Plane Hijackings between Cuba and the United States and the Opportunity for Diplomacy (1958–1973)

Dan Porat*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Between 1958 and 1973, hijackings between Cuba and the US surged, prompting Cuban officials in the early 1960s to propose an extradition agreement for hijackers. However, the US, leveraging its superpower status, dismissed these initiatives, viewing hijackers as political asylum seekers rather than criminals. By the late 1960s, as hijackings escalated from the US to Cuba, the American approach shifted, seeking a bilateral agreement to address air piracy, only to be rebuffed by Cuba, which refused to accept the US’s categorization of specific hijackers as political asylum seekers while classifying others as criminals. Meanwhile, the US pressed its extradition stance through international bodies like the International Civil Aviation Organization. These diplomatic efforts underscored broader challenges in US–Cuban relations, with negotiations repeatedly missing opportunities for enhanced co-operation. A pivotal shift occurred after a significant incident threatened both nations, leading to a more balanced perspective between the US and Cuba. This change culminated in the 1973 signing of a ‘Memorandum of understanding’, marking a turning point that significantly curbed hijacking incidents and hinted at potential future improvements in bilateral relations.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalHistorical Journal
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2024. Published by Cambridge University Press.


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