade as most of the business with Cuba is conducted through their office in Montreal.
  2. When the discussion broadened and he attempted to probe into the future relations between Canada and Cuba. I took the opportunity to say there was growing uneasiness and anxiety here about the developments in Cuba’s external relations. The increasing identification of Cuba with the Soviet world and the steadily worsening relations between Cuba and the United States could not but affect the outlook of Canadians on Cuba. It had been our view here that there was merit in maintaining normal diplomatic and commercial relations with Cuba as this policy might facilitate the return of Cuba to the Inter-American community where it properly belongs. However, relations had steadily deteriorated between Cuba and the United States as well as with many Latin American countries. I suggested that Cuba itself had failed to seek out sincere opportunities of restoring normal relations with the United States. The Ambassador claimed that on some five occasions Cuba had made offers to get on to a more normal basis with Washington, though I expressed doubt whether these had been very genuine attempts. I went on to say that because of Canada’s very close relations with the United States in various domains, with which he was quite familiar, the very strained situation between Havana and Washington inevitably had repercussions on our own intimate relations with Washington.
  3. After referring to matters which the United States had raised in NATO on relations of NATO countries with Cuba, the Ambassador asked me directly whether, if the United States requested us, we would terminate our commercial relations with Cuba. I refused to answer such a hypothetical question.
  4. I think Dr. Cruz left understanding clearly we were not changing our present policy but without any real assurance as to the future. I assume that he will convey the substance of our conversation to his Government.

N.A. Robertson

635. DEA/4568-40

Memorandum from Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs to Secretary of State for External Affairs


Ottawa, October 5, 1962

Policy on Cuba

Cuba has become an important element in the cold war in Washington and Moscow and at the United Nations. Cuba is also under consideration in NATO. In the light of the arrivals in July and August of Soviet military equipment and technicians in several Cuban ports, you may be interested in having a brief review of the situation behind the Sugarcane Curtain, an assessment of the recent Soviet assistance to the Castro régime and an examination of Canadian policy towards Cuba.

The Internal Situation

It would appear that over the past several months, the Fidelistas in the Cuban Government have been consolidating their position over their orthodox Communist allies. An outward sign of the Fidelista dominance may be the return to public prominence of “Che” Guevara, the Minister of Industries, and a relative withdrawal to the background of the orthodox Communists, with the exception of Carlos Rafael Rodríguez, the head of the National Institute of Agrarian Reform. Raúl Castro would appear to have played an important role in the negotiations which preceded the recent Soviet shipments to Cuba. Since the March purge of Anibal Escalante, there has been no report of progress in the formation of the United Party of the Socialist Revolution which is to replace both the Popular Socialist Party (Communist) and the already disorganized “26 of July” movement. Nevertheless the alliance of Fidelistas and orthodox communists, necessary as it is to both factions, seems to be functioning with some measure of smoothness.

The country is facing major economic problems. The health of the Cuban economy is greatly compromised by inefficient administration and an inability to make the adjustments required by its reorientation in the Bloc system. Whereas Cuba used to import large quantities of foodstuffs from the United States, the lack of foreign exchange limits the supply of food staples from abroad. The diversification of agriculture that has been attempted has not met with much success so far. Whereas Cuba used to obtain equipment and replacement parts from the United States, the U.S. embargo and the lack of foreign exchange imposes the total conversion to Soviet standards, specifications and tools of the whole industrial set-up from machinery of all descriptions, and spare parts for vehicles, to sugar refinery installations.

The immediate consequence is a shortage of food and other consumer items, growing dissatisfaction and a hardening of the government policies affecting industrial workers and members of the sugarcane cooperatives. Measures were decreed recently designed to introduce greater control, uniformity and efficiency in the labour field. The main stumbling-blocks of the Cuban economy have so far been widespread absenteeism in industry and the lack of manpower in agricultural activities.

It is believed that the system of vigilance represented by the 100,000 Committees for the Defence of the Revolution coupled with a trained police force and a disciplined army enable the government to meet what internal opposition there is in Cuba now. Nevertheless, the Cuban Government may have felt that massive aid from abroad was needed to prevent the opposition from endangering the survival of the régime.

Soviet Assistance

In reality Soviet assistance to Cuba dates back to February 1960 when Mikoyan visited Havana prior to the renewal of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Soviet equipment and machinery including arms have been arriving in Cuba throughout the two past years. It will be recalled that well-publicized reports of the C.I.A. indicated last February the extent of the Soviet arms build-up, including the number of MIGs and tanks estimated to have been delivered to that date.Footnote 15 The provision of Soviet technical assistance was embodied in the Mikoyan agreements and several hundred Bloc technicians were reported in Cuba as early as November 1960. However, Soviet aid reached unusual proportions in July and August last. Reports of landings of Russian military personnel were confirmed although there is little information on their numbers or the functions they are performing.

The whole operation appears to be part of a general stepping-up of technical assistance to Cuba. Logically the Armed Forces are as much – if not more – in need of technical advice as other sections of the Cuban community. The Cuban army, rebuilt from guerrilla forces, lacks technicians fully trained to use modern equipment. Bloc technicians are necessary to teach Cubans how to care for and handle the complex equipment supplied to Cuba.

If the Soviet military aid to Cuba is essentially defensive in character, as seems to be the view accepted by President Kennedy and his advisers, the aid would therefore seem destined to increase the Castro régime’s ability to prevent or repulse attacks from abroad or subversion from within.

The United States and Cuba

The increasing attempts of the United States to contain and isolate the Cuban régime coupled with the highly emotional reactions provoked in important sections of the United States Congress and the press make it necessary for us to re-examine Canada’s position on Cuba. On the whole, the United States up to the present has met with little success in seeking the co-operation of NATO allies in measures to reduce their economic intercourse with Cuba. The United States has now indicated that it will take positive action to prevent NATO shipping from participating in the movement of arms and other goods from the Soviet Bloc to Cuba. We can anticipate other proposals in NATO or unilateral actions by the United States designed to isolate still further the Castro régime with a view to bringing about its overthrow. It will be for history to decide whether the United States was itself largely responsible for putting Castro’s Cuba into the Soviet camp; but there can be little doubt that it is increasingly oriented towards and identified with the Soviet world. Indeed, because something like 80 per cent of Cuba’s trade is now with the Bloc countries, one may doubt the effectiveness of further United States measures in the nature of trading restrictions or even economic sanctions. There is also some uncertainty as to the extent the United States can put itself in the position of endeavouring to dominate the destiny of Cuba without arousing the latent anti-American and non-interventionist sentiments that exist throughout Latin America.

Canadian Interests

Apart from our natural and growing concern about the ever-increasing alignment of Cuba with the Communist Bloc, Canada has no direct quarrel with the Castro régime or concrete reasons for terminating normal diplomatic relations. Our specific interests in continuing normal relations with Cuba include:

  1. Our trade in other than arms and strategic materials. This is of a diminishing character and it appears that this year our exports will be about only one-third of what they were last year – that is worth perhaps $12 million rather than $31 million. The prospects are that this trade will continue to decline because of Cuba’s economic difficulties, increasing association with the Soviet Bloc and the drastic reduction of U.S. dollar earnings because of American trade regulations;
  2. There are in Cuba some 90 Canadian citizens, nearly half of whom are Catholic missionaries who enjoy the protection of our Embassy, as well as that of the Papal Nunciatura in Havana;
  3. The negotiations concerning the assets of Canadian life insurance companies, which are in effect in the hands of the Cuban authorities;
  4. We have an interest in the flow of information of a high and valuable character from our Embassy in Havana on the Cuban situation, and much of this is passed to the United States as well as Britain, which appreciate it.
  5. From a humanitarian point of view, our presence in Cuba is also being justified by the interventions which Canada has made in favour of Cuban prisoners. We have even been encouraged in this by the United States.

While our Embassy is a valuable source of information and, as such, is a “window on a dark courtyard,” it cannot be said at this time that there is any prospect of our mission being used as a means of initiating some reconciliation between the United States and Cuba or bringing Cuba back into the hemispheric family. These possibilities cannot be excluded in the long run.


  1. Although concern can be expressed about the increasing identification of Cuba with the Soviet Bloc, with the implications this has for the security of the free world, there seems to be no substantial reason for terminating our present normal diplomatic relations with Cuba;
  2. Our trade policy on Cuba as explained in the past, including the Prime Minister’s statement in the House of Commons last February 2 and the press release of the Canadian Embassy in Washington on the following day, does not appear to call for any basic revision or even restatement. We must be prepared, however, to have it misunderstood and misrepresented in certain circles in the United States. We should be prepared, however, to consider sympathetically any specific requests that we may receive direct from the United States or through American approaches to NATO to restrict our policy somewhat more. This might mean widening the concept of strategic materials on certain items, although our present policy appears already to be more restrictive than that of other NATO countries. We can, for example, renew assurances that government credits or guarantees are not being extended, and will not be, in any way to promote our trade with Cuba. A much more difficult problem would arise if we were asked to control in any way the transfer of funds to or from Cuba through Canadian banks. As indicated in my memorandum to you of September 26, there seems to be no good reason for giving the Cuban Government assurances that our trading policy with Cuba will remain unaltered in the future.
  3. In recent weeks, much of the discussion has turned on transport to Cuba, specifically the movement of Soviet aircraft in transit through Canadian territory and whether ships of Canadian registry or ownership are being used in the trade between the Soviet Bloc and Cuba, for the movement of persons, non-strategic goods or even arms.

It may be desirable to limit, if we can, the movement of Soviet civil aircraft through Canada to Cuba. It has not been established that any arms or military personnel have moved from the Soviet Bloc to Havana in this way, but a few recent flights have caused very adverse criticism in the United States. We should certainly enforce rules against any possible transport of arms in such aircraft. Even if Russian civil aircraft were not to move through Canada, there would still remain the problem of Czech and Cuban flights through Canada and Cuban flights to and from Canada, the latter involving, it appears, the overflying of United States territory.

It seems clear that no ships of Canadian registry are involved in the Cuban trade although there are a few ships of British registry, of nominal Canadian ownership but probably not substantial or beneficial Canadian ownership, that participate. In this domain, Canada can perhaps co-operate, at least passively, with the United States without any damage to Canadian interests. In any event, the United States by unilateral action is now going to go some distance to prevent NATO and other free-world shipping from engaging in the trade between the Soviet Bloc and Cuba.

Public Statements

It is not possible to anticipate all of the detailed and varied questions that may be asked in Parliament but it is thought that the following two paragraphs which have been tentatively included in your Handbook and are now submitted for your consideration, may be helpful to you:

Maintenance of Normal Relations with Cuba

Canada wishes, without prejudicing its relations with other countries, to maintain normal trade and diplomatic relations with the Government of Cuba. It has long been Canada’s practice to carry on normal relations with countries of a different outlook or constitution. The maintenance of diplomatic and commercial relations is not regarded by the Canadian Government as indicative of approval of a particular régime. The Canadian Government has not therefore joined moves to isolate Cuba. Most Western European countries maintain diplomatic, cultural, consular and trade relations with Cuba as well as with members of the Sino-Soviet bloc.

The Canadian View on Soviet Military Assistance to Cuba

The Canadian Government is concerned over the intrusion of international communism in the hemisphere. The recent arrival in Cuba of what appears to be large quantities of military equipment and important numbers of Soviet personnel does not, in the view of the Canadian Government, contribute towards the solution of Cuba’s current troubles and difficulties and increases the international tension in the area.Footnote 16

N.A. R[obertson]

636. DEA/4723-D-40

Memorandum from Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs to Secretary of State for External Affairs


[Ottawa], October 5, 1962

Shipping to Cuba

You may wish to have a résumé of the recent measures the United States Government propose to take with respect to the problem of shipping to Cuba. According to the statement made by the United States Permanent Representative to the NATO Council on October 3, the United States intends to take the following measures:

  1. The United States will close all United States ports to all ships of any country if any ship under the flag of that country hereafter carries arms to Cuba.
  2. The United States will direct that no government cargo shall be carried on a foreign flagship if any ship of the same owners is used hereafter in Soviet Bloc trade with Cuba.
  3. The United States will direct that no United States flagship and no United States owned ship shall carry goods to or from Cuba.
  4. The United States will close all United States ports to any ship that on the same continuous voyage was used or is being used in Soviet Bloc trade with Cuba.
  1. Our Embassy in Washington asked a State Department official whether the definition of ownership resulting in point 2 of the United States formulation given above would have the effect of depriving a Canadian flag vessel from participating in carriage of United States government cargoes if another vessel of the same owners but operating under non-Canadian flag were used in bloc trade with Cuba. The State Department official replied that the question of ownership was obviously a complex problem which would require the most thorough consideration. He agreed that the United States Permanent Representative’s statement to the NATO Council was vague and imprecise on a number of points. He pointed out that these measures had not yet been formulated in executive orders and regulations or in legislation. Until they are formulated it would be impossible to say how certain potential problems might be dealt with.
  2. These new United States measures will doubtless affect the Canadian-owned ships under British registry which have reportedly been engaged in Soviet bloc trade with Cuba. It is not yet certain that they will not affect ships under Canadian registry. They may indirectly affect Canadian trade with Cuba, as all carriers may now become reluctant to call at Cuban ports because of the adverse publicity they might receive in the United States.

N.A. R[obertson]

* I attach telegram No. 2883 of October 4 from Washington† which gives text of Under-Secretary Ball’s recent statement, in which some favourable comments on Canada’s position are made.Footnote 17

637. DEA/2444-40

Ambassador in United States to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 2987

Washington, October 15, 1962

Confidential. OpImmediate.

Repeat for Information: London, Paris, NATO Paris, Permis New York, Bonn (OpImmediate).
By Bag Oslo, Moscow from London, Havana from Ottawa.


Congress has at last adjourned and, barring unforeseen crises, American public opinion is free to focus on the election campaign. You will be kept abreast of developments generally by the press but I should like to call your special attention to one issue, Cuba, which seems likely to be in the forefront of the campaign and which could well have an impact on Canada-USA relations.

  1. We have as you know been relatively clear in recent months of direct criticism from the Administration on Cuba. Both Rusk in his conversation with you late in August and Ball in his testimony to a Congressional Committee two weeks ago have spoken understandingly of the Canadian position. While they would naturally welcome any further support or sympathy from Canada, and while concern about our general attitude lies not repeat not far below the surface, their heavy guns are at present trained on others whose cooperation could be more instrumental in intensifying the economic pressure on Castro.
  2. From the Canadian standpoint this state of affairs is satisfactory as far as it goes, but it would, I think, be a mistake to take its continuance for granted. The Administration understanding of the Canadian position is one thing; the public impression is another, and perhaps just as important in prevailing conditions. It is regrettably true that both in Congress and in the press we continue to be the targets of criticism, much of it admittedly uninformed. This would be less a matter of concern were it not repeat not for the depth of the passions which have been aroused over Cuba. Unfortunately the sense of national humiliation is so pervading and the public feeling in favour of “doing something about Cuba” is so strong that it is almost impossible to exaggerate the inflammatory character of the issue. As the elections approach, the Republicans can be counted on the keep the fire burning. Toughness will become more and more the badge of patriotism. While the Administration’s handling of Castro and the Moscow-Havana axis will be the focus of public judgment, verdicts will inescapably be passed on USA’s allies according to what is publicly known of their respective attitudes. In this situation, every shade of outside sympathy is noted, every sign of reluctance magnified and emotionally assessed.
  3. I mention these considerations because I am sure you will agree that they merit serious attention in the formulation of Canadian policy. It should, I think, also be borne in mind that, despite bitter memories of the Bay of Pigs and growing domestic pressures, the President and his colleagues, particularly the Secretary of State, are making a creditable attempt to maintain a public sense of perspective and restraint. It is very much in our interest that this attempt should not repeat not fail.
  4. While there is perhaps not repeat not a great deal that we can do directly to help it succeed, I think we should recognize that the measures proposed recently in the NATO Council on shipping and overflights are in reality part of the Administration’s effort to forestall the need for more extreme courses of action, e.g. recognition of a Cuban Government in exile, etc. Seen in this light, these moves are very much the lesser of two evils and deserve to be regarded, I think, as attempts at compromise solutions of problems which have neither been invented by the Administration nor repeat nor created solely by Republican political pressure.
  5. In the public realm, I am impressed with the importance of our moving with special prudence on Cuban matters in the weeks to come. One has only to recall the harm which we suffered recently over the uninformed Globe and Mail report on Soviet flights through GanderFootnote 18 to appreciate the extreme sensitivity of American opinion. In the even more emotional mood of this moment, similar trouble could arise at any time. To the extent that we can forestall adverse comment on Canadian attitude, I think it is of great importance to do so.
  6. I am not repeat not, of course, suggesting that we should distort our own judgment vis-à-vis Cuba itself or its relationship to the world situation but rather that in our dealings on this issue, we should bear in mind the benefits of doing what we can to encourage USA Administration in its attempts to assuage domestic pressures. If, for example, in our assessment of the current stage of the Cuba problem, we could suggest any constructive ways of helping in this connection, I am sure that the State Department would warmly appreciate having them. It goes without saying that our influence for moderation will be more effectively asserted with the Administration if we can show that we are not repeat not unsympathetic to them in their current difficulties. And to the extent that the USA’s allies can contribute to resisting domestic pressures, the trend towards irresponsible and even dangerous courses of action may be arrested.
  7. More specifically, I wonder whether it would not be wise to give serious thought to making some gesture of support to USA in the matter of transit for Soviet bloc aircraft destined for Cuba. It does not repeat not appear that we have much to lose from such action and the broader benefits might more than offset the disadvantages.
  8. I would also suggest that our interests would be further served by ensuring that public attention is drawn appropriately to any moves we may make in sympathy with USA objectives.

[C.S.A.] Ritchie

Section B - Bay of Pigs Prisoners

638. DEA/4568-40

Secretary of State for External Affairs to Ambassador in Cuba

Telegram XL-27

Ottawa, March 26, 1962

Secret. Emergency.

Repeat for Information: Washington, DisarmDel (for Minister) (OpImmediate).

March 29 Trials

Representations from Cuban exile groups have been received by Governor General and Prime Minister in connection with March 29 trials of Bay of Pigs prisoners. By direction of Prime Minister you should express to the Cuban Government the hope of Canadian Government and people that trials will be conducted in a fair and just manner. An early report on your démarche will be appreciated. We are speaking to Cuban Ambassador here on similar lines.

639. DEA/4568-40

Secretary of State for External Affairs to Ambassador in Cuba

Telegram XL-29

Ottawa, March 28, 1962

Secret. OpImmediate.

Repeat for Information: Washington, NATO Paris.

Kidd-Chaput Conversation Lethbridge and March 29 Trials

This will confirm that you should make formal representations to the Cuban Government with a view to ensuring that trial of Canadian citizen D.N. Lethbridge on March 29 will be conducted in a fair and just manner. You should at the same time express general concern of Canadian Government and people over the fate of other prisoners who participated in April 17 invasion as instructed in our telegram XL-27 of March 26.

  1. We see merit in the suggestion that you might join in a collective diplomatic démarche including a possible appeal for clemency after sentences have been passed. Since we will already have made separate representations, we are doubtful at this stage whether you should take any initiative in organizing a joint diplomatic démarche. As you know, this matter is now under discussion in NATO. We shall send you firm instructions on this aspect in the light of Paris discussions and also of reports on your conversation with Foreign Minister and with your diplomatic colleagues.

640. DEA/2444-40

Ambassador in Cuba to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 41

Havana, March 28, 1962

Secret. OpImmediate.

Reference: My Tel 40 Mar 27.†

Trial of Invasion Prisoners

I saw Foreign Minister this morning about forthcoming trial of invasion prisoners and spoke to him along lines of your telegram XL-27 March 26. Roa expressed understanding of humanitarian reasons motivating our approach and said that as with any Canadian approach the Cuban authorities would wish to take due account of our interest. He then went on to comment as was to be expected in the circumstances, that trial would of course be conducted in a fair and impartial manner. Roa concluded by stating he would be speaking to President this afternoon about approach on this subject already made by Brazilian Ambassador and Nuncio and that he would also report our concern in matter.

  1. As per phone conversation with Chaput this morning, I further enquired whether it would be possible to have a member of Embassy present as an observer during some of trial proceedings. Roa replied locale of trial was not repeat not yet settled but he hoped to have this information shortly and would then let me know whether foreign observers would be able to attend.
  2. I also, as authorized in above phone conversation, drew Roa’s attention to Lethbridge case and am following this up with a formal note this afternoon.

[George P.] Kidd

641. DEA/4568-40

Memorandum from Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs to Secretary of State for External Affairs


Ottawa, March 29, 1962

Trial of Cuban Invasion Prisoners

As you know, the Canadian Government has expressed to the Cuban authorities the hope that the trials of Cuban invasion prisoners scheduled for March 29 would be conducted in a fair and just manner. This appeal was based on humanitarian considerations. We have in addition made formal representations on behalf of Mr. D.N. Lethbridge, Canadian citizen, who is also a Cuban national. … The Cuban Foreign Minister told our Ambassador yesterday that the Cuban authorities “would wish to take due account of our interest” in this matter. He went on to comment that the trials would of course be conducted in a fair and impartial manner.

All requests received up to now for Canadian intervention in connection with the trials have come from Cuban refugee organizations. The Canadian decision to approach the Cuban Government was announced in the House on March 27 by the Prime Minister. Requests from Cuban refugees have also been received by other Western countries, including the British and French. This matter is under discussion in NATO and also by Western and Latin American missions in Havana. In both cases it has been suggested that Western and Latin American countries make a joint diplomatic approach to the Cuban authorities once sentences have been passed. This approach might take the form of an appeal for clemency. I see a good deal of merit in this suggestion and consider that we should join in a collective démarche, in which a number of NATO and Latin American Governments may decide to participate. In view of the fact that we have already made representations on a bilateral basis, I do not think we need to take the initiative in organizing a joint approach in this case. If you agree with this course, our Ambassador in Havana and the NATO Delegation will be advised accordingly.Footnote 19

N.A. R[obertson]

642. DEA/10224-40

Ambassador in Cuba to Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs

Letter No. L-160

Havana, April 6, 1962


Reference: Our telegram No. 42 of March 29, 196[2].†

Cuban Trial of Invasion Prisoners

Hearings in treason trial of the 1,179 prisoners captured in the abortive landing at Playa Girón in April of last year have continued for four days in the courtyard of Principe Prison in the City of Havana, and adjourned on April 3, 1962. At the time of writing the Court has not yet reconvened to hear whatever might be the sentences to be handed down by the judges. The Court was essentially a military tribunal, presided over by Major Augusto Martínez Sánchez, the Minister of Labour, and by four other senior military officers: Majors Sergio del Valle, Juan Almeida, Guillermo García and Manuel Piñero, the latter of whom is a vice-chief of the Cuban security police. The first four named are also members of the Executive Committee of ORI. The trial has been held behind closed doors, and no members of the Western press or of the families of the accused, no lawyers offering their services to the prisoners, and no Western diplomats were admitted. Press reports have indicated, however, that “friendly journalists” (which, being interpreted, means representatives of the USSR, Chinese and East German agencies here, in addition to the local Cuban press) and certain “friendly observers” were present. The trial has proceeded through the stages of the arraignment and the pleadings by the prosecution and final addresses to the Court by the two attorneys. The Prosecution was led by Dr. José Santiago Cuba Fernández, who is Prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Cuba, while the only lawyer appearing for the Defence was Dr. Antonio Cejas, a rather nondescript attorney who is described as a Professor of Penal Law at the University of Havana and who was appointed by Cuban authorities to defend the accused.

  1. Although the only information available to us is the fairly extensive reporting of the evidence of the trial in the Cuban press, part of which appeared to be a stenographic report of the proceedings, we are attempting to piece together an analysis of what happened during these four days. We must, however, underline the caveat that the only raw materials with which we have to work are the items of information made available by the Cuban Government in the local controlled press.

The Prosecution

  1. The Prosecution opened by having the Secretary of the Court read a formal report prepared by the Special Investigator of the General Staff of the Cuban Armed Forces. This document, like so much of the other “evidence” introduced at the trial, seemed concerned primarily to recite a detailed account from the Cuban viewpoint of the invasion and the events leading up to it, placing particular emphasis on the Cuban charges that the invasion had been financed, trained, planned and generally organized by the United States Government and the Central Intelligence Agency. It also sought to implicate as much as possible those Central American countries such as Guatemala, Panama and Nicaragua, whose territories were allegedly used in preparing for the invasion, in addition to military camps said to be located in Louisiana, Florida and the Island of Vieques, Puerto Rico. The Prosecution’s submission went on to analyse the command structure of the military brigade which landed in Cuba and to specify the important leaders of the group.
  2. Following this submission, the Secretary of the Court proceeded to read into the record of evidence transcripts of letters said to have been written by J.A. Perez San Roman, one of the principal leaders of the invading force. These letters were dated in May of 1961, shortly after the prisoners were captured. In them San Roman expressed his remorse and charged that he and his associates had been misled by the United States authorities into undertaking the landing and into misinterpreting local conditions in Cuba. He went on to urge counter-revolutionaries outside of Cuba to give up the struggle against the Revolutionary Government. A similar letter by another prisoner was also read. It is, however, impossible to tell from the records of the trial published in the Cuban press whether San Roman still stood by his earlier letters and whether he actually ratified them before the Court, or indeed whether the letter was genuine.
  3. On the second day of the trial the Prosecution proceeded to have played for the Court transcriptions of the interviews which a considerable number of the prisoners had given before Cuban television cameras in that memorable week of April, 1961, when many of the prisoners were summoned before panels of Cuban journalists to answer questions about their activities. At that time it was evident that many of the prisoners were in fear of their lives, and there is no doubt that many of them then spoke very freely, and some even remorsefully, of their activities. Following the playing of each transcription, the prisoner was summoned to acknowledge that he had, in fact, made these statements. It would appear from the published accounts that at least a number of the prisoners did this. These recordings, which occupied many hours of the Court’s time, did bring out a number of points which the Prosecution was concerned to make: first, the implication of the United States Government in the invasion; secondly, the indication that the members of the force or their families were receiving wages from the United States Government for their military service. One of the most important of these recordings related to the declarations made on Cuban television a year ago by Manual Artime Bueza, who was apparently the political leader of the military force. Artime had related in considerable detail the whole history of his activities in the months preceding the invasion, during which he had sought both inside and outside Cuba to organize counter-revolutionary activities. In connection with this particular part of the evidence, it is perhaps worthwhile to note that the Court was in fact accepting as self-incriminating evidence testimony which the prisoners had previously given in the context of television interviews about a year ago, when they were not in any formal sense on trial.
  4. The Prosecution then moved to call as official witnesses a series of senior Cuban army officers who were leading members of the Cuban Armed Forces who had fought against the invasion force. By his questioning of these witnesses the Prosecutor sought to emphasize once again what he alleged was the “mercenary nature” of the invasion and the implication of the United States Government. In fact, the testimony of each one of these army officers amounted to a long speech or, in some cases, a harangue in which the invaders were bitterly denounced as traitors to their country. The Prosecutor also, rather shrewdly, sought to discredit the prisoners by eliciting from his witnesses accounts of the demoralization and disorganization which apparently existed among the invading force after they had encountered stiff Cuban resistance. With some relish one of the witnesses testified that San Roman himself, one of the leaders of the expedition, was among the first persons to surrender, even before he was actually captured. The Prosecutor also questioned his witnesses concerning what really were merely their opinions as to the degree to which the accused could be considered to have been conscious of what they were actually doing when they invaded Cuba. Several of the witnesses volunteered their own convictions that the invaders were seeking selfish, personal, material, class objectives; one witness even provided the court with a breakdown of the number of ranches, plantations, mines, banks and houses which were owned or controlled by the wealthy Cuban families from which many of the prisoners had, in fact, come. Some of the “testimony” of these official witnesses read like Marxist diatribes on the evil class interests of the accused as the scions of formerly powerful Cuban families. Others of the prisoners were denounced as “thugs” or “trash.”
  5. It was particularly apparent that the interventions of the so-called Defence Attorney at this stage of the proceedings were extremely unsatisfactory and almost half-hearted. Many times he waived his right to cross-examine the witnesses, when even a non-legal mind would have thought, purely in logic, that he might have been able to discount some of the testimony which really amounted to no more than a one-sided expression of the political opinions and views of the official witnesses. Moreover, he tolerated the acceptance into the records of the trial of a tremendous amount of “evidence” and testimony casting aspersions on the character of the prisoners which might, under strict rules of evidence, have been considered inadmissible and quite irrelevant to the fundamental questions before the court. Thus, for example, one of the witnesses introduced several allegations concerning the misappropriation of Cuban official funds by Artime in the period before his defection when he had been an official of the Revolutionary Government working for INRA.
  6. In his concluding address to the Court, which lasted for over two hours, the Prosecutor charged that all of the accused, without exception, were guilty of crimes against the stability and integrity of the Cuban nation, as “proven” by the documentary and testimonial evidence presented to the Court. He then drew to the Court’s attention the fact that the Cuban Social Defence Code and other relevant laws established for such treasonous crimes penalties of from twenty years’ imprisonment to capital punishment, and demanded “the most severe sentences” for these crimes. The Prosecutor did not explicitly demand that the sentence be death, perhaps because of the impossibility of demanding the execution of such a large group of prisoners. Although the Prosecution contended that the prisoners were in effect the authors of the crimes of which they were charged, he ended by claiming that the “other author” of these crimes was the President of the United States of America.

The Defence

  1. The Defence Attorney did not really appear to play a significant role in the trial until his concluding address to the Court. Earlier, he had renounced his privilege of calling witnesses for the Defence, although the President of the Court was reported to have informed the defendants that each had the right to speak on his own behalf if he so wished. The Defence Attorney explained to the Court that none of the accused had extended to him the necessary cooperation or information to permit him to call them as witnesses. Indeed, we are inclined to conclude from the limited information available to us that the prisoners did not accept the court-appointed attorney as their defender and refused to cooperate with him in any way in their defence.
  2. In his final address to the Court, the Defence Attorney seemed excessively concerned with making his own position as a loyal Revolutionary performing a painful duty quite clear. He even spoke in terms of repugnance for the acts which he acknowledged they had committed. In his defence appeal he, himself, reiterated a number of the charges made against the prisoners by the Prosecutor, and referred particularly to the involvement of the United States in the invasion. He stated that he was not prepared to resort to the argument that because of the responsibility of the United States in the invasion, the culpability of the prisoners was diminished. However, he did go on to argue that the degree to which the prisoners had been “deceived” and “misled,” and the degree to which their social outlook had been influenced by their environment and their class origins, should be taken into account by the Court in giving sentence. Then the Defence took a step which was doubtless not without its effect on the Court. He proceeded to read into the record of the trial passages of a speech made by the Prime Minister of Cuba himself, in a television appearance last April following the invasion during which Castro had engaged in public debate with the prisoners. The Defence Attorney placed emphasis on those remarks of the Prime Minister which suggested that the Cuban people could afford to and, being a generous people, would extend mercy to the prisoners. The Defence, then, in a long and emotional peroration, begged the Court for a sentence “which would be ‘firm but just,’ which would restore the peace which the invasion violated, and which would take into consideration, and make possible the future consideration of, the conduct and attitude of each prisoner so that they should not be punished forever by an extreme, lengthy or harsh sentence. Rather, he urged a decision which would grant the Cuban Revolution the necessary margin to demonstrate to the world its justice. He said that this should be done not by issuing death sentences or long prison terms, but rather by applying sentences “appropriate to individual cases.”
  3. At no time in the course of the trial was any reference made to the dual-national Canadian prisoner, Douglas Nelson Lethbridge.

George P. Kidd

643. DEA/10224-40

Ambassador in Cuba to Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs

Letter No. L-198

Havana, May 4, 1962


Reference: Our telegram No. 51 of April 8, 1962.†

Cuban Invasion Prisoners

You will already be aware from press reports that on April 14, 1962 some sixty of the 1,179 prisoners captured at Playa Girón who were recently sentenced to thirty years at hard labour were released by Cuban authorities and proceeded to Miami. This initial group was composed of prisoners who had sustained injuries during the landing. While it is not certain that the “ransom money,” fixed individually for each of the prisoners at rates ranging from $500,000 to $25,000 per head, has actually been paid for this initial group, we understand that the “Cuban Families Committee for the Liberation of the Prisoners of War, Incorporated,” which is located in Miami, has undertaken to pay their ransom to the Cuban Government, which probably amounts to some two or three million dollars.

  1. We also understand that it has been agreed by the Committee, the Cuban Government and the spokesmen of the prisoners themselves that groups of prisoners should continue to be ransomed as funds are raised, starting with those at the bottom of the list, that is, those in the $25,000 category. However, we have been shown communications purporting to come from the prisoners themselves in Principe Prison indicating that they are becoming dissatisfied with the lack of progress to date in ransoming prisoners in addition to those sixty now in the United States. Although we do not know the strategy of the Committee, it is possible that they are attempting at the present time to raise sufficient funds to purchase the release of as large a group of prisoners as possible all at one time. We have heard that, to this end, arrangements are being made in New York to establish a publicity campaign to raise funds from the American public which will feature appearances by some of the prisoners already released on television programmes.Footnote 20 The estimated cost of ransoming all of the prisoners at the per capita figures set by the Cuban Court would be sixty-two million dollars, a very significant sum in view of Cuba’s present desperate shortage of foreign exchange. The Families Committee was said a few weeks ago to have accumulated over twenty million dollars.
  2. One of the most unsatisfactory aspects of this unpleasant ransom scheme is the provision that families may ransom their relatives individually, which creates the possibility that extremely wealthy Cuban families in the United States with members among the prisoners, of whom there are more than a few, will be able to purchase their release, leaving behind, perhaps for months to come, those less well-connected. However, inequitable as this arrangement is, there are indications that it may be supported by the prisoners themselves.

George P. Kidd

644. DEA/2444-40

Memorandum from Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs to Secretary of State for External Affairs


Ottawa, September 5, 1962

Negotiations on Cuban Invasion Prisoners

Mr. Roa, the Cuban Foreign Minister, called in our Ambassador on September 1, 1962, to discuss a point that had arisen in current negotiations in Havana for the release of invasion prisoners between the United States lawyer Mr. James Donovan and the Cuban authorities. A settlement to meet the $62 million indemnification figure was being considered along lines of a small payment in dollars and the balance in food, medicines and agricultural products. Mr. Roa claimed that Mr. Donovan had proposed that settlement in kind should be carried out by purchases from Canadian firms. Before proceeding further with the negotiations, however, the Cuban government wished to ascertain the Canadian attitude. Specifically, Cuba wanted to be assured that the Canadian government would raise no objections to such purchases in Canada and would facilitate them to extent appropriate in such matters as granting export licenses and providing the Cuban Families Committee in the United States with suitable contacts with Canadian suppliers etc. The Cuban Families Committee in the United States would make the purchase directly from Canadian firms. Mr. Roa intimated that there were certain problems that could arise in direct purchase from the United States and that Canada with available supplies had been selected in order to expedite settlement. (A copy of our Embassy’s telegram No. 162 of September 1/62† is attached.)

Our Washington Embassy at our request consulted the State Department on this question. They talked with Mr. Hurwitch, Deputy Director of the Office of Caribbean and Mexican Affairs, who, on September 3rd, had seen Mr. Donovan in New York, on the latter’s return from Cuba. Mr. Hurwitch pointed out that the negotiations between the Cuban government and the Cuban Families Committee in the United States are still in a preliminary stage. The Cuban Families Committee still had a considerable way to go before they would dispose of sufficient funds to complete a transaction with the Cuban Government. They would have to revive their campaign for financial support.

Mr. Hurwitch also pointed out that Mr. Donovan had two lengthy conversations with Premier Castro. The basic theme of Mr. Donovan’s approach had originated with the Cuban Families Committee which had seen possible merit in the idea of offering an agreed balance between cash payments and commodity purchases in exchange for the prisoners. The Committee hoped thereby to soften the ransom aspect of any transaction and place it on a humanitarian basis, which would have appeal both to the Cuban government and to the Cuban émigrés in the United States who were concerned about the economic plight of the Cuban people. According to Mr. Donovan, Premier Castro was attracted by this proposal and they had talked in tentative terms about how it might be implemented. Premier Castro had shown an awareness of the fact that it might not be politic for the Cuban Families Committee to purchase the goods in the United States for export to Cuba, and there had been some discussion of third countries which might provide commercial sources for these commodities. Mr. Donovan had mentioned Canada among other countries as a possible source. Premier Castro had reacted favourably. This exchange, Mr. Hurwitch said, had no doubt prompted Mr. Roa’s approach to our Ambassador in Havana. (Copy of Washington Embassy Telegram No. 2561 of September 5, 1962,† is attached.)

I attach, for your approval, a telegram to our Embassy in Havana† which contains a reply that our Ambassador could give to Foreign Minister Roa. A reply along this line was informally suggested by Mr. Hurwitch to our Washington Embassy. It is a flexible response, which seems to me appropriate at this stage of the negotiations.Footnote 21

N.A. R[obertson]

645. DEA/4568-40

Ambassador in Cuba to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 167

Havana, September 7, 1962

Confidential. OpImmediate.

Reference: Your Tel E-1728 Sep 5.†
Repeat for Information: Washington (Priority) from Ottawa.

Negotiations on Cuba Invasion Prisoners

Saw Foreign Minister today and gave him our reply. Roa expressed satisfaction at this response and from his general reaction I gathered impression Cubans are essentially thinking in terms of Canadian goods for portion of any settlement in kind.

[George P.] Kidd

646. CEW/Vol. 3176

Memorandum by Counsellor, Embassy in United States


Washington, September 7, 1962

Reference: External Telegram E-1728 of September 5.

Negotiations on Cuban Invasion Prisoners

Mr. Wershof told me by telephone this morning that N.A. Robertson had agreed that the instructions to our Ambassador in Havana, contained in the telegram referred to above, could be communicated to the State Department, pointing out that we had as yet received no report whether, or in what manner, these instructions had been carried out.

  1. Mr. Wershof said that we could in fact pass the actual text of the instructions informally to the State Department, subject to the caveat mentioned above.
  2. Wershof mentioned that in authorizing the instructions to Kidd, Cabinet had indicated that no further initiative should be taken without returning to Cabinet for approval.
  3. Wershof referred to a “worried” telegram from Kidd, No. 165 of September 5,† which will shortly be repeated to us. Kidd was concerned about consultation with the State Department and also with the possibility that Donovan would also get to know the stand being taken by Canada. Wershof said that the view in Ottawa was that neither of Kidd’s worries were justified. It is thought appropriate that the State Department should be kept informed, for obvious reasons, and that the State Department’s relations with or communications to Donovan were things that we could not control, although conceivably clear understanding between the State Department and Donovan might be essential to the successful outcome of Donovan’s scheme. On the other hand, at this stage there was no authority for us to let the State Department understand that we wished Donovan to be told of the nature of our reply to the Cuban Foreign Minister.

E.R. R[ettie]

647. DEA/4568-40

Memorandum from Economic Division to Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs


Ottawa, September 12, 1962

Negotiations on Cuban Invasion Prisoners

As you know, we have asked our Washington Embassy to pass on to the State Department the contents of Mr. Kidd’s telegram reporting on Mr. Roa’s reaction to our reply. I presume that no further action on this subject is required until we are again approached either by the United States or the Cuban Government.

  1. Should these negotiations succeed, and large purchases from Canada become likely, the public relations aspect of this problem would have to be considered. It may be useful to record now our preliminary views on how this might be handled. Presumably, either the White House or the State Department would issue a statement on the settlement when it is made. We could ask the State Department if they would include in this statement the following:
    1. The Cuban authorities and the Cuban Families Committee in the United States had agreed that the purchase of the food, medicines and agricultural products could most conveniently be made in Canada.
    2. The Canadian Government had been consulted and had indicated that if the Cuban Families Committee in the United States wished to make these purchases in Canada, there should be no difficulty provided these purchases conformed to the Canadian export regulations.
  2. It might be useful to set out these thoughts in a telegram to Washington Embassy which could be marked for limited circulation. Our telegram would mention our concern regarding the dangers in front of us vis-à-vis United States public opinion. Do you wish us to send such a telegram at this time or wait until we see how the negotiations progress?Footnote 22

W.F. Stone

648. DEA/4568-40

Secretary of State for External Affairs to Ambassador in Cuba

Telegram M-101

Ottawa, October 8, 1962

Confidential. Emergency.

Repeat for Information: Washington, Candel New York (Priority).


Understand from USA Embassy Cubans may question dependability Donovan’s letter of credit and that statement indicated below would help overcome this last possible difficulty. Accordingly please contact Donovan’s party and indicate that while you are not repeat not of course to become involved in negotiations you have been authorized to communicate proposed statement to Cuban authorities if they ask for it. Following is text “I am authorized by Governor of Bank of Canada to state that Bank of Canada has fullest confidence in the Royal Bank of Canada to honour any international financial commitment it may make.”Footnote 23

649. DEA/2444-40

Memorandum from Assistant Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs to Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs


Ottawa, December 17, 1962

Cuban Prisoners

In confirmation of the information in my memorandum earlier today, Mr. Ivan White has now supplied the attached letter containing the message from the Department of State.

  1. The U.S. negotiator is informing the Royal Bank officers that this reassurance is being provided to the Canadian Government in case the Royal Bank wishes to confirm the position. Accordingly, I would suggest that if an enquiry is received from the responsible officer of the Royal Bank in Montreal, we might reply along the lines of the attached communication. I have indicated to Ivan White that we would not propose to volunteer this information to the Royal Bank unless they ask us for it.Footnote 24

A.E. R[itchie]



Minister, Embassy of United States, to Assistant Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs


Ottawa, December 17, 1962

Dear Ed [Ritchie]:

In confirmation of our oral conversation this morning, this is to inform that the Embassy has received an instruction from the Department of State as follows:

James B. Donovan, a private U.S. citizen who has been attempting to obtain the release of the Cuban Bay of Pigs prisoners on behalf of the Cuban Families Committee, a private organization, informed the Department of State that he believes he has sufficient pledges from private sources to discuss the release of the prisoners with Cuban authorities. The Department of State understands that the Royal Bank of Canada at Montreal is disposed to issue a letter of credit for this transaction, but desires reassurances that existing and future U.S. restrictions on shipping and trade with Cuba will not interfere with the delivery of the goods involved in obtaining the release of the Bay of Pigs prisoners.

The Embassy has been instructed by the Department of State to transmit these assurances to the Department of External Affairs.


Ivan B. White

650. DEA/2444-40

Counsellor, Embassy of United States, to Assistant Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs


Ottawa, December 18, 1962

Dear Ed [Ritchie]:

This letter is written pursuant to recent instructions to the Embassy from the Department of State and supplements Mr. White’s letter of December 17.

The Department of State understands from Mr. James B. Donovan that the Royal Bank of Canada at Montreal has sought specific assurance concerning the transfer of funds from the United States, should it become necessary, in support of a letter of credit. In this connection, the Embassy has been authorized to inform you as follows in elaboration of the information contained in Mr. White’s letter of December 17 and we have been asked to express the hope that your Government would so inform the Royal Bank of Canada at Montreal as soon as possible.

The assurance contained in Mr. White’s letter specifically includes that the United States will not take any action which will interfere with an American bank holding in Canada accounts in Canadian dollars, or exchanging United States dollars for Canadian dollars, where the account of the transaction is directly or indirectly in connection with a letter of credit issued in Canada in support of the Donovan mission.

These assurances are intended to facilitate the issuance of a letter of credit in satisfactory form by a Canadian bank; should such a letter of credit not be issued, these assurances would, of course, not be applicable.

The United States has no objection to the foregoing being made known to the Royal Bank of Canada, or to any other Canadian bank that may be considering the issuance of a letter of credit in connection with the Donovan mission. Nevertheless, we would prefer that the foregoing, as well as the content of Mr. White’s letter of December 17, not be made public without our prior concurrence.

It seems likely that you will already have done so, but I have also been asked to express the hope that your Government will inform Ambassador Kidd in Havana of the probable involvement of the Royal Bank of Canada at Montreal to the extent of issuance of a letter of credit.

The Embassy understands that Mr. Donovan expects to arrive in Havana today in order to renew his discussions with the Cuban authorities. In the event of extreme emergency, Mr. Donovan may ask the assistance of the Canadian Embassy in Havana in order to send an encoded message from Havana via Canadian channels. Should your Government see its way clear to authorizing such use of its facilities, the Embassy would, of course, like very much to be informed as soon as possible of the receipt of any message from Mr. Donovan.Footnote 25

Sincerely yours,

Rufus Z. Smith

651. DEA/2444-40

Secretary of State for External Affairs to Ambassador in Cuba

Telegram XL-137

Ottawa, December 18, 1962

Secret. OpImmediate.

Release of Bay of Pigs Prisoners

Negotiations for release of the Bay of Pigs prisoners have been resumed and may soon be concluded although nothing is final yet. For your information it is probable that the Royal Bank of Canada will issue a letter of credit. The Royal Bank has sought and secured assurances from the USA authorities that existing and future USA restrictions on shipping and trade with Cuba will not interfere with the delivery of goods involved in obtaining release of prisoners. The Bank has also been assured that there will be no difficulty concerning the transfer of funds from the USA to Cuba should such action become necessary in support of the letter of credit.

  1. It is understood that Mr. Donovan expects to arrive in Havana today in order to renew his discussions with the Cuban authorities. He may approach you in order to send cypher messages through us. If he does, you are authorized to extend your cypher facilities to him. Any telegrams sent should be addressed to the Under-Secretary and marked “no distribution.”
  2. You may be requested to authenticate documents and one of your consular officers should be prepared to do so in the usual way.

N.A. Robertson

652. DEA/2444-40

Minister, Embassy of United States, to Assistant Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs

Limited Official Use

Ottawa, December 27, 1962

Dear Ed [Ritchie]:

The Department of State has requested that the following telegram be sent as soon as possible on behalf of Mr. James B. Donovan to the Canadian Embassy in Havana:

“I confirm all arrangements. Please transfer all documents you holding for benefit of Banco Nacional.
“Signed James B. Donovan.”

The Department has also requested the Embassy to express to the Canadian Government its appreciation for the cooperation of Canadian authorities in assisting with Mr. Donovan’s successful efforts to obtain the release of the Cuban prisoners.

Sincerely yours,

Ivan B. White

Section C - Cuban Missile Crisis

653. J.G.D./MG01/XXI/D/204

Memorandum from Secretary of State for External Affairs to Prime Minister

Top Secret

Ottawa, October 22, 1962


Livingston Merchant is to call on you at 5 p.m. this afternoon as a special emissary of the U.S.A. President in connection with the latest developments concerning the situation in Cuba. The exact nature of the message he will convey is not known, but the following landmarks in U.S.A. policy on the Cuban issue will almost certainly be relevant:

  1. On September 13 President Kennedy, in a prepared statement at a press conference, said in part: “If Cuba … should become an offensive military base of significant capacity for the Soviet Union then this country will do whatever must be done to protect its own security and that of its allies.” He had prefaced his remarks however by reiterating that “these new shipments do not constitute a serious threat to any other part of this hemisphere.” Full text of the President’s statement of Sept. 13 is attached (Washington tel. 2665 dated Sept. 14, 1962.†)Footnote 26
  2. As recently as October 3, Under-Secretary Ball re-affirmed before the Select Committee on Export Controls of the House of Representatives that “quite clearly it (the military build-up of Cuba by the USSR) does not constitute a threat to the U.S.A..” Like the President, however, he added that “if, contrary to the present evidence, should it ever appear that the USSR is succeeding in making Cuba a threat to the security of this country or this hemisphere, we are prepared to take the necessary action – whatever it may be.” (Full text in Washington telegram 2883 of Oct. 4, 1962,† is attached.)
  3. Without anticipating in detail the information which Mr. Merchant will convey to you, we are aware through intelligence channels that as of October 16 the U.S.A. had satisfied itself through photographic and other intelligence media that offensive ballistic missiles with a range of between 1100 and 2200 miles were being installed in Cuba in sufficient number (an estimated 40) to directly threaten the Security of U.S.A.
  4. The fact that the U.S.A. Government took the extraordinary step at 0400 hours today to ask the Canadian Government to prohibit transit stops or overflight of Czech and Cuban aircraft at Gander strongly indicates that the U.S.A. is taking emergency action to prevent the delivery or further delivery of warheads for the newly discovered launching sites in Cuba.
  1. We have been informed that President Kennedy will make an announcement of national importance at 7 p.m. today. Members of the Canadian Joint Staff in Washington are receiving high level briefings throughout the afternoon and our Ambassador in Washington has been called to the State Department later today. In the light of the firm public commitment President Kennedy has given to take preventive action to protect the security of the U.S.A. should there be a determination that the USSR had developed in Cuba “an offensive military base of significant capacity,” and the present finding that such a capacity now exists, the conclusion is unavoidable that the U.S.A. is about to embark on some counter action. This could take the form of either:
    1. A naval and air blockade of Cuba, including the right to intercept and search surface ships and submarines. The execution of such a blockade could quickly lead to naval engagements at sea and ultimately to hostilities with the Soviet Union;
    2. A swift invasion and occupation of the whole of Cuba;
    3. Military destruction of the launching sites by United States military bombing;
    4. Any or all of these moves might be preceded by a warning or ultimatum to the Soviet Union accompanied by a full public disclosure by the President of the new Soviet capability in Cuba.
  2. The request to prohibit Czech and Cuban overflights could be a prelude to any of the above three courses but would indicate as a minimum the intention to institute a naval and air blockade. The fact that the stoppage of overflights has been described to us as “a temporary measure” would tend to confirm that the U.S.A. foresees the situation being sufficiently clarified in the next 48 hours to render such measures unnecessary.
  3. Any of these possible U.S.A. measures would probably lead immediately to counter measures by the Soviet Union in Berlin with minimum action in the form of a total blockade of the city as in 1948/49.
  4. In a situation which could clearly rapidly escalate into global war, and with the United Nations in session, it can confidently be assumed that some international endeavour will be made to avert war and bring about a negotiated settlement. In this respect the situation today is analogous to that at the time of Suez, when international action to contain and put an end to the fighting was instituted almost simultaneously with the national action taken by France and the United Kingdom to protect what they considered to be vital interests. The question arises as to whether there is again a role for Canada to play.
  5. The only action which could be taken in a United Nations context which might avert measures which could lead to conflict, would be a move in the Security Council to have a group of “neutral” nations – perhaps the 8 non-aligned members of the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee – conduct an on-site investigation in Cuba of the U.S.A. Government’s charge that that country has permitted the installation on its territory of offensive nuclear missiles. If vetoed in the Security Council or otherwise rejected by the Soviet Union and Cuba, the issue could be taken to the floor of the Assembly where an overwhelming vote in favour of such a proposal could be expected. Even if such a move failed to result in the admission of an investigation team to Cuba, it would at least have the virtue of confirming and exposing the aggressive designs which the U.S.A. maintains the Soviet Union has on North America. To be fully effective such a proposal would have to be discussed immediately with the U.S.A. Government before President Kennedy makes his announcement at 7 p.m. tonight as the possibility cannot be ruled out that his announcement may be of measures already ordered against Cuba. To ensure a hearing for a Canadian proposal of this nature, we should have to offer full cooperation in the prohibition of Czech and Cuban transit stops and overflights. Given the reluctance of the United Kingdom to support fully U.S.A. policy on Cuba (for example, in connection with the embargo on shipping) it is not out of the question that the United Kingdom might be willing to initiate some such move in the Security Council.Footnote 27

H.C. Green

654. J.G.D./MG01/XII/D/204

Special Emissary of President of United States to Prime Minister


Ottawa, October 22, 1962

Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

President Kennedy has requested me to transmit to you personally the following message from him:

“My Dear Prime Minister:

I am asking Ambassador Merchant to deliver to you the text of a public statement I intend to make today at 1900 hours Washington time. It is occasioned by the fact that we are now in the possession of clear evidence which Ambassador Merchant will explain to you, that the Soviets have secretly installed offensive nuclear weapons in Cuba, and that some of them may already be operational.

As you will see from my speech, I consider that the situation calls for the immediate execution of certain quarantine measures whose object is to prevent the introduction into Cuba of further nuclear weapons, and to lead to the elimination of the missiles that are already in place.

I am sending Chairman Khrushchev a personal message making it clear that these latest actions of his Government in Cuba constitute an unacceptable threat to the security of this hemisphere, and I am expressing the hope that we can resume the path of peaceful negotiation.Footnote 28

I am also requesting an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council. I have asked Ambassador Stevenson to present on behalf of the United States a resolution calling for the withdrawal of missile bases and other offensive weapons in Cuba under the supervision of United Nations observers. This would make it possible for the United States to lift its quarantine. I hope that you will instruct your representative in New York to work actively with us and speak forthrightly in support of the above program in the United Nations.

It is most important that we should all keep in close touch with each other, and I will do all I can to keep you fully informed of developments as I see them.


John F. Kennedy


Livingston T. Merchant

655. DEA/2444-40

Ambassador in United States to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 3075

Washington, October 22, 1962

Top Secret. Emergency.

The Ambassadors of allies of USA (NATO, SEATO, OAS and those with bilateral defence arrangements with USA) were summoned to the State Department at six o’clock today (one hour before the President’s public speech)Footnote 29 for an intelligence briefing from Roger Hilsman of CIA. The meeting was chaired by Under-Secretary George Ball.

  1. I shall not repeat not attempt to enter into the technical details of the briefing (which I understand will be reaching you through other channels and which in any case we did not repeat not have time and opportunity to note in detail). The main emphasis was upon the discovery in the last week of an offensive missile buildup in Cuba. The briefing was accompanied by photographic slides based on aerial photography. It was stated that there were “a considerable number” of MRBM missile bases of a mobile field type with hard earth and not repeat not concrete foundations. We were shown photos of these bases and of what were described as MRBM missiles on or near the bases. We were also informed that there was evidence of the commencement work on IRBM bases. Hilsman stated that the missiles were all designed for rpt [sic] launchings and that he was almost certain that they had sufficient missiles for this purpose. The MRBMs were stated to have a radius of one thousand miles and the IRBMs of two thousand two hundred miles. The missiles would be of a low megaton range. Hilsman said that there was no repeat no direct evidence of nuclear warheads in Cuba but they would not repeat not expect easily to detect the warheads owing to their small size. However, the missiles without the warheads “would not repeat not make sense.” Hilsman stressed the very rapid deployment which had taken place saying that sites which had very recently shown no repeat no evidence of missile bases now contained them. Hilsman also reported the presence of IL28 bombers and showed photos of these being uncrated in Cuba. He referred to 24 surface-to-air missile sites and to one hundred MiG jets.
  2. At the termination of the briefing, the Under-Secretary (Ball) made a few brief remarks referring to the “essential solidarity” of the governments represented and stating that the offensive nuclear capacity in Cuba represented a threat not repeat not only to USA but to the Western hemisphere. He further defined this as a threat (a) to Latin American countries and (b) to the retaliatory power of USA. He said that the steps which the President would outline in his speech were essential to the credibility of Western willingness to respond to such a challenge and essential also to the defence of Berlin.
  3. At the termination of his remarks, we listened to the President’s speech on TV.

[C.S.A.] Ritchie

656. DEA/2444-40

Permanent Representative to North Atlantic Council to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 2454

Paris, October 22, 1962

Secret. Emergency.

Reference: Our Tel 2453 Oct. 22.†
Repeat for Information: CCOS, Washington, London, Paris, Candel New York (OpImmediate), DM/DND (OpImmediate) from CCOS.
By Bag Moscow from London.

Cuba: Briefing of NAC

At 10 pm local time Council met to receive a report brought this afternoon from Washington by Dean Acheson and Sherman Kent, Deputy Director of CIA. Acheson explained that he had come as the personal representative of the President to brief Council on background of President’s address to the nation tonight. Since President’s message will be available to you by now and most of background no repeat no doubt can be furnished in detail through Intelligence net, I confine myself in this message to highlights of what Acheson said.

  1. He recalled that the President had undertaken in his statement on Cuba in September to let it be known if Soviet Government introduced offensive rather than defensive weapons into Cuba.Footnote 30 As of October 15 USA had what Acheson described as irrefutable evidence that USSR had introduced into Cuba medium and intermediate ballistic missiles with a range of one thousand and twenty two hundred nautical miles respectively. They were thus able to cover large areas of Latin America, USA and Canada with nuclear weapons and were no repeat no longer dependent on intercontinental missiles and bombers for delivering nuclear weapons on targets in Western hemisphere.
  2. The missiles observed were of the mobile field type which had been seen in Moscow May Day parade some two years ago and had been observed at San Cristobal and Sagua la Grande areas. The missiles observed were already in an operational state and must have been delivered a month or six weeks ago. In addition other missile sites had been observed which were expected to become operational before end of year.
  3. Installations which seemed to represent storage facilities for warheads had also been sighted and it had to be assumed that warheads were available for the missiles now located in Cuba.
  4. In addition coastal and patrol installations and vessels were being equipped with missile launchers of smaller range using high explosive warheads.
  5. Main method for delivery of ballistic missiles from USSR to Cuba was thought to be the vessel Poltava which had been sighted in Cuba in July, again in September and was expected to return in November.
  6. Acheson said that in the last few days the President had been in constant consultation with his advisers, civil and military, and that the course he was taking was in Acheson’s judgement reasonable in view of the increased Soviet threat to the essential security interests of USA. These USA measures would include
    1. a blockade after 24 hours’ notice to prevent further offensive military material entering Cuba in which all ships would be stopped and searched
    2. putting armed forces of USA on readiness to deal with the rising state of tension and risks involved in order to make it clear that USA will not repeat not tolerate build-up of a military threat in Cuba
    3. recognition that source of threat is USSR and not repeat not Castro régime
    4. reinforcement of Guantanamo Base and the removal of USA dependents there
    5. calling an emergency meeting of OAS and the invocation of Articles Six and Eight of Rio TreatyFootnote 31
    6. calling an emergency meeting of UN Security Council, and
    7. calling upon Khrushchev to desist from provocative action and resume the search for peace.
  7. Reference to precautionary measures by USA armed forces led to discussion as to whether or not repeat not USA armed forces were being put on the alert. At request of members of Council, SACEUR’s Chief of Staff was called for and he reported that in view of President’s speech SACEUR was informing all Ministers of Defence and NATO commands to take secretly certain precautionary measures appropriate to a heightening of international tension but short of a state of military vigilance. General Moore emphasized that such measures would avoid anything that might be regarded as provocative and would include such things as intelligence collection, preparation of alerts and check of equipment.
  8. Acheson added that the Kennedy/Gromyko talksFootnote 32 were in his view disturbing in that Gromyko denied any knowledge of any offensive weapons in Cuba, apparently being unaware of USA intelligence information at that time, and was wholly unforthcoming on Berlin question.
  9. In conclusion Finletter and Acheson appealed for sympathetic understanding, solidarity, as well as constructive criticism of what USA was doing and indicated that this was the start of a consultative process which would have to proceed in NATO on Cuban question in view of obvious heightened risks to all members of the Alliance arising from situation described above.
  10. Participation by other members was mainly limited to questions; as discussion is expected on President’s statement and Acheson’s briefing shortly with appeals for solidarity, your early guidance would be appreciated.

[George] Ignatieff

657. DEA/2444-40

Chargé d’affaires, Embassy of United States, to Assistant Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs


Ottawa, October 23, 1962

Dear Ed [Ritchie]:

Confirming our telephone conversation in the early morning of October 22, I was instructed to request the Government of Canada to suspend temporarily all transit facilities and overflight clearances for Bloc aircraft destined to Cuba.


Ivan B. White

658. DEA/2444-40

Memorandum from Head, Latin American Division, to Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs


Ottawa, October 23, 1962

Views of the Cuban Ambassador on the Crisis

Today, as instructed, I called in the Cuban Ambassador and told him that henceforth the Canadian authorities at Gander would be ascertaining that Cubana aircraft moving in transit from the Soviet bloc countries to Cuba did not carry any military equipment. This went well and he appeared to accept our position. In answer to a question I told him that we had received no specific complaint about the carriage of arms in Cubana aircraft. He thought they were used exclusively for civilian passengers and that all of their available weight and space would be used for personal luggage.

  1. He obviously wanted to stay on and initiated a discussion on the quarantine measures being taken by the United States. He really made two points:
    1. He considered that the charges of the presence of offensive missile bases in Cuba were completely false. It was a further example of reckless Yankee propaganda against his little country. He referred to the devices of faking aerial and other photographs to provide evidence of the existence of launching sites. He had read and liked the Prime Minister’s statement in the House on the previous evening. He seemed to think that the suggestion of an inspection on the spot by the eight non-aligned members of the Disarmament Committee implied that Mr. Diefenbaker himself doubted President Kennedy’s assertions. I suggested that a more careful reading of the statement would indicate that our Prime Minister was not personally concerned but said that this would be “the only sure way that the world can secure the facts.”Footnote 33 Mr. Diefenbaker’s subsequent statement made about the time of our interview has cleared up this point.Footnote 34
    2. He went on to say that there was no reason why Cuba, which had yielded to so many provocations from the United States, would wish to acquire such offensive weapons and encourage further aggressive action by the United States. Even the Soviet Union would have no interest in placing such weapons on Cuban soil because, as they had claimed, their intercontinental ballistic missiles could reach any target anywhere from the Soviet Union itself. When I suggested, as gently as I could, that matters were probably no longer in Cuban hands and therefore what was happening had not been determined on a basis of Cuban national interests, Dr. Cruz became quite agitated and indeed was on the point of anger. This had touched fundamental sentiments of patriotism and nationalism. As on other occasions with me, he showed he was very sensitive about any hint that Cuba was not now a really independent country and was some sort of a satellite.
  2. After letting him talk at length I finally terminated the visit. He is no doubt feeling his isolation acutely and needed a release for his pent-up feelings.Footnote 35

A.J. Pick

659. PCO

Extract from Cabinet Conclusions


[Ottawa], October 23, 1962


  • The Prime Minister (Mr. Diefenbaker) in the Chair,
  • The Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Green),
  • The Minister of Justice (Mr. Fleming),
  • The Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Hees),
  • The Minister of Transport (Mr. Balcer),
  • The Minister of Veterans Affairs (Mr. Churchill),
  • The Minister of Public Works (Mr. Fulton),
  • The Minister of Finance (Mr. Nowlan),
  • The Minister of National Defence (Mr. Harkness),
  • The Postmaster General (Mrs. Fairclough),
  • The Minister of Fisheries (Mr. MacLean),
  • The Minister of Labour (Mr. Starr),
  • The Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Monteith),
  • The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Hamilton),
  • The Minister of Defence Production (Mr. O’Hurley),
  • The Associate Minister of National Defence (Mr. Sévigny),
  • The Minister of National Revenue and Minister of Forestry (Mr. Flemming),
  • The Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources (Mr. Dinsdale),
  • The Secretary of State (Mr. Halpenny),
  • The Minister of Mines and Technical Surveys (Mr. Martineau),
  • The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (Mr. Bell),
  • The Minister without Portfolio (Senator McCutcheon).
  • The Secretary to the Cabinet (Mr. Bryce),
  • The Assistant Secretaries to the Cabinet (Mr. Labarge), (Mr. Watters).

Cuban Crisis; Missile Bases

  1. The Prime Minister said that he had been asked by the press whether there was any doubt about the missile facilities on Cuban soil. Mr. Green, Mr. Harkness and he had been convinced that there had been no exaggeration of the situation by the President of the United States. There were, of course, political overtones in the American attitude, but the facts were as cited. The U.S. had been aware of the offensive weapons only a week ago. They had no doubt. Of course, there were those who said that the U.S. was doing wrong; among these had been Mr. T.C. Douglas. Last evening, he had been informed by the Secretary to the Cabinet that a Cuban aircraft at Shannon Airport had asked to land at Gander, Newfoundland. It had been advised that it could, but subject to investigation. The authority for investigation was in the Atomic Energy Act, and the plane would be subject to search.
  2. The Cabinet noted the statement of the Prime Minister regarding the public disclosure by the President of the United States of Russian missile bases on the island of Cuba.

Cuban Crisis; Civilian Readiness Measures

  1. The Prime Minister said that the Secretary to the Cabinet had looked into the emergency measures to be taken. Certain departments were to have warning officers available on rotation basis. Key personnel were to be kept in Ottawa. The Emergency Measures Organization should know who those people were. Departments should also see that paperwork for emergency conditions was ready.
  2. The Cabinetagreed that the various civilian departments and agencies concerned with measures to deal with an emergency be instructed,
    1. to have a warning officer available at all times by suitable rotation arrangements until further notice;
    2. to keep available, in or near Ottawa so far as possible, key personnel required for dealing with an emergency rather than permitting them to be on leave or away on business (the Emergency Measures Organization shall be kept informed as to those who will be available on short notice); and,
    3. to ensure, as a matter of priority, that the necessary paper work is made ready for dealing with emergencies in accordance with the allocation of responsibilities for emergency measures; such preparations should cover regulations that would be necessary, arrangements for allocation of responsibilities to various individuals both in the Ottawa area and elsewhere, and instructions for dealing with the various types of problems that may be expected to arise in an emergency situation.

Cuban Crisis; Warning Centres and Army Headquarters

  1. The Minister of National Defence said that the manning of Army warning centres should be moved to their alternative sites and placed on a 24-hour basis. Army Central and Command emergency headquarters should also be manned. This had been done as an exercise last year when Petawawa had been manned for several months.
  2. The Cabinetagreed,
    1. that the Federal and Provincial Warning Centres of the Army be relocated to their emergency sites and manned on a 24-hour basis; and,
    2. that the Army man its Emergency Headquarters on a skeleton staff basis.

Cuban Crisis; Alerting of Canadian Air Defence Forces

  1. The Minister of National Defence said that the U.S. segment of Norad had moved to the alertness stage known as Defcon 3. The U.S. forces, including their forces at Newfoundland bases, had been in an advanced state of readiness since last night’s announcement by President Kennedy of the proposed quarantine of Cuba. Canada had been requested to place its component in the Norad force in the same state of readiness.

  1. During the discussionthe following points were raised,
    1. Some said they did not see why the Canadian component of Norad had to be put in readiness at the same time as the U.S. component. Others said that the forces of both countries jointly manned the same stations. Norad was a joint arrangement for mutual defence. Not to move in pace with the American forces would embarrass Canadian troops. Canada and the U.S. were allies with defence commitments towards each other and should not act differently when side by side. On the other hand, the agreement provided for independent decision to be made by the government with respect to the degree of participation by their personnel. In this instance, Canada should not appear to be stampeded. This would only intensify excitement and increase pressures. A decision to act or move into a more advanced stage of alertness could be put into effect so quickly that waiting a while would have no serious consequence. After all, the U.S. had taken ten days to be sure they were right in their decision; surely 24 hours delay would not be unreasonable for Canada.
    2. Some said that, theoretically, Canada was not automatically embroiled anytime the U.S. was. Practically, however, Canada was. However, there were great dangers in rushing in at this time. Quick action brought quick judgement, and it would be dangerous to have the present moves interpreted as offensive rather than defensive action. Furthermore, there were domestic political overtones in the U.S. decision. Canada should appear to be behaving normally and deliberately.
    3. Others said that the situation was critical. Cuba was close. Canada was a member of Norad. Canadians would not panic. They would have to be told that the situations was perilous and that appropriate action was being taken. Russia would not expect Canada to do anything else.
    4. The real emergency, some said, would come with the U.S. stopping Russian ships. Canada’s position was not absolutely clear, but it had proposed that the U.N. send certain unaligned countries to go and see the missile bases in Cuba.
    5. Others said that the main point was whether, at this stage, Canada should put its forces at the stage of the alert for “delicate or strained” relations. Word had not yet been received as to the U.K.’s views on the situation. It would be worthwhile to wait for them since not only America would be involved. If need be, Cabinet could be called on short notice later in the day.
  2. The Cabinet,
    1. noted the statement of the Minister of National Defence regarding the stage of alertness of the American component of the Norad forces in the present Cuban crisis; and,
    2. agreed that further consideration would be given to the alerting of the Canadian air defence forces after the reactions of other countries, particularly the U.K., to the American declaration had been ascertained.

Cuban Crisis; Soviet Bloc Aircraft

  1. The Secretary of State for External Affairs said that five Soviet aircraft had flown over Canada on the way to Cuba since January. About ten days ago the Russians had asked permission for two more flights, three days before the intended departure. Their request had been turned down. It was becoming a habit, and as they were not members of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) this had to be stopped sometime. Cuba, however, belonged to ICAO and the Cuban airline had landing rights in Canada. It looked as though the Cubans were increasing the number of their flights. The Soviets would like to fly more personnel over and perhaps weapons. The Czechoslovakians and Cubans were seeking to land in Canada for refuelling. If they did land here, Canada had the right to examine them under ICAO for weapons of war, and if any were found they could be removed. Russian technicians could not be removed from a plane. It would be difficult to prevent Cuban or Czechoslovakian flights from landing in Canada. They could be searched and that was about all. Cubana Airlines ran a commercial non-scheduled series of flights which normally stopped at Gander.
  2. During the discussion some said that there were sufficient port officers at the main eastern airports to carry out a search of Soviet bloc aircraft such as Customs, R.C.M. Police and Transport officers. Arrangements should, therefore, be made to have such searches made not only of Cuban aircraft but of all Soviet bloc aircraft. Russian planes, however, should continue to be refused permission to fly over Canada.
  3. The Cabinet confirmed the decision that Russian aircraft be not permitted to fly over Canada except in special agreed circumstances and decided that Czechoslovakian, Cuban and other Soviet bloc aircraft covered by the ICAO agreement be permitted to fly over and land in Canada but subject to being searched to verify that such flights are in accordance with Canadian law (which does not permit civilian aircraft to carry firearms or explosives, nor nuclear material).

Cuban Crisis; Trade

  1. The Minister of Trade and Commerce stated that at the present time exports to Cuba should be restricted to food and medicine. This policy was similar to that of the United States. Over the last year the volume of trade with Cuba had dropped to around $5 million a year.
  2. During the discussion it was said that there was no need to change the policy on this subject at this time.
  3. The Cabinet agreed that there be no change at present in the policy governing trade with Cuba.

Cuban Crisis; Trade

  1. The Prime Minister said that the government might be asked to remove its diplomatic representation from Cuba. The mission had been very useful and a great deal had been possible because of its presence in Cuba.

660. J.G.D./MG01/XII/C/120

Memorandum from Secretary of State for External Affairs to Prime Minister


[Ottawa], October 23, 1962

United States Quarantine Against Cuba

You have enquired about the position under international law of a blockade or quarantine such as the United States have now imposed on all offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba, and as to precedents to this case.

  1. Although President Kennedy made a passing reference to the Berlin blockade (pointing out that even shipment of food and drugs had then been stopped), he has described the measures announced yesterday as a “quarantine.” On the one hand, he has not mentioned any intentions to seize or sequestrate the vessels of the blockaded country but on the other hand the United States forces intend to turn back any Cuba-bound vessel of any kind – as well as airplanes, if need be – if they are found to contain cargoes of offensive weapons. There seems to be no firm precedents for such a “quarantine,” which seems to go somewhat further than traditional pacific blockades (by preventing foreign ships from entering Cuban ports) but is more lenient in so far as it applies only to shipments of offensive weapons (and without any declared intent to seize certain ships).

Pacific Blockade

  1. Pacific blockades – that is blockades in time of peace – have been resorted to on several occasions since the second quarter of the nineteenth century, as a compulsive means of settling international differences. All cases of pacific blockades involve either intervention or reprisals. A study of precedents tends to indicate that the present “quarantine,” in so far as it resembles a pacific blockade, is more in the nature of an intervention. For instance in 1886, Great Britain, Austria-Hungary, Germany, Italy and Russia blocked the Greek coast for the purpose of preventing Greece from making war against Turkey. Great Britain, Germany and Italy instituted a pacific blockade in 1902 against Venezuela in order to obtain payment of indemnities due to their subjects; the American Government stated on that occasion that a pacific blockade could produce no effect as regards third powers; Great Britain shortly afterwards declared that she was at war with Venezuela and that the blockade was therefore to be considered as being of a warlike character. (Oppenheim-Lauterpacht, Vol. II, 7th Ed., pp. 147-148; Colombos, pp. 403-405.)
  2. Pacific blockades have been considered by practically all writers as admissible, as long as they do not extend to the seizure or sequestration of vessels other than those of the blockaded state; also the blockading state is generally held to have no right to prevent vessels belonging to third states from freely entering or leaving the ports of the blockaded state. It is only in time of war that all vessels may be prevented from trying to break the blockade. (Aircraft may play a part in such blockades.) It must be noted that Soviet ships, under this theory, would be considered as foreign ships. (Oppenheim-Lauterpacht, Vol. II, 7th Ed. pp. 146-149; Colombos, pp. 405.)
  3. Furthermore, according to most authors, the traditional rules of international law – as summarized above – have been largely overtaken by Article 42 of the Charter of the United Nations. As stated by Colombos (International Law of the Sea, 4th Ed. pp. 406), “so far as members of the United Nations are concerned, a pacific blockade could only be legally imposed by them when decided on by the Security Council under Article 42 of the Charter of the United Nations.”


  1. President Kennedy has made clear that the quarantine now imposed is a measure of self-defence. The concept of self-defence must also be interpreted in the light of the United Nations Charter. It seems that an argument can be made in favour of the U.S. action on the basis of the right of individual and collective self-defence recognized by Article 51 of the U.N. Charter. This right authorizes counter-action which might take the form of armed reprisal. The point at issue is whether what can be done in the case of armed attack may be done in the case of a threat of attack. Some writers on the authority of Article 511 seem to rule out the plea of self-defence is such an eventuality (Oppenheim, Vol. II, 155). Others on the authority of Article 2, paragraph 42 of the Charter seem to accept it (Aronéanu, “The Definition of Aggression,” p. 94). The latter thesis seems acceptable on the understanding that in every case an assessment must be made of the imminence and effectiveness of the threat invoked.
  2. In response to an infringement of rights committed to its detriment a state may take retaliatory measures or resort to reprisals. The latter are not themselves illicit, but can exceptionally be justified by the fact that they are provoked by an earlier illicit measure of which they frequently tend to obtain the withdrawal. The traditional distinction is between armed reprisals (such as naval bombardments) and unarmed reprisals (such as embargos, sequestrations or the blocking of funds). The former are prohibited to members of the United Nations by Article 2, paragraph 4 of the Charter. The most eminent writers have unanimously deduced from that Article that, apart from self-defence or the application of any enforcement measure decided by the Security Council, members of the United Nations could henceforth not resort to armed reprisals. (Guggenheim, Vol. II, p. 59; Oppenheim-Lauterpacht, Vol. II, p. 153; Higgins, para. 399; Rousseau, p. 467.) Armed intervention by U.S. forces against foreign ships attempting to break their enforcement of the quarantine would thus seem to be forbidden.

A Measure Sui Generis

  1. If the quarantine imposed by the United States were a pacific blockade, its legality might be doubtful in view of Article 423 of the Charter, if not in view of traditional law. However, while having elements of a pacific blockade, it cannot be – strictly speaking – construed as one. Furthermore, in so far as the measures imposed have been taken in self-defence, they are not necessarily illegal under the Charter of the United Nations, even though there was no armed attack on the United States. (The case might be different if armed reprisals were enforced against foreign ships refusing to yield.) The quarantine decreed by President Kennedy would seem to be sui generis. In consequence, while it would not be correct to assert categorically the legality of the United States move, it is impossible as well to conclude that it is illegal. (The paper from Admiral Rayner† tends to identify the proposed “quarantine” with a pacific blockade, while noting in conclusion that its legality is ill-defined.)
  2. Moreover, while the issue is thus by no means clear, the following points reflect a U.S. intention to remain within the bounds of legality:
    1. the measure has been immediately reported to the Security Council, in accordance with Article 51 of the Charter and General Assembly Resolution of November 17, 1950, and to the Council of the Organization of American States, in accordance with Article 6 of the Rio Treaty;
    2. it is meant to be temporary in nature;
    3. the enforced diversion of ships is not intended to prejudice the general interests of international trade, since only shipments of offensive weapons are to be stopped; and
    4. the operation intended will assume the nature of armed reprisal only if the ships intercepted refuse to comply either with an order to stop and be searched or to turn back with their military cargo.

H.C. G[reen]


(1) “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.”

(2) “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.”

(3) “Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations.”

661. DEA/2444-40

Memorandum from Special Assistant, Office of the Secretary of State for External Affairs, to Assistant Under-Secretaries of State for External


[Ottawa], October 23, 1962


The Minister initialled the Memorandum to the Prime Minister† covering telegrams V-104 and V-105 of Oct. 23 which were addressed to the Permanent Mission in New York and to Washington. The Memorandum was forwarded to Mr. Dier at 9:45 a.m., October 23.

  1. At 10.00 a.m. Mr. Dier informed me that the Prime Minister had approved the two telegrams and that they had been despatched.

M.N. B[ow]

662. DEA/2444-40

Secretary of State for External Affairs to Permanent Representative to United Nations and to Ambassador in United States

Telegram V-104

Ottawa, October 23, 1962

Canadian Eyes Only. Secret. Emergency.

Reference: Press guidance Tel 192 Oct 22.†
Repeat for Information: London, Paris, NATO Paris, Havana, (OpImmediate), DM/DND, CCOS.
By Bag Moscow from London.


You will have received the press guidance telegram under reference setting out the Prime Minister’s statement in the House of Commons shortly after President Kennedy issued his statement on the measures the USA is taking to meet the new Soviet missile threat from Cuba. Early in his statement the Prime Minister made it quite clear that Canada would want the UN to be seized as soon as possible of this serious problem. He noted in this connection that the USA would be bringing the matter before the Security Council at once but went on to say that the world will want a full and complete understanding of what is taking place in Cuba. He then made the suggestion that in order to ascertain what the facts are, a group of nations, perhaps the 8 nations comprising the non-aligned members of the 18 Nation Disarmament Committee, be given the opportunity of making an on-site inspection in Cuba.

  1. In making this proposal the Prime Minister was not casting public doubt on the facts of the situation as outlined by the President in his nation-wide address. The Prime Minister has already noted that construction of bases for the launching of offensive weapons in the form of IRBMs constituted a threat to most of the cities of North America including the major cities of Canada. He had clearly stated “that the existence of these bases or launching pads is not defensive but offensive.” The Prime Minister’s purpose was to put in motion steps to be taken in the UNGA in the event that the resolution being submitted today to the Security Council by the USA (Permis New York Telegram 1884 October 22†) is vetoed by the Soviet Union, or if the Soviet Union denies the existence in Cuba of offensive ballistic missile bases. In that event we are assuming that the USA would carry its charge to the floor of the Assembly and at that point an initiative along the lines contemplated in the Prime Minister’s statement might usefully be brought forward. If such a move were adopted and failed to result in the admission to Cuba of an investigation team, it would at least serve to confirm and expose the aggressive designs which the Soviet Union has on North America.
  2. The first draft of the sort of resolution which might be used to launch this proposal is in our immediately following telegram.
  3. Your comments are urgently requested. Subject to further confirmation from Ottawa, you may be asked to use the meeting of NATO representatives which has been called for 2:15 October 23 to test the reaction of the USA and our other Allies to this proposal.

For Washington

You should discuss this proposal with the State Department as a matter of urgency and let New York and Ottawa know the reaction by telephone.

663. DEA/2444-40

Secretary of State for External Affairs to Permanent Representative to United Nations and to Ambassador in United States

Telegram V-105

Ottawa, October 23, 1962

Canadian Eyes Only. Secret. Emergency.

Reference: My Tel. V-104 Oct 23.
Repeat for Information: London, Paris, NATO Paris, Havana, (OpImmediate), DM/DND, CCOS.
By Bag Moscow.


The General Assembly

Deeply concerned about the grave threat to peace resulting from current developments in the Cuban crisis;

Convinced that the charges about the secret introduction of nuclear missiles and other offensive weapons are sufficiently serious to warrant immediate investigation and observation by the United Nations;

Noting that quarantine measures have been imposed around Cuba;

  1. Establishes an investigation and observation group, composed of representatives of Brazil, Burma, Ethiopia, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Sweden, and U.A.R., with the following functions:
    1. to investigate fully all charges that nuclear missiles and other offensive weapons have been introduced into Cuba;
    2. to observe the quarantine measures imposed by the United States;
    3. to report as appropriate to the Security Council and the General Assembly and in any event to report its findings on sub-paragraph (a) and (b) to the General Assembly not repeat not later than December 1, 1962.
  2. Further requests the Acting Secretary-General to provide qualified personnel with the necessary equipment and other means to ensure the effective discharge of the functions of the investigation and observation groups.
  3. Calls upon the Government of Cuba to cooperate fully with the group according it all necessary rights of access, movement and enquiry, and any additional facilities it may require.
  4. Urgently recommends that the United States and the USSR confer promptly on measures to remove the existing threat to the peace and to report thereon to the Security Council and the General Assembly as appropriate.

664. DEA/2444-40

Secretary of State for External Affairs to Ambassador in United States and to Permanent Representative to United Nations

Telegram V-478

Ottawa, October 23, 1962

Canadian Eyes Only. Secret. OpImmediate.

Reference: Our Tels. V-104 and V-105 Oct 23 and Campbell-Ritchie Telecon.
Repeat for Information: London, Paris, NATO Paris, Havana, (Priority), DM/DND, CCOS.
By Bag Moscow from London.


This is to confirm that the Minister has authorized the deletion of paragraph 1(b) of our draft resolution referring to observation of quarantine measures imposed by the USA before presenting the draft to the State Department for discussion. On the other hand he did not wish to amend the language in paragraph 4 of the draft resolution to bring it more into line with that used in the USA draft, since the general reference “to the existing threat to the peace” is less restrictive than the USA reference “to the security of the Western hemisphere and the peace of the world.”

  1. It should be made clear in your discussions with the State Department and USA colleagues in New York that there is no intention to have this or any other Canadian resolution in competition with the USA draft resolution. We recognize that the USA draft resolution might be presented without amendment in the General Assembly if action on it is vetoed by the Soviet Union in the Security Council. It is in circumstances in which the USA resolution might be failing to win general support or was being amended in a way which would substantially change its sense that we would envisage our draft resolution being put forward, in full consultation with the USA and other Western countries.
  2. These points should be made clear in your discussions with the USA. The Prime Minister has just made a statement in the House of Commons, the text of which is being sent to you,† which deals with these and some other aspects of the suggestion he made yesterday. You may draw on his statement in your discussions.

For New York:

You should delete from the draft contained in telegram V-105 paragraph 1(b). We understand from Washington that New York may be the principal point of consultation.

665. J.G.D./XIV/E/167.3

Memorandum from Prime Minister of United Kingdom to Prime Minister

Top Secret

[Ottawa], October 23, 1962

President Kennedy sent me a message on October 22ndFootnote 36 outlining the action which he proposed to announce in his speech. I expect that he also transmitted it to you, and in any case your representative will have attended the briefing given by Dean Acheson to the North Atlantic Council last evening.

I thought it right to send a message straight away assuring the President of our full support in the Security Council.Footnote 37 Since the President has decided to take this action and has announced it, it will clearly give pleasure to no-one, except the Russians, if there were to be anything but firm support from the members of the Western Alliance.

At the same time, we cannot tell where the American action will lead us. The Russians’ reply may be in words at the United Nations and so forth, or in deeds. If the Russians decided to do something, I suppose that they might send military vessels to escort their merchant ships to Cuba, thereby presenting the Americans with the awkward dilemma of having to fire first; or, of course, Khrushchev might react on some of the weaker parts of the western world, whether in South East Asia, the Middle East or Turkey. Finally it will be tempting for him to retaliate in kind by imposing a blockade on Berlin to offset the one on Cuba. I am sure that all these considerations are very much present in President Kennedy’s mind, and, of course, there is a considerable danger that the various pressures to which the United States will be exposed may give the Russians an opportunity of exploiting differences of interest, or at least of emphasis, between the United States on the one hand and her American and European allies on the other. I feel certain that we must above all try to avoid any splits in the alliance of this kind.

For the rest, I do not think we can do more now than await events, but I should be most glad to have your reactions and I think that we should try to keep in close touch as the situation develops. For your private information, if the situation were to get enlarged beyond the purely Caribbean context, I should feel it my duty to take some action to try to prevent any possible escalation to war, but I certainly do not intend to take any initiative in the present uncertain circumstances.

666. DEA/2444-40

Permanent Representative to United Nations to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 1904

Ottawa, October 23, 1962

Secret. Canadian Eyes Only. OpImmediate.

Reference: Your Tel V-104 Oct 23.
Repeat for Information: London, Paris, NATO Paris, Washington (OpImmediate), DM/DND, CCOS from Ottawa.
By Bag Moscow from London, Havana from Ottawa.


Security Council convened 4 p.m. USA has already spoken. It is probable that following statements by USSR and Cuba meeting will be adjourned until tomorrow morning in order to give delegates time to consider problem. USA has already introduced draft resolution.

  1. USA delegate agreed that resolution is certain to be vetoed by USSR. Present intention is to take issue to UNGA when this happens.
  2. USA statement which you will certainly have seen in UN press release referred in general terms only to missile sites.Footnote 38 We expect that USA may make public information on speed and extent of Soviet missile site construction which was given in briefing to USA allies this afternoon (our telegram 19003†) to justify USA stand.
  3. McCloy’s principal task so far has been to explain informally USA position to sympathetic neutrals such as Austria and Sweden.
  4. We have tentatively discussed with close friends approach set out in your reference telegram. UK reaction was that USA information on establishment of Soviet missile sites in Cuba was elaborate and convincing and that suggestion to carry out independent investigation was premature in that it would complicate Security Council consideration. On the other hand Norwegian representative said to us if USSR were to deny existence of missile bases number of delegations might be attracted by our suggestion. We shall be sending more comments on your suggestions.
  5. At present moment attention is focussed on Security Council. Situation is entirely fluid and positions have not yet taken shape. When matter advances to next stage and is referred to UNGA I suggested that SSEA might wish to come to New York.

[Paul] Tremblay

667. H.B.R./Vol. 6

Ambassador in United States to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 3087

Washington, October 23, 1962

Secret. OpImmediate.

Repeat for Information: Permis New York, London, Paris, NATO Paris, DND, CCOS Ottawa from Ottawa.
By Bag Havana from Ottawa, Moscow from London.


This morning October 23 we saw William Tyler, Kohler’s successor as Assistant Secretary for European Affairs. We began by giving him a copy of the Prime Minister’s statement of October 22 emphasizing, in view of questions addressed to us earlier by the Canadian Desk, that facts of situation as outlined by the President were not repeat not questioned by Canadian Government. Tyler expressed appreciation of this assurance which he said was consistent with Merchant’s report of conversation with the Prime Minister, Mr. Green and Mr. Harkness.Footnote 39 On question of possible Canadian resolution in General Assembly, Tyler expressed no repeat no view but asked that tactical matters be explored between USA and Canadian delegations in New York. (We had not repeat not at that time received instructions in your V-104 paragraph 4.)

  1. Discussing motives for Soviet buildup in Cuba Tyler said that two main hypotheses had been considered (a) that USSR were seeking to establish in Cuba a position which might serve as a counter to Western presence in Berlin and withdrawal from which might be offered as a price for Western withdrawal from Berlin; (b) the USSR might be focussing on the whole issue of USA foreign bases. Re the latter hypothesis it may, I think, be significant that Soviet authorities may have deliberately allowed their buildup to be open to air inspection, as if they were encouraging USA to raise matter of offensive bases on Cuban soil.
  2. Tyler said that the decision to choose quarantine and related measures in preference to military intervention had been a key decision but had been taken rapidly and with unanimity among the departments and agencies concerned. One of its main purposes had been to demonstrate USA determination to resist Soviet pressure lest there be doubts about USA intentions in Berlin. The measures announced therefore had Alliance wide implications and USA trusted that their allies would give them all possible understanding and support. Having just spoken by phone with Kohler in Moscow, Tyler remarked that the first Soviet reaction appeared on the whole to be a “talking rather than a shooting” one. He gave the personal view however that Berlin was the area which held the greatest possibility of Soviet retaliatory measures involving a threat to peace. It was impossible to forecast the exact nature of such measures but they were prepared for harassment on the access routes in case USSR attempted to place a quarantine on Berlin. Tyler said that civilian access might be affected and added that three Western Powers regarded civilian and military access as being closely related for purposes of contingency planning.
  3. Regarding action in OAS, Tyler said that the President was conscious of the desirability of showing that the Cuban situation, far from being simply a confrontation between USSR and USA, had widespread implications affecting among others all the OAS countries. USA authorities were hoping for action approving quarantine to be taken today October 23 by OAS Council.

668. DEA/2444-40

Ambassador in United States to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 3092

Washington, October 23, 1962

Secret. OpImmediate.

Reference: Your Tel V-105 Oct 23 to Permis New York.
Repeat for Information: Permis New York, London, Paris, NATO Paris, CCOS Ottawa from Ottawa.
By Bag Havana from Ottawa, Moscow from London.


In accordance with your instructions, I called today on Harlan Cleveland, Assistant Secretary for International Organizations and outlined to him the purpose of our suggestion along the lines of paragraph 2 of your reference telegram. I made it very clear in the terms employed by the Prime Minister in his statement to the House this afternoon (your telegram PG-194†) that there was no repeat no thought on our part that our plan would in any way be placed in competition with USA resolution. I said that the situation which we were envisaging was that in the likelihood that their resolution would be vetoed in the Security Council and then subsequently brought to the UNGA there might be considerable attraction for many uncommitted and other members of the UN in a resolution which (a) utilized the services of the eight neutrals and (b) introduced a UN fact finding element into the Cuban situation. This might particularly be the case if USA ran into difficulties in securing widespread acceptance for their own text. One could also perhaps envisage a situation in which elements of their resolution (e.g. inspection by UN team) merged with the UN fact finding role.

  1. In discussing with them the text of our draft resolution (your telegram V-105) I emphasized that this was a very tentative first draft which sought to outline our general approach [but] that we were not repeat not wedded to exact terminology and were open to suggestions. I also told Cleveland that we were not repeat not proposing to show this text to anyone but themselves at this stage.
  2. Cleveland began by saying that he felt there was a significant difference between the inspection role foreseen in their resolution and the fact finding role in ours. The key question was whether the object of UN action should be inspection or the supervision of dismantling. In their view the important point was to secure the earliest possible dismantling of the weapon sites. There was danger at any time that a Soviet ship might attempt to run the blockade and shooting might start. There was further danger that rapid progress would be made in completing and extending the missile sites in Cuba. In these circumstances quick action was required. They feared that a fact finding mission would spin out over several weeks or more and this was too long.Footnote 40 Under their resolution, the cessation of the quarantine would be exchanged for the dismantling of the bases under UN observation. In this way the bases, which are the main source of danger, could be quickly eliminated without USA feeling obliged to employ military methods.
  3. Cleveland further pointed out that so far the USSR had not repeat not denied the existence of offensive weapons in Cuba but had rather taken the line in their statement of today that all Soviet weapons had a defensive purpose. While this line of argument might change it was possible that the USSR would not repeat not attempt to dispute the actual presence of these weapons on Cuban soil and that therefore a fact finding mission would not repeat not be entirely relevant to the present situation.
  4. It seemed to transpire from what Cleveland said that the USA might prefer an attempt to work out some kind of a solution in the Security Council. He mentioned the possibility that one of the non permanent members might introduce some suggestion which both USA and the Russians could accept. He emphasized that any UN presence in Cuba would in practice have to be with the joint agreement of USA and the USSR. He did not repeat not seem to envisage a situation in the near future in which the issue was taken from the Security Council to the UNGA and he made the observation that deciding now on the tactics at the General Assembly stage was “jumping over” the possibility of action in the Security Council.
  5. However Cleveland said that he did not repeat not entirely exclude a situation in which some fact finding element might later be combined with USA approach. He acknowledged that it would have distinct attraction in the UNGA. He said that if this stage should be reached Canada with its high standing in UN and with the uncommitted countries could be very helpful.
  6. In summary, I should say that Cleveland was distinctly cool towards the fact finding element in our draft resolution although he did not repeat not altogether exclude the principle. He emphasized however that introduction of any such proposal at an early stage in the proceedings might be a very complicating factor, which he at one point said might limit the President’s discretion in a situation of great danger.

[C.S.A.] Ritchie

669. DEA/2444-40

Memorandum from Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs to Secretary of State for External Affairs


[Ottawa], October 24, 1962


Attached is a round-up of available information on the reactions of Governments to the U.S.A. quarantine measures.† It reflects mainly the initial positions of Governments, and these are along fairly predictable lines; on the part of the U.S.A.’s principal allies, solidarity with the U.S.A. in the face of a dangerous situation precipitated by the Soviet challenge to the U.S.A. so close to home; on the part of the Soviet bloc, a condemnation of the illegality and dangerous nature of the U.S.A. measures, combined with a cautious avoidance of committing the bloc to any particular type of reaction.

  1. It should be stressed, however, that these initial reactions are no sure guide to the ultimate positions of any country on this issue. Friend and foe alike have been caught unprepared by the strength and speed of the U.S.A.’s unilateral action. On the Western side, the initial solidarity may yet give way to certain doubts. The British press reaction and, for example, that of The Globe and Mail today, are perhaps significant. There is no disposition to quarrel with the facts of Soviet strength in Cuba as presented by the U.S.A. or to dispute its provocative nature. There is, however, a widespread tendency to question the legality of the quarantine measures and the precedent they may set for a general breakdown in international conduct; to ask why the matter was not taken first to the United Nations; to query the absence of prior consultation with allies; to question any real distinction between Soviet bases in Cuba and U.S.A. bases on the periphery of the Soviet Union. There have been worried references to the relevance of the U.S.A. elections.
  2. If these questions are already occurring to the press in friendly Western states who do not deny the genuineness of the fear the U.S.A. feels in the face of clandestine arming of Cuba, it can be assumed that the less sympathetic neutral states will be entertaining even more serious doubts.
  3. Similarly, on the Soviet side, too much reliance should not be placed on the clearly cautious nature of their initial reaction. They have been careful to avoid proclaiming the U.S.A. measures as acts of war or belligerency, and have contented themselves with a charge of piracy. While charging that the U.S.A. is taking the world to the brink of war, the Soviet Union has refrained from announcing any specific threat of force to resist U.S.A. quarantine measures. Even the news that five of the Soviet ships have turned back should not be taken to mean a final Soviet retreat in the face of strong U.S.A. action. This display of initial caution may mean no more than a desire to gain time. Soviet forces have been placed on a preliminary alert in key sectors and it is safe to assume that the considered Soviet reaction has yet to come. A counter-blockade of Berlin is one evident possibility; U.S.A. overseas bases in general are an obvious counterpart of the Cuban situation, and even if no attempt is made to do anything overt against U.S.A. bases overseas, the U.S.A. has exposed itself to a major attempt by the Soviet Union to bring about through the pressure of international opinion, the liquidation of all such bases. Premier Khrushchev’s message to Lord Russell indicates that the Soviet Union may well seek a Summit Meeting with President Kennedy at which these objectives would be pursued.Footnote 41
  4. Even though the U.S.A. has shown in the Presidential ProclamationFootnote 42 restraint in the circumstances in which force may be applied, and the Soviet Union is displaying a cautious reaction, it would be dangerously premature to assume that the critical phase of the current situation has passed. There is still an urgent need for international endeavour to find a peaceful solution.

United Nations Aspect

  1. The U.S.A. instituted unilateral action at the same time as placing the Cuban situation before the United Nations because they saw an immediate need to prevent deliveries of warheads to the missile facilities already constructed in Cuba. Most countries have welcomed the U.S.A. move to bring the United Nations into the question but few can have any illusions that the resolution which the U.S.A. has presented constitutes a genuine effort to achieve a peaceful solution. That resolution calls in effect for a continuation of the quarantine measures until such time as a United Nations observer corps can certify that the missile bases have been dismantled and withdrawn from Cuba. What it seeks is an international endorsement of U.S.A. action not an international solution. Similarly, the Soviet resolution which calls for a cessation of the U.S.A. quarantine measures and hands off Cuba seeks only an endorsement of their present activities in Cuba.
  2. Neither resolution has much chance of endorsement or of leading to an agreed peaceful settlement; on the other hand, neither the Soviet Union or the U.S.A. seems in any hurry to force a vote which might transfer the centre of activities to the General Assembly.
  3. The non-aligned nations have been most active in the search for a standstill. Forty such nations have been meeting in caucus during the day and have had several talks with U Thant, as a result of which the Acting Secretary-General made direct personal appeals to both the President of the U.S.A. and the Premier of the U.S.S.R. to refrain from any action which could aggravate the situation and lead to war. He appealed to the former to suspend the quarantine measures and the latter arms deliveries to Cuba for a period of two to three weeks to enable the search for a peaceful solution to proceed, and he offered his personal good offices to that end. His appeal may be backed by a formal move in the Security Council, probably to be presented by Ghana. This may appear to be a modest effort at exercising the United Nations’ influence toward a peaceful solution, but it must be recognized that in a dispute involving the Great Powers, the United Nations is severely handicapped.
  4. As long as the issue remains before the Security Council, of which Canada is not a member, there is little we can do. As it is not at all certain how the U.S.A. resolution would fare in the General Assembly, we should be content to let the Security Council phase work itself out. The neutral nations may yet devise a resolution which both the Soviet Union and the U.S.A. could accept and which would provide a breathing space in which direct negotiations could be pursued, without either the U.S.A. or the U.S.S.R. resolutions being brought to a vote with the consequent risk of veto.
  5. If, however, the matter should be brought before the General Assembly, the Canadian proposal to have a neutral nations inspection team proceed to Cuba, or some variation of that proposal, might have a prospect of winning Assembly support, although Cuban opposition to the idea has already been expressed. The important objective should be to introduce into the situation some sort of international element which will serve to halt the further arming of Cuba and thus render unnecessary the continued application of the U.S.A. quarantine measures. As the United Kingdom seems disposed to play a peace-promoting rôle once the initial confrontation has been avoided, we may find it useful to collaborate closely with them in the United Nations.

R. C[ampbell]

for Under-Secretary of State

for External Affairs

670. DEA/2444-40

Memorandum from Legal Division to Legal Adviser


[Ottawa], October 24, 1962

United States Quarantine Against Cuba

Our memorandum of yesterday to the Prime Minister suggested the following conclusions:

  1. The “quarantine” imposed by the United States on all offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba is a measure “sui generis,” which it would neither be appropriate to consider as illegal nor easy to construe as legal;
  2. Pacific blockades – which this “quarantine” resembles somewhat – were considered by most authors as permissible, provided foreign ships were not prevented from entering the ports of the blockaded state (which could be allowed only during blockades of a war-like character); the United Nations Charter is now widely interpreted as forbidding such blockades except when imposed by the United Nations under Articles 41 and 42 of the Charter;
  3. It is debatable (and doubtful) whether such a quarantine can be considered as a measure of self-defence under Article 51 of the Charter since there has been no overt armed attack, although Article 2(4) could be invoked against the military build-up in Cuba;
  4. There is very little doubt, however, that the use of armed force – which could be considered as armed reprisals – against foreign (including Soviet) ships would run against the Charter, unless it is done in accordance with Article 42. (See paragraphs 3-5 below.) (Authors quoted yesterday, plus: Kelsen, Law of the United Nations, p. 791; Memorandum of January 12, 1959, from the Legal Division to the Legal Adviser, on “Right of member-states to resort to armed force under the U.N. Charter.”)

You may wish to be apprised of our afterthoughts, in the light of the day’s telegrams and particularly the OAS Council approval of the resolution presented by Secretary Rusk on October 23.Footnote 43

  1. In his proclamation of October 23, President Kennedy states that vessels failing to “comply with directions shall be subject to being taken into custody” – that is to be seized, contrary to what was assumed in our memorandum of yesterday (paragraph 2); such seizures would make it more difficult to justify the “quarantine” decreed. (On the other hand, he stresses that “force shall not be used except in case of failure or refusal to comply with directions or with directives of the Secretary of Defence, or in case of self-defence. In any case, force shall be used only to the extent necessary.” There might therefore arise a situation when Russian ships would be immobilized by United States ships, with no party firing – while discussions go on at the United Nations.)
  2. In order that they might resort legally to armed force against foreign ships refusing to halt, to be searched or to turn back from Cuba if carrying offensive weapons, it appears that the United States would need authorization to do so from the Security Council under Articles 39 and 42. Following a veto in the Security Council, they will probably seek to refer the matter to the General Assembly, possibly under the “Uniting for Peace” resolution of November 3, 1950,Footnote 44 on the grounds that there is a “threat to peace.” The Assembly could then make “appropriate recommendations to members for collective measures”; such a recommendation would not be binding but might be considered as providing authorization for the action recommended. This action might be the “quarantine” decreed, but might much more likely be the appointment of a fact-finding or inspection commission in Cuba. (Oppenheim-Lauterpacht, II, p. 176).
  3. The Inter American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance of 1947 (or Rio Treaty)Footnote 45 goes further than the Charter. Article 25 of the OAS CharterFootnote 46 and Article 6 of the Rio Treaty provide inter alia that, “If the inviolability or the integrity of the territory or the sovereignty or political independence of any American State should be affected by an aggression which is not an armed attack … or by any other fact or situation that might endanger the peace of America, the Organ of Consultation shall meet immediately in order to agree on the measures … which should be taken for the common defense and for the maintenance of the peace and security of the continent” (Article 6). Article 8 of the Treaty enumerates, “For the purpose of this Treaty, the measures on which the Organ of Consultation may agree,” which include the “partial or complete interruption of economic relations … and use of armed force.” The meeting held yesterday by the Council of the OAS authorized the United States (after their decision was taken but before the quarantine came into force) to take the measures announced, including the use of armed force.
  4. The Organization of American States is a regional organization, and the Rio Treaty a regional arrangement under Article 52 of the United Nations Charter. There seems to be some discrepancy between Chapter VII of the Charter and Articles 6 and 8 of the Treaty. With reference to the foregoing and to Articles 51 and 53 of the Charter, it would appear that the use of armed force by the American States is subject to two limitations: they may resort to it only if exercising the right of collective self-defence provided for under Article 51, or if authorized by the Security Council under Article 53. Since on the one hand there is no unanimity as to the rights granted by Article 51, and since on the other hand the Rio Treaty (including Articles 6 and 8) has been accepted as a regional arrangement under Article 52, it is not possible to conclude categorically either that the use of armed force under the Rio Treaty is permissible in the present case or that it is forbidden. However, the OAS Council should now report the action it has approved to the Security Council, in conformity with Article 54 of the Charter and Article 5 of the Rio Treaty (see Kelsen, pp. 328, 793; the point is discussed in the attached memorandum – curiously without clear attribution but which very probably issued from some U.S. source and is interesting – on “Relations between the OAS and the UN on matters pertaining to the maintenance of international peace and security.”†)
  5. We tend to agree with the British Foreign Office (Telegram No. 3792 of October 23 from London†) that the legality of the United States move being at least debatable, it might be preferable to avoid discussing it – and to deal with this matter on broader political grounds.

Gilles Sicotte

671. DEA/4568-40

Memorandum from Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs to Secretary of State for External Affairs


[Ottawa], October 24, 1962

Cubana Aircraft Landing at Goose Bay

Yesterday evening notice was received from Shannon that a Cubana aircraft was expecting to land during the night at Gander or Halifax in accordance with the normal arrangements for such flights. Around two o’clock this morning it emerged that weather conditions would not permit a landing at either of these airports and permission was requested for the aircraft to land at Goose Bay. This permission was granted by the air traffic control authorities after checking with Ottawa.

  1. The aircraft and passengers have been thoroughly examined by customs officials on lines which had been worked out interdepartmentally yesterday. This examination indicates that the aircraft (a Britannia) is carrying: (a) 75 passengers (of which 9 are travelling on special Cuban passports and 2 on diplomatic passports, including one Indian); (b) 15 crew members; (c) 75 cartons of mixed cargo (2 of which contain aircraft brake lining, 49 contain stoppers for blood flasks, and the remainder consist of drugs, spare parts for trucks and cars, and spares for the aircraft itself); (d) a variety of personal luggage (including a package of blue prints in the possession of one passenger which he declared to be plans for a factory.)
  2. As this aircraft is still being detained at Goose Bay it would be desirable to have a decision rather urgently on the question of whether or not it can be released. Mr. Sim, as Deputy Minister of National Revenue, and Mr. Bryce, as well as officials of this Department, would recommend that the plane be released and allowed to proceed on its way. Our regulations apply only to warlike materials. Moreover, even the United States quarantine is confined to offensive weapons and does not cover personnel or papers.
  3. There have been some indications this morning that a local radio station has picked up some information concerning the movement of this aircraft through Goose Bay. According to these reports, which have been repeated to us second hand, the aircraft contained German technicians on their way to work at missile sites in Cuba. If such reports are circulating (and it is somewhat difficult to see how they could have got such information out of Goose Bay during the night), it would seem appropriate for the Government to state that we have no information to support the allegations regarding the passengers.

N.A. R[obertson]

672. PCO

Extract from Cabinet Conclusions


[Ottawa], October 24, 1962


  • The Prime Minister (Mr. Diefenbaker) in the Chair,
  • The Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Green),
  • The Minister of Justice (Mr. Fleming),
  • The Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Hees),
  • The Minister of Transport (Mr. Balcer),
  • The Minister of Veterans Affairs (Mr. Churchill),
  • The Minister of Public Works (Mr. Fulton),
  • The Minister of Finance (Mr. Nowlan),
  • The Minister of National Defence (Mr. Harkness),
  • The Postmaster General (Mrs. Fairclough),
  • The Minister of Fisheries (Mr. MacLean),
  • The Minister of Labour (Mr. Starr),
  • The Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Monteith),
  • The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Hamilton),
  • The Minister of Defence Production (Mr. O’Hurley),
  • The Associate Minister of National Defence (Mr. Sévigny),
  • The Minister of Forestry and Minister of National Revenue (Mr. Flemming),
  • The Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources (Mr. Dinsdale),
  • The Secretary of State (Mr. Halpenny),
  • The Minister of Mines and Technical Surveys (Mr. Martineau),
  • The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (Mr. Bell),
  • The Minister without Portfolio (Senator McCutcheon).

  • The Secretary to the Cabinet (Mr. Bryce),
  • The Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet (Dr. Hodgson).

Cuban Crisis; Missile Bases

(Previous Reference October 23)

  1. The Prime Minister said that, when the United States had briefed the Canadian government on the Soviet build-up in Cuba, they had emphasized that the substance of the photographic evidence was secret. The State Department however had revealed the evidence in detail to the press.

Some years ago, when the U.S.S.R. had complained about the establishment of U.S. bases ringing Soviet territory, the U.S. had responded that they had been invited to establish these bases by the countries concerned. The U.S.S.R. could now use a similar argument to justify the establishment of bases in Cuba.

He had discussed the situation with the U.K. High Commissioner, who had pointed out that it was difficult to classify weapons strictly as offensive or defensive.

  1. The Cabinet noted the statement of the Prime Minister on the Cuban crisis.

Cuban Crisis; Search of Aircraft Destined for Cuba

(Previous reference October 23)

  1. The Minister of National Defence said that a Cuban aircraft en route to Cuba from behind the Iron Curtain had landed at Goose Bay airport early that morning and had been searched. Two of the passengers were East German missile technicians who claimed diplomatic immunity, and this claim [three words illegible].
  2. The Secretary to the Cabinet said that the Deputy Minister of National Revenue (Customs and Excise) had reported that seventy-five cartons from the aircraft’s cargo had been inspected and that no war matériel had been found. In the circumstances, Mr. Sim saw no ground for detaining the aircraft further.
  3. The Minister of Justice said that on the previous day he had received a telephone call, followed by a letter,† from the Commissioner of the R.C.M. Police asking for confirmation of instructions he had received through officials of the Departments of National Revenue and External Affairs. These officials had referred to a “long, slow search.” He had replied orally to the Commissioner, and had written to him† giving him the substance of the Cabinet decision of October 23rd on this subject.
  4. The Secretary of State for External Affairs said that the U.S. government had asked the Canadian government to stop all air flights to Cuba, but that there was no ground for taking such action at this time. The government should be careful to avoid any violation of the I.C.A.O. agreement. The Cuban and Czech governments had been given notice that their planes would be searched if they landed at Canadian airports.
  5. During the discussionthe following points were raised:
    1. If officials were instructed to conduct a long and slow search of aircraft, they would cause unnecessary delays in the movement of the aircraft, and this would be very aggravating to those detained. On the other hand, the search should be thorough, because otherwise arms matériel might slip through to Cuba. Cartons might be falsely labelled, or the arms matériel might be hidden below legitimate goods.
    2. Some said that the government should not have decided to search Soviet bloc planes. Now that the aircraft at Goose Bay had been found to contain no war matériel, the government was in an embarrassing position. The United Kingdom was not searching such aircraft. Others said that the Canadian people would be reassured to learn that the aircraft had carried no war matériel, and that the government would have been negligent if it had not instituted the search procedure.
    3. The U.S. government had been ill-advised to act unilaterally in this crisis, without consulting its allies. The Suez incident should have served as an object lesson, but apparently had not.
    4. The U.S. government had asked for a list of the passengers carried in the Cuban aircraft, but this should not be given.
    5. The searching of Cuban aircraft was itself a provocative action. What would Canada do if another country began to search Canadian aircraft? On the other hand, this decision had been made and announced, and should not be rescinded. No searches of Cuba-bound planes had been instituted at Shannon, but that airport was an international free port and therefore not comparable with Canadian airports.
    6. To avoid unnecessary delays, the senior customs collector at each of the eastern Canadian airports should be authorized to clear aircraft destined for Cuba if he was satisfied that no war matériel was being carried.
  6. The Cabinetagreed,
    1. that authority should be given for the immediate departure of a Cuban aircraft which had landed at Goose Bay airport earlier on this day and had been searched;
    2. that the list of passengers carried in the Cuban aircraft should not be released to other governments;
    3. that the senior customs collectors at Gander and Halifax and other Eastern airports be authorized to clear aircraft destined for Cuba that may land at these airports, provided they are fully satisfied after a careful search that the aircraft are not carrying any war matériel, but not otherwise; and,
    4. that the Secretary of State for External Affairs and the Ministers of Justice and National Revenue should make certain that the arrangements in their departments for the search procedure are carefully co-ordinated.

Cuban Crisis; Rotation of Troops in Europe

(Previous reference October 23)

  1. The Minister of National Defence said that the rotation of Canadian forces in Europe was scheduled to begin on this day. In view of recent developments, consideration should be given to the desirability of delaying the rotation.
    If the plans were not changed, about 2,000 men and their dependents would leave for Europe between now and mid-December. In the event of an outbreak of hostilities meanwhile, it would obviously be undesirable to have part of a military unit in Canada and part in Europe. Such mixing of units would reduce their operational efficiency. Furthermore, in present circumstances it seemed undesirable to send Canadian dependents overseas.
    It should be recognized however that any change in the rotation arrangements would be more noticeable to the general public than a change in the general state of military preparedness.
    About 125 people were arriving in Trenton on this day, as part of the advance party bound for Europe. Many of them had given up their houses in Canada. Similarly in Europe a like number had packed their effects and were ready to return to Canada. There would be five such advance parties between now and November 5th, and then the main movement would begin.
  2. During the discussionthe following points were raised:
    1. Some said the rotation of the troops should be deferred but without any formal order on the subject being issued. It was important to avoid any step that might worsen the crisis or cause unnecessary alarm. Others said that the movement of the successive advance parties into Trenton would proceed unless a formal order was given to keep them in their present localities. Accommodation was not available in Trenton for more dependents.
    2. The situation in Berlin was already tense, and might become worse. In these circumstances, the government should not send more dependents to Europe, and would be criticized if it did so. Canada should avoid getting into the vanguard of war, but should take the steps necessary to safeguard the women and children involved.
    3. Dependents now in Europe might be given an opportunity to return to Canada if they so desired.
    4. The international situation might be much clearer within a few days. The immediate need therefore was to defer the beginning of the troop rotation for that period.
  3. The Cabinetagreed,
    1. that members of the armed forces and their dependents who had arrived at Trenton as part of the advance party for the rotation of troops in Europe, should be retained at Trenton for the present, and that personnel and dependents who would have proceeded to Trenton in the near future for this purpose should not do so until further advised; and,
    2. that arrangements be made to facilitate the movement back to Canada, on a voluntary basis, of dependents of service personnel in Europe.

Cuban Crisis; State of Military Preparations

(Previous reference October 23)

  1. The Minister of National Defence said that consideration should be given to the military measures that ought to be taken to improve the posture of the Canadian forces in case the international situation should deteriorate and war actually occur. One aspect of this question was the matter of the rotation of the troops in Europe. The more general aspect was whether Canada’s NORAD forces should implement DEFCON-3 as the U.S. forces under NORAD had done. … Such a measure would not give rise to extensive publicity.
    The present crisis was the most serious since the end of World War II, and it involved the greatest danger of general conflict. The Canadian government had the responsibility of taking simple precautions, to improve the position of the Canadian forces and to protect the people of Canada. …
  2. During the discussionthe following points were raised:
    1. Some said that a change in the state of preparedness was unnecessary at this time and might escalate the crisis.
    2. Others said that the Minister of National Defence would not need to announce details of the steps taken, but might merely say that steps were being taken to improve the state of readiness of the Canadian forces. He might explain that it would not be in the interest of security to state particulars of the steps being taken. Such a statement would not cause alarm.
    3. The wisdom of the selective blockade imposed on Cuba by the United States was questionable. It was arguable that even an invasion of Cuba might have had less serious international repercussions. Certain military leaders in the U.S. appeared determined to fight the U.S.S.R. Three years ago some of them had stated to the Prime Minister that the U.S. could defeat the Russians at any time before the autumn of 1962, but that the outlook thereafter was less certain. Fortunately the United Kingdom was emphasizing the need for restraint.
  3. The Cabinet agreed to give further consideration, at its next meeting, to the question whether any change is required in the state of readiness of the Canadian forces.

Business of the House; Cuban Crisis

  1. Mr. Churchill, as House Leader, said that opposition spokesmen might move on this day that the House should adjourn the scheduled debate to discuss an urgent matter of public importance, namely the Cuban crisis. The speech by a Conservative Member of Parliament on the previous day, criticizing the measures taken by the U.S. government, would make such a motion the more likely.Footnote 47
  2. During the brief discussion some said that if such a debate was requested it should be agreed to by the government. Only about 1½ hours would be available on this day for the purpose. Others said that a debate on the subject at this time would help only the Russians, and that a reply to this effect should be made if such a motion was proposed.
  3. The Cabinet noted the statement of Mr. Churchill as House Leader on a possible motion for a debate on the Cuban crisis.

673. DEA/72-AGS-40

Memorandum from Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs to Secretary of State for External Affairs


[Ottawa], October 24, 1962

Soviet Bloc Aircraft Flights to Cuba

We have received from the United States this morning the following two requests:

  1. United States Intelligence officials at Goose Bay have asked the Canadian Customs authorities there for a copy of the passenger list of the Cubana aircraft which landed last night.
  2. The United States Embassy asked us this morning for a copy of the regular schedule or timetable of these flights which Czechoslovak Airlines has filed with the Department of Transport. The latest such schedule was received by Transport a few days ago and covers the flights planned during the winter.Footnote 48
  1. I understand that Cabinet has decided that the passenger list should not be given to United States Intelligence.
  2. The advance flight schedule requested by the Embassy is, of course, unclassified information. In the interests of the safety of the aircraft, we believe it would be desirable to give it to the United States authorities. However, I believe that we might go even farther and take the following steps in respect to each flight:
    1. Inform the United States in each case that a specific aircraft had been inspected, found to contain no arms or implements of war, and allowed to proceed.
    2. At the same time as giving the above assurance we would also pass to the United States the latest available flight-plan information on the aircraft’s onward flight to Havana. Although this information normally reaches the United States Air Traffic Control authorities as a matter of course, additional measures might be taken to ensure that the United States authorities are fully aware of all the details.
  3. While the United States quarantine of Cuba does not at present extend to aircraft flights, we should think that there is at least some risk of these Bloc aircraft being molested or even shot down when they reach the blockade zone. If this were to happen, Canada might appear to be implicated by virtue of being the last port of call of the aircraft and of having taken special search measures with respect to it. I believe that anything we can do along the above lines might therefore reduce the hazard to the aircraft. Do you agree?Footnote 49

N.A. R[obertson]

674. DEA/4470-A-40

High Commissioner in United Kingdom to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 3800

London, October 24, 1962

Secret. OpImmediate.

Reference: Your Tels G-158 Oct 22† and E-2060 Oct 23.†
Repeat for Information: Washington, NATO Paris, Permis New York, Paris, Dublin, CJS(L) (OpImmediate).
By Bag Moscow from London.

Flights to Cuba by Soviet Bloc Aircraft

Information contained in your reference telegrams which were both received here during the night (although your G-158 was dated October 22) was given to Foreign Office this morning. A recommendation is going forward to British Ministers today suggesting that British authorities stall on requests for unscheduled landings but no repeat no action yet taken on scheduled overflights. It is the view of officials that the British Government has no repeat no legal right to interfere with such flights and where requests are not repeat not received the only way in which action could be taken would be to force such aircraft to either turn back or land.

  1. We hope to be able to inform you later today of Ministerial decision.
  2. Your telegram G-158 of October 22 apparently refers to a Cubana Britannia which, according to this morning’s press, passed through Shannon Airport last night en route Prague-Havana with 75 passengers, mostly young Cubans, returning from technical training in Prague and Moscow. Two [Cubans] are reported to have said they were missile technicians. Cuban tourists on board shouted “Fidel Castro – we are coming back to fight.”

675. DEA/2444-40

Memorandum from Assistant Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs to Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs


Ottawa, October 24, 1962


Presidential Proclamation

The United States Chargé d’Affaires called on the Minister this morning to leave with him a copy of the full text of the President’s proclamation of October 23, 1962. Mr. White indicated that the full text had not been made public, although he thought the operative parts might have been.

Reaction to U.S.A. Initiative

  1. Mr. White said how pleased the United States Government were with the United Kingdom statement in the Security Council this morning delivered by Sir Patrick Dean.Footnote 50Mr. White then said, without apparent relevance, that [the] United States Embassy in Ottawa was having to cope with two kinds of press enquiries:
    1. is it correct that the United States has not requested anything of Canada in the present crisis? Mr. White said that they had been “ducking” the question, to which the Minister replied that the Prime Minister had answered that question yesterday in the House;Footnote 51
    2. is it true that the United States is unhappy that Canada has taken a position different from that of the United Kingdom and OAS? Mr. White said questions of this kind had been turned aside as mere rumour, to which the Minister did not comment.

United Nations Aspects

  1. The conversation then turned to Charles Ritchie’s talk yesterday with Harlan Cleveland concerning U.N. aspects. The Minister queried how you could dismantle mobile launching sites; White said that some fixed ones were under construction. Concerning the Canadian suggestion for an on-site inspection of Cuba, the Minister played down the Canadian idea, which he said had been based on the assumption that the Soviet Union would deny the existence of offensive missile capacity in Cuba. The Minister and Mr. White both seemed to think that the Soviet Union had not made any such denial (although there was some discussion of the play made on the word “defensive” by Zorin). The Minister assured White that Canada would not press the Canadian suggestion except in consultation with the United States.
  2. Mr. White said that the reason why the United States had acted before going to the U.N. was because they feared endless delays. There followed a discussion whether there was any real possibility of resolving the question in the Security Council without going to the General Assembly; the Minister read Mr. White extracts from Ritchie’s telegram indicating that the United States did not rule out the possibility of a solution being found in the Security Council, as the result of some neutral initiative which both sides could accept. Mr. White said he had not received a similar impression from the version he had received of the same conversation.


  1. The Minister informed White that we had cleared through a Cubana aircraft after a thorough search which satisfied us that it was not carrying warlike materials. The Minister added that we had no legal authority under ICAO regulations to prevent the aircraft from continuing on its flight. Mr. White said that he had been informed of the facts by Mr. Ritchie and was aware of our interpretation of our obligations under ICAO. The Minister asked whether the United States still regarded as applicable the request that it made on October 22 of us, to temporarily prohibit such over-flights and transit stops. Mr. White said that he did not know and had asked the State Department for clarification.
  2. Referring to the effectiveness of the Canadian examination of the cargo of the Cubana plane, White said that a problem of expertise arose here. He was aware that the aircraft was carrying some aircraft spare parts and he noted that spare parts for bombers were on the prohibited list under the President’s proclamation. Were we satisfied that our examining officers were able to identify such equipment?Footnote 52

R. C[ampbell]

676. DEA/2444-40

Ambassador in Soviet Union to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 763

Moscow, October 24, 1962

Confidential. OpImmediate.

Repeat for Information: London, Washington, Paris, NATO Paris, Permis New York, Bonn, CCOS, DM/DND Ottawa (OpImmediate) from Ottawa, PCO Ottawa (OpImmediate) from Ottawa.


You will have seen text of various Soviet Government declarations. I will be commenting later. Main point is that showdown on Cuba obviously faces Khrushchev with very grave and dangerous dilemma. Among Soviet public over past two years Cuba has been given widespread and emotional sympathetic build-up as symbol of gallant little island people standing up against American imperialism and as staunch friend of USSR. Khrushchev will certainly find it difficult, though I trust not repeat not impossible, to back away from public moral commitments of support.

  1. As far as we can judge in Moscow immediate Soviet public reaction to declarations has been widespread apprehension at gravity of situation. Press is full of factory mass meetings expressing solidarity with Cuba. But there seems to be some effort to maintain calm.
  2. Last night at supper Sobolev (Deputy Foreign Minister) mentioned to Roberts, Kohler and myself that Soviet Government did not repeat not really expect any significant results from Security Council meetings on Cuban crisis, but was attaching great importance to General Assembly, where they will make their major effort to get support for resolution demanding Americans call off blockade.
  3. Meanwhile Sobolev expressed concern lest Soviet ship be sunk and situation dangerously aggravated.
  4. I suggested to Sobolev that in my personal view good way out of present dilemma would be some quick and decisive progress toward disarmament agreement.
  5. Before supper Drews and ourselves had been at Boris Godunov where it was surprising but somehow reassuring to see Khrushchev and most of his Presidium, with Georghiu Dej, calmly sitting through four-hour opera with an American star.

Arnold Smith

677. DEA/2444-40

Permanent Representative to North Atlantic Council to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 2472

Paris, October 24, 1962

Secret. OpImmediate.

Reference: Our Tel 2453 Oct. 22.†
Repeat for Information: Washington, London, Paris, Candel New York, CCOS (Priority), DM/DND (Priority) from CCOS.
By Bag Moscow from London.

Cuba: NAC Consultation

At a private meeting of Council called by Acting Secretary-General there was some discussion on how consultations on Cuba should proceed in Council. Colonna suggested that in view of critical situation and its important implications for NATO there should be continuing consultations and he was given strong support by USA, Belgium, Netherlands, Greece and Turkey.

  1. I took line that while naturally Council should be kept informed about developments in Cuba affecting NATO and should consult on that basis, it should be recognized that centre of consultation inevitably was elsewhere particularly in Washington and New York. Finletter had suggested that consultation might take place on a personal basis. I pointed out that such consultation might be dangerous since governments concerned were currently communicating officially and personal remarks in the Council on an uninformed basis might be misleading especially in view of quickly changing developments. I was backed by Norway.
  2. Netherlands, Greece and Turkey wanted NATO to go on record in an expression of solidarity with USA. Colonna then produced text of a communiqué which read along following lines “NAC is of course consulting in a spirit of complete solidarity on events created by Soviet aggressive action in Cuba and on consequential measures taken by USA.”
  3. I had already objected to the kind of misleading stories implying that Council had taken a collective position of solidarity behind USA in Cuba crisis as reflected in Don Cook’s story in today’s Herald-TribuneFootnote 53 and was given support by Norway. Norwegian representative and I objected to proposed communiqué on grounds that this was a political position which could only be authorized by governments. We were supported by UK and idea was dropped at least for moment.
  4. Finletter also gave a briefing which has already been covered by report from New York particularly in telegram 1903 October 23.† If there was anything new it was indication that events were approaching a showdown with USSR but that USA would be receptive to a high level meeting with Soviets.
  5. German Ambassador reported that there was nothing of special consequence in Berlin in last 24 hours and troop movements in East Zone seemed normal. This information was confirmed by representative of Standing Group.
  6. Finletter denied Don Cook story that American forces in Europe had been put on alert and indicated that only basis for the story was certain precautionary measures reported in our 2454 October 22.†
  7. Your comments and guidance would be appreciated.

[George] Ignatieff

678. DEA/2444-40

Ambassador in United States to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 3133

Washington, October 24, 1962

Confidential. OpImmediate.

Reference: Our Tel 3094 Oct 23.†
Repeat for Information: London, NATO Paris, Paris, Candel New York, Permis New York, Bonn, Brussels, Rome, Hague, T&C Ottawa, CCOS Ottawa, DOT Ottawa, DND Ottawa from Ottawa.
By Bag Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, Athens, Ankara, Moscow, Lisbon from London, All Latin American Posts from Ottawa.

Cuba – Legal and UN Aspects

In view of extensive press comment on possible significance of President’s use of term “quarantine,” in apparent preference to the term “blockade,” in his address to the nation, we raised this and related questions with Marks and Ehrlich of the Legal Adviser’s staff State Department.


  1. We were informed that use of term quarantine was deliberate and, in USA view, significant. It was intended to indicate the limited and special purpose of USA interdiction of deliveries to Cuba. It was limited in the sense that it was intended to prohibit only the delivery of offensive weapons and equipment. Its purpose was special in that it was aimed at preserving peace in the area of tension. The concept of quarantine was to be regarded as distinct, both from a “pacific blockade,” because no repeat no action was expected of Cuba beyond passive acquiescence in the quarantine; and from a “classical blockade” because no repeat no effort would be made to apply direct economic pressure on Cuba under the terms of the quarantine. The quarantine measures, moreover, were not repeat not to be regarded as in the category of belligerent operations but rather to be considered as essentially defensive and aimed at preventing an escalation of tensions. In contrast, of course, would be the action necessary to comply with the request in USA Draft Resolution presented to UN Security Council for the “dismantling and withdrawal from Cuba of all missiles and other offensive weapons.” If USA were to institute a blockade to force Cuba to do this such action would, of course, amount to a classic economic blockade.
  2. We were told that, viewed in the foregoing light, USA quarantine action could not repeat not be regarded as a warlike act as Cuban propaganda (but not repeat not so far Soviet propaganda) had alleged. USA could not repeat not, of course, control Soviet or Cuban reaction to USA quarantine or steps taken in pursuance of quarantine such as use of force to implement it.
  3. We were told that USA officials regarded distinction between quarantine and either blockade or pacific blockade as “respectable” in international law terms, although perhaps not repeat not “well established.” At any rate officials hold that USA quarantine, as described in proclamation, could not repeat not be equated with any historical precedents of either blockade or pacific blockade.

Relationship to OAS and UN Action

  1. We were told that USA action to proclaim the quarantine was deliberately delayed until OAS action could be taken under the Rio Treaty to recommend (in the wording of USA Draft Resolution – our telegram 3[0]85 Oct 23†) that OAS Member States take all measures, individually and collectively, including use of armed force, which they may deem necessary to ensure that the Government of Cuba cannot repeat not continue to receive from Sino-Soviet powers military material and related supplies which may threaten the peace and security of the continent and to prevent the missiles in Cuba with offensive capability from ever becoming an active threat. (You will note that preambular portion of USA proclamation (our telegram 3094 October 23) recites the recommendation of the OAS Organ of Consultation in this regard.)
  2. In USA view the effect of such a recommendation was clearly to identify USA quarantine as action taken under and in accordance with the Rio Treaty as a regional security arrangement, recognized by Article 52 of the UN Charter.
  3. The significance of this step in USA view was not repeat not only to underline the essentially defensive purposes of USA quarantine, but also to facilitate presentation of USA position in UN. Two major issues to be met in UN context would be to establish (a) that USA action could not repeat not be regarded as contravening provision in Article 53 paragraph 1 of UN Charter that “no repeat no enforcement action shall be taken under regional arrangements or by regional agencies without the authorization of the Security Council”; and (b) that situation regarding Cuba could appropriately be dealt with through regional security arrangements and that action in fact taken (i.e. quarantine) as approved by the OAS was, as prescribed in Article 52 paragraph 1 of the UN Charter, “consistent with the purposes and principles of the UN.”
  4. We were informed that USA officials regarded the distinction between enforcement action and other types of action aimed at preserving peace as clearly apparent in the UN Charter. “Enforcement action” under Article 41 and 42 of the UN Charter would be obligatory solely at the instance of the Security Council; whereas both the Security Council and the General Assembly could make recommendations as to the action to be taken by member states. Officials were satisfied that this distinction was “well established” and that USA quarantine was not repeat not capable of being regarded as “enforcement action” prohibited by virtue of any provision of the UN Charter.
  5. Similarly, USA action was, in a real sense, rooted in the Rio Treaty because it was based on a recommendation of the OAS calling for action, individual or collective, by its members. This in turn was consistent with the UN Charter which recognized, and indeed recommended, the use of regional means of dealing with tensions; and was, moreover, consistent with the principles and purposes of the UN. Although this was obvious from an examination of the action taken and the relevant terms of the UN Charter, USA officials were satisfied that the regional security arrangements in the Western hemisphere had been specifically in mind (in the terms of Chapultepec,Footnote 54 as the forerunner to the Rio Treaty) when chapter eight of the UN Charter dealing with regional arrangements had been drawn up.
  6. It was conceded that the involvement of the USSR in the Cuban situation could be advanced as an argument against exclusively regional treatment of the situation in Cuba. In USA view there were two counter arguments. First, USA had provided, by its approach to the Security Council, the opportunity for any necessary reconciliation between regional action and any action that might be appropriate by the UN. Second, it was USA view that philosophy of UN, in the course of its existence, had been to turn more, rather than less, to regional solutions for the easing of tensions. In this connection, mention was made of UN action to refer certain inter-Arab disputes to regional mediation and also of Security Council action in respect of Cuba itself and the Dominican Republic. (We believe latter two references were to September 9/60 resolution of Security Council on Dominican Republic;Footnote 55 and rejection on March 23/62 by Security Council of Cuban resolution questioning validity of Punta del Este resolutions.Footnote 56 We were told, incidentally, that exclusion of “the present Government of Cuba” from participation in the organs and agencies of the OAS did not repeat not, in their view, weaken the arguments for OAS action since the State of Cuba was regarded as still a member of the OAS.
  7. We assume that some or all of the foregoing ideas may be aired at somewhat greater length in the Security Council debate and, indeed, officials to whom we spoke seemed rather to expect that extensive debate would be required. It may be that their anticipation on this score may be related to the indications we had from other State Department officials October 23 (e.g. as reported in our telegram 3092 October 23) that they did not repeat not seem to envisage the early transfer to the General Assembly from the Security Council of debate over the situation in Cuba.

679. DEA/2444-40

Memorandum from Special Assistant, Office of Secretary of State for External Affairs, to Secretary of State for External Affairs


[Ottawa], October 25, 1962

The Cuban Crisis

During his CBC Television interview last night,Footnote 57 the Minister was asked what initiatives Canada was considering now that Premier Castro has rejected the idea of a U.N. inspection of Cuban missile sites by observers from neutral nations. The Minister said we were not going to give up on our proposal but we would be considering every other possible means of finding a peaceful solution to the Cuban crisis.

  1. In this context it occurs to me that some thought might be given to suggesting that during a specific cooling-off period and as a first step toward reducing tension and terror, the United States and Soviet Union might make a solemn agreement under U.N. auspices to forswear the use of nuclear weapons or missiles while a solution of this particular crisis is being negotiated (this would be much broader than the idea of a “nuclear free” zone).Footnote 58 There are, of course, serious risks involved in this suggestion in that the Soviet Union might immediately advocate an extension of the ban to Berlin and to the whole international scene. But these risks must be balanced against the supreme risk of nuclear war being precipitated at any moment. Moreover, any such Soviet proposals could be rejected as a transparent attempt to divert and side-track efforts to find a peaceful solution.
  2. The advantage of a temporary U.N. agreement not to use nuclear weapons in the Cuban crisis appears to favour the United States. The Caribbean is one area where the United States can bring to bear a preponderance of conventional weapons and where the Soviet Union could not effectively resist without resorting to missiles and nuclear weapons. The Soviet Union could not be expected to abide by any such agreement if its vital interests were at stake, but the Cuban crisis may not involve much more than Soviet strategic planning and prestige; and some face-saving formula will have to be found for these ingredients. It may be argued that United States Naval forces can not operate properly without using tactical nuclear weapons but it should not be necessary to use these in order to maintain the U.S. position in an area so remote from the Soviet Union if a temporary agreement of the type envisaged were concluded.
  3. I advance this suggestion with great diffidence because I have not had time to think through or to discuss with others all of the implications. I am not sure whether it is ingenious, ingenuous or just impractical. I do know that we are rapidly running out of time and ideas. And despite my misgivings, I feel compelled to put the idea forward in the hope that it may contribute in some small way toward the search for a peaceful solution.Footnote 59

M.N. B[ow]

680. DEA/2444-40

Memorandum from Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs to Secretary of State for External Affairs


[Ottawa], October 25, 1962

Shipping to Cuba – Attached Telegram 3809† Dated October 24, 1962 from London Concerning Shipping to Cuba

It is understood you wish a brief comment concerning the international law implications connected with the above referred to telegram.

This telegram touches on the status of Canadian-owned ships flying the British flag which are under charter to the Soviet Union. In particular, attention is drawn to the provisions in these Charter Agreements to the following effect:

  1. The Charter Agreements provide that the owner reserves the right to obey the orders from the Government under whose flag the ship sails.
  2. There is also contained in these Charter Agreements a War Risk Clause which provides inter alia “the vessel, unless the consent of the owners be first obtained, is not to be ordered (by the charterers) … to any place … which will bring her within a zone which is dangerous as the result of any actual or threatened act of war … .”

In commenting first of all on the provision in these Charter Agreements by which the owner reserves the right to obey orders from the government under whose flag the ship sails, it may be said that the traditional international law concept is that any ship’s operations are governed by the law of the state whose flag the ship is flying. This means that the British registered ships, which are nevertheless Canadian-owned, that are referred to in paragraph four of the attached telegram would, generally speaking, be subject to the laws of the United Kingdom rather than those of Canada with the result that such ships would ordinarily come under the control, for governmental administrative purposes, of the United Kingdom Government rather than the Government of Canada.

The position is reflected in the recent statement made by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons in connection with the shipping of arms to Cuba arising out of a question raised by Mr. Pearson. Set out below is the relevant extract from Hansard.

Hon. L.B. Pearson (Leader of the Opposition): Mr. Speaker, I should like to ask the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to a special report made to the State Department in Washington by the United States maritime administration on, among other things, the part being played by eight Canadian owned ships in trade between communist countries and Cuba.
Right Hon. J.G. Diefenbaker (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, this question was before the House the other day. Canada is not directly involved in this matter. We have been informed of the recent United States shipping regulations relative to trade with Cuba, but so far as I know there are no ships of Canadian registry that would be affected. Canada, as the house knows, does not permit the export to Cuba of arms or strategic materials. That is the basis of Canadian policy on this question, and it is not affected in any way by the activities of these ships to which the Leader of the Opposition has made reference and which, as I stated earlier, under maritime law and general international law are subject to the laws of the country under whose flag they operate. The eight ships in question are under British registry and, I again state, are not subject to Canadian laws or regulations.”Footnote 60

As regards the War Risk Clause contained in these Charter Agreements, which is quoted in part above, this provision most properly gives the owner of the vessel the responsibility for determining whether or not the vessel under charter should be permitted to proceed through a danger zone area.

Alternatively, the owner would be in a position on a contractual basis, if not as a matter of law, to insist on compliance with orders prohibiting his vessel from proceeding through a danger zone area issuing from the government under whose flag his vessel sails. Indeed, it would seem that the owner under charter may require compliance with any order issued from the government under whose flag his vessel sails, regardless of whether the order concerns a danger area or not. And it is noted from the above referred to telegram that it would appear that the owners of British registered vessels have expressed a preference in a Cuba-type emergency to have their vessels’ operations regulated by United Kingdom Government order rather than to have to make decisions on their own concerning whether or not to invoke the War Risk Clause.

N.A. R[obertson]

681. PCO

Extract from Cabinet Conclusions


[Ottawa], October 25, 1962


  • The Prime Minister (Mr. Diefenbaker) in the Chair,
  • The Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Green),
  • The Minister of Justice (Mr. Fleming),
  • The Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Hees),
  • The Minister of Transport (Mr. Balcer),
  • The Minister of Veterans Affairs (Mr. Churchill),
  • The Minister of Public Works (Mr. Fulton),
  • The Minister of Finance (Mr. Nowlan),
  • The Minister of National Defence (Mr. Harkness),
  • The Postmaster General (Mrs. Fairclough),
  • The Minister of Fisheries (Mr. MacLean),
  • The Minister of Labour (Mr. Starr),
  • The Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Monteith),
  • The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Hamilton),
  • The Minister of Defence Production (Mr. O’Hurley),
  • The Associate Minister of National Defence (Mr. Sévigny),
  • The Minister of Forestry and Minister of National Revenue (Mr. Flemming),
  • The Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources (Mr. Dinsdale),
  • The Secretary of State (Mr. Halpenny),
  • The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (Mr. Bell),
  • The Minister without Portfolio (Senator McCutcheon).
  • The Secretary to the Cabinet (Mr. Bryce),
  • The Assistant Secretaries to the Cabinet (Mr. Labarge), (Mr. Watters).

Cuban Crisis

(Previous reference October 24)

  1. The Secretary of State for External Affairs said that some Soviet bloc ships bound for Cuba had turned back. It did not appear that Russia would make an issue of the present situation. It had made no move in Berlin so far. A difficult question would arise if Canada were asked its views on the proposal of the Acting U.N. Secretary-General that both the U.S. blockade and the movement of Soviet ships to Cuba be stopped for two or three weeks. U Thant’s suggestion would be welcomed by most members of the U.N., because the longer the delay before any precipitate action the better would be the chance of a settlement.
    In connection with the Canadian proposal for an eight-nation inspection team to visit Cuba and ascertain the facts, the difficulty was that neither the Russians nor Cuba had denied that missile bases were established in Cuba. The U.S. would probably insist that these bases be removed and the majority of the U.N. would support the U.S. Canada should also support the U.S. in its efforts to remove the bases, but it should not “rush out” and declare its position beyond what had already been said until it was asked for help.
    It was for consideration whether Canada’s position with respect to the U.S. action was clear to the public. There had been discussion on television and the Prime Minister had made a statement in the House, but the public did not appear to be sure whether Canada fully supported the U.S. action or whether it was neutral. This situation should be corrected.
  2. The Cabinet agreed that the Prime Minister should make a statement in the House later that day outlining what steps Canada had taken already and clarifying Canada’s stand in support of the U.S. action.

R.B. Bryce

682. DEA/2444-40

Permanent Representative to United Nations to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 1941

New York, October 25, 1962

Secret. Canadian Eyes Only. OpImmediate.

Reference: Your Tel to Washington V-478 Oct 23.
Repeat for Information: London, Washington, Paris, NATO Paris, Bonn from Ottawa, CCOS, DM/DND, PCO from Ottawa.
By Bag Havana from Ottawa, Moscow from London.


Since receipt of your telegrams V-104 and V-105 October 23 and in light of subsequent developments I have been giving great deal of thought to possibilities for constructive action when and if issue moves from Security Council to UNGA. It must be assumed that before this happens it will have been demonstrated that it is not repeat not possible to develop modus vivendi in Security Council for implementing Secretary-General’s proposal for cooling-off period and that various resolutions now before Council are either vetoed or fail adoption. Although today’s developments are encouraging this is nevertheless very real possibility.

  1. I shall deal first with Prime Minister’s suggestion that eight neutral members on Disarmament Committee might be designated as inspectors to report on missile bases. Main question we have been concerned to explore is extent to which proposal addresses itself to problem as it has developed. I assume this proposal was made at an early stage when it was expected that USSR would deny existence of missile bases in Cuba. Although they have dismissed USA charges as “fabrications” they have concentrated mainly on stressing defensive character of Soviet military assistance and alleging that USA charges are intended to provide excuse for intervention. Moreover private briefings and publicity by USA have had considerable effect. Among USA allies and friends there seems to be no repeat no serious doubts about USA assertions of seriousness and suddenness of Soviet military build-up. Among Afro-Asians fact of Soviet build-up is generally accepted although many of them may not repeat not have appreciated its full strategic significance.
  2. Response of three principals is also of some importance. Castro is quoted in New York Times October 24 as having stated that arms inspectors “had better come ready for combat.”Footnote 61 Cuban Permanent Representative in Security Council on October 23 said “we will not repeat not accept any kind of observers in matters which fall within our domestic jurisdiction.”Footnote 62 It can be assumed that this position also reflects Soviet view. I have already reported that initial UK reaction was that proposal was premature in that it might complicate USA position without achieving desired objective. Reactions which our Embassy in Washington had had from State Department make it clear USA Government shares this view.
  3. Some neutrals including Barrington of Burma and Ibe of Nigeria both of whom were at Geneva have discussed suggestion with us on basis of press reports and have made point they would not repeat not wish to see put forward formally in absence of prior acceptance by Cuba and USSR.
  4. In these circumstances both on grounds of practicality and of topicality I believe that while issue is still under Security Council consideration we should limit our discussions with other delegations to general terms.
  5. Situation is extremely fluid and will probably remain so for some time. Nature of discussion in UNGA will be influenced not repeat not only by factors outside control of Assembly such as actions of USA and Soviet governments but also by manner in which for example Secretary-General’s appeal is handled. Given this fluidity it is preferable to avoid taking public step which might limit our freedom of action in event opportunity for effective initiative emerges.
  6. In considering possibility of pursuing this or other constructive ideas if issue comes before UNGA I think that we should be guided by several basic considerations which have been constantly stressed in discussions which we have had on problem with other delegations:
    1. Any solution which is to be effective will require tacit acceptance of three principals: USA, USSR and Cuba. This requirement is generally accepted by members of Assembly.
    2. Country which is likely to have greatest influence on USA at this stage is UK because their very close association over past few years has established essential basis of confidence and also because UK is most powerful of USA allies. Therefore it might be useful if we first examine informally with UK any ideas which we may wish to consider putting forward.
    3. Latin American countries have most direct interest in successful solution of this problem and for historical and cultural reasons they have special connection with Cuba which may have its value if negotiations are once started. Therefore we should maintain very close cooperation with more important of Latin Americans and any ideas – such as establishment of self-policing nuclear-free zone for Central and South America, denuclearization of Cuba or unilateral undertaking by Cuba to USA similar to that recently given by Iran to USSR that it would not repeat not permit stationing of nuclear weapons on its territoryFootnote 63 – should be carefully examined with them.
    4. As made clear in Prime Minister’s statement todayFootnote 64 (your telegram PG-204†) our role in UNGA negotiations will be based on our position as Western hemisphere country united with members of OAS in our opposition to presence of Soviet offensive weapons in Cuba. Thus role we play in UNGA will follow from close collaboration with our allies so that at appropriate moment we can exercise effective influence toward acceptance of reasonable compromises by parties to dispute.

[Paul] Tremblay

683. DEA/2444-40

Secretary of State for External Affairs to Permanent Representative to United Nations and to Ambassador in United States

Telegram XL-106

Ottawa, October 25, 1962

Confidential. OpImmediate.

Repeat for Information: London, Paris, NATO Paris (OpImmediate).

Cuban Position on the Crisis

The Cuban Ambassador, on instructions of his government, called on the Minister this afternoon. He made three points at the outset:

  1. He wanted us to know and, if possible, the Americans through us, that in the event of invasion (or starvation), the Cubans will fight to the death, whatever the odds against them may be.
  2. The Cuban Government was prepared at any time to negotiate its differences with the USA, but the USA apparently continued to be unwilling to negotiate.
  3. The Ambassador welcomed the initiative of yesterday of the Acting Secretary-General calling for a temporary suspension of the quarantine measures and of the delivery of arms to Cuba, but he said it seems it had seem rejected by President Kennedy.
  1. The discussion then turned to the arms build-up in Cuba. The Minister emphasized and reiterated the grave threat to the security of the Americas, including Canada, of these missile bases. He insisted that the weapons were of an offensive character, and, one way or another, they had to go. No one, he added, would deny Cuba’s right to have genuinely defensive weapons. In reply, the Ambassador first of all expressed doubts whether such missile bases had in fact been installed (questioning the reliability of photographic evidence) but even if they did exist, he contended that they were there for defensive purposes. It was then a matter of the customary argument about defensive and offensive weapons, the Ambassador taking the line that the circumstances and intentions determined whether weapons were defensive or offensive. As Cuba was threatened by the USA, it was entitled to take all possible military measures for its protection. The Minister pointed out that the new ballistic missile installations could not be effective for targets less than 500 miles away. The Ambassador replied that if Cuba were invaded, they would then be entitled to fight back to the best of their ability. The Minister said that by having these offensive weapons on their territory they were running the risk of having their island totally destroyed.
  2. The Ambassador confirmed that Castro had rejected any idea of inspection of Cuban defences by the United Nations. The Minister expressed disappointment at this and suggested that this would imply to many countries that Cuba had things to hide. The Ambassador contended that it was a matter of principle not to allow international inspection, but he could not of course be sure that under certain circumstances it would continue to be refused.
  3. The Minister suggested that Cuba should come up with some suggestion in the UN. The Ambassador did not dismiss entirely the possibility of a proposal in the UN the main elements of which might be:
    1. some satisfactory action by Cuba on the missile bases, perhaps under UN supervision;
    2. a prior or simultaneous effective assurance that the USA would not invade Cuba; and,
    3. direct negotiations between Cuba and the USA insofar as appropriate.
  4. We do not know if more will be heard about these ideas in New York. Apparently the Ambassador’s instructions covered only points (a), (b) and (c) at the beginning of this telegram.

For Washington Only:

You should discuss this telegram with the State Department indicating that the Cuban Ambassador called on the Minister essentially to make the points listed in (a), (b) and (c) at the beginning of this telegram.

684. DEA/2444-40

Ambassador in Soviet Union to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 771

Moscow, October 25, 1962

Secret. OpImmediate.

Reference: My Tel 763 Oct 24.
Repeat for Information: London, Washington, Paris, NATO Paris, Permis New York, Bonn, CCOS, DM/DND, JIR, PCO Ottawa (OpImmediate) from Ottawa.
By Bag Havana from Ottawa.

Cuban Crisis

Further to my reference telegram you will also have seen text of Khrushchev’s telegram to Bertrand Russell,Footnote 65 today’s press articles, and other Soviet public statements. I and my principal Western colleagues have been impressed thus far with relative moderation of Soviet Government reaction to President Kennedy’s speech and introduction of American naval blockade. While reiterating Soviet thesis that if war is unleashed from first hour it would become thermonuclear and global, and while emphasizing gravity of crisis and need for restraint on American as well as Soviet side, Khrushchev’s statement to Russell that “as long as rocket nuclear weapons are not repeat not put into play it is still possible to avert war” seems to imply and even perhaps pave way in Soviet camp for not repeat not reacting too strongly or immediately, at least not repeat not by strategic military means, to blockade itself. This seems to me cardinal note in Khrushchev-Russell message, although point is made earlier that if American Government does carry out programme of piratic actions outlined by it Soviet side will [have] no repeat no alternative but to resort to means of defence against aggressor.

  1. Khrushchev seems to be openly recognizing, by implication, that tactical advantage in Caribbean area lies with Americans since onus of initiative in escalation would have to lie on Soviet side. On other hand Khrushchev may be tempted to reflect that in Berlin situation is somewhat reversed.
  2. Many explanations are possible for Soviet failure to spell out to Soviet public several points in Kennedy’s Monday evening speech and his seven point demands. Lack of emphasis on presence of ground-to-ground Soviet strategic nuclear rockets in Cuba could make withdrawal easier. One consideration may be that publicity for details of Kennedy’s charges and demands might make Soviet restraint or compromise more difficult.
  3. Khrushchev’s suggestion in telegram to Russell about desirability of early summit meeting, coupled with call for American-Soviet-Cuban negotiations as main operative clause in Soviet draft resolution at Security Council, is significant.
  4. U Thant’s proposal for two week standstill agreement might help if accepted. Would appreciate indication of your reaction to this.
  5. Meanwhile it is worth reporting that such contacts as I and my Western colleagues have had during recent days with Soviet officials and ministers have shown latter to be impressed with gravity of situation but calm, correct and not repeat not unfriendly.
  6. But main Soviet reaction to USA move is of course still to come. Soviet restraint might become very much more difficult if Soviet ship is sunk by American fleet. It would be wrong to underestimate danger of situation.
  7. Incidentally there is a rumour (not repeat not in my view implausible) that on Monday October 22 Soviet leaders became suddenly alarmed that Americans had probably decided on sudden military invasion of Cuba. Rumour goes on to allege that Khrushchev and Presidium were in fact relieved by Kennedy’s speech disclosing that American decision thus far was limited to imposition of naval blockade and demands. This gave Moscow time rather than facing them with immediate choice between acquiescing in loss of Cuba or launching major hostilities.
  8. Incidentally it would help me to know whether in your assessment American Government is in fact likely to use military force to secure destruction of rocket bases in Cuba in event Cuba and USSR refuse to dismantle and withdraw them.
  9. American Embassy here is inclined to believe that sudden disclosure of existence of IRBMs and MRBMs in Cuba was in fact deliberately designed by Khrushchev to prove American firmness, possibly with view to determining future Soviet course in Berlin. Would appreciate knowing whether you have any confirmation of view that presence of these rockets had been successfully kept secret until about mid-October, when they were suddenly and unnecessarily displayed in such way as to make their presence unmistakably clear to air reconnaissance. If so, this would give some support to thesis of deliberate Soviet probe. Alternative hypotheses also tenable that such disclosure was designed either (a) to deter apprehended American invasion of Cuba or (b) possibly to provoke American Cuban crisis in order to strengthen Soviet case in Berlin, perhaps with view to possible Soviet or East German action against military access there, or Soviet case against American overseas bases in general.
  10. To sum up situation as I see it today (a) Soviet reaction thus far relatively restrained, but it could conceivably get out of hand if ships sunk; (b) in any case main reaction still to come; (c) meanwhile Soviet emphasis on importance of UN is significant and perhaps not repeat not discouraging; (d) I think some significance (perhaps ominous) should be attached to comparatively greater Soviet support expressed in today’s press for Chinese side in Sino-Indian crisis.

Arnold Smith

685. DEA/2444-B-40

Memorandum from Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs to Secretary of State for External Affairs


[Ottawa], October 26, 1962

United States Quarantine Against Cuba

As you will recall, the Prime Minister enquired early this week about the traditional position at international law with regard to this matter, and in reply your memorandum of October 23 pointed to the following conclusions:

  1. The “Quarantine” imposed by the United States on all offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba is a measure “sui generis,” which it would neither be appropriate to consider as illegal nor easy to construe as legal;
  2. Pacific blockades – which this “quarantine” resembles somewhat – were considered by most authors as permissible, provided foreign ships were not prevented from entering the ports of the blockaded state (this could be allowed only during blockades of a war-like character); the United Nations Charter is now widely interpreted as forbidding such blockades except when imposed by the United Nations under Articles 41 and 42 of the Charter (the texts of Articles cited in this memorandum are attached†);
  3. It is debatable (and doubtful) whether such a quarantine can be considered as a measure of self-defence under Article 51 of the Charter since there has been no overt armed attack (most authors tend to rule out the plea of self-defence except in this latter eventuality); Article 2(4), though, could be invoked against the military build-up in Cuba;
  4. There is very little doubt, however, that the use of armed force – which could be considered as armed reprisals – against foreign (including Soviet) ships would run against the Charter, unless it is done in accordance with Article 42. (See paragraphs 3-5- below);

In the light of President Kennedy’s proclamation of October 23, and particularly of the OAS Council approval of the resolution presented by Secretary Rusk on October 23, the following comments may now be added.

  1. In his proclamation, President Kennedy states that vessels failing to “comply with directions shall be subject to being taken into custody” – that is to be seized, contrary to what was assumed in the memorandum to the Prime Minister (paragraph 2); such seizures would make it more difficult to justify the “quarantine” decreed. On the other hand, the President stresses that “force shall not be used except in case of failure or refusal to comply with directions or with … directives of the Secretary of Defence …, or in case of self-defence. In any case, force shall be used only to the extent necessary.”
  2. In order that they might resort legally to armed force against foreign ships refusing to halt, to be searched or to turn back from Cuba if carrying offensive weapons, it appears that the United States would need authorization to do so from the Security Council under Articles 39 and 42. Following a veto in the Security Council, they might seek to refer the matter to the General Assembly, possibly under the “Uniting for Peace” resolution of November 3, 1950, on the grounds that there is a “threat to peace.” The Assembly could then make “appropriate recommendations to members for collective measures”; such a recommendation would not be binding but might be considered as providing authorization for the action recommended. (This action might be the “quarantine” decreed, but might more likely be the appointment of a fact-finding or inspection commission in Cuba. Lauterpacht II, 176)
  3. The Inter American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance of 1947 (or Rio Treaty)Footnote 66 goes further than the Charter. Article 25 of the OAS CharterFootnote 67 and Article 6 of the Rio Treaty provide inter alia that, “If the inviolability or the integrity of the territory or the sovereignty or political independence of any American State should be affected by an aggression which is not an armed attack … or by any other fact or situation that might endanger the peace of America, the Organ of Consultation shall meet immediately in order to agree on the measures … which should be taken for the common defence and for the maintenance of the peace and security of the continent” (Article 6). Article 8 of the Treaty enumerates, “For the purpose of this Treaty, the measures on which the Organ of Consultation may agree,” include the “partial or complete interruption of economic relations … and use of armed force.” The meeting held on Tuesday by the Council of the OAS authorized the United States (after their decision was taken but before the quarantine came into force) to take the measures announced, including the use of armed force.
  4. The Organization of American States is a regional organization, and the Rio Treaty a regional arrangement under Article 52 of the United Nations Charter. There seems to be some discrepancy between Chapter VII of the Charter and Articles 6 and 8 of the Treaty. With reference to the foregoing and to Articles 51 and 53 of the Charter, it would appear that the use of armed force by the American States is subject to two limitations: they may resort to it only if exercising the right of collective self-defence provided for under Article 51, or if authorized by the Security Council under Article 53. Since on the one hand there is no unanimity as to the rights granted by Article 51, and since on the other hand the Rio Treaty (including Articles 6 and 8) has been accepted as a regional arrangement under Article 52, it is not possible to conclude categorically either that the use of armed force under the Rio Treaty is permissible in the present case or that it is forbidden. At any rate, it seems that the OAS Council should now report the action it has approved to the Security Council, in conformity with Article 54 of the Charter and Article 5 of the Rio Treaty. (Fenwick p.191; Kelsen p. 328, 793 & Goodrich & Hambro & Bentwick & Martin & Sohn: under Articles 51-53)
  5. The legality of the United States measure being perhaps debatable, it would seem advisable, on broad political grounds, and in line with the Prime Minister’s statement last night (Hansard of October 25, p. 913), to avoid discussing the legal merits of the case. If we are asked questions about the validity in international law of the “quarantine” decreed by President Kennedy, you might therefore wish us to answer somewhat along the following lines:
    “This is a complex issue which cannot be isolated from the broader policy questions now being discussed by the Security Council. While the matter is thus being debated at the United Nations, it would not be appropriate to comment on the particular aspects or considerations which may be involved.
    As the Prime Minister said on Thursday night, debating the legality of the United States quarantine is largely sterile and irrelevant. We have a situation to face: there has arisen a new and immediate threat to the security of the hemisphere. We and other countries are considering this whole question as a matter of the utmost urgency and are actively seeking ways of finding a peaceful solution to this situation.”

N.A. R[obertson]

686. DEA/4470-A-40

Memorandum by European Division


[Ottawa], October 26, 1962

Soviet Intentions and Reactions in the Cuban Situation

Information available to us give no grounds for putting in question American intelligence about the build-up of Soviet missile sites in Cuba with a significant offensive potential directed against the Western Hemisphere. President Kennedy is therefore correct in speaking of a serious threat to the national security of the U.S.A. This paper will attempt to analyze the possible Soviet intentions in setting up MRBM and IRBM sites in Cuba; their reactions to date to the American action in imposing a quarantine and calling for the dismantlement of offensive weapons sites; and possible Soviet courses of action.

  1. We can assume that the Soviet Union knew that their build-up in Cuba would be discovered quickly by the U.S.A., though they may have hoped to get close to completion of the build-up before having the facts exposed by the U.S.A. This would have presented the U.S.A. and the world in general with a fait accompli which would have raised tensions but would in the end be accepted, as American foreign bases are accepted.
  2. There are, in broad terms, two possible reasons for the Soviet action, each with variants.
    1. The Strategic Reason. The U.S.S.R. suffers from a deficiency in long-range strike capability against the U.S.A. in relation to the American strike capability, both long-range and from peripheral bases, against the U.S.S.R. The U.S.S.R. seems to have yielded to the temptation of taking a short-cut towards reducing the imbalance. The net effect of the installation of medium – and intermediate – range strike capacity up close to the U.S.A. is to increase the Soviet nuclear strike capability against North America and to circumvent the North American early warning network. The U.S.S.R. can now inflict approximately double the damage it could inflict before, but the U.S.A. still has superiority over the U.S.S.R. in strategic striking power. Increased production of Soviet-based ICBM’s will in time increase the Soviet strategic striking force but, barring an unforeseen technical break-through by the Russians, the Minuteman missiles will cancel out this increase and prolong the present imbalance of military power favouring the U.S.A. Nevertheless, the Cuban bases have added considerably to the credibility of Soviet ability to launch a nuclear attack on U.S. targets.
    2. The Political Reason. The Soviet Union may have intended to build up an offensive potential in Cuba
      1. as proof of its determination to back Castro to the hilt and maintain its Cuban beachhead in Latin America though of course the installation of offensive missile sites has increased the temptation on the U.S.A. to knock out the Soviet beachhead in Cuba and Castro at one and the same time;
      2. as an extra form of pressure which could be used after four years of frustrating postponements since their original ultimatum of November 1958 in order to force Western abandonment of its stand on Berlin;
      3. as a means of creating disunity in the Western alliance and of isolating the U.S.A. from its allies, and from the other countries of the free world in general.
      4. as a lever to mount propaganda attacks on American bases around the periphery of the U.S.S.R. and in the disarmament context, to press for non-dissemination of nuclear weapons and elimination of foreign bases; in return for Soviet abandonment of the Cuban base;
      5. as a means of forcing a Kennedy-Khrushchev meeting in order to attempt to resolve a clearly critical situation, and at the same time, probably, to attempt a broader solution on Germany-Berlin and possibly on nuclear tests.
    These two general reasons are not mutually exclusive, and the Soviet purpose may have been a combination of the several strategic and political variants.
  3. From the hesitation and the relative moderation evident in the initial Soviet reaction to President Kennedy’s statement, it would appear that the U.S. action probably did not come at the time nor in the way expected by the U.S.S.R. The Soviet Union may have expected, at one extreme, a new U.S. armed attack on Cuba or at least a total blockade; or at the other extreme they may have expected that the U.S.A. would either raise the matter in private discussion with the Soviet leaders or refer it to the U.N. before taking any other unilateral action. Armed attack or total blockade would have incurred heavy opprobrium for the U.S.A., regardless of the degree of provocation for the action. A straight reference to the U.N. would have given the Russians more time to complete their installations and would have allowed them to work on anti-Western and anti-U.S. sentiments in the U.N. (The latter they will no doubt still pursue.) Simultaneous reference to the U.N. and the quarantine have probably caught the Russians off-stride, for a quarantine designed to prevent only offensive military equipment reaching Cuba is per se less objectionable than a total blockade; and the demand for dismantling of bases already prepared can be fitted into the fairly widespread desire to avoid further proliferation of nuclear weapons sites.
  4. The Soviet reaction to President Kennedy’s announcement has, on the whole and, given the extent of the challenge to Soviet prestige, demonstrated comparative moderation and an evident desire to buy time rather than precipitate a more severe crisis immediately.
    1. The Soviet Union has said that it will not allow its ships to be subject to American search, but a number of Soviet ships en route to Cuba have been turned back while one has been intercepted and allowed to proceed. In the Security Council, the Soviet delegate has predictably called for a “cease and desist” order on the American quarantine action, but has avoided any such belligerent statement as a Soviet intention to shoot its way through the American naval cordon. It has emphasized the “piratical” rather than the “belligerent” nature of the quarantine and has harped on the illegal nature of this interference with the freedom of the seas.
    2. The Soviet Union has maintained that equipment delivered to the Cubans is of a defensive nature and has insisted that it will not take the initiative in a nuclear conflict; but it has not explicitly denied that MRBM and IRBM sites are being installed, thereby perhaps hiding behind a semantic veil of what is “defensive” and what is “offensive” and also of what has been actually delivered to the Cubans and what has been retained in Soviet hands.
    3. The Soviet Union has predictably used the tu quoque argument of U.S. bases surrounding the U.S.S.R., but has not attempted to link the Berlin situation with the Cuban crisis in any way, despite what it could have considered a provocation by Kennedy in this regard.
    4. Khrushchev has, in his message to Lord Russell, expressed willingness to consider a meeting at the highest level to attempt to resolve the crisis and has said the Soviet Union will avoid any reckless action, thereby attempting to give the impression that he is moderate and reasonable in contrast with a hasty, belligerent and unreasonable Kennedy.
    5. Khrushchev has agreed to U Thant’s proposal for a temporary halt to the quarantine and a temporary halt to Soviet shipments to Cuba, but presumably in the knowledge that the U.S.A. would reject it and also in the knowledge that agreement did not prevent the continued construction on the missile bases. He has also agreed, as has Kennedy, to preliminary talks among U Thant, Stevenson and Zorin.
    From these first Soviet reactions, it would appear that the Soviet Union is anxious to avoid a further heightening of tensions and presumably, therefore, while buying time and attempting to get world public opinion on its side, wants at least to look at the possibility of a compromise solution. It has been singularly imprecise in stating what it is going to do in response to the American challenge.
  5. From this brief analysis of possible Soviet motivations and of Soviet reactions to date, we may conclude the following:
    1. The strategic reason is not sufficient in itself to explain the Soviet action, for the short-cut of establishing MRBM and IRBM sites in Cuba, while it reduces the imbalance in strategic striking force, nevertheless leaves the balance still strongly in the American favour. Therefore there must have been political considerations as well.
    2. The major political consideration was probably to improve the Soviet Union’s bargaining capacity in future talks with the U.S.A., particularly with respect to Berlin but also perhaps, in the disarmament context, with respect to non-dissemination of nuclear weapons and elimination of foreign bases.
    3. The ancillary political considerations, or the side-benefits, were probably to create disunity in the Western alliance, to attempt to isolate the U.S.A. from its allies and from the neutrals and to provide the basis for propaganda attacks on American bases around the periphery of the U.S.S.R.
    4. The Soviet Union has acted daringly and provocatively in setting up missile-launching sites in Cuba; but in reaction to a vigorous American response it has displayed comparative moderation and has been anxious to give the public impression of a willingness to talk and negotiate, even though it has not yet indicated a line of possible compromise.

687. J.G.D./MG01/VI/845 (Cuba - Conf. Official Material)

Memorandum from Secretary of State for External Affairs to Prime Minister


[Ottawa], October 26, 1962Footnote 68

Soviet Intentions and Reaction in the Cuban Situation

Attached to this memorandum is a paper prepared in my DepartmentFootnote 69 analyzing Soviet intentions in establishing MRBM and IRBM bases in Cuba and Soviet reactions to the USA response to this challenge.Footnote 70

  1. The net effect of the Soviet MRBM and IRBM sites in Cuba is to double the Soviet nuclear strike capability against North America and also to circumvent the North American early warning network. The bases in Cuba constitute a short-cut to reducing the imbalance of military power favouring the U.S.A. The U.S.A. still, however, has superiority over the U.S.S.R. in strategic striking power and can inflict more nuclear damage on the U.S.S.R. than can the U.S.S.R. on the U.S.A.
  2. The existence of the missile sites was bound to become known sooner rather than later by the U.S.A. and to provoke a strong reaction. The public disclosure of their existence may have been made sooner than the Russians expected. In any event it would appear that they may not have anticipated the exact form of the American response – a quarantine (rather than armed attack on Cuba or total blockade) and a simultaneous reference to the U.N.
  3. The conclusions of the paper are as follows:
    1. The strategic reason is not sufficient in itself to explain the Soviet action, for the short-cut of establishing MRBM and IRBM sites in Cuba, while it reduces the imbalance in strategic striking force, nevertheless leaves the balance still strongly in the American favour. Therefore there must have been political considerations as well.
    2. The major political consideration was probably to improve the Soviet Union’s bargaining capacity in future talks with the USA, particularly with respect to Berlin but also perhaps, in the disarmament context, with respect to non-dissemination of nuclear weapons and elimination of foreign bases.
    3. The ancillary political considerations, or the side-benefits, were probably to create disunity in the Western alliance, to attempt to isolate the USA from its allies and from the neutrals and to provide the basis for propaganda attacks on American bases around the periphery of the USSR.
    4. The Soviet Union has acted daringly and provocatively in setting up missile-launching sites in Cuba; but in reaction to a vigorous American response it has displayed comparative moderation and has been anxious to give the public impression of a willingness to talk and negotiate, even though it has not yet indicated a line of possible compromise.Footnote 71

H.C. G[reen]




[Ottawa], October 26, 1962

U.S. Talking Paper

My Government thought you might be interested in its current appraisal of Soviet policy with respect to the Cuban crisis.

  1. You will recall that during Secretary Rusk’s visit here August last he explained to the Prime Minister the long period of discussions with the Soviet Union when we explored several possibilities of a settlement of the Berlin crisis only to have the Soviets close progressively each avenue, leaving only the conclusion that the central and sole objective of the Soviet Union was to remove the Western presence from West Berlin.
  2. Beginning in the middle of this summer, there were indications that Khrushchev and the Soviet Government had concluded that there was no possibility that the Soviet Union could obtain its objectives with respect to Berlin through the process of negotiation. There were also indications that Khrushchev felt too personally committed to achievement of his objectives in Berlin to retreat, as well as indication that factors, such as the situation in East Germany and Communist China pressure, were pushing the Soviet Government to a resolution of the Berlin problem and that the Soviet Union had decided that a showdown on the Berlin problem within some months was inevitable. There were also indications that the Soviet Union and Khrushchev personally had developed doubts as to whether they could win in a showdown and that alternatives might be either an ignominious retreat or nuclear war.
  3. The Soviet Union privately and at a later date publicly stated that while it would insist upon conclusive discussion of the Berlin problem in a relatively short period, it would not plan to do so until after the American congressional elections. This position it maintained even though the U.S. Government made clear to them that insofar as it was concerned, elections had no bearing on the problem.
  4. Assurances were given by the Soviet Government both privately and publicly that it would not arm Cuba with offensive weapons. These were not merely a dialectical discussion but, rather, specific assurances against weapons that could reach the United States. The TASS statement of September 11 said that the Soviet Union had no need to take such action and this statement, which was largely concerned with the Cuban situation, related it to the question of the German peace treaty and other international problems.Footnote 72
  5. When Gromyko saw the President on October 18, he made the standard but strong statement about the Berlin and German peace treaty issues and then made the following statements about Cuba: Soviet assistance to Cuba “pursued solely the purpose of contributing to the defense capabilities of Cuba,” that “training by Soviet specialists of Cuban nationals in handling defensive armaments was by no means offensive” and that “if it were otherwise, the Soviet Government would have never become involved in rendering such assistance.”
  6. Khrushchev indicated to Ambassador Kohler that he had virtually decided to come to the United Nations meeting in New York in the latter part of November and Gromyko, in his conversation with the President, confirmed this, although no specific date was set.
  7. When Soviet action in arming Cuba with offensive nuclear missiles became evident, it was because of developments set forth above that the U.S. Government tended to believe that Soviet action was probably primarily geared to a showdown on Berlin, and that it intended it to be timed with Khrushchev’s arrival in the United States and the completion of the installation of these missiles in Cuba.

688. DEA/2444-40

Memorandum from Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Ottawa, October 26, 1962

Cuba – Proposal of Leader of the Opposition

Yesterday in the House the Leader of the Opposition in welcoming U Thant’s initiative indicated that it would have more chance of success if it could be supplemented by some proposal that would ensure that any obligation undertaken by those concerned would be carried out. This would present no special problem in respect of the termination of the U.S. quarantine measures, but would require some control and inspection measures if the world were to be satisfied that the Soviet deliveries were not continuing . Mr. Pearson then proposed that if the opportunity arises the Canadian Delegation might make a supplementary proposal, viz., “to set up immediately a U.N. naval inspection force to make sure that any obligation of this kind, … was carried out.” He suggested that this would give the kind of reassurance that U.N. inspection and control has given in the past.

  1. It is possible that the Leader of the Opposition regards this as a major suggestion and may ask if any steps are being taken to act upon it.
  2. In the Department we have already given preliminary consideration to the idea of “a naval UNEF” but had discarded it on the ground that any proposal, to be acceptable, would have to attract the support of both the Soviet Union and the United States. While the Soviet Union would doubtless go along with the idea of a U.N. naval inspection force, it is extremely doubtful that the United States would do so. It is clearly the United States view that the necessity of preventing the delivery of nuclear warheads or nuclear equipment was of such vital and direct interest to the security of the United States that they were prepared to undertake unilateral measures of the most extreme kind, having inherent in them the risk of global war, to intercept their delivery to Cuba. It is highly doubtful therefore that they would entrust this vital task to the naval units of other countries with far less effective means of detecting, tracking and intercepting Soviet vessels, even though the forces should be under the U.N. flag.
  3. The only circumstances in which they might be prepared to entertain such a suggestion would be if there were in addition in Cuba a sort of observation group that the Prime Minister proposed on October 23, to give some assurance on two points:
    1. that the U.N. blockade was not evaded, allowing some nuclear materials to continue to arrive in Cuba; and,
    2. that current work on launching sites was terminated.
  4. In a sense therefore Mr. Pearson’s suggestion is complementary to that made by the Prime Minister, but of the two, only the Prime Minister’s would have any chance of standing alone.
  5. Mr. Pearson’s suggestion is however constructive and should be welcomed as such.

N.A. R[obertson]

689. DEA/2444-40

Memorandum from Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Secret. Canadian Eyes Only.

Ottawa, October 26, 1962

Cuba at the United Nations

It is not an easy task to assess the future course of developments on Cuba at the United Nations. Much depends on the motives of the main parties, on the measures which they adopt outside the United Nations and on the tactics they prefer within the Organization. It is by no means certain that any of the parties seriously contemplate a United Nations intervention. Neither is it clear that a majority of the members of the United Nations wish to commit themselves to any particular course of action involving the United Nations. The current proceedings in the Security Council could be nothing more than a smoke-screen for a Great Power test of strength and determination outside the United Nations framework.

  1. The debate in the Security Council has not done much to clarify the intention of the parties. The resolutions submitted separately by the United States and the Soviet Union seem doomed to failure.Footnote 73 The resolution, proposed by Ghana and the United Arab Republic and calling for an intervention by the Secretary-General, has largely been implemented by U Thant in his approaches to the three governments concerned.Footnote 74 None of these proposals appears to provide a sufficient United Nations umbrella to cover the withdrawal of the two principal antagonists, if this were considered necessary.
  2. The main elements of the present situation appear to be the following:
    1. The Soviet Union, over a period of some weeks, has engaged in a secret and rapid build-up of powerful weapons in Cuba. This has been done despite the certainty that the United States would become aware of the build-up and could be expected to react sharply at some stage. In other words, the Soviet Union has deliberately provoked a sharp United States reaction at a time when developments in relation to Berlin were expected. It was also a time of domestic difficulty for the United States Government.
    2. The United States reaction has been swift and sharp. In the face of the arms build-up, the main United States choice was to knock out the missile bases either by bombing or invading Cuba, or by putting a squeeze on the Soviet Union as the real source of trouble. The United States has chosen the latter, probably because it is the lesser of two evils. A direct attack on Cuba would almost certainly have produced a strong reaction in the United Nations and in world public opinion. The quarantine is considered unjustified by a great many people but the friends of the United States can accept it as a necessary response to clear provocation.
    3. Neither the Soviet Union nor Cuba has denied the military build-up. It is described as defensive and as part of the inalienable right of any sovereign state; it is likened to the long-established United States bases in other parts of the world. This legally justified action is contrasted with the illegal quarantine imposed by the United States.
    4. The main United States objective is not only to halt the military build-up but to eradicate the bases. The lifting of the quarantine has been made conditional on such eradication. The United States is prepared to accept United Nations verification in this regard. The Cubans, however, have categorically rejected United Nations observation of any kind, presumably on the ground that there is no legal justification. The Soviet Union could be expected to take the same position.
    5. The Soviet objectives are not so clear. Perhaps the Soviet Government was taken by surprise by the nature of the United States reaction. So far, the Soviet Union seems disposed not only to avoid a serious incident at sea but to play the peace-lover in general. As yet, there has been no countermove on Berlin and there may not be because of a genuine worry about intensifying the risk of armed clash and because of a Soviet desire to capitalize on the United States “aggressive” quarantine. In the longer term, the Soviet Union may hope to undermine the whole United States position on overseas bases.
  3. The present situation seems to be under control but the longer the quarantine continues, the greater is the risk that some incident will occur to increase the tension and danger. The Soviet Union can reasonably expect that the whole pressure of world public opinion will be for a “negotiated settlement.” The United States position does not really call for any negotiation about Cuba but merely for the eradication of the missile bases. This does not mean that the two Great Powers should not confer with a view to resolving the present crisis. At some stage, this might be at Heads of Government level. It is not clear whether the Secretary-General will succeed in his present role, although he may bring about some confrontation of the parties. His appeal to the parties was one-sided to the extent that it did not really deal with the problem of eliminating the missile bases.
  4. The emphasis during the next few days will probably be on the consultations involving U Thant and the two main parties. The likelihood is that the Security Council will be recessed during the period of consultation. Until the Secretary-General has reported on his efforts, there is not much to be gained from continuing the debate in the Council, although some new incident could cause it to convene. It is doubtful whether the United States is in any hurry to have the various resolutions voted upon because of the pressure which would develop, after a veto, to bring the situation before the General Assembly. In the absence of any constructive approach broadly acceptable to the parties, a debate in the Assembly might only make matters worse.
  5. If the Secretary-General’s intervention ends in failure and if Council action should be blocked by exercise of the veto, the Assembly will be brought into the picture, especially if this series of failures tends to increase the tension and the risk of further incident. In present circumstances, and particularly in view of the attitude of the main parties, the possibilities open to the General Assembly are few:
    1. An overwhelming majority would no doubt support an urgent appeal for further efforts at negotiation. The non-aligned members would presumably press for a draft resolution like the Ghana-UAR text submitted in the Council. In addition to putting the Secretary-General into the act, that resolution calls upon the parties “to refrain meanwhile from any action which may directly or indirectly further aggravate the situation.” This call for a negotiated settlement is commendable enough but it might not have much effect in a situation in which the Acting Secretary-General had tried and failed to bring about a serious conference.
    2. The Soviet Union could be expected to press for the lifting of the quarantine and it might attract substantial support for this. In the Council, the UAR and Ghana expressed disapproval of the United States action. The United States and the West might find themselves on the defensive but they could probably defeat any resolution calling for the termination of the quarantine provided that the Latin Americans remained solid behind the United States. Nevertheless, a debate on this issue could be embarrassing for the Western powers and it would tend to divert attention from the real problem, that of eradicating the missile bases in Cuba.
    3. In the face of Cuban and Soviet opposition, it would be unrealistic to press for any United Nations investigation or observation either within Cuba or in the Caribbean around it. Besides, the present situation seems to call not so much for fact-finding as for verification that the missile bases are being dismantled. Many members of the United Nations might be prepared to support the United States in its demand for dismantlement and a resolution to that effect might be adopted in the face of a large number of abstentions but it would not be effective unless Cuba agreed to co-operate.
  6. The main difficulty about taking action in the Assembly might be the disposition of the non-aligned states not to become involved on either side. Effective action might only be possible if it had almost unanimous support from the Assembly. A situation could arise, however, in which both the United States and the Soviet Union, having become too heavily committed to the courses they were following, would wish to have a face-saving device to cover their disengagement. At that stage, the United Nations might be required to provide an umbrella. It would have to be broad enough to permit the halting of Soviet shipments of offensive weapons, the lifting of the quarantine and the dismantling of the missile bases in Cuba.
  7. A most obvious approach would be to establish a neutral zone in and around Cuba guaranteed by the Great Powers and by Cuba’s immediate neighbours. This would involve the elimination of weapons of mass destruction and particularly the missile bases. There would have to be international verification, presumably on a continuing basis. In its present frame of mind, Cuba might resent this form of enforced neutrality.
  8. A similar approach might be the one voiced by Brazil, that is the establishment of a nuclear-free zone in Latin America. This would call for the elimination of the bases under effective international control; it could be combined with a Great Power guarantee and with a non-aggression feature involving Cuba’s neighbours. It would also offer an important concession to the Soviet Union for it would be the thin edge of the wedge on the establishment of nuclear-free zones elsewhere. It would be a concrete step to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and to start on regional disarmament. It could be a pilot project for international inspection. Finally, it should pose no threat to the security of the United States or the other countries of the Americas.
  9. Such a proposal would be similar to but a considerable enlargement of the Arab good neighbour policy, which was embodied in an Assembly resolution of August, 1958.Footnote 75 It is most important that any proposal of this kind should be initiated by the states directly concerned. In this case, the United States and all the Latin Americans have the most immediate interest. The other countries of the Western hemisphere are also closely concerned and, of course, the proposal would be meaningless unless it were fully endorsed by the other nuclear powers. The implication is that with the agreement of the United States and the other nuclear powers, the move should be initiated by the Latin American states. This does not mean, however, that after appropriate consultation on a suggestion of this kind could not be included in a statement by Canada.Footnote 76

N.A. R[obertson]

690. J.G.D./XIV/E/167.3

Prime Minister of United Kingdom to Prime Minister

Top Secret

[London], October 26, 1962

I was most interested to hear your views from our High Commissioner.

I have already sent you a copy of what I said in the House of Commons today with which I hope you will agree. It seems to me that there are three points which we should do well to emphasise at this stage.

  1. If after President Kennedy had made such clear declarations about his opposition to Cuba having offensive weapons he had then done nothing in the face of the incontrovertible evidence which he received, he would have struck a severe blow at allied confidence in American declarations. This might have had quite serious effects in some parts of the world (for example, South-East Asia or the Middle East) where small countries feel themselves menaced by the proximity of the Soviet empire and rely very much on the assurances given by the United States.
  2. We should learn the lesson of pre-war period and not become so alarmed by a particular crisis that we settle it at the expense of being a point or two down in the larger struggle. This is just what we were always tending to do in the 1930’s. The result was to produce a feeling of hubris in the aggressor and depression among the democracies which finally leads to a mood of desperation. Thus a weak settlement may easily do more harm than good to the long-term prospects of peace.
  3. This latest demonstration of Soviet duplicity (and the Russians seem to have been telling some particularly bare-faced lies) should finally put paid to the idea that the countries of the world have only to trust each other and all can be arranged amicably in such fields as disarmament. We shall surely have to be even more careful in the future than in the past to insist that international agreements must be adequately policed and verified. I do not know exactly what the next stage will be. I assume that the United States will probably concentrate for the moment on improving U Thant’s suggestion by, for example, pointing out that while it will be clear that their blockade has been removed, there will be no proof that military supplies are not still going in unless there is some inspection in Cuba. Also the work on the missile sites may well continue secretly unless there are United Nations observers to stop it. If this is the United States line, I propose to instruct our representatives to do all they can to back it up. Thereafter there may, I suppose, be some negotiation which will perhaps go beyond the narrow Cuban question into larger issues. If such a development occurs, it will be particularly important to consult together to ensure that our own positions are properly protected. I thought I would just send you this message with these current thoughts as the situation develops hour by hour.

691. DEA/2444-40

Ambassador in Egypt to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 541

Cairo, October 26, 1962

Confidential. OpImmediate.

Reference: Our Tel 537 Oct 24.†
Repeat for Information: London, Permis New York, Paris, Washington, Moscow from London

Cuba: Soviet Views

Activities of Soviet Ambassador during Cuban crisis may be of interest. Wednesday night he approached me at party and in a state almost of (euphoria?) asserted that not repeat not even country like Dahomey let alone USSR could accept USA blockade. Soviet ships would proceed to Cuba, if necessary with backing of Soviet navy. Later he told Brazilian Ambassador much same adding there were 300 Soviet submarines in Atlantic to back up convoy. Erofeev asked if we could keep in touch and I saw him again this morning.

  1. This time he stressed Khrushchev’s reply to U Thant,Footnote 77 reasonableness of Soviet readiness to call off shipments for two weeks, and unreasonableness of USA demand that bases be dismantled as prior condition for talks. He insisted this was impossibility and that he hoped other countries would recognize it.
  2. I used usual arguments to justify USA action but he refused to agree that there was any degree of Soviet provocation or that indeed there were any real Soviet missile bases in Cuba. He kept stressing willingness of USSR to negotiate but only if USA showed equal desire for compromise. He said he was impressed by moderation of UAR statement in Security Council.Footnote 78

[R.A.D.] Ford

692. DEA/2444-40

Ambassador in Cuba to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 210

Havana, October 26, 1962

Secret. OpImmediate.

Repeat for Information: JIR from Ottawa.

Conditions in Cuba

There is little to report from Cuba. Country has been caught up in a situation beyond its control and realization of this is sinking in. Everyone is (elucidating?) on events: government supporters with grim determination and others with apprehension. An example is provided by exaggerated feeling of relief that spread through Foreign Ministry yesterday from Roa down when news that a Russian tanker had been allowed through quarantine was received. Not repeat not even opponents of régime have shown any noticeable signs of activity and government preventive arrests seemed relatively low.

  1. News media stress that peoples of world are with Cuba including those of the West where there is opposition of government policy. Posters are appearing which promise the USSR will come through. Average Cuban is ignorant of outside world and in general draws a measure of satisfaction from government propaganda.
  2. No repeat no attempt is being made to organize major public demonstrations with speeches by government leaders. There has been no repeat no official statement to people since Castro’s belligerent Tuesday night address.Footnote 79
  3. A considerable movement of army trucks and guns is taking place in Havana area. British Embassy last night sighted a long trailer (80 to 100 feet) carrying what appeared to be large missiles followed by ancillary equipment being moved along a Havana avenue.
  1. Civilian traffic is light and gas unavailable in some parts of interior. Efforts are being made to find substitute workers, including wives and mothers, for those mobilized. Most observers have doubts about how effective these hastily assembled improvised soldiers would be in combat conditions of a modern war. Professionally trained forces should stand up better.

[George P.] Kidd

693. J.G.D./MG01/VI/845 (Cuba - Conf. Official Material)

Memorandum from Secretary of State for External Affairs to Prime Minister


Ottawa, October 27, 1962

Cuba – Khrushchev’s Communications Regarding Offensive Missiles

Two communications have been sent to the United States Government in the past 24 hours. The text of the first has not been made public.Footnote 80 The text of the second was released by Moscow before it was received in Washington (copy attached†).Footnote 81 It has already been stated in Washington that the two communications differ and that in particular there was in the first no reference to Turkey.

  1. The communication which had been made public contains substantial proposals which undoubtedly will be regarded by many governments as warranting most serious consideration. There are objectionable passages but the tone on the whole is moderate.
  2. The essence of Khrushchev’s proposals is:
    1. the Soviet Union will remove from Cuba those weapons which the United States regards as offensive provided that the United States removes similar weapons from Turkey;
    2. both nations will pledge themselves to that effect in the United Nations;
    3. the two parties will agree on the length of time required;
    4. persons enjoying the confidence of the U.N. Security Council would make an on-the-spot check of the fulfilment of these pledges, subject to the authorization of the Governments of Cuba and Turkey;
    5. the Soviet Government and United States Government will undertake, within the framework of the Security Council, to respect the inviolability of the frontiers of Turkey and Cuba respectively and to refrain from interference in their internal affairs; not to invade their territory and not to make their own territories available as a bridgehead for invasion and to restrain anyone contemplating such aggression from the territory of the Soviet Union or the United States.
  3. The two references to time limits in the Khrushchev letter are somewhat unclear but he would appear to be contemplating a very short period to accomplish all these objectives – possibly two or three weeks and in any case not more than a month.
  4. The fact that this is a serious proposal is evident from three features:
    1. the risk which Khrushchev is clearly running of undermining his position in Cuba by admitting that the weapons there are under Soviet control and that he is prepared to remove them as part of the deal;
    2. the choice of Turkey as the other side of the proposed deal rather than some other area which would have presented more difficulties for the United States (e.g., Berlin) would appear to reflect his special concern over areas on the periphery of the Soviet Union; and,
    3. Khrushchev’s apparent willingness to entrust important functions to the person now occupying the position of Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations even though this is difficult to reconcile with the attitude the Soviet Union has taken in the past towards the role of the Secretary-General.
  5. The United States, through the official State Department spokesman, has declined to comment on the first communication; and has reacted publicly in a responsible manner to the second (text attached†).Footnote 82They state three conditions which would have to be met as an “urgent preliminary” to any proposals:
    1. work on the Cuban bases must stop;
    2. offensive weapons must be rendered inoperable;
    3. further shipments of offensive weapons to Cuba must cease – all under effective international supervision.
  6. We think the United States have not closed the door to the consideration of the substance of the Khrushchev proposal. In fact they have indicated, in respect of the call for the mutual removal of missiles, that the Western allies have long “taken the lead in seeking properly inspected arms limitation on both sides.”
  7. From a military point of view we understand it is the preliminary judgment of the Canadian Chiefs of Staff that the kind of exchange proposed by Khrushchev would be advantageous for the West. The loss for the West would be represented by a few sites for Jupiter missiles which are not operational and whose targets could be adequately covered by weapons located elsewhere. The removal of the considerably greater number of long-range offensive weapons now located in Cuba outside the North American warning system would thus result in a net gain for the military position of the Western powers.Footnote 83
  8. From an international political point of view the proposals would have to be carefully handled in order to avoid bad effects in Turkey and in Western Europe.
  9. However, at least one report from our Embassy in Turkey suggests that the Turks are deeply concerned about the present situation and attach great importance to the achievement of some peaceful solution. (See attached tel. 139 of Oct. 25†). Moreover the Turks should not feel that their position is necessarily weakened since under Khrushchev’s proposal they would receive an internationally sanctioned guarantee, they would continue to be allowed to maintain whatever defence forces were considered necessary and would be free to accept assistance in non-offensive forms from any source including the United States. In addition the Turks might be reconciled with this prospect if the Western countries were to increase the amount of economic aid (as the International Bank has recommended in any event).
  10. The relations of Turkey with the Soviet Union have been based on suspicion and hostility which is fundamentally anti-Russian rather than anti-Communist in character. At the same time their satisfactory experience of the Montreux Convention might be regarded as preparing them for the sort of international arrangement contemplated in Khrushchev’s proposals. The Montreux Convention set up an international régime for controlling access to the Black Sea, with special rights for Turkey and the Soviet Union, which has been internationally respected and scrupulously respected by both sides for the past 40 years. Even in the present situation the Turks have been unwilling to breach the Convention in order to prevent overflights of Soviet aircraft to Cuba. It therefore should not be considered that the possibility of Turkey accepting this sort of arrangement proposed by Khrushchev must be ruled out provided that other means can be found of buttressing their security and well-being.
  11. This action could be interpreted in Western Europe as evidence that the United States is prepared to sacrifice the interests of others when its own safety is directly threatened. It would seem, however, that this risk could be reduced or eliminated if the Western European countries could be made to see that on balance no sacrifice of their interests or of Turkey’s interests would be involved. It is clearly most desirable that the Western European countries should be consulted by the United States fully throughout in order to avoid any possible misunderstanding.
  12. In relation to disarmament, the United States has already acknowledged that Khrushchev’s proposals are not inconsistent with the approach which the United States has long been advocating with respect to arms limitation and international verification. As you pointed out in your statement in the House of Commons on October 25, the dismantling of armaments, combined with international inspection could represent “a first practical step on the road to disarmament.” By confining his proposal to observation of dismantlement of the weapons the Soviet Premier’s proposal leaves unresolved the question of continuing control measures to prevent clandestine reintroduction of similar weapons in the future, a problem which has already proved a serious obstacle in the Geneva discussions. These are, however, matters which could be the subject of negotiation if the main elements of the proposal are accepted as a basis.
  13. So far as Canada is concerned, it would be in our interests to encourage the fullest exploration of this proposal because the alternative is probably further unilateral action by the United States which could have disastrous effects. We should, however, appreciate the problems which consideration of any moderate proposal presents for the United States (particularly before the November elections) in the face of an aroused public opinion apparently reconciled even to invasion as perhaps the only effective means of removing the missile bases. We would recommend that Canadian representatives in both London and Washington be authorized to discuss the situation confidentially with the British and United States Governments on the basis of the foregoing assessment.Footnote 84
  14. In addition, our Permanent Representative on the NATO Council might also be supplied with this assessment as background for any emergency meeting of the NATO Council which may be called. A copy of this memorandum might also be sent to New York for the information of our Permanent Representative to the United Nations.Footnote 85
  15. H.C. G[reen]
  16. 694. DEA/2444-40

Ambassador in United States to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 3166

Washington, October 27, 1962

Secret. OpImmediate.

Reference: Your Tel XL-106 Oct 25.
Repeat for Information: London, Candel New York, NATO Paris, Paris.
By Bag Moscow from London, Havana from Ottawa.


I called on the Secretary of State on October 26 to discuss your reference telegram with him. He had with him Hurwitch, Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Inter American Affairs, and Carlson of the Canadian Desk. Robinson accompanied me. The Secretary began the conversation by expressing his thanks for the Prime Minister’s speech of October 25.Footnote 86 (Incidentally, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, whom I saw yesterday on another question, also expressed warm appreciation for the Prime Minister’s speech.) I then drew to the Secretary’s attention the Government’s decision to search Soviet bloc and Cubana aircraft en route to Cuba and remarked that the American press had not repeat not appreciated the scope of Canada’s effort. (Today’s Washington Post contains a most appreciative leading article on the Prime Minister’s speech, the text of which I am sending you separately.†)Footnote 87

  1. I then showed Mr. Rusk your reference telegram. His first reaction was to say that the State Department had been receiving similar indications from other capitals to the effect that the Cuban Government would be willing to discuss their differences with the USA through the UN. He though that further light would be shed on this later in the afternoon when Mr. Stevenson would be seeing U Thant.
  2. The Secretary drew attention to an earlier speech by President Kennedy in which the latter had marked out two points which were not repeat not negotiable: (a) the Cuban Government’s military connection with Moscow and (b) Communist penetration from Cuba into the Western hemisphere.Footnote 88
  3. Mr. Rusk went on to say that the President had been urging calm until the discovery of the sudden missile build up in Cuba, which posed a grave strategic and international threat which would have been just as important no repeat no matter in what country it had arisen. He thought it was possible that the Cubans were now becoming more realistic about the situation in which they found themselves.
  4. The conversation then turned to paragraph 4 of your reference telegram in which there was discussion of possible terms on which the Cuban Government might be prepared to enter negotiations with the USA. The Secretary said that a similar combination of elements seemed to be appearing in U Thant’s mind. Mr. Rusk said that no repeat no problem would arise if the Cubans could find a way to get rid of the missiles, and went on to say that “If the withholding of invasion becomes a requirement for getting the missiles out of Cuba, that is no repeat no problem.” Before saying this he cautioned against our taking this as a precise formulation of the USA position but the sense of his statement appeared to be that if the Cubans would eliminate the nuclear missile bases, the USA would not repeat not be forced to think in terms of further unilateral action.
  5. Returning to the discussion of your reference telegram, Mr. Rusk said that there might be some advantage in attempting to probe the actual Cuban position through the Canadian Ambassador in Havana. He wondered if any opportunity arose for Mr. Kidd to see Castro alone and suggested the possibility of some social occasion. He went on to say that one could not repeat not always be certain that Castro was a total instrument of Moscow (although he characterized this as a chance in a thousand). He said for example that on the issue of prisoners the USA had information that “the bearded one” had taken a different position from the “Communist apparatus.” The former had been attracted by the possibility of securing drugs and other commodities in return for the prisoners whereas the Communist apparatus had opposed release of the prisoners. He said it would perhaps be unwise to assume categorically that Castro would always react in direct response to the Moscow line, but his tone implied scepticism as to the likelihood of the Cubans acting independently on major issues.
  6. Hurwitch then intervened to say that it would be helpful if Mr. Kidd could do some probing in Havana. The Secretary reacted to this by saying that Castro might usefully be told that he was on a losing wicket and that the real question was the elimination of the missile bases.
  7. I then asked Mr. Rusk how he thought matters would develop in the UN. He replied that he foresaw that all formal action would be in abeyance pending U Thant’s discussions. He remarked in this connection that he hoped that U Thant would see the Cubans separately from the Russians. I then recalled my conversation with Harlan Cleveland (my telegram 3092 Oct 23) in which I had explained the purpose of the statement made earlier in the week by the Prime Minister regarding the possibility of a UN fact finding team proceeding to Cuba. I said that assuming that UN supervision of the dismantlement of the missile bases was an essential part of the USA approach, I thought it might be possible to foresee a stage in which the “fact finding” element might merge with the UN supervision of dismantlement. I pointed out that Zorin in his statement in the Security Council on October 25 had denied the authenticity of USA evidence regarding the existence of the missile bases.Footnote 89 I said that I thought a proposal which gave the UN some responsibility for establishing the facts for themselves, perhaps in conjunction with a supervisory role over the dismantlement of the bases, might have a greater appeal for many member countries in the UN. Mr. Rusk replied that the USA had not repeat not been attracted by a fact finding mission as a first and preliminary step. Two weeks of fact finding, Mr. Rusk said, could only result in what had already been made public in photographs. After re-emphasizing that the Canadian Government was not repeat not considering the introduction in present circumstances of a proposal for a fact finding mission, I remarked that much depended on the timing involved in UN processes. Mr. Rusk replied that from USA point of view the UN operation had to work very fast. It was essential to get UN representatives onto the sites and to keep the sites non operational, and this must be done in the next few days. It appeared to me that the Secretary was not repeat not much concerned with further steps in the Security Council or the UNGA but was concentrating his attention on the outcome of the negotiations with U Thant which should, in his view, result in the very earliest despatch of a UN team to supervise the actual dismantlement of the bases.
  8. Reverting to the evidence of the existence of offensive weapons in Cuba, Mr. Rusk said that while the USSR was now denying their existence in the Security Council “We were told by the Russians that there are not repeat not now in Cuba and will not repeat not be missiles that can reach USA.” He asked me specifically to pass on to you this Soviet statement. He did not repeat not specify whether it had been made by Foreign Minister Gromyko to the President or by the Soviet Ambassador here.
  9. I did not repeat not get the impression that the Secretary of State was much interested in the possibility of exchanges with the Cubans proving fruitful in the present situation. His references to the possibility of our Ambassador in Havana probing Cuban views were not repeat not at all emphatic or precise. He kept reverting to the absolute necessity for the earliest destruction of the missile bases and seemed to place all his emphasis on the U Thant negotiations in New York. Failing a successful outcome of these negotiations, I was left with the strong impression that the USA would be faced with the early alternative of taking action on their own.
  10. Prior to our conversation with Mr. Rusk, Hurwitch spoke to me with some interest of the possibility of creating a “nuclear free zone” in Latin America.

[C.S.A.] Ritchie

695. DEA/2444-40

Ambassador in United States to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 3168

Washington, October 27, 1962

Secret. OpImmediate.

Reference: Our Letter 1530 Oct 9† and our Tel 3126 Oct 24.†
Repeat for Information: London, Candel New York, NATO Paris, Paris (OpImmediate).
By Bag Moscow from London, Havana from Ottawa.

Cuba – Soviet Motives

We spoke October 26 with Lewis Bowden of State Department Office of Soviet Affairs to obtain an assessment of motivation behind Soviet offensive buildup in Cuba and subsequent Soviet moves. Bowden gave us a frank appraisal but cautioned that these were working level assessments and that the final assessments on which USA action will be based are being made at the highest level: the White House exercises direct and complete control. Since Bowden is his office’s representative on Departmental “War Games” Study Group, which has lengthy daily sessions and which thoroughly canvass all alternatives, we assume views he gave us reflected a general appreciation within Department of State.

  1. After preliminary warm remarks about Prime Minister’s statement October 25, Bowden first told us of background briefing Secretary Rusk had given October 25 to journalists. Rusk had sought their cooperation in dispelling the euphoria which appeared to be coming over USA public opinion on crisis consequent on moderate Soviet initial response. He had pointed out that apparent Soviet moderation did not repeat not mean that a substantially different response could not repeat not come later and went on to describe grave threat to USA that would result on completion of Soviet missile installations in Cuba. Rusk also pointed to dangers that would ensue if USA public concern were to abate further, much time were lost through fruitless negotiations and drastic action then became essential. Bowden said that Secretary, by reviewing possibilities for settlement through negotiation or through a general disarmament scheme, both of which were unacceptable unless missile installations were removed, had said nothing which would dissuade his audience from drawing a conclusion that an invasion might become necessary. In reference to our passing remark about Joseph Alsop’s column October 26,Footnote 90 Bowden said that Alsop had obviously been “very well briefed,” implying something beyond briefing referred to above.
  2. On Soviet motives, Bowden said accepted conclusion was that USSR’s primary intention was none other than to establish in Cuba a means by which they could so impair USA nuclear retaliatory capability that they could demand every concession. Officials were no repeat no longer thinking of such motives as have been mooted, i.e. that Russians wished to have a counter to use during further negotiations on Berlin (our reference telegram) or as a pawn in a general negotiation on dismantling of foreign bases. Bowden rapidly dismissed remarks we made along these lines, suggesting that all but the maximum Soviet motive have been discarded by USA officials. Bowden’s view was that although the operation entailed enormous risks for USSR, prize they sought was so great that risks were justified.
  3. Bowden said officials had in their studies speculated on Soviet planners’ assessment of possible USA reaction to their offensive buildup in Cuba. In their view, Russians must have concluded first that USA would not repeat not immediately launch a nuclear war on USSR. The next lower reaction on the scale, i.e. an attack on or invasion of Cuba was probably open to some question in Soviet analysts’ minds. Here Bowden thought Russians might have been motivated by their general contempt for weakness of USA bourgeois leadership, which had been reflected in certain of Khrushchev’s recent private utterances, but that even if they concluded that this kind of response was possible they were willing to accept risks, since USA could be portrayed as aggressor, and likelihood of escalation was not repeat not great. Bowden thought most likely USSR conclusion had been that USA reaction would be at about level it has thus far held. This would, if the operation were carried out swiftly, allow them to spin out international discussion of issue and to mobilize world opinion against USA while essential operation was completed.
  4. Bowden expressed view that first USSR response (which he thought was too quick and too pat not repeat not to have been prepared or at least thought through in advance) and their tactics thus far at UN and at quarantine fitted this assessment. Way USSR had played crisis publicly suggested they wished to adopt an outwardly reasonable approach and help portray USA as aggressor. He noted USSR had not repeat not been very successful so far in persuading neutral opinion of this thesis, and that Soviet press reports of “wave of world wide indignation against USA policy” had become less confident as days passed. (He remarked that absence of Krishna Menon “on other business” had deprived USSR of advocate among uncommitted group in New York.) In contrast USA reports suggested that allied opinion was firmly supporting USA stand and neutral opinion was neutral but understanding of USA position. Evidently this was about best USA officials had hoped for, and Bowden remarked that this might possibly sustain through such further USA unilateral action as became necessary.
  5. In rehearsing background of Soviet motivation he described, Bowden recalled that such nuclear equilibrium as had existed until this week had favoured USA. It had been more closely equal earlier before USA had introduced Polaris and before Soviet production of missiles had entered its gap period, i.e. the period before their new more accurate long range missiles were in full production. It had appeared to USA officials that Khrushchev realized significance of this sort of equilibrium which was tipped against him, and that this had been fundamental reason why there had been very little forward movement by USSR in past year on any of many fronts (he pointed to internal pressures in investment and other fields, continued difficulties within Bloc and especially with China, their acceptance of a negotiated settlement in Laos, their reverses in some parts of Africa and inactivity in others, and their utter failure to make headway over Berlin). Khrushchev had not repeat not been able to overcome the restrictions imposed on his policy in all fields by his lack of decisive power, and saw in the establishment in Cuba of decisive offensive bases the means of extricating himself from these circumscriptions. Bowden agreed it was uncharacteristic of Khrushchev to act incautiously, but again referred to great prize Cuban operation could bring, and to Khrushchev’s desire to advance Communist objectives during his lifetime. Recalling that lull in Soviet domestic and foreign affairs had been noted widely over past year, Bowden said they now thought it significant that about six weeks ago Khrushchev had begun to make challenging statements; this would have occurred well after decision had been taken on Cuban operation and when it was on way to fulfilment.
  6. We broached with Bowden question posed by Lippmann in his column October 25Footnote 91 about failure of Administration to raise this matter in private with Gromyko during conversations October 18 with President and Secretary.Footnote 92 It was his firm opinion that there had been “communication” during Kennedy’s talk with Gromyko. According to his information, President had very deliberately asked Gromyko for confirmation that Soviet military buildup in Cuba was defensive and had received reply to which Kennedy referred in his address October 22. Nonetheless it was clear that Gromyko knew what President was getting at.

696. DEA/2444-40

Permanent Representative to North Atlantic Council to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 2516

Paris, October 28, 1962

Secret. Emergency.

Repeat for Information: Candel New York (OpImmediate), CCOS, Washington, London, Paris (Priority), DM/DND (Priority) from CCOS.
By Bag Moscow from London.

Cuba: NAC Consultation

In accordance with the procedures agreed in the Council that on Cuban crisis Permanent Representatives would meet at any time at the request of any delegation, the Council met this morning at the request of USA Representative to receive briefing on USA Government’s latest appraisal of Soviet policy in Cuban crisis and to hold an exchange of views which it was recognized could not repeat not be fully governmental at this short notice. In mid-September USA received indications that Khrushchev was too much committed politically to retreat and that there were factors within Soviet bloc which increased his need to find a solution such as the situation in East Germany and pressure from Communist China. USA believed that Khrushchev had come to the conclusion that a showdown was inevitable within a few months and that he feared being placed in a situation where the only alternatives were retreat or thermonuclear war. USA had become suspicious at the point where USSR insisted on postponing further negotiations over Berlin until after the Congressional elections. There was then a description of recent assurances from USSR that there were no repeat no offensive weapons being installed in Cuba and a notation that the TASS report of the delay in further pressure over Berlin was linked with Cuba.Footnote 93 It was the series of assurances together with the intended delay which made USA think that Cuban installations when they were detected were related to Berlin crisis and Khrushchev’s projected visit to New York. Finletter then referred the Council to a number of basic documents: (a) a White House statement issued at noon October 27 about the continuation of the build up in Cuba;Footnote 94 (b) Kennedy’s message to Khrushchev released last night;Footnote 95 (c) the statements of USA Secretary of Defence on continued surveillance of Cuba and the call-up of reservesFootnote 96 and (d) Khrushchev’s letter to Kennedy received on the night of October 26 which was full of polemics but seemed to offer the withdrawal of offensive weapons in exchange for an assurance that Cuba would not repeat not be invaded.Footnote 97 We assume that the texts of all these items will be available to you from public sources. Continuing his account of USA Government’s assessment Finletter noted that Khrushchev’s public offer to U Thant to keep ships out of the quarantine area seemed at first to be hopeful but the new condition about the withdrawal of US missiles from Turkey destroyed this appearance. Finletter said USA wanted a solution within the framework of Cuba alone. Khrushchev appeared to have rejected this framework but it was a firm USA position. In USA view time was growing shorter. USA was combining diplomatic offers with military pressure but the construction of missile sites was continuing and more missiles were now believed to be ready.

  1. Finletter went into further detail about the construction of missile sites to indicate the speed with which they were going up and the fact that speed has evidently been considered more important than concealment. Until the shooting down of USA plane announced today Cuban policy had not repeat not been to fire on USA reconnaissance planes even at low attitudes. One item which was noticeably missing was the fourth IRBM site and USA was inclined to believe that the equipment for it may have been en route when the quarantine was instituted. USA believed that all ships with contraband had probably been turned back by USSR including those which were in the Black Sea. Tankers were however proceeding normally. USA was not repeat not willing at the moment to risk an incident in the air by forcibly interfering with Soviet flights to Cuba. It was considered however that the major purpose of the quarantine had been achieved in that ships had turned back and that the world was alerted to Soviet duplicity and the danger of the situation. In USA view it was essential to maintain the momentum of negotiations to secure the removal of existing missiles. USSR’s aim however is evidently to stabilize the situation and try to equate USSR missiles in Cuba with USA missiles in other places. It is USA assumption that the successful completion of missile sites in Cuba would appreciably interfere with SAC capabilities and must have been undertaken because USSR considered its own ICMB capabilities would not repeat not be adequate by the end of 1962. The missile sites in Cuba constituted a threat to the free world deterrent and the question arose what to do if Cubans flatly refused to remove the missiles together with suitable inspection arrangements. USA answer would be to remove them by “other means.” For the moment USA noted no repeat no significant troop movements within the USSR nor any reduction in general Soviet shipping activities abroad. USA sought the support and solidarity of its allies.
  2. In response to questioning Finletter said that in spite of the promises to U Thant Soviet vessels are continuing towards the quarantine area and the first of them will probably arrive in contact today, Sunday. An incident might occur. USA might find it necessary to take measures to remove the threat to the Western hemisphere. While USA wanted the matter settled within the framework of Western hemisphere USSR had tried to link it with NATO defences and this Soviet position increased the possibility of some Soviet move against NATO.
  3. In the discussion which followed I made use of the Prime Minister’s statement (your telegram PG-204 October 25†) indicating our general solidarity with USA and Canadian measures of preparedness but making it clear that I would seek instructions on developments since October 25.
  4. UK Permanent Representative read British Government’s assessment of the situation in the following terms. In UK view USSR linked Cuba and Berlin but were probably not repeat not sure how to use this linkage. UK thought there were four main possibilities:
    1. A Lull Over Berlin. Cuban situation might keep Khrushchev too busy to permit him to plan forays in Berlin and he might therefore leave the city alone for the time being.
    2. Measured Retaliation. USSR might react to USA interference with shipping on a tit-for-tat basis by interfering with military traffic to West Berlin. USSR could cause a good deal of delay and damage without actually stopping Western access to the city. Less probable than interference with military traffic was interference with civilian traffic. Such action would be likely to detract from plans of USSR calling for a free city of West Berlin. Also considered improbable was barring Western access to East Berlin because retaliation against Soviet access to West Berlin would be too easy.
    3. A Major Berlin Crisis. Khrushchev could announce the imminent intention to sign a separate peace treaty and might launch a campaign to get those non-committed countries which were critical of USA action over Cuba to sign it. Another form the major crisis could take would be a total blockade of Berlin. A major Berlin crisis was considered improbable because of the risks involved.
    4. A General Occupation of West Berlin. This was also considered unlikely because it would lead to war. On the whole the Foreign Office was inclined to believe that course (b) was the most probable especially as Khrushchev had already distinguished between non-nuclear clashes at sea and the possibility of general war. UK Ambassador in Moscow when invited to comment on this assessment questioned the immediacy of the link between Cuba and Berlin suggesting that there was a more indirect one. Roberts also estimated that Khrushchev did not repeat not always foresee the outcome of crises which he precipitated, relying on his general ability to make the most out of any confused situation. Roberts therefore thought that Soviet aims in precipitating the crisis over Cuba had been more general, not repeat not specific and included advantages in the field of disarmament as well as Berlin. USSR had not repeat not been prepared for the severity of USA reaction over Cuba or for the support USA had received in Latin America and Europe. Khrushchev had been improvising ever since with the main aim of avoiding a head-on collision while extracting the utmost propaganda advantages. Roberts thought that the four possibilities mentioned above had already been overtaken by the offer of a deal in the disarmament field over Cuban and Turkish bases. Roberts doubted that this deal had been thought out or was seriously intended. What Khrushchev wanted from the crisis was not repeat not only a good propaganda position but the possibility of personal negotiations. Roberts therefore doubted that there would be more than pin pricks in Berlin especially as he regards USA as “trigger happy” at this point. Roberts therefore viewed the lull as the most probable outcome in Berlin not repeat not because of lack of energy on Khrushchev’s part but because Khrushchev wants a deal, and also wants USA to alienate its position in the uncommitted world if it shows itself to be rigid.
  5. The other principal item which came out in the discussion was one launched by Belgian Permanent Representative and carried on particularly by Norwegian, Danish and Netherlands Permanent Representatives. Belgian Permanent Representative insisted on links between the removal of the Soviet bases in Cuba and further negotiations particularly in the disarmament field. He several times mentioned that the removal of the offensive weapons in Cuba was a necessary first stage. Speaking with the authority of Mr. Spaak he could not repeat not agree that the outcome should be a policy of stagnation as suggested by the French. It must be one of negotiation on the basis of a general confrontation on East-West issues. Norwegian Permanent Representative carried this a step further speaking with the authority of his Foreign Minister saying that he recognized that it was impossible to negotiate under blackmail but that on the other hand his government expected that direct physical action would be avoided in favour of negotiation. Physical action might be successful in the short term but it was impossible to foresee the outcome. Danish Permanent Representative thought that it was important to recognize that a deterrent was designed to avoid war not repeat not to start one. He wondered whether there would be a difference in the degree of risk of world war between pin point bombing and general invasion. Netherlands Representative thought there was general agreement with Norwegian position of desiring to avoid violence. He pointed once more to the direct involvement of NATO and emphasized that he thought the position was that we were all ready to continue discussions with Russians after the threat which the bases constitute had been removed. He hoped we would all be as anxious to negotiate as before Cuban crisis but not repeat not more anxious because if the latter were true USSR could continually gain points of advantage by stimulating crises. At the end of meeting Belgian Permanent Representative returned to the points he and others had raised by asking if a decision were reached in Washington either to invade Cuba or bombard missile sites whether the USA would act without NATO consultation or without informing UN. Finletter said that he could not repeat not be categorical because he could foresee situation in which USA might be compelled to act alone as at Pearl Harbour.Footnote 98 He thought that the present consultation showed the desire of USA to consult its allies but he could not repeat not promise them more.
  6. In the discussion all delegates spoke including the Icelandic in statements of more or less solidarity with USA.
  7. Prime Minister’s statement of October 25 enabled me to improvise remarks in support of USA actions up to October 25. I am in the position now of participating in Council consultations on Cuba without the guidance requested in my telegram 2454 October 22. The Council has been informed by Turkish representative that he may be asking for a meeting as soon as he receives a further message from Ankara and the Council is in any case on notice to meet at the request of any delegation. Any comments on the appreciation of possible developments in Cuban crisis given above would be helpful in the present circumstances especially on the basis of the useful analysis provided by UK authorities and British Ambassador in Moscow.

[George] Ignatieff

697. DEA/2444-40

Ambassador in Soviet Union to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 777

Moscow, October 28, 1962

Secret. OpImmediate.

Reference: My Tel 775 Oct 27.†
Repeat for Information: London, Washington, Permis New York, NATO Paris, Paris, Bonn, Rome, Brussels, PCO, CCOS, DM/DND JIR Ottawa from Ottawa
By Bag Berlin, Vienna, Warsaw, Prague, Belgrade, Cairo, Delhi from London, Havana from Ottawa.

Cuba Crisis

You will have seen Khrushchev’s telegram of yesterday afternoon (Moscow time) to Kennedy offering to trade withdrawal of Soviet rockets in Cuba against withdrawal of American rockets in Turkey; President Kennedy’s reply; and Khrushchev’s subsequent message to Kennedy broadcast an hour ago stating, without apparent conditions, that he has ordered dismantling of Soviet rockets in Cuba under UN supervision and their return to USSR. This message was delivered about 5:00 p.m. this afternoon to USA Embassy here.Footnote 99

  1. We must still keep fingers crossed and eyes wide open for tricks, or perhaps for early Soviet action elsewhere to re-establish face and save something from what appears to be wreckage of calculated and dangerous Khrushchev gambit. Nevertheless this looks to me here at the moment like a complete Soviet climb-down. This is also impression of American Embassy this evening. It remains to be seen how this will in fact be implemented, but at moment it looks like major American victory, and genuine Soviet retreat. We appear to have won not repeat not mere innings, but ball-game, though not repeat not yet World Series.
  2. My tentative and preliminary assessment, subject however to cautionary provision that it looks too good to be taken yet as certainty, is that Khrushchev has felt it necessary to beat hasty retreat when faced with unexpected suddenness and firmness of American unilateral action, unexpected solidarity of support for American action by Canada, Latin American governments, European NATO governments, and Japan, and perhaps also by apparent gravity of Chinese/Indian crisis. Apprehended imminence of American military action against Cuba lent urgency to Soviet dilemma.
  3. My guess is that Khrushchev has intended, by sudden strategic nuclear rocket breakthrough in Caribbean made under cover of bland and misleading assurances, to achieve one or more of following three objectives:
    1. enhanced threat and hence greater Soviet bargaining power for possible show-down later this autumn on Berlin;
    2. alternatively, if this failed through premature disclosure and strong American reaction, to probe American nerves and firmness;
    3. additionally, or alternatively if disappointed in both above objectives, there may have been original hope of bargaining withdrawal of Soviet rockets in Cuba against NATO rockets in Turkey or elsewhere.
    In any case, this gambit was tried yesterday. An additional Soviet objective, and possible alternative fallback position, may originally have been attempt to force formal Western recognition of geographic status quo where Communist regimes now exist.
  4. However this may be, it appears as of this evening that when ante has been raised high by Kennedy, Khrushchev has folded, and has abandoned ploy of Soviet nuclear potential in Cuba.
  5. If this retreat turns out to be genuine Khrushchev will have problem of saving face in view of potentially far reaching Cold War defeat. I do not repeat not anticipate that Khrushchev will have serious difficulty in this regard from Soviet public itself. On contrary Khrushchev’s popularity may be enhanced at home with public by their undoubted relief, and by using domestic propaganda media to play up Khrushchev’s image, carefully fostered during past few days, of statesmanlike willingness to make all possible efforts to save peace despite outrageous American provocation. Khrushchev will also be able to claim that by his Cuban gambit he has for first time succeeded in extracting promise from Kennedy not repeat not to invade Cuba and not repeat not to allow invasion of Cuba from any other quarter.
  6. But by tonight’s message to Kennedy it seems inevitable that Soviet prestige will be seriously lowered in Cuba and among other Latin American left wing circles, within important elements in Communist bloc, and in other Communist parties abroad. It will probably be damaged also among some important elements within CPSU itself. He will of course have laid himself open to renewed charges of cowardice and incompetence from Chinese Communist leaders. After first wave of domestic relief this may strike some chord also at home.
  7. Presumably some elements in Soviet defence forces in particular will be disillusioned and unhappy at results of Cuban affair.
  8. I think it important that West should avoid becoming dizzy with success, even if (as from here at present appears probable) present Soviet backdown proves quite genuine. It is also desirable to avoid excessive gloating. Too sudden and too excessive loss of face by Khrushchev could prove dangerous. We may have to expect in due course, and perhaps soon, some Soviet efforts to re-establish their gravely damaged prestige. Khrushchev has so acted, apparently, as to earn at home some of first flush popularity Chamberlain earned immediately after Munich. If Soviet leaders feel too humiliated there could be a second stage psychological reaction, e.g. in some future crisis, whether by Khrushchev or by other elements in Soviet ruling circles, which could be dangerous.

Arnold Smith

698. DEA/2444-40

Ambassador in United States to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 3173

Washington, October 28, 1962

Secret. OpImmediate.

Reference: My Tel 3171 Oct 27.†
Repeat for Information: Candel New York (OpImmediate), London, NATO Paris, Paris (Priority).
By Bag Moscow from London, Havana from Ottawa.


I called on Tyler, Assistant Secretary for European Affairs, today to get first State Department reactions to the Khrushchev message of this morning offering to dismantle the bases under UN supervision in return for a guarantee that there would be no repeat no USA attack on Cuba.Footnote 100

  1. Tyler said that Secretary of State was at that moment at the White House discussing developments with the President and that therefore any views that he (Tyler) expressed must be regarded as tentative first impressions. He began by referring to the fact that the private message from Khrushchev to the President of October 26Footnote 101 had been succeeded by yesterday’s public message including the reference to Turkish basesFootnote 102 and that this had now been succeeded by Khrushchev’s last message. He said that, as a matter of speculation, it might be thought that Khrushchev had drafted the original private message to the President personally and that thereafter some other influences in the Kremlin, perhaps military, had induced him to put out the tougher message seeking the inclusion of the elimination of the Turkish bases and that finally, seeing how near he was coming to the brink of catastrophe, Khrushchev had reverted to his original offer. Tyler said that it was possible that USA reaction and their firm defensive posture and refusal to accept compromise over the Cuban missile bases had helped Khrushchev to stand up to pressures in Moscow.
  2. Tyler said that as late as 12:30 am last night USA authorities had felt that the situation was very dark and critical and the shooting down of what he described as an “American U-2” over Cuba had accentuated this feeling. (Had it not repeat not been for the most recent Khrushchev message received today, what he described as grave decisions were to have been taken at 10:00am this morning including armed aerial surveillance of Cuba.) The President’s reply of October 27 to KhrushchevFootnote 103 (which I have telegraphed to you separately†) had been drafted in a carefully matter of fact tone which was designed to lower tension. As a matter of tactics, the President had linked his reply to the private communication he had received from Khrushchev and not repeat not to his public message of October 27.
  3. Meanwhile negotiations with U Thant had been proceeding but Tyler said that speaking confidentially, he could tell me that State Department had been quite disturbed by the non comprehension on the part of U Thant and his assistants, and particularly General Rikhye, his military adviser, of the elements of USA position and particularly of their insistence on the elimination of missile bases.
  4. In the changed situation created by the receipt of Khrushchev’s message, Tyler said that he hoped that there would not repeat not be a mood of euphoria in which public opinion expected the easy solution of problems all around the world as this would be self-deluding. I agreed but said that the impetus given by the crisis might well be utilized to open up wider negotiations, perhaps covering some of the questions which he had mentioned to me yesterday (my reference telegram) such as nuclear free zones, arms limitations, etc. and I referred to the passage in Khrushchev’s latest message in which he speaks of the [regularization?] of “relations between NATO and the states of the Warsaw Treaty.” I assumed that the Russians would be interested in an early summit meeting.
  5. Tyler was guarded in his reply. He said that certainly there was the possibility of such wider negotiations to which the President had referred in his letter but that one would have to proceed very carefully, stage by stage. He took this opportunity to add that the swap deal over Turkish bases was in itself totally unacceptable to USA and would be “lethal” to the North Atlantic Alliance.
  6. Tyler then turned to public reactions in this country and in the West generally. He said that he personally hoped that it would be possible for the President to go on the air very shortly in order to establish the sober and responsible American reaction to the present crisis. He was worried lest the press should greet this as humiliation for Khrushchev and should crow over his setback. He was also worried lest certain extremist elements in this country might react in a somewhat belligerent way to the present situation.
  7. Turning to the text of Khrushchev’s latest communication, Tyler indicated that the effectiveness of the supervision over the dismantlement of the bases was of cardinal importance and would have to be very carefully scrutinized. He added that the offensive weapons in Cuba, in the American interpretation were not repeat not limited to missiles but included the IL-28 bomber planes and probably MiG fighters.
  8. He said that the reference in the second paragraph of Khrushchev’s message to “previously issued instructions” appeared to be an attempt on Khrushchev’s part to save his own face as USA authorities were not repeat not aware of any previous Soviet instructions regarding the cessation of the build up of weapons in Cuba.
  9. Tyler also drew attention [to] Khrushchev’s reference to the need to “liquidate the breeding grounds where a dangerous situation has been created.” He took this to be an indication that USSR could be counted on to attach importance to Berlin in any wider negotiation.
  10. As a general indication of probable USA reaction to Khrushchev’s latest message, Tyler said that USA Government intended to take it seriously and to welcome its positive features.

[C.S.A.] Ritchie

699. DEA/2444-40

Memorandum from Assistant Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs to Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs


Ottawa, October 29, 1962

We now have additional information on the preliminary discussions which have taken place in New York and Washington between ourselves and the United States concerning the possibility of the latter making available F-101 reconnaissance aircraft to the United Nations for the verification of dismantling, with Canadian pilots doing the flying. The Minister has instructed the Embassy in Washington to make a firm offer to the United States of Canadian pilots provided that the arrangement would be acceptable to the United Nations.

  1. The United States has apparently been conducting most of its surveillance of Cuba by means of camera-equipped F-101s based in the United States. The aircraft they are using are specially outfitted for the task, and the United States wishes to continue to have the dismantling operation supervised by the same effective means. I have just been informed in confidence by New York that the United States Mission has confirmed that for the time being reconnaissance operations have been suspended.
  2. The United States have sent to New York a team of very senior people, including Ball, McCloy, KilpatrickFootnote 104 and the Under-Secretary of the Air Force, Joseph Charyk, to work out the air surveillance arrangements in cooperation with U Thant and ourselves. Kuznetsov is seeing U Thant at this moment. Stevenson is to see him immediately thereafter and then to see the Minister. As yet there is no confirmation that U Thant would be interested in this combined United States/Canadian offer and, of course, no assurance that it would be acceptable to Castro or the Soviet Union. We may have to await U Thant’s visit to Havana for further word.
  3. If acceptable, the United States have in mind four aircraft which would be painted white and bear the United Nations insignia.
  4. Our Mission is to meet with Charyk to obtain more precise details. I have spoken to Miller and, at his request, have asked the Mission in New York to obtain clarification of the following points:
    1. where would the aircraft be based? There is some suggestion that to avoid the complications of a base in either the United States or Cuba, Jamaica might be used.
    2. how many pilots and navigators would be required? As Miller sees it, the number and composition of air crew would be affected by the following factors:
      1. how many sorties are to be flown per day;
      2. are the aircraft to be ground-controlled throughout? United States surveillance flights have been ground-controlled from Florida, thus enabling them to dispense with navigators. One pilot has operated both aircraft and the cameras. In the absence of ground-control, navigators would probably be required. The RCAF normally fly such aircraft with pilot and navigator. We have 60 or 70 such trained crews available but all are engaged on other duties from which they would have to be released.
    3. where would the maintenance be done and by whom? Would Canada provide maintenance personnel?
    4. Where would the photographs be off-loaded for processing? By whom would the work be done?Footnote 105

R. C[ampbell]

700. DEA/2444-40

Secretary of State for External Affairs to Chairman, Delegation to United Nations General Assembly

Telegram E-2115

Ottawa, October 29, 1962

Confidential. OpImmediate.

USA Quarantine of Cuba: Proposed Clearance System

For the Minister:

Following is text of self-explanatory letter we have just received from USA Chargé d’Affaires concerning proposed institution of worldwide clearance system for ships proceeding to Cuban ports or transitting quarantine area. We are examining legal and other implications of USA proposals on an urgent basis and hope to let you have our recommendations later today.

  1. Following is text of Mr. White’s letter and of two enclosures.†


Chargé d’affaires, Embassy of United States, to Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs


Ottawa, October 29, 1962

Dear Mr. Under-Secretary:

With reference to the transmittal to the Department of External Affairs of the text of the President’s Proclamation of October 23, I have been instructed to notify your Department of a world-wide clearance system that has been instituted in order to avoid unnecessary delays and other difficulties arising out of the stoppage, inspection or possible diversion of ships in the quarantine area. In the absence of objection by your Government, the system will be applied to Canada.

Under the procedures established in this system the ship’s agent or other officer may obtain a clearance at the last port of call before entering the quarantine area from an American Consular officer or his authorized representative. This system may be applied to any foreign vessels that transit the quarantine area destined for a non-Cuban port and to those vessels destined for a Cuban port with cargo which contains no offensive weapons or associated materiel. It is available to vessels of any flag including those of the Sino-Soviet Bloc. In unusual circumstances it may be necessary to stop, inspect or divert a ship despite the fact that it has clearance.

Copies of the clearance forms that would be made available at the United States Embassy and Consulates in Canada are attached. A clearance certificate (Clearcert) will be issued after inspection of the ship by an individual authorized by a U.S. Military Attaché and a determination by him that no offensive weapons or associated materiel, as defined in the Proclamation or designated by the Secretary of Defense pursuant thereto, are on board. The application for the clearance certificate may be approved by a Consular officer, or if no such officer is available at the port, the designee of the Service Attaché on behalf of the Consular officer.

In the absence of objection by your Department, the Embassy may issue the following statement:

“In connection with the quarantine of shipments of offensive weapons and associated materiel to Cuba proclaimed by the President of the United States on October 23, 1962, a clearance system has been instituted to avoid unnecessary delays and other difficulties arising out of the stoppage, inspection or possible diversion of ships. This system applies to foreign vessels that transit the quarantine area destined for a non-Cuban port and those destined for a Cuban port with cargo which contains no offensive weapons or associated materiel. It is available to vessels of any flag including those of the Sino-Soviet Bloc. A clearance may be obtained at the last port of call before entering the quarantine area from an American Consular officer or his authorized representative for the purpose of facilitating the movement of vessels. In unusual circumstances it may be necessary to stop, inspect or divert a ship despite the fact that it has clearance. Clearance forms are available at American Embassies and Consulates.”


Ivan B. White

701. DEA/2444-40

Chairman, Delegation to United Nations General Assembly, to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 1983

New York, October 29, 1962

Secret. OpImmediate.

Reference: Telcons between Minister-Prime Minister and Minister-Canadian Ambassador in Washington.
Repeat for Information: Washington (OpImmediate).


Minister saw Stevenson this afternoon and in accordance with understanding reached with him we have informed UN Secretariat that Canada would be prepared to provide aircrew for photo reconnaissance operations over Cuba utilizing F-101 aircraft with UN markings but made available by USAF. Secretariat said that they would consider this offer in context of forthcoming discussions with Castro.

  1. We have also had discussions with military representatives of USA Mission and of Secretary of Defence. They envisage requirement for two sorties per day and estimated that this would require four aircraft. They considered three possibilities regarding basing of aircraft (a) Jamaica (b) Cuba (c) USA. They took it for granted that aircrew required would be pilots and radar operators. They were uncertain as to possible duration of operation but thought that 30 days sounded like a reasonable estimate. Servicing of aircraft camera equipment and processing of film could be handled by UN contract with appropriate civil agencies.
  2. What happens next will hinge on success of Secretary-General’s discussions with Castro. We will keep you informed of developments.

702. DEA/2444-40

Memorandum from Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs to Prime Minister


Ottawa, October 29, 1962

Attached for your consideration is a draft of a possible reply to the United Kingdom Prime Minister’s communication to you of October 28 transmitting the text of his message to Premier Khrushchev.Footnote 106 Footnote 107

N.A. R[obertson]


Draft Note


Ottawa, October 29, 1962

Reply From Prime Minister to Prime Minister of United Kingdom

I fully endorse your action in suggesting to Chairman Khrushchev that a satisfactory resolution of the immediate situation in Cuba will open up broad possibilities for the solution of outstanding East-West differences. The world has been brought close to disaster in the past week but out of the recognition of that fact has come an opportunity for a major advance towards lasting peace. Your message to Khrushchev is therefore most timely.

I am convinced – as I have already warned the Canadian people – that we cannot allow a sense of complacency to develop in the wake of any final solution to the immediate problem of Cuba which may be worked out over the next few days.

Clearly the reason that international tension mounted to such a danger point in the Cuban situation was that the Soviet move to introduce offensive missiles into the Western hemisphere threatened to upset the precarious military balance in the world. It is, however, not enough simply to restore that balance and have the world return to a condition of chronic instability. This fact has been recognized in the correspondence between President Kennedy and Chairman Khrushchev. The most immediate consideration is to ensure that the impetus to broaden the area in which settlement can be sought will not be lost. Nuclear testing and disarmament are two such areas, but I would not exclude others. With respect to those issues which might properly fall in the field of disarmament, I believe that the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee should resume its work at the earliest opportunity so that the uneasy and dangerous balance of armed force might be replaced by stable international agreements.

I can assure you that the Canadian Government share your view that we should try to build better world relations upon a settlement of the present crisis.

703. DEA/2444-40

Memorandum from Head, United Nations Division, to Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs


Ottawa, October 30, 1962

Cuba and the United Nations

You will already be aware of most of the developments yesterday in relation to Cuba. However, you may wish to have this report from me on activity by the Canadian Delegation during the Minister’s visit to New York. In any event, this memorandum will serve as a record for file.

  1. Shortly after his arrival in New York on October 28, the Minister met with most members of the Delegation to discuss various subjects. Principal among these was the Cuban situation. The announcement about U Thant’s visit to Havana had been made during our flight to New York and, in view of the early departure of the Acting Secretary-General’s party, the Minister wished to assure U Thant that Canada was ready to render assistance in providing some form of United Nations inspection for the dismantling of the missile bases in Cuba. The Minister ascertained from Colonel Moore (attached to the Permanent Mission) that qualified personnel were available in Canada.
  2. During our evening meeting, the Minister had telephone conversations as follows:
    1. Mr. Charles Ritchie reported from Washington on latest developments in the Cuban situation on the basis of information he had obtained from the State Department. The Minister asked Mr. Ritchie to inform the State Department that Canada was ready to assist in providing personnel for the United Nations team. Mr. Ritchie later reported that State Department officials had warmly received this information.
    2. The Minister spoke with the Prime Minister about offering assistance to the United Nations.
    3. The Minister informed U Thant that Canada was ready to give whatever assistance the Acting Secretary-General might consider appropriate. U Thant expressed gratitude for this offer.
  3. It had been arranged that the Minister would see Mr. Adlai Stevenson on October 29. This meeting took place about 2:45 p.m. Although I was not present, I understood that Mr. Stevenson explained to the Minister the United States scheme for conducting an aerial surveillance of Cuba under United Nations auspices. The four aircraft to be provided by the United States were to be flown by Canadians, who were the only others considered qualified to do so. It was expected that the aircraft might operate from Jamaica. There was some question whether navigators and flight control officers would be required as well.
  4. As I understand it, at the time of Mr. Stevenson’s conversation with the Minister, the United States had not raised this possibility with the United Nations. As one United States official put it to me, “We’ll sell it to U Thant after Canada has bought it.” It is my impression that Mr. Stevenson hoped that the Minister would have some success in persuading the Acting Secretary-General to accept this scheme. In the event, however, the Minister was unable to see the Acting Secretary-General or Brigadier Rikhye on October 29. Mr. Tremblay and Mr. Barton met with Flight Lieutenant (?) Harrison, an R.C.A.F. officer currently serving on Brigadier Rikhye’s staff, to discuss the plan. He undertook to inform Brigadier Rikhye.
  5. Because I was anxious to know something about the Secretary-General’s attitude toward offers of assistance, I visited Mr. Omar Loutfi early in the afternoon of October 29. I explained to him Canada’s willingness to help if its help seemed appropriate. Before seeing Mr. Loutfi, I had heard the press story to the effect that Sweden had been approached by the Secretary-General and that the Swedish Government had responded favourably.Footnote 108 I had also heard that the Secretary-General’s thinking was that the Swedes might do the job alone, with the assistance of a few Secretariat personnel.
  6. Mr. Loutfi informed me that U Thant was considerably embarrassed by the press report about his approach to Sweden. While it was true that the Secretary-General had been making some informal soundings. U Thant did not wish this to become known in Havana. He assumed that Premier Castro was in a highly emotional state and that he would be very sensitive about any suggestions concerning outside intervention. The Secretary-General had made no firm plans about observers or inspectors of any nationality. This was a question which must be fully explored in Havana to see what the traffic would bear. Mr. Loutfi recalled to me the difficult negotiation in 1956 between Dag Hammarskjöld and President Nasser, whose frame of mind then was probably much like that of Castro today.
  7. Mr. Loutfi said that the Secretary-General was travelling to Havana on October 30 and would return to New York on October 31. He intended to leave some of his party in Havana. I confirmed later that Brigadier Rikhye and some technical personnel were to be left in Havana, presumably to keep contact with the Cuban government and to set up the administrative side of the proposed United Nations presence. In addition to Brigadier Rikhye and Mr. Loutfi, U Thant has taken with him Mr. Tavares de Sa, a Brazilian Under-Secretary in charge of the Office of Public Information. About 30 people are included in the Secretary-General’s party.
  8. If the Secretary-General is expecting to complete his business in Havana in one day, there is some suggestion that he already has an indication that Castro’s reaction will be favourable to a United Nations presence. This conclusion is sustained by the fact that U Thant is planning to leave some of his party in Havana. Perhaps he is planning only to make initial contact in this first visit, leaving Brigadier Rikhye to work out the details. We are well aware that U Thant prefers to delegate authority. Besides, he is needed in New York to deal with pressing Congo affairs. The meeting of the Advisory Committee on the Congo, scheduled for October 30, had to be cancelled, partly because of the Secretary-General’s absence but also Dr. Bunche had not returned from the Congo.
  9. The Secretary-General’s side of the operation seems to be progressing well. I wonder whether the United States project for aerial surveillance may not complicate matters. It is difficult to see in what circumstances Castro or the Russians would accept the substitution of Canadian pilots under the United Nations flag for regular United States Air Force observers. This kind of air photo reconnaissance, moreover, seems very elaborate for the job to be done although I can readily understand why the United States would wish to make the verification system as fool-proof as possible.Footnote 109
  10. Many observers at the United Nations seemed to accept that the sending of Mr. Kuznetsov to New York meant that the Soviet Government genuinely wished to clean up this Cuban mess quickly. Before we left New York, he had already seen U Thant and had emerged “smiling,” according to the New York evening papers. The fact that he smiles regularly whenever peace is breaking out, was not noted however.Footnote 110

G.S. Murray

704. DEA/2444-40

Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs to Chargé d’affaires, Embassy of United States


Ottawa, October 30, 1962

Dear Mr. White,

Thank you for your letter of October 29 notifying me of the institution of a world-wide clearance system for ships entering the quarantine area around Cuba. I note that the procedures described in your letter are being adopted in order to avoid delay and other difficulties which would result from stoppage and inspection of ships, and may be applied to vessels of any flag entering the quarantine area.

I am authorized to confirm that the Canadian authorities have no objection to the application of these procedures to vessels of Canadian or other registry in Canadian ports. I hope, however, that there will be close co-ordination between the Embassy and this Department concerning the timing of any statement which may be issued by the Embassy. The wording suggested in your letter is quite satisfactory from our point of view, but we should like reasonable advance warning in case the Government wishes to make an announcement in the House of Commons.

Yours sincerely,

N.A. Robertson

705. DEA/2444-40

Memorandum by Assistant Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs


Ottawa, October 30, 1962


The Minister called in the Cuban Ambassador this morning to explain to him the importance which Canada attached to the success of the U.N. observer operation which U Thant would be discussing today with Premier Castro and to let the Ambassador know of Canada’s readiness to contribute in any way possible to its success. In the Minister’s opinion it was no less in Cuba’s interests to cooperate.

  1. The Minister went on to explain that the benefits of a successful U.N. observer operation in Cuba would not be confined to the Cuban situation only. He described the improved international atmosphere which had been so apparent in New York and which marked a complete reversal of the shock and depression which had characterized the atmosphere in New York as recently as Saturday last. The relaxation of tension brought with it great possibilities for progress in issues such as testing for there was wide-spread revulsion to the prospect of nuclear war which the Cuban crisis had brought to a head.
  2. So far, the United Nations generally, and U Thant in particular, had come out of the current crisis well. U Thant had shown great wisdom and initiative and had earned the wide-spread respect of member states. The result was a renewal of faith in the United Nations even by countries such as the United Kingdom, which had a justifiable cause for complaint over the attacks to which they were being subjected in the 4th Committee. The recent crisis had shown that the United Nations was the principal hope of maintaining peace and Canada fully endorsed that view.
  3. The Cuban [Ambassador] did not dispute the Minister’s assessment of the U.N. role or the hopes which the crisis had engendered for the future. He expressed the hope that some good could come out of the recent events. Specifically, he hoped that Cuba could obtain a guarantee that the United States would not attack Cuba. The Minister commented that such a guarantee had been already promised by President Kennedy, who, on the whole, had handled himself well throughout the crisis in the face of many internal demands for stronger action. Indeed, the three leading personalities on the United States side, Kennedy, Rusk and Stevenson were not warlike men, had consistently shown a determination to work out peaceful solutions and were the voices of moderation in United States policies.
  4. The Cuban Ambassador noted in reply that these same three Ministers were those who had adopted a policy of isolating Cuba economically and politically in the Western hemisphere and, judging by this morning’s newspapers, apparently intended to continue that policy. Cuba had offered repeatedly to discuss their differences with the United States but had been rebuffed. The question was, would they be prepared to do so now.
  5. The Minister did not reply directly, other than to say that the present offered an opportunity for progress in a number of directions. There was a general will to reduce tensions. Even Berlin and other broad issues might now be capable of resolution. The drastic change in the atmosphere in the last few days had greatly altered the outlook for peace.
  6. The Cuban Ambassador said that he would report the views expressed by Mr. Green to his Government.

R. C[ampbell]

706. J.G.D./MG01/VI/845 (Cuba - Conf. Official Material)

Memorandum from Secretary of State for External Affairs to Prime Minister


[Ottawa], October 30, 1962

The Soviet Union and the Cuban Crisis

In any analysis of Soviet objectives in creating the conditions for the latest Cuban crisis, a number of basic considerations must be kept in mind.

  1. Khrushchev is essentially a cautious man who is fully aware of the dangers of thermonuclear war and of the present strategic superiority of the USA. He therefore would not willingly run the risk of a major confrontation with the USA except where the vital security interests of the USSR were at stake.
  2. At the same time, Khrushchev is an impatient man who loathes inactivity and needs successes. He felt compelled to demonstrate that his policy of “peaceful coexistence” pays dividends, be it something as intangible as a meeting with the President of the USA or something as concrete as a settlement in Laos. He likes to keep things moving and nothing had been moving, satisfactorily for him, for many months: Berlin talks had brought no progress, a disarmament agreement seemed as far off as ever, no significant Soviet advances were being made among the neutralists, and Western Europe integration and economic progress were moving ahead in marked contrast with Marxist assumptions and the Soviet bloc’s economic problems.
  3. Khrushchev is also a proud man who is determined that the Soviet Union be accorded a status and a respect which he feels is due, but not widely enough acknowledged, to a great power and to him personally as the leader of that power.
  1. The psychological explanation of his decision to establish offensive missile sites in Cuba probably lay in his desire to stir things up, to get them moving, to act dramatically, to be noticed, to be able to point to successes. But in his caution he knew that he must not let the pot boil over, and this was amply demonstrated in his careful handling of the crisis once President Kennedy had made his speech of October 22.
  2. Khrushchev’s objectives, put in logical terms, were many and complex. The end of the operation he himself probably could not predict until he saw how events developed.
    1. By a rapid build-up of offensive missiles in Cuba he might be able to effect a short-cut to reducing the strategic imbalance favouring the USA, circumventing the North American early warning network and covering off a number of SAC bases which are still a vital part of the American superiority. Even if American reconnaissance spotted the build-up quickly (and he probably knew it would), he could safely assume that the USA would not attack the Soviet Union in retaliation for the mere establishment of bases in Cuba. If the USA responded precipitately by attacking Cuba, Khrushchev would gain by being able to brand the Americans as aggressors.
    2. If he was able to get away with the build-up before effective counter-action was taken, Khrushchev would be in an improved posture to call for a discussion of Germany-Berlin, American bases on the periphery of the USSR, disarmament (nuclear tests, nuclear-free zones, non-dissemination of nuclear weapons, etc.) or any other point of conflict with the USA. His enhanced bargaining position at the conference table would stem less from the crude fact of a Cuban dagger pointed at the heart of the USA (even with this, the Americans could impose an unacceptable level of damage on the USSR) than from the fact that the Soviet Union had been able to seize the initiative and act in a decisive way while the USA fumbled and hesitated about its response. The chances of pulling it off may well have been recognized as slight, but the dangers were not thought to be critical and the possible advantages justified the gamble.
    3. Should the Americans call, say, on the United Nations to stop the build-up before its completion, Khrushchev might still get ahead with the build-up while the United Nations machinery came into play. And in any event, such an initiative would be almost sure to lead to discussion and negotiation in which sooner or later Khrushchev would find himself face to face with Kennedy discussing the whole range of disputed problems. This would be better than interminable diplomatic exchanges and might even bring some solutions.
    4. If the Americans took forceful enough action to stop the build-up and insist on dismantlement, Khrushchev could count on getting some quid pro quo, perhaps the removal of a few American bases, at least some sort of guarantee for the territorial integrity of Cuba. Even this latter would be a gain. First of all, it would eliminate any obligation to go to the defence of an island much too far away from the Soviet Union for effective support, and secondly, it would be a tacit admission of the right of a Soviet-oriented régime to exist in the Western Hemisphere.
  3. If one considers that Khrushchev seriously counted on achieving his maximum objectives, the Cuban gambit would be a serious defeat for him and one in which his personal prestige and that of the Soviet Union suffered a heavy defeat. But if one accepts that Khrushchev is a realist, and a cautious one; that essentially he was probing the Americans to see what he could get away with; and that he was from the outset willing to accept even the minimum objective as worth the gamble – then his defeat is only a relative one. The Soviet leader has at no time during the crisis looked as if he were acting in panic and such indicators as troop and naval movements and the orders to cargo ships not to test the American quarantine do not suggest that he was planning or expecting a major confrontation with the USA. The Soviet Union has undoubtedly suffered a loss of prestige as a result of the quick, determined and measured response of the USA. But it has not been a rout. Khrushchev has set himself up quite skilfully as the man of peace who would not be provoked into rash action by an impetuous young Kennedy. And the chances are at least even that he will soon have a meeting with Kennedy at which Khrushchev can bill himself as co-star (perhaps stealing the show?) in the settlement, or at least the direct discussion, of the major problems of the world.
  4. Some of the consequences which may flow from the latest Cuban crisis must be examined, though with the usual caveatabout the dangers of prediction where the Soviet Union is concerned.
    1. If the analysis of the previous paragraphs is correct, there is no reason why Khrushchev’s internal position should suffer seriously, or perhaps at all. He is not likely to have embarked on such a venture as this without considerable discussion within the top leadership and therefore they are probably as much committed to it as he.Footnote 111 We know of no coherent body of opposition to Khrushchev within the Soviet Union and even if there are some grumblings of discontent, Khrushchev, a consummate politician, is capable of making partial success or even minor defeats appear as great successes.
    2. The Chinese leaders will probably more than ever conclude and imply that Khrushchev has no right to be the leader of the Communist world after what they may consider a great loss of face before the imperialists. The Cuban episode will probably lead to a further deterioration in Sino-Soviet relations, but it would appear that Khrushchev has for some time determined to follow the course of action which he deems necessary for the Soviet Union almost regardless of the reactions of the Chinese. The recent public expressions of Soviet support for the Chinese position in the Chinese-Indian border dispute may serve as minor compensatory fence-mending, though the Chinese will feel that they should have received this support, and much more longer ago.
    3. In Cuba, the minimum result will be to remove the bases and to guarantee the territorial integrity of Cuba against attack. Even this latter will give the Castro régime some standing and the Soviet Union some relief from worry, while the former removes the major American concern. A further proposal might be the neutralization of Cuba, with the removal of Guantanamo proposed as a swap for the removal of even the defensive installations, and with Cuba assuming the role of a neutral Moscow-oriented though less Moscow-dominated. In the rest of Latin America, the consequences are difficult to predict, though the Cuban episode may make some of the Latin American countries a little more chary of supping with the Soviet devil and the Kremlin’s attempts at penetration a little more difficult.
    4. On Germany-Berlin, Khrushchev has probably satisfied himself by the Cuban probe (if indeed he was in any doubt before) that the Americans will stand firm on the essentials of their Berlin position and that therefore a show-down with direct confrontation is to be avoided. He could not reasonably impose a blockade on Berlin as the equivalent of the quarantine of Cuba, for demonstrably Berlin represents no military threat to the vital interests of the Soviet bloc. And in any event the strategic balance which has in part deterred him from taking action on Berlin has been restored by the decision to dismantle the Cuban bases. There may be some new harassment on the corridors, but it would appear more likely that Khrushchev will hope for, and perhaps work for, a new series of talks and especially a direct Kennedy-Khrushchev meeting on Berlin.
    5. In the disarmament field, the solution arrived at over Cuba may set some precedents. There is agreement to dismantle bases, to de-nuclearize an area and to inspect the proceedings. The Cuban crisis has already led to one proposal on dismantlement of Turkish bases in return for dismantlement of Cuban bases and it would be surprising if there were no further Soviet suggestions in this vein, plus perhaps a new attempt to set up nuclear-free zones.
    6. Certain quarters in the West may draw the conclusion from Kennedy’s skilful handling of the Cuban crisis that a consistently hard and forward line should be adopted in all dealings with the opposition. Some hard liners in the East may feel that Khrushchev should have held firmer against American pressures. But the Cuban episode has demonstrated to more responsible statesmen, including the American Administration, that the present “balance of fear” is precarious and that a more reliable status quo should be sought.
  5. We cannot say for certain what were the Soviet objectives in establishing missile bases in Cuba nor what will be the consequences of their agreement to dismantle the bases. We have probably not yet seen the full Soviet reaction to the Cuban crisis. After a short period in which it is confirmed that the Cuban settlement is honestly adhered to, President Kennedy may take advantage of the present momentum to propose a meeting with Khrushchev to try to come to grips with a range of outstanding problems like Germany-Berlin and disarmament which have so far eluded solution.Footnote 112 This wouldFootnote 113 be a good moment to discover whether Khrushchev put things in motion with a view to finding solutions rather than just trouble-making and whether he is ready for serious negotiations.Footnote 114 Footnote 115

H.C. G[reen]

707. DEA/2444-40

Ambassador in Cuba to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 217

Havana, October 30, 1962

Confidential. Emergency.

Repeat for Information: Permis New York, Washington, London, NATO Paris (OpImmediate) from Ottawa.

Mediation Offer

At his request I called on Foreign Minister tonight. Roa said he wished to give me Cuban Government’s answer to offer made by Government of Canada to use its good offices in mediating between Cuba and US in order to find a pacific solution to present situation. Cuban Ambassador in Ottawa had indicated our hope for an early reply and (2 groups corrupt) let us have Cuban decision as promptly as possible.

  1. Cuba, Roa said, deeply appreciated our friendly offer but was obliged to decline it since this same situation was now under discussion in UN, which Cuba considered appropriate forum for such discussion. Moreover at the moment the Secretary-General had come to Havana in this regard.
  2. I did not repeat not discuss matter further with Roa as I was unaware that such an offer had been made. I should therefore be grateful for some background on this question.
  3. Report follows tomorrow on my subsequent conversation with Roa regarding current developments.Footnote 116

[George P.] Kidd

708. PCO

Extract from Cabinet Conclusions


[Ottawa], October 30, 1962


  • The Prime Minister (Mr. Diefenbaker) in the Chair,
  • The Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Green),
  • The Minister of Justice (Mr. Fleming),
  • The Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Hees),
  • The Minister of Transport (Mr. Balcer),
  • The Minister of Veterans Affairs (Mr. Churchill),
  • The Minister of Public Works (Mr. Fulton),
  • The Minister of Finance (Mr. Nowlan),
  • The Minister of National Defence (Mr. Harkness),
  • The Postmaster General (Mrs. Fairclough),
  • The Minister of Fisheries (Mr. MacLean),
  • The Minister of Labour (Mr. Starr),
  • The Minister of Health and Welfare (Mr. Monteith),
  • The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Hamilton),
  • The Minister of Defence Production (Mr. O’Hurley),
  • The Associate Minister of National Defence (Mr. Sévigny),
  • The Minister of National Revenue and Minister of Forestry (Mr. Flemming),
  • The Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources (Mr. Dinsdale),
  • The Secretary of State (Mr. Halpenny),
  • The Minister of Mines and Technical Surveys (Mr. Martineau),
  • The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (Mr. Bell),
  • The Minister without Portfolio (Senator McCutcheon).
  • The Secretary to the Cabinet (Mr. Bryce),
  • The Assistant Secretaries to the Cabinet (Dr. Hodgson), (Mr. Labarge).

United Nations Activities: Cuba: Nuclear Testing

(Previous Reference October 25th)

  1. The Secretary of State for External Affairs said that during the recent Cuban crisis it was clear that Mr. Khrushchev had been convinced that Cuba would be invaded. His first move to get out of the impasse created by the U.S. stand had been to put up reasonable terms. His military people then began to switch things around and have the terms include the removal of U.S. bases from Turkey. When it was later found that President Kennedy would not accept this Mr. Khrushchev wrote to him and dropped the condition. The real danger was not Khrushchev himself but rather the possibility of his being undermined or overruled at home. This was one of the reasons why President Kennedy was anxious that there be no American gloating or bragging.
    The resolution calling for a moratorium on nuclear testing was due to be discussed at the United Nations. On Sunday, the Canadian Delegation had decided to draft a brand new resolution which would cause the U.N. to send the question of disarmament back to the Committee on Disarmament. The idea had been to take advantage of the present atmosphere of relief and reality. The draft resolution was taken up with the U.S. representatives, who were delighted with the idea. The United Kingdom and the United States had earlier been trying to get others to vote against the moratorium. This would get them “off-the-hook.” The Italians were also pleased with the new draft. The Canadians met with six of the eight unaligned countries on the Disarmament Committee, who agreed to the Canadian proposal. It had also been shown to the Russians, who said that they wanted to look it over. The Poles were quite pleased and had been asked to act as co-sponsors with Canada. If the Russians agreed, this would mean that the question of nuclear testing would go back to the Committee at Geneva. There was a real chance that nuclear testing might be brought to an end. There would be great relief in the U.N. if Canada could succeed in its efforts. Of course, if the Russians did not agree to it then the matter would have to be dropped. After Canada’s stand at Geneva, it would not be possible to vote against a moratorium on nuclear testing. The same was true of Norway, the Netherlands, Denmark and others. The U.K., on the other hand, had been trying to force Canada’s hand to vote against it, but strangely enough the U.K. representative at the U.N. only yesterday had tried to get Canada to simply abstain from voting. They intended approaching the U.S. with the same end in mind, should Canada agree. The Canadian resolution would get everybody “off-the-hook.”
    Yesterday, the U.S. representatives had been told by the Canadian Delegation that it was vital that Canada get into Cuba as one of the observer countries. This view was checked with Mr. Rusk to see if there were any objections. On the contrary, he was delighted and anxious to see it happen. The Prime Minister had approved an offer of Canada’s services in this regard being made to the Acting Secretary-General. Mr. U Thant was very pleased to receive it and intended asking Premier Castro if he would agree. Castro would have the last word in this matter. Some other countries felt that Canada should not be in as being a member of NATO. The action taken by Canada at the beginning of this week, if successful, would bring a real contribution towards peace and would raise the prestige of Canada among the nations.

41. The Cabinet noted the statement of the Secretary of State for External Affairs on U.N. activities this week in connection with the Cuban crisis.

709. DEA/2444-40

Ambassador in Cuba to Ambassador in United States

Telegram [unnumbered]

Havana, October 30, 1962

Confidential. Emergency.

Reference: My Tel (UNN) Oct 30.†
Repeat for Information: External Candel New York (OpImmediate) from Washington.

Official Reactions to Crisis

The pace of events has been so fast and unexpected and probably not repeat not fully understood by Cubans with result that it has had a stunning effect on public opinion at all levels. In the circumstances, I have hesitated until now to send a report on reactions and even now my assessment must be tentative.

  1. Fidel Castro will speak Thursday after his talk with U Thant. The official Cuban line will not repeat not be known until then. Raúl Castro said on Sunday night that they were waiting orders from Fidel. There is a widespread rumour that Castro is furious about Russian retreat and the way he was relegated to the role of a second class puppet. Castro usually reacts violently when his ego is wounded. Today’s newspapers show evidence of disappointment with Russians. The leading editorials in morning press make no repeat no mention of USSR. Revolution, however states that in Cuba nobody trembled, nobody turned coward and nobody retreated. The suggestion is that elsewhere somebody did.
  2. The Cubans must also be rather disappointed by reactions in Latin America. Their effort to promote sabotage and rioting throughout continent were in accordance with their dream that Latin America would burst into the flames if USA invaded Cuba, but Castro’s plan did not repeat not envisage sorry stage setting provided by events of past week.
  3. Fidel Castro will want to prove to Cuba, the world and himself that he is nobody’s puppet. His 5-point demands issued on October 28 represents his first efforts to climb back into the driver’s (seat?).Footnote 117 In effect it insists that USA guarantees must include abandonment of a policy of unrelenting hostilities and it also contains highly unrealistic demands for immediate return of Guantanamo. USA refusal to meet these five points could be used to demonstrate that USA is still (Cuba’s ?) enemy. Hatred of USA provides fuel to run Castro including régime and perhaps is own psychological system.
  4. On the other hand the five points represent Castro’s first reaction directed as much against USSR as designed for domestic consumption. First reaction however need not repeat not be a final position. Castro cannot repeat not easily prevent dismantling of bases and withdrawal of Soviet offensive weapons under UN inspection. Indeed he may decide to switch his line and try to take credit for preventing a war desired by “Yankee imperialism.” The visit of U Thant has provided an opportunity for Castro to regain some lost prestige and Cubans are playing it up as a Cuban negotiation with UN on their relations with USA rather than a discussion on modalities of UN inspection of Soviet missile withdrawal.
  5. I will comment further on official reactions after Castro’s speech. A report on unofficial Cuban reactions† will be sent later today.

[George P.] Kidd

710. DEA/50128-40

Ambassador in Soviet Union to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 785

Moscow, October 30, 1962

Secret. Deferred.

Reference: My Tel 778 Oct 28.†Footnote 118
Repeat for Information: London, Washington, Permis New York, NATO Paris, Paris, Bonn, Rome, Brussels, Hague, CCOS, DM/DND Ottawa from Ottawa, PCO Ottawa from Ottawa.
By Bag Berlin, Vienna, Warsaw, Prague, Belgrade, Cairo, Delhi from London, Havana from Ottawa.

Cuban Crisis – Aftermath

We have just lived through another ten days that shook the world. Indirect results also may be widespread and important, but may take some time to work themselves fully out. Assuming (it is too soon yet to be certain) that Khrushchev’s Sunday promises are in fact implemented, sudden resolution of crisis will raise new dilemmas for Moscow leadership which may lead to further important developments here. Some tentative speculation about possibilities as they appear to me from here may perhaps be helpful.

  1. It is important to assess as accurately as possible just what thinking, motivation and forces lay behind Soviet leadership’s action first in attempting installation of strategic nuclear rockets in Cuba and then agreeing to withdraw them at American insistence. Significant details will no repeat no doubt continue to emerge only gradually, possibly over long period. Meanwhile Soviet propaganda machine will presumably try to obscure and misinterpret facts. But it seems to me fairly clear, and (if I am correct in this) important for Canadian and other governments to appreciate that Khrushchev’s main motive, as suggested in my reference telegram, was to prepare by sudden strategic breakthrough for major diplomatic showdown, certainly on Germany and possibly on other questions, which would be based on another round of thermonuclear blackmail.
  2. Khrushchev tried ruthlessly and shamelessly to scare Western countries in summer and autumn of 1961. His blatant threats then failed to crack nerve of European NATO members as he had anticipated. Lesson Khrushchev drew from this was not repeat not sensible one of abandoning his dangerously false assessment of Western political and psychological reactions, but merely to postpone crisis while he took steps to increase his offensive military capacity at cost chiefly of Soviet consumers (30 percent higher meat prices last spring, etc.). It seems to me clear that Khrushchev was telling Kroll substantial truth about his intentions when in September (my telegram 672 September 15†) he promised crisis showdown with Kennedy for late autumn of this year. I think last week’s events should be read in light of these earlier disclosures of Soviet leader’s psychology.
  3. It seems clear Khrushchev was preparing in Cuba for second diplomatic showdown with West, this one to be direct confrontation of Kennedy and major thermonuclear threat against North America, rather than merely against European NATO allies. Probably Khrushchev’s reference in September 11 declaration of willingness to wait until after November 6 elections was designed not repeat not merely as cover for developing offensive rocket bases in Cuba, but also as hint to Kennedy that Khrushchev would be careful to save Kennedy’s face in anticipated American breakdown, by letting Kennedy get congressional elections out of way first.Footnote 119 Probably Khrushchev also planned to offer some face-saving concessions, e.g. on nuclear test bans.
  4. Although I believe West would be very wise not repeat not to cause too sudden or too much public loss of face by Khrushchev, particularly until after removal of rockets from Cuba and possibly for some time thereafter, it is nevertheless important that key governments and societies should not repeat not misread ominous lessons of Soviet duplicity and of Khrushchev’s ruthless and repeated readiness to use thermonuclear threat in blackmail effort to gain political advance in Europe.
  5. Events of past ten days have I think clearly demonstrated importance of maintaining and consolidating Western Alliance and of cherishing good Western defences and deterrent capacity until some dependable disarmament arrangements can be agreed and implemented.
  6. Sunday’s sudden disclosure to all senior CPSU personnel and also to intelligent and thoughtful sections of Soviet public of far-reaching recklessness wickedness and bankruptcy of Khrushchev’s foreign policy toward West, will almost inevitably create some real domestic political problems in this country. If Khrushchev can save his internal position, and my guess is that he can, this will illustrate both his political nimbleness, and extent of his personal hold on key elements of Soviet power. I would anticipate that in any case some political heads here will have to roll, though this may take some time.
  7. There is already some evidence in last week’s events of uncertainty, and probably of fundamental differences of judgment and readiness to gamble, within leadership here. Furtseva mentioned at reception yesterday evening that decision to withdraw was a very near thing and that war had been very close. There were signs of Soviet nervousness, and search for acceptable way of backing down, last Thursday and Friday. You have probably had report of Soviet Chargé Loginov in London asking Thursday to see Lord Home, and in effect requesting British to help Moscow find compromise way out.Footnote 120 Reportedly Home scolded Loginov for Soviet duplicity. Loginov did not repeat not demur. Kohler tells me that on Friday Khrushchev sent message to Kennedy suggesting compromise deal solely on Cuba. Soviet (and as far as I know world) press had not repeat not yet published this message. Before Kennedy could reply Khrushchev sent Saturday afternoon message drastically stiffening terms by suggesting withdrawal from Cuba in exchange for American rocket withdrawal from Turkey. 24 hours later, faced with clear evidence that Americans were determined to take early military action against rocket bases in Cuba unless Moscow withdrew them, Khrushchev climbed down.
  8. It seems to me almost certain that some members of Presidium must have disapproved rocket gambit in Cuba, and that as crisis deepened they and presumably others favoured withdrawal, while presumably some still wished to hold on to get better terms even at risk of vastly graver dilemma for Moscow if USA acted militarily in Caribbean. In due course such people may be too dangerous or distasteful after climb-down costs become clearer for Khrushchev to leave in positions of power. Probably too some elements in Soviet military leadership, which may or may not repeat not include Malinowski, favoured trying strategic rocket breakthrough in Cuba. These elements too may provide scapegoats.
  9. Tentatively (I am by no repeat no means sure) I would anticipate that Khrushchev’s best method of saving face and restoring his prestige at home and possibly also with most of European satellites and neutrals, would be to build further on image, already being assiduously tried out here, as saver of peace. It seems to me quite possible that Khrushchev may find it necessary or desirable to take further action to give substance to this pose. He may prove more ready than thitherto to negotiate seriously for nuclear test ban and possibly for some disarmament measures. It is conceivable that he may try to get agreement on reduced arms budgets which would allow him to gain domestic popularity and perhaps restored political influence abroad by giving higher priority to economic development at home and perhaps to some increased foreign aid.
  10. I am inclined to think that this would be Khrushchev’s best line of defence. If so, it would be difficult for him simultaneously to adopt alternative course, to which he may also be tempted and which doubtless some forces here will press on him, to be as tough or tougher than ever on Berlin problem. He may feel impelled to proceed with signature of Berlin peace treaty, but if access is guaranteed this probably need not repeat not in itself be unacceptable to West. Sword of Damocles is less dangerous once it has dropped without disaster. I am inclined to doubt that Khrushchev would relish idea under present circumstances of a further showdown with USA, at time when prospect of Western climb-down must surely seem to him dimmer than ever, and when he can hardly afford to risk another personal failure.
  11. We cannot repeat not exclude dangerous possibility that Khrushchev may seek, perhaps even in some desperation, to gain genuine political victories to offset his humiliation, even by running grave risks. But I am inclined at present to think it more likely that Khrushchev may decide to cut his prestige losses with Mao Tse Tung and such tough forward elements as there may be in European bloc and within Soviet political and military leadership, and to concentrate instead upon developing further his role of statesmanlike man of peace. A great deal of Khrushchev’s political doctrine and prestige, at home and abroad, has long been committed to this course, based genuinely on one side of his complex nature. His very real and substantial achievements domestically in liberalizing and loosening monolithic inheritance of Stalinism show this is not repeat not mere pose.
  12. I would hope (but am by no repeat no means sure) that if Khrushchev does decide to follow this immediate course of diminishing tensions, he would also forego temptation to plot secretly for third attempt at nuclear blackmail perhaps only in some years’ time. But Khrushchev may draw from last week’s failure chiefly the superficial but dangerous lesson he drew from 1961 failure, i.e. that he needs still more hardware. He may now concentrate on fastest possible further development of ICBMs and Polaris-type nuclear submarines. There may be an important debate here during next few weeks or months on this question. Doubtless some elements in Soviet leadership, smarting under humiliation, will be tempted to follow this course. If so, this will inter alia involve sharpened dilemma and strain on allocation of resources within Soviet economy.
  13. For all these reasons and others it will I think be useful for West to seek some early and genuine progress in disarmament and easing of tensions. Danger of influencing Soviet leadership to decide on necessity of third showdown [and] try later by crash arms programme would also suggest that it might be wise for West to avoid excessive or too rapid exploitation of our recent triumph in such a way as to rouse justified and serious fears in Russia. It might I think therefore be wise for West to be forthcoming and indeed conciliatory insofar as genuine and legitimate Russian and Soviet interests are concerned.
  14. I would hope however that quietly but effectively, after present dust has settled, efforts will be made by appropriate Western diplomatic and press means to help governments and peoples in Latin America and in non-aligned countries throughout world to attain just appreciation of recent crisis, how and why it was caused, and how resolved. It will I think be very important that events of this magnitude be properly interpreted.
  15. Presumably we can in any case expect (a) shattering loss of confidence in Khrushchev by Castro (b) perhaps some loss of confidence in Castro by thoughtful Cubans appalled at revelation of desperate gamble to which he lent himself and danger involved for Cuban people (c) some loss of Soviet prestige in other left wing circles outside bloc (d) opportunity for more realistic assessment of real nature of Soviet policy by leaders in non-aligned countries (e) some exacerbation of Chinese-Soviet relations (f) greater confidence in American firmness and reliability on part of West Germans and French (g) greater cohesion by NATO (h) stronger world-wide movement for rapid progress toward nuclear disarmament. All these tendencies will of course create new problems for Soviet Government, and new dilemmas on which they will have to take decisions.

Arnold Smith

711. DEA/50128-40

Secretary of State for External Affairs to Permanent Representative to North Atlantic Council

Telegram S-410

Ottawa, October 31, 1962

Secret. OpImmediate.

Reference: Your Tel 2536 Oct 30.†
Repeat for Information: London, Washington, Paris, Bonn, Candel New York, CCOS, DM/DND from CCOS.
By Bag Moscow from London, Havana from Ottawa.

The Soviet Union and the Cuban Crisis

Following is the text of a memorandum prepared in the Department.Footnote 121

  1. This paper is an effort at analysis which should not be taken as representing official Canadian view. We find it difficult to accept the reasoning in paragraph 5(a) concerning the effect on Khrushchev’s internal position. Some of us feel that what could be considered at best a very partial success for Khrushchev’s venture in putting missile bases in Cuba would be found to have a detrimental effect on his internal political position.
  2. There is also within the Department a view that in committing so much of Soviet prestige and such a heavy investment outlay in establishing missile bases in Cuba, Khrushchev must not only have hoped but even expected to get something more substantial than a guarantee for Cuba against attack. Those who hold to this line of thinking would therefore conclude that the blow to Khrushchev’s prestige is greater than this paper suggests.
  3. Bearing in mind these comments and reservations, you may use the line of reasoning in this paper in discussions in Council tomorrow. Please make clear that it is inevitably a speculative piece on which we would welcome the comments of other delegations.Footnote 122 Footnote 123

[N.A.] Robertson

712. DEA/2444-40

Ambassador in Cuba to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 218

Havana, October 31, 1962

Confidential. OpImmediate.

Reference: My Tel 217 Oct 30.
Repeat for Information: Candel New York, Washington (OpImmediate) from Ottawa.

Conversation with Roa

After receiving message reported in my reference telegram, I took opportunity to seek Roa’s reactions to recent developments over Cuba. While he was unable or unwilling to respond officially to many of my questions, he periodically offered comments on a personal basis. In succeeding paragraphs I am summarising main points of interest arising out of this conversation.

  1. On talking with Secretary-General, Roa said only one preliminary two-hour session had been held that afternoon (October 30), in which Cuba had presented its case. In accordance with terms of Castro’s invitation to U Thant Cuba was prepared to discuss its differences with USA as well as cooperate with UN to solve present crisis, provided there was complete recognition of Cuba’s sovereignty. He insisted that Castro’s five points were a sine qua non for any easing of situation. When I asked about question of UN supervision of Soviet missiles’ withdrawal, Roa replied that matter had not repeat not been discussed. He declared this was not repeat not purpose of visit as far as Cuba was concerned, and added in his view UN inspection in Cuba was unthinkable since it would be a violation of Cuban sovereignty. Radio and press coverage of Secretary-General’s visit has been subdued and a somewhat pessimistic line taken on initial meeting.
  2. Roa was extremely vague on modalities of Soviet missile withdrawal. He commented personally that this was essentially something agreed upon in an exchange of letters between Kennedy and Khrushchev. Cuba was an independent state and had not repeat not committed itself in this regard. He declined to say how removal would be effected, asserting that real point at issue was USA aggression against Cuba, not repeat not missiles which were but defensive weapons to protect a small state against a voracious neighbour. Cuban rights, including right of self defence, had been consistently disregarded by Americans, and even their photographic surveillance was a flagrant violation of Cuban sovereignty. At one point he did briefly give vent to his unhappiness at Soviet action when he explained Russians did not repeat not run this country.
  3. Roa seemed almost oblivious of the fact that Canadians might be concerned about Soviet missile installations here. The missiles had been introduced to defend Cuba against USA aggression and would never be used against a friendly country.
  4. In connection with Castro’s five points I asked Roa frankly if he really thought USA could, at this time, agree to vacate Guantanamo. He said he personally recognized difficulty Washington faced in this regard, but that this was not repeat not Cuba’s problem. A foreign base in this country was unacceptable not repeat not only to Cuba, but to much of world opinion. Certainly Cuban propaganda suggests Castro’s colours have been nailed to mast on these five points.
  5. Much of our talk was taken up with Roa’s reiteration of Cuba’s catalogue of America’s misdoings in contrast to Cuba’s own virtuous position. I had distinct impression Roa had been somewhat disillusioned by alacrity with which the USSR came to terms with USA, and particularly the Russian proposal to trade off Cuba against Turkey. Nevertheless his deep feeling about USA seems to remain as strong as ever. Further, I suspect he sees an opportunity through UN of regaining lost ground that must be fully exploited. In this way too, Cuba may hope to dispel image in Latin America of Castro as a Soviet puppet.

[George P.] Kidd

713. DEA/2444-40

Secretary of State for External Affairs to Ambassador in Cuba

Telegram M-102

Ottawa, October 31, 1962

Confidential. Emergency.

Reference: Your Tel 217 Oct 30.
Repeat for Information: Permis New York, Washington, NATO Paris (OpImmediate).

I was distressed to receive your telegram under reference which reveals a serious misunderstanding on the part of the Cuban Ambassador arising out of my conversation yesterday with him. At no stage was the question of Canadian mediation between Cuba and the USA raised at all. My purpose in calling him in was to stress the importance which Canada attached to the success of the UN observer operation and to encourage the Cubans to regard Canadians as acceptable for some of the functions involved if the Secretary-General considered them desirable. My real purpose was to impress upon the Cuban Ambassador that it was in Cuba’s interests to cooperate.

  1. I would like you to take steps immediately to clarify the misunderstanding which has arisen, probably as a result of the Ambassador’s imperfect grasp of English. It is important however that the Cubans realise that no offer of Canadian mediation has been made.
  2. I am sending you separately the full record of my talk with the Cuban AmbassadorFootnote 124 but you should not await its arrival to carry out the instruction in this message.

[H.C.] Green

714. DEA/12814-40

Ambassador in Soviet Union to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 784

Moscow, October 31, 1962

Secret. Emergency.

Reference: Telecon Webster-Fournier Oct 31.

Cuban Crisis – Mikoyan

This is to confirm that at 2300hrs last night I received urgent note from MFA requesting visas for Mikoyan and party who planned to fly to Havana via Canada November 1 on Ilyushin 18. MFA informed us by phone that request for overflight permission with necessary details, was being submitted to you through Soviet Embassy Ottawa. MFA note stated list of names of Mikoyan’s party and passports, and list of crew members, would be sent to us today and we expect them shortly.

  1. Webster phoned you my recommendation that providing you decide to authorize overflight we be authorized by phone to grant transit visas for party without usual delay.
  2. I do not repeat not have sufficient information here to make firm recommendation whether overflight should be authorized. As you know, Mikoyan is often used as trouble shooter in crises, e.g. Guinea last winter, Hungary 1956. Assuming USSR is in fact proceeding with dismantling rockets in Cuba as promised, Mikoyan’s mission is presumably to try to save as much as possible of Soviet prestige and influence with Cuban régime. There may also be important differences between Khrushchev’s and Castro’s policies and Mikoyan’s task may be to bring Castro round. Alternatively it is I suppose still conceivable that Russians might try some dangerous trick. Without access here to up-to-date American intelligence assessment whether dismantling has begun or even whether construction has been suspended, I am not repeat not in position to recommend whether or not repeat not prudence would dictate thorough search of Soviet aircraft if repeat if you do authorize its overflight.
  3. Junior Foreign Ministry official last night remarked that Mikoyan’s quick trip to Cuba via Canada was part of implementation of agreed settlement, and asked that I recommend Soviet Embassy request for overflight permission. We gave no repeat no commitment on this. This morning Lavrov has phoned me to say he has been instructed to request our favourable and speedy consideration of overflight as well as visa request “in view of very special international situation.” I said question already referred to you despite our slow communications.
  4. It seems to me refusal by Canada could be made to look bad, and might be difficult. So could thorough search of plane carrying Soviet Deputy Prime Minister. But basic consideration should be prudence in light of current responsible assessment of developments in Cuba.
  5. Please keep us informed whether you decide to grant overflight, and if so whether you consider it necessary to search plane or would rely on assurances (which I assume you will require) that no repeat no weapons carried. Lavrov has orally given me such assurance.Footnote 125

Arnold Smith

715. DEA/2444-40

Memorandum from European Division to Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs


[Ottawa], October 31, 1962

Overflight by Soviet Plane

Gerry Stoner phoned me at 9.10 this morning to say that he had received a phone call from André Bissonnette of our NATO Delegation in Paris to say that in connection with the Russian request for a technical stop at Gander of a Russian plane carrying Mikoyan and party, the Danes and the British have agreed to allow this plane through. In the case of the British this means that the aircraft would land at Prestwick at 5 a.m. tomorrow.

  1. The RCAF inform us that provided permission is granted for this flight in the course of the morning, they would be able to send a courtesy crew via commercial aircraft today. The courtesy crew would arrive Prestwick at 8 a.m. approximately tomorrow. This would not mean too considerable a delay for the Russian plane at Prestwick.

Jean Fournier

716. DEA/2444-40

Memorandum from Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs to Secretary of State for External Affairs


Ottawa, November 1, 1962


At 9 p.m. last night, the U.S.A. Chargé d’Affaires sought an interview with you on instructions from his Government. As you were not available Mr. Campbell saw Mr. White at the East Block.

  1. Mr. White was bringing the information, since made public, that Premier Castro had refused any form of verification by the United Nations or under United Nations auspices of the removal of offensive weapons from Cuba in spite of the U.S.S.R.’s willingness to proceed as agreed. In the light of the new situation this created, Mr. White was under instructions to ask the Canadian Government to intervene strongly with the Cuban Government and threaten to break off diplomatic relations if Cuba’s “defiance continues.” The United States Government suggested that the line which could be taken by Western countries still maintaining diplomatic relations with Cuba would be to point out that “practically the whole world had welcomed the Kennedy-Khrushchev agreement to avert the possibility of nuclear war which the presence of offensive nuclear weapons in Cuba presented.” If we do not feel able to threaten an immediate breach of relations, we might wish to strongly protest Cuban intransigence and point out to Premier Castro that his desire to thwart current efforts to settle the crisis and to impede the United States desire to do so, if continued, would make it difficult to maintain normal relations with his régime.
  2. The United States message added that it was hoped that any action taken as a result of these United States representations would be factual in presentation and would not appear to be the result of United States pressure.
  3. Mr. White thought that a similar message was being delivered to the Foreign Ministers of other Western countries still maintaining diplomatic relations with Cuba.
  4. Commenting personally on the outcome of the U Thant mission (information of which was based on a report from New York), Mr. White said that United States quarantine and surveillance measures would be resumed November 1 on expiry of the 48 hours suspension. U Thant’s failure to persuade Premier Castro to accept United Nations verification of removal confronted the United States with a most serious dilemma. Because of the deception that the United States had suffered at the hands of the Soviet and Cuban regimes over the installation of the missiles in the first place, it was not enough to have assurances that these installations were being dismantled and removed; there had to be positive proof under international supervision. Although there was a wide-spread belief that the visit of Mr. Mikoyan to Havana was to bring pressure to bear on Premier Castro, the United States could not be certain of the degree of collusion which still might be present in current Cuban-Soviet manoeuvres. It was for these reasons that the United States Government was taking these prompt measures to have pressure brought to bear on the Castro Government to accept the United Nations role as agreed between the United States and the U.S.S.R. Mr. White thought Canada was particularly well placed to exert such pressure because we had throughout managed to maintain some sort of influence with Castro. The conversation you had had with the Cuban Ambassador on October 25 would make a convenient point of departure for any such representations, since the Cubans at that point had seemed to be inviting a settlement with United Nations participation. Mr. Campbell informed Mr. White that you had had a further conversation with Ambassador Cruz on October 30 which in a sense amounted to the sort of representations that were now being requested by the United States Government, since they were designed to impress upon Cuba the need to cooperate with the United Nations. Mr. White was also informed of the misunderstanding which had arisen as a result of the second meeting with the Cuban Ambassador and the steps which had been taken to correct it.Footnote 126

N.A. R[obertson]

717. H.B.R./Vol. 6

Memorandum from Minister, Embassy in United States, to Ambassador in United States


[Washington], November 1, 1962


As I mentioned to you last night, Ross Campbell gave me by telephone some background to the exchange of telegrams between Ottawa and Havana on the Minister’s conversation of October 30 with the Cuban Ambassador. The Under-Secretary wished us to know that the story had been given to the United States Embassy in Ottawa in case Cuban sources might make public a misleading account of what had transpired. I gathered that the Department hoped that we would take steps to reinforce Ivan White’s reports clarifying the Minister’s position.

  1. The basic point is that the Minister did not make an offer of mediation. His purpose in talking to the Cuban was to let the Cuban Government know that we were anxious to pave the way for the acceptance of the United Nations inspection operation in Cuba and that we thought it would be in Cuba’s interest to support that operation and to have Canada participate in it.
  2. As Ross Campbell gave it to me the Minister pointed out that if the United Nations operation in Cuba were a success it was not just Cuba that would benefit; a general reduction of international tension could well result.
  3. The Minister expressed the view that the Secretary-General of the United Nations had conducted himself skilfully and enhanced the standing of the United Nations. Messrs. Kennedy, Stevenson and Rusk, the Minister said, were all men of moderation (in speaking to Ivan White, Ross Campbell had added the words “and firmness”). The Cuban Ambassador had said to the Minister that these same American leaders were the ones who were isolating Cuba and that the Cuban Government needed a guarantee. The Minister said they already had a guarantee from President Kennedy but the Ambassador made it clear that something much more airtight, United Nations backed etc., was needed. The isolation of Cuba had to stop. The Cuban Government had often said that it would like to talk with the United States but it had always been rebuffed. The great issue was: were the United States ready to talk now. In reply to this the Minister simply said that we should try to get one thing settled at once, meaning try to make the United Nations inspection process a success and if that could be done further possibilities might open out.
  4. The foregoing is not necessarily a comprehensive account of the Minister’s conversation with the Cuban. I emphasized to Ross Campbell that if we were to speak to the Americans here it was extremely important that we should be supplied with a record of the conversation in order that there be no discrepancy between our explanation and Ivan White’s report. Ross Campbell seemed rather uncertain of being able to get permission to send us the record although he said he would try.

H.B. R[obinson]

718. DEA/2444-40

Ambassador in Cuba to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 222

Havana, November 1, 1962

Confidential. Emergency.

Reference: Your Tel M-102 Oct 31.

Repeat for Information: Permis New York, Washington, NATO Paris (OpImmediate) from Ottawa.

I saw Foreign Minister this afternoon and carefully explained situation to him in order to clarify unfortunate misunderstanding that has arisen as a result of Cuban Ambassador’s misinterpretation in his message to Havana. Roa said he would ensure that Cuban Government was aware that no repeat no offer of Canadian mediation had been made. There should, therefore be no repeat no doubt left in Cuba’s mind in this regard.

[George P.] Kidd

719. H.B.R./Vol. 6

Ambassador in United States to Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs

Personal and Confidential

Washington, November 1, 1962

Dear Norman [Robertson],

It will perhaps be of interest to you in piecing together the developments of the past ten days to learn of some remarks made to me recently by Scotty Reston and Walter Lippmann with regard to the question of Turkish bases as an element in the Cuban crisis.

Reston told me yesterday that “earlier this year” President Kennedy had made some attempt to persuade the Turkish Government to agree to the removal of nuclear missiles from Turkey.Footnote 127 I had not heard of this before, and a review of the files here reveals nothing very precise, although there are a number of indications from the Embassy in Ankara which suggest that the question of the missile bases in Turkey has been under fairly active discussion with the NATO and US authorities during the past nine months or so. If, indeed, the US authorities have been working towards the withdrawal of missiles from Turkey their efforts do not appear to have met with the desired response. As far as one can tell from the papers available here, the trend of Turkish policy seems to have been rather in the opposite direction, e.g., to evince an interest in getting more advanced missiles and, more generally, to obtain assurances that the NATO authorities did not exclude nuclear retaliation on the USSR in the event of a Soviet attack on Turkish bases. Against this there is the personal comment of a Turkish official (Ankara telegram No. 139 of October 25†) that removal of the missiles from Turkey in exchange for similar action in Cuba might be acceptable to Turkish Government and opinion.

Whatever may have been the real story of these exchanges, Reston’s remark is interesting in the light of a comment made to me the other night by Walter Lippmann. He was talking about his column of October 24 in which, among other things, he said that the bases in Turkey and Cuba could be dismantled without altering the world balance of power. I gathered that he had checked the text of this column with someone highly placed in the Administration and had not been discouraged from publishing it.Footnote 128

The possibility of a direct swap of Turkish and Cuban bases, in the terms of Khrushchev’s public message of October 27, did not as you know have any attraction for the Administration here. These bits of evidence from Reston and Lippmann, however, throw an interesting shaft of light of the thinking of some (as yet unidentified) people in the higher reaches of the Administration. It is tempting to hope that if the withdrawal of the Cuban bases can be successfully negotiated, there may be some support here for including the Turkish bases as part of some wider arrangement, perhaps in the sphere of arms limitation or disarmament. This is all rather speculative, however, and in the absence of harder evidence should not be taken as more than a very light straw in the wind.Footnote 129

Yours sincerely,

C.S.A. Ritchie

720. DEA/2444-40

Memorandum from Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs to Secretary of State for External Affairs


[Ottawa], November 1, 1962


Our preliminary reaction to the United States suggestion that a strong protest including the threat of breach of diplomatic relations should be presented by our Embassy in Havana is that such action at this stage would be self-defeating. Over the past two years of deteriorating United States-Cuban relations, the maintenance of a Canadian Embassy in Havana has frequently proved valuable. The reasons which have prompted us to maintain those relations in the past are no less valid in the present critical situation and to change the policy at this stage would imply that the maintenance of relations had been mistaken. As government spokesmen have frequently stated, our past policy was based on the principle that diplomatic relations do not reflect approval on disapproval of the régime in power. Already it is clear that in the days ahead the Canadian Embassy may be called upon to play an important part, particularly if Canada is associated with any United Nations observation operation. For similar reasons even to hint at the possibility of breaking relations would be inadvisable and would, of course, destroy any possibility of Cuba’s accepting Canadian participation in a United Nations operation.

  1. On the other hand there is something to be said for our taking action now to impress upon the Cuban Government the urgent necessity of their making possible the United Nations role, without which the present United States-U.S.S.R. agreement for resolving the crisis cannot be fully carried out. Failure to achieve satisfactory inspection could revive the prospect of further unilateral measures by the United States.
  2. In the circumstances you may wish to consider asking our Ambassador in Havana to deliver a message along the attached lines to the Cuban authorities. Such action on our part would be a logical follow-up to your conversation of October 30 with the Cuban Ambassador and would come appropriately from Canada in the light of our offer to make a contribution to the United Nations observer operation.Footnote 130

N.A. R[obertson]

721. DEA/2444-40

Secretary of State for External Affairs to Ambassador in Cuba

Telegram XL-125

Ottawa, November 1, 1962Footnote 131

Confidential. Emergency.

Repeat for Information: Washington, London, Permis New York, NATO Paris.

Inspection of Removal of Missile Bases in Cuba

Because of the failure so far to get Cuban agreement on supervision of the dismantling and removal of ballistic missile bases, we would like you urgently to present a note to the Foreign Minister along the following lines:

  1. Begins: Canada with all other peace-loving nations of the world, has followed with concern and anxiety the current crisis which has threatened the security of all countries, including of course both Cuba and Canada. Canada therefore welcomed the understanding reached that the long-range weapons facilities would be dismantled and removed from Cuba and that Cuba would receive a solemn guarantee against invasion of its territory.
  2. It is clear that attainment of these purposes would be greatly assisted by an effective system of verification under United Nations or other auspices.Footnote 132 In this regard Cuba has a most important contribution to make toward resolving the immediate crisis and strengthening the peace-keeping authority of the United Nations.
  3. Within recent years international inspection has come to be generally accepted as a necessary instrument in certain dangerous situations. Canada and a number of countries have on several occasions offered, within a UN context, to have international inspection applied to their territory. The Canadian Government earnestly hopes that as a matter of urgency the Cuban Government will agree to verification and will thereby make a decisive contribution to the peace and security of the world. Ends.

[H.C.] Green

722. J.G.D./MG01/XII/F/100

Memorandum from Secretary to Cabinet to Prime Minister


[Ottawa], November 2, 1962

I thought I should let you know that Campbell reports that Basil Robinson says that stories are all about Washington and may be reflected in the House today to the effect that NORAD has been a failure when it was put to the test because:

  1. Canada failed to respond to the request from NORAD to go on DEFCON 3 Alert when asked.
  2. The U.S. requested and were refused the right to put nuclear warheads at their bases in Canada (presumably Harmon and Goose).
  3. The U.S. requested and were refused the right to move U.S. fighter planes to Canadian bases.

I knew of No. 1 and I assume that Mr. Harkness will be prepared to answer that if it arises in the House.

I assume that No. 2 refers back to the request of two or three years agoFootnote 133 which has never been met because of the desire to get agreement first on having warheads here for Canadian forces.

I did not know of No. 3 but Miller told me this morning on the phone that there had been one such request. I assume Mr. Harkness dealt with it himself, either on his own or in consultation with you, or perhaps with Ministers at a private meeting.

I suggested to Miller that he better warn Mr. Harkness to be ready for a question on this matter in the House this morning.Footnote 134

R.B. B[ryce]

723. DEA/2444-40

Note from Ambassador in Cuba to Minister of External Relations of Cuba

Havana, November 2, 1962Footnote 135


On the instructions of my Government I have the honour to bring to Your Excellency’s attention the views set forth in the succeeding paragraphs.

Canada, with all other peace-loving nations of the world, has followed with concern and anxiety the current crisis which has threatened the security of all countries, including, of course, both Cuba and Canada. Canada therefore welcomed the understanding reached that long-range weapons facilities would be dismantled and removed from Cuba and that Cuba would receive a solemn guarantee against invasion of its territory.

It is clear that attainment of these purposes would be greatly assisted by an effective system of verification under United Nations or other auspices. In this regard Cuba has a most important contribution to make toward resolving the immediate crisis and strengthening the peace-keeping authority of the United Nations.

Within recent years international inspection has come to be generally accepted as a necessary instrument in certain dangerous situations. Canada and a number of countries have on several occasions offered, within a United Nations context, to have international inspection applied to their territories. The Canadian Government earnestly hopes as a matter of urgency that the Cuban Government will agree to verification and will thereby make a decisive contribution to the peace and security of the world.

Accept, Excellency, the renewed assurances of my highest consideration.

George P. Kidd

724. DEA/2444-40

Ambassador in Cuba to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 225

Havana, November 3, 1962

Confidential. Emergency.

Reference: Your Tel X-125 Nov 2.
Repeat for Information: Washington, London, Permis New York, NATO Paris (OpImmediate) from Ottawa.

Verification of Soviet Missile Removal

I saw Foreign Minister late this morning and presented first person note to him stressing urgency with which you viewed matter. Note employed text given in paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 of your reference telegram with routine opening and closing paragraphs added.

  1. Roa commented that we were of course aware of position which Cuban Government had taken in opposition to any UN verification of Soviet missile dismantlement and removal. He promised however to bring note to attention of President Dorticós and Prime Minister Castro at once. This is probably as satisfactory a response as we can expect for the moment.
  2. Castro reaffirmed his refusal to permit UN verification in Cuba during his address evening November 1Footnote 136 on which I reported in my telegram 224 November 2.† It would be interesting to know nevertheless whether Secretary-General felt door had been slammed shut or not repeat not. Cuban attitude could also be influenced by discussion held with Mikoyan. In this connection Soviet Counsellor told me that Mikoyan will probably be in Havana for about a week.

[George P.] Kidd

725. CEW/Vol. 3176

Consul General in Los Angeles to Minister (Information), Embassy in United States

Los Angeles, November 4, 1962

Dear Bob [Farquharson]:

Rather than wait for the regular forwarding of clippings, I am enclosing three dealing with the present Cuban situation in which Canada is mentioned, in fact in two of them, Canada is the whole subject. You may have seen these, as one is U.P.I. and the other one date-lined Montreal. The third one is date-lined United Nations.

My complaint is the fact that somehow or other the International Press deliberately or otherwise, failed to understand the significance of the Canadian Government’s action in respect of the Cuban crisis. Apparently they cannot add two and two together and get four, but then this is to be expected. Surely they must have understood when it was announced that the Canadian Government had already refused over-flight privileges to Russian planes and had imposed inspection of aircraft of other nationalities landing in Canada for refuelling en route to Cuba many hours prior to the President’s Statement, that there was no hesitancy on Canada’s part – if anything, the contrary. Of course what they will never understand in this country, and we don’t seem to be doing anything to make this fact clear, is that being informed and being consulted are not one and the same thing.

I hate to be unreasonable, but I am very much concerned about the apparent inadequacy of our public relations output. The information in most instances, must originate in Ottawa, and if you think it might do any good, I am prepared to write along the same lines to our Department, suggesting that something be done to improve the situation as regards the supplying of information that is so vital to our maintaining a proper relationship with the people with whom we are dealing in our respective areas.

Yours sincerely,

George R. Paterson

726. DEA/2444-40

Ambassador in Cuba to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 229

Havana, November 5, 1962

Secret. OpImmediate.

Repeat for Information: JIR from Ottawa.

Soviet Missiles’ Dismantlement and Removal

During past few days there have been a number of indications that USSR is withdrawing some military personnel and equipment from Cuba.

  1. In Havana area we have observed several small convoys of heavy trucks moving towards Port Mariel, in which there are at present three Russian ships. Equipment on trucks was fully covered by tarpaulins and could not repeat not be readily identified.
  2. Considerable movement of military transports was seen over weekend along Central Highway in Pinar del Rio Province in general vicinity of missile sites and apparently proceeding in direction of Mariel. Transports observed carried Soviet personnel, camp equipment and equipment of electronic nature. Many trucks gave appearance of having been hastily loaded.
  3. In Mariel yesterday we saw convoy of ten trucks towing 50-to-60 foot trailers. Each trailer carried tarpaulin-covered equipment. While equipment could not repeat not be identified clearly lengthy trailers suggested missiles. Trailers were being loaded complete on to one of Soviet ships.
  4. Russian ship Nikolaevsky left Havana today with Russian military personnel aboard. This ship whose normal complement is about 350 passengers appeared to be well filled according to British Embassy.

[George P.] Kidd

727. DEA/50309-40

Memorandum from Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs to Secretary of State for External Affairs


[Ottawa], November 7, 1962

NORAD: Consultative Arrangements

In addition to the statement in the 1957 NORAD Agreement on “the importance of the fullest possible consultation between the two Governments on all matters affecting the joint defence of North America”Footnote 137 there was also a secret exchange of notes in 1959 dealing with consultation prior to increasing the state of readiness of NORAD in a period of international tension.Footnote 138 There was also a supplementary arrangement defining how such consultation should be initiated. (Copy of these exchanges is attached.)Footnote 139

  1. Under his terms of reference CINC NORAD is authorized to “specify the conditions of combat readiness, to include states of alert …” of forces assigned to his operational control. The supplementary Exchange of Notes was intended to clarify this provision. Thus the relevant provisions of the secret exchange of notes provide:
    1. “CINC NORAD is authorized to increase the operational readiness of his forces as set forth in sub-paragraph 10 (i) of his terms of reference and pursuant to paragraph (2) below.
    2. “CINC NORAD is not in a position to assess all the political factors available to both the Canadian and United States Governments; therefore, it will be the responsibility of the Chiefs of Staff of Canada and the United States, in consultation with their respective political authorities, to reach agreement for increasing states of readiness of NORAD forces during periods of international tension when factors of overriding political significance are involved. In these circumstances, parallel consultations will be carried on between the political authorities of our two countries prior to reaching such an agreement. CINC NORAD will be provided continuously with the best information concerning the world situation to assist him in anticipating any requirements for increased or decreased NORAD operational readiness.
    3. “In the event that agreement should be reached on a decision to authorize CINC NORAD to order an increase in the state of readiness of his forces as a result of such consultation, agreement will also be reached on the desirability of making any public announcement and the terms of such an announcement.”
  2. Thus the concept of consultation at the diplomatic, as well as the military level, in appropriate circumstances, is specifically provided for in the agreements governing NORAD.
  3. The information given to the Canadian Government on the United States intentions vis-à-vis Cuba does not seem to have constituted consultation as provided in these arrangements, as we had understood them. In fact it seems that the United States took a deliberate decision not to consult any of its allies in order to achieve maximum surprise and impact on the Soviet Union. The question arises for Canada whether the existence of NORAD presupposes special obligations which entitle Canada to special treatment over and above that accorded the other allies of the United States.

N.A. R[obertson]

[Enclosure 1]

Minister, Embassy in United States, to Director, Office of British Commonwealth and Northern European Affairs, Department of State of United States


Washington, January 11, 1960

Dear Mr. Willoughby,

The agreement concerning increased states of readiness for NORAD incorporated in an exchange of correspondence between the Ambassador and Mr. Murphy dated September 20 and October 2, 1959 respectively provides that “it will be the responsibility of the Chiefs of Staff of Canada and the United States, in consultation with their respective political authorities, to reach agreement for increasing states of readiness of NORAD forces during periods of international tension when factors of overriding political significance are involved. In these circumstances, parallel consultations will be carried on between the political authorities of our two countries prior to reaching such an agreement.”

It is considered that it would be desirable to establish some procedure to implement the provision for consultation. As far as can be seen, no new machinery, formal or informal, would be required.

The question of CINC NORAD’s right to increase the state of readiness of his command in an emergency not being in question, there would normally be sufficient time for consultation to be carried out in the normal way through the appropriate diplomatic and military channels. As regards consultation between the Department of State and the Department of External Affairs it is suggested that the Embassy in Washington be the channel on the Canadian side, and that in a more urgent situation direct telephonic consultation between the Departments could take place at such a level as would be deemed appropriate.

Aside from political consultations provided for in the above-mentioned agreement, it is envisaged that, if time and circumstances permit, a special meeting of consultation could be held between our two governments during periods of international tension, which would be devoted to the general international situation and could also consider the question of increasing NORAD’s state of readiness.

Which method of consultation might be used would be determined in the light of existing circumstances. It would be for either government, in its discretion, to initiate consultation.

Yours sincerely,

S.F. Rae

[Enclosure 2]

Director, Office of British Commonwealth and Northern European Affairs, Department of State of United States, to Minister, Embassy in United States


Washington, January 14, 1960

Dear Mr. Rae,

I refer to your letter of January 11, 1960 with regard to the exchange of letters dated September 30, 1959 and October 2, 1959 between Ambassador Heeney and Secretary Herter concerning the question of increasing the state of readiness of NORAD forces during periods of international tension when factors of overriding political significance are involved. Your letter deals with the matter of establishing a procedure to implement the provisions for consultation under numbered paragraph 2 of Ambassador Heeney’s letter.

As you state in your letter, there will presumably be sufficient time to carry out the political and military consultations required by this agreement through appropriate diplomatic and military channels, since the matter of CINCNORAD’s right to increase the state of readiness of forces under his operational control is not in question. For its part, the State Department anticipates that the political consultations will normally be carried out with your Embassy by the Bureau of European Affairs or at such higher level as may be deemed appropriate.

It is recognized that there is a possibility of a situation being so serious as to warrant direct telephonic consultation between the State Department and the Department of External Affairs. The State Department therefore, does not regard the above-mentioned channel as being exclusive and agrees that in a more urgent situation both Departments should feel free to consult telephonically at such level as would be deemed necessary.

The State Department also recognizes that aside from the consultation provided for in the above-mentioned agreement, a special meeting of consultation could be held between our Governments, if time and circumstances permit, which would be devoted to the general international situation and could also consider the question of increasing NORAD’s state of readiness.

Sincerely yours,

Woodbury Willoughby

728. DEA/2444-40

Permanent Representative to North Atlantic Council to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 2605

Paris, November 7, 1962

Secret. Priority.

Reference: Our Tel 2576 Nov 5.†
Repeat for Information: Washington, London, Paris, Candel New York, Brussels, Hague, Rome, Bonn, JIR, DM/DND from CCOS.
By Bag Moscow from London, Havana from Ottawa.

Cuba: NATO Consultation

After this morning’s regular meeting of Council USA representative read out extracts from telegrams of instruction he had received dealing with Cuba under a number of headings.

  1. USA Policy. There was good evidence that missile bases in Cuba were being dismantled but there was no repeat no evidence as to what was being done with equipment or missile sites. Assembly of bombers was continuing and work might be proceeding on a submarine tender base. USA surveillance continues without any assurance for safety of aircraft involved. USA requires dismantlement of all offensive weapons of Soviet bases in Cuba and this is USA understanding of what Khrushchev-Kennedy exchange calls for. USA sees two possible courses of development from here. Under first it should be possible to establish removal of Soviet offensive weapons and that they have not repeat not re-entered Cuba. This would include missiles and their equipment and bombers and their equipment. This course of development would require air surveillance and ground inspection to verify export of missiles and other weapons which might have to be counted on ships at sea. Other possible course of development would be that agreement made would be “re-interpreted” by USSR and implementation of bargains fudged. USA has some evidence that this latter process may be beginning. If events follow first course USA will lift quarantine and give an assurance against invasion of Cuba though this latter assurance will not repeat not prevent USA from continuing to cope with Cuban aggression or subversion in Latin America. If second course is established it will be unacceptable to USA. Without appropriate verification and inspection, air surveillance and quarantine will continue and if offensive weapons are not repeat not removed USA will have to consider action. There cannot repeat not be uncertainty and Soviet assurances will not repeat not be enough. USA will make it clear throughout to USSR that it requires that agreements be properly carried out, that there is a clear choice between verified removal and USA action but no repeat no middle ground. USA hoped that it would be able to count on allied support.
  2. Analysis of Situation. In USA view USA had almost all military advantages on its side in Cuban crisis. There was no repeat no reason to believe that USSR would have withdrawn so quickly if crisis had occurred in Berlin or in some other area closer to USSR. It could not repeat not be taken for granted that Soviet retreat over Cuba would be duplicated. USA continued to believe that correct attitude was a firm but moderate posture but this posture would be possible only if backed up by an adequate level of force and an adequate range of weapons choices. In relation to Cuba USA had had a wide choice of weapons. Lesson to be drawn from this was that in relation to problems nearer to USSR Alliance should accelerate its efforts to build up “spectrum of responses.” In addition successful USA reaction over Cuba was result of detailed contingency planning. USA therefore thought that it would be wise to apply this procedure to Berlin by keeping plans up to date and improving state of military readiness of Alliance.
  3. USA hoped that other NATO Governments were undertaking continuous studies of Cuban crisis and its aftermath with object of contributing to profitable exchange of views. USA thought that this study should be carried on both in individual capitals and in Council to [deduce?] political implications of crisis and plan steps to be taken if Cuban problem were properly settled. Finletter added that USA representatives in New York had been instructed not repeat not to discuss with Russians issues other than dismantlement and withdrawal of offensive weapons but in their conversations with Kuznetsov and his staff they were on lookout for clues as to further Soviet intentions.
  4. Official and Public Reactions in Latin America. State Department thought that both of these were generally extremely favourable. Pro-Castro and pro-Communist responses in Latin America had fallen short of expectations in spite of nature of USA action over Cuba which had given good opportunities for anti-USA demonstrations and difficulties for local governments. State Department thought that this outcome was to be explained by at least four factors: (a) Communist organizations in Latin America had been thrown into disarray by promptitude of USA action and unanimity of OAS support. This disarray was accelerated by Soviet reaction to USA firmness and ignoring Castro. (b) Crisis provided unimpeachable evidence of Soviet intervention in hemispheric affairs. (c) Latin American Governments had taken steps to restrain hostile demonstrations, and (d) there had been a considerable over-estimate of strength of Castroism in Latin America. State Department thought that if agreement with Russians was carried out USSR would redouble their subversion efforts in Latin America in near future. Finletter then read out a long list of offers of help from various Latin American Governments to illustrate extent of Latin American assistance and said that he hoped that this list would increase. You have already received this information from Washington.
  5. UK Permanent Representative then read out what he called a preliminary assessment of whole field of latest crisis including Soviet motives and future actions. He said that USSR anxieties about nuclear imbalance in favour of USA had been heightened by Kennedy’s requests in March and May for additional appropriations for nuclear weapons especially for Minuteman. Soviet anxieties over imbalance had led to an increase in Soviet military expenditures from 1960 to 1962 of over 40 percent. Foreign Office thought that USSR feared that even this rate of expansion could not repeat not overcome imbalance. In addition Khrushchev needed to take action to enable him to put on greater pressure over Berlin and achieve a personal success. It was for these reasons that he had agreed to establishment of missiles in Cuba. He was also seeking to undermine allied confidence in USA if it should turn out that USA did not repeat not react firmly. Foreign Office thought that it must be assumed that plan had been exhaustively studied and approved by Praesidium. Khrushchev had seen risks involved and may have been against plan at first but may have agreed to it on being assured that risks were not repeat not great. Foreign Office thought that Khrushchev might have held view that period of greatest danger was that during which missiles were being landed in Cuba rather than period of construction of missile sites. USSR must have expected that USA would take no repeat no violent action but would take case to UN where USSR could count on neutrals to overcome any USA tendency to take action. UK thought all this had been arranged during Raúl Castro’s visit to Moscow earlier this year and that TASS statement on Cuba was meant as a warning to USA.Footnote 140 USA action in imposing a quarantine, taking case to Security Council and naming USSR rather than Cuba as responsible party must have caught USSR off balance. Khrushchev had then become anxious to avoid a head-on clash. One incident which had not repeat not been satisfactorily explained was unpublished Khrushchev letter of October 26Footnote 141 which Foreign Office thought might have been sent either by Khrushchev on his own or after consultation with Praesidium. October 27 letter,Footnote 142 however, had represented second thought of a dangerous character in that they appeared to cast doubts on Khrushchev’s good faith. Khrushchev might have sent this second letter against his better judgement and have been brought back to his original offer by prompt USA rejection.
  6. Mason continued that since Cuban crisis USSR had issued no repeat no statement about Berlin or given any indication of possibility of a riposte in Berlin in spite of ample opportunities to do so. Foreign Office had noted that Soviet officials had not repeat not used opportunities presented by farewell calls of Sir Frank Roberts to say much about Berlin. One conclusion might be that they were reconsidering their position. It would be prudent to assume that Khrushchev would seek to extract advantages from crisis by claiming that there was a clear USA commitment not repeat not to attack Cuba and would also pursue line that Khrushchev was a man of peace. A weakening of Soviet authority within Communist bloc and of Khrushchev’s authority within USSR could not repeat not be ruled out. Events in Cuba might be considered to support Communist China’s claims about inadequacy of Soviet leadership. USSR must also expect credibility of its military threats in future crisis to be somewhat reduced. Nevertheless it should not repeat not be assumed that Soviet retreat in Cuba means that there would be an equal readiness to retreat where vital Soviet interests were involved. Mason concluded by welcoming Finletter’s plea for a joint effort to exchange assessments, saying that what was badly needed was an exchange of many assessments not repeat not simply those of USA and UK.
  7. I opened my remarks by referring to Prime Minister’s statement of November 5Footnote 143 (PG218 November 5†) and particularly to that portion which linked solidarity with consultation. I also referred briefly to Canadian efforts to urge acceptance of proper verification on Cuban Government. After a reference to information contained in your telegram S-410† I spoke at some length on basis of your telegram S-425 November 6.†
  8. Netherlands Representative commented on several specific points. His authorities thought that terms of proposed USA guarantee not repeat not to invade Cuba were so general as to be likely to cause difficulties in future in that USSR would try to broaden interpretation so that almost any change in USA policy could attract a charge of back-sliding. Netherlands authorities also feared that assurance of a promise of no repeat no invasion from other Latin American Governments amounted to giving Castro a life insurance policy while he continued his subversive activities. Netherlands feared that USA and Latin American reactions to Cuban subversion would be limited by guarantee and that any action against subversion emanating from Cuba would be interpreted as aggression by neutrals as well as USSR. On supervision and control Netherlands Permanent Representative drew attention to terms of Khrushchev’s letter of October 27 connecting Cuban and Turkish bases and saying that authorization of Cuban and Turkish Governments would be needed for inspection. Netherlands thought that this might indicate that USSR envisaged using Castro to get out of its pledges as far as possible once danger of nuclear war receded. Netherlands doubted that any precedent would be set in Cuba for inspection in relation to disarmament. On conflict between USSR and Castro and especially over five points, Netherlands thought that USSR while not repeat not changing its attitude completely might have modified its attitude so as not repeat not to accept principle of international inspection of nuclear armaments and that question of control would therefore be as difficult as ever. In Netherlands view Khrushchev had expressed willingness to have UN play a role because he feared that a bilateral agreement between USA and USSR would not repeat not in itself be enough to guarantee against USA military intervention in Cuba. USSR had therefore used idea of UN inspection as a temporary shield between USSR and USA to protect Cuban bases against immediate USA action. On degree of Castro’s independence Netherlands authorities thought that Mikoyan’s first task was to explain change in Soviet tactics to Castro and assure him that political, military and economic assistance would continue. Netherlands thought there was a secret defence treaty between USSR and Cuba and that Castro would accept inspection only after all missiles had been withdrawn so that international inspection would reveal nothing of importance. Netherlands thought their morbid fear of spying would keep USSR from letting others see their nuclear weapons or their sites and that weapons would be removed from public view very quickly but Netherlands wondered whether study had been given to possibility that some of weapons had been placed in storage or warheads for them had been stored. In general Netherlands saw no repeat no reason to expect a diminution in Soviet intransigence. There was no repeat no reason to expect a period of reduced tension because it would be difficult for USSR to accept this setback and there would be a search for counter moves which would be more difficult for West to cope with. While there had not repeat not yet been any signs of Soviet countermoves directed against Berlin, Netherlands thought it was as urgent as before to give highest priority to study of political measures. He pleaded for information about studies being undertaken by Committee of Ambassadors in Washington and asked that their plans be discussed soon so that differences could be ironed out. There had been a tactical change of course but no repeat no fundamental change in Soviet line. Consultations were therefore needed in face of a Soviet counter move.
  9. De Staercke said that Spaak agreed with USA and UK analyses. He would also agree that Soviet intentions were as hostile as ever. It might be true that Soviet initiative in Cuba had been result of a Praesidium decision but now that it had failed it might well be that new trends or cliques would be developing within Praesidium and we must not repeat not give weapons to extremists. Belgians thought Khrushchev had put himself in a difficult position over Berlin because if he were now to be aggressive there after failure in Cuba he would risk appearing in eyes of neutrals to be a man who continually jeopardized peace. In Belgian view therefore Praesidium would have to take a certain amount of time to reconsider its position over Berlin and decide what to do. He agreed to idea of exchanging analyses and approaching in common question of what to do next but countries like USA, UK and France had better sources of information than most and therefore should take lead in discussion of future action. He referred once again to Kennedy’s letter of October 27Footnote 144 with its reference to the “first component” and called it “charter for future action.” He thought we should be ready to consider within Alliance questions like a détente between NATO and Warsaw Pact, disarmament, nuclear weapons tests and Germany and Berlin. On latter Alliance should press ahead rapidly with its political contingency planning. We had waited for a long time to see results on work of ambassadorial group but perhaps Council should embark on its own on a study to elaborate a dynamic doctrine for West so that Kennedy would know views of Alliance if he had a personal meeting with Khrushchev.
  10. It was agreed that urgent items of Council business would be deferred to a meeting on Friday November 16 while regular meeting of Council on Wednesday November 14 would be devoted to political questions including political contingency planning on Berlin. This meeting would continue into afternoon if necessary. This decision appears to answer question raised in my telegram 2580 November 6.†

[George] Ignatieff

729. DEA/2444-40

Permanent Representative to United Nations to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 2120

New York, November 8, 1962

Confidential. OpImmediate.

Repeat for Information: London, Washington, Paris, NATO Paris, Bonn from Ottawa, CCOS, DND, PCO Ottawa from Ottawa.
By Bag: Havana from Ottawa, Moscow from London, Berlin from Bonn.

Cuba: Briefing by USA

Stevenson and McCloy gave briefing to large group of allies on present state of negotiations on Cuban question. Briefing had been given two days previously to Latin American group. No repeat no comments are to be made to press.

  1. Stevenson prefaced his comments by reporting that USA had become increasingly concerned as they realized extent of Soviet offensive buildup in Cuba which he termed “enormous and ominous.” He said that Soviet build-up of atomic capability in Cuba represented largest concentration of offensive power in any comparable area in world and directly affected retaliatory power of USA deterrent and endangered security of hemisphere. He made it clear that this and not repeat not electoral considerations guided USA and therefore that there would be no repeat no change in USA policy now election was over.
  2. USA was insisting on removal of missiles and warheads, bombers and nuclear bombs and verification that removal had taken place. USA was not repeat not insisting on removal of surface to air missiles, anti-tank missiles etc (even though these were operated by Soviet technicians) nor were they requiring removal of latest MiGs and of Soviet forces. Pedersen of USA mission told us privately that it was quite possible some more advanced equipment might later be withdrawn by USSR since withdrawal of missiles removed need for more sophisticated equipment. He expected if this were done it would be done gradually to minimize offence to Castro.
  3. Stevenson reported on state of negotiations under following headings:
  1. Quarantine and Inspection of Incoming Ships
  1. There had been protracted discussion on categories of ships to be inspected, flag of ships to carry inspectors etc. Agreement had been reached on all questions except when inspection would end with USSR pressing for November 12 and USA unwilling to set any date. Red Cross inspectors had been accepted but Red Cross was insisting that all countries affected should give agreement including Cuba and country under whose flag ship sailed. USSR was undertaking to secure agreement from all countries whose ships it had chartered but would not repeat not approach other Soviet bloc countries. Additional problem had arisen in that Red Cross claimed if inspection were to end by November 12 it was not repeat not worth making arrangements to start. Date for termination was connected with unresolved question of withdrawal of bombers. USA suspected USSR might be drawing out discussions until all missiles had been removed.
  1. Inspection of Outgoing Ships
  1. Agreement has been reached on arrangements for inspection at sea. USSR will provide schedule of ship departures and agree on rendezvous. Arrangements for one rendezvous have already been made for today and eight other ships were to leave yesterday or today. USA ships will draw along side and take photos from ship and possibly from helicopters. Missiles have been taken on board ship directly on their carriers and are covered with tarpaulins. Enough of missiles will be exposed to permit USA to make certain identification. USA does not repeat not regard this as substitute for ground inspection but it provides adequate confirmation of fact of removal of weapons. USSR has admitted to having about 40 missiles in Cuba which conforms closely with USA intelligence estimates. There have been no repeat no arrangements made for inspection of missile warheads. USSR has refused to discuss question as separate issue. They have not repeat not denied they are in Cuba but have limited their statements to assertions that everything connected with missiles will be removed.
  2. No repeat no progress had been made on problem of removal of bombers. USA took view Il-28s were included in agreement since USA had referred to bombers as offensive weapons from first and USSR agreed to remove weapons which “USA deems offensive.” Most of bombers had not repeat not yet been uncrated as of few days ago and uncrating was continuing after missiles being dismantled. Pedersen told us privately he believes uncrating has now stopped. Nevertheless USSR has not repeat not yet agreed to withdraw them. In subsequent discussion possibility was raised that USSR faced problem that title for bombers had been transferred to Cubans unlike missiles which remained Soviet property. Stevenson stated USSR had never taken this position in negotiations but admitted it might be one of problems which Mikoyan was facing. Cubans certainly had technical capacity to fly planes; on other hand planes were capable of carrying nuclear weapons and on one-way flight could reach as far as Montreal and deep into Latin America. For this reason USA would continue to insist on their removal. Even if USSR were to agree now to do so another two weeks would probably be required for their withdrawal whereas missile withdrawal might be completed in few days.
  1. On-Site Inspection
  1. USA considered ground inspection was essential particularly because of difficulty of arranging for inspection of warheads which are small and for which no repeat no arrangements for at-sea inspection had been made. Privately Pederson admitted that latter arrangements might never be made which was further reason for ground inspection to ensure no repeat no missiles had been concealed. Until ground inspectors were arranged USA had no repeat no alternative but to continue aerial inspection. Stevenson recognized that USSR had its problems with Castro. But USA [was] not repeat not prepared to give undertaking on no repeat no invasion until they were sure all missiles bombers and nuclear weapons had been removed and this required ground inspection.
  2. Even if there was immediate on-site inspection USA recognized that danger of reintroduction of weapons existed and therefore desired continuing inspection. For present they had no repeat no other thought than to accept Soviet promise given in Security Council. However USA was giving thought to schemes for regional denuclearization. Several members of USA mission have told us that Brazilian resolution could serve this purpose and USA is very interested in it. (See our telegram 2104† for Dean’s comments on changes which USA is seeking to have Brazil make in resolution so that USA could support it.) Members of USA mission however fear that Castro will be unwilling to cooperate in scheme for regional inspection even though proposal would have attraction that it would include Castro once again in a regional organization. This however is long-term question.
  3. 10. Stevenson acknowledged in answer to question that principal hold which USA had over USSR was withholding undertaking not repeat not to invade. Until USSR had this undertaking Khrushchev could not repeat not point to any gain from installation of missiles and was therefore domestically vulnerable. Pedersen admitted privately that for its part USA could not repeat not give undertaking on-site inspection [sic] until inspection had taken place. This requirement arose more from political than from military reasons. Administration’s insistence until October 22 that no repeat no offensive weapons had been introduced into Cuba in spite of Republican charges and many refugee reports made it necessary for administration to be able to point to inspection as guarantee that no repeat no nuclear weapons remained in Cuba or were being clandestinely reintroduced. Pedersen ventured private opinion that unless Mikoyan unexpectedly secured Castro’s agreement to on-site inspection there was serious possibility that there would be no repeat no on-site inspection and therefore no repeat no undertaking by USA not repeat not to invade. This would mean there would be no repeat no final settlement of Cuban question. Instead there would be residual bitterness on both sides which would mean Cuban situation instead of becoming starting point for settlement of problems between USSR and USA would be added source of controversy.
  1. Security Council Meeting
  1. USA took view that Council meeting should only take place once all elements of agreement had been carried out. Meeting would merely record USA guarantee against invasion and USSR guarantee not repeat not to reintroduce nuclear weapons. USA was not repeat not insisting on any particular form of undertaking. They thought it unwise to hold any Council meeting until all problems had been privately settled to avoid danger of public debate worsening situation.
  2. Stevenson undertook to hold another briefing session next week.

[Paul] Tremblay

730. DEA/4470-A-40

Ambassador in Cuba to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Despatch No. 521

Havana, November 13, 1962


Cuba and Soviet Missile Bases

The recent Cuban crisis has quite naturally directed renewed attention to the aims and purposes of Soviet policy in the cold war. One feature of this review has been an assessment of the motives which led the Kremlin to establish medium and intermediate range missile bases in Cuba. This offensive build-up represented rather a major shift in Soviet policy towards Cuba from that of providing various forms of political, economic and military assistance for the Revolutionary Government to the use of the island as an advance military outpost. As has been pointed out by several commentators, the Russians were in effect seeking to alter the balance of power by neutralizing the second-strike capability of the United States in a global conflict, as well as to use Cuba more blatantly for anything from nuclear blackmail to straight horse-trading in East-West negotiations.

  1. One facet of the analysis of Soviet motivation that warrants some consideration is the extent to which Cuba played a role in the decision to establish the missile bases. In the absence of hard evidence on this subject at the moment it may be useful in this context to examine the course of recent Cuban-Soviet relations and attempt to discern the Cuban attitude towards and interest in the decision to accept these offensive weapons under Russian control.
  2. At the outset one can, I think, say with reasonable confidence that the Cubans showed not the slightest degree of unhappiness in possessing the missiles on their soil, and were quite prepared to regard the weapons as part and parcel of their military arsenal. Indeed, they have displayed marked unhappiness over their subsequent dismantlement and removal. Viewed in retrospect, some of Castro’s remarks just before the crisis broke out concerning the repulsion of a United States invasion of Cuba suggest that the knowledge that the missiles would soon be available strengthened his confidence in believing he could deal with such a contingency, and consequently his intransigence.
  3. It has been my belief, as mentioned in several previous reports, that the Cubans have for some time been attempting to draw the U.S.S.R. into a formal commitment to guarantee the security of the Revolutionary Government. By his strong declaration of faith last DecemberFootnote 145 and his subsequent demonstration this Spring that in the final analysis the régime could not survive without him, Castro succeeded in getting his Communist credentials generally accepted by the Russians. This was a fundamental step in paving the way for increased military and economic assistance this Summer. However, it is doubtful whether this really satisfied the Maximum Leader. Despite what amounted to associate status within the Bloc, he still remained in a rather exposed position far from the home base of Communist strength. Moreover, the apparent Cuban rejection of the Rapacki efforts to moderate both the external drive and the anti-American dynamism of the RevolutionFootnote 146 was followed by a rising crescendo of oral sparring with the United States when the upsurge in Soviet assistance prompted the inevitable public reaction in the United States. Cuba retorted by sharpening the image of an island threatened by imminent invasion. Then developments only served to increase the need for a Soviet military guarantee in Castro’s mind.
  4. My Yugoslav colleague is of the opinion that the Cubans made a strenuous effort this Summer to be accepted into the Warsaw Pact.Footnote 147 This is certainly conceivable, although it was probably a non-starter with the Russians since it would have represented too open a political challenge to the United States without the means of backing it up. The supply of additional military hardware, including IL-28 bombers, and in particular the establishment of Soviet missile bases in Cuba under the control of Soviet military personnel, would have been a respectable substitute and gone a long way in meeting Castro’s demands for a military guarantee. Indeed, the presence of Soviet operational units in Cuba was in itself almost tantamount to a guarantee of Soviet military aid in an emergency. Castro no doubt also assumed that, once established, he could exercise a measure of direction over the use of the missiles, for Dr. Roa intimated to me in one conversation that Cuba considered the missiles had been provided for their use and that the Russians were essentially operators of Cuban weapons. In any event Castro could certainly, by his actions, have had the power to exercise indirect control over their employment. Finally, and this point should not, I consider, be overlooked, the idea of being able to bring down devastation on the United States is something that seems to appeal to Castro and some members of his entourage. The possibility of rockets from the Soviet Union raining down on the United States, should an attack be launched against Cuba, was attractive enough – as shown by the warm Cuban reception to the TASS statement this September raising the spectre of such a possibility.Footnote 148 However, the thought of being able to unleash this type of vengeance directly from Cuban territory appears to have been even more heady wine.
  5. The disadvantages from a Cuban standpoint of locating Soviet missiles on the island are readily apparent. Not only did it represent a Soviet strategic move in the pursuit of Soviet rather than Cuban interests, which could react detrimentally to the latter, but it was hardly calculated to improve Cuba’s standing in the hemisphere, particularly with important states such as Brazil and Mexico, which continued to adopt a tolerant attitude towards Cuba. These are, however, not points which in my view the Cubans would properly grasp. In September, before the construction of the missile bases had begun, I suggested to Dr. Roa in a dinner conversation one night that it seemed to me Cuban policy ran the danger of transforming the country into a pawn which the Soviet Union could employ in international chess gambits. The Foreign Minister reacted somewhat warmly to this suggestion, declaring that, unlike the typical self-interest which underlay Western policy, the Soviet Union, in providing military and economic support for Cuba, did not have ulterior motives. Nonetheless he is intelligent enough that my point did not completely escape him. However, the belief in Soviet altruism which he expressed is to a greater or lesser degree evident in many supporters of the Revolution even though recent events have sullied the shining armour of Moscow somewhat. Again, the thought of the added military power which the missiles would give to a country which already maintains the strongest military organization in the Americas, outside of the United States, would far outweigh with the Cubans any arguments of adverse repercussions in Latin America. They would see this development as a means of enabling them to dictate terms to states on the continent that took an antagonistic attitude. From an ideological standpoint they may well, too, have thought that fear would drive many elements of the Latin American left, and particularly those who accepted the “better Red than dead” thesis, to the cause of Castro Communism. The possession of missiles could therefore be construed as facilitating the ultimate revolution throughout the hemisphere, for which Castro conceives of Cuba as being the vanguard. Furthermore, that the United States would not tolerate Soviet missile bases in Cuba and the Russians might in turn back down over this question never, I am sure, entered Cuban thinking.
  6. All this is not to argue that the Cubans succeeded in persuading the Russians to establish missile bases in this country, but rather to point up my contention that the Cubans were not averse to the idea when it was put forward. The basic decision on so important and far-reaching a question was obviously taken by the Soviet Union, but it does seem to me that little persuasion was required to convince the Cubans to go along with the idea. It represented at the very least the closest military tie yet secured with the U.S.S.R. Essentially the decision had appeal to both Moscow and Havana for different reasons and there was a convergence of national interests, as each party conceived of its interest.
  7. The most likely time when the decision was taken would appear to have been during the visit in July of Raúl Castro to Moscow. This visit now appears to have been considerably more significant than it looked to us here at the time. It will be recalled that the Cuban Minister of the Armed Forces went to the Soviet Union at the invitation of Marshall Malinovsky, the Soviet Defence Minister. Moreover, the younger Castro was accompanied by a retinue of senior Cuban military commanders and spent most of his time in military circles, including lengthy discussions it seems with Soviet military chiefs. This, in the absence of any communiqué to explain the purpose or results of the visit, would fit in with this thesis. One Cuban semi-official source has told us that there was some question on the Cuban side about the Russian insistence on maintaining full service and control over the missile establishments, but that this was sweetened by promises of increased economic aid. Che Guevara’s subsequent trip to Moscow, at the end of which further economic and military aid was made public, would also tie in with this account. In addition I have heard from another Cuban semi-official source that the Russian military further convinced the Cubans of the desirability of proceeding with despatch on the arrangements for the missile sites by allegedly showing Raúl Castro and his party intelligence reports of a planned United States invasion of Cuba in the Fall. Whatever the real facts of these Soviet-Cuban discussions this Summer, I think it is not unfair to say that the proposal to establish missile bases in Cuba would not have fallen on unreceptive ears.
  8. In the event matters have not worked out as planned, and the dismantlement of the missile bases and the removal of all known Soviet missiles from the island has undoubtedly left a legacy of suspicion and distrust in Cuban-Soviet relations, with potentially serious consequences for the long-term future of the Revolution. The Cubans have had some of their most cherished illusions shaken, and they now must realize that there are distinct limits to the extent to which the Soviet Union is prepared to protect the Revolution, the initiation of nuclear warfare being one. In the process Castro has suffered a loss of prestige and the image of Soviet disinterestedness has been tarnished. However, it is too early to see exactly where all this leads in Soviet-Cuban relations. The immediate resentment experienced in Havana in the wake of the Kennedy-Khrushchev agreement seems to have subsided, and Castro has managed to recoup some of his losses. His inability to turn elsewhere clearly compels a degree of cooperation, a feeling presumably also shared by the Soviet Union unless it is prepared to accept the immediate loss of prestige likely to ensue from letting the Revolution founder. The outward indications of Mikoyan’s visit so far suggest that the Russians are willing to take their time in having their way and are further ready to go to some lengths in assuaging Castro’s ruffled feelings.
  9. While much will depend on the manner of the subsequent resolution of the crisis created by the missile bases, the whole affair seems to mark a major setback in the onward march of the Revolution in the hemisphere. Such plans as Castro may harbour of becoming a 20th-Century Bolivar have also received a rather rude shock.

George P. Kidd

731. DEA/2444-40

Ambassador in United States to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 3355

Washington, November 13, 1962

Secret. Priority.

Reference: Permis New York Tel 2120 Nov 8.
Repeat for Information: Permis New York, London, Paris, NATO Paris, Bonn, CCOS, DND Ottawa, PCO Ottawa from Ottawa.
By Bag Havana from Ottawa, Moscow from London, Berlin from Bonn.


I called November 9 on Llewellyn Thompson who has throughout the Cuban Crisis been one of the small inner circle responsible for advising the President. In the course of a long conversation the following main points emerged.

Possible Solutions

  1. Stressing that he was giving his personal views, Thompson analyzed present stage of crisis as possibly developing towards a situation in which neither the USSR nor repeat nor USA would be able fully to carry out their mutual undertakings embodied in the exchanges between President Kennedy and Khrushchev. Although the Russians were from all indications complying with their undertaking to dismantle and remove offensive missiles from Cuba, they had thus far been reluctant to take similar action to remove the IL-28 bombers which USA had unequivocally included within the category of offensive weapons. Furthermore, there was no repeat no sign yet that Mikoyan would be able to persuade Castro to agree to inspection of Cuba to confirm the absence of offensive installations. USA undertaking to provide assurances against invasion of Cuba and to remove the naval quarantine were both conditional on the removal of the bombers and on the establishment of adequate inspection arrangements. He could not repeat not forecast the outcome on the bombers but thought that the inspection arrangements as originally envisaged by the President would not repeat not be attainable. Hence it was possible, depending on how much influence Mikoyan could exert on Castro, that USA undertakings would not repeat not be required to take effect.
  2. Thompson pointed out that an undertaking not repeat not to invade Cuba (which he thought the Russians would wish embodied in a formal document) would considerably limit the freedom of action of USA to comply with its obligations under the Monroe Doctrine and the Rio Pact. Incidentally, he expressed the view that the central reason for the Soviet decision to agree to withdraw its offensive weapons from Cuba was that the Russians had satisfied themselves through their own intelligence that USA was both willing and in a position to invade Cuba unless USSR were prepared to withdraw. Thompson also pointed out that whilst President Kennedy agreed to give assurances against an invasion of Cuba, he had before and throughout the crisis made it entirely plain that the Castro régime’s military ties with USSR were not repeat not negotiable. Finally an obligation not repeat not to invade Cuba would create difficult problems in USA relations with some Latin American states and also, unless there were adequate verification arrangements, with USA public opinion.
  3. At the same time Thompson thought that the indefinite maintenance of USA precautions such as the quarantine and aerial surveillance of Cuba would not repeat not be entirely satisfactory. Continued interference with Soviet or chartered ships would be an irritant to good USA-Soviet relations whilst the aerial surveillance of Cuba would always carry the risk of Cuban counter action against the surveillance aircraft and a corresponding risk of escalation.
  4. It seemed, therefore, to be Thompson’s view that means should be found of avoiding a stalemate. He seemed interested in exploring arrangements which would provide a pretext for international inspection of Cuban territory, thus satisfying the demands of USA public opinion. Under this concept, which he termed a Caribbean peace zone, international inspection might be undertaken within all territories bordering the Caribbean, including, for this purpose, some parts of USA such as Florida. The establishment of such arrangements would permit an initial inspection of Cuban territory on terms which might be more acceptable to Castro than those currently required under USA-Soviet bargain. Thompson thought that USA, for its part, would find it possible to permit inspection of certain parts of USA territory since such inspection would produce nothing that could not repeat not be ascertained by normal means in an open society such as existed here. The point, of course, would be to demonstrate that USA was not repeat not mobilizing Cuban refugees or exiles for an invasion of Cuba.
  5. Thompson also mentioned the Brazilian proposal for a Latin American denuclearized zone. In his view the Brazilian proposal would take time to negotiate in detail; would not repeat not include USA territory (although USA might be guarantor of the scheme); would have to rest on initiatives taken by the Latin Americans themselves; and would have to be considered in the light of the precedent it might create, especially by African states (which had earlier been mentioned in the Brazilian draft resolution in the UN).Footnote 149 Though not repeat not expressing opposition to the Brazilian proposal per se, and, indeed, attracted by the idea that it might bring Cuba back into relations with Latin America, Thompson clearly viewed it as a longer term scheme which might not repeat not meet the immediate USA objective of achieving early international inspection of Cuban territory.
  6. I did not repeat not have time to explore these ideas more fully with Thompson but it seems clear that there is a good deal of thinking going on here and in New York about the possibilities of finding a way out of any stalemate that Castro’s intransigence might be able to impose, while at the same time preserving a degree of freedom of action for USA to pursue its anti-Castro policies.

Soviet Policy During the Crisis

  1. Thompson made a number of interesting points about Soviet policy, including that mentioned above regarding the basic reason for the Soviet decision to withdraw offensive weapons from Cuba. He made it clear in relation to all these points that Western observers could not repeat not, of course, be certain of their analyses of Soviet motives and tactics.
  2. However, subject to that caveat, Thompson thought Khrushchev had decided on an uncharacteristically daring gamble to establish offensive capability in Cuba. Thompson was satisfied that a reason for Khrushchev’s decision was related to the Soviet posture over Berlin. He had personally obtained from Khrushchev several clear indications that Berlin occupied a central place in Khrushchev’s thinking. Khrushchev had said, for instance, that Berlin was the only major issue between USA and USSR, relegating even problems like disarmament to a less critical category. Khrushchev was, moreover, personally involved in the development of Soviet policy on Berlin. He had clearly wished to make progress on this problem but had been at a loss how to proceed. It seemed likely, therefore, that Khrushchev had for some time been building up for a “poker game” with USA in New York at the end of November or beginning of December, in which he would hold some really high cards. A master stroke in Cuba would, of course, provide the basis for this.
  3. Thompson assigned a fairly influential role in this decision to the Soviet military. He did not repeat not think that they had advised Khrushchev to take the gamble involved but had more likely pointed out that the policy he wished to pursue (i.e. over Berlin) postulated certain military requirements which USSR could not repeat not fulfil unless some strategic advance such as the establishment of offensive nuclear capacity in Cuba were attained. The net result, therefore, seemed to have been that Khrushchev, in the face of such advice, had decided to take the risk involved. Thompson reflected on the deceptive tactics employed and in this connection drew particular attention to Khrushchev’s expressed willingness to delay further action relating to Berlin until after the November elections. He also mentioned the Soviet pretensions that their military assistance to Cuba was purely defensive as another factor.

Implications of Crisis for Soviet Policy

  1. Internal
  1. Thompson was not repeat not inclined to take the view that Khrushchev’s internal political position was immediately at stake as a result of the setback over Cuba. Although one could not repeat not, of course, be sure, Thompson thought that any internal shake-up as a result of the Cuban crisis would take some time to emerge. However, he thought it was of interest that Voroshilov had been called out of retirement and speculated that part of the purpose was to keep the Soviet military in line.
  1. Intra-Bloc Relationships
  1. Thompson thought that the situation would be quite otherwise within the Communist bloc as a whole. Khrushchev’s decision to withdraw offensive capacity from Cuba had already brought down the wrath of the Chinese Communists, as indeed, had Soviet line in relation to the Sino-Indian dispute
  1. External Policy Implications
  1. As regards relations with the West Thompson thought that the situation was not repeat not yet clear. However, he thought that there would probably be a period of reassessment by Soviet leaders before any serious pressure were applied on the Berlin problem. He was rather inclined to think that the Soviet leadership would prefer to concentrate on broader issues such as disarmament and similar problems, although he remarked that on nuclear testing Soviet tactics had not repeat not yet provided any basis for optimism.

[C.S.A.] Ritchie

732. CEW/Vol. 3175

Memorandum from Counsellor, Embassy in United States, to Minister, Embassy in United States

Top Secret

[Washington], November 16, 1962

Canada-United States Defence Questions

I thought it might be useful to summarize the information I received during my conversation with Jim Nutt yesterday.

Acquisition of Nuclear Weapons

  1. A memorandum was sent to the Prime Minister on October 26 from the MinisterFootnote 150recommending that:
    1. in the light of developments during the Cuban crisis, a review should be made of the Canadian position on the acquisition of nuclear weapons for Canadian forces in Canada and in Europe
    2. the basis of the Canadian position should be “a stand-by arrangement” whereby the weapons would b made available to Canadian forces when hostilities appear to be imminent
    3. the Department of National Defence be requested to determine the precise physical arrangements which would be necessary to bring the weapons into Canada from United States bases, and to make them available for Canadian forces in Europe from United States stockpiles, and the time which would be required to implement such arrangements
    4. necessary amendments should be made to existing documents which were prepared earlier in consultation with the Department of National Defence.
  2. Mr. Nutt was not aware whether the Prime Minister had commented on Mr. Green’s memorandum. He understood that a memorandum recommending the acquisition of nuclear weapons on the basis of the documents worked out earlier was sent to Cabinet by Mr. Harkness.† Mr. Nutt had not seen this memorandum to Cabinet and he was not aware whether it had been discussed by Ministers. As a matter of interest, the file copy of the memorandum to the Prime Minister from Mr. Green has Ross Campbell’s name as drafting officer.

Defence Production Sharing – United States Position at Halifax Meeting

  1. A memorandum went forward to the Minister recently summarizing the results of recent discussions in the Panel on the Economic Aspects of the Defence Questions.† The memorandum reviewed the line taken by United States officials at the Halifax meeting. It pointed out that Canadian efforts to obtain clarification of the McNamara directive (and tying our concern to our balance of payments problems) had resulted in an exposition by United States officials of the various areas in which they felt Canada was not fulfilling its defence commitments. In the circumstances, the consensus in the Panel, as recorded in the memorandum to the Minister, was that it would seem inadvisable to make any further approach for the time being to the United States, either at the official or ministerial level, for the purpose of clarifying the McNamara directive. The opinion of the Panel was that there was as yet no evidence that Canada’s special position was being substantially affected as a result of the McNamara directive.

Cuban Crisis – NORAD

  1. Jim Nutt’s information was that Cabinet considered on October 23 CINCNORAD’s request, received through military channels, to place the Canadian elements of NORAD in an increased state of readiness. It was agreed to turn down the request.Footnote 151 Mr. Harkness then went to the Prime Minister and succeeded in obtaining his consent to comply with CINCNORAD’s request the following day. It appeared also that Ministers considered the United States request to move nuclear weapons to SAC bases in Canada and to disperse United States fighters from the United States to Canadian bases.Footnote 152 Ministers were not prepared to grant these requests.
  2. My impression was that D.L.(1) Division was as much in the dark about developments as we were down here. The information regarding the crisis and United States request relating to NORAD was restricted to relatively few officials in the Department. The view in D.L.(1) is that NORAD procedures for consultations at the political level were not complied with. They think there is nothing wrong with the procedures and tend to explain developments which took place in the light of what appeared to be a deliberate policy decision by the United States not to consult any of its Allies. The Division is reluctant, however, to come to any firm conclusions in this regard because they do not know what transpired when Mr. Merchant saw the Prime Minister in the late afternoon of October 22. It is quite possible, they think, that he may have brought to the Prime Minister’s attention the need to place NORAD forces in a state of increased preparedness.Footnote 153

R.P. C[ameron]

733. DEA/50128-40

Permanent Representative to North Atlantic Council to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 2679

Paris, November 16, 1962

Secret. OpImmediate.

Reference: Our Tel 2673 Nov 15.†
Repeat for Information: Washington, London, Candel New York, Paris, Disarmdel Belgrade, Brussels, Hague, Rome, Bonn, CCOS, DM/DND from CCOS.
By Bag Moscow from London, Berlin from Bonn, Havana from Ottawa.

Soviet Policy: Cuba, Berlin, Disarmament

Following is an account of a two and one-half hour interview by the departing UK Ambassador in Moscow with Khrushchev on November 12, checked with UK notes.Footnote 154 Gromyko was present during the interview. Khrushchev appeared in good form and in complete command of all the matters he discussed.

  1. After giving an account of USSR’s growing economic strength and prospects, Khrushchev turned to nuclear tests and disarmament. On nuclear tests he said that his experts had insisted a new scientific method must be tested. This would delay the ending of Soviet tests beyond November 20 but they would be concluded early in December or at any rate before the end of the year. All big nuclear tests had been completed. This meant USSR had completed tests on warheads for all existing rockets and those to be created. Khrushchev assumed that USA and UK testing needs had been met as had those of USSR. A treaty prohibiting tests in three environments could be signed now but USSR would like underground testing included. He suggested that verification of underground tests was possible through the use of black boxes. He was prepared to admit “international personnel of inspectors” to USSR to supervise the functioning of these boxes. Such personnel would be flown to the boxes stationed in USSR in Soviet aircraft. At this point Gromyko interjected that, of course, this would be with certain precautions. Khrushchev continued that he thought this offer went half-way to meeting USA requirements on inspection and he hoped that USA Congress could accept a test ban treaty covering all environments.
  2. Disarmament, however, was the big question he said. The West had not repeat not answered Gromyko’s proposals and there were no repeat no intermediate problems. (Comment: UK delegation could not repeat not explain this remark further.) In 1955 USSR had advanced proposals against surprise attack involving the inspection of airfields, communications centres, etc. Cuban crisis showed the need for more attention to this question.
  3. Khrushchev went on to say that the following questions were ripe for decision:
    1. NATO-Warsaw Pact agreement
    2. Taiwan questions
    3. German question.
  4. After brief references to (1) and (2), Khrushchev said German question was the most important. It was necessary to recognize the fact that there were two Germanies. There was no repeat no advantage for either side in the present situation. In Berlin the outstanding point was the stationing of Western troops. Khrushchev said Allied garrisons could stay temporarily in West Berlin but the important thing was to end the concept of a NATO military base and occupation régime. This might be accomplished by placing Western forces under UN flag to give them an international appearance. He did not repeat not mention his previous proposals to place Soviet or Warsaw Pact troops in Western Berlin but did say that the composition of the garrison need not repeat not be a subject of dispute. It was important to achieve agreement soon in order to avoid a collision more dangerous than Cuba. He would prefer Western signatures on a peace treaty but would not repeat not insist. UK Permanent Representative said Sir Frank Roberts did not repeat not have authority to enter into full details concerning Berlin and Khrushchev did not repeat not elaborate on UN function in Berlin. Khrushchev said, in relation to the existence of two Germanies, that a peace treaty would be prepared but he realized he could not repeat not propose the signature of half a peace treaty. His proposals on Germany and Berlin were not repeat not very clear but there was no repeat no element of a threat in his remarks.
  5. Referring to Cuba, Khrushchev called it a reasonable compromise. USSR had fulfilled its obligations by withdrawing its rockets and nuclear warheads. USA should now end the blockade and respect Cuban sovereignty, the latter being confirmed in a document with UN authority. There were still Soviet experts in Cuba but they would be withdrawn when the need for their presence was past. Khrushchev was against foreign military bases and stationing troops in foreign countries. He said the Soviet proposals contained no repeat no political or material damage for any country. He reiterated that Cuba was a compromise and an example of peaceful co-existence, but there were still idiots on both sides who did not repeat not understand. When Roberts asked about Soviet bombers in Cuba, Khrushchev replied that the IL28s were obsolete and ready to be scrapped when his marshals suggested they be sent to Cuba in direct response to Kennedy’s call-up of 150,000 USA reservists. The bombers were not repeat not a serious issue and USSR had fulfilled all its obligations to President Kennedy. Khrushchev confirmed once again that all nuclear warheads had been withdrawn.
  6. In the very brief discussion which followed, Belgian Permanent Representative pointed to the similarities between this conversation and the Spaak-Khrushchev conversation a year ago.Footnote 155 I pointed to the new emphasis in this exchange on the closeness of the two sides to war over Cuba, to the absence of a timetable for Berlin from the foreground of discussion and to the attempt to creep forward on nuclear testing. The new element on the black boxes seemed to me to be the prospect for admitting international personnel of inspectors. Norwegian Permanent Representative suggested that Khrushchev’s proposals about Western troops in Berlin might bring forth an analogy with the way Western troops had fought in Korea under the UN flag.
  7. The concluding intervention was made by French Permanent Representative on the basis of a circular letter sent by French Foreign Office to posts abroad in the light of French prior knowledge of the Roberts-Khrushchev conversation. French Permanent Representative said French Government wanted to underline that the important thing for USSR was that the status of Western forces in West Berlin should be changed and that from the moment such a change in status occurred, we knew enormous consequences would follow. This is what France had always resisted. USSR was trying to hoodwink us. Khrushchev wanted to show that there was neither a winner nor a loser in Cuba but, in fact, USSR had been severely defeated even if USA did not repeat not want to emphasize that defeat. Reading from the concluding paragraph of French despatch, he said that in French view, the suggestion Khrushchev made to Roberts was the very one he had intended to put forward in New York if he had succeeded in establishing his missiles in Cuba. He must, therefore, now expect his proposals to meet with more resistance.

[George] Ignatieff

734. DEA/4470-A-40

Ambassador in Cuba to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 257

Havana, November 20, 1962

Confidential. OpImmediate.

Repeat for Information: Washington, London, Permis New York, NATO Paris from Ottawa.

The Cuban Position – Mikoyan’s Visit

In publishing Castro’s latest letter November 19 to U ThantFootnote 156 the press has been careful not repeat not to draw attention to issue of IL28s. Castro’s consent to withdrawal of bombers now referred to as Soviet property would seem to be a result of Soviet pressure to recognize facts of life. His rather defensive denial that Cuba is blocking negotiations for a solution to crisis also suggests USSR has in fact been accusing him of doing just this. Castro perhaps significantly makes no repeat no mention of “five points” in this letter.

  1. Castro is doubtlessly in earnest however in his intention to shoot at any planes within range of his anti-aircraft weapons. He would lose prestige with his own troops if he backed down. Moreover Foreign Ministry stated yesterday that all commercial air flights have been cancelled for military reasons. If USSR has kept control of its advanced antiaircraft missiles this might not repeat not interfere with U2 surveillance.
  2. I would imagine Castro’s continued opposition to introduce, albeit in somewhat less than all-embracing form, “unilateral inspection” in two recent letters to Secretary-GeneralFootnote 157 is based on an emotional and absolute rejection of anything which would wound dignity or sovereignty of Cuba. On the other hand it is also possible that he may have or thinks he has something to hide. Reliable local reports we have received as well as those published abroad would indicate that Cuba has underground arms storage facilities and defences.
  3. It is only logical to relate any Cuban concession to Mikoyan’s prolonged visit here which has prevented his return to Moscow for first his wife’s funeral and now opening meeting of Central Committee of Communist Party. We were told by a junior member of Soviet Embassy (applying for Canadian visas?) that he would probably be leaving by Saturday November 16. The dinner Thursday November 14 given by Soviet Ambassador for Castro and other members of Cuban hierarchy looked like a farewell occasion. Castro’s sharp somewhat admonitory letters to U Thant the same day appeared to be his own violent communiqué to mark end of his conversations with Mikoyan. While publicity about visit has been both spasmodic and sparse with no repeat no indication that talks were being held in a cordial atmosphere it seems the two men held a series of personal talks in Havana, during trips to collective farms, at Veradero Beach and elsewhere.
  4. In (any?) event Mikoyan stayed on and press disclosed that he had had long visit with Guevara and then Rodríguez. Sunday night Dorticós gave a return dinner which neither Fidel nor Raúl attended, a fact which newspaper Revolución made very obvious to its readers. To force Castro to soften his stand Mikoyan may have had to show there were teeth behind Soviet smile and to have lobbied with other members of Cuban innermost circle.
  5. A refusal to compromise was doubtless popular with young extremists at university and elsewhere whom Castro seems to regard as his real constituents. Castro followers blame Russians for taking away missiles rather than him for letting them in. A children’s ditty making rounds goes “Nikita, you pansy, you do not repeat not take back what you have given away.” The latest poster to go up reads “Together Fidel” and “Cuba is not repeat not the Congo.” The Cubans are now busy holding demonstrations of solidarity with Venezuelan revolution in what is termed the heroic people against tyrant Betancourt; this would not repeat not disclose any intention to mute the revolutionary call in Latin America.
  6. On the other hand Fidel may find that he has made a mistake in buying short-term domestic advantages through a policy of intransigence which Cuba has not repeat not the power to maintain thus giving USA a series of diplomatic victories instead of sweeping crisis under carpet as quickly as possible and trying to move back from military field where USA enjoy such overwhelming advantage to political. Even Castro has had to swallow the proud boasts uttered when missiles were still here and admit Cuba cannot repeat not withstand a USA attack.
  7. Not repeat not all Cuban leaders appear to share Fidel’s death wish and their views combined with USA pressure and Soviet persuasion may force him to make further concessions. Concessions however damage image he has created of superman who could stand up to and trounce USA.

[George P.] Kidd

735. DEA/2444-40

Memorandum from Special Assistant, Office of Secretary of State for External Affairs, to Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs


[Ottawa, n.d.]


Attached is a copy of some notes left for the Minister by the United States Chargé d’Affaires, Mr. Ivan White. Mr. White called on the Minister to discuss this question on November 20, 1962.Footnote 158

M.N. B[ow]


Memorandum by Embassy of United States


[Ottawa], November 20, 1962

Talking Paper

The following is a summary of the Cuban situation as viewed by Washington at 9:00 p.m. last night.

The United States has as yet been unable to obtain satisfactory performance from the U.S.S.R. with regard to the withdrawal of the IL-28 bombers.

Nor have adequate arrangements been made for ground inspection in Cuba and adequate safeguards against the presence and reintroduction of offensive weapons.

Recent reconnaissance has confirmed the presence in Cuba of organized Soviet military units with the most modern field equipment. These cannot be dismissed merely as “Soviet technicians.”

Castro has now announced that he intends to fire on United States reconnaissance planes. Continued U.S. reconnaissance is essential action authorized by the OAS resolution.

Since the United States must continue surveillance, there is serious possibility of an incident against which the United States is determined to take retaliatory measures.

The situation is fluid and may take one of several courses. The Soviets may act against Castro or in any event may not support him in exchanges that might follow his interference with U.S. reconnaissance. On the other hand, they may provide military support for Castro. The nature of the future U.S. action will naturally depend upon which options the Soviets select.

The continued refusal on the part of the U.S.S.R. to withdraw the IL-28 bombers or active Soviet military participation in action against necessary military surveillance might well require the reestablishment of the quarantine and its extension to petroleum products.

The President intends to make clear to the nation and to the world on Tuesday afternoon the present posture of affairs and to indicate that an early resolution of the remaining problems must be achieved. This approach would, of course, be altered materially if a favourable answer were received from Khrushchev on the IL-28s before the press conference.

The United States expects to be able to count on the full cooperation of its allies in the event it becomes necessary to reimpose the quarantine – with or without an expanded prescribed list – or to take other appropriate action to deal with the situation.

The United States is calling a meeting this week of the Organ of Consultation of the OAS so that we can make a full report on the measures taken under the resolution of October 23 which authorized all appropriate action including the use of armed force.

The U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO will call for a special meeting of the NAC Tuesday afternoon, November 20, to inform his colleagues of the foregoing.

736. DEA/50128-40

Ambassador in Egypt to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 595

Cairo, November 21, 1962

Confidential. Deferred from London.

Reference: Moscow Tel 785 Oct 30.
Repeat for Information: Washington, Permis New York, Paris, Rome, Bonn, Brussels, Hague from London, CCOS, DM/DND from Ottawa
By Bag Berlin, Vienna, Warsaw, Prague, Belgrade, Delhi from London, Havana from Ottawa.

Non-aligned Countries and the Lessons of Cuba

I have given some thought to Mr. Smith’s suggestion that efforts could be made in due course by Western diplomatic and press means to help governments and people in Latin American and non-aligned countries to attain a just appreciation of the recent Cuban crisis on the grounds that this provides an opportunity for a more realistic assessment of the real nature of Soviet policy by leaders of these countries. In this context I think we should also include the lessons to be drawn from the Chinese attack on India.

  1. My tentative conclusion is that Western diplomats would be unwise to press these points in non-aligned countries. There is to start with a natural reluctance to admit miscalculations on the part of the non-aligned leaders and I think it would be unrealistic to expect any early application of these lessons or indeed any modification in that rather vague concept “non-alignment.”
  2. At the same time there is little doubt that the more intelligent among the neutralists have been giving most serious consideration to both Cuba and the Sino-Indian dispute and I am sure the lessons have not repeat not been lost upon them. No repeat no doubt because of their basic bias in most cases against the West they will resist drawing the natural conclusions as long as possible but I do not repeat not think we would hasten this process by any prodding on our part. I think we are more likely to secure the desired results by letting the neutrals work this out for themselves.
  3. Yesterday, for example, the Foreign Minister Dr. Fawzi told me that the lessons to be drawn from Cuba were: (a) the world cannot afford very many more approaches to the brink of the abyss (b) the Russians engaged in a very dangerous game of duplicity, (c) there must be adherence to the rules of International Law. When I suggested that another conclusion was that Cuba had betrayed the non-aligned camp by permitting itself to be a mere pawn in the hands of the Soviet bloc, he simply refused to be drawn into a discussion on this subject.

[R.A.D.] Ford

737. DEA/72-AGS-40

Memorandum from Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs to Secretary of State for External Affairs


[Ottawa], November 21, 1962

Flights to Cuba by Soviet Bloc Aircraft

President Kennedy’s announcement late yesterday that the United States naval “quarantine” of Cuba would be lifted immediatelyFootnote 159 introduces a new factor into the problem of overflights and landings in Canada by Soviet bloc aircraft en route to Cuba. We could soon be in a situation – if we are not already in it – where Canada and other NATO countries would be applying more rigorous measures than the United States itself.

  1. Two questions would seem to be raised by President Kennedy’s announcement:
    1. Whether we should continue to search Soviet bloc aircraft at Canadian airports. The purpose of these searches has been the same as the U.S. naval “quarantine” at sea, i.e., to prevent the introduction of military equipment into Cuba. The legal analogy is not so close in that Canada is legally entitled to search aircraft, whereas the legality of United States action on the high seas was certainly doubtful.
    2. Whether to allow the three Ilyushin 18 aircraft, which Cubana has applied to ferry from Moscow to Havana, to transit and land in Canada en route.

The Question of Search

  1. Since the outbreak of the Cuban crisis, and to some extent even before that, the United States Government has urged very strongly both in NATO and bilaterally that its allies do everything possible to prevent or to make it difficult for Soviet bloc aircraft to operate on routes to Cuba. It was in response to a United States request that we deny overflight and transit privileges to all such aircraft that Canada decided to (a) withhold permission for Soviet flights on the grounds that the Soviet Union was not a member of ICAO, and (b) search other flights which for legal reasons could not be prevented.
  2. As late as yesterday the United States was continuing to urge this policy on its allies in the NATO Political Advisers Committee. We do not yet know to what extent the United States will modify the line it has been taking as a result of President Kennedy’s announcement. Generally speaking, however, the United States has been basing its requests to its allies on the extreme delicacy of the Cuban situation and on the argument that until the Soviet offensive capability had been removed from Cuba, the most rigid precautions were justified. It seems to follow from the United States decision to lift the quarantine that they now believe that this threat to their security has been substantially removed. At all events, NATO members who continue to search aircraft – as many are now doing – could be construed as taking more rigorous measures than the United States itself.
  3. To search aircraft of countries with whom we maintain diplomatic relations and common membership in ICAO is an extraordinary measure, even if legal. While we should perhaps avoid a sudden decision to call off the searches, I believe that we should aim to do so at an early date after prior consultation with the United States.

The Three IL-18 Aircraft

  1. The Cuban authorities have now provided information which leads to the conclusion that these three aircraft are properly registered Cuban civil aircraft and legally entitled as such to the ICAO privilege of overflying and transitting Canadian territory. Specifically, the Cuban authorities have told us that:
    1. The aircraft are civil passenger/cargo types.
    2. They were purchased from Aeroflot and are now the property of Cubana Airlines.
    3. The aircraft are Cuban-registered under proper authorization of the Cuban authorities and bear Cubana’s markings painted on them at the factory.
    4. The captain and first officer of each aircraft on these proposed flights will be Cuban citizens. The other crew members will be Soviet citizens, who have been authorized by the Cuban aeronautical authorities to assist on these ferry flights because Cuba itself lacks enough qualified personnel to operate this type of aircraft.
    5. The only passengers carried will be officials and technicians of Cubana Airlines and the only cargo will consist of spares for the aircraft themselves.
    6. The purpose of the flights is to deliver the three aircraft to Cuba.
    The reliability of this information is borne out by a report from Canada House that the British Foreign Office is convinced that the flights are bona fide.
  2. If we similarly accept that the aircraft are bona fide Cuban aircraft – and there seems no reason to doubt this – our legal position is clear. We could not refuse overflight and transit privileges without breaching our ICAO obligations.
  3. As of yesterday the British Government had decided to allow the aircraft to overfly Britain subject to landing at Preswick where they will be searched. The Belgian Government, although it has not yet reached a final decision, will probably do likewise. The Irish and Icelandic Governments have not made up their minds, but will probably be guided by what the others do.
  4. Here again it is not clear whether United States objections to these IL-18 flights have been softened by the President’s announcement. I believe, however, that as we have consistently maintained over a considerable period of time that we would not lightly breach our ICAO obligations except in an extreme emergency, we should continue to adhere to this basic line of policy and permit the flights to take place. Prior consultation with the United States would be desirable before reaching this decision and the flights, if permitted, might or might not be searched as circumstances seemed to dictate. As it seems probable that these aircraft will be used on the Prague-Havana route in replacement of Cubana’s present Britannias, we might also inform the Cuban Government that while we have no objection to reasonable replacement of equipment on this route, we would not look with favour on any augmentation of regularly scheduled air services between Eastern Europe and Havana if they contemplate sending such flights through Canada.


  1. If you agree generally with the course of action proposed above, I recommend that we inform both the Political Advisers Committee of NATO and the United States Government in Washington of our thinking and invite comments. This would meet the need for prior consultation with the United States before taking a final decision. It should, however, be made clear, especially to the United States authorities, that we believe our legal obligations must take precedence in the situation which now exists as a result of President Kennedy’s announcement.Footnote 160
  2. Incidentally, the USA Embassy has just informed us that they are discontinuing the “pre-clearance” procedure instituted some time ago to facilitate passage through the quarantine of ships bound for Cuba. This seems to indicate that they are moving rapidly to dismantle all quarantine measures.
  3. A telegram to Washington and NATO Paris is attached for your signature, if you approve.Footnote 161

J. W[atkins]

for Under-Secretary of State

for External Affairs

738. DEA/50128-40

Ambassador in Soviet Union to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 847

Moscow, November 22, 1962

Secret. Deferred.

Reference: My Tels 776 Oct 28† and 785 Oct 30.
Repeat for Information: London, Washington, Permis New York, NATO Paris, Paris, Bonn, Rome, Brussels, Hague, CCOS, DM/DND Ottawa from Ottawa, PCO Ottawa from Ottawa.
By Bag Berlin, Vienna, Warsaw, Prague, Belgrade, Cairo, Delhi from London, Havana from Ottawa.

Soviet Motives in Putting Missiles in Cuba

I dictated my reference telegrams hastily right after Soviet agreement to withdraw missiles from Cuba, because I had been impressed by inadequacy and potential danger of some preliminary assessments I had heard here from some representatives of neutral countries and one or two of our lesser European allies, about what had really happened and why, and what implications could be expected for future. I thought you might find it useful to have my assessment from here quickly. Since then there have been a number of developments in various parts of world and a number of important speeches and other remarks in Moscow by Soviet leaders. None of these have given me reason to change the views I expressed in my reference telegrams. These now seem to be shared by my most important Western and neutral colleagues.

  1. In particular it seems to me virtually certain that on question of motives Khrushchev had hoped that he would achieve in good time a strategic breakthrough which would make possible a diplomatic showdown with USA on Berlin and possibly at same time on other questions, in which Americans would have to take decision directly under the threat of a greatly enhanced Soviet strategic thermonuclear capacity against USA itself. I think that Khrushchev hoped and expected that in circumstances USA would back down, with some face-saving formula for Kennedy. This is compatible with his expectation in 1961 that a thermonuclear threat against our European allies would cause them to force a NATO backdown, and with what he had told Kroll in September this year.Footnote 162 I think it would be naïve to expect that if, as he hoped, Khrushchev had actually secured such a backdown, he would not repeat not have gone on to use this thermonuclear threat from time to time in future for other advances. His motive in seeking strategic breakthrough was probably not repeat not limited to Berlin. (I suspect Khrushchev regarded breakthrough as desirable “pour toutes fins utiles”). But attributing to Khrushchev any lesser motive than Berlin showdown seems to me wrong and dangerously optimistic. While Khrushchev’s primary target was Berlin (and therefore breakdown in NATO cohesion in general and particularly in confidence in Anglo-Saxons among public opinion of FGR), there would have been other objectives later on. It seems to me unwise and unsafe to interpret this Cuban ploy in any minor or too comfortable way.
  2. On contrary, it is possible to build a thesis more disquietening than that which I have been putting forward. As you know I was impressed and disturbed last spring and summer by what I considered dangerous irresponsibility of charges by Malinowski and others (including at one stage Khrushchev himself) that USA was planning a preventive war and that Kennedy himself had explicitly indicated that USA might adopt such policy.Footnote 163 This talk, when coupled with fact that type of first generation strategic rockets installed in Cuba were entirely vulnerable to easy attack and would thus be of no repeat no conceivable military use except as first strike weapons, fired before Americans could destroy them, could have sinister implications. Personally I do not repeat not believe that Khrushchev himself has envisaged, even for distant future, launching of preventive war. As you know last spring I tended to explain Malinowski’s charges of American preventive war plans in terms of Soviet Defence Ministry’s desire to maintain and even increase their budget in face of pressure on Soviet resources for improvement of agriculture and chemical industry. I still think this interpretation probably correct, but it is not repeat not inconceivable that some military men, possibly including Malinowski, may have envisaged eventual desirability in certain circumstances of launching first strike. On other hand under present circumstances at least I do not repeat not believe Soviet military leadership is by any means sufficiently influential to swing Soviet Government policy on such basic issues.
  3. It also seems to me wrong to interpret Cuban gambit, as some circles in West and a few representatives in Moscow (e.g. notably at first Swedish Ambassador) suggested here, as meaning that Khrushchev was reluctantly pushed into dangerous Cuban-missile base adventure by Red Army leadership. Doubtless he must have had some encouragement or acquiescence from military leaders, but in my judgement whole thing is directly in line with Khrushchev’s own previously demonstrated psychology, and his propensity to seek advances by threats.
  4. I also see no repeat no evidence of a forward “war party” inside Soviet leadership. Existence of an element more cautious than Khrushchev, and more ready to concentrate on domestic development of the economy than on foreign policy adventures, is in my judgement more likely.
  5. If, as I would think probable in due course (but perhaps not repeat not too quickly since this would imply a loss of face for the régime itself) there is some reshuffling in personnel in Headquarters, this may imply something about the sort of advice given to Khrushchev. But if as I think almost certain Khrushchev keeps his own position, this will not repeat not imply those who lose power were primarily responsible for gamble, but merely that they are serving the role of scapegoat, and perhaps also that in view of advice given during the crisis about terms on which a retreat would be acceptable, their continuation in top positions could prove embarrassing or dangerous. Moreover we have passed through a time in which men are tested, and it would seem normal that in due course revelations thus afforded should have influence on selection of individuals for continuation in or promotion to key posts. Soviet diplomats and others who contributed to false Soviet assessment of probable psychological reactions of President Kennedy and USA Administration and public may now suffer some loss of confidence: but here too I think the main mistake was Khrushchev’s own; as was his error in estimating reaction to his threats against our European allies in 1961.

Arnold Smith

739. DEA/10224-40

Ambassador in Cuba to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Despatch 571

Havana, November 23, 1962

Secret. Deferred.

Reference: Our telegram No. 257 of November 20.

Castro and the Mikoyan Visit

The extended sojourn of Anastas Mikoyan in Cuba leads me to suspect that his objectives may be somewhat broader than were at first generally imagined. It has been my supposition that the Russian Vice-Premier’s mission was probably a three-fold one. First, there was the need to ensure that the agreement with the United States over Cuba was carried out to the extent that Moscow wished to see it implemented and to ensure that Cuba would not throw up any roadblock in this regard; second, there was the desire to restore some of Castro’s lost prestige and soothe his aggrieved feelings by sending a high-ranking emissary to Havana to explain Soviet policy in the crisis; and, third, there was the necessity of demonstrating continued support for as well as of shoring-up a faltering satellite, particularly after the stresses and strains of weeks of remaining on a war footing, by providing new economic aid. However, four weeks should have provided ample time to complete these tasks.

  1. Now that the United States has placed limits on the extent of Soviet penetration in the hemisphere that it is prepared to accept and trammelled, or at least put restraints on, the degree to which the Soviet Union can employ Cuba as a pawn in the cold war, the Russians will presumably over the next few months have to take a hard look at their policy vis-à-vis Cuba. Indeed, they may well be going through a process often termed in such a situation as “agonizing reappraisal.” It is surely not unreasonable to expect that in the meantime they would wish to ensure that Castro cannot get them involved in future difficulties or confrontations with the Americans not of their own choosing. One can, for example, hardly believe that Moscow welcomes the continuing reiteration in the press and on the radio of Castro’s threat to shoot down any United States plane that comes within reach of Cuban anti-aircraft fire.
  2. The Soviet reaction to Fidel Castro’s extreme demands, as contained in his so-called Five Points, has hardly been over-enthusiastic. Mikoyan, while paying lip-service to this document, has talked of these points here as a useful basis for peace in the Caribbean but given no indication that the U.S.S.R. stands solidly behind the demands. At the same time the Soviet Union has to strike a nice balance between satisfying minimum United States requirements and leaving its Cuban protégé in too exposed a position.
  3. The Russians face a real problem in dealing with Cuba since two facets of the Revolution, its Messianic drive for hemispheric revolution and its militant anti-Americanism, are almost bound to lead to further trouble with Washington if not kept in check. And yet these very same characteristics have in the past year become almost the essential dynamic forces of the Revolution, seemingly more important than the construction of a viable Marxist-Leninist society on the island which, judging by Cuban statements, is a distant future goal rather than a current policy calling for full and undivided attention. Indeed, in long-range terms I believe that unless the Cubans can be persuaded to give up the active pursuit of these two policies, the Revolution faces bleak prospects. Only as a neutralized Communist state in the Caribbean does it seem to me that the Revolution stands any chance of survival. Otherwise the United States cannot really be expected to tolerate its existence indefinitely and desist from working towards its ultimate downfall. The likelihood of Castro recognizing this and playing under such ground rules does not seem bright and, given the manner in which these policies have become the fuel with which the Revolution functions and almost the principal purpose of its being, one can only be pessimistic of such a compromise solution.
  4. Nevertheless to some extent the Cuban cat has to be belled. From the Russian standpoint Castro must at least learn some of the realities of international life and cease to view the world solely through a Havana periscope. Ideally, I suppose the Russians would like to reorganize the Cuban Government to effect a form of collective leadership that was in the making until the Escalante affair this Spring.Footnote 164 Since then, however, all the evidence suggests that Castro has regained his old position of dominance. Despite the importance of old Communists in many fields, the new Communists – and specifically among the close associates of Fidel Castro – hold the real reins of domestic power, the army, the militia, and the security police. One hears little today of the National Directorate of the O.R.I., which was designed to be the political governing body of the country, or of the foundation of the United Party. The ruling circle seems to have boiled down to a group of about six or seven men in which the orthodox Communists are a distinct minority (the Castro brothers, Guevara, Dorticós, Aragones, Rodríguez, and perhaps still Blas Roca), with the Maximum Leader very much the final decision-maker. The crisis has only served to bring this into sharper focus. While the Russians possess the economic thumbscrews necessary to bring pressure on Castro, there is a danger that in so doing the Cuban investment could blow up in their faces. The stick has presumably to be exercised judiciously and intermixed with offer of a carrot. A forced reorganization of the Government would not be an easy operation even though some members of the hierarchy might not be averse to an enlargement of the power base in Cuba.
  5. The other alternative is perhaps a process of indirect undercutting of Castro’s leadership by a combination of persuasion and straight talk to those around him. There is some indication that this may be going on, from the individual discussions which Mikoyan has recently been holding with Guevara, Rodríguez and Aragones at a time when the press has made no mention of direct Castro-Mikoyan talks and created the impression that Castro is not altogether on good speaking terms with the Soviet leader. The same thought was also put to us recently by a Foreign Ministry official in an off-the-record remark. My Yugoslav colleague is of the opinion that the Russians are determined to re-educate the Cubans to the need to think in world terms in framing their policy as well as the need to follow the Russian line on peaceful co-existence, rather than to emulate the bulldozer tactics of Peking. To these ends he believes that Mikoyan is prepared to remain in Havana as long as is necessary.
  6. For his part Castro obviously is having to do some deep brooding (he now apparently is spending much of his time at the University, even sleeping there, in this frame of mind) if not thinking. He has to face up to the fact that the Russians have clearly demonstrated that they are not prepared to engage in a global war over Cuba. His horizons are no longer unlimited. Any wild dreams he harboured of bringing the United States to its knees or of igniting a hemispheric fire have been pulled up short. He has a nation still almost fully mobilized for a threat that, if not non-existent, is certainly not imminent, and yet must find a justification for returning to some semblance of normality. There are signs that the food situation is becoming more pinched and that sectors of the economy are feeling the effects of the crisis. Harvesting of the country’s main resource, sugar, is approaching. Castro must, therefore, shortly come to some modus vivendi with his patron unless he is bent on suicide. And, politically, he still no doubt hopes to obtain some concession from the Russians which he can use to show the Cuban population that he still calls the tune on Cuban affairs.
  7. For the moment Castro has not come to terms with Mikoyan. Indeed, the rather hasty denial this week of an A.P. story apparently obtained from reasonably reliable sources in the Ministry of Industries that a new economic agreement was about to be signedFootnote 165 suggests that he is most anxious not to give the impression to the Cuban public that he is being bought off. Some ground has admittedly been gained by Mikoyan, as in the acceptance of the removal of the IL-28’s for which there is some reason to believe that these planes had been consigned to Cuba by the Russians, even though they in turn may have been making the most of the point as a bargaining counter with the Americans. Castro retains one very important trump card in any negotiations with Mikoyan and that is the knowledge that without Castro at the helm, at least nominally, the Cuban Revolution would at this time stumble if not collapse.Footnote 166

George P. Kidd

740. DEA/4470-40

Ambassador in Cuba to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 270

Havana, November 26, 1962

Confidential. OpImmediate.

Reference: My Despatch 571 Nov 23.

Cuba and Mikoyan Visit

The three and a half weeks’ visit of Mikoyan to Cuba ended today without any communiqué having been issued. Instead both sides made statements separately, Mikoyan’s in form of a radio and TV address last night,Footnote 167 and Cuba’s in a declaration published in this morning’s pressFootnote 168 and described as their answer to President Kennedy’s press conference November 20.Footnote 169

  1. Mikoyan’s address announced as “a few farewell words to the Cuban people” was only carried on one of the two TV channels and without benefit of any Cuban leaders present. Technically it was an unhappy performance with Mikoyan and his interpreter repeatedly speaking in unison. The statement itself was not repeat not of a sort to fire Cuban revolutionaries. There was a judicious mixture of praise for revolution, comments on difficulties of creating a Communist society, promises of Soviet support for Cuba and (reminder of?) need to avoid global warfare. At one point he seemed to be suggesting that in Cuban-Soviet partnership, the Cubans must heed the words of Khrushchev. There were also indirect references to collective leadership and while due respect was paid to Fidel Castro his name was frequently linked to Cuban leadership in general.
  2. The Cuban statement was drawn up at a joint meeting of National Directorate, ORI and Council of Ministers with stated purpose of informing Cuban people and world of position of both party and government on crisis. This is first time for many months that ORI has been formally listed as taking part in a policy decision and indeed its first public appearance since crisis began. The re-emergence of party organization in this manner even though Castro is its Secretary-General may indicate that Mikoyan has succeeded in some measure in clipping the wings of its leaders.
  3. First new point in statement is a further elucidation of Cuba’s stand on inspection. In place of its former rejection of inspection Cuba now asserts it will not repeat not accept UN inspection unless USA agrees to inspection on its territory in Puerto Rico and in other locations training camps for mercenaries spies saboteurs and terrorists centres of subversion and bases for pirate ships [sic]. Although Cubans have found a formula other than outright objection by (raising?) such conditions’ net effect is tantamount to continued rejection. In this connection it is alleged also that at no repeat no time did Cuba offer its territory for verification of disarmament and withdrawal of Soviet offensive weapons. USSR had complied with its part of agreement in this regard and Kennedy was employing verification as a pretext for not repeat not completing his part and insisting on maintaining a provocative and aggressive policy against Cuba. While catalogue of America’s sins is repeated, the threat to fire on USA planes over-flying Cuba contained in two letters to Secretary-General is notably absent.Footnote 170
  4. The second new point is acceptance of Moscow line, albeit with some reservations, on peaceful coexistence. Cuba now believes in possibility of avoiding war and that war is not repeat not inevitable. The statement also implicitly recognizes that immediate danger of war between Cuba and USA has declined. This also is being translated into action by demonstration of militia unit which has been going on over week-end and elimination from radio and TV of propaganda piece on the theme of a nation at war ready to repel invaders.
  5. There is of course a reiteration of five points which are said to be indispensable for a final solution of crisis plus a further demand that means must be found for effective control of USA activity covered by these five points. Mikoyan’s rather lukewarm repetition of his remarks (at university?) that these five points represent logical programme for peace in Caribbean which USSR supports as just does not repeat not suggest Russians consider presence as essential element in resolving crisis.
  6. While reaffirming Marxist-Leninist direction of revolution in Cuba statement is silent on the question of its relation with USSR. It would seem that ties of friendship have been strained even though partnership continues.

[George P.] Kidd

741. DEA/2444-40

Permanent Representative to United Nations to Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs

Letter No. 826

New York, November 28, 1962


Polish Views on Cuban Crisis

I attach a copy of a memorandum prepared for me by Mr. Delisle reporting on an extremely interesting conversation which he had with the Polish Deputy Foreign Minister, Winiewicz. Since the memorandum is worth reading in full I shall not attempt to summarize it.

  1. In the event that Winiewicz’ visit to Ottawa takes place, it might be of interest to explore the ideas which he exposed to Mr. Delisle.

Paul Tremblay




[New York], November 17, 1962

Polish Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs on Cuba

I had an interesting talk on Cuba last night with Deputy Minister Winiewicz, Vice-Chairman of the Polish Delegation, at a private reception. A journalist in Poznan before the war, Mr. Winiewicz was Ambassador in Washington from 1947 to 1955 at which time he took up his present position in Warsaw. There was only one other person who shared in the conversation last night, our host, Mr. Price Erichsen-Brown, our Consul in New York. Mr. Winiewicz whom Mr. Erichsen-Brown and myself knew while we were in Warsaw felt, I think, that he could talk fairly freely.

  1. I asked him what he thought could be done at the present time in relation to the Cuban problem and particularly whether he felt that a three-nation setup along the line of the International Commission in Indochina could not be envisaged as a mediation team and perhaps inspection unit in Cuba. Mr. Winiewicz did not seem attracted by the idea. He said that at the present time he was convinced from his talks with the Cubans here in New York that they were craving for the initiation of conversations with the Americans. He claimed that the Cubans were almost desperate for some form of direct dialogue with Washington. He said that as far as the Poles were concerned, they were encouraging this trend and were desirous of being helpful in the context of their relations with the United States, the pattern of which they were very anxious to preserve. He said that when Foreign Minister Rapacki had been invited to pay a visit to Cuba last summer, he was rather concerned about the reaction that such a visit might cause in the United States. The Poles did not want their relations with the Americans to suffer from what might appear as an effort to get closer ties with Cuba. Mr. Rapacki decided to accept the invitation all the same. From Mr. Winiewicz’ comment the implication was that there were some pressing problems in Cuba concerning relations between Polish experts and technicians there and the Cubans. Mr. Rapacki spent seven days in Cuba in July. Mr. Winiewicz claims that Mr. Rapacki’s stay had a restraining effect and that the Cuban propaganda campaign against the United States slowed down afterwards.
  2. I asked Mr. Winiewicz if Poland had many experts and technicians in Cuba. He said that they had had more than they have now. There had been conflicts between some of the Polish technicians and the Cubans, particularly in the field of fisheries. He said that because some Polish advisers wore holy medals and attended Mass they were considered by the Cubans as counter-revolutionaries. The situation apparently came to a head and the Polish advisers were withdrawn at least as far as fishing operations were concerned. Mr. Winiewicz said that now they had only mining technicians in Cuba.
  3. On the question of the Cuban fishing port which is being built by the Soviets now, he said that the construction of the port had been open to any nation on the basis of bids. In fact the Japanese bid had been accepted by the Cuban Government. However, under pressure from Washington the Japanese had later withdrawn their offer. Castro then turned to socialist countries and sounded out Poland. Poland could not afford to finance the undertaking as it was already involved in the building of a harbour in Cyprus. Eventually the Soviet Union had decided to take over the project.
  4. I said I imagined it must not be too easy to act as adviser to the Cubans as they appear to be a somewhat undisciplined lot. Mr. Winiewicz said that it was not so much that as a case of a revolutionary zeal. He compared the Cubans to the Chinese in this respect. Throughout the conversation, in fact, he made reference to the Chinese and the Cubans as the somewhat unruly immature sectors of the socialist world. He made it clear that Poland was siding with Soviet Russia in this conflict. At one time, for instance, he referred to a visit made by the President of Poland, Mr. Zawacki, to Peking a year or more ago. The latter had inquired when he could call on Mao Tse-tung. One morning he was awakened at 4:00 a.m. and told that the Chinese leader would see him in an hour’s time, that is at 5:00 a.m. The Polish President was offended and declined politely the appointment. Later on he was offered another more convenient time with enough notice.
  5. Mr. Winiewicz said that in the course of his talks with the Cubans and through other information sources, he was told that there are two countries in America which the Cubans would consider as being acceptable in any mediation job with the United States. They were, in this order, Brazil and Canada. When I said that Canada’s selection surprised me a little in view of our membership in NATO, he said that the Cubans were, of course, aware of that but that nonetheless they placed a high trust in Canada’s objectivity, disinterestedness and devotion to peace. However, in the present conflict between the United States and the U.S.S.R. over Cuba he was of the opinion there was nothing much the secondary powers could do. He felt that the leading countries of the world towered so high above the others that they alone had the means to prevent a situation such as the Cuban one from quickly degenerating into war.
  6. Mr. Winiewicz on the whole remains confident that the United States and the U.S.S.R. will work out their differences and that relations between East and West are bound to be normalized over a period of years. He expressed himself clearly in favour of not allowing the Chinese or the Cubans to interfere in any process of rapprochement between the Soviet world and the West, particularly between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.

J.L. Delisle

742. DEA/50128-40

Ambassador in Soviet Union to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Telegram 876

Moscow, November 29, 1962

Secret. Deferred.

Repeat for Information: London, Washington, Permis New York, NATO Paris, Paris, Bonn, Rome, CCOS, DM/DND Ottawa from Ottawa, PCO Ottawa from Ottawa.
By Bag Berlin from Bonn.

Conversation with Khrushchev: Rocketry and Soviet Motives on Cuba-Berlin and Disarmament

At various points in my long conversation with him Wednesday morning Khrushchev spoke of rockets in terms which I think throw some light on his motivation, and his tactical and strategic thinking regarding his actions on Cuba, Berlin, and disarmament.

  1. Khrushchev said he had put rockets into Cuba as a deterrent. He did not repeat not explicitly qualify this merely as defence against American attack on Cuba (as he had done with Sir Frank Roberts, to my mind so unconvincingly.Footnote 171 On contrary Khrushchev said that since Americans had got so upset about deployment of rockets in Cuba, he had agreed to withdraw them, because “it is not repeat not really a matter of much importance to me just where our rockets are located.” Khrushchev immediately developed this theme by claiming that he had plenty of submarines which could fire Polaris type missiles against USA, and also had plenty of ICBMs in Russia which could reach USA. Khrushchev said that problem of redeployment therefore did not repeat not seriously matter from his point of view.
  2. Khrushchev’s remarks about strategic irrelevance of geographic location of IRBMs and MRBMs are I think obviously untrue at present in view of Soviet paucity of nuclear missile firing submarines and of ICBMs. But I did not repeat not think it necessary to challenge Khrushchev on this point, since probable effect if any of such challenge would merely have been to reinforce his inclination to press ahead with buildup of more Polaris type missiles, nuclear submarines and ICBMs. However I thought Khrushchev’s remarks on this subject instructive, as tending to reveal his realistic concept of the indivisibility of Soviet deterrent capacity, especially when considered in conjunction with Khrushchev’s remarks on a different point in conversation (reported in paragraph 3 of my telegram 863 November 28)Footnote 172 about his local tactical and strategic superiority in region around Berlin, which would make it possible for USSR to take unilateral action there which would place squarely on West onus of choosing between acquiescence in Soviet fait accompli or escalation to major hostilities and probably to global nuclear war.
  3. To my mind this conversation tended to confirm the line of analysis of Khrushchev’s motives in Cuban plot which I suggested in my telegrams 778 October 28 and 785 October 30.
  4. Also relevant is Khrushchev’s statement to me, mentioned in my telegram 863 November 28 (paragraph 3 (b)), that for practical purposes no repeat no disarmament agreement could be expected prior to settlement of Berlin problem. Khrushchev immediately added that disarmament and Berlin questions were quite distinct, but that they nevertheless were related in time because in practice no repeat no man could be expected to disarm if he anticipates that he may have to fight. “It is for this reason that Berlin problem must inevitably be settled by agreement first.”Footnote 173
  5. I commented to Khrushchev on this that in my opinion prior agreement on and partial implementation of disarmament would remove danger of upsetting strategic balance, and thus would enormously facilitate for both sides mutual concessions and agreement on problem of Berlin, of peace treaties with Germany or Germanies.
  6. But comment I wish to make in this message is that Khrushchev’s statement that disarmament is impossible prior to Berlin settlement seems to me to suggest that he is still toying with idea that he can achieve Berlin settlement by threat of unilateral action backed up by sufficiently strong military deterrent force. It seems to me probable that it is Khrushchev’s continued adherence to this earlier concept which goes far to explain his relative disinterest in getting disarmament agreement first.
  7. If there is anything in this line of analysis, it seems to be possible that if only we could somehow disabuse Khrushchev of idea that he can somehow get Western backdown on Berlin by threat of force, then once this idea was genuinely abandoned Khrushchev might be much more ready to adopt position on disarmament which might at last make an agreement in this vital field possible.Footnote 174

Arnold Smith

743. DEA/10224-40

Ambassador in Cuba to Secretary of State for External Affairs

Despatch No. 610

Havana, December 13, 1962


Cuba on the Eve of Christmas

As the second Socialist Christmas in Cuba draws nigh, it may be useful to take a general look at the state of the country and the way in which it has emerged so far from the recent crisis. Such an assessment must inevitably be tentative at this stage – some views more sensed than based on hard fact – for all the implications of the events set in motion in late October, but still not yet fully unfolded, are far from clear.

  1. The over-all impression one gains at the moment is of a rudderless vessel drifting in a becalmed sea, drifting for lack of any political direction from the top and without any readily available chart to enable it to get back on course. The crisis itself was obviously a traumatic experience for the revolutionary leadership. Cuba became the centre of an East-West controversy but yet the subsequent decisions were taken largely without the benefit of Cuban participation. Much to the chagrin of Castro, the settlement of the immediate crisis created by the introduction of Soviet offensive weapons on the island became the subject of negotiations between Moscow and Washington. To be sure, Castro attempted to inject himself into the picture with his intransigent stand on on-site inspection, with his Five Points, and with his maintenance of a state of “war alert” long after any danger of military action by the United States had passed. Nor have these forays on his part produced any tangible results to date, and if the crisis runs down to the point where there is a final stand-off between the two major powers, with the “no invasion” pledge set aside and air reconnaissance continued in the absence of adequate verification and safeguards on the weapons issue, the clock will then have been turned back for Castro, leaving him in a more exposed position. The Cuban Government may well face increased diplomatic and economic pressures from the United States at a time when the Soviet ability to underwrite the political future of the Revolution has been sharply circumscribed. Moreover, Castro’s own ability to control the situation has been reduced by lines drawn as a consequence of the crisis. For the nonce, at any rate, he seems uncertain of what course to adopt and is keeping his own counsel.
  2. Added to this are indications that certain political manoeuvrings are going on behind the scenes. Whether they stem from Soviet pressures to place some limitations on the Maximum Leader’s freedom of action, or whether the Fidelista Communist group is seizing the opportunity to consolidate its position among the power elite of the Revolution, or whether dissatisfaction, accompanied by some disillusionment, in ruling circles is bringing about a reorganization of the Government, or whether again Castro is simply brooding while he decides what changes he would like to make in his court, one cannot say with any confidence at present. Suffice it, however, that something appears to be going on.
  3. Fidel Castro himself has not spoken to his people since he took to the air just prior to the arrival of Mikoyan. This is six weeks ago, an unusually long period of silence on his part for a nation used to hearing from him regularly. Furthermore, since he appeared last in public almost two weeks ago at the funeral of the air crash victims, he has been out of the public view. Even the press has been silent about his activities. Indeed, we seem almost to be going through a period somewhat similar to that of the political in-fighting prior to the demise of Anibal Escalante this spring. Rumours are naturally beginning to pile on top of one another. He is said to be back in the Sierra Maestra; he has been in an automobile accident; he is making a grass-roots tour of the country. The net effect, however, when the personification of the Revolution drops out of sight, whereas his is customarily an ubiquitous presence, is to create uncertainty and despondency. The dynamism has temporarily gone out of the Cuban body politic and the country does not know in what direction it should turn. Ergo listlessness prevails.
  4. In my view Castro blundered when he declined so strongly to go along with any sort of United Nations inspection. Admittedly by adopting a firm stand on this matter and by bringing out his Five-Point programme so closely on the heels of the Kennedy-Khrushchev exchange of letters, he recaptured a measure of initiative and regained some lost prestige to the extent that he was able to reassure his supporters and to convince the people that he was not a complete puppet of the Kremlin. Nevertheless, in so doing he sacrificed potential long-term gains for a short-term advantage. Through the acceptance of inspection, which he could readily have trammelled and made considerably less than effective in practice, he could have transferred the Cuban issue from the bilateral network on which it was being dealt to the multilateral United Nations forum. Here he could have muddied the waters more successfully and employed the resolution of the offensive weapons question to extract some political benefits. In this atmosphere he could have counted on a more congenial audience among the large block of non-aligned states and, after all, once his ability to commit the USSR to engage in nuclear war to preserve his régime was weakened there was all the more need to secure some political guarantee, however limited, from the United States. This the Americans might have found embarrassing not to accept at least in part in the world organization.
  5. Instead he played the role of the petulant child. He laid down conditions and made demands that he did not have the power to back up. Indeed, if it turns out that he finally comes out of the crisis empty-handed politically, his tactics would seem to have been counter-productive. His failure to agree in some degree to cooperate with the United Nations may well have antagonized sections of neutral opinion. The need to demobilize quietly and without having explained the whys and wherefores of the whole operation has already left the Cuban people with a certain feeling of wasted purpose, particularly after the exhilaration created by the national response to his patriotic appeals at the time the crisis began. If, on top of this, his quinque-partite programme also gets nowhere, he again faces the charge of having failed to have achieved anything. That the Cuban authorities may be beginning to realize this was suggested to me when, in a conversation the other day with the Foreign Minister on the general subject of the crisis, Dr. Roa said somewhat plaintively at one point that if only the Americans would agree to discuss the future of Guantanamo this would be considered satisfactory in lieu of the immediate return of the base.
  6. There is little doubt that Castro has lost prestige domestically and is in danger of losing more as the months go by, if he no longer appears to be able to dominate the scene and can offer no more than a further round of belt-tightening. At the same time, one should appreciate that to some extent he has been able to lay the public blame at the door of the Soviet Union. Moreover, he so towers above other figures in the Government that it is highly doubtful if the Revolution could carry on without him. A stray bullet could, I suspect, still change the whole course of Cuban history. While there would probably be little aversion on the part of Fidelistas, and certainly not on the part of the old-line Communists, to see a broadening of the power base, there is general recognition within both groups of the essential need to have Castro serve as the front man.
  7. That the crisis has taken additional starch out of the waning enthusiasm for the Revolution among the Cuban people seems apparent. As far as those who have opposed the régime in the past are concerned, this is not too important since recent events have only confirmed their beliefs. At the other extreme, the Government supporters probably remain for the present staunchly behind the régime even though there are indications from some private conversations we have had that at least members of the intelligentsia now entertain doubts. Essentially, however, this group cannot afford to relax their support very far, since the fall of the Government would spell the end for them. In the middle, where lies the vast majority of the population, passive, generally apolitical, and thinking largely in terms of the necessities of life, there has been underlying unhappiness for a long time. The bulk of such people want to enjoy their life peacefully and without regimentation. In broad terms, they care little about ideological issues or the complexion of the Government as long as it provides the means of obtaining three square meals a day and does not enter into their lives too deeply. Their dissatisfaction stems largely from the stomach rather than from the head, and it is dangerous to equate discontent of this type with anything constituting real opposition. Their morale has, I think, suffered a further drop from the crisis. One reflection of this is the way in which many members of the Committees for the Defence of the Revolution appear to have become less assiduous in carrying out their duties. There are also some signs that people are beginning to reason a little more about the defects of the Government. For the first time I see the glimmerings of this change but it is not something I would be prepared to document just yet.
  8. At bottom, the economic situation is still the Achilles’ heel of the Government. The crisis cannot but have had adverse effects in this regard even though in the first flush of the call to arms there was a special crisis effort put into economic operations with, for instance, absenteeism in particular declining temporarily. There have, however, been not only the manifold dislocations of mobilization but the disruption of the normal supply channels to the island. A member of the Inspection Service of the Ministry of External Commerce told me this week that almost no food had entered Cuba since the crisis began. A two-month gap in these supply lines from the Communist Bloc is going to be hard to repair without a major effort on the part of the Soviet Union, even granting the fact that good reserves of some staples such as wheat are reportedly on hand. The forthcoming months are likely to show increasing strains in the economic field.
  9. The Government is undoubtedly conscious of this, and particularly its effect on the public at the yuletide season. This is evident from the efforts currently being made for a sort of organized gaiety for this period. Increased rationing arrangements have been instituted for Christmas in an endeavour to improve, or give the appearance of improving, the food situation during the holidays. However, in the case of the beef ration it appears to be essentially a question of doing without one week in order to have extra the next week. Moreover, the additional quantities of turkey, chicken and pork promised by the Government are somewhat indefinite. No specific amounts have been mentioned and it is doubtful if there is sufficient supplies of these foods on hand or if small farmers can be persuaded to cooperate at the low official purchase prices so that the added rations can be provided on a nationwide basis. Even assuming the Government is able to place more in the larders for Christmas, it is likely to be at the expense of normal rations in January and February. Knowing the Cuban fondness for the pastime of dancing, the Government also appears to be intent on providing many outlets for this activity, even including impromptu street affairs.
  10. Unless there is some dramatic breakthrough on the international political front for Cuba the prospect would seem to be gloomy at best. But this need not necessarily mean the end for the Government. Several times in the past I have commented on the absence of any alternative to Castro in Cuba. This is still true today. There is nothing to fill the vacuum resulting from Castro’s loss of prestige and popularity. No leader is on hand, no organization, and no programme around which people who wanted a change might group themselves. The sporadic and limited counter-revolutionary activity which has occurred throughout the year has, since the crisis began, almost disappeared. Also, given the resources which the Government possesses for enforcing its will, as well as the means of ferreting out potential opponents, active opposition, if such existed in any real sense of the word, would have difficulty in gathering momentum.
  11. There is another fundamental factor, too. Cubans are wont to tell you in the same breath that they have never concerned themselves with the colour of the government-of-the-day in the past and complain about what they now have, and see no relationship between the two points. While admittedly there are many exceptions, the average Cuban is not cut from the cloth from which freedom-fighters are made. He essentially hopes that somebody, preferably Uncle Sam, or something, will eventually bail him out. In the meantime he is prepared to grumble but wait it out. Conditions exist in Cuba today which could produce an ultimate change of government and the normal safety valve of emigration has for the present been removed. However, unless there is a crack at the top, a revolt within the officer corps of the Army, or external circumstances bring about a change, conditions in Cuba will have to deteriorate further before the seeds of opposition sprout on the potentially fertile ground here.

George P. Kidd


Footnote 1

See Volume 28, document 398.

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Footnote 2

See Volume 28, document 399.

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Footnote 3

See “Secretary Rusk’s News Conference of February 1,” Department of State Bulletin Vol. 46, No. 1182 (February 19, 1962), pp. 284-288.

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Footnote 4

See Department of State Bulletin Vol. 46, No. 1182 (February 19, 1962), pp. 279, 282.

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Footnote 5

See Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Vol. V (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1998), document 85.

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Footnote 6

See Canada, House of Commons, Debates, 1962, Vol. I, pp. 575, 759, 881-882, 897-900, 909-912, 949-963.

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Footnote 7

See Sydney Gruson, “U.S. Faces Test in NATO as Rifts on Policy Emerge,” New York Times, February 20, 1962, pp. 1, 3; W. Granger Blair, “U.S. Bids NATO End Trade in Strategic Goods with Cuba,” New York Times, February 21, 1962, p. 4.

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Footnote 8

Marginal note:

positive instead of negative [Author unknown]

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Footnote 9

See “Canada-Cuba Trade Sanctioned by People, PC Says in Senate,” Globe and Mail, February 28, 1962, p. 4.

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Footnote 10

See W. Granger Blair, “U.S. Bids NATO End Trade in Strategic Goods with Cuba,” New York Times, February 21, 1962, p. 4.

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Footnote 11

Marginal note:

This reflected particularly comments by Merchant and Achilles. A.E. R[itchie]

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Footnote 12

Marginal note:

Seen by SSEA 31/3. R. C[ampbell]

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Footnote 13

See “Text of Soviet Statement Saying That Any U.S. Attack on Cuba Would Mean War,” New York Times, September 12, 1962, p. 16.

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Footnote 14

See “Snow on Their Boots,” The Economist, September 8, 1962, pp. 871-872.

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Footnote 15

For a news article that provided this sort of information, albeit without claiming to have acquired it from the CIA, see “Reds’ Military Aid to Cuba Increases,” New York Times, February 5, 1962, p. 13.

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Footnote 16

Marginal note:

I think this has been overtaken by events. [N.A. Robertson] 26.10.62

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Footnote 17

See “Trading Relations between the Free World and Cuba: Statement by Under Secretary Ball,” Department of State Bulletin Vol. 47, No. 1217 (October 22, 1962), 591-595.

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Footnote 18

See Langevin Côté, “Soviet Planes on Way to Cuba Carry RCAF Courtesy Crews,” Globe and Mail, September 12, 1962, p. 1.

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Footnote 19

Marginal note:

We should not get mixed up with NATO or the Latin Americans in this. H. G[reen] 30/3

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Footnote 20

Marginal note:

Ed Sullivan 3 [?] weeks ago. [Author unknown]

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Footnote 21

Marginal note:

Tele E-1728 signed by SSEA Sept. 5/61 and sent Sept. 5 7:15 pm. H.E.M.

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Footnote 22

Marginal notes:

I think some item along these lines would be helpful but feel we should wait and see whether and how negotiations proceed before taking any further action. [N.A.] R[obertson]

Minister objects to Canada taking part in negotiations. A. P[otvin]

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Footnote 23

Marginal note:

Mr. Pick: This was done at the request of Ivan White on Thanksgiving Day. I cleared with Rasminsky and sent off this message. A.E. Ritchie

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Footnote 24

Marginal note:

I have informed Elderkin of these developments & that he sh[oul]d get copies of papers. [N.A.] R[obertson]

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Footnote 25

Marginal notes:

I read this letter to Mair of the Royal Bank at 4:30 P.M. Dec. 18. He took note of its contents and said that if the commercial aspects of the deal were cleared up satisfactorily his Bank w[oul]d probably be getting in touch with us to confirm the “assurances” [covered?] in U.S. Embassy letters of the 17 & 18. [N. A.] R[obertson]

Deal not wrapped up. Can. Consul to authenticate USA (Donovan) document. [A. E. Ritchie?]

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Footnote 26

See “The President’s News Conference of September 13, 1962,” in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1962 (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1963), pp. 674-681.

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Footnote 27

Marginal note:

Seen first at meeting with Mr. Merchant and Minister 5:30 pm. Delivered to me at [home?] at 7 pm after broadcast of Pres. Kennedy. [John G. Diefenbaker]

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Footnote 28

See Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Vol. XI (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1996), document 44.

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Footnote 29

See “Radio and Television Report to the American People on the Soviet Arms Buildup in Cuba,” October 22, 1962, in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1962 (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1963), pp. 806-809.

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Footnote 30

See “The President’s News Conference of September 13, 1962,” in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1962 (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1963), pp. 674-681.

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Footnote 31

See “Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance,” Department of State Bulletin, Vol. 17, No. 429 (September 21, 1947), pp. 565-567.

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Footnote 32

See Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Vol. XI (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1996), document 29.

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Footnote 33

See Canada, House of Commons, Debates, 1962-63, Vol. I, pp. 805-806.

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Footnote 34

See Canada, House of Commons, Debates, 1962-63, Vol. I, p. 821 .

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Footnote 35

Marginal note:

Seen [N.A.] R[obertson]

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Footnote 36

See Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Vol. XI (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1996), document 39.

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Footnote 37

See Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Vols. X/XI/XII Microfiche Supplement (Washington: Department of State, 1998), document 365.

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Footnote 38

See United Nations, Security Council Official Records, Seventeenth Year, 1022nd Meeting, 23 October 1962, UN Doc S/PV.1022(OR), pp. 2-17,

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Footnote 39

For a later account by Merchant, see Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Vols. X/XI/XII Microfiche Supplement (Washington: Department of State, 1998), document 361.

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Footnote 40

Marginal note:

Yes [Author unknown]

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Footnote 41

See American Foreign Policy, Current Documents, 1962 (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1966), pp. 421-422.

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Footnote 42

See “Proclamation 3504 – Interdiction of the Delivery of Offensive Weapons to Cuba,” October 23, 1962, in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1962 (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1963), pp. 809-811.

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Footnote 43

See American Foreign Policy, Current Documents, 1962 (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1966), pp. 408-410.

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Footnote 44

See United Nations General Assembly, Resolution 377(V), “Uniting for Peace,” November 3, 1950, A/RES/377(V), .

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Footnote 45

See “Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance,” Department of State Bulletin Vol. 17, No. 429 (September 21, 1947), pp. 565-567.

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Footnote 46

See Department of State Bulletin Vol. 18, No. 464 (May 23, 1948), pp. 666-673.

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Footnote 47

See Canada, House of Commons, Debates, 1962-63, Vol. I, pp. 852-854.

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Footnote 48

Marginal note:

Your approval of this has already been received [Ross Campbell]

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Footnote 49

Marginal notes:

O.K. H.C. G[reen]

Mr. McKinney: Please draft a letter to PCO, Transport, Nat[ional] Rev[enue], and DND embodying solutions of para 3 and asking that we be kept informed for these purposes. A.E. R[itchie]

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Footnote 50

See United Nations, Security Council Official Records, Seventeenth Year, 1023rd Meeting, 24 October 1962, UN Doc S/PV.1023(OR), pp. 4-9,

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Footnote 51

See Canada, House of Commons, Debates, 1962-63, Vol. I, p. 821.

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Footnote 52

Marginal note:

Noted. [N.A.] R[obertson]

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Footnote 53

See Don Cook, “NATO Council Backs Kennedy Line in Crisis,” New York Herald Tribune (European Edition), October 24, 1962, pp. 1-2.

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Footnote 54

See Department of State Bulletin, Vol. 12, No. 297 (March 4, 1945), pp. 339-340.

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Footnote 55

See United Nations Security Council, Resolution 156, “Question Relating to the Dominican Republic,” September 9, 1960, S/RES/156(1960), .

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Footnote 56

See United Nations, Security Council Official Records, Seventeenth Year, 998th Meeting, 23 March 1962, UN Doc S/PV.998, pp. 1-30,

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Footnote 57

See “We Have Always Stood by Friends Green Declares,” Ottawa Citizen, October 25, 1962, p. 19.

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Footnote 58

Marginal notes:

I fear this idea might be taken to condone the use of conventional force.* Anyway, USA is dead set against “declaratory” positions.** R.C[ampbell] 25/10

*Some formula acceptable to both sides will have to be found and this one has some real advantages for U.S.A. that may outweigh repugnance toward “declarations.” M. N. B[ow]

**As the next following sentence points out this is one of the risks involved but it is limited in time and scope. M. N. B[ow]

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Footnote 59

Marginal note:

Noted. [N. A.] R[obertson]

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Footnote 60

See Canada, House of Commons, Debates, 1962-63, Vol. I, pp. 279-280; see also pp. 13, 173, 345.

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Footnote 61

See “Castro Is Defiant; Bars Arms Checks,” New York Times, October 24, 1962, p. 1.

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Footnote 62

See United Nations, Security Council Official Records, Seventeenth Year, 1022nd Meeting, 23 October 1962, UN Doc S/PV.1022(OR), p. 22,

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Footnote 63

See “The News of the Week,” Current Digest of the Soviet Press, Vol. 14, No. 37 (October 10, 1962), pp. 16-17.

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Footnote 64

See Canada, House of Commons, Debates, 1962-63, Vol. I, pp. 911-913.

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Footnote 65

See American Foreign Policy, Current Documents, 1962 (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1966), pp. 421-422.

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Footnote 66

See “Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance,” Department of State Bulletin, Vol. 17, No. 429 (September 21, 1947), pp. 565-567.

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Footnote 67

See Department of State Bulletin, Vol. 18, No. 464 (May 23, 1948), pp. 666-673.

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Footnote 68

The memorandum was sent on October 27.

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Footnote 69

This enclosure (see previous document) is not in the Diefenbaker Papers.

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Footnote 70

Marginal note:

? R. B. B[ryce]. US paper [see enclosure] as returned to me –

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Footnote 71

Marginal note:

Seen by P.M. File. O. W. D[ier]

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Footnote 72

See “Text of Soviet Statement Saying That Any U.S. Attack on Cuba Would Mean War,” New York Times, September 12, 1962, p. 16.

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Footnote 73

See United Nations, Security Council Official Records, Seventeenth Year, 1022nd Meeting, 23 October 1962, UN Doc S/PV.1022(OR), pp. 16, 36,

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Footnote 74

See United Nations, Security Council Official Records, Seventeenth Year, 1024th Meeting, 24 October 1962, UN Doc S/PV.1024(OR), p. 20, .

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Footnote 75

See Volume 25, documents 381, 382.

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Footnote 76

Marginal note:

Not sent overtaken by events on Oct. 28. [Author unknown]

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Footnote 77

See American Foreign Policy, Current Documents, 1962 (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1966), pp. 425, 437.

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Footnote 78

See United Nations, Security Council Official Records, Seventeenth Year, 1024th Meeting, 24 October 1962, UN Doc S/PV.1024(OR), pp. 10-14,

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Footnote 79

See “23rd of October,” Castro Speech Data Base, Latin American Network Information Center, (accessed November 27, 2012).

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Footnote 80

See Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Vol. XI (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1996), document 84.

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Footnote 81

See Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Vol. XI (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1996), document 91.

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Footnote 82

See “White House Statement of October 27,” Department of State Bulletin, Vol. 47, No. 1220 (November 12, 1962), p. 741.

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Footnote 83

Marginal note:

Omit. [Le paragraphe 8 est biffé./Paragraph 8 is crossed out.] [O. W. Dier]

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Footnote 84

Marginal note:

Approved by P.M. [O. W. Dier]

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Footnote 85

Marginal notes:

Approved by P.M. [O. W. Dier]

Seen by P.M. 9.00 p.m. 27/10/62. Approved with deletion para 8. Sent to Wash NATO Paris London Permis[NY] for background info. 27/10. O. W. D[ier].

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Footnote 86

See Canada, House of Commons, Debates, 1962-63, Vol. I, pp. 911-913.

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Footnote 87

See “Support from Ottawa,” Washington Post, October 27, 1962, p. A12.

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Footnote 88

It is not clear which speech of Kennedy’s Rusk was referring to. For two earlier documents that present one or both of these issues as non-negotiable, see Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Vol. X (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1997), documents 212, 387.

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Footnote 89

See United Nations, Security Council Official Records, Seventeenth Year, 1025th Meeting, 25 October 1962, UN Doc S/PV.1025(OR), pp. 15-16,

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Footnote 90

See Joseph Alsop, “The Trap That Was Laid,” Washington Post, October 26, 1962, p. A19.

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Footnote 91

See Walter Lippmann, “Blockade Proclaimed,” Washington Post, October 25, 1962, p. A25.

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Footnote 92

See Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Vol. XI (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1996), document 29.

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Footnote 93

The TASS report referred to here is probably the one printed in “Text of Soviet Statement Saying That Any U.S. Attack on Cuba Would Mean War,” New York Times, September 12, 1962, p. 16.

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Footnote 94

The October 27 White House statement may be the one printed in American Foreign Policy, Current Documents, 1962 (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1966), pp. 440-441. For an October 26 White House statement that focused more specifically on the continuing development of the Cuban missile sites, see ibid., pp. 437-438.

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Footnote 95

See Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Vol. XI (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1996), document 95.

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Footnote 96

See Jack Raymond, “Airmen Called Up: 24 Reserve Squadrons of Troop Carriers Are Affected,” New York Times, October 28, 1962, pp. 1, 32.

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Footnote 97

See Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Vol. XI (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1996), document 84.

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Footnote 98

Marginal note:

? [Author unknown]

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Footnote 99

See Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Vol. XI (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1996), documents 91, 95, 102.

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Footnote 100

See Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Vol. XI (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1996), document 102.

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Footnote 101

See ibid., document 84.

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Footnote 102

See ibid., document 91.

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Footnote 103

See ibid., document 95.

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Footnote 104

“Kilpatrick” should probably be “Gilpatric.” See Thomas J. Hamilton, “U.N. Chief Confers,” New York Times, October 30, 1962, pp. 1, 14.

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Footnote 105

Marginal note:

Noted. [N. A.] R[obertson]

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Footnote 106

See L.V. Scott, Macmillan, Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis: Political, Military and Intelligence Aspects (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999), p. 175.

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Footnote 107

Marginal note:

Text approved by telephone by P.M. Sent under cover my letter 6.30 p.m. 29/10/62. O. W. D[ier]

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Footnote 108

See Thomas J. Hamilton, “U.N. Chief Confers,” and “Sweden Offers Observers,” New York Times, October 30, 1962, pp. 1, 14; “U Thant Asks for Observers for the U.N. Peace Mission to Cuba,” Times (London), October 30, 1962, p. 11. It has not been determined from what news source Murray would have heard this report by October 29, but it appears that the initial report was issued by a Swedish journalist.

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Footnote 109

In the end, nothing came of this idea of having Canadian pilots perform UN-sponsored inspection flights. See Foreign Relations of the United States 1961-1963, Vol. XI (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1996), documents 112, 125, 132, 138, 158.

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Footnote 110

Marginal note:

Noted. N. A. R[obertson]

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Footnote 111

Marginal note:

P.M. questioned this. [O. W. Dier]

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Footnote 112

The original wording of this sentence was: “After a short period in which it is confirmed that the Cuban settlement is honestly adhered to, it is to be hoped, however, that President Kennedy will take advantage …”. The change was likely made by Diefenbaker.

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Footnote 113

The original word was “should.” The change was likely made by Diefenbaker.

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Footnote 114

The original wording was “ … for serious negotiations now that he has taken the measure of Kennedy.” The change was likely made by Diefenbaker.

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Footnote 115

Marginal note:

PM opposed sending this to NATO Paris as basis for discussions in Council. Expressed reservations on 5(a). Seaborn informed 31/10/62. [O. W. Dier]

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Footnote 116

During the Cuban missile crisis, the Department of External Affairs provided American government officials with many of Ambassador Kidd’s reports.

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Footnote 117

See American Foreign Policy, Current Documents, 1962 (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1966), pp. 447-448.

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Footnote 118

Marginal note:

Not rec’d in Comcentre 10:00 hrs 7/11/62.

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Footnote 119

See “Text of Soviet Statement Saying That Any U.S. Attack on Cuba Would Mean War,” New York Times, September 12, 1962, p. 16.

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Footnote 120

See L.V. Scott, Macmillan, Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis: Political, Military and Intelligence Aspects (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999), pp. 105-111.

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Footnote 121

See document 706.

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Footnote 122

This telegram incorporates revisions made by hand. The original wording attributed the opinions in paragraph 2 to Prime Minister Diefenbaker.

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Footnote 123

Marginal note:

Required in Paris by 9 a.m. [Author unknown]

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Footnote 124

See document 705.

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Footnote 125

Marginal note:

Message picked up by Mr. Fournier at 7 a.m. this morning. [Author unknown]

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Footnote 126

Marginal note:

? [Author unknown]

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Footnote 127

This may be a reference to such an attempt in 1961. See Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Vol. XI (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1996), documents 90, 219; Vol. XVI, documents 362, 364, 366; and Michael Dobbs, One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War (New York: Knopf, 2008), p. 270.

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Footnote 128

Ritchie was actually referring to Lippmann’s October 25 column. S ee “Blockade Proclaimed,” Washington Post, October 25, 1962, p. A25.

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Footnote 129

Marginal note:

Not sent. [H. B.] R[obinson]

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Footnote 130

Marginal note:

L[atin] A[merican] Div[ision:] Tele XL-125 revised signed by SSEA Nov 2/62 and sent. M. N. B[ow]

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Footnote 131

Sent November 2: see marginal note on the preceding document.

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Footnote 132

This sentence incorporates revisions made by hand. The original wording was:

“It is clear that this understanding cannot be carried to a successful conclusion under UN or other auspices without the cooperation of Cuba and without an effective system for verification under United Nations or other auspices.”

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Footnote 133

See Volume 26, documents 173, 174.

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Footnote 134

Marginal notes:

Willing and [Desirous?] to cooperate but Can[ada] makes its decisions.

[Two words illegible] American tell Can[adians] what they should do.

CBC [four or five words illegible] in Washington. [John G. Diefenbaker]

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Footnote 135

Kidd presented this note to the Cuban Foreign Minister on November 3.

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Footnote 136

See “1 November Interview,” Castro Speech Data Base, Latin American Network Information Center,

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Footnote 137

See Canada Treaty Series, 1958, No. 9.

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Footnote 138

See Volume 26, documents 216, 217.

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Footnote 139

Only the documents referred to in the second-to-last sentence of this paragraph have been printed as enclosures; regarding the documents referred to in the first sentence, see the preceding footnote.

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Footnote 140

This may be a reference to the TASS statement of September 11. See “Text of Soviet Statement Saying That Any U.S. Attack on Cuba Would Mean War,” New York Times, September 12, 1962, p. 16.

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Footnote 141

See Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Vol. XI (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1996), document 84.

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Footnote 142

See ibid., document 91.

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Footnote 143

Diefenbaker delivered an address on November 5 at Beth Tzedec Synagogue in Toronto. For his speech notes, see D.M.F., Vol. 112, and J.G.D./MG01/XII/C/342; see also “Diefenbaker Urges A-Weapons Race End,” Globe and Mail, November 6, 1962, p. 5, and “P.M. Calls for a Halt to World Arms Race,” Toronto Daily Star, November 6, 1962, p. 2.

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Footnote 144

The letter referred to here may be the one printed in Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Vol. XI (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1996), document 95.

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Footnote 145

This may be a reference to a televised address that Castro delivered on December 1-2, 1961. See “Castro Is Setting Up Party in the Communist Pattern,” New York Times, December 3, 1961, pp. 1, 4; Herbert S. Dinerstein, The Making of a Missile Crisis: October 1962 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976), pp. 147-148.

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Footnote 146

Adam Rapacki, Poland’s foreign minister, visited Cuba in June 1962. See “Poland, Cuba, and the Missile Crisis, 1962: Ciphered Telegrams from the Foreign Ministry Archives in Warsaw,” Cold War International History Project Bulletin 17/18 (Fall 2012), pp. 463, 473-475.

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Footnote 147

No information has been found on this in secondary sources.

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Footnote 148

See “Text of Soviet Statement Saying That Any U.S. Attack on Cuba Would Mean War,” New York Times, September 12, 1962, p. 16.

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Footnote 149

See Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Vol. XI (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1996), document 79 n. 3; Sam Pope Brewer, “Cuba Is Pressed on Missile Inspection in U.N.,” New York Times, November 9, 1962, p. 2.

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Footnote 150

The memorandum in question may be document 230, although the discussion below is not a very exact synopsis of that memo’s contents.

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Footnote 151

See documents 659, 672.

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Footnote 152

Marginal note:

Newsome mentioned Bomarcs as having been included in U.S. requests. [H. B. Robinson]

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Footnote 153

Marginal notes:

I’ll ask Bill Armstrong about this. [H. B. Robinson]

Mr. Cameron[:] Thanks. [H. B.] R[obinson]

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Footnote 154

For Arnold Smith’s account of this conversation, see Moscow to External telegram 832, November 19, 1962,† DEA/50128-40.

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Footnote 155

See Sydney Gruson, “Spaak Says Soviet Backs Wide Talks with No Deadline,” New York Times, September 25, 1961, pp. 1, 3. For a fuller account, see NATO Paris to External, telegram 2385, September 22, 1961,† DEA/50341-40, part 20.2.

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Footnote 156

See “Castro’s Letter to Thant,” New York Times, November 21, 1962, p. 9.

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Footnote 157

See also “Text of Castro Letter to Thant,” New York Times, November 17, 1962, p. 2.

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Footnote 158

Marginal note:

Noted. [N. A.] R[obertson]

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Footnote 159

See American Foreign Policy, Current Documents, 1962 (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1966), pp. 461-463.

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Footnote 160

Marginal note:

No. Just hold the line both on Russian planes and on the new planes for Cuba. H. C. G[reen]

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Footnote 161

Marginal note:

Telegram not approved. M. N. B[ow]

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Footnote 162

See document 710.

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Footnote 163

See “May Day,” Current Digest of the Soviet Press, Vol. 14, No. 18 (May 30, 1962), p. 19; “Malinovsky on the Anniversary of Victory in Europe,” Current Digest of the Soviet Press, Vol. 14, No. 19 (June 6, 1962), pp. 19-20; “Marshal Malinovsky on Some Lessons of History,” Current Digest of the Soviet Press, Vol. 14, No. 25 (July 18, 1962), pp. 14-16; Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Vol. V (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1998), documents 177, 179, 189, and 212.

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Footnote 164

See Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Vol. X (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1997), document 349; Thomas M. Leonard, Castro and the Cuban Revolution (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999), pp. 33-34, 100.

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Footnote 165

Possibly “New Soviet-Cuba Aid Pact Reported Signed in Havana,” New York Times, November 21, 1962, p. 6.

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Footnote 166

Marginal note:

Seen by the Minister.

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Footnote 167

See Sam Pope Brewer, “Mikoyan Returns from Cuba Today; Will Meet Thant,” New York Times, November 26, 1962, p. 1; “He Addresses Cuban People,” New York Times, November 26, 1962, p. 5.

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Footnote 168

See “Castro Demands Inspection in U.S.,” New York Times, November 27, 1962, pp. 1, 4.

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Footnote 169

See American Foreign Policy, Current Documents, 1962 (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1966), pp. 461-463.

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Footnote 170

See “Text of Castro Letter to Thant,” New York Times, November 17, 1962, p. 2; “Castro’s Letter to Thant,” New York Times, November 21, 1962, p. 9.

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Footnote 171

See document 733.

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Footnote 172

See document 197.

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Footnote 173

Marginal note:

Bluff. [Author unknown]

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Footnote 174

Marginal note:

After Cuba this sh[oul]d not appear too difficult. [Author unknown]

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