605. Memorandum from Helms to Cottrell, undated1

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  • Reaction in the Cuban Exile Community and Brigade to the Attorney General’s No Air Support Statements

1. The following information and opinion from reliable Cuban exile sources in Miami, is for your information. Because of the sensitive nature of the information, it is passed to you on an “Eyes Only” basis:

a. The Attorney General’s statement that no air support was ever promised for the Playa Giron invasion has had a very bad affect on the Cuban exile community. They were taken completely by surprise and feel the matter should have been left alone as history needs time. They feel the statement dealt a mortal blow to the Cuban Revolutionary Council (CRC) because if the CRC was entirely responsible for the invasion the CRC should not have permitted the invasion to take place. Manuel ARTIME and Jose PEREZ San Roman are also being criticized for having permitted the Attorney General to convince them to agree to such a statement. Antonio VARONA’s rebuttal was received quite favorably with many appreciative comments. Admiration for VARONA is growing as it is felt he was not afraid to answer the Attorney General. This, coupled with the fact that VARONA refused to accept [Typeset Page 1586] offers of money from American companies for the ransom of his son, is leading people to believe that VARONA would have been a better head of the CRC than MIRO. Everyone in the exile community is awaiting an answer from MIRO, and it is felt that if he does not answer he is finished. If MIRO is to retain any respect among Cubans, he must state the facts and not permit anyone to believe he allowed the Brigade to invade Cuba without support.

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b. Col. Wendell Johnson, the liaison officer to the CRC, reports that MIRO is under pressure from the members of the Council to make a public statement on behalf of the CRC refuting the Attorney General’s statement. MIRO is finding it increasingly difficult to avoid making such a statement.

c. The morale of the Brigade remains high but the members are disturbed and preoccupied by their ultimate destiny as Brigade members. They are looking forward to a briefing by Jose PEREZ San Roman on his return trip from Washington. Dagoberto DARIAS del Castillo, a Playa Giron veteran from the ship Rio Escondido, who recently attacked the administration on TV, is preparing another propaganda attack to be released soon. He will attack the Attorney General’s recent statements that the U.S. promised no air support.

d. Many Cubans in the exile community view the establishment of Sterling Cottrell and his office in Miami as an act of U.S. determination to “shunt aside” the CRC and take away its authority. They hopefully anticipate this as the first step to achieve overall Cuban unity preparatory to the liberation of Cuba.

Richard Helms
Deputy Director (Plans)
  1. Reaction in the Cuban exile community and Brigade to the Attorney General’s no air support statements. Top Secret. 2 pp. DOS, CF, 737.00/1–2563.