288. National Intelligence Estimate No. 85–2–62, August 11

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THE SITUATION AND PROSPECTS IN CUBA2

The Problem

To analyze the situation in Cuba and to estimate the prospects over the next year or so, with particular reference to Castro’s relations with the Communists and to the potential for resistance to his regime.

Conclusions

A. Fidel Castro has asserted his primacy in Cuban communism; the “old” Communists have had to accommodate themselves to this fact, as has the USSR. Further strains may develop in these relationships, but they are unlikely to break the ties of mutual interest between Castro and the “old” Communists and between Cuba and the USSR. (Paras. 1–10)

B. By force of circumstances, the USSR is becoming ever more deeply committed to preserve and strengthen the Castro regime. The USSR, however, has avoided any formal commitment to protect and defend the regime in all contingencies. (Para. 11)

C. The Cuban armed forces are loyal to the personal leadership of the Castro brothers. Their capabilities have been and are being greatly enhanced by the Soviet Bloc’s provision of military equipment and instruction. Cuban military capabilities, however, are essentially defensive. We believe it unlikely that the Bloc will provide Cuba with the capability to undertake major independent military operations [Facsimile Page 2] overseas. We also believe it unlikely that the Bloc will station in Cuba Bloc combat units of any description, at least for the period of this estimate. (Paras. 12–29)

D. The Cuban armed forces are well able to intimidate the general population and to suppress any popular insurrection likely to develop in present circumstances. They are probably capable of containing and [Typeset Page 959] controlling any threat to the regime through guerrilla action and of repelling any invasion short of a direct US military intervention in strength. (Paras. 22–23)

E. The Cuban economy is in deep trouble, in part because of the US embargo and a consequent shortage of convertible foreign exchange, in part because of agricultural and industrial mismanagement. Despite remedial measures, it is unlikely that agricultural and industrial production can be significantly increased within the next year or so. The expected increase in capital imports from the Bloc is unlikely to produce a net growth of the economy before the end of 1963. (Paras. 30–35)

F. The Castro regime retains the positive support of about 20 percent of the population, but disaffection is increasing. This trend is manifested in growing passive resistance and in occasional open demonstrations of resentment. Few, however, dare to accept the risks of organized active resistance in present circumstances, for fear of the regime’s massive apparatus for surveillance and repression. (Paras. 36–41)

G. If arms and supplies became available and if confidence were created in the likelihood of outside support for a major Cuban uprising, resistance activity and potential would increase. Even so it is unlikely that the regime could be overthrown unless events had already shaken the regime and brought into doubt its capacity for survival, and unless substantial outside support for the insurgents were forthcoming. (Paras. 42–51)

H. The Castro regime still seeks to lead the “inevitable” revolution throughout Latin America, but its preoccupation with domestic problems tends to limit its activity in this respect. In Latin America there is widespread disillusionment regarding the Cuban revolution. Nevertheless, militant pro-Castro groups exist in several countries, and Cuban subversive activity could prove effective in certain unstable situations: e.g., in Guatemala or Venezuela. The appeal of the Cuban example will increase in Latin America if reform lags there and hopes and promises remain unfulfilled. (Paras. 52–59)

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Discussion

I. Castro and the Communists

1. Developments in 1962 have tended to define more clearly the relationships between Castro and the leaders of the prerevolutionary Cuban Communist Party (PSP) and between Castro and the USSR. For the time being, at least, Castro has established his primacy in Cuban communism, and the PSP and USSR have been constrained to accommodate themselves to that situation.

2. Differences between Castro and the “old” Communists of the PSP developed in 1961 and reached a climax in early 1962. Castro had [Typeset Page 960] accepted “old” Communists in every branch of his government and had relied heavily on them for their expertise. However, he was anxious to preserve his own authority as leader of the Cuban revolution and wanted the “new” Communists—his followers of the 26th of July Movement—to play a role at least equal to that of the veteran PSP members. Castro was also anxious to have Cuba accepted as a member of the “Socialist camp” and resented the appellation of “national democracy” (as opposed to “socialist democracy”) which was invented for Cuba in 1960 at a world congress of Communist Party leaders in Moscow. The Soviets were reluctant to make these concessions to a regime that they did not consider to be Communist and that was not under their firm control.

3. Castro kept up the pressure for full recognition, proclaiming Cuba a socialist state and himself a Marxist-Leninist. Meantime elements of the PSP pushed ahead as rapidly as possible to establish “old” Communist control of Cuba through the machinery of the Integrated Revolutionary Organizations (ORI), an interim party set up to bring together the various political forces behind the regime and create a single dominant political party. Veteran Communist Anibal Escalante, the organizing secretary of ORI, was the key figure in this effort.

4. The result was a head-on clash between the “old” Communists and Castro, who realized that they were threatening his position and that of his loyal followers of the 26th of July Movement. After careful maneuvering a new National Directorate for the ORI was agreed upon, in which power was shifted from “old” to “new” Communists. Then on 26 March Castro denounced Anibal Escalante and by implication all “old” Communists for seeking to dominate the Cuban revolution.

5. Further reorganization of the ORI and of other elements of the regime’s political machinery followed, with the general effect of strengthening the position of the “new” Communists. These changes, however, can by no means be described as a wholesale purge of the veteran Communists. Many, including Blas Roca, the PSP chairman, have remained in important positions and Castro has made it clear that the differences between “old” and “new” Communists are not over the goal of communizing Cuba. The overall effect of the “Escalante affair,” and of the changes in the regime which followed, was the assertion of Castro’s personal leadership of Cuban communism.

6. Neither the PSP nor the Soviets proved willing to contest the issue with Castro. Both moved quickly to acknowledge his authority and to reaffirm their close ties with him. Blas Roca gave his approval to Castro’s move against Escalante. There followed an article in Pravda which expressed firm support for Castro as the leader of the Cuban revolution and granted the most forthright recognition to date of the Cuban regime’s claim to be [Facsimile Page 4] Communist. Moscow then proceeded to [Typeset Page 961] elevate Cuba in the “socialist” hierarchy by placing it next after the Bloc states and ahead of Yugoslavia on the list of May Day greetings and by such minor but significant moves as referring to the Cuban premier as “Comrade Fidel.”

7. In yielding to Castro’s desire to have Cuba brought into a closer relationship with the Bloc, the Soviet leaders have made a significant concession. That they should have done so, fully aware of Castro’s undisciplined nature, is a measure not only of the importance they attach to Cuba, but also of the narrow field of choice open to them.

8. The Soviet Union has also made a considerable concession in its agreement to supply a line of credit for the purchase of consumer goods. It has, in effect, reaffirmed its willingness to pay the increasing costs of keeping Cuba afloat, despite the Cubans’ failures in the field of economic reorganization and development. In exchange for this concession the Soviets are apparently insisting on more influence over the management and direction of the Cuban economy. The Soviets probably continue to believe that Cuban economic development should be based primarily on Cuban resources, effort, and sacrifice, and are likely to show restraint in their response to Cuban appeals for relief from a situation better than that which prevails in many Bloc countries. Questions relating to the management of Cuba’s economy are now a major source of friction between the Soviets and the Castro regime.

9. We believe that the USSR is likely to concentrate on the problem of the economic restructuring of Cuba. For the present, the Soviets have committed themselves to getting along with Castro and have had to accept the risks involved. They would prefer a better disciplined and more orthodox Communist and may hope some day to replace him, but they recognize that he will remain, on the whole, an asset for some time to come. Moscow, the PSP, and Castro are all moving over unfamiliar and hazardous ground, and we expect that disagreement and even conflict will flare up among them from time to time. Such conflicts are unlikely, however, to destroy the ties of mutual dependence linking Castro to the PSP and Cuba to the USSR.

