237. Memorandum From the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Coerr) to Secretary of State Rusk 0

SUBJECT

  • United States Government Relations with Cuban Exile Groups
  • Discussion
  • Item No. g of the NSC Record of Actions of May 5, 1961:1

“Agreed that relations with the Revolutionary Council should be improved and made more open, and while it cannot be recognized as a government-in-exile, support should be given to it insofar as it continues to represent substantial Cuban sentiment.”

Dr. Morales-Carrion has been designated as the official point of contact for the Cuban Revolutionary Council within the United States Government. At the suggestion of Mr. Richard Goodwin of the White House Staff, the CRC has now presented its budget to Dr. Morales-Carrion. The fact that funds presently available to the CRC continue only through June 30 faces us with the necessity for early and highly significant decisions. Dr. Morales-Carrion is scheduled to meet with Mr. Goodwin at the [Page 611] White House in the immediate future, and I believe it is essential that he be in a position to reflect the Departmentʼs views with regard to our Governmentʼs relationships—including financial—with Cuban exile groups.

Without at this point entering into an exhaustive discussion of the pertinent details, many of which are already known to you, I would like to call attention to the following points:

(1)
The Cuban Revolutionary Council no longer has the same composition as it did at the time of the abortive invasion of Cuba or when the above-quoted NSC action was written. Withdrawal of Manolo Ray deprived it of its most liberal—and so far left as to be quite controversial—element and has shifted its center of political gravity appreciably to the right.
(2)
It is far from certain that the popular acceptance or the political prospects of the CRC in Cuba are such as to make it an ideal group with which too closely to associate and/or identify the US Government.
(3)
The “military” portion of the CRCʼs budget contemplates continuing financial provisions for veterans, survivors, and dependents of participants in the Bahia de Cochinos invasion effort. Despite the aura of general confession which has come into existence, I consider it completely inappropriate for financing of this sort to be presented to or handled by the Department of State. This merely provides public and official confirmation of US Government complicity in the invasion attempt.
(4)
The “civil” portion of the CRC budget includes administrative, operating, propaganda and other types of contemplated expenses. They are rather clearly based upon Dr. Miro Cardonaʼs contention that our assistance to anit-Castro groups must be limited to or channelled through the CRC. I am not convinced that we should accept any such limitation or that the Department of State or any other overt agency of the USG should necessarily engage in financing of all the types of activities which are contemplated.

Recommendations: 2

That in his conversation with Mr. Goodwin, Mr. Morales-Carrion be authorized to present the following views:

(1)
That in the implementation of item g of the NSC Record of Actions of May 5, the United States should treat the CRC in friendly, sympathetic and a somewhat favored manner but should refrain from agreeing or acting to deal exclusively with that body or to channel its dealings with other exile groups through it.
(2)
That the Department should not become involved with the military portion of the CRC budget; that payments to surviving relatives of those killed in the invasion attempt should be handled exclusively in a covert manner and with definite terminal cut-off date; that payment to dependents of any invasion captives who continue to be held in Cuba should continue to be funded until their release through covert channels; that all payments to members of the invasion forces who have returned or would return to the United States should be shifted from covert channels into the overt procedures applicable to regular Cuban emigres and funded by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.
(3)
That financial provision for expenses listed in the “civil” portion of the CRC budget be most carefully reviewed and of those which are approved it be determined precisely which, if any, are appropriate for overt funding by our Government and which must be handled in a covert way in order not to be self-defeating.
(4)
That future dealing with anti-Castro Cuban groups on a covert basis be made contingent upon more effective cover arrangements and include provision for assistance to all acceptable groups (not including Batistianos) displaying a willingness and a capacity to contribute to agreed upon objectives.

  1. Source: Department of State, S/S-NSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95,NSC 5902 Memoranda. Top Secret. Drafted in ARA by Frank J. Devine. Cleared in ARA, INR, and with U. Alexis Johnson. A memorandum for the files attached to the source text indicates that the memorandum, which was marked to be sent to the Secretary through Under Secretary Bowles, never went beyond Bowles. Bowles was “handling a good deal of the covert-type operations on Cuba” and he was deemed by S/S to be the proper recipient. When Bowles initialed the approval lines on the memorandum, he used the initials “DR,” but there is no other indication that he cleared the approvals with Rusk.
  2. Document 205.
  3. Bowles initialed approval of each recommendation with Ruskʼs initials on June 30.