May 19, 1964
From the Diary of N. A. Belous, Record of a Conversation with a Member of the Editorial Board of the Magazine 'Cuba Socialista,' Fabio Grobart, 13 May 1964
This document was made possible with support from Leon Levy Foundation
from the diary of
N. A. Belous
Secret Copy No 2
19 May 1964
RECORD OF A CONVERSATION
with a member of the editorial board of the magazine “Cuba Socialista,” FABIO GROBART
13 May 1964
Fabio Grobart visited the embassy today to clarify several issues associated with his upcoming visit to the Soviet Union.
The question about the situation in Cuba was touched on in the course of the conversation. I asked Grobart how serious he thinks is the announcement of the leaders of foreign Cuban counterrevolutionaries about upcoming landings of counterrevolutionaries in Cuba. Grobart said that in his opinion no serious operations of a military nature against Cuba are to be expected. One of the leaders of the Cuban counterrevolution Manuel Rey has repeatedly bragged that he will be in Cuba on 20 May 1964 (20 May is the anniversary of the proclamation of the Republic in 1902). The Cuban leadership has information about the intensification of military preparations among the foreign counterrevolutionaries. It is possible that the counterrevolutionaries could make a number of attempts to land small assault groups on the island. However, without the direct support of the United States these detachments will have no success; they will be crushed in the very first hours by the Cuban armed forces. At the same time, in Grobart’s opinion, the United States will hardly come to the direct support of a counterrevolution. The international situation at this time is not such that they can do this. Johnson’s government also well knows, Grobart continued, that the Soviet Union will decisively stand up in Cuba’s defense and this is the main restraining factor against irresponsible actions of the most reactionary forces in the US.
I further asked Grobart his opinion about Ernesto Guevara’s speech at a meeting of the Union of Young Communists of the Ministry of Industry on 9 May. Were the thoughts expressed by Guevara at this meeting the collective opinion of the National Leadership of the Party or are these personal opinions?
It is our misfortune, said Grobart in reply to this question, that the National Leadership of the Party is actually not being convened and important questions of domestic and foreign policy are thus not discussed collectively. The Cuban leaders who occupy high posts in the government and the National Leadership of the Party, including Fidel Castro, Guevara, and others, sometimes speak publicly with declarations which are not the collective opinion of the National Leadership of the Party. Their speeches are not prepared beforehand, are not discussed, and are an improvisation. Che Guevara in his speech of 9 May, Grobart continued, raised a whole series of questions about the Party and its activity, including what the Party’s participation should be in deciding administrative questions, what is its responsibility for the state of affairs in the economy, what should be the relationship between the Party and governmental and public organizations, etc., but he did not give an answer to one of these questions, although he referred to the fact that there are 50 years of experience of the activity of a Communist Party, hinting at the CPSU. From his statements one can draw the conclusion that the experience of the CPSU is not suitable for Cuba, which gives grounds for various dubious thoughts [somnitel’nyye razmyshleniya]. There he talks about the Party still not being created, that it does not have its own regulations, but he does not answer why such a situation exists at the same time revolutionary power has existed in Cuba for more than 5 years and Cuba is developing along a socialist path. The speech given by Guevara, said Grobart, does not so much clear up the situation as it does confuse it, creating a bewilderment among the people.
About the same can be said, Grobart noted, about the speeches of Fidel Castro on 19 May on the occasion of the 3rd anniversary of the defeat of the counterrevolutionary assault group on Playa Giron [Bay of Pigs] and on 1 May at a meeting on Revolution Square. If these speeches were prepared earlier as they ought to be, then they would have been made in another way. As in both the first and the second speeches several topics were mentioned by Fidel Castro in an emotional mood created in the course of his speech. For example, F. Castro’s 1 May speech about the return to guerilla warfare and the possible death of all members of the present Cuban leadership is an unwarranted statement; such expressions sow mistrust and pessimism, and doom among the people.
In his character, Grobart continued further, Guevara is an honest, respectable, and direct person. He defends his opinion with conviction, but if his interlocutor manages to change his mind to the opposite opinion, he honestly recognizes the erroneousness of his views. In the past year, in Grobart’s words, Guevara invited him to exchange opinions about several issues. They debated a lot for a long time, Grobart explained his point of view, and Guevara his own, which did not agree with Grobart’s opinion on many issues. The conversation went very civilly and quietly. It touched mainly on questions of a theoretical and practical character and the revolutionary movement. Guevara, continued Grobart, is considered among us as the main pro-Chinese person [prokitaist], but this does not mean that he is a pro-Chinese inclined person. Several leftist phrases of the Chinese in a number of issues agree with his opinion. Guevara, however, understands the selfish interests pursued by the Chinese in their disagreements with the CPSU. In recent times Guevara has continued to evolve for the better. Particular witness to this is his speech in Santa Clara on 3 May of this year at a meeting on the occasion of completion of the construction of a machine shop with the aid of the Soviet Union. In his speech he spoke highly of the Soviet Union giving across-the-board aid to Cuba and about Soviet engineers who had helped Cuban workers in the construction of the machine shop.
Regarding the United States’ aggressive policy towards Cuba, Guevara declared that the Soviet Union is together with Cuba: “We can always count on the aid and understanding, even to the very end, on the Soviet people and the Soviet government and this is real proletarian internationalism”. In this same speech he publicly declared his thanks to the Soviet government and personally to Cde. Khrushchev for the aid and support which the Soviet Union is giving Cuba.
In regards to determining the position of the Cuban leadership about the divisive activity of the Chinese, Grobart expressed his opinion that in the near future one should not count on the National Leadership of the PURS being openly defined and taking the point of view of the CPSU.
In Grobart’s words, Fidel Castro stands up for the positions of the CPSU. He does not approve of the Chinese pursuing their own hegemonic nationalistic goals, although they talk about proletarian internationalism. Besides the wish to conduct an independent foreign policy on several issues, the fear of disrupting the unity of the National Leadership restrains Fidel Castro from openly stating his position. Taking the position of the CPSU without reservation would not agree with the opinion of, for example, E. Guevara, Augusto Martinez Sanchez (the Minister of Labor), and several others. Grobart named Sanchez as a real pro-Chinese person, although, Grobart noted, he cannot of course justify his views theoretically.
Grobart further said that not long ago he visited Anibal Escalante, who had arrived in Cuba on invitation of F. Castro formally for a meeting with his seriously ill brother, Cesar Escalante. The return to the country of A. Escalante, noted Grobart, means the end of the campaign against sectarian politics, which A. Escalante was accused of by F. Castro in a famous speech of 26 August 1962. It is doubtless also that this strengthens the position of former communists who were indirectly affected by this accusation. Evidently, A. Escalante will not remain in Cuba for now, Grobart continued, but will receive some kind of work from the government abroad. There is speculation that he will be sent via foreign trade organizations to one of the capitalist countries, possibly even to Italy.
The remainder of the conversation was of no interest.
Minister-Counsellor of the USSR Embassy in Cuba
[Handwritten note at the bottom of the first page]: “To the archive. The material is informative. Chief of a CC CPSU sector. [signature] A. Kalinin. 9.9.64.“
2-CC CPSU (to Cde. Andropov)
Grobart discusses the question of potential attacks by counterrevolutionaries in Cuba. Prompted by further questioning, he discusses discrepancies and contradictions within the CPSU leadership, and controversy surrounding Che Guevara and his unique opinion on certain issues.
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