The JFK docs: Canada Cuba and the U.S.

The recent release of previously secret archival files in the JFK archive has come at a very busy time in American and world news. The release is a massive one which will take some time to absorb and analyze. So far my reading of the first batch of documents confirms that the Kennedy administration in the early 1960s was obsessed with Fidel Castro and Cuba and was prepared to consider assassination,kidnapping and sabotage of crops and agricultural Cuban workers and the training in secret of armed Cuban exiles to invade Cuba to overthrow Castro. Part of their motivation was the American  fury in discovering that the Soviet union had secretly installed missiles in Cuba which were a clear national security risk to the U.S. This was revealed to the American people on October 22 and the crisis was not resolved until October 28 1962 when JFK announced that Mr.Khrushchev had agreed to remove the missiles .Only later did we learn that the US agreed to remove its missiles from Turkey as a quid pro quo.


I remember these days very clearly as they dominated my high school experience. Part of it was the American  fear that Cuba would be a successful demonstration to Latin America that a communist society was possible and provide to the naïve the “demonstration “that  problems of poverty and underdevelopment could be solved by resort to communist and radical socialist ideology. At the time Canada also played a role in these events. One of the documents mentions consideration under the general rubric of operation Mongoose which had as its explicit goal removing Castro from power. ‘’  The objective of  operation Mongoose is the overthrow of the Castro regime’’ (p.20 Doc ID 32112987 JFK docs) It also contains the sentence” General Carter said that the CIA would examine the possibilities of sabotaging airplane parts which are scheduled to be shipped from Canada to Cuba. ” This sentence  appears in  the document on operation Mongoose on the 14th of September1962.(doc.ID32112987& 32112745)


Had the Diefenbaker government known this they would have raised a storm of protest. Diefenbaker was already alienated from the JFK government over disputes with  the U,S. over trade and recognition of Cuba and trade with China and other disputes over general trade issues and a certain poor personal relationship between the two leaders-they disliked each other and rubbed one another the wrong way. (See Knowlton Nash   Kennnedy and Diefenbaker the feud that toppled a Government McClelland and Stewart, 1991) As well the Americans wanted Canada to accept nuclear armed Bomarc missiles on its territory but Diefenbaker was reluctant to agree without certain American concessions on joint control.  Diefenbaker  lost his majority in  the election on June 18 1962 and was reduced to a small minority government which later in 1963 fell to the Lester Pearson led Liberals. Had the details of US consideration of sabotaging Canadian exports to Cuba been public knowledge the election might well have turned out differently.


About haroldchorneyeconomist

I am Professor of political economy at Concordia university in Montréal, Québec, Canada. I received my B.A.Hons (econ.&poli sci) from the University of Manitoba. I also completed my M.A. degree in economics there. Went on to spend two years at the London School of Economics as a Ph.D. student in economics and then completed my Ph.D. in political economy at the University of Toronto. Was named a John W.Dafoe fellow, a CMHC fellow and a Canada Council fellow. I also was named a Woodrow Wilson fellow in 1968 after completing my first class honours undergraduate degree. Worked as an economist in the area of education, labour economics and as the senior economist with the Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corporation for the Government of Manitoba from 1972 to 1978. I also have worked as an economic consultant for MDT socio-economic consultants and have been consulted on urban planning, health policy, linguistic duality and public sector finance questions by the governments of Manitoba, Saskatchewan,the cities of Regina and Saskatoon, Ontario and the Federal government of Canada. I have also been consulted by senior leaders of the British Labour party, MPs from the Progressive Conservative party, the Liberal party and the New Democrats on economic policy questions. Members of the Government of France under the Presidency of Francois Mitterand discussed my work on public sector deficits. I have also run for elected office at the municipal level. I first began to write about quantitative easing as a useful policy option during the early 1980s.
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