600. Memorandum From the Director of the Office of Research and Analysis for American Republics (Hall) and the Director of the Office of Research and Analysis for Sino-Soviet Bloc (Crawford) to the Director of Intelligence and Research (Cumming)1


  • Soviet Intentions Toward Cuba and Communist-Type Controls Instituted by the Castro Government
The USSR is determined to provide expanded trade, economic and technical assistance necessary to help the Cuban government sustain and expand the Cuban economy. Moscow seeks by this means to increase Soviet political influence over the Castro regime and to demonstrate to other prospective Castro-like regimes in Latin America that they can become economically “independent” of the US through Bloc aid.
Moscow is also determined to provide Cuba military equipment on a large scale for the purposes of extending Soviet influence, meeting Cuban military requirements, and eventual export to other potential Castros.
It remains our judgment that Moscow would not actually intervene with its military forces if the Castro regime were attacked by anti-Castro forces. However, the Soviets could be expected to step up arms assistance and to launch a vigorous missile-flexing campaign—along the lines of Suez—in an effort to deter the anti-Castro intervention. This in turn could give rise to the possibility of miscalculation or overcommitment on the Soviets’ part.
Assuming effective Soviet control of the local Communist movement in Cuba, Moscow will continue to direct these forces to infiltrate the Castro regime and Cuban political, economic and social institutions wherever possible. However, in our judgment, the Soviets would not want the Communists to attempt to seize open control in Cuba for some time to some, particularly so long as the present East-West military balance is maintained. The current Cuban situation has many advantages from the Soviet point of view; an openly established Communist regime would mean a loss of actual or potential sympathy and support from Latin American nationalists and would force the Soviets to choose between two disadvantageous alternatives in the event of a US intervention—either an effective Soviet counterintervention, [Page 1107] with serious risk of general war, or Soviet failure to intervene, with potentially serious consequences for the maintenance of Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.
The classic Communist pattern of takeover in Eastern Europe involved among other things: 1. Infiltration of Communists and fellow-travelers into key positions in the government and the economy, 2. Elimination of the upper and middle classes through (a) redistribution of the land, (b) redistribution of housing, and (c) nationalization of industry, banking and commerce. A similar process has already progressed to a high degree in Cuba. The Cubans have also adopted from the Chinese Communists an additional important technique of control, i.e. the establishment of an armed people’s militia on a wide scale, which has in effect replaced the Cuban army. These controls are fast being imposed largely along traditional Communist lines, even if the facade of a noncommunist revolution is being preserved.
By force and by persuasion, relying primarily on Communist penetration, Castro has assumed control over all sources of power in Cuba and most facets of Cuban daily life. He has eliminated all opposition political parties, except the Communist Party. He has taken over the military, newspapers, bureaucracy, intelligence organizations, communications media, labor, the banks, and professional organizations. He has taken control of much urban and rural property and close to a billion dollars in US property. He has fanned anti-Americanism as a device to unify popular support and divert attention from internal problems.
Based on the techniques applied and the present course of events in Cuba, controls in the future will be extended and increased over: internal travel, church activities, principally church schools, education and youth. Further nationalization of Cuban business, an extensive purge of the Cuban diplomatic corps and further regimentation of the work force is also expected.
The effect of these controls will be to make successful resistance to the regime progressively more difficult. Although internal resistance to Castro’s methods and government has tended to rise sharply in the past six months, the curve of resistance is expected to fall off as opposition elements leave the country or are neutralized.
  1. Source: Department of State, S/P Files: Lot 67 D 548, Cuba 1959–1961. Secret. Drafted by John P. Shaw (INR/RSB) and Robert W. Dean (INR/RAR).