On this day in 1961, the United States ended diplomatic and consular relations with the Castro dictatorship.

“On this day in 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced the United States was formally terminating diplomatic and consular relations with Cuba.” – The Boston Globe

Richard Nixon met with Fidel Castro in April 1959 and sought a detente with Havana in 1974

Batista in the 1950s was not a U.S. backed dictator, but was pressured out by Washington in favor of what they believed would be a return to democracy

In a previous CubaBrief, we looked at the negative reaction of the Truman Administration to Fulgencio Batista’s March 10, 1952 coup against the democratically elected government of Carlos Prio. In another, the Eisenhower Administration’s engagement with Havana during the Batista regime, from January 20, 1953 through December 31, 1958. President Eisenhower had short, informal talks with Fulgencio Batista on July 23, 1956 at the US Embassy in Panama, but the images are reminiscent of President Obama meeting with Raul Castro during the Summit of the Americas in April 2015.

Eisenhower was not “supporting” the dictatorship, but decreasingly tolerating it, with an arms embargo placed on the Batista government by the Eisenhower Administration in March 1958, and the US Ambassador pressuring the Cuban strongman to step down in December 1958.

Fidel Castro visited the United States for eleven days in April 1959, culminating in a three-hour meeting with Vice President Richard Nixon on April 19, 1959.

Within three months of the United States’ recognition of Cuba’s revolutionary government, the new regime began targeting American interests on the island, allying with the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China, and plotting the overthrow of several Latin American governments.

Fidel Castro visits Caracas on January 23, 1959 and meets with Venezuelan President Romulo Betancourt, a social democrat, “to enlist cooperation and financial backing for ‘the master plan against the gringos.'”

  • On March 3, 1959 the Castro regime expropriates properties belonging to the International Telephone and Telegraph Company, and took over its affiliate, the Cuban Telephone Company.

  • On May 17, 1959 the government expropriated farm lands over 1,000 acres and banned land ownership by foreigners.

  • Havana beginning in 1959 sent armed expeditions to Panama, Haiti, Nicaragua, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic to overthrow their governments.

  • On February 6, 1960 talks began publicly between the U.S.S.R and Fidel Castro. The Soviet Union agreed to buy five million tons of sugar over five years. They also agreed to support Cuba with oil, grain, and credit.

  • On July 6, 1960 the Castro regime passed a nationalization law authorizing nationalization of U.S.- owned property through expropriation. Texaco, Esso, and Shell oil refineries were taken.

  • In September 1960 the Cuban government diplomatically recognized the People’s Republic of China.

  • On November 19, 1960 Ernesto “Che” Guevara heading a Cuban delegation in Beijing met with Mao Zedong between 4:20pm and 6:30pm and discussed revolutionary objectives in Latin America.

It was Fidel Castro’s demand that the US embassy be left with a skeleton crew in the midst of a migration crisis that led to the severing of diplomatic relations.

Tens of thousands of Cubans were lined up outside of the U.S. embassy in Havana seeking visas to flee the communist dictatorship, and this became a source of embarrassment for the regime. Fidel Castro communicated with the Eisenhower Administration on January 3, 1961 and demanded the expulsion of 67 U.S. diplomats, within 48 hours, reducing their number to 11, the same number at the Cuban embassy in Washington DC. When the ultimatum was issued, the Americans had over 50,000 visa applications to process.

President Eisenhower issued a statement on January 3, 1961, at 8:30 p.m. EST, stating: “There is a limit to what the United States in self respect can endure. That limit has now been reached,” and broke diplomatic ties with Cuba.