10. On balance, Castro is in a stronger position now than appeared likely a few months ago. He has asserted his leadership and it has been accepted by the USSR and by the “old” Communists in Cuba. He has demonstrated remarkable political skills and an ability to engage in carefully calculated maneuvers which had been obscured by his generally erratic and bombastic behavior. He seems to be well in control of the apparatus of government and security. His attack on Escalante and the efforts of the “old” Communists and the reshuffling of the top leadership of the ORI and the armed forces have apparently satisfied the majority of the “new” Communists, who were becoming restive. At the same time he has retained the cooperation of the “old” Commu[Typeset Page 962]nists and the USSR. He probably believes that he can handle them and that both the “old” Cuban Communists and Moscow must continue to accept him as the indispensable man in Cuba.

11. The USSR is becoming more deeply committed to the preservation and advancement of the regime in Cuba. However, the Soviets have made no formal commitment to ensure Cuba’s security and would almost certainly never intend to hazard their own safety for Cuba’s sake. They have sought to create the impression that Cuba was under the protection of their missile power, but they have carefully avoided a categorical commitment to protect and defend the Castro regime in all contingencies.

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II. The Military Establishment

12. The capabilities of the Cuban armed forces to suppress insurrection or repel invasion have been greatly enhanced by the Bloc’s provision of military equipment3 and instruction and by a thoroughgoing reorganization initiated in the fall of 1960. This reorganization and concomitant training programs are now well advanced, although not completed.

13. Up to 350 Bloc military advisers and instructors are believed to be now in Cuba. Bloc advisers are probably assigned to the principal staffs throughout the military establishment. Most of the instructors are stationed at established military schools and training areas. In addition, several hundred Cuban military personnel have received or are receiving military instruction in Bloc countries.

14. Almost certainly the present military establishment as a whole is politically reliable. Successive defections and purges have eliminated the seriously disaffected elements. The principal commanders have been selected for their personal loyalty to the Castro brothers. Great attention has been paid to the political indoctrination of the troops. Morale probably has been adversely affected, in some instances, particularly among reserve components, by the discontent of the general population. However, the military establishment as a whole will almost certainly support and defend the Castro regime, unless its overthrow seems imminent.

The Ground Forces

15. The Cuban ground forces are believed to consist of a standing army of about 75,000 men and a ready reserve of about 100,000 men. [Typeset Page 963] Some of the standing army personnel serve as full-time cadres in ready reserve units. In addition, there are homeguard type militia units numbering about 100,000 men.

16. The standing army has received intensive training in the use of Bloc-supplied arms and equipment and tactical training through the battalion combat team level. It has acquired capabilities for the combat employment of armor and artillery (including antiaircraft and antitank weapons) hitherto unknown in any Caribbean country.

17. The ready reserve battalions are less heavily armed and less throughly trained. Each has a full-time cadre varying from 40 to 150 men. The remaining personnel are available for only one or two drills a week and a month of active duty training each year. The arms are kept in the custody of the full-time cadre. These battalions are based on places of employment and are generally capable of rapid mobilization.

18. The homeguard militia units have no significant combat capability. Their function is to augment the police as necessary to control the population.

19. For operational purposes, Cuba has been divided into three territorial commands designated as the armies of the West, the Center, and the East. Each has operational control over all standing army, ready reserve, and tactical air units within its area and is intended to be logistically self-sufficient. The basic combat unit is the battalion combat team. Active operations are conducted by task forces established according to the requirements of the occasion and operating under the direct control of the appropriate territorial army command.

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20. Within the three armies there are corps and division headquarters having administrative and training responsibilities, but as yet no apparent operational role—although the divisions, as territorial commands, probably do have internal security and static defense responsibilities within their respective districts. As the reorganization of the ground forces progresses further, the divisions may be developed as operational units.

21. There are believed to be some 265 battalions in the Cuban ground forces. A full-strength standing army battalion probably numbers about 1,000 men; a full-strength ready reserve battalion, about 600, including the full-time cadre. However, they all now vary greatly in strength and efficiency. At present we are unable to determine how many battalions are standing army and how many are ready reserve.

