Fifty one years before President Obama normalized diplomatic relations with Cuba, President John F. Kennedy was thinking of doing the same. To start the negotiations, Obama sent one of his aides, Ben Rhodes, to talk to the Cuban government. Likewise in the fall of 1963, JFK authorized a U.S.diplomat, Bill Attwood, to make contact with Cuban representatives to discuss the outlines of an agreement between the two countries.
In a new document collection, Cuba – United States Secret Diplomacy Documents (1961-1977), published by Paperless Archives, you can follow how JFK’s pursuit of peace with Cuba, right up to the moment he was assassinated. After JFK was dead, LBJ had no interest and the initiative died. It would take a half century before JFK’s goal was achieved. Read more
“If the CIA did find out what we were doing [talks toward normalizing relations with Cuba], this would have trickled down to the lower echelon of activists, and Cuban exiles, and the more gung-ho CIA people who had been involved since the Bay of Pigs…. Read more
Lisa Howard, ABC News reporter
In response to Two secret memos on JFK and Cuba, John Simkin, the British historian wrote the following essay that gives valuable context to this neglected story.
“The secret negotiations that took place between the JFK administration and the Cuban government could be significant issue in the JFK assassination.
“A key figure in this was Lisa Howard.
Fidel Castro, tormenter of empire.
Was JFK going to make peace with Cuba?
On November 5, 1963, President Kennedy was exploring the idea. You can hear JFK talking about it with aides on this White House tape recording. (The substantive conversation starts at :25 in the recording.)
The tape, first made public by the non-profit National Security Archive in 2003, was found by Peter Kornbluh, a Cuba scholar whose research makes clear that JFK came closer to normalizing relations with Cuba than any American president since the 1970s.