197. Memorandum From the Assistant to the Deputy Director (Plans) for Covert Action (Barnes) to Director of Central Intelligence Dulles 0


  • Cuban Paper
Attached is a copy of the paper which Dick Bissell sent over to Dick Goodwin of the White House Staff, who was acting as the central drafting point on the Cuban NSC paper being prepared by Paul Nitzeʼs working committee. The attached paper is not to be made a part of the NSC paper nor is a military planning paper1 for Cuba. Presumably, both the attached and the military planning paper will be available for perusal by selected individuals.
You may quite properly feel that the attached is a rather brief statement but the reason for it is that Messrs. Nitze and Goodwin have had sessions both with Cuban leaders (i.e. Miro, Varona and Ray) as well as with Dick Bissell and myself so that they are pretty well informed on the possibilities. Consequently, a detailed paper did not seem necessary.
C. Tracy Barnes 2


As indicated by the combined INR/ONE estimate,3 anti-Castro activity within Cuba will probably be muted at least for the next several months. Most individuals whose loyalty is in any way suspect have been arrested. A recent report from the Swiss Ambassador indicated that political prisoners now number 100,000. All internal services will continue to work on a theory of repression plus undoubtedly swift and brutal penalties. Consequently, it will be very difficult to carry on any clandestine operations and it is doubtful that such operations can have any significant impact in weakening the Castro regime.

In spite of this, evidence is still available that there is opposition to the regime among individuals still at large and that such opposition is prepared to undertake action despite the risks involved. Moreover, there are still agents distributed through most of the six provinces and communications can still be had either directly or indirectly with these individuals. At the very least these agents can and will continue to collect information and to transmit it to the Agency. In addition, certain of these individuals, plus some additional ones who might be infiltrated, could attempt to carry out some sabotage. Individual acts of sabotage are possible with relatively few men and small amounts of material. Successive acts of sabotage or extensive sabotage operations are more difficult and inevitably more costly in terms of loss of men. Nevertheless, it would be possible, starting in the near future, to attempt limited sabotage with a view to determining its feasibility and with the hope that gradually an increased program might be developed.

A capability also exists for types of maritime operations including infiltration and exfiltration of individuals, landing and caching of arms, [Page 430] under-water sabotage of shipping and small raider operations. Under present circumstances it would seem wrong to attempt these except on a very limited scale and in all likelihood, raider operations should not be attempted until more information regarding feasibility has been obtained.

The Agency also has a small air arm including some transport aircraft (C-54 and C-46 types) plus attack bomber aircraft (B-26). Although it is not absolutely certain, there is reason to suppose that Cuban crews also are available for operational flights. At the moment, air operations should be substantially eliminated with the possible exception of supply flights to support opposition elements unable to survive without such support. Even with respect to such operations, however, it should be remembered that the percentage of successful night drops is extremely limited so that the urgency should be great to justify the risk. B-26 strikes could, of course, be flown against chosen targets (e.g. refineries, power plants, tire plants) and, if successful, might have the effect of extensive sabotage. In view of the risks involved, however, and the poor deniability of U.S. support where aircraft are involved, it is recommended that such operations be avoided at least for the present.

Manolo Ray of the MRP has asserted an independent MRP capability to conduct infiltration, intelligence collection, sabotage and defection operations into Cuba. He recognizes a need for U.S. support but is very firm in his desire to operate as independently as possible of any official U.S. connection. His initial request is for five boats, some materiel and some money. He admits, however, that, looking ahead, additional support such as real estate, some help with training and communications will be required. He offers to share his information with the U.S. Government, seek U.S. advice and, at least for a period of time, be willing to operate with the Revolutionary Council. The Councilʼs views are being canvassed and Ray has been asked to prepare a prospectus giving in some detail his needs for U.S. support for the immediate future and the step-up required over a period of time should his efforts prove successful.

The Ray proposal should certainly be examined and given support within reasonable limits if the relationships proposed both with the Council and with the U.S. are satisfactory.

In addition to the activities described above, propaganda activities such as radio broadcasts and publication of magazines and newspapers can be continued independently by the Agency or in support of Ray or the Revolutionary Council. Moreover, limited political action operations are possible. As to both propaganda and political action, however, the amount of effort and the type of activity undertaken will depend to a large extent on the decisions with respect to the operations described above. Consequently, these will be noted here as mere possibilities.

  1. Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, Cuba Program, Jan 21, 1961-. Secret; Eyes Only.
  2. Not found.
  3. Printed from a copy that indicates Barnes signed the original.
  4. Not found.