Camarioca crisis in 1965

Acting on behalf of the United States, in 1965 Swiss ambassador Emil A. Stadelhofer negotiated with Cuba the safe airlift of Cuban refugees from Varadero to Miami.

In September 1965, Cuban leader Fidel Castro declared that Cuban citizens would be allowed to make the journey by boat from Camarioca to Florida. Florida was soon overburdened by an influx of Cuban refugees, prompting US warnings of an impending catastrophe. The US authorities asked the Swiss ambassador to Cuba to negotiate the safe airlift of Cubans.

On 6 November 1965, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding under which two daily flights would leave Varadero, Cuba, for Miami, Florida.   Over the next seven years, some 260,000 opponents of the regime would emigrate to the United States.

Switzerland not only played a substantive role in the negotiations between the United States and Cuba but also registered every person who left Cuba. The British ambassador to Cuba at the time, Adam Watson, referred to Emil A. Stadelhofer as “the most outstanding diplomat in Havana“.

Diplomatic Documents of Switzerland: (fr) (de) (de) (fr) (fr) (de) (de) (de) (fr) (de)

Last update 03.05.2023

Start of page