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Digital Archive International History Declassified

October 27, 1964

FROM THE DIARY OF O. T. DARUSENKOV, RECORD OF A CONVERSATION WITH CUBAN MINISTER OF INDUSTRY, ERNESTO GUEVARA, 16 OCTOBER 1964

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

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    Darusenkov notes a meeting in which Guevara discusses Khrushchev's resignation and its potential policy implications for the Soviet Union, focusing particularly on foreign policy towards Cuba.
    "From the Diary of O. T. Darusenkov, Record of a Conversation with Cuban Minister of Industry, Ernesto Guevara, 16 October 1964," October 27, 1964, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, TsKhSD, f. 5, op. 49, d. 758, l. 269, r. 9126. Translated for CWIHP by Gary Goldberg. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/117102
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[Stamp]: Declassified

from the diary of

Darusenkov, O. T.

Secret Copy No 2

27 October 1964

No 375

RECORD OF A CONVERSATION

with Secretary of the National Leadership of the United Party of the Socialist Revolution of Cuba [YePSRK] and Minister of Industry of the Republic of Cuba

Ernesto GUEVARA SERNA

16 October 1964

I met with Guevara at the Ministry of Industry and had a confidential conversation with him in the course of which we touched on the question of Cde. Khrushchev’s resignation from leadership posts in the CPSU and Soviet government.

The report of Khrushchev’s resignation, Guevara noted, disturbed us very much and we are trying to anticipate what it could mean for the foreign policy of the Soviet Union as a whole and for its policy toward Cuba. It seems to us that Khrushchev’s resignation should cause certain changes in Soviet policy.

Taking the position of a friend of the Soviet Union who is always ready from good motives to speak the truth to one’s face, Guevara continued, I want to say in this regard that the Soviet report about releasing Cde. Khrushchev from his leadership posts in the USSR made an unpleasant impression on me in its reticence. [several words unreadable due to faded text] “advanced age and worsening of his health” when it is quite evident that this is not what it is all about, but about some political considerations and some serious differences between a majority of the CC CPSU and Cde. Khrushchev. Already a day after F. Castro received the Soviet report about this question the lead article of “Pravda” is hinting about the real reasons for the removal of Cde. Khrushchev.

We, the Cuban leaders, Guevara said further, think that Cde. Khrushchev enjoyed exceptional popularity in Cuba and consider that under the leadership of Cde. Khrushchev the USSR achieved outstanding successes in its policy. However, in spite of this, we have long noted that there were a peculiar series of significant shortcomings for the political policy of Cde. Khrushchev.

For example, Guevara stressed, he did not like the pronounced pragmatism of Cde. Khrushchev and the unexpected changes in his policy very much. The period of the Caribbean Crisis showed this clearly, which left us Cubans with a very unpleasant aftertaste. Cde. Khrushchev, in my view, made some mistakes in regard to China and Albania. I personally did not agree very much with the course that Soviet policy took in this question after the XXII CPSU Congress. As a result of this we were confronted with the most difficult problem which had existed in the world Communist movement. At the same time I do not want to justify the Chinese policy. I consider that the Chinese leaders have been conducting themselves unacceptably. But in this case this is about the Soviet Union; therefore this is what I am talking about.

The Chinese leadership, Guevara continued, is taking a position concerning Cuba in which it is quite difficult for us to say anything against China. China is giving us substantial aid, which we cannot ignore. We have, for example, asked for one kind of weapon in Czechoslovakia, knowing beforehand that the Czechs had it; however we got a negative reply. After this we turned to China with a similar request the issue was decided in several days. The Chinese even refused to accept payment from us, saying that they do not trade in weapons with friends. In spite of the serious food situation in China they have delivered rice to us. We understand, however, that the Chinese leadership in doing so is following its own specific goals and is helping us at the expense of their people, but from the fact of Chinese aid to Cuba [several lines lost here due to fading in the text] regarding future Soviet-Cuban relations [Translator’s note: 2-3 lines are lost in the Russian text at this point due to fading although there is no ellipsis in the Spanish translation.] the USSR there are people who have not displayed great enthusiasm regarding Cuba, since it, besides the economic burden for the Soviet Union, is also a potential breeding ground for a thermonuclear world war.

Independent of the possibilities of the severe criticism of Cde. Khrushchev in the USSR, Guevara continued, the Cuban leadership is intent on taking a quite restrained position in this question, keeping in mind the above considerations about the popularity of Cde. Khrushchev. We, he stressed, are afraid, as it were, of a complete negation of the period of Cde. Khrushchev, as took place regarding Stalin, which we also see as one of the mistakes of Cde. Khrushchev. A similar practice would have serious consequences, which we would like to avoid.

Having said in the conclusion of the conversation that he had met little with Cde. Brezhnev, L.I. and therefore could not give his opinion about him, Guevara noted that he preserved pleasant memories of contacts with Cde. Kosygin, A. N. He said, Cde. Kosygin seemed to me a serious, thoughtful, intelligent leader who approaches solutions to problems without haste, having thought everything out and weighed it ahead of time. Although I don’t know whether he will always be accommodating to us regarding a number of Cuban requests, I hold the highest opinion about Cde. Kosygin.

First Secretary of the USSR Embassy in Cuba

[signature]

O. Darusenkov

[Handwritten note at the bottom of the first page]: “Note. The material is informative; briefed to the sector. Chief of a CC CPSU sector. [signature] A. Kalinin. 29.12.64.“ [Note to the left]: “Archive [1 word illegible]. 30.12.64”

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