22. The Cuban ground forces are well able to intimidate the general population and to suppress any popular insurrection likely to develop in present circumstances. They have not been able to eliminate the low level of sporadic guerrilla activity which now exists in Cuba, but they are probably capable of containing and controlling any threat to the regime through guerrilla action.

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23. The equipment, organization, and training of the Cuban ground forces appears to be designed primarily to prepare them to resist an anticipated invasion from abroad. They could probably repel any invasion short of a direct US military intervention in strength. Their plans for that contingency evidently contemplate a strong initial resistance, followed by a determined defense of preselected key points and finally by protracted guerrilla warfare.

The Air Force

24. In the emergency of April 1961, the Castro regime could get only six aircraft into the air. Since then, a virtually new air force has been in process of creation through Bloc delivery of jet fighter aircraft and related ground equipment and Bloc training of pilots and ground personnel. This process is not as far advanced as is the rehabilitation of the Cuban ground forces. Cuban air defense and ground support capabilities remain very limited. However, the new Cuban Air Force includes about 45 MIG jet fighters and about 60 fighter pilots with some Bloc training.

The Navy

25. As in the case of the air force, a new navy is now in the process of creation. Hitherto, coastal patrol has been accomplished chiefly by militiamen in confiscated fishing and pleasure craft. Recently, however, the USSR has provided six submarine chasers (PC’s) and 12 motor torpedo boats (PT’s) and several hundred Cuban naval personnel have received training in the Bloc.

Prospects

26. The capabilities of the Cuban armed forces will continue to improve through further training and experience. The Bloc will almost certainly continue to support this development through the provision of equipment, instruction, and advice.

27. It is notable that Bloc military deliveries to date have been such as to enhance Cuba’s capabilities for defense against external attack and for the maintenance of internal security, but not such as to contribute primarily to the development of an independent offensive capability. Although the Cuban ground forces have been made formidable by Caribbean standards, Cuba lacks the air and naval capabilities required for major overseas operations, even at Caribbean distances. The bomber force is still limited to a few inherited B–26’s.

28. We believe that the Bloc will continue to limit its military assistance to Cuba in this way. Such a policy would not preclude the [Facsimile Page 7] provision of more advanced jet fighters, surface-to-air missiles, and modern radars, or even the provision of a token number of IL–28 jet light bombers to replace the B–26’s now in service.

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29. We also believe it highly unlikely that the Bloc would station in Cuba Bloc combat units of any description. This attitude would not preclude the liberal provision of Bloc advisers, instructors, service, and intelligence personnel. It is likely that special Soviet communications and intelligence facilities have been or will be established in Cuba.

III. Economic Problems

30. Mid-year 1962 finds the Cuban economy in deepening trouble. A highly vaunted economic plan and the record budget officially announced for 1962 have by now, for all practical purposes, been abandoned. The pervasive disruption which was evident in industry and transportation last year manifested itself this year in the agricultural sector as well, most conspicuously in the sugar industry, the very heart of the economy and the principal earner of foreign exchange.

31. Cuba’s foreign exchange earnings in 1962 will be reduced substantially because of declines in both volume and value of sugar exports. The 1962 sugar crop was hard hit by a prolonged drought, growing apathy and passive resistance among the cane-cutters, and bad managerial judgment—such as the decisions to reduce the rate of replanting and to divert cane land to other crops. Production of 4.8 million metric tons not only fell far short of last year’s extraordinary harvest, but also came to only 83 percent of the average annual crop during 1957–1960. Because the total supply of sugar available in 1962 is less than in 1961, exports will decline. Exports to the Bloc will be somewhat below 1961 levels, but the major reductions will be in exports to Free World countries. Convertible exchange income from sugar will also be reduced because world sugar prices averaged less during the first half of 1962 than during 1961.

