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Fidel Castro Interview
Jun 1963 by Lisa Howard

page 1 [original document]

June 25, 1963

Mrs. Lisa Howard's Interview with Castro

Mrs. Lisa Howard, CBS

Mr. Edwin M. Martin, Assistant Secretary, ARA
Mr. John King, ARA/P

Mr. Crimmins
Mr. Hurwitch

Mrs. Howard came in at her request to give us some further background on her conversations with Castro in Cuba.  She made a number of points of some interest:

1.  In the course of her eight hours of talking with Castro, she did a great deal of talking, telling him what was wrong with his revolution and why it was condemned by even progressives in the United States and elsewhere.  She said that he was an astonishingly good listener.  In the circumstances, this is understandable.  She said he took these criticisms thoughtfully and seemed sincerely concerned and worried about the deficiencies that she pointed that anxious even to learn more about the things he had ____ unable to see. He never defended the course of the revolution in traditional Marxist dogmatic terms.  He talked primarily in terms of the condition of the poor, their lack of opportunities for education, health and advancement rather than in terms of class struggle.  He seemed particularly upset by the charges of terrorism and apologized that he could not be everywhere and the Cubans did many things very poorly. They apparently discussed Albert Canus at some length and found themselves both very sympathetic with his outlook on the condition of the human race.  She pointed out that Cannus had

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broken with communism in 1955 over Algeria and that a general psychological approach in all his recent works, which they discussed, was very far from orthodox communism.

2.  The questions which she asked at her interview were not shown to anyone in advance, and she deliberately made them tough.  She thought he answered skillfully and, at the end, while commenting on their toughness, he did not reproach her.  She thought the calmness with which he took these leading questions was evidence that he was not really an emotionally unstable person.

3.  During the course of the conversation she ___ the definite impression that he was sincerely desirous on working out an accommodation with the United States.  He went through the usual line about how the United States had forced the breach initially by its action on sugar quotas.  He expressed great interest in knowing what kind of person Kennedy was and seemed to feel that it would not be difficult for them to reach common ground.  It might be added that he, knowing that she had spent a couple hours interviewing Khrushchev, also tried to find out from her what kind of person she thought he was, which she found amusing.  She is obviously a strong proponent of the accommodation and even showed me a number of newspaper stories on her interview trying to prove the United States public was not so opposed to the idea as the Administration thought.  They really did not bear on the problem.

4.  At a cocktail party after her conversation with Castro she was telling Foreign Minister Roa about the ___oriticsm that she had made to Fidel of his revolution.  At the end he leaned over and whispered rather enthusiastically, "Did you really tell him that?  I am glad."

Last Friday, June 21, she got a phone call from Vallejo who was present during most of her conversation with Fidel 5 hours of which took place in a night club, starting at 12:30 a.m. in the course of which he told her that they were about to send two notes to the United States and hoped they would not stir up any fuss or get any publicity.  He also said that their desire for an accommodation was still as strong as it had been when she was there in April.

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She wondered whether it would be desirable for her to keep in touch with the Cubans and perhaps go back.  I said this was entirely up to her but that, if she did keep in touch, it would be interesting to know what they had to say.  She asked very pointedly whether we had had any discussions with Fidel about an accommodation.  I said he had not approached us officially, and we had not approached him.  She thought this was too bad.

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