Memorandum for the Record Prepared by the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs McGeorge Bundy.
A memorandum by his national security adviser indicates that JFK was interested in generating a dialogue with Castro via intermediaries, though he did not want the talks to commence in Cuba.
Washington, November 12, 1963
I talked this afternoon with William Attwood and told him that at the President’s instruction I was conveying this message orally and not by cable. I told him that the President hoped he would get in touch with Vallejo to report it did not seem practical to us at this stage to send an American official to Cuba and that we would prefer to being with a visit by Vallejo to the U.S. where Attwood would be glad to see him and to listen to any messages he might bring from Castro. 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 (Oct. 7) 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.
I left it to Attwood how much of this he would convey in the initial message to Vellejo, and I also gave him discretion as to how this message was to be transmitted, with the proviso that it must be clear at all times that we were not supplicants in this matter and that the initiative for exploratory conversations was coming from the Cubans. Attwood indicated to me that he expected Lisa Howard to telephone Vellejo and then probably to get on the line himself to handle the conversation along the lines stated above. Attwood will report the results of this communication and in the event that an arrangement is made for Vallejo to come to New York Atwood will come to Washington to concert a position for his use in this conversation.