32. With respect to other agricultural products Cuba has clearly not achieved the much needed expansion called for under the regime’s plans. Cuba’s own production of food has remained insufficient to support the population, and food rationing has become necessary. Meanwhile, in the industrial sector the deterioration of plants, equipment shortages, poor quality of raw materials, and gross mismanagement continue. Because of the US embargo and the shortage of foreign exchange, the Cubans have not been able to find adequate sources for the machinery and parts formerly imported from the US and other Western countries. Only the first beginnings have been made in the reconstruction of Cuban industry with Bloc equipment; though announced Bloc development credits total $457 million, few deliveries have yet been made. Mismanagement of plants by unqualified personnel, often selected for their political reliability, continues to be the rule.

33. The regime has responded to the agricultural crisis with a series of changes in policy and organization. The National Agrarian Reform [Typeset Page 966] Institute (INRA), the chief instrument of government direction over agriculture, has been taken over by Carlos Rafael Rodriguez, an old-line Communist with considerable competence in economics. New regulations have been announced easing governmental controls over private farmers and tightening controls over the collectivized sector of agriculture.

34. However, the chief immediate effect of Cuba’s economic troubles has been to increase its dependence on the Bloc. In the spring of 1962, Cuba began a new series of negotiations with Bloc countries concerning the 1962 trade protocols signed several months earlier. In May, a supplemental protocol was signed with the USSR providing for an increase of $50 [Facsimile Page 8] million in the proposed level of trade for 1962—the increase to cover Soviet shipments of food, raw materials, and capital goods. New agreements were also signed with the European Satellites, but there is no evidence indicating that significant changes were made in the original protocols. Since the new USSR protocol does not call for increased Cuban exports, it appears that the additional Soviet exports to Cuba will be financed by a commodity credit. The Soviet decision to finance current purchases on credit, rather than to confine itself to developmental loans, is a new departure in Soviet relations with Cuba, and in fact is contrary to general Soviet practice. It almost certainly reflects Moscow’s recognition of the seriousness of the Cuban situation.

35. Cuban economic prospects for the remainder of 1962 and for 1963 are bleak. Cuba will not be able to build up significantly its dangerously low holdings of convertible foreign exchange. The expected increase in capital imports from the Bloc is unlikely to bring about net growth of Cuba’s economy in the next 18 months, although it may establish preconditions for some improvement over the longer run. The effect of the new agricultural policy remains uncertain; in any case it could not result in a significant increase in production within the next year or so. Supply and management problems will continue to plague industry; transportation difficulties will probably get worse. No substantial overall improvement in the Cuban economy is likely to occur for several years.4

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IV. Popular Attitudes

36. Active support for the Castro regime has declined to about 20 percent of the population, but this includes a high proportion of the youth of the country (ages 15–30). The hard core of this support consists of those who have a vested interest in the revolution, especially the new managerial class and the Communists. Others support the revolution because they have been influenced by indoctrination and participation in the mass organizations. A substantial proportion of supporters are persons who still see in Castro the personification of their awakened national consciousness.

37. Disaffection is increasing primarily because of the growing inability of the regime to provide the goods and services to which most of the Cuban people have been accustomed. The shortages of food, ordinary household items, medicines, public transportation, etc., have underscored, in terms understandable to the individual Cuban, the regime’s failure to live up to its original promise. Others have become bored with years of repetitious propaganda. One factor which is likely to have an increasingly adverse effect on public attitudes is the deterioration of public health conditions and services.

38. The majority of the Cuban population has for some time been indifferent toward the regime. In the past few months, however, there has been an increase in passive resistance, including absenteeism and slowdowns, and in the open expression of disaffection by public protests and demonstrations.

39. In the past four months Fidel Castro and other regime spokesmen have themselves acknowledged two causes of popular discontent and have begun corrective measures. One of these is the dissatisfaction and insecurity aroused by the increasingly obvious “old” Communist takeover which threatened to destroy the loyalty of a large segment of the “new class” until Castro took action in March. The other is the fear of collectivization on the part of farmers, which the regime has also taken steps to allay. Public hostility to Communist regimentation is likely to continue to be a factor in the ability of the regime to control the population, but it is the effect of such regimentation on them personally, rather than communism itself, that seems to arouse [Facsimile Page 9] the Cubans. Increasing communization is likely to continue to provoke discontent, but it is unlikely to produce much active resistance.

