On April 6, 1960, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, Lester Mallory, wrote a Secret Memorandum for Roy Richard Rubottom, Jr., who then was Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, titled “The Decline and Fall of Castro.” 
This memo first set forth the following facts about Cuba that Mallory thought were established:
- “The majority of Cubans support Castro (the lowest estimate I have seen is 50 percent).”
- “There is no effective political opposition.”
- “Fidel Castro and other members of the Cuban Government espouse or condone communist influence.”
- “Communist influence is pervading the Government and the body politic at an amazingly fast rate.”
Therefore, Mallory asserted, “The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship.” (Emphasis added.)
Mallory then said, “If the above are accepted or cannot be successfully countered,, it follows that every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba. If such a policy is adopted, it should be the result of a positive decision which would call forth a line of action which, while as adroit and inconspicuous as possible, makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation, and overthrow of government.” (Emphasis added.)
According to U.S. historian Thomas G. Patterson, Mallory became “the official most responsible for defining United States Cuban policy” in the years immediately surrounding the 1959 Cuban revolution.
On February 2, 2022, which was the 60th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s “executive order imposing ‘an embargo on all trade with Cuba,’ the [U.S.] National Security Archive . . .[posted] a collection of previously declassified documents that record the origins, rationale, and early evolution of punitive economic sanctions against Cuba in the aftermath of the Castro-led revolution. The documents show that the initial concept of U.S. economic pressure was to create ‘hardship’ and ‘disenchantment’ among the Cuban populace and to deny ‘money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, [and] to bring about hunger, desperation, and the overthrow of [the] government.’ However, a CIA case study of the embargo, written twenty years after its imposition, concluded that the sanctions ‘have not met any of their objectives.’” (Emphasis added.)
Cuba’s Reactions to the Mallory Memorandum
A year after the release of the Mallory Memorandum, Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla “condemned . . . the validity of [this document] and its repercussions on the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the U.S. on our country on the occasion of the 63rd anniversary of the promulgation of the document. . . [Such] inhuman policy of maximum pressure and economic asphyxiation ignores the universal clamor for a better Cuba without a blockade. “The Foreign Minister added, “the U.S. government applies the script of the Mallory Memorandum, enacted 63 years ago,” but fails in its “attempt to subjugate a sovereign nation, a bastion of dignity and creative resistance.”
Although this blogger has done a lot of independent research and writing of blog posts about U.S.-Cuba relations, including criticism of many U.S. policies regarding the island, he had never heard of Mallory or this long-held secret document until now and is surprised that the first official Cuban comment regarding the Mallory memorandum that he has found occurred a year after its secret status was rescinded.
Comments from readers of this blog with insights on these issues would be appreciated.
 State Department , Memorandum, “The Decline and Fall of Castro, SECRET, April 6, 1960; State Department Office of the Historian , Roy Richard Rubottom Jr.,
 R. Richard Rubottom, Who Helped Shape Cuban Policy, Dies at 98, N.Y. Times ( Dec. 19, 2010).
 National Security Archive, Cuba Embargoes: U.S. Trade Sanctions Turn Sixty (Feb. 2, 2022). This release included “A Brief Chronological History of the U.S. Embargo Against Cuba” that started with the Mallory Memorandum. The author of this “History” was William M. LeoGrande, a noted scholar of U.S. -Cuba relations.
 Cuban Foreign Minister condemns the validity of the Mallory Memorandum and its repercussions on U.S. policy toward Cuba, Granma (Apr. 20, 2023)
2 thoughts on “State Department Secret Memo from 1960 Set Basis for Subsequent U.S. Policies Regarding Cuba”
Note that John Foster Dulles, with his villain anti-communism, was still secretary of State in 1960. his views infected our government for far too many years.
The Lester Mallory memorandum was declassified in the early 1990s and is the basis of the false claim by Obama and supporters of the former president’s normalization of relations with Cuba that the embargo on trade with Cuba was intended to topple Fidel Castro. When compartmentalizing the 1960 Mallory memorandum with the fact that Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered an embargo on US trade with the island (with an exemption for food and medicine) after Fidel Castro confiscated US-owned properties, it should be noted Eisenhower did not want an embargo in the first place, regardless of the fact that he probably knew that Mallory’s suggestion to use hunger and disease to try to bring down Castro’s government would be inhumane. A full embargo, Eisenhower conceded, would have the appearance of the US “acting not against [Fidel] Castro, but against the Cuban people.” The Christian Herter State Department agreed, predicting that an embargo might cripple the Cuban economy without dislodging the government. It is therefore possible that because the trade embargo was imposed in 1960 not to topple Fidel Castro but instead hold him accountable for seizing US-owned properties, there may be additional documents from 1960 in the Eisenhower Presidential Library waiting declassification suggesting that some State Department officials pushed back against Mallory’s suggestion of using hunger and disease to force the Cuban people to rise up against Fidel Castro on ethical and moral grounds despite Eisenhower’s alarm that Castro was aligning Cuba with the USSR.
In 1964, in response to criticism from a few congressmen, Lyndon B. Johnson closed the loophole in the trade embargo imposed by Eisenhower that had allowed for food sales to Cuba by banning food sales to the island.