731. Briefing notes prepared for the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, December 181

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I. Since the Soviet strategic missiles and bombers were withdrawn from Cuba last year, the USSR has transferred to Cuban control all remaining Soviet weapons except the surface-to-air missiles and possibly the FROG tactical rockets.

A. Cubans have taken over the 42 MIG–21 jet fighters, the 12 Komar guided missile boats, the tanks and equipment at the former Soviet armored camps, and probably the cruise missile system.

B. Cubans now are present in all elements of the air defense system. By mid-1964 at the latest, they will probably be able to operate the SAM system without Soviet participation except for maintenance.

1. Cubans have completed their classroom training in SAM operations and are now receiving field training, probably at all sites.

II. We believe that only about 4,000 to 7,000 Soviet military personnel remain in Cuba, and that this number will remain fairly constant until Cubans complete their SAM training.

A. Most of those Soviets remaining are advisers and technicians engaged in training Cuban personnel in the operation of the Soviet weapons systems, particularly the SAM system.

B. No identifiable Soviet ground combat units remain on the island.

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III. We have seen no evidence of the re-introduction of any offensive weapons to Cuba. Only ten military shipments have been delivered to Cuba this year.

A. These consisted primarily of ammunition, spare parts, and replacements.

IV. The Cuban military forces constitute an effective deterrent to internal dissidence, and their effectiveness against exile raids and all external threats short of a full-scale invasion probably will increase with time. One of our most promising clandestine sources [less than 1 line not declassified] reported earlier this week that the present strength of the Cuban army is about 100,000. Our estimate has been about 75,000.

V. The same [less than 1 line not declassified] reports that the Sino-Soviet conflict is very evident in Cuba.

A. He said old line Communists like Carlos Rafael Rodriguez and Blas Roca are unanimously pro-Soviet, but that Che Guevara is closer to the Chinese position and considers Khrushchev a “revisionist.”

1. Guevara, he says, insists on accelerating revolution in underdeveloped countries.

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2. Fidel Castro himself, according to this source, feels closer to the Chinese position, but wants to prevent a split among his supporters in Cuba, and not jeopardize Soviet aid.

B. The source feels that, in general, the old-line Moscow-oriented Cuban Communists are gradually losing influence in high government circles.

VI. This source also stated that Castro’s present policy is not to attack President Johnson in public or do anything to irritate him, but rather to wait and see what the President says and does about Cuba.

VII. On the domestic political scene, the Castro regime continues to tighten its grip.

A. Registration for obligatory military service began on 1 December. Opponents of the regime are to be drafted into labor battalions for “rehabilitation.”

B. The confiscation of all remaining private farms larger than 167 acres was decreed on 4 October. Owners of smaller farms are being pushed toward collectivization.

C. Labor is being subjected to increasingly stringent controls, such as work norms and longer workweeks, to raise lagging productivity.

VIII. Trends in Cuba since Castro’s return from the USSR last spring have not been favorable to his interests.

A. Prospects for significant economic improvement in the foreseeable future were becoming dim even before Hurricane Flora.

B. Living conditions remain drab for the majority of the people. Western observers have sensed growing apathy and hopelessness.

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C. It is apparent from Castro’s speeches that the Soviet Union has made clear that there is a limit to the support which the bloc is willing to give Cuba.

1. We have detected no decline in Soviet assistance, but Castro has repeatedly stressed that it cannot go on forever, and that Cubans must work harder.

IX. Open resistance against the regime is still scattered and relatively ineffective.

A. There has been an apparent increase, however, in incidents of sabotage in recent weeks. Small scattered bands of guerrillas continue to operate, particularly in the hills of central Cuba, but they are isolated and kept on the defensive.

X. Castro’s subversive efforts in Latin America have recently been intensified.

A. The large cache of weapons discovered in Venezuela early last month provides the most solid evidence of Cuban support for Latin American subversives to come to light since 1959. CIA sources also report increased subversive activity in other countries, such as Panama, Guatemala, Peru and Bolivia.

  1. “The Situation in Cuba.” Top Secret. 2 pp. DOS, S/S Files: Lot 65 D 438, Cuba Meeting—12/19/63.