40. Many people still in Cuba hate and detest the regime, but few of them are willing to take the risks involved in resistance activity of any kind. The number who are willing to do so is strongly influenced by what appear to be the chances of engaging in resistance activity and coming out alive, as well as the chances of achieving some effective result against the regime.

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41. The outlook is for the steady increase of popular dissatisfaction, but it is likely to continue to find expression largely in passive resistance or unorganized and sporadic opposition at a level that can be controlled by the regime. Yet such resistance may provoke the regime to use force on such a scale as to alienate greater numbers of the population. A cycle of disaffection-repression-resistance might be set in motion, but would be unlikely to cause major difficulties for the regime in the absence of substantial external support.

V. Resistance

42. There has been some increase in active resistance to the Castro regime despite its massive and expanding security apparatus and its constant efforts to intimidate, harass, and immobilize those who take action against the government. The armed forces are used extensively to guard against sabotage, to control public demonstrations against the regime, and to sweep areas of rebel activity. The Ministry of Interior, run by a loyal Castro follower, exercises checks and controls over the Cuban public through its extensive police apparatus, its network of informants in the Committees of Defense, and the antisabotage People’s Defense organization. Between 400 and 500 thousand Cubans—one in every 14—are involved in this elaborate security machinery.

43. This widespread security effort by the Castro government does effectively limit and harass the active opponents of the regime. Nevertheless, there are at least six nationwide resistance groups in Cuba,5 with a claimed membership ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand, only a small part of whom are active at any one time. In addition there are a number of small guerrilla bands and local groups which operate on their own without effective communication or liaison with the national groups. Guerrilla activity has been greatest in the mountains of central Cuba, including the Sierra del Escambray, but some has occurred in the mountains of eastern Cuba, including the Sierra Maestra, and in western Pinar del Rio Province. In plains areas, like Matanzas Province, and in urban areas, resistance groups are smaller than in the mountainous areas and tend to live separately, coming together only occasionally. Many individuals who are not mem[Typeset Page 969]bers of organizations or of guerrilla bands engage in occasional actions against the regime.

44. The activity of resistance groups reflects the operating situation and their resources, human and material. Activity fell off markedly after the massive roundup of suspects following the April 1961 invasion attempt. It has increased since April 1962 primarily in response to the rise of popular resentment of shortages of foodstuffs and other consumer goods. This increase in activity has been limited, however, by government drives to clean out areas in which guer [Facsimile Page 10] rillas have been active and the capture of several important resistance leaders. The size of many guerrilla bands is limited by their lack of arms with which to equip potential recruits.

45. There is some coordination of the activities of the national organizations and there have been reports of a recent agreement among them for unified action. In practice, however, activities tend to be planned, directed, and carried out on a local level. In frequent instances members of several different organizations have cooperated to carry out an operation. These operations are still largely limited to sabotage (particularly setting fire to cane fields, government buildings, and public conveyances), attempts to obtain arms, and the operation of an “underground railroad” to get persons sought by the government out of Cuba. In recent months resistance organizations have been fostering campaigns of planned waste of electricity, city water, etc.

46. The effectiveness of the guerrillas is extremely limited; confronted by large and well-equipped security forces, the small guerrilla groups lack arms, food, medical, and other supplies. One of their principal problems is keeping Castro agents and informers out of their ranks. They just barely survive, if they survive at all. Their activities are made possible by their superior familiarity with the terrain and with hiding places. Effective government security measures impede coordination between groups in different geographical areas. Noncombatant opposition elements maintain some liaison with guerrillas operating in nearby territory and provide some support, mostly intelligence. Guerrilla forces have at times escaped capture because of the lack of interest, ineptitude, or passive disloyalty of segments of the forces sent against them. Some of the guerrilla bands claim actually to have recruited some of their membership from the militia.

