269. Memorandum from Woodward to Bowles, July 201

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  • Cuban Program Paper

I suggest that you concur in the recommendations contained in the Cuban Program Paper. This bureau is, of course, unable to determine the exact amounts needed for the fields specified, but approves of the activities contained in the proposed program.

It is hoped, in fact, that, consistent with careful planning, all of these activities will vigorously and promptly be promoted as a means of generating a renewed hope within the Cuban people.

I will wish to be informed in more detail with respect to individual activities contemplated and especially with regard to those which might have an impact upon foreign relations with other countries. Under the latter might be included plans for forward operating bases, training sites, and communications facilities. I think it extremely important that plausible cover protect all of these activities.



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  • The Special Group


  • Cuban Program Paper

The attached paper replaces the Cuban Program Paper discussed at the 29 June Special Group Meeting except for Annex A which remains unchanged and is, therefore, not resubmitted.

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Program of Covert Action Directed at the Castro Regime


a. The basic objective of the program is to provide support to a U.S. program to develop Cuban political leadership in opposition to Castro and to help bring about a regime acceptable to the U.S. which one achieve sufficient strength to overthrow the Castro regime and take its place.

b. It is estimated that at the moment the Castro regime is strong politically, is steadily increasing its military strength (e.g., receipt of jets), has an active and reasonably efficient internal police system and is prepared to enforce Soviet type methods to stay in power. Consequently, the objective stated above will be very difficult to attain, will take a considerable period of time, and will involve both activities within Cuba and support of such activities from outside Cuba.

c. Although invasion by U.S. forces could achieve the destruction of the Castro regime, it is assumed that there is no present intention to undertake such an invasion and, in the absence of some substantial and unexpected change in the situation, some to do as in the foreseeable future. Similarly it is assumed that there is no present U.S. intention to support any attempted large scale landing by Cubans or other non-Americans or even to authorize or encourage [Facsimile Page 4] training outside of Cuba of any substantial groups for the possibility of such an invasion. Moreover, there is no present U.S. belief that opposition elements within Cuba can be developed to the point where they can overthrow the Castro regime by military or paramilitary action absent some significant change in Cuban attitudes resulting in a large disaffection of potentially [Typeset Page 657] controlling elements, such as important political leaders (e.g., Che Guevara) or large segments of the militia.

d. Despite the foregoing, it is believed that limited, carefully and cautiously planned acts of a paramilitary nature can be helpful to the overall program as contributions to political results. Unless circumstances change, paramilitary acts as such are probably undesirable but they can be very helpful and constructive in bolstering morale; aiding the opposition in its recruitment; giving evidence to the regime and the populace of active opposition; and providing confirmation to outside support with respect to a capability for action (this is particularly persuasive if it can be demonstrated as action susceptible of coordination through responsiveness to some outside control). The incentives and encouragement provided by this type of activity is especially effective and important in a police state where it is the only outlet for opposition expression in an otherwise clandestine and unobtrusive existence. Moreover, it is quite possible that circumstances may arise in Cuba which would justify sabotage [Facsimile Page 5] against selected targets (e.g. oil refineries and sugar mills) with a view to causing economic difficulties for the Castro regime.

e. In view of the foregoing, the initial goal of a covert action program is to collect all possible intelligence with regard to the situation within Cuba, the attitude of the Cuban people and particularly the existence of actual or potential elements in opposition to the Castro regime. Such information will be sought through independent U.S. assets or through assets belonging to existing Cuban political groups. As to the latter, there are a number which have a political philosophy acceptable to the U.S. and which appear to have usable assets within Cuba. None of these groups, at least for the moment, appears to have sufficiently strong leadership or programs to justify its selection as a potential successor government to Castro. Consequently, any of these groups having assets in Cuba and in no way representing a Communist or Batista-type extremist political attitude will be worked with and supported from the operational (as distinct from the political) point of view.

