E. Howard Negroponte,
INT: Could you make that point to me? Because don't forget that we'll lose my question. Just make the point that under the Eisenhower Administration, such and such had been planned, but then there was a change of president.
HH: That's right. Under the Eisenhower Administration, this commitment was made to me, and through me to the Cuban exiles who were going to do the actual fighting. Then, in the midst of all that, there was a national election here in November, and the Administration changed. And things were static for a matter of weeks, and our natives there were getting very restless in their training camps, and I was summoned down on one occasion to, quote, "put down a mutiny", unquote, which was a rather hysterical,, appreciation of the situation that just simply meant that these men had been told that they were going to be able to get moving soon, and that hadn't happened. So, it was really after Christmas that year before Kennedy's group gave what turned out to be a limited approval, and Dean Rusk insisted on a change in the original plan: he said that an airborne landing at Trinidad, quartering the country, would be too obviously American and it would result in a big bang, and he wanted something with a smaller bang. And... so, despite all of these difficulties and changes and everything, the brigades... they set off from Nicaragua and from Guatemala ports to... headed for southern Cuba, and we had our own fighter aircraft go in and strafe the Cuban airfield, to put down the... suppress any hostile air. But as it turned out, they didn't get all of the aircraft; they came back to Miami and to Honduras and Nicaragua to rearm. And at that point, they were told to stand down, and that gave... and meanwhile, our ships are heading for the Cuban coast, and by then Castro, of course, was alarmed, the planes having gone in and strafed Havana, for Lord's sake, so he was on a high alert, and our ships were unprotected. Finally, we got a semi-OK to arm the aircraft and get them moving. By that time, the Cuban air force, which only had I think six aircraft left, but could fight for a while and then land, refuel and take off, just the way the Brits did in World War II, the Royal Air Force... it was their home, and we had to fly 1,000 miles, so that was very difficult for our pilots, many of which were shot down. So the reason that the Bay of Pigs failed was that the original promise made by Eisenhower was not kept by the subsequent Administration. It allowed hostile air to wipe out the approaching invasion force.
INT: Why do you hate communists and communism so much? What does it actually mean, communism, and why did you base (Overlap)...
HH: (Overlap) Well, it mea...
INT: ... you had a career that was based on fighting it.
HH: Well, that's true. ... to me, communism is a... it's a graveyard of skulls, of very unhappy people, below the level of the top bureaucracy. ... communism is an expansive form of political theory: it has to keep eating on its neighbors, finding new aggressive activities to keep itself going, fuelling itself. It itself is fuelled on hatred, hatred of capitalism, hatred of so-called imper, when yet it's the greatest imperialist power the world has ever known. (Slight overlap) There's a basic hypocrisy about them.
INT: Why do you think it was the United States, above and way beyond any other country, that particularly took on communism, because their perception was that this was not going to happen?
HH: I can't think of another country that could have done it. Think of the world at the end World War II: all of the Allies were frustrated; France was finished for a generation; Great Britain was licking its wounds, its casituation was terrible; forget the Scandinavian countries - they have always had a free ride out of whatever the rest of the world wanted to do to protect them; Italy... Who are we talking about as possible bearers of the torch? It had to be the United States. Of course, there was a great deal of self-interest there, too.
INT: Yes. In Latin America... it's true to say that Latin America had quite a long and bloody Cold War, because as soon as one situation was solved, in terms of the fight against communism, it seemed that another one would pop along. You had the Cubas and the Chiles and the Nicaraguas and the Salvadors. Do you think there was a particular reason for that, or was it that the Soviet Union and Cuba were so determined to interfere in your backyard?
HH: Well, not that it was Uncle Sam's backyard, but that there were ripe opportunities: there was economic misery in a lot of the continent, and very, very fertile ground for communism, and as always, they took advantage of existing situations and manipulated them and exploited them. , Argentina is a good example. They never got into Montevideo, because the uruguayos that I dealt with were very complacent people and they were very useful to the Soviets because they didn't take any anti-Communist stand. ... the problem basically in Latin America has been a class warfare type of thing: the haves versus the have-nots, and there will always in the world be many more have-nots than haves, and that is where communism was able to achieve such signal successes.
INT: Thanks very much - that's brilliant.
INT: American business interests in Latin America were and became massive during the period of the Cold War, and so the agencies' role in the areas, in this so-called backyard, became even more important, because there was a lot of money out there at stake. Could you tell me something about how that influence was spread around?
HH: American influence?
HH: Well, when you take each country by... name and consider what it offers the rest of the world, and initially the United States, in terms of raw materials, you think of oil in the northern quarter of South America, you think of beef-cattle and hides and wool, you think of mines in Cuba... in Chile, I mean, copper, all that sort of thing; in Colombia, tremendous deposits of iron ore. All of these things are essential for a free society, and a free society must have access to them, uninhibited by the sort of strangulation that communism imposes on any economy that it takes over. And as we know, money determines elections in the United States, and where Braden's Copper companies in Chile and United Fruit in Guatemala, Standard Oil, I suppose, in the northern quadrant of South America - they want their properties protected, and they're entitled to have that protection; and if the local governments won't do it, then the United States has to take a paternalistic role, in my opinion. I wouldn't want to be part of that, because that's not my brief, but I can understand the rationale for it - and as you say, there was a great deal of money involved.
INT: Do you think you had a good Cold War?
HH: I would say this in terms of my career, that my career provided me with everything that I wanted, and I think a man is fortunate if he can say that at the end of his life.
INT: But you won.
HH: We won.
INT: Thanks a lot.
HH: Thank you.