47. At present the primary effect of resistance operations is psychological: they are an embarrassment to the regime and force it to commit large resources to meet security requirements. To a lesser extent they are an inspiration to the civilian opposition, proof that the regime’s forces of oppression are not all-powerful.

48. The national resistance organizations have representatives in the US who are authorized to speak on certain matters for the groups [Typeset Page 970] in Cuba. Effective collaboration in Miami and between groups there and in Cuba is complicated by factionalism, personal feuds, general politicking, and the difficulty of communications. There is also a tendency on the part of those who remain in Cuba to distrust the exiles and to condemn them for their failure to supply those who are continuing the fight in Cuba with the arms and equipment they so badly need.

49. The Cuban Revolutionary Council (Consejo Revolucionario Cubano—CRC) seeks to represent the combined views of the resistance organizations, but it now represents only half of them and is relatively ineffective. The CRC actively propagandizes its anti-Castro position through representatives in most Latin American countries. In June 1962, CRC President Jose Miro Cardona traveled through Central America for this purpose.

50. Several other exile groups have undertaken to coordinate resistance activities in Cuba and to organize “armies of liberation” among the exiles. One of them has sought to establish a government-in-exile in collaboration with President Ydigoras of Guatemala and to develop an armed force to invade Cuba. None of these efforts has made much progress.

51. In present circumstances, the prospects for a resistance effort in Cuba capable of threatening the government are nil. If arms and supplies became available and if confidence were created in the likelihood of out [Facsimile Page 11] side support for a major Cuban uprising, resistance activity and potential would increase substantially. Even so it is unlikely that the regime could be overthrown unless events had already shaken the regime and brought into doubt its capacity for survival, and unless substantial outside support for the insurgents were forthcoming.

VI. External Relations

52. Castro seems to have no doubts about the desirability of facing the rest of the world as a member of the “Socialist camp.” He will continue to associate Cuba with the Bloc and to seek to make the most of Soviet commitments. For their part, the Soviets must regard the situation in Cuba as a net gain for their international position, despite the misgivings they must feel about the Latin American reaction to the proclamation of an avowedly Communist regime in Cuba and about the attendant risks, in Soviet-US relations. The Soviets are aware of the psychological and political influence, actual and potential, of a revolutionary Cuba on Latin American states on the brink of revolution, and will seek opportunities to make use of it.

53. Castro’s vitriolic anti-US position continues unchanged. Anti-Americanism is deeply ingrained in the regime and in much of the Cuban populace. The authority of the regime depends in significant part on its so-far successful defiance of the US, and the regime is [Typeset Page 971] unlikely to see any advantage to be gained by changing its attitude toward the US. Opponents of the regime hope for help from the US, but their expectations of assistance are at a very low ebb.

54. The Cuban regime continues to try to appeal to the Afro-Asian neutralist bloc, even while proclaiming its adherence to Marxism-Leninism. It seeks to play a role at such neutralist-sponsored conferences as the “World without the Bomb” meeting in Ghana and the underdeveloped nations economic conference in Cairo. However, the conduct of the Cuban emissaries at these meetings has generally been such as to antagonize the Afro-Asian neutrals.

55. The appeal of Castroism has dimmed considerably in other Latin American states as a consequence of the Cuban leader’s avowal of Marxism-Leninism, his obvious toadying to the Bloc, and the self-acknowledged failings of the regime. After a period in which Castro and Cuba were the focus of attention through the area, Latin Americans have turned back to their own problems. However, there are militant pro-Castro minorities in several Latin American states and many neutralists and protagonists of reform who look with favor on Castro. In Brazil, Bolivia, and Mexico there are significant elements in government who sympathize with the Castro regime.

56. Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, and Uruguay are now the only Latin American countries maintaining diplomatic relations with Cuba. Relations between Cuba and Uruguay have been strained on account of the nearly 400 asylees in the Uruguayan Embassy in Havana. The Mexican Government has been irritated by the use of the Cuban news agency office in Mexico City to foster anti-US activity during President Kennedy’s visit there in June.