f. A second immediate goal of a covert action program must be to try to identify political leadership that might with proper aid develop strength in Cuba adequate to overthrow and succeed Castro. As soon as such leadership can be identified, decisions will have to be taken with regard to focusing U.S. support behind such leadership and [Facsimile Page 6] doing everything possible to accentuate its influence.

g. The budget (Annex A) requested for the covert program is of necessity an estimate. Moreover, since the period involved extends over a fairly substantial period of time (i.e. through FY 1962), the estimates have necessarily been formulated on assumptions that may never materialize, e.g., support of guerrilla groups has been budgeted [Typeset Page 658] on the basis of the development of such groups, activity on their part plus the desirability of providing support. In order to adjust to the actual facts as they develop, it is proposed, if the budget is approved, to request initially only 50% of the total budget and to review the situation carefully prior to further withdrawals.


The activities budgeted in Annex A fall into the following categories, each of which will be briefly discussed below:

a. Intelligence and Counter-Intelligence

b. Political Action

c. Propaganda

d. Paramilitary (more appropriately identified as special activities in support of a political result).

a. Intelligence and Counter-Intelligence: It is proposed to salvage these elements of the intelligence networks and agents within Cuba which survived the recent Castro security operations and to expand the number and scope of intelligence collection activities. In addition, [Facsimile Page 7] we plan to utilize Cuban exiles on intelligence operations, either unilaterally as Agency assets or as assets of Cuban groups with which they are associated; to expand our use of third country nationals in an operational or support capacity; and to induce defection of selected individuals in the Cuban government. Our counter-intelligence activities will concentrate on efforts to penetrate the Cuban Security Services and Communist Party and to prevent detection of our operations by the Cuban Security Services. Estimate of Fiscal Year 1962 funds required: $739,132.

b. Political Action: These operations will be devoted to exploiting those opportunities which may arise within Latin America for clandestine political actions utilizing either the Cuban Revolutionary Council (CRC) or other Cuban political groups or unilateral assets designed to further U.S. national policies or to combat Cuban subversive efforts. Moreover, particular efforts will be made to identify and support, if and when found, any opposition group with real potential given appropriate support for overthrowing Castro’s regime and succeeding it. The question of how much support will be necessary and whether or not it should be provided will have to be decided at the time. Estimate of Fiscal Year 1962 funds required: $200,000.

c. Propaganda: Operations will be planned and executed with the purpose of destroying the image of Castro as a true revolutionary [Facsimile Page 8] interested in the welfare of his people and the replacement of that image with one of the ruthless dictator who, under the false banners of revolutionary reform, has deprived his people of their basic liberties and turned their country into a Soviet satellite. This will require continued use of existing covert press, radio (including Radio Swan) and [Typeset Page 659] other media assets outside of Cuba as well as strengthening clandestine propaganda mechanisms inside Cuba, including underground printed propaganda, clandestine radio broadcasting station, radio and TV intrusion operations.

In addition to those activities directed at the Cuban people, we will utilize media assets and exile Cuban political and professional groups to combat Castro’s propaganda efforts, to create insofar as possible a militant opposition to Castro, and to encourage a climate of support for future action against Cuba throughout Latin America.

The general breakdown of the funds required for propaganda activities is:

Regular Publications [text not declassified]
Other Publication Activities [text not declassified]
Radio Swan [text not declassified]
Other Radio [text not declassified]
Internal Clandestine Operations [text not declassified]
Western Hemisphere and other operations [text not declassified]

Estimate of Fiscal Year 1962 Funds Required $4,204,000

d. Paramilitary : Activities of this nature will be cautiously undertaken and will only be approved if they contribute to some [Facsimile Page 9] desired political result, e.g., the improvement of morale or the strengthening of some political group in Cuba. Initially, emphasis will be on training of personnel (always in very small groups), building up inventories of supplies and acquisition of needed assets (e.g., boats for infiltration/exfiltration of men and materiél). The program has been estimated on the possibility of recruiting up to 100 agents during FY 1962 of whom 50 (including 10 radio operators) will be selected for possible infiltration and the remainder employed in support and operational capacities externally. The main effort in these activities will be to work with and through Cuban political groups or exiles with internal affiliations of potential political consequence.

