Cocktail Diplomacy: The United States and Cuba Discuss Rapprochement 1961-1964

Haugh, Christopher Ingalls

"On August 16, 1961, C. Douglas Dillon, the United States Secretary of the Treasury, was at the Inter-American Economic and Social Conference in Punta del Este, Uruguay. The conference had progressed without interruption until Ernesto “Che” Guevara—the revolutionary and Cuban Minister of Industry—gave a speech rebuking the United States, calling its policies imperialistic and its hemispheric objectives insidious. Dillon had a hardline message in response: to acknowledge Guevara’s speech would “betray the thousands of patriotic Cubans who are still awaiting and struggling for the freedom of their country.” Dillon reiterated that the United States would not recognize Castro’s permanency. Hours later, Guevara had a message for Richard Goodwin, a member of the U.S. delegation: the revolution could not be defeated, but for economic reasons, Cuba sought a modus vivendi with the United States. As evidence of his sincerity, Guevara said Cuba would consider restitutions for expropriated property and reconsider its relationship with the Soviet Union. Guevara’s encounter with Goodwin began a series of informal negotiations between Castro and the Kennedy administration. This schizophrenic diplomatic moment illustrates that even as public U.S.-Cuban relations epitomized Cold War hostility, several unofficial discussions about normalization call into doubt this interpretive paradigm. This essay examines such contradictory political moments. Despite the enmity and ideological gap between the two states, a series of informal exchanges shows that normalization was a distinct policy possibility in the early 1960s." -- from page 8

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The Journal of Politics and Society

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Helvidius Group of Columbia University
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February 10, 2014


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