28. Memorandum for the Record1


  • Minutes of the Meeting of the Special Group (CI) 2:00 p.m., Thursday, April 8, 1965


  • Governor Harriman, Mr. McCone, General Wheeler, Mr. Komer, Mr. Gaud vice Mr. Bell, Mr. Wilson vice Mr. Rowan, Mr. Friedman vice Mr. Vance

General Anthis, Messrs. Adams, FitzGerald, Engle and Maechling were present for the meeting

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1. Counterinsurgency Intelligence Summary

Special CIA Review of Latin America:

Mr. McCone began by saying that he wished to express as emphatically as possible the dangers in Latin America that require positive, concerted and prompt action. He reviewed the Latin American section in the summary2 and called the attention of the Group to recent statements out of Moscow for increased activity in Latin America naming the countries Venezuela, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay and Haiti as immediate targets for wars of liberation.3 He said that there is evidence that a policy decision has been made to conduct a more aggressive campaign not only in Latin America, but everywhere, though he only wished to address the Latin American situation today.

Mr. McCone then briefed the Group on background information on this evidence and said that increased activity in certain designated target areas would be difficult if not impossible for some of the governments to handle. He stated that he is of the opinion that the Communist’s planning in most Latin American countries is still in an embryonic stage and might be handled by small but skillfully trained organizations. He said that plans in each country must be developed to fit particular situations. He asked Mr. Desmond FitzGerald to outline a suggested approach to the problem.

Mr. FitzGerald explained that the counterinsurgency problem can be broken down into the three following phases:

  • Phase 1. In the earliest stages of insurgency, the subversion phase, the use of basic intelligence from successful penetrations to gain information, frustrate or hamper.
  • Phase 2. In the later and more violent terrorist stage, the use of intelligence in conjunction with local police forces who are trained to use the information. In this connection, security within police forces poses the greatest problem in Latin America in utilization of sensitive data.
  • Phase 3. In the more overt guerrilla and terrorist stage, the employment of military forces plus all other capabilities, especially communications and intelligence to permit rapid response by security forces.

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To bridge the gap between Phase 2 and Phase 3 a small strike force must be provided which can be broken into small groups. Preferably this should be police. Such a force has been recommended for Peru and it will be air transportable. Mr. FitzGerald said that the Peruvians need air support for this plan and it probably will have to be provided by the U.S. Mr. McCone pointed out that this Special Police unit will be trained in counterinsurgency.

In response to the Chairman, Mr. FitzGerald said that the plan has been discussed with Peruvian officials, but would be raised again upon Ambassador Jones’ return this weekend because the Peruvians have a new Chief of Staff who was not in on the previous discussions. AID has agreed to finance this particular plan.

Mr. Friedman suggested that this concept should be used in all Latin American countries. Mr. FitzGerald replied that country-by-country treatment was preferable since each country had special internal political problems which affected their capabilities. Mr. McCone said that if we do decide to go forward with this plan, Peru could be used as the pilot plan. In replying to a question on funding, Mr. Gaud answered that there should be no problem, but each country would have to be studied separately to determine what is needed.

Mr. McCone suggested an action memorandum from the Chairman of the Special Group (CI), or an NSAM may ultimately be desirable. He emphasized that everyone’s support is needed. Mr. Komer stated that there is no doubt that the evidence indicates widespread activity and preventive measures should be taken now because the price is cheaper early in the game. The Chairman and Mr. FitzGerald both offered examples showing that few people in these countries including high government officials are aware of the Havana Conference of November 1964 or the Pravda statements, and suggested that psychological warfare is not receiving proper attention. Mr. FitzGerald pointed out that one of the main problems in creating security forces is that whenever a regime is toppled, the security forces are the first to be thrown out; this has had the effect of requiring constant retraining. General Wheeler stated he was in agreement with what had been said but felt we may be neglecting the source of much of the infection, Cuba itself. The Chairman agreed and asked Mr. Komer to advise Mr. McGeorge Bundy of the feelings of the Special Group on this score.

Mr. FitzGerald pointed out to the Group that U.S. military personnel in Venezuela are not permitted to accompany local forces into combat areas. This limits their capability to observe and take corrective action. The Group discussed the advisability of a high-level approach to the Venezuelan Government on the seriousness of this limitation.

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After hearing Director McCone’s presentation on new Communist insurgency effort in Latin America, the Special Group (CI) called for a full-scale review of this problem by the agencies concerned. To this end the Group proposed that the Latin American Ad Hoc Working Group analyze: (a) the intensified threat arising out of decisions at Havana Conference in November 1964; (b) the effectiveness of current CI programs addressed to this problem— intelligence, police, military aid, economic aid, psychological warfare and counter-propaganda, and (c) ways of stepping up U.S. and local efforts to cope with the threat on a country-by-country basis. The Latin American Working Group should report to CI Group by 1 June 1965, but may do so earlier on a country-by-country basis.4

The Group also endorsed the CIA/AID proposal for a special airborne police unit to be tried out on an experimental basis in Peru and asked that the Latin American Working Group comment as soon as possible on the feasibility of this proposal for other Latin American countries.5 It was further agreed that USIA would be represented on the Ad Hoc Working Group.

[Omitted here is discussion of a report on Public Safety Programs.]

C. G. Moody, Jr.
Executive Secretary
Special Group (CI)
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Special Group (CI) Files: Lot 70 D 258, 3/18/65–4/15/65. Secret. Drafted by C.G. Moody, Jr., Executive Secretary of the Special Group (CI).
  2. Reference is to a CIA Intelligence Memorandum, “Developments in Countries on the Counterinsurgency List,” April 7. (Ibid.)
  3. Reference is to the Conference of Representatives of Latin American Communist Parties, which met in Havana, November 1964; the communiqué of the conference was published in Pravda, January 19, 1965. The Conference endorsed a number of proposals in the struggle against “imperialism,” including: “To render active support to those who are at present being subjected to brutal reprisals, such as, for instance, the Venezuelan, Colombian, Guatemalan, