New Book Chronicles 50 Years of Covert U.S-Cuba Relations and Current Opportunity for Normalization

Posted Oct. 22, 2014

MP3 Interview with Peter Kornbluh, co-author of the book, "Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana", conducted by Scott Harris


Hostility between the United States and Cuba has been a central feature of the Cold War years – and well beyond. In fact, the U.S. diplomatic isolation and economic embargo against Cuba continues, long after Washington normalized relations with both Communist China and Vietnam, a nation against which the U.S. prosecuted a failed 10-year war costing more than 58,000 lives.

But a new book, “Back Channel To Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana,” reveals that behind the scenes, the U.S. and Cuban governments maintained secret communications, often via covert intermediaries, that included dialogue and negotiations on a range of issues, including repeated efforts to improve relations. One previously unknown potential crisis point described in the book, were plans for an all-out U.S. war against Cuba initiated in 1976 by then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who was outraged that Fidel Castro deployed Cuban troops to Angola in the mid 1970s to defend the African nation against CIA and South African sponsored rebels.

Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Peter Kornbluh, director of the Cuba Documentation Project at the National Security Archive and co-author with William LeoGrande of the new book, “Back Channel to Cuba.” Here, Kornbluh talks about the 50 years of covert negotiations between the U.S. and Cuba and his view that the time is now right for normalizing diplomatic relations between the two nations.

Learn more about the National Security Archive by visiting

Related Links: