U.S. Documents, Presidential Tapes,
Reveal Secret U.S.-Mexican Arrangement Behind Mexico's
Heralded Nationalist Support for Castro's Revolutionary
Washington, D.C., 2 March 2003 - The National Security
Archive at George Washington University today published
on the Web a presidential audio tapes and set of declassified
U.S. White House and State Department documents revealing
a secret "informal understanding" made between
the Johnson Administration and the PRI government of Adolfo
López Mateos in 1964 that allowed Mexico to balk
U.S. efforts to diplomatically and economically isolate
the Cuban government of Fidel Castro. The documents also
show that Mexican diplomats provided intelligence on the
Cuban military, Soviet weapons shipments and the economy,
among other issues, to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City in
the late 1960s.
In July 1964, Mexico became the only nation to reject U.S.
demands at the Organization of American States that Latin
America break diplomatic and trade relations with Cuba.
Under a succession of PRI governments, Mexico maintained
a fiercely independent nationalist support for the Castro
government, establishing itself as Cuba's strongest regional
But records discovered by Kate Doyle, the director of the
National Security Archive's Mexico
Project, reveal that Mexico had what one U.S. diplomat
described as an "informal understanding with the U.S.
at highest levels to maintain relations with Cuba so one
OAS country can have foot in the door which might be helpful."
A White House audio tape dated November 12, 1964, records
Secretary of State Dean Rusk telling President Lyndon Johnson
that U.S. officials had agreed with the foreign ministers
of several Latin America nations on the "practical
desirability" of Mexico maintaining an embassy in Havana.
The United States pressed Mexico's appointed ambassadors
to Havana to secretly "communicate Cuban developments"
to the United States. At least one Mexican Ambassador, according
to a declassified State Department cable, provided detailed
intelligence to the U.S. Embassy in 1967 on Cuban troop
movements, Soviet military cargo ships, and economic problems-intelligence
considered so unique that it was sent all the way up to
A comprehensive article on what Ms. Doyle describes as
"the double game that Mexico played for decades over
its relationship with Cuba," was published today in
The declassified documents posted today include an audio
tape of the conversation between Lyndon Johnson and Dean
Rusk; cables from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico city reporting
on conversations with Mexican diplomats, and Mexican documents.
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