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LBJ Takes Action on Guantanamo

Feb. 8, 1964 - President Johnson ordered the Defense Department last night to make the Guantanamo Naval Base completely independent of Cuban water supplies and Cuban-controlled labor. The White House declared that Mr. Johnson “does not intend to submit the security or the welfare” of Guantanamo servicemen and their families “to further irresponsible actions of the Cuban government.” In an obvious warning to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, the White House also declared that “the consequences of further provocations” by Cuban Premier Fidel Castro “should be carefully weighed by all nations.” The White House charged that the water cutoff, which began Thursday at 12 p.m., “deliberately broke” a 1938 agreement personally endorsed by Castro in 1958. The White House called Castro’s action “reckless and irresponsible.” The Presidential order to the Defense Department called on the military to assure complete U.S. control over all base water supplies through sea water conversion and tanker shipments. Officials said the U.S would refuse to accept any further water deliveries from the Castro regime. Castro had offered to provide one hour of pumping daily immediately and full resumption if the U.S. agreed to release 36 captured Cuban fishermen. Secretary of State Dean Rusk declared earlier that the U.S. would not be blackmailed into trading the fishermen for water. The U.S. Navy said morale at Guantanamo was high and that there would be ample water for all hands.


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