293. 12/12/1963

“Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General, ‘Travel to Cuba,’ December 12, 1963. In a comprehensive memorandum to Secretary of State Dean Rusk, [Attorney General] Robert Kennedy presented the arguments for legalizing travel to Cuba before a number of student groups traveled there at Christmas time. There were two courses of action, he wrote: new efforts to block increased travel to Cuba, or ‘to withdraw the existing regulation prohibiting such trips. The first is unlikely to meet the problem and I favor the second,’ Kennedy informed Rusk. In his memo he presented several arguments for lifting the travel ban: that it was a violation of American liberties to restrict free travel; that it was impractical to arrest, indict and engage in ‘distasteful prosecutions’ of scores of U.S. citizens who sought to go to Cuba; and that lifting the travel ban was likely to diminish the attraction of leftists who were organizing protest trips to Havana. ‘For all these reasons I believe that it would be wise to remove restrictions on travel to Cuba before we are faced with problems which are likely to be created in the immediate future.’” [Con Embargo]

“Robert F. Kennedy urged lifting travel ban to Cuba in ’63: Document 1: Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General, ‘Travel to Cuba,’ December 12, 1963,” The National Security Archive, nsarchive2.gwu.ed, April 23, 2009

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