When President Obama changed U.S. policy toward Cuba last winter, many people were surprised. But they shouldn’t have been: Every president since Eisenhower has tried to melt the Cold War ice encasing U.S.–Cuba relations, using secret, back-channel communications.
William LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh explored this secret diplomacy as they uncovered hundreds of formerly undisclosed American documents and interviewed dozens of negotiators, intermediaries, and policy makers, including Fidel Castro and Jimmy Carter. The results of this intense investigation are revealed in their new book, Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana (University of North Carolina Press). It includes ten critical lessons for American negotiators and offers a key perspective on the normalization process underway. It also illuminates a fascinating passage in U.S.–Cuban relations as it continues to evolve.
LeoGrande is a professor of government at The American University, and Kornbluh directs the Cuba Documentation Project at the National Security Archive. Back Channel to Cuba is available for signing after the program.