233. Memorandum from Joseph W. Scott to Livingston Merchant, December 61

[Facsimile Page 1]

The first part of the attached paper recommends a program of action in the overt field designed to bring about the removal of the Castro regime.

We now need your reaction to Part One before meeting with Tracy Barnes in preparing the second part, which will recommend covert actions designed to supplement and reinforce the suggested overt program.

Tom Mann and Hugh Cumming have seen and concurred with Part One.

Joseph W. Scott
Special Assistant
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Tom Mann called last night and made the following four points regarding the attached draft, dated December 6, on Cuba.

1. The section on Basic Assumptions commits us to a short time table. I pointed out that this section was written in anticipation of a Special National Intelligence Estimate on the subject which is due Friday, December 9.

2. The last sentence of the Basic Assumptions section (page 2) may be a non-sequitur. I agreed that it might be and said I thought the sentence could be deleted.

3. On page 4, para 2a, Tom felt the training program should be spelled out, particularly with reference to drawing a distinction between training for overt and covert purposes. He agreed that this could be done by means of an additional tab.

4. With regard to para 2b on page 4, Tom estimates there may be 2 to 3 thousand “hard core” Americans who can’t be encouraged to leave Cuba under any foreseeable circumstances and that appropriate [Typeset Page 564] account should be taken of this. We will pursue this further and see that it is included for consideration in subsequent drafts.

Joseph W. Scott
Special Assistant


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  • A Suggested Program for Cuba

Part One of this paper recommends a program of action in the overt [illegible in the original] the removal of the Castro regime. Part Two recomends covert actions designed to supplement and reinforce the suggested program.


I. Basic Assumptions

Time is running against us in the Cuban situation. In the foreseeable future (the next year to 15 months) the curve of effective totalitarian controls over the people in Cuba will rise at a faster rate than will the curve of dissatisfaction and potential resistance to the Castro regime (See Tab A). Economic dislocations will occur but will not lead to the collapse or significant weakening of the Castro regime. Political, social and psychological controls will facilitate any further belt-tightening required. In addition, the Soviet bloc can and will provide the assistance necessary to prevent serious deterioration in the Cuban economy in the short run and to permit an expansion of economic capabilities over the longer term. The Soviet Union will continue to support the military buildup in Cuba and will unstintingly exert its political and military influence—short of risking general war—to sustain the present regime in Cuba (See Tabs B and C).

The Castro regime will continue a course parallel or subservient to the policies of international Communism. It will continue its efforts to minimize the position of the United States and to spread the Castro [Facsimile Page 4] revolution to other countries in the Western Hemisphere. Given the serious social and economic pressures building up in most countries of Latin America and the weaknesses of many of the present governments, the chances of the establishment of one or more Castro-like governments over the next year to 15 months are appreciable. Indefinite prolongation of the Castro empire and its present policies is intolerable from the standpoint of the internal security of the United States.

II. Suggested Solution

Back through a Meeting of Foreign Ministers commencing February 1, 1961, collective OAS action under the [illegible in the original] Treaty [Typeset Page 565] for severance of diplomatic relations with Cuba, application of economic sanctions, authorization for inter-American [illegible in the original] activity and increased measures by Member States to protect their borders and strengthen their internal security.

Failure to [illegible in the original] effective OAS action, and without prejudice to further multilateral effort, seek to persuade as many Latin American states as possible to accompany us in unilateral severance of relations with Cuba and a [illegible in the original] of the foregoing measures. Make known our readiness to respond favorably to requests for naval and air patrol action from governments threatened by Cuban-based aggression.

Promote the establishment of a government-in-exile with control over some portion of the territory of Cuba; seek to persuade other governments to join us in extending recognition thereto as soon as possible after collective or unilateral severance of relations with the Castro regime; and assist through personnel training and other material support the efforts of that group to expand the area under its control to include all of Cuba.

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III. Measures to Implement Proposed Solution

1. Seek Collective Action Through the Organization of American States

The obligations and responsiblities undertaken by the United States or a member of the inter-American system require that every effort be used to bring about a solution of the Cuban problem without resort to [illegible in the original]. It is therefore incumbent upon us to attempt, in the first instance, to achieve such a solution through the mechanism and procedures of the OAS.

Ideally, we [illegible in the original] work to have some one or more Latin American governments take the initiative in calling the meeting of Foreign Ministers and [illegible in the original] the necessary resolutions aimed at Castro. Should this be impossible, however, the United States should itself take the lead and [illegible in the original] forcefully to have such a meeting on February 1, 1961 (Tab F).

At a meeting of Foreign Ministers, member states should be asked to sever diplomatic relations with Cuba until such time as its government and policies cease to represent a threat to the peace, tranquility, stability and security of the inter-American community. In addition to this, member states should be asked to apply thorough going economic sanctions both to imports from Cuba and exports thereto.

