723. Memorandum, December 91

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  • Suggestion for Additional Administration Statements on Cuba to Stimulate Anti-Castro Action on the Part of Dissident Elements in the Cuban Armed Forces

1. The ultimate objective of our covert action program directed against Cuba is to create the conditions which will stimulate non-Communist dissident elements in the armed forces and other power centers of the regime to carry out a coup against the Castro/Communist leadership and eliminate the Sino-Soviet presence from Cuba. With this objective in mind, CIA has established and is seeking intensively to expand contacts with disaffected senior military officers in the Cuban armed forces. In so doing, we have been impressed by the unanimity with which these contacts insist on personal and political assurances from the United States as a prerequisite to active conspiracy against the Castro/Communist entourage. These non-Communist anti-Castro dissident Cubans argue that there is no personal advantage or patriotic incentive for them to overthrow Castro when: (1) they run the great risk of being liquidated themselves as high officials in that regime and (2) there is a likelihood that the political clock will be turned back and Cuba will again fall under the rule of Letiots or someone akin to him. They assert that they must have solemn assurances from high level U.S. spokesman, especially the President, that the United States will exert its decisive influence during and immediately after the coup to prevent their personal liquidation and a political regression.

2. CIA has attempted in a general and very limited manner to provide these assurances, but it remains for the President and other Administration person to instill a genuine group of U.S. [illegible in the original] to our efforts. President Kennedy’s speech to the International Press Association on 14 November alluded to this [illegible in the original] when he stated:

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“No Cuban need feel trapped between dependence on the broken promises of foreign Communism and the hostility of the rest of the hemisphere. For once Cuban sovereignty has been restored we will extend the hand of friendship and assistance to a Cuba whose political and economic institutions have been shaped by the will of the Cuban people.”

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3. Our Station in Miami reports that exile conservatives were depressed because they interpreted this passage as U.S. willingness to accept “Fidelismo without Fidel,” while leftist oriented groups were encouraged to believe that “anti-Communist progressive and revolutionary elements” have the support of the U.S. Government. Those Cuban exile reactions, however, cannot be taken as reflecting the views of people inside Cuba. It is typical of exiles that they become oversensitive to the innuendoes of official public statements bearing upon their problems. Within Cuba, we believe that President Kennedy’s statement probably contributed significantly to providing political assurances to the relatively small number of potential coupeters to whom these remarks are addressed. But we believe that action may be expected to follow only when these assurances are coupled with open recognition from authoritative U.S. spokesmen that many Cubans now serving in the armed forces and other power centers of the Castro regime will have to play a major role in its overthrow. These people need to be assured that the United States is sympathetic to the personal problems they will face in the event of a successful coup. To meet this and related problems, we recommend that the following passages be given some prominence in a Presidential press conference, declaration or speech at the earliest appropriate occasion:

“There are many in the ranks of the Cuban armed forces, and in the Cuban Government itself, who have viewed with sorrow and anger the end of Cuban liberty, the subjugation of the Cuban nation to another state and to a foreign ideology that is alien to Cuba’s authentic nationalist and democratic sentiments.

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“To these men I say the United States is ready to welcome to discussion without rancor and without reprisal a non-Communist Cuban leadership which truly represents the will of the Cuban people to strike down the barrier of Soviet domination, renounce Communism as a way of life and re-enter the community of American republics. We recognize that many non-Communist Cubans who now appear to be a part of the machinery of tyranny, will ultimately be instruments in destroying it and for this reason should be entitled to special consideration.”

4. The President may also wish to refer to a speech celebrating the return of the Brigade members delivered by President Kennedy at the Orange Bowl on 26 December 1962 at which time he declared:

“Under the Alianza para el Progreso, we support for Cuba and for all the countries of this hemisphere the right of free elections and the free exercise of basic human freedoms. We support land reform and the right of every campesino to own the land he tills. We support the effort of every free nation to pursue programs of economic progress. We support the right of every free people to freely transform the [Typeset Page 1848] economic and political institutions of society so that they may serve the welfare of all . . . and I believe these are the principles of the great majority of Cuban people today, and I am confident that all over the island of Cuba, in the government itself, in the army, and in the militia, there are many who have viewed with dismay the destruction of freedom on their island and who are determined to restore that freedom so that the Cuban people may once more govern themselves.”

(underlining ours.)

The President might note that in the intervening year the prospects have improved for a return of Cuba to the OAS family of nations and he looks forward to that day with confidence.

  1. Suggestion for additional administration statements on Cuba to stimulate anti-Castro action on the part of dissident elements in the Cuban Armed Forces. Secret. 3 pp. Johnson Library, NSF, Country File, Cuba, Intelligence, Vol. 2.