The United States and Castro: Breaking the Deadlock

A tank of the Cuban Armed Forces is seen in position near the area where some 1,500 anti-Castro allies came ashore at Playa Giron beach during the Bay of Pigs invasion on the south coast of Cuba, April 1961. Prensa Latina / Reuters

Thirteen years after Fidel Castro's rise to power, Washington and Havana remain locked in mutually uncompromising positions. The continuing climate of recriminations and reprisals in U.S.-Cuban relations now stands in sharp contrast with the dramatic and sudden thaw in U.S.-Chinese relations that began in April 1971. In fact, both Washington and Havana seemed to have seized upon the Chinese development to reaffirm their postures of mutual intransigence.

On April 16, 1971, President Nixon stated that Havana's policies precluded the type of initiatives then under way toward China. The President pointedly noted that Castro was "still exporting revolution" and that "until Cuba changes their [sic] policy toward us we are not going to change our policy toward Cuba." Three days later, Castro responded by vehemently reaffirming Cuba's "solidarity" with the Latin American revolutionary movement, adding that Cuba could in fact afford to "scorn relations . . . with the imperialist government of an

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