December 2, 1962
Confidential Memo from Cuban Mission to the United Nations Concerning Anastas Mikoyan’s Conversations with US President John F. Kennedy (and Secretary of State Dean Rusk), with cover note from Cuban President Dorticos to Foreign Minister Roa
This document was made possible with support from Leon Levy Foundation
5 December 1962
Havana, 5 December 1962
“YEAR OF PLANNING”
To Dr. Raúl Roa García
I am returning the confidential memo from 2 December, directed to you regarding the interview of Mikoyan with Kennedy.
HOMELAND OR DEATH, WE WILL WIN
Osvaldo Dorticos Torrado
Permanent Mission of Cuba in the United Nations, 2 December 1962
Mikoyan sent to New York the USSR’s ambassador in Washington, Dobryni [Anatoly F. Dobrynin], so that he might inform us about his interview with Kennedy.
The version is the following:
Mikoyan spoke extensively on his visit to Cuba. He said the Revolution had accomplished many tasks, and specially pointed out the schools and hospitals, referring also to production. He stated that Fidel Castro concerned himself very much with the people and spoke of the public atmosphere that exists in Cuba, and of support for the Government.
Kennedy made no comment. He only expressed “that he was pleased [that] Castro worried about the people.” Immediately after, he stated that the Cuban government continued a plan of subversion within Latin America and that this behavior greatly worried the United States government.
Mikoyan spoke of Cuba’s distrust of “American imperialism” (they told me he had used that expression) and blamed the USA for the crisis in relations with Cuba. He added that the project [i.e., draft—ed.] of the US declaration before the Security Council is not satisfactory because it cancels, in practice, American obligations emerging from the exchange of messages between Kennedy and Khrushchev.
Kennedy said that the idea of agreeing on the three declarations before the Security Council is generally not acceptable because they cannot vote for Cuba’s declaration and Cuba was not going to vote for that of the United States. He said it would be better not to arrive at similar declarations and limit the process to U Thant taking note of the declarations from the USSR and USA, without any voting by the Security Council. He also suggested not going to the Council in any form – neither to the session, nor to the proceedings through U Thant – but rather producing the declarations, he in Washington and Khrushchev in Moscow.
Mikoyan rejected the idea and said it would be better to go to the Council and continue negotiations between the Soviets and the Americans, and between the Soviets and us [Cubans] in New York.
Kennedy stated that if they went to the Council they would have to mention the Rio de Janeiro Pact and inter-American obligations because the USA and the other Latin American countries were signatories of that Pact.
Mikoyan (said) that the Rio Pact could not be mentioned because it is not the object of the negotiations, and besides, the USA might facilitate separation of Cuba from the OAS. “Therefore, the USA does not have the right to mention the Pact in this situation.”
Kennedy stated that the Soviets wanted to receive an official document from the USA that promised not for two months, but for two years, which is what remains of his presidency, or for six years if he is reelected. The USA had to guarantee to the Western Hemisphere (countries) that the USSR would not send missiles to Cuba again and that Cuba would not carry out acts of subversion in Latin America. He added that in this situation (the USA) feels obligated to fly over Cuban territory, even though the USSR criticizes them for doing so. He then showed a newspaper clipping in which it was said that Cuba was still hiding some Soviet missiles, and asked Mikoyan, “What would you do in my position after reading this allegation?”
Mikoyan said that this all seemed like the talk of crazy men, and expressed his confidence that the USA would not be swayed by such foolishness.
Kennedy laughed, but did not comment.
Mikoyan related that Fidel asked him in Cuba: with what right does Kennedy or the USA speak of attacking Cuba? What law lets them fly over our territory?
Kennedy did not answer.
Mikoyan declared that the USSR would never accept the American “right” to interfere with these flights, as this was against international law.
Kennedy said they would not carry out any more low-altitude flights, but that higher flights would continue.
Mikoyan responded that low flights were an act of blatant piracy, and the rest were piracy in the high skies. He added that if the USA had suspicions, that they should accept multilateral inspection (of Cuba.). He stated that Fidel had accepted it because it involved a basis of reciprocity, and that was a proposition by U Thant. In that way, he said, the USA could assure themselves that Cuba was not subverting order in Latin America, a charge that he rejected. He added that Cuba could also talk of subversion in its territory, not only by the United States but also by other countries in the Western Hemisphere. Continuing the conversation, he mentioned that the additional propositions contained in the declarations of the USA before the Security Council did not appear in Kennedy’s messages, and it seemed that the USA was attempting to reject the results of the negotiations. “It appears that the USA doesn’t want to put out all the sparks in the fire, and we want to resolve this matter as soon as possible in order to be able to move on to other problems and resolve them too. What can I tell Khrushchev? Do I tell him that you are going to fulfill the obligations you have laid out, or that you don’t intend to?”
Kennedy said that it seemed that the translator had not summarized his observations well, and that he was prepared to reiterate the promise of no Cuban invasion, but that there were some difficulties in the editing of the text. “We will give instructions to Stevenson and you give them to Kuznetsov, so that conversations in New York on this matter can continue.”
In the interview of Mikoyan with Dean Rusk, the next day, the Cuban issue was not discussed. They discussed nuclear tests and other matters. Rusk, however, spoke of Brazil’s proposal to denuclearize Latin America. (He said the same as [Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Edwin M.] Martin to the Brazilian ambassador [to the United States Roberto de Oliveira] Campos, whom I informed in a recent confidential memo.)
Rusk told Mikoyan that they were prepared to add Guantanamo and the Panama Canal to Brazil’s resolution for a territory free of nuclear weapons, with the only reservation being that the USA could use the Canal to transport nuclear arms from the Atlantic to the Pacific, or vice versa.
A report from the Cuban Mission to the UN concerning a conversation with Anastas Mikoyan and US President John F. Kennedy and Secretary of State Dean Rusk. The three are mostly focused on discussing US-Latin American diplomatic relations, and concerns over American military presence in Latin America, specifically the US fly-overs. Kennedy continues to reiterate the US's position on 'no US invasion of Cuba.'
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