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&doc.id 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.