Presidents Castro and Obama. (Photo: MWC News)
This was the moment President John F. Kennedy was angling for 52 years ago: reconciliation between the United States and Cuba.
President Obama met yesterday with Cuban president Raul Castro, the first face to face meeting of the country’s leaders since the mid-20th century. Obama said “Cuba is not a threat to the United States.” His appearance was condemned by Obama’s Republican critics just as JFK’s Cuba policy was condemned by his opponents.
Ideological polemics notwithstanding, Kennedy was no hawk on Cuba. Read more
“The president had asked his speechwriter, Theodore Sorensen, for language that would open a door to the Cuban leader, although, as Sorensen later observed, the audience was a very tough anti-Castro group.'”
via When J.F.K. Secretly Reached Out to Castro – NYTimes.com.
President Obama reaches out to Cuba
“Todos somos Americanos.” We are all Americans.
With those words, President Obama made an epic and overdue announcement today: the United States and Cuba will normalize relations that were broken off in January 1961 as President John F. Kennedy took office. “These 50 years have showed that isolation has not worked,” the president said.
Not only will the United States open an embassy in Havana, it will release three Cubans imprisoned for decades on trumped-up spying charges. The Cubans will release U.S. government contractor Alan Gross, held for five years on trumped-up charges, and a previously unknown U.S. intelligence agent imprisoned for many years in Cuba.
“Everything is changed. Everything is going to change. The United States occupies such a position in world affairs that the death of a President of that country affects millions of people in every corner of the globe. The cold war, relations with Russia, Latin America, Cuba, the Negro question… all will have to be rethought. I’ll tell you one thing: at least Kennedy was an enemy to whom we had become accustomed. This is a serious matter, an extremely serious matter.”
via Fidel Castro Reaction to Kennedy Assassination in Cuba | New Republic.
At a conference on the 50th anniversary of the Warren Commission report in Washington in September, Cuba scholar Peter Kornbluh gave a fascinating talk on how President Kennedy pursued the idea of normalizing relations with Cuba 1963. In the bureaucracy this was known as “the sweet approach,” Kornbluh says. The idea was to lure Fidel Castro out of his alliance with the Soviet Union instead of overthrowing him.
“Kennedy had a change of heart after the missile crisis,” Kornbluh says, and he makes the case in his new book Back Channel to Cuba Kennedy pursued “the sweet approach” right up through the last 72 hours of his life, Kornbluh says.
“… since the very first staff meeting, Earl Warren set the standard:
via Josh Mittledorf on VENITISM: THE JFK ASSASSINATION, an opinionated account of the AARC conference on the 50th anniversary of the Warren Commission, held in Washington last weekend.
“In the day’s high point,” he writes, “we heard a first-hand confirmation of CIA primacy in the plot…..”
The Warren Commission didn’t get scared if Fidel Castro because of Lyndon B. Johnson’s chilling warning to Chief Justice Earl Warren about rumors that “if not quenched, could conceivably lead the country into a war which could cost 40 million lives.” Read more
Fidel Castro, tormenter of empire
Investigators probing the assassination of President John F. Kennedy held a secret meeting with Cuban president Fidel Castro, according to Philip Shenon’s new book, “A Cruel and Shocking Act.
CBS News, The Hill, and the Daily Mail have touted the story of the previously unknown contact between the U.S. government and the revolutionary firebrand as newsworthy. It is.
“Now, they will have to find the assassin quickly, but very quickly, otherwise, you watch and see, I know them, they will try to put the blame on us for this thing.”
Fidel Castro to French journalist Jean Daniel on November 22, 1963. From “When Castro Heard the News,”in The New Republic, Dec. 7, 1963.
The cover of a commemorative album about the Cuban Revolution published in Havana in 1959
Cuba celebrates the 60th anniversary of the beginning of its revolution on July 26, 1953. Later this year America will commemorate the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963,
The events are ancient but linked. The connection between Cuba’s revolution and the death of the 35th American president remains a live issue in the political culture of both countries.
The assassination of JFK is one reason why this conflict between the United States and Cuba endures to this day.
Reader Photon asks:
Assassination was not his tactic.
“So ‘LBJ and crew’ murdered John Kennedy, but Fidel ‘most certainly was not [involved]’? While I consider it unlikely that Oswald could have cooperated with anybody in a conspiracy, his visit to the Cuban Embassy certainly is intriguing. It is not like Fidel had never sanctioned political assassination in the past. For 50 years he has gotten away with knocking off Camilo Cienfuegos after Huber Matos didn’t do it for him.”
The ensuing fast and furious debate in the comments section on this subject is reminder that the history of assassination as a political technique in the struggle for power in Cuba from 1955 to 1965 is definitely relevant to any discussion of the assassination of JFK.
On January 17, 1964, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover wrote to J. Lee Rankin, the general counsel of the Warren Commission, on the evidence compiled as Commission Document 295: four letters postmarked in Havana that suggested or alleged that the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was a contract killing undertaken by Lee Harvey Oswald under the direction of an agent for Fidel Castro named Pedro Charles.
Hoover concluded it was “some type of hoax, possibly on the part of some anti-Castro group,” since the FBI Crime Lab found that the same Remington No. 10 typewriter had been used to prepare all four letters:
Jackie Kennedy’s private thoughts about Dallas
Defenders of the semi-official theory of JFK’s assassination sometimes suggest that anyone who disagrees is deluded or dishonest. Dale Myers and Gus Russo have dubbed the benighted souls “the conspirati,” a term intended to convey disdain for those allegedly emotionally needy or intellectually incompetent people who doubt the claim that one man killed JFK for no reason.
The problem with this trope, alas, is the facts. There were plenty of astute observers of American power in 1963 who rejected the official theory of a “lone nut” and concluded President Kennedy had been killed by his enemies.
Here are six six U.S. government insiders in 1963 who suspected a JFK was killed by a conspiracy.
A faithful reader offers a correction to a comment by former Warren Commission staffer Howard Willens in his recent interview with JFK Facts. Willens mentioned the oft-heard story that Lee Oswald threatened to kill President Kennedy while visiting the Cuban Consulate in Mexico City in Septembert 1963 two months before the assassination of President Kennedy.
Willens’ mistake, this reader writes, “is worth correcting for the record.”