237. Memorandum from C. Tracy Barnes to McCone, January 21

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  • Material for Policy Meeting on Cuba, 3 January 1961

1. The present [less than 1 line not declassified] preparations and activities are:

a. Propaganda. An extensive propaganda program involving the use of radio facilities (mainly Swan Island and WRUL); the publication of newspapers (exile editions of [less than 1 line not declassified] and [less than 1 line not declassified]; magazines ([less than 1 line not declassified]); and newsletters. Moreover, a boat has been equipped for radio broadcasts and leaflet drops have been made (one 3-plane drop and one 1-plane drop by us plus at least one leaflet drop by another anti-Castro group not aligned with us). Also, speaking tours throughout Latin America have been arranged and various opposition symbols (e.g., the fish) have and are being built up.

b. Political Action. Political action involving mainly an effort to unite the opposition, to build up the FRD, to consolidate views regarding a platform for a post-Castro regime and discussions with the State Department regarding the membership for and the appropriate procedure for designating a provisional government. A number of problems are involved in this connection (mentioned below) such as official recognition of a provisional government, aid that it will be granted, etc.

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c. Economic Action: Economic action involving sabotage which it is hoped may be increased and discussions with the State Department and business interests regarding embargoes including the denial of important spare parts.

d. Paramilitary Action: Paramilitary action involving the introduction of communicators and specialist teams to support internal opposition plus air drops of matériel and infiltration of bodies and matériel by sea. It is also planned in the near future to return some political figures to encourage more active internal opposition. Meanwhile, additional teams and communicators are being held in Panama for later infiltration, approximately 500 men are being trained in Guatemala, a small air force is being established and some maritime assets developed. Additional recruitments are being made in an effort to raise the total [Typeset Page 585] trainees to 750. The readiness date for these trainees at present is mid February.

The general paramilitary plan contemplates a landing at some point of the Cuban trainees in a single force of approximately 650 men which would leave a few trainees as reserves. It is hoped that this landing may establish some sort of a beachhead on Cuban soil into which representatives of a provisional government can be introduced. It is hoped at this stage that this government will then be recognized as the government of Cuba by at least the United States and hopefully the United States and a number of Latin American countries. Once this is done, it is further hoped that some reasonably overt assistance can be [Facsimile Page 3] provided. Basic to the plan is the expectation that not only the paramilitary teams mentioned above but even more the landing in force will encourage and produce active internal opposition to Castro.

2. There are a number of important unsettled issues inherent in the above activities and planning and it is presumed that these points will provide the main basis for discussion at the 3 January meeting.

a. There have been some recent suggestions that a major effort should be made prior to 20 January. In the absence of substantial support from other elements of the Government, it would be impossible for the [less than 1 line not declassified] paramilitary plan to meet any such requirement. It is always possible, of course, that the present step-up of support to internal groups, including introduction of teams, may achieve a more substantial internal reaction than anticipated. If so, such a reaction should of course be given maximum support and could conceivably achieve the results planned for the subsequent more substantial landing. Unfortunately, however, this seems a rather remote possibility.

b. U.S. diplomatic efforts to obtain Latin American support. Pawley’s recent trip to Argentina and Peru falls into this category. It would seem useful, however, to increase such efforts and to include a member of other countries particularly Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and possibly Costa Rica, Equador, Chile and Honduras. Mexico would, of course, be opposed. Nothing can be done in Brazil since Quadres has made himself unavailable until 1 February. Nicaragua will probably require some negotiating since [Facsimile Page 4] we are still going ahead with preparations for a strike base at Puerto Cabezas. In view of the attitude of a number of Central American countries to the Samoans, however, it would seem better not to press the diplomatic approach too hard in Nicaragua. I believe that the State Department is willing and even anxious to pursue this general course on a bi-lateral basis as distinguished from the OAS but is holding back on the grounds that the policy, particularly from the new administration, is not clear. Moreover, in order to be successful with certain of the above countries, a more active anti-Trujillo position [Typeset Page 586] must be adopted by the U.S. In this connection, it is possible that some headway could be made with Betancourt and others with his point of view by offering later aid against Trujillo in return for present aid against Cuba. This may not be very persuasive since Betancourt, et al, are only interested in actions, having been given in their opinion words without action for much too long. This diplomatic effort should attempt to obtain a joint understanding regarding termination of relations with Cuba (where it has not already occurred) and the recognition of a Cuban provisional government at an appropriate moment and the support of this provisional government as required including some arms, hopefully some men, and some money although this is perhaps less important at the moment. We should push at the January 3 meeting to get this effort started immediately.

