Fidel Castro had been not been consulted by Nikita Khrushchev when the Soviet premier agreed to remove the nuclear missiles that had sparked the Cuban Missile Crisis. Geography aside, Cuba had been marginalized. And Castro was furious.
In addition to berating the Soviets in private, in public he made an effort to elevate Cuba to a player in the settlement negotiations. He also wanted to make things difficult for the Soviets.1
On October 28, Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles from Cuba. Shortly after that pledge was announced, Radio Havana broadcast Castro’s own conditions which he said the United States must meet in order to validate a non-invasion pledge.
There were five conditions. They were:2
- cessation of all commercial and economic pressure against Cuba. This included the U.S. trade embargo as well as efforts to get other countries to restrict or stop trade with Cuba, particularly those in the Organization of American States.
- an end to all “subversive activities” carried out against the Castro regime from the territory of the United States and other “accomplice territories”.
- cessation of “pirate attacks” on Cuba.
- an end to U.S. aircraft and ships entering (“violating”) Cuban airspace and naval space uninvited.
- evacuation of the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo.
Castro never formally gave them a name. U.S. policymakers came to refer to them as Castro’s Five Points. But Washington never took them seriously.
Dean Rusk: And then Castro’s Five Points, which he put up in November, indeed as early as late October, were unacceptable from our point of view. The principle ones being that we would abandon economic pressures, that we would abandon overflights, that we would give up Guantánamo. Our inability and unwillingness to even discuss those five points was another element in these discussions.3
For one thing, the negotiations in New York to bring the crisis to a close were already complicated enough. Kennedy had drafted veteran fixer John McCloy to lead the U.S. effort in partnership with U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union Adlai Stevenson. Khrushchev had sent seasoned negotiator Vasily Kuznetsov, the deputy foreign minister of the U.S.S.R. Neither side saw it beneficial to complicate the negotiations further by giving Castro a seat at the table.
For another, the demands were never ones that the United States could ever agree to or even publicly acknowledge.
In the ensuing weeks, Castro repeatedly restated his five conditions, including directly to Acting Secretary General of the United Nations U Thant. And from time to time, Soviet officials tried to add them to the discussions. Before boarding a plane at Idlewild Airport in New York for a flight to Havana in his mission to smooth over relations with the Cubans, Soviet first deputy premier Anastas Mikoyan endorsed the points. His statement was less than full-throated, but it had a useful effect. The conciliatory tone convinced Castro to greet Mikoyan personally when he arrived. Mikoyan tried again when he returned from Havana over three weeks later.
But those efforts were rebuffed, and Castro’s Five Points failed to gain any meaningful traction in the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis and none of them was included in the de facto settlement in November and December 1962.4
- In meetings with Acting Secretary General of the United Nations U Thant in Havana, Castro admitted that issuing his Five Points was in part to make things complicated for the Soviets. Handwritten notes by U Thant, 31 October 1962, in “Secretary-General – Cuba – Meetings, 31/10/62” folder, Series 370, Box 42, File 23, Accession 96/120, United Nations Archive; Report, CIA, “The Crisis: USSR/Cuba,” 1 November 1962, in “CIA Intelligence Memoranda 11/01/1962” folder, Box 46, National Security Files, John F. Kennedy Library; CIA, “The Crisis: USSR/Cuba,” 29 October 1962, in ibid. ↩
- CIA, “The Crisis: USSR/Cuba,” 29 October 1962, in “Countries: Cuba, Subjects, CIA Memoranda, 10/29/62-10/30/62” folder, Box 46, National Security Files, John F. Kennedy Library; Sergo Mikoyan, edited by Svetlana Savranskaya, The Soviet Cuban Missile Crisis: Castro, Mikoyan, Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Missiles of November (Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Press, 2012); “Castro’s 5 Demands Backed by Soviet,” Evening News, 2 November 1962. ↩
- White House Briefing for Congressional Leaders, 8 January 1963. ↩
- Aleksandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali, “One Hell of a Gamble”: Khrushchev, Castro, & Kennedy, 1958-1964, (New York: W.W. Norton, 1997) p. 298; “Ciphered Telegram from Anastas Mikoyan to CC CPSU,” 6 November 1962, in History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Archive of the President of the Russian Federation (APRF), Special Declassification April 2002. Translated by Svetlana Savranskaya and Andrea Hendrickson. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/117334. ↩