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For Immediate Release:
March 2, 2003

For more information contact:
Kate Doyle
In Mexico: 5255 5574 7897
kadoyle@gwu.edu

Double Dealing
Mexico's Foreign Policy Toward Cuba

Go to the Electronic Briefing Book

 

U.S. Documents, Presidential Tapes, Reveal Secret U.S.-Mexican Arrangement Behind Mexico's Heralded Nationalist Support for Castro's Revolutionary Government

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 ally.

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 President Johnson.

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 Mexican magazine Proceso.

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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