Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Joseph John Jova
Q: One last question before we finish this section. In Chile, and God knows some distance removed, but how did we view Cuba from there? Because this was at the height of Castro, and he was going to exploit his revolution.
JOVA: This is why this was so important to us.
Q: I mean did we have the feeling that the Cubans were messing around there at all?
JOVA: Cuba, of course, isn't a member of the OAS, but is a member of the United Nations, so they were represented there. I found there was a fatal attraction, Latin to Latin, and also just because it was like a little element of danger, an excitement to be friendly with the Cubans, and I found there were people around them all the time. And in spite of our blockade, or perhaps because of it—not a blockade, but an embargo—they meant something. I was polite to them, talked to them a bit—not at length, but talked to them—but I did see how difficult the United States' position is. The instinct is to go the other way with the Latins.
I can't remember whether Frei opened the embassy with Cuba, or not. I don't think so. No, they continued to obey, fight against it in the OAS, but always skirting it, trying to have trade, but did not open the embassy. They opened an embassy with the Russians, and that we made a big thing about when they said they were going to do that. I had to pull the stops at the highest levels, and Frei got quite mad. He said, “Look, this is ridiculous. I have to be independent. I'm respecting your country in regard to China. I realize that is a very emotional thing for you on China, and I'm not doing it with China although I'm under pressure to do so. But with the Soviet Union, I'm under great pressure to do so. Also you have relations with them. You don't have it with China. Several other Latin countries have, how can I, coming in a new wave, not have relations with the Soviet Union? Naturally we'll try to make it at arm's length, but I must have it.” Well, he did, although Stevenson and his delegation were under instruction to pull out the same stops, and they got the same reply, with increased annoyance.
And locally he had the Soviets in, and of course, Ralph Dungan played tennis with the new Soviet ambassador, so it was a big event. On the other hand, while he was there, they didn't open the thing with Red China.
Q: Well, Dungan was there, and doing this stuff, I'm surprised there wasn't somebody coming out and spanking him from the White House or the State Department.