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.)
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 in the spring of 1963.
In the State Department 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. Read more
As the United States and Cuba engage in hard bargaining over how to normalize relations in 2015, it worth remembering that President Kennedy was seeking the same goal when he was assassinated in November 1963.
In this ABC News broadcast in April 1963, Cuban president Fidel Castro talked about his desire to settle differences with Washington. JFK was listening.
Cuban Embassy on 16th St NW in Washington DC (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)
“Peter Kornbluh, who runs the Cuba Documentation Project at the National Security Archive, was carrying around a book he co-authored, “Back Channel to Cuba,” about the twisted secret history of outreach between the nations. “I wouldn’t miss this for the world,” he said. “It’s a flag flying in the winds of change.'”
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.
In 2014, most Americanns are barred by law from visiting Cuba, the island nation closest to America. When it comes to Cuba, Amrica’s vaunted ideals of “free trade” are frankly repudiated by the government in Washington which justifies violation Americans’ freedom to travel in the name of supporting democracy and human rights.
A half century ago, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy came to believe that the ban on travel to Cuba was “inconsistent with “our views of a free society,” as these historic documents collected by the non-profit National Security Archive reveal..