Cuba’s “Successful Defiance” of US Hemispheric Power

The reasons for US-lead terrorist attacks against Cuba and the illegal economic embargo are spelled out in internal US records. International terrorism and economic warfare are justified not by what Cuba does, but by its “very existence,” its “successful defiance” of the proper master of the hemisphere.

Here are some internal records:

March 22, 1960, Special National Intelligence Estimate, Communist Influence in Cuba:

The Communists probably also believe that the US will lose in influence and prestige so long as Castro’s successful defiance of the US (including his acceptance of bloc assistance) continues, and that the US is faced with the dilemma of tolerating an increasingly Communist-oriented Cuba or of arousing widespread Latin American opposition by intervening.

February 17, 1961, Paper Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency, Cuba:

Cuba will, of course, never present a direct military threat to the United States…

For the Communist powers, Cuba represents an opportunity of incalculable value. More importantly, the advent of Castro has provided the Communists with a friendly base for propaganda and agitation throughout the rest of Latin America and with a highly exploitable example of revolutionary achievement and successful defiance of the United States.

May 4, 1961, Paper Prepared for the National Security Council by an Interagency Task Force on Cuba: Cuba and Communism in the Hemisphere:

Castroʼs basic aim (supported by the Chinese and principally the Soviets) has been to capture indigenous social revolutionary movements for the communists, strengthen existing communist movements, and, by supporting these movements, weaken the fabric of constitutional government throughout the hemisphere.

To some extent he has been successful in identifying his regime with the cause of economic and social progress. And as he moves forward economically his example may become more attractive. He has provided a rallying point and a source of ideological support for communist movements everywhere; and often for left-wing nationalist movements. One of his principal objectives is to identify and unify the nationalist left and the communists. He has provided a working example of a communist state in the Americas, successfully defying the United States. Thus he has appealed to widespread anti-American feeling, a feeling often shared by non-communists. His survival, in the face of persistent U.S. efforts to unseat him, has unquestionably lowered the prestige of the United States and the presence of Castroist extremist elements are often an important obstacle to orderly social and economic reform

February 3, 1964 as quoted by Piero Gleijeses, Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976, (2003)

Perhaps of even grater moment is that the primary danger we face in Castro is not what he does in the way of distributing arms, disseminating propaganda, training subversives, and dispatching agents, but in the impact the very existence of this regime has upon the leftist movement in many Latin American Countries.

The simple fact is that Castro represents a successful defiance of the US, a negation of our whole hemispheric policy of almost a century and a half. Until Castro did it, no Latin American could be sure of getting away with a communist-type revolution and a tie-in with the Soviet Union. As long as Castro endures, Communists in other Latin American countries can, to use Stalin’s words, ‘struggle with good heart’

Thanks for reading,


Piero Gleijeses quotes from the following reference: DOS, Policy Planning Council, “Caribbean: Cuba” (draft outline), Feb. 13, 1964, pp 13, 6-7, 8-9, 10, NSFCF, box 26

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