68. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Rubottom) to the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Murphy) [1]


Washington, June 26,1958.

State-JCS Meeting on June 27: Use of MAP Equipment and Trained Personnel by

Cuba for Internal Security and Continued Suspension of Combat Arms to Cuba

ARA understands that the JCS wish to discuss at this meeting, (1) the question of our approach to the Government of Cuba on the use of MAP equipment and MAP-trained personnel for internal security purposes in disregard of the provisions of Article I, Paragraph 2, of the Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement signed with Cuba on March 7, 1952, 7 and (2) the continued suspension of arms shipments to Cuba.

In considering these two matters it should be pointed out that we are faced with a serious dilemma in our relations with Cuba, particularly as they concern our military assistance program in that country. On the one hand, there is increasing evidence that the Batista regime, through more restrictive controls on freedoms and increasing military and police repression is becoming more disliked while, on the other hand, there is every likelihood the present Government, which has a record of friendly cooperation with the U.S., will continue in power and hold elections in November to establish a successor. The Government is engaged in an all-out offensive against the forces of rebel leader Fidel Castro in the mountains of Eastern Cuba. The fact that U.S.-supplied equipment and U.S.-trained men are being used in this offensive against the rebels has brought us under heavy adverse criticism from Cubans opposed to the present Government as well as from segments of the U.S. press, public, and Congress. This criticism was alleviated somewhat by the Department's decision to suspend combat arms shipments to Cuba in March of this year. Yet we now have evidence that this latter decision and our recent pressure on the Batista regime on the matter of its use of MAP equipment for internal security purposes has engendered some ill will toward the U.S. in Cuban Government circles, especially amongst the Cuban Army and, if further pressure is exerted, we may endanger the continuance of our military missions in that country. The Cuban Government has charged that the Castro movement is Communist-dominated. We have no evidence to support this contention but the movement has received recent Communist support and there has been some evidence of late of its becoming anti-U.S. in its attitude and actions.

For use in your discussions you may use the following talking points:

I. Use of MAP Equipment and Personnel

(a) We have had incontrovertible evidence for some time that Cuba has been using MAP air and infantry units together with their equipment for internal security purposes in violation of our bilateral MAP Agreement. Beginning in September 1957, we expressed to the Cubans on an informal basis our knowledge of this misuse and on March 3, 1958, we asked the Cubans in a formal note[3] if the reports we had received to this effect were true. This question arose in the Senate hearings on the Mutual Security Act and Senator Morse was informed that the Department was consulting with the Cuban Government on the matter. After considerable prodding we received a formal reply[4] to the effect that Cuba considered that it was adhering to the Agreement.

(b) A UPI report carried in the U.S. press on June 3, stated in connection with the Cuban Army offensive against the rebel forces in Eastern Cuba that the MAP-equipped and trained infantry battalion was being used. An inquiry of our Embassy revealed that 750 out of 800 men in this battalion were in Oriente Province and had been dispersed with their equipment amongst various infantry units fighting rebels in the mountains and presumed to be engaged in actual hostilities. Also, the Embassy indicated that the identification and segregation of this unit would be virtually impossible and that while its numbers were small (800) in comparison with the total number of infantry soldiers in the area (10,000 to 12,000) they did constitute the backbone of fighting forces and could not be pulled out without seriously weakening the Army offensive. [5]

(c) It was ARA's view after consulting with L/MSA and Colonel Hanford of the Pentagon that there was incontrovertible evidence that Cuba had failed to adhere to the MAP Agreement and that this view should be expressed to the Government of Cuba together with a request that MAP equipment and personnel be disengaged from combat activities. The manner of accomplishing this was to be left to the Cubans. The matter was discussed with Ambassador Smith in Washington on June 11, and he asked that any formal written communication to the Cubans on the subject be delayed until he could discuss it orally with the Cuban Minister of State and President Batista. The Department acceded to the Ambassador's wish and agreed to instruct him on the subject.

(d) Following oral consultations between ARA, L/MSA and Defense (Col. Hanford) the Department forwarded instructions to Ambassador Smith (Deptel 715 of June 13, 1958-Tab A[6]) outlining the principles agreed upon for Cuban compliance with the MAP Agreement for use in his discussions with the Minister of State and President. The Ambassador was to indicate to the Cuban Government that if it did not comply, we would be obliged to deliver a formal note on the matter.

(e) Ambassador Smith made an oral request of the Cuban Minister of State for the withdrawal of all MAP equipment and trained personnel from internal combat. He then expressed in his telegram 846 of June 16, 1958 (Tab B[7]), the Cuban reluctance to comply and pointed out that our insistence on strict compliance, especially with respect to the withdrawal from combat of MAP-trained personnel, would seriously jeopardize our whole posture in Cuba and might result in a Cuban request for the withdrawal of our military missions. The Ambassador asked that he be authorized to inform the Cubans by note that we did not consider Cuba had violated the agreement because (1) it was fighting elements allied with Communists; (2) protecting lives and public and private property (including U.S.-owned) and (3) attempting to prevent overthrow of a legitimate government.

(f) Since the receipt of the Ambassador's communication he has been instructed [8] not to discuss the matter with President Batista and to await further instructions. While ARA is not prepared to accede to the approach to the Cubans proposed by the Ambassador it recognizes that a reappraisal of this entire matter is necessary before proceeding further. It now has under study a plan [9] whereby we would ask the Cuban Government to consult with us formally under Article XI, Paragraph 2, of the Agreement with a view to arriving at an equitable solution on Cuban compliance.

(g) It is ARA's opinion that the withdrawal of MAP equipment, or its equivalent, from internal security functions will not constitute a serious obstacle for the Cubans but that the removal of MAP-trained personnel will. Thus, any solution arrived at through consultations would have to take these factors into account.

II. Suspension of Arms Shipments to Cuba

Since the Secretary's decision suspending shipments of combat arms to Cuba there has been no change in the internal political situation which would warrant a reconsideration of this decision. The Department's recent approval of the export of ten T-28 training aircraft [10] is consistent with the Secretary's decision as the Department considered these to be in the category of "non-combat" equipment.

The observations made on this subject in Mr. Snows memorandum to you of May 1,1958, [11] remain substantially unchanged.

Mr. C. Allan Stewart, Deputy Director of the Office of Middle American Affairs will be present at the preliminary briefing in your office this afternoon at 5:00 p.m. and will be available for the JCS meeting tomorrow should you desire that he be present.


1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.5-MSP/6-2658. Secret. Drafted by Leonhardy, cleared in substance with Spencer and Stewart , and initialed by Rubottom. Also sent to Gerard C. Smith and G. Frederick Reinhardt.

2. For text, see 3 UST 2901.

3. See footnote 2, Document 27.

4. See footnote 2, Document 61.

5. See Document 61.

6. Document 64.

7. Document 65.

8. Not further identified.

9. See supra.

10. The date of this decision has not been determined, but see footnote 2, Document

11. Not further identified, but see Document 55