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Kennedy Responds to Krushchev's Condemnation of the Bay of Pigs Invasion

President Kennedy wrote this letter to Soviet Chairman Krushchev on the day of the ill-fated Bay of Pigs operation, in which 1,400 U.S.-trained Cuban exiles attempted to invade the island and overthrow Fidel Castro. Responding to an indignant letter from Krushchev in which the Soviet leader threatened to defend Cuba with military force, Kennedy characterizes the invasion as the action of "Cuban patriots," rather than a military intervention by the United States.

Washington, April 18, 1961.

Mr. Chairman: You are under a serious misapprehension in regard to events in Cuba. For months there has been evident and growing resistance to the Castro dictatorship. More than 100,000 refugees have recently fled from Cuba into neighboring countries. Their urgent hope is naturally to assist their fellow Cubans in their struggle for freedom… 

These are unmistakable signs that Cubans find intolerable the denial of democratic liberties…by an alien-dominated regime. It cannot be surprising that, as resistance within Cuba grows, refugees have been using whatever means are available to return and support their countrymen in the continuing struggle for freedom….

I have previously stated, and I repeat now, that the United States intends no military intervention in Cuba…. While refraining from military intervention in Cuba, the people of the United States do not conceal their admiration for Cuban patriots who wish to see a democratic system in an independent Cuba. The United States Government can take no action to stifle the spirit of liberty….

I believe, Mr. Chairman, that you should recognize that free peoples in all parts of the world do not accept the claim of historical inevitability for Communist revolution. What your government believes is its own business; what it does in the world is the world's business. The great revolution in the history of man, past, present and future, is the revolution of those determined to be free.

John F. Kennedy

Source | U.S., Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Volume X, Cuba, 1961-1962.
Creator | John F. Kennedy
Item Type | Diary/Letter
Cite This document | John F. Kennedy, “Kennedy Responds to Krushchev's Condemnation of the Bay of Pigs Invasion,” HERB: Resources for Teachers, accessed September 20, 2019, https://herb.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/725.

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