CIA's Dulles wanted Cuba
to ask for Soviet Bloc arms in 1959
Former adversaries meet
to discuss Bay of Pigs
Read this morning's press release, March
23, 10 a.m.
March 23, 2001, 5 p.m.
BAY OF PIGS CONFERENCE POINTS TO MISSED
OPPORTUNITIES FOR DIALOGUE AFTER INVASION FAILED
SECRET RAPPROACHMENT EFFORTS BEGAN IN
NEGOTIATIONS FOR PRISONER RELEASE;
ENDED WITH JFK'S ASSASSINATION
Havana, Cuba: Documents released this afternoon on the
second day of an historic meeting of former adversaries in Havana highlight
missed opportunities for U.S.-Cuban rapproachment following the failure
of the U.S.-sponsored invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs.
Notes on an April 1963 visit to Cuba by
attorney James B. Donovan and a memorandum of statements
by Fidel Castro from the same trip, record a secret effort to negotiate
the release of American prisoners that also helped to initiate a dialogue
between bitter adversaries.
The memorandum also summarizes Castro's
perceptions during the invasion, which he believed was intended to secure
a beachhead from which to launch a provisional government. He was
thus determined "to prevent the landing of the provisional government at
Also released today are documents relating to secret efforts by the
Kennedy Administration to begin a dialogue with Castro in the days before
his assassination in November 1963. In a February 1964 message
to President Johnson, conveyed through ABC News correspondent Lisa
Howard, Castro tells the new president "that there are no areas of contention
between us that cannot be discussed and settled within a climate of mutual
understanding," and expresses hope that Johnson will win the November presidential
election and continue with the Kennedy Administration's rapproachment effort.
Another document, a March 1964 memorandum from
CIA Director Richard Helms to President Johnson's national security
adviser, reports on the alleged secret contacts between President Kennedy
and the Castro government in 1963. The source believes that President
Johnson was unaware of the secret dialogue "and for this reason is not
continuing President Kennedy's policy."
In its final online release of material related to the conference, the
National Security Archive has also posted audio recordings
of two telephone conversations between President Kennedy and his brother,
Attorney General Robert Kennedy, on March 2, 1963, in which they discuss
concerns that a Senate investigating committee might reveal that the president
had authorized jets from the U.S. aircraft carrier Essex to provide
one hour of air cover for the brigade's B-26 bombers on the morning of
April 19. The unmarked jets failed to rendezvous with the bombers,
however, because the CIA and the Pentagon were unaware of a time zone difference
between Nicaragua and Cuba. Two B-26s were shot down and four Americans
The conference - involving former officials of the Kennedy Administration,
the CIA, members of Brigade 2506, and Cuban government and military officials
- convened yesterday in Havana for three days of discussion on one of the
most infamous episodes of the Cold War - the April 1961 invasion at the
Bay of Pigs.
Other documents released today include:
A June 15, 1961 dispatch from the Canadian Embassy
in Havana in which the ambassador characterizes the Bay of Pigs invasion
as "a decisive point-of-no-return for the Castro regime," that "substantiated
the Government's warnings against imperialist aggression from the United
A memorandum from Kennedy aide Richard Goodwin
recounting his August 22, 1961 conversation with Ernesto "Che" Guevara
in which Guevara thanks Goodwin for the Bay of Pigs invasion - which he
calls "a great political victory" - but also seeks to establish a "modus
vivendi" with the U.S. government.
A November 1, 1961 memorandum from Goodwin to President
Kennedy supporting the concept of a "command operation" on Cuba, commanded
by Attorney General Robert Kennedy. The reorganization of Cuban operations
as described in the memo sets the stage for the decision to launch a new,
multifaceted set of anti-Castro activities, codenamed Operation Mongoose.