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Cuban revolution collection Collection. Call : MS Manuscripts and Archives Cuban revolution collection.
When Attwood arrived at midnight on the evening of November 18 for the call, Howard greeted him wearing a lavish dressing gown. In the early morning hours, Howard asked Vallejo to leave.
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I do not want to speak about now. I am who I am and you are Fidel Castro and for us, at this moment in history, nothing personal could be realized. Castro enjoyed the conversation so much that he agreed to a formal interview—the first he had granted a U. In the early hours of April 24, with Cuban Communist Party cameras rolling at the Riviera, Howard put a series of forceful questions to the Cuban comandante: When had he become a communist? Cuba was a major news story. And why do I feel that I must?
This was the moment Howard had long awaited. The Cuban leader lay down on the sofa and put his head in her lap.
But I shall try to help. There were lighter moments, too. And there was that white phone—mute—tense … our link to our secret and oh-so-longed for mission.
Howard had tried and failed to obtain an interview with Castro twice in the early s, and after the missile crisis she made another attempt. Yet I guess what keeps me involved is that down deep I believe that if I could convince him of the truth … of the despair and agony and chaos he has brought to this Island … he would change. Placed at least seven calls. But in the early s, she was one of the most famous female TV journalists in the United States—a glamorous former soap opera star who reinvented herself as a reporter and then climbed to the top of the male-monopolized world of television news.
Castro asked Howard whether her bright blond hair color was natural.
At last! She used the positive news coverage of her ABC interview to argue that public opinion was not opposed to better relations with Cuba, and even presented a list of potential intermediaries who could facilitate talks with Castro—including herself.
Over the next two weeks, Howard and her crew traipsed around Cuba with the energetic Castro, filming him playing baseball, visiting a cattle farm and interacting with peasants. Contact has been established!
An inexorable conviction that this can be an honorable rapprochement between Cuba and the U. Around 3 a. But at p. Howard, Castro and a handful of U. But Howard would not give up. S presidents into considering peaceful coexistence with him. Her influential role in the media empowered her efforts on Cuba, even as it worried White House officials who were the targets of her ceaseless pressure to change U. But both she and Castro took the secret of their intimate diplomacy to their graves.
She persuaded her superiors at ABC to let her return to Cuba to do another TV special—this time on life under the revolution. There is no doubt in my mind that the emotion Fidel inspires in all women is sheer undiluted sexual desire. Howard admonished Castro for the repressive regime he was creating in Cuba. Why were hundreds of thousands of Cubans fleeing to Florida? Unbeknownst to Howard, however, the CIA vigorously opposed her message of potential reconciliation—and lobbied Kennedy to ignore it. Did he ask Khrushchev for the nuclear missiles? He is the most physical animal man I have ever known.
My faith in the form of a letter, which, if revealed, could destroy me in the United States. But if we go to bed then it will be complicated and our relationship will be destroyed. That was only the public part of the message she delivered. Howard crossed out that paragraph during a revision, big blue Xs cutting through the type. We do have a deep common bond. After months of her cajoling, the Cuban mission in New York finally granted Howard a visa to travel to Havana in early April Castro ignored her for several weeks as he finished negotiations with New York lawyer James Donovan for the release of U.
Whether out of curiosity and vanity, or a sense that Howard could become a genuinely valuable channel to America, Castro relented and agreed to meet Howard at the nightclub in the Havana Riviera hotel.
Namely: my faith in your honor. They reminisced about President John F. Kennedy, who had been assassinated just a few months earlier.
Let flow in the most untrammeled way the goodness that is your substance and can be your salvation. Her role as peacemaker was built on a complex, little-understood personal rapport she managed to forge with Castro himself—a relationship that was political and personal, intellectual and intimate. Off in a corner of the living room, Attwood and Lechuga discussed how negotiations between their two hostile countries might be initiated. A long, frustrating, tension-filled, but exciting experience lies ahead.
But with tensions running high, the embargo in place and no direct travel between the two countries, few establishment reporters could gain access to the country, let alone an interview with its fiery leader. While filming the new TV special, she would also be strategizing with Castro about how to renew his delicate diplomacy with President Lyndon B. There was another reason she was eager to be in Havana.
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Castro cited his successful talks with Donovan on the prisoner release as a positive step forward. As she dialed Cuba again and again, attempting to track down Vallejo, they listened to jazz, drank bourbon and discussed French philosophers. She was a diplomat—albeit a self-appointed one. And she was. But Fidel enjoyed the conversation immensely. When she informed the new administration about her trip, White House staff responded that they would be interested in what Castro had to say.
Today, almost no one remembers Lisa Howard. At the United Nations, a U. On September 12, he called her, and together they set in motion a plan of action.
First, Attwood approached U. Then, Howard approached Lechuga in the U. A cocktail party at her East 74th Street town house would serve as cover for the two diplomats to meet. What le you to believe that? Lounging on the couch, they strategized about how to entice Johnson to finish the dialogue Kennedy had started.
Government with two facts: Castro is ready to discuss rapprochement and she herself is ready to discuss it with him if asked to do so by the U. Howard also typed out a brief to Kennedy himself, elaborating on what Castro had told her during their conversations in Havana and attempting to obtain a meeting.
He arrived at midnight on April 21, and the two talked until almost 6 a. One night, Howard returned to her suite and burst into tears, torn between her feelings for the man and her distaste for his revolution. That first halting step. I wanted to be there on the spot when history was being written. But she would not be ignored, nor denied. She earned access to major political figures, including then-Senator John F. In the early s, the Cuban leader was one of the most dynamic, and for U. The young, bearded guerrilla fighter had overthrown the U.
But U. In the spring ofEisenhower authorized planning for a secret CIA paramilitary intervention to roll back the Cuban revolution and install a more compliant government in Havana, cutting diplomatic relations in January In frustration, he ordered a new program of covert operations against Cuba, known as Operation Mongoose, and a full economic blockade in early —aggressive moves that persuaded Castro, who had recently declared Cuba a socialist state, to accept Soviet nuclear missiles as a deterrent to another U. For 13 days in October, the world stood on the brink of nuclear Armageddon until Kennedy offered Khrushchev a secret deal: pulling U.
With Castro furious at Khrushchev for removing the weapons without consulting him, some Kennedy officials saw the opportunity to entice Castro back into the Western orbit; the CIA, however, was determined to continue efforts to overthrow him.
No matter … our personal desires are not important. And then came the showstopper: Under what conditions might he support a rapprochement with Washington? As much as Howard believed Castro was a dictator, the overwhelming public adoration he generated impressed her.