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(Public Record Office Class FO 371)

Part 2: Cuba and the Bay of Pigs Invasion, 1961
(PRO Classes FO 371/156137-156255 & PREM 11/3316, 3321 & 3328)

Part 2 of this microfilm project provides the Foreign Office Files for Cuba for 1961. Beginning with the breakdown of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba on January 3rd, the files contain detailed reports, memoranda and correspondence relating to events that had worldwide repercussions. Together these documents provide a British and Commonwealth perspective on a year that saw John F Kennedy take office and the CIA-backed Bay of Pigs invasion.

The files provide evidence on:

  • The internal political situation in Cuba.
  • Political relations with nations such as the US, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico, China, the Soviet Union and the Commonwealth countries.
  • The conditions for anti-Castro refugees in the Bahamas and Jamaica.
  • The Cuban economy, including currency, banking and foreign trade.
  • Commercial relations between Cuba and nations such as China, Morocco, Romania, Poland, the Soviet Union, the US and Britain.
  • The sale of arms to Cuba.
  • Soviet arms deliveries to Cuba.
  • Broadcasting to and from Cuba.
  • Political asylum for refugees from Cuba.
  • The visit to the UK of the Cuban Foreign Minister.
  • Meetings between President Kennedy and Khrushchev, Vienna, June 1961.
  • Meetings between the British Prime Minister and President Kennedy, Washington DC, April 1961.
  • The visit of President Kennedy to the UK, June 1961.

Included in Part 2 are a number of files from the Prime Minister’s Office series
(PREM 11) detailing discussions about Cuba at the highest level. These include
Prime Ministerial briefings on Cuba and records of meetings and conversations between Macmillan, Khrushchev and Kennedy.

These FO 371 and PREM 11 documents offer up numerous research possibilities. Questions that could be investigated include:

  • To what extent had Cuba become part of the Sino-Soviet Bloc by 1961?
  • How did the Bay of Pigs invasion impact on British relations with America?
  • How did events in Cuba in 1961 add momentum to the nuclear arms race of the Cold War era?
  • Did all US initiatives to remove Communist influence from Cuba achieve precisely the opposite effect?
  • How widespread was anti-American feeling in Latin America?
  • How did Fidel Castro consolidate his own position within Cuba?

By the end of 1961, these papers show British officials reporting that "Cuba is a country strengthening its links with the Soviet Union and spreading Communist sympathy throughout the continent."

Fidel Castro

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