259. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Woodward) to the Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (Ball)0


  • USG Relationships with Cuban Exile Groups


To determine the Departmentʼs position with respect to Dr. Miro Cardonaʼs insistence that all U.S. assistance (other than that provided by HEW) to Cuban exiles and underground resistance groups be channelled through the Cuban Revolutionary Council.


During July 1961 when the question of the USGʼs relationships with Cuban exile groups arose, the Departmentʼs position was that the CRC should be accepted and treated as a leading element among the Cuban exile groups; that the U.S. should refrain from affording to the CRC any direct and overt character as a USG instrument in the campaign against Castro; and that the CRC should not be accorded any status as exclusive channel or required point of approval with respect to dealings and relationships established between this Government and other Cuban groups. As far as I have been able to determine, this position was approved by the White House. ARA believes that this basic framework of our relationships to the CRC should be maintained.

An essential element to this relationship is the budgetary support of the CRC which enables it to remain viable. Withdrawal of this support would probably result in the collapse of the CRC, leaving a clear field in the Cuban exile community to the groups backed by Batista and Prio. While we of course have no objection to the activities of Prio, such a development would deprive the Cuban exile movement of the broad base of support which it now enjoys, and would seriously delay the revolutionary effort. ARA believes that it is in our interest to perpetuate the existence of the CRC at this time.

The basic question is what role in our view should the CRC play in present plans regarding Cuba. Miroʼs contention is that only through a highly centralized operation, fully controlled by the CRC, is it reasonable to hope for eventual success against Castro. A decentralized operation, [Page 649] much of which he maintains is at present kept from CRCʼs knowledge, signifies in his view deepening rather than healing the split among Cuban exiles and a repetition of past errors. He has stated that he would not continue unless the CRC fully participated in plans and operations regarding Cuba. It is possible that he might retreat somewhat from this first position.

It has been generally agreed that an important mistake was made in the past by not taking the anti-Castro Cubans more fully into our confidence. Clearly, we shall have to rely heavily upon Cubans (both in and out of Cuba) to accomplish our objectives. I feel that the U.S. role should be one limited to purveying funds, materiel and know-how to the Cuban opposition groups based upon plans jointly arrived at. The CRC has been requested to broaden its base and from latest reports appears to have achieved some success in this direction. As far as we are able to determine most of the underground groups now organized in Cuba either have some allegiance to the CRC or at the least do not oppose it.

It would appear reasonable, then, that we should agree with Miroʼs point of view as far as dealing centrally through the CRC regarding matters involving CRC affiliated organizations is concerned. Two questions arise: security and effectiveness. With regard to the first, it is my understanding that present operations involve dealing with various Cuban opposition groups, separately. The possibility of some security leaks, but not involving the entire plan, is evident under this arrangement. Dealing centrally with the CRC does incur the risk of disclosure of the entire plan. With regard to the second question, centralization may mean wrangling among CRC members, use of funds for political ends, and an ineffective operation.

ARA believes that in general the stature of the CRC both in the U.S. and abroad should be enhanced. To the extent feasible, Cuban exile prop-aganda programs should emanate from the CRC, so that the Cuban exile community speaks with a single voice. Propaganda programs and propaganda activities based upon the utilization of Cuban exiles should be the result of a coordinated US-CRC effort. The CRC should be covertly supported in these programs.

In essence, the ARA view concerning our future relationship to the CRC is that we should display greater confidence in its ability to carry out most of the major tasks confronting us with respect to Cuba, while we at the same time maintain flexibility vis-a-vis other exile and resistance groups.

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That we inform Miro that the USG will continue covert budgetary support for the CRC for administrative expenses and propaganda work.
That we encourage Miro to intensify his efforts to broaden the CRCʼs base.
That we inform Miro that with respect to clandestine activities in Cuba involving underground groups not opposed to working with the CRC, U.S. assistance will be coordinated under the strictest terms of secrecy with him, based upon plans mutually agreed upon.
That we inform Miro that we must retain freedom to give direct assistance to groups that decline to work with the CRC.
That we inform Miro that we plan to keep him generally informed as to our activities regarding groups not represented in the Council.
That we inform Miro that in the event of security leaks or ineffectiveness the arrangements described in recommendation 3 and/or 5 would be modified.
That we step up the level of U.S. representation to plan and coordinate with the CRC on matters of common interest herein referred to.
  1. Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, Cuba, August 1961. Secret. Drafted on September 7 in ARA/CMA by Park F. Wollam and Hurwitch. Cleared in CMA by Edwin E. Vallon, in ARA by Daniel M. Braddock, and in the CIA by Bissell.
  2. Ball initialed his approval of each of the recommendations on September 8.