Secret History of U.S.-Cuba Ties Reveals Henry Kissinger Plan to Bomb Havana for Fighting Apartheid

03.10.2014 - Democracy Now!

Secret History of U.S.-Cuba Ties Reveals Henry Kissinger Plan to Bomb Havana for Fighting Apartheid
(Image by Photo DemocracyNow!)

In the new book, “Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana,” authors Peter Kornbluh and William LeoGrande use recently declassified documents to expose the secret history of dialogue between the United States and Cuba. Among the revelations are details of how then-U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger considered launching airstrikes against Cuba after Fidel Castro sent troops to support independence fighters in Angola in 1976. In the years that followed, top-secret U.S. emissaries, including former President Jimmy Carter and Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez, worked to normalize relations with Cuba. The book’s release comes as Cuban leader Raúl Castro is set to participate for the first time in next year’s Summit of the Americas in Panama. Cuba recently denounced the Obama administration for extending the more than 50-year embargo for another year in a little-noticed move in September.

Image Credit: Courtesy of Frank Mankiewicz

Image Courtesy of Frank Mankiewicz. (From right to left: Frank Mankiewicz, Kirby Jones, and Saul Landau deliver a message to Fidel Castro from Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, proposing negotiations to normalize U.S.-Cuban relations, July 1974)

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: A declassified document cited in Back Channel to Cuba offers a window into the first formal negotiating session to explore normalized relations between the United States and Cuba. We spend the rest of the hour with the authors of a new book that exposes the secret history of dialogue between the United States and Cuba. Much of the book relies on recently declassified top-secret documents. Among the revelations are details of how then-U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger considered launching airstrikes against Cuba after Fidel Castro sent troops to support independence fighters in Angola in 1976. In the years that followed, top-secret U.S. emissaries, including former President Jimmy Carter and Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez, worked to normalize relations with Cuba.

The book’s release comes as Cuban leader Raúl Castro is set to participate for the first time in next year’s Summit of the Americas in Panama. Earlier this month, Panama’s foreign minister flew to Havana to personally invite Castro to attend for the first time. President Obama has not said yet if he will attend the talks.

AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, Cuba has denounced the Obama administration for extending the more than 50-year embargo. The White House authorized the trade embargo for another year in a little-noticed move in September. Speaking before the U.N. General Assembly, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez said U.S. restrictions on Cuba have worsened under President Obama.

BRUNO RODRÍGUEZ: [translated] The State Department has again included Cuba in its unilateral and arbitrary list of states that sponsor international terrorism. Its true purpose is to increase the persecution of our international financial transactions in the whole world and justify the blockade policy. Under the present administration, there has been an unprecedented tightening of extraterritorial character of the blockade, with a remarkable and unheard-of emphasis on financial transactions through the imposition of multi-million fines on banking institutions of third countries.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, for more, we’re joined by Peter Kornbluh and William LeoGrande, authors of the new book, Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana. Peter Kornbluh directs the Cuba Documentation Project at the National Security Archive at George Washington University. And William LeoGrande is a professor of government at American University. You can read the introduction to their book on our website at democracynow.org. They also wrote an article, which is now on The Nation‘s website, headlined “Six Lessons for Obama on How to Improve Relations with Cuba: The president knows US policy has been a failure. Here’s how he can make a breakthrough, in the little time he has left.”

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