Cuba recognition drive
In 1972, a coalition of congressmen, radical activists and some communists spearheaded a drive to relax relations with Fidel Castro's Cuba.
Under, the auspices of Sen. Ted Kennedy (D.- Mass.) and Sen. Harold Hughes (D.-Iowa), a two day conference of liberal scholars assembled in April, in the New Senate Office Building to thrash out a fresh U.S. policy on Cùba.
Among congressional sponsors of the seminar were Sen. J. William Fulbright (D.-Ark.) and Sen. Jacob K. Javits (R.-N.Y.), both influential members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Sen. George McGovern (D.-S.D.), Rep. Bella Abzug (D~-N.Y.) and Rep. Ron Dellums (D.-Calif.).
Prominent members of the press and academic world participated, including conference chairman Kalman Silvert of the Ford Foundation, Joseph Gruenwald of the Brookings Institution, Tad Szulc of the New York Times and James Goodsell of the Christian Science Monitor.
Sen. Fulbright signalled the move to seek détente with Càstro's Cuba in March 1972, when he attacked the State Department for refusing to issue visas to four Cuban film-makers who planned to participate in a pro-Castro film festival in New York City.
Prof. Larry Birns of the New School for Social Research in New York, admitted he deliberately selected panelists who look favorably on "normalizing'" relations with Cuba. The sessions, he said, were not supposed to generate an open debate. ,
One panelist, John M. Cates, Jr., director of the , Center for Inter-American Relations, matter òf factlyremarked during the discussions: "So why are we here'? We're here so Sen. Kennedy can have a rationale to get our country to recognize Cuba."
Kennedy had set the stage for the meeting by recommending an end to the economic boycott of Cuba, freedom of travel and cultural exchanges between the U.S. and Cuba, and reestablishment of formal relations.
Largely agreeing with Kennedy's recommendations, the group reached a broad consensus that the United States should: Pay rent or give up its Navy at Guantánamo, initiate cultural and sports exchanges with Cuba, lift the trade embargo on Cuba, sell surplus grain to the island on a deferred payment plan and establish formal and informal diplomatic contacts. Members also hoped a study commission to pursue these goals would grow out of the conference.
Brady Tyson of American University, the most miltant panelist, said public opinion must be mobilized to persuade the U.S. government to ease relations with Castro's regime. Committees of Cuban-Americans must be formed for the same purpose, he said.
The conference was financed by a New York-based organization called the Fund for the New Priorities in America, a coalition of groups clearly sympathetic to many pro-Communist causes.
The Fund was virtually the same group as the Committee for Peace and New Priorities, a pro-Hanoi group which bought an ad in November 1971 in the New York Times demanding Nixon set a Viet Nam withdrawal date. Both the Fund for the New Priorities and the Committee for Peace, were located at the same address in New York.
- ↑ Human Events, April 29, 1972, page 3