It is contemplated that the Agency will repair and retain its present maritime assets and acquire two additional vessels with greater range in order to provide the capability for adequate support of planned activities. These vessels have been budgeted at a fairly substantial, though considered reasonable, figure. If cheaper purchases can be achieved they, of course, will be. Present maritime assets consist of one long-range vessel, three medium-range 55 to 85 foot vessels, and nine small boats suitable for deck loading on a mother ship and for fast runs in and out. These assets will be utilized in the infiltration of personnel, supplies and funds into Cuba and to exfiltrate agents, agent prospects and defecters from Cuba.

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Sabotage planning will be undertaken against a small number of key and industrial targets as well as against targets of political or propaganda significance. Actual sabotage operations will be carried out only where some of the advantages mentioned in para. 2.d. above can be realized or reasonably anticipated.

Although the program does not contemplate significant direct encouragement of guerrilla bands during FY 1962, the Agency will maintain equipment to provide modest support, if requested and approved, to those guerrilla elements which might arise, either spontaneously or as an effort on the part of Cuban or Agency assets to survive.

In order to provide for the support of operations proposed by existing or emerging anti-Castro Cuban groups, we have included what we consider a reasonable amount of funds according to experience factors.

We have also concluded that it is advisable to maintain a limited air capability for possible resupply, leaflet and deception operations. Support of these activities will involve the cost of aircraft storage, readying the aircraft for operational use, crew costs and expenses for missions actually mounted. Estimate of Fiscal Year 1962 funds required: $4,610,000.


The primary financial need is for salaries, travel, and related expenses for personnel assigned to Cuban operations. In addition, we must provide funds for the maintenance and logistical support of a forward operating base, a maritime base, small operational or training sites, and communications facilities and equipment. These costs have not been [illegible in the original] [Facsimile Page 11] in regular Agency budget estimates. Estimate of Fiscal Year 1962 funds required: $4,025,000.

N.B. The foregoing activities, as indicated, (particularly in connection with paramilitary operations) will be carried out in part through Cuban political groups having a political viewpoint or “platform” acceptable to the U.S. In working with these groups, the Agency will not attempt to dominate them but will give them some freedom of action. This attitude is prompted by the fact that the best political leadership often is the least willing to accept controls and may easily be lost if too restricted. Some controls, however, are necessary in order to have a sensible and businesslike arrangement. For example, any group receiving support will be required to submit a statement of its intended program, showing the type of activities it proposes to undertake, the amount of money it intends to devote to various activities, the kind of assets which it wishes to receive and how it proposes to use them. In addition, such group will be expected to keep the U.S. fully apprised of the results of its activities and to disseminate to the [Typeset Page 661] U.S. all intelligence obtained. On the other hand, such a group will normally not be required specifically to identify individual agents and will be given considerable freedom in the planning of proposed operations. Moreover, a group with a proven record of successful operations will, as would be expected, be granted more and more autonomy.

In view of the publicity engendered by the Agency’s past operations in the Florida area, we are planning to change the physical location and [Facsimile Page 12] cover of our primary operations bases in Florida, to utilize personnel not contaminated by exposure or relations with the former operation, and to employ cutouts and other security measures in order to assure, to the maximum extent possible, that our present operations in the area remain covert.

In addition, the above facilities and personnel will be available for the support of stay behind operations to be developed in certain other critical areas of the Western Hemisphere and not part of the Cuban program.


It is recommended that approval be granted for the above covert action program against Cuba and that a maximum of $13,778,132 be authorized for the implementation of this program. Only 50% of this total will be withdrawn initially. Later withdrawals will depend on how the program develops.

  1. Transmits memorandum for the Special Group on the program of covert action directed at the Castro regime. Secret. 12 pp. DOS, INR/IL Historical Files, S.G. 2, July 20, 1961.