Stokely Carmichael and SNCC

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Department of State. Director of Intelligence and Research. "Castro Adds US to His Revolutionary List." July 27, 1967.


U.S. Department of State

Director of Intelligence

July 27, 1967

To: The Secretary
Through: S/S
From: INR - Thomas L. Hughes

Subject: July 26, 1967: Castro Adds the US to His Revolutionary List

The "rebellion" of the American Negro was the one significant new theme in a speech otherwise noteworthy for its omissions and its repetition of familiar subjects. Castro's revolutionary anniversary speech was relatively brief (two hours and twenty minutes), and gave little hint of the strategy he will follow at the July 31 - August 8 conference of the Latin American Solidarity Organization (LASO).

Special tribute to Stokely Carmichael. Castro began his speech by presenting "one of the most prestigious leaders for civil rights in the US," Stokely Carmichael. He showed Carmichael the same deference accorded to the representatives of the "the heroic people of South Vietnam." The subsequent sentence honoring "those who represent the highest revolutionary values" was clearly intended to include the American Negro leader. Toward the end of his speech, Castro again turned to the theme of US racial violence and read at length from US wire service dispatches on recent disturbances. He attempted to relate violence in the US to his thoughts on revolution in Latin America: "The convulsed condition of this hemisphere finds magnificent expression in what is happening in the United States itself. The US colored population, victim of discrimination and exploitation, is rising up more and more with astonishing valor and heroism to demand its rights and resist force with force."

The Cuban leaders was careful, however, to state that although Cuba's sentiments were with the Negro sector in the US, Cuba was not to blame for their rebellion. In closing Castro expressed a "heartfelt embrace for the representatives of the US Negro people," paying Carmichael the ultimate honor of listing this slogan before his closing salutation to the Vietnamese people.

Domestic themes predominate. Perhaps the principal surprise of the speech, however, was its almost exclusive attention to domestic matters. The numerous LASO delegates and foreign journalists, artists, intellectuals, and protest singers present at the event were treated to nearly two hours of familiar rhetoric on the progress and plans of the Cuban revolution. Castro particularly emphasized the great hopes which he places on Cuba's youth, on his plans for continued stress on agricultural development and improved rural living standards, on a new plan to combine universal military training with compulsory secondary education, on the importance of work, and on the need for even greater military preparedness.

In an apparent reference to the Arab-Israeli war, Castro said that if Cuba were invaded it would never admit defeat or accept a cease-fire; he boasted that the Cuban armed forces and people were instead prepared to fight on, using guerrilla tactics if necessary, to make a military occupation of Cuba untenable. Although he hinted that in such a situation Cuba would receive help from abroad, Castro insisted that Cubans should get used to the idea that they would be fighting alone.

What was not said. In view of the international attendance at the speech and the imminence of the LASO conference, Castro's omissions are interesting matter for speculation. He said little about LASO except that it had caused fear in the "imperialist" camp, said nothing about the Koeygin visit or the Soviet role in the Middle East, and made only perfunctory reference to revolution in Latin America. His mention of insurgency targets did not go beyond the minimal list of Venezuela, Colombia, Guatemala and Bolivia. This could imply that Castro has been prevailed upon to lower the volume of his call for guerrilla warfare in "all or almost all" of Latin America. But it does seem clear that, whatever his reasons, the Cuban revolutionary has decided to keep open his options until the LASO conference itself has begun.

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