Washington, D.C., 1 October 2002 – The National Security Archive at
George Washington University announced today that the senior surviving
veterans of the Cuban Missile Crisis will gather in Havana, Cuba, next
week to discuss new evidence and lessons learned from the moment when the
world came closest to nuclear war 40 years ago. Leading Cuban historical
actors will host participants such as secretary of defense Robert McNamara,
JFK speechwriter and counsel Theodore Sorensen, and JFK aide and Pulitzer-Prize-winning
historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., among others. From Russia, deputy
foreign minister Georgy Kornienko, missile deployment planner Gen. Anatoly
Gribkov, KGB officer Nikolai Leonov, and others will participate.
This historic conference will feature four panels: (1) from the Bay
of Pigs to the missiles, (2) the missiles and the October crisis, (3) the
November crisis and aftermath, (4) lessons from the crisis. At the
center of discussions will be thousands of pages of newly declassified
documents – from the Cuban government itself, from the CIA, the Pentagon
and the White House, from the Soviet Foreign Ministry and the Politburo,
from Warsaw Pact allies’ files, and from governments with embassies in
Havana such as Great Britain and Brazil – providing for the first time
the Cuban and multi-national perspectives on a crisis previously seen only
in superpower terms. Archive director Thomas Blanton said, “The conference
room will echo with words that resonate today, such as ‘intelligence failure,’
‘pre-emptive strike,’ and ‘weapons of mass destruction.’”
The U.S. delegation arrives in Havana on Thursday, October 10; the invitation-only
conference – titled “La Crisis de Octubre: una vision politica 40 anos
despues” – will take place all day Friday and Saturday, October 11-12.
On Sunday, October 13, conferees will visit the last surviving structure
from the Soviet deployment in 1962, a nuclear warhead bunker at the San
Cristobal missile site west of Havana. On Monday, October 14, participants
will depart Havana. On this day in 1962, a high-altitude U-2 spy
plane took the first photographs of the Soviet medium-range ballistic missiles
in Cuba – at San Cristobal.
The conference will meet at the Palacio de Convenciones in Havana,
Cuba. Most participants will be housed at the Hotel Palco next door.
Phone: 011-53-7-337235. Fax: 011-53-7-337236. The conference
room itself is closed to the press, except for the opening ceremony at
10 a.m. on October 11; but the organizers will hold daily press briefings
each afternoon summarizing the discussion and releasing key documents addressed
that day. The visit to the missile site is open to the media.
Journalists seeking to cover the conference should request press visas
from Luis Fernandez at the Cuban Interests Section (Washington, D.C.),
The National Security Archive co-organized with Cuban institutions the
highly successful 40th anniversary Bay of Pigs conference last year in
Havana; this year, the Archive is also working with Brown University’s
Watson Institute. Peter Kornbluh directs the Archive’s Cuba project.