Like Obama, JFK wanted to make peace with Cuba

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.

“Seventeen days before his assassination a recording made in the White House’s Oval Office captures a conversation between President Kennedy and his national security advisor, McGeorge Bundy, discussing the Castro regime’s overture to have a meeting in Havana with a Kennedy Administration envoy. Kennedy’s conclusion was that he approved, if it could be assured that it could be denied that that the meeting ever took place. Memorandums document the process in arranging for a meeting between William Attwood, a deputy to UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson. This initiative waned after Kennedy’s assassination.” via Cuba – United States Secret Diplomacy Documents (1961-1977).


  1. Lawrence Schnapf says:

    and this is why he was killed by cuban exiles who had been trained and funded by the CIA to take down Castro. they got revenge for Bay of Pigs, stopped this initiative in its tracks and with some help from a few rogues, tried to pin this on an alleged cuban sympathizer hoping this would force LBJ to launch strike at Castro. fortunately, LBJ saw through this. and RFK couldnt expose what happened since he was leading the charge to assassinate Castro.if this came out, his political career would have been over before it began.

  2. David Regan says:

    Just a slight shift in policy from what Allen Dulles approved. CIA acknowledges Castro plot went to the top via @NBCNews

  3. I wonder why LBJ had no interest in pursuing peace with Cuba.

  4. kennedy63 says:

    @Paul Turner: Johnson was not interested in Cuba because the Vietnam project promised his backers so much more profits; and, Johnson also benefited from the death of JFK – the Justice Department investigating Johnson’s corrupt dealings was halted on November 22, 1963; Carlos Marcello was acquitted of bribery charges on 11/22/1963, brought by the RFK’s Justice department; JFK would have accepted Hoover’s retirement, but Hoover kept his job long after 11/22/63, despite exceeding mandatory Federal retirement. (Hoover decreed Oswald was the lone gunman assassin of JFK); and, CIA benefited because Johnson wittingly unleashed the military and the CIA in Vietnam, concurrent with the rise in heroin use/crime in the United States (a precursor to the Crack epidemic of the (80’s – 90’s). Subsequently, many returning G.I.’s were addicted to heroin. Later we found out that drug lords, with CIA backing, were shipping heroin into the US via military transport. Little did we suspect that this Military/CIA/Mob nexus would play out again in the Contra (and later Iran) drugs for guns scandals. It is interesting to note that guns, drugs, and money laundering were also part of the activities of many personalities involved in the Kennedy Assassination.

  5. David Regan says:

    OPINION: We Have So Much to Learn From Cuba | Inter Press Service

  6. David Regan says:

    Three articles written by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. pertaining to Cuba:

    OPINION: We Have So Much to Learn From Cuba via @sharethis

    OPINION: JFK’s Secret Negotiations with Fidel via @sharethis

    OPINION: Sabotaging U.S.-Cuba Détente in the Kennedy Era via @sharethis

  7. Jean Davison says:

    Here’s another archive of government documents online that may be more user-friendly:

    Using the Choose Volume tab, one can find sections on Vietnam and many other subjects, like this list of documents on Cuba:

    IMO, the Cuban documents show a harder U.S. line than RFK, Jr., and others seem to notice or acknowledge. Here’s Attwood’s original proposal of Sept. ’63, for instance:

    (It begins: “This memorandum proposes a course of action which, if successful, could remove the Cuban issue from the 1964 campaign.
    It does not propose offering Castro a “deal”—which could be more dangerous politically than doing nothing. It does propose a discreet inquiry into the possibility of neutralizing Cuba on our terms. It is based on the assumption that, short of a change of regime, our principal political objectives in Cuba are:

    a. The evacuation of all Soviet bloc military personnel.

    b. An end to subversive activities by Cuba in Latin America.

    c. Adoption by Cuba of a policy of non-alignment.”

    These were U.S. “non-negotiable” conditions that are repeated, e.g., in the instructions Attwood received on Nov. 12, 1963:

    “….In particular, we would be interested in knowing whether there was any prospect of important modification in those parts of Castro’s policy which are flatly unacceptable to us: namely, the three points in Ambassador Stevenson’s recent speech of which the central elements are (1) submission to external Communist influence, and (2) a determined campaign of subversion directed at the rest of the Hemisphere. Reversals of these policies may or may not be sufficient to produce a change in the policy of the United States, but they are certainly necessary, and without an indication of readiness to move in these directions, it is hard for us to see what could be accomplished by a visit to Cuba.”

  8. David Regan says:

    Kennedy assassination aborted U.S. reconciliation with Cuba – Sierra Leone Times via @sharethis

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