President Kennedy discussed the possibility of assassinating Fidel Castro during the 1960 presidential campaign, according to former Californian Senator George Smathers, a close friend who frequently accompanied the President on trips to the South.
Senator Smathers, a political maverick, with Right-wing views on Latin America, made the statement in documents just released by the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library, published in the New York Times today: "I don’t know whether he brought it up or I brought it up. We had further conversations on the assassination of Fidel Castro, what would be the reaction, how would the people react, would the people be gratified."
"As I recollect," added Mr Smathers, who has since retired, "he was just throwing out a great barrage of questions – he was certain it could be accomplished – I remember that – it would be no great problem. But the question was whether it would accomplish that which he wanted it to, whether or not the reaction throughout South America would be good or bad and I talked with him about it; and frankly, at this particular time I felt and later on I learnt that he did, that I wasn’t so much for the idea of assassination, particularly where it could be pinned to the US."
When the assassination idea was discarded Mr Smathers suggested provoking an incident at the US Naval base at Guantanamo Bay on the eastern tip of Cuba as a pretext for a US invasion.