Documents Record First Internal Debate to Lift Ban on Cuba (1963!)





Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy sought to lift the ban on U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba in December 1963, according to declassified records re-posted today by the National Security Archive. In a December 12, 1963, memorandum to Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Kennedy urged a quick decision "to withdraw the existing regulation prohibiting such trips."

Kennedy's memo, written less than a month after his brother's assassination in Dallas, argues that the travel ban imposed by the Kennedy administration was a violation of American freedoms and impractical in terms of law enforcement. Among his "principal arguments" for removing the restrictions on travel to Cuba was that freedom to travel "is more consistent with our views as a free society and would contrast with such things as the Berlin Wall and Communist controls on such travel."

This document, and others relating to the first internal debate over lifting the Cuba travel ban, are quoted in an opinion piece in the Washington Post today, written by Robert Kennedy's daughter, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. Her article argued that President Obama should consider her father's position and support the Free Travel To Cuba Act that has been introduced in the U.S. Congress.

Kennedy Townsend's article is available here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/22/AR2009042203088.html


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