Report: Castro Supported LBJ In 1964 Race

Saturday August 21 1:14 AM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Cuba's Fidel Castro told President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 that the U.S. leader could attack Cuba with words and deeds if it would help him win that year's presidential race, a researcher said Friday.

Castro wanted Johnson elected because the Cuban leader objected to the way the Republican Party and its nominee Barry Goldwater was using him and his Communist government as a way to discredit Johnson and the Democrats, according to Peter Kornbluh, a Latin American expert at the National Security Archive in Washington.

The Cuban leader offered his support to Johnson through a message passed through U.S. United Nations envoy Adelai Stevenson by Lisa Howard, a reporter for ABC News who was friendly with Castro, Kornbluh said.

Copies of Castro's message were found in the LBJ Library in Texas and in the personal papers of Howard, Kornbluh said.

``Please tell President Johnson that I earnestly desire his election... if there is anything I can do... I shall be happy to cooperate,'' Castro said, according to an article by Kornbluh in the October issue of Cigar Aficionado magazine.

``If the president feels it necessary during the campaign to make bellicose statements about Cuba, or even to take some hostile action, if he will inform me, unofficially... I shall understand and not take any serious retaliatory action,'' Castro said.

Even as he offered to ignore harsh words and U.S. saber-rattling toward Cuba, Castro made it clear he would not tolerate any serious attack, Kornbluh said.

``Later in the same message, Castro said: '''Please don't take my conciliatory tone as a sign of weakness, that would be a big mistake,'' Kornbluh said.

Castro's message was his attempt to continue with Johnson a diplomatic initiative toward warmer U.S-Cuban relations President John F. Kennedy had begun before his assassination in November 1963, according to Kornbluh.

``Both Washington and Havana were interested in a dialogue,'' toward normal relations, Kornbluh told Reuters.

Copyright 1996-1999 Reuters Limited

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