c. The questions as to how and when a provisional government should be named is wholly unresolved. Our position is that at least [Facsimile Page 5] the top individuals should be selected by the State Department in consultation with us. When selected, we feel that the individuals should only be told immediately before being dispatched to some Cuban-held real estate. We believe that if it is done any sooner, the political battles within the Cuban emigres will be unmanageable. If, on the other hand, the selected leaders become the only ones on Cuban soil, their position is far less vulnerable. There is, of course, the question of their acceptance by the internal resistance which cannot be answered in advance. There should, of course, be some high positions for leaders emerging within the internal opposition. Tom Mann has argued that the provisional government should be named at an earlier date on the grounds that under such circumstances recognition might be obtained by some Latin American countries as well as by the U.S. For the reasons mentioned above, we cannot agree to this position and feel that the Latin American countries recognition must occur after the introduction of the provisional government into Cuba. It is hoped that the 3 January meeting will decide that immediate steps should be taken to determine or at least to screen thoroughly names for leaders of a provisional government as well as to prepare an agreed plan for how they should be named.

d. The economic aid which will be given to the provisional government is still unsettled. This involves determinations not only as to the extent of such aid but the proper time for its announcement. [Facsimile Page 6] Moreover, decisions should be reached as to how much military aid can be given to help the provisional government overthrow the Castro regime. It may be that this latter will not be necessary but the planning should certainly assume that it will. Presumably, once the provisional government has been recognized, support similar to that recently given Guatemala and Nicaragua could be provided on request, i.e., protection from certain invasion or intervention. This would go a long way to secure [Typeset Page 587] the beachhead. The next question is to what extent aid can be provided to enable the provisional government to move out of its own beachhead in order to take the rest of Cuba. It is hoped that in addition to providing materiel arrangements can be made to give the provisional government thinly veiled volunteers. These volunteers will, hopefully, include some disguised soldiers from other Latin American countries (as a result of the negotiations mentioned above) plus some disguised Americans. Both the materiel and the man should be turned over within the beachhead.

e. Another unsettled point which needs deciding is the extent to which planning can go forward on the use of U.S. soil to support the [less than 1 line not declassified] invasion in its early phases. Both air strikes and air drops will be much more practical and effective if they can be run from the U.S. If not, Nicaragua is the only other available spot and this due to distance will be difficult though feasible. In this connection it is hoped that the beachhead acquired will have some air facilities to which at least some if not all of the FRD air force can be moved.

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f. Another issue which may well be raised by Tom Mann is the possibility of transferring the [less than 1 line not declassified] trainees from Guatemala to the U.S. He will also possibly argue that the Nicaraguan strike base should not be used. His reasons for this are that the operation is essentially a U.S. one and as a matter of honor we should do what we can to protect the shaky governments of Nicaragua and Guatemala from having to take the rap. Our position on this is that we have no desire to move the trainees unless it is absolutely necessary since to do so will cause unquestionably a morale problem and equally certainly the presence of the trainees in the U.S. will become as well known as their presence in Guatemala is now known. This being true, the operation in effect becomes overt and official as well since the trainees will be occupying a U.S. base. If we are prepared to go this far, it would seem better to go the whole way and simply do the job with the Marines. On the other hand, we are prepared to bring the trainees to a staging area in the U.S., if one can be found, just prior to the landing. This would seem to take care of Tom Mann’s problem and would not raise too many difficulties since the group could be closely contained for a period of 36 to 48 hours. Moreover, there would be no morale problem since a brief stop of this type could not be construed by the trainees as a further delay. As far as the Nicaraguan strike base is concerned, our position is merely that we must use it unless we can receive authority to use some other base within an acceptable range. On present facts, the only other bases fitting this requirement are in the U.S.

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g. Further briefings of the new administration are being pushed by the Department. Our view on this is that since the operation cannot [Typeset Page 588] fail to continue into the new administration, it is important that appropriate officials are knowledgeable. Moreover, there are a few decisions regarding preparations on which it would be very useful to have their views. From our point of view these are:

(1) Approval of the general outline of the plan in order to justify expenditures now being made in preparations.

(2) Attitude toward possible use in the future of U.S. bases in order to permit selection and placing of inventories.

(3) Continuation of trainees in Guatemala and preparation of Nicaraguan strike base. These are only important in case there is any likelihood of a decision for sudden change after 20 January.

(4) Attitude regarding the diplomatic and provisional government points made above to the extent and only to the extent that the State Department refuses to proceed without an indication of the new attitude. In my opinion, the Department should proceed anyhow on the points indicated but since they have been hesitant to do so, there is a practical issue here.

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h. The State Department may also raise the desirability of the U.S. breaking relations with Cuba in the near future, possibly within the next week or ten days. It seems to us that there are two aspects to this problem: one, the operational effect it may have on us; and the other the advantages which it might gain for the U.S. through favorable reactions from other Latin American countries. Although our [less than 1 line not declassified] is necessarily restricted, there are still definite benefits to be obtained from its presence. As far as other Latin American countries are concerned, it seems to me that these benefits can be equally obtained through the diplomatic discussions mentioned above which, of course, will include consideration of a break in relations and the proper time to do it. We would prefer, therefore, to have the U.S. delay an actual diplomatic break.

C. Tracy Barnes
  1. Material for January 3 policy meeting on Cuba, Secret. 9 pp. CIA, DDO/DDP Files: Job 67–01083R, Box 1, C.T. Barnes—Chrono, Jan–Jul 1961.