1962 January 19

RFK Memo on Cuba Demands Action to Remove Castro


Following the disastrous failed U.S.-sponsored invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, the Kennedy administration secretly pressed for actions to remove Fidel Castro as Cuba’s leader. The various actions included CIA plots to assassinate Castro, economic sanctions, and other methods to destabilize the country. On this day, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy sent a memo to the Special Group Augmented (the task force working on Cuba) demanding more action. “The Cuba Project,” he wrote, is the “top priority of the United States Government,” adding that “all else is secondary.” He reported President Kennedy as saying “it’s got to be done, and will be done.” Kennedy’s memo is published in the official collection of documents, Foreign Relations of the United States, which is available in most university libraries.

This document and others make it clear that the CIA was not a “rogue elephant,” as some people said (see July 18, 1975), but as responsive to presidents throughout its history. See also the memo from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on March 13, 1962, that recommended several outrageous actions, including even setting off bombs in the U.S. and blaming them on Castro.

On December 17, 2014, after decades of hostility between the two countries, President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced that they would begin the process of normalizing relations between the two countries.

Learn more about the CIA assassination plots: http://www.aarclibrary.org/publib/contents/church/contents_church_reports_ir.htm

And more about the CIA: Tim Weiner, Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA (2007)

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