Cuban Missile Crisis, Document 32

29 October 1962 / Enciphered cable from Havana, from Alekseyev on his conversation with Fidel Castro


Reproduction prohibited

Copy No. 12

6216/sh           30/X/62

Enciphered Cable

[Translator’s note: Distribution for this cable is as follows: Brezhnev, Voronov, Kirilenko, Kozlov, Kosygin, Kuusinen, Mikoyan, Podgornyy, Polyanskiy, Suslov, Khrushchev, Khrushchev, Shvernik, Grishin, Rashidov, Mazurov, Mzhavanadze, Shcherbitskiy, Demichev, Ilyichev, Ponomarev, Shelepin, Gromyko, Malinovskiy, Kuznetsov, Sobolev]

From: Havana             No. 49657                   Time: 12:10                Date: 30/X/1962

Special No. 1688-1691

Top Priority


            I met with Fidel Castro and conveyed to him the contents of your No. 848-849.

            In my three years of close relations with him, I have never seen Fidel Castro so crestfallen and irritated.

            The scope of Castro’s proposition can be summed up as follows:

            I know the Americans only too well, he said, so I indulge in no illusions about them leaving Cuba in peace after the withdrawal of the special [nuclear] weapons.

            Mark my words, after this first capitulation, they will demand more and more concessions, and they could even go so far as to push for low-life refugees joining our government.  The decision to dismantle the special weapon installations was so unexpected for us, that it causes political damage to the Cuban revolution. The revolutionary self-actualization of the Cuban people and the anti-imperialist attitude are so deep that it will be difficult to convince anyone to trust Kennedy’s promises, much less accept the humiliating inspection of our territory.

            Castro said, We engaged U Thant for negotiations, but not inspections, and on this issue we remain steadfast.  We will not allow any inspection on our soil.

            To facilitate negotiations, we agreed not to fire on the violator aircraft, but that was merely a temporary measure.

            If Kennedy had been sincere in his promises, then he certainly would have put an end to those flights, but they continue to this very hour, and there are still efforts being made to justify them from a legal standpoint.

            I once again returned to the question of requests for U Thant to personally attend the dismantling and permit representatives from the International Red Cross access onto Soviet ships to inspect the cargo.

            For a second time, Castro confirmed that they are going to great lengths, but they will not allow this humiliating procedure, all the more so since the Americans will know full well about the dismantling operation from their spy planes.

            As regards the document from the American source given to Castro and our advice to speak to him about the problem being discussed, he gave no answer, only saying that he would carefully study the material and handle it later.

            Castro twice very carefully read the last paragraph of the message, which stated that we support his statement on the guarantees of the US, and was extremely taken aback.

            He also took note of the fact that the Americans did not bring up the issue of the withdrawal of coastal missiles or surface-to-air missiles.

            And yet I had the impression that Castro was concerned that, after the withdrawal of the special weapons, under pressure from the Americans, next would come the withdrawal of personnel along with their defensive weapons.

            By the end of the conversation, Castro had relaxed somewhat and began talking about the possibility of succeeding in extracting not just verbal guarantees from the Americans, regardless of the temporary political defeat, but also guarantees followed up by actions whose results for mankind, socialist countries, and Cuba will be huge, although unfortunately this would not be clear right away, and they would have to get through a period of unsettlement.

            Knowing that Castro resented our having made the decision without first consulting him, I repeated the arguments that I had stated to Dorticos yesterday, and assured him that neither malice nor forgetfulness had played a part, but simply that the circumstances demanded swift resolution.  I also reminded him of the alarming letter to Comrade N.S. Khrushchev, which spoke about the inevitability of the special installations being bombed, and again assured him of the steadfastness of the Soviet Union’s policy in defending the Cuban revolution, one of the results of which are these actions of the Soviet government.

            Castro said that dismantling the installations has no direct relation to the defense of Cuba, and only increases the risk, but in dealing with their construction, we had wanted to offer our contribution into the common cause of socialism, and went for it determinedly.

            Regretfully, our people are unaware of the type of weapons being withdrawn, and therefore are currently confused.

            The entire issue revolves around the impression created that the Soviet Union conceded in the face of pressure from the United States.

            I reminded Castro of the history and consequences of Soviet government actions such as the formation of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, the introduction of the New Economic Policy, and finally, the formation of the 1939 German-Soviet Agreement, and said at the time, just as today, many didn’t understand these decisions, but nevertheless, history justified them.

            My problem, Castro said, is that I do not believe Kennedy’s promises.

            In my own personal opinion, Castro’s misguided thinking was brought about by the suddenness of the decisions made, his almost pathological hatred of the US, and the excessive flamboyance of his nature.  I also believe that the notion that we would withdraw the so-called defensive weapons in the future has been put to rest; he is staking all of his hopes on them to protect the republic.

            But at the same time, I am also certain that, were we to make a particular approach to him, Castro would quickly recognize his misguided thinking. His dedication to our common cause is not in doubt, but as a result of the lack of Party conditioning, he won’t always understand the methods employed in politics.

            In light of the above, I think it would be advisable to send Castro a cordial letter from Comrade N. S. Khrushchev, possibly crafted with subsequent publication in mind, in which we spell out the need – in Cuba’s interest – for the decisions to have been made, and once again assure him of the inflexibility of our position in defending the Cuban revolution.

            It would also be desirable to explain to him the issue of using the weapons belonging to Pavlov’s group, and recruiting Cuban military personnel to master these weapons.

            Moreover, taking into account the fact that many hear are talking about the discrepancies between Comrade Khrushchev’s 28 October communication and Castro’s announcement on the issue of US guarantees (5 points), it would be advisable in some form or another to speak out in the press in support of the Cuban government’s claims, thereby dispelling these misconceptions among the people.

                                                            29/X-62          ALEKSEYEV

            NOTE:            No. 848 (Ref. No. 29692) dated 29/X-62 Comrade Gromyko gave the instruction to speak with Fidel Castro.

                                    No 849-853 (Ref. No. 29693) dated 29/X-62 Comrade Gromyko gave the instruction to meet with Fidel Castro in connection with delivering the information to him that was received by the Soviet Embassy in Washington.

Published by misterestes

Professional RU-EN translator with a love for books and movies, old and new, and a passion for translating declassified documents. Call me Doc. Nobody else does.

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