57. Cuban leaders, although preoccupied with domestic problems, still seek to assert Cuban leadership of the “inevitable” revolution in Latin America. They have been very active in attempts to organize a new and ostensibly neutral Latin American labor organization. Cuba operates schools for indoctrinating and training in guerrilla warfare Latin American students who eventually return home to apply what they have learned. The first half of 1962 has seen an increase in reports of Cuban arms shipments to other countries in the area, but no such shipments have been confirmed. There is firm evidence that Cuba has provided at least $10,000 to Guate [Facsimile Page 12] malan revolutionaries—the 13th of November group—in Mexico City.

58. Communist parties in other Latin American states have been disturbed by events in Cuba, and particularly by the Soviet Union’s acceptance of Castro as a Communist, because they feel that the role and the prerogatives of veteran Communists have been cast in doubt. Uruguayan Communists were disturbed by statements made by Blas Roca at a Communist Party meeting in Montevideo to the effect that [Typeset Page 972] it had been demonstrated that a non-Communist could lead a successful revolution against the capitalists and imperialists. There has been dissatisfaction among Guatemalan Communists over the Cubans’ support of the 13th of November group, which includes Communists but is not Communist-dominated.

59. The present image of the Castro regime in Latin America is that of a client of the Bloc and a failure in the conduct of its own affairs, particularly in the important area of economic development. Nevertheless, the Cuban regime has proven that violent social revolution and a break with the US is possible in Latin America and probably impressed many would-be revolutionaries with the possibility of gaining Soviet support without accepting Soviet control. The appeal of the Cuban example will increase in Latin America if reform lags there and if hopes and promises remain unfilfilled. Cuba is also a danger because its subversive activities might provide the spark that would set off explosions in unstable countries such as Venezuela and Guatemala.

[Here follows an annex comprised of three tables providing inventories of the arms and equipment of the Cuban armed forces.]

  1. “The Situation and Prospects in Cuba.” Secret. 13 pp. WNRC, RG 330, OASD (C) A Files: FRC 71 A 2896, McNamara Briefing Notebook, 12 Jan 63.
  2. This estimate is designed to bring up-to-date NIE 85–62, “The Situation and Prospects in Cuba,” dated 21 March 1962. The background information contained in that document remains generally valid.
  3. See the tables in the Annex for inventories of Cuban ground force arms and equipment, aircraft, and naval ships from all sources, including the Bloc. (The bulk of heavy equipment from the Bloc arrived in Cuba between September 1960 and February 1962. Shipments since then are believed to have been largely replacement parts, small arms, and ammunition.)
  4. On August 2, CIA Director McCone sent a memorandum to the other members of the Special Group (Augmented), plus Rusk and McNamara, asking for comments on NIE 85–2–62 in advance of its consideration at the scheduled meeting of the group on August 10 to review progress on the Mongoose operation. (Memorandum from Walter Elder, Executive Assistant to McCone, to McNamara and others, August 2; Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD (C) A Files: FRC 71 A 2896, Cuba 1962, McN Working Papers) In an undated copy of a memorandum to McCone, U. Alexis Johnson replied that the Department of State officers who had reviewed the estimate found it to be generally well-balanced and adequate in coverage of points of interest to the Department. He noted, however, that with respect to the discussion of Cuban economic prospects in paragraph 35, the outlook in the Department was for further deterioration of the Cuban economy during the remainder of 1962 and 1963, rather than stagnation, as seemed to be suggested in the NIE. (Department of State, S/S Files: 65 D 438, Mongoose)
  5. 1. The People’s Revolutionary Movement (Movimiento Revolucionario del Pueblo—MRP);

    2. The 30 November Movement (Movimiento 30 Noviembre);

    3. The Christian Democratic Movement (Movimiento Democratico Cristiano—MDC);

    4. The Revolutionary Recovery Movement (Movimiento de Recuperacion Revolucionario—MRR);

    5. The Student Revolutionary Directorate (Directorio Revolucionario Estudiantil—DRE);

    6. Rescue Movement (Rescate).