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Digital Archive International History Declassified

December 26, 1963

FROM THE DIARY OF O. T. DARUSENKOV, RECORD OF A CONVERSATION WITH CUBAN MINISTER OF INDUSTRY ERNESTO GUEVARA, 20 DECEMBER 1963

This document was made possible with support from the Leon Levy Foundation

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    Guevara reports on the improving economic development of Cuba. Guevara and Darusenkov briefly discuss misunderstandings about the Chinese and Cuban-Soviet foreign relations.
    "From the Diary of O. T. Darusenkov, Record of a Conversation with Cuban Minister of Industry Ernesto Guevara, 20 December 1963," December 26, 1963, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, TsKhSD. Translated for CWIHP by Gary Goldberg https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/117071
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[Stamp]: Declassified

from the diary of

Darusenkov, O. T.

Secret Copy No 2

26 December 1963

No 389

RECORD OF A CONVERSATION

with Minister of Industry of the Republic of Cuba

Ernesto GUEVARA SERNA

20 December 1963

I met with Guevara to maintain contact and have a conversation with him.

In the course of the conversation, Guevara, touching on the economic situation of Cuba, said that at the present time in the opinion of the Cuban leadership considerably more favorable conditions are developing for the economy of the country than in previous years. The curve of our economy, he declared, has stopped falling and shows a tendency toward a rise. This affects the production of sugar, first of all; the foundation of our economy. Since we have started on the right road and having begun to pay exceptional attention to the production of sugar, hopeful forecasts are being carefully drawn, especially in connection with the new conditions on the world sugar market. In 1964 we propose to process 4,200,000 tons of raw sugar, that is 400,000 tons more than in the previous year.* Considering the price in the growth of the price of sugar, this gives us a considerable increase in hard currency proceeds. The problem of sugar trade with socialist countries occupies us In this regard. We are very interested that the present price in the trade with these countries of 6 centavos per English pound become stable. This would be a substantial help to our economy. To tell the truth, the price of 4 centavos at which we sold sugar earlier hardly covered our costs of production.

* - Until recently the estimate of processed raw sugar for 1964 was determined by competent Cuban organizations to be 4,600,000 tons.

Guevara further informed me that the first acquaintance with the feasibility report about the metalworks project recently received from the Soviet Union made an exceptionally favorable impression on him. In its content, he said, this was the best quality report that I have ever seen. Right now we’re finishing the translation of the report into Spanish and then the government will begin to discuss it. [Translator’s note: Page 2 is missing; text continues with page 3].

…began to be directly involved in the affairs of the central planning junta [SIC] (about two months ago), having replaced him – Guevara - in this sector the junta has actually turned into the supreme economic management organ, but the Economic Commission, although it formally continues to exist, in fact has ceased operation.

At the end of the conversation, which occurred in a warm and friendly atmosphere, Guevara having said that he was interested in the chess tournament recently organized by the Soviet embassy with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which he had read about in the newspapers, and he wants to propose to the Soviet embassy that it compete in a game of chess with his ministry. Such a measure, he stressed, would bring us together and be useful in the cause of creating a friendly atmosphere. Moreover, Guevara added smiling, by doing this I would like to show several of your comrades that I am not at all “ardently pro-Chinese,” as it seems to them.

I replied that of course the Soviet embassy would accept this invitation with great pleasure and would be able to hammer out the details in the next few days; as regards the reproach that we consider him, Guevara, as “ardently pro-Chinese,” then there is some kind of misunderstanding. It is not acceptable for us in the embassy to hang labels on political figures and no one, much less the leaders of the embassy, considers Guevara “pro-Chinese,” as well as “ardent.”

Do you see, Guevara interrupted me, several Soviet comrades whom I do not want to name specifically, have a tendency in evaluating my attitude toward guerilla war as the leading method of liberating the peoples of Latin America, or toward the problem as “self-financing [khozraschet] vs. a budget system,” to think that this a Chinese position from which they draw the conclusion that Guevara is pro-Chinese. But perhaps I cannot have any opinion regarding these questions independent of what the Chinese think about them?

I said to Guevara in reply to this that I agree with such a formulation of the question. I myself, but also as far as I know, our other comrades themselves approach the question this very way. We can agree or disagree and argue about the substance of the understanding of one or another political or economic problem but should not in doing so attach political labels. A label is not an argument. To say that someone is incorrect in a given question only because the Chinese hold to that opinion proves nothing. It is necessary to object to the essence of the question and I think that you and we should not have misunderstandings in this.

At this the conversation ended inasmuch as Guevara had to leave for a speech at a meeting in support of the liberation struggle of the people of South Vietnam.

First Secretary of the USSR Embassy in Cuba

[signature]

O. Darusenkov

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