Finally, and without prejudice to the right of the United States to act in response to direct requests for assistance, stand-by authorization should be sought for inter-American patrol activity by air and surface craft of member states when necessary to impede movements of men, arms, [Facsimile Page 6] supplies or other instruments of Cuban-sponsored aggression or subversion against another American state.

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2. Initiate [illegible in the original] Action by the United States, to include:

a. [illegible in the original] Training Program

[illegible in the original] any future government in Cuba be competent [illegible in the original] with United States interests, we should begin now to select and train a group of Cubans in government operations and public and [illegible in the original]. This training, to begin without delay, should be [illegible in the original] of the new program to be mounted by a special representative of the President for the relief and rehabilitation [illegible in the original] of Cuban refugees now concentrated in the Florida [illegible in the original] financial from Mutual Security Act funds (Tabs D and E)

b. Severance of Diplomatic Relations

If collective action through the OAS to sever relations with Cuba [illegible in the original] and if more Latin American states refuse to join us in such action, the United States should unilaterally sever diplomatic relations with the Castro regime.

Prior to severing relations, we should take steps to encourage the departure of U.S. citizens from Cuba, and we should assume that it will not be possible or feasible to maintain consular offices in the country.

Full explanation of our action should be furnished promptly to our NATO allies and through our diplomatic missions to governments around the world. All instruments of diplomacy and propaganda should [Facsimile Page 7] be focused on all-out effort to secure if not parallel action at least worldwide understanding and support of our step.

c. Economic Sanctions

Immediately following the severance of diplomatic relations, [illegible in the original] as against Cuba. Export controls already in place should be further [illegible in the original] by elimination of [illegible in the original] and medicines. Authorization should be [illegible in the original] to impede the flow of Cuban imports into this country; financial controls should be applied to all transactions involving Cuba; and our NATO allies should be [illegible in the original]-type controls against Cuba.

d. Recognition of Cuban Government-in-Exile

[illegible in the original] relations with the Castro [illegible in the original] recognize a government-in-exile. To this end, we should begin now [illegible in the original] to select a junta which would be qualified [illegible in the original] for an acceptable political alternative for the Cuban people and [illegible in the original] successor government (Tab G). It is [illegible in the original] that the junta be able to attract the support of large numbers of Cubans within Cuba as well as outside. In addition, it should be able to [illegible in the original] in support of military force able to establish a [illegible in the original] on the island [Typeset Page 567] of Cuba and hold it until outside aid is available. The junta should [illegible in the original] that when this point is reached, the United States would respond favorably to [illegible in the original] requests for help in the form of:

(1) military supplies and equipment,

(2) civilian emergency aid (of Red Cross type),

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(3) financial assistance,

(4) diplomatic support, and

(5) press and other news media support. (Tab H)

A centrally developed campaign should be started, as soon as an acceptable government-in-exile announces itself publicly, to build up [illegible in the original] of its leaders and to line up Latin American support for the government. Similar efforts ultimately will be necessary in the UN. (Tab F)

e. Overt Assistance to Government-in-Exile

[illegible in the original] extended recognition, the United States should approach other friendly governments to follow suit. It should maintain open [illegible in the original] of the government-in-exile and of [illegible in the original] assist them in their [illegible in the original] to other governments with appropriate requests for equipment, supplies, facilities, and financial assistance. Additionally, those Cuban refugees training or rehabilitated in this country prior to establishment of the government-in-exile should be encouraged to place themselves at its [illegible in the original] and to work with it in preparing for eventual return to Cuba and assumption of government responsibilities.

f. Prevention of Movement of Arms and Men from Cuba to OAS Member States and/or Naval Blockade of Cuba

Consideration should be given to the establishment of a cordon sanitaire around Cuba. The moral and legal position of the United States would be considerably better if we were to act in response to the request of other member states. Therefore, the United States should announce [Facsimile Page 9] publicly its readiness to respond favorably to requests for naval and air [illegible in the original] governments threatened by Cuban-based aggression.

[illegible in the original] that may prove necessary and feasible and would consider the possibility of instituting a naval blockade (Tabs I and J). [illegible in the original]).


[illegible in the original] by Agency.)

IV. Recommendations

1. [illegible in the original] approval is obtained from the Secretary, a Special [illegible in the original], and the President for the course of [Typeset Page 568] action outlined herein. [illegible in the original] through collective action if possible and unilateral [illegible in the original] the replacement of the present Cuban Government with [illegible in the original] from the standpoint of United States interests.

2. That, if the above approval is obtained, the concurrence of the President-elect be sought.

  1. Transmits memorandum recommending a program of covert action to remove the Castro regime. Top Secret. 9 pp. DOS, INR/IL Historical Files, Cuba Program, Nov. 1960–Jan. 20, 1961.