The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK—From the newspaper accounts it would seem that our Central Intelligence Agency was not very well informed as to the internal situation in Cuba. One account suggested that on the one hand we had underestimated Castro's hold on the people of Cuba, and, on the other, that those who might have wanted to revolt would be unable to do so, since the government had become a police state.

I wonder if we are not falling back on this second idea and ignoring the fact that there may be large groups of people in Cuba who find themselves in better condition today than they were under Batista. It is difficult, of course, to find out. Yet, from what one reads, the exiles seem to be drawn largely from the intellectual and business groups of Cuba, whereas conditions among the poorer people may be such that Castro has been able to improve the hopes they hold for a better life. In that case, the greater number of people would not be inclined to join with the rebels. Since a successful invasion in this instance depended upon an uprising among the masses in Cuba, it should have been evident to our people that this undertaking was premature.

Lies are evidently easy to fabricate in the present atmosphere of Cuba. Dr. Raul Roa of Cuba charged that a Sherman tank was involved in the landing on Giron beach, but it now turns out that the tank actually was one of Russian make. Again, an American Social Security number, given as proof that it was an American pilot who was shot down in Cuba this week, turns out to be a number belonging to a Connecticut cabinet maker who has never flown a plane and says he has no interest in Cuban politics!

On the whole, it seems to me that even though the President's statement was correct that no American would take part in a Cuban landing, still we were involved in a way. This is perhaps not conducive to giving other nations the feeling that we are actually going to consult with the other Latin American states on all matters concerning our neighbors in this hemisphere, and that we will not act on our own.

Certainly, the votes in the U.N. have not been encouraging. We lost out on the resolution to have the inter-American organizations use their good offices to negotiate the difficulties between Cuba and ourselves. Even more serious, our Latin American friends at first refused to go along with the resolution for financial support to the U.N. in the Congo situation, and agreed only after an all-night session.

As a postscript to the question of reading problems in our New York City public schools, I have a letter from another source which says that I have been unfair in blaming teachers for the reading situation, since many of them are teaching in schools where the majority of children are Puerto Ricans under the handicap of learning a new language. It is quite understandable that, until they learn English, these children cannot possibly succeed as well in their general educational work, and especially in reading. I should think this would require that intensive work be done with the Puerto Rican section of the N.Y.C. school population. They should be considered a separate problem and not really count in the average of reading ability, and they should be provided with a special course of instruction until they have mastered the language of the country they are now living in.


(Copyright, 1961, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, April 24, 1961

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.