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Donovan's Meeting with Castro, January 25, 1963
The following are, according to Donovan, the significant results of subject meeting:
1. This was the most cordial and intimate meeting to date. Castro and Donovan with Cmte. Vallejo as interpreter spent most of the day together. (Vallejo is a physician who trained at Massachusetts General Hospital and was a Major in the U.S. Army. A 26th of July idealist, he has been very helpful to Donovan.) During an impromptu visit to a medical school, Castro led 300 medical students in chanting "Viva Donovan."
2. Castro agreed to release the imprisoned Americans, after a short "rehabilitation" period. He wanted to exchange Molina (imprisoned for accidental shooting of a Venezuelan child in a New York restaurant) and the three Cubans involved in the UN incident. Castro also indicated that a little more of the commodities due for the Brigade exchange should first be shipped. Castro said he would turn the Americans over to Donovan only, rather than to the Swiss, and would so inform the Swiss Ambassador that evening at a reception.
3. Castro agreed to reply within a short time to the PAA proposal (transmitted by Donovan) for ten flights a week on a payment basis of 50 percent in dollars and 50 percent in pesos.
4. Castro seemed receptive to the Donovan suggestion that in view of Cuban-Chinese friendship Castro might be helpful in obtaining the release of Americans imprisoned in China.
5. Donovan told Castro his difficulties lay in his dependence upon the Soviets. Castro only grunted in reply.
6. At Donovan's suggestion, Castro agreed to review the cases of some Cuban political prisoners, but pointed out in irritation that if they were released, they would only attempt to return and cause trouble as CIA agents. Castro also was irritated over the U.S. press story that crutches had been taken from an invalid girl as she boarded the Shirley Lykes. He called the story untrue.
7. Donovan and Vallejo agreed to communicate with one another by telephone regarding any matters of importance relating to their conversation.
8. At the airport just before Donovan's departure, Vallejo broached the subject of re-establishing diplomatic relations with the U.S.
9. Castro warmly re-issued the invitation that Donovan return to Cuba with his wife for a week or so (possibly the first week in March). Castro indicated he wished to talk at length with Donovan about the future of Cuba and international relations in general.
Note: The two high level Red Cross officials who spent two days last week in Havana with the Cuban Red Cross found the latter's cooperation and hospitality remarkably good. Upon their departure Cervantes, head of the Cuban Red Cross, expressed the hope that the cooperation between the two humanitarian organizations presaged improved relations between the governments.
Robert A. Hurwitch
Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/1-2663. Top Secret; Limited Distribution. According to a covering memorandum from Cottrell to Rusk, January 28, Cottrell sent this memorandum to Rusk informing the Secretary that McCone had similar information. When shown that information, the President stated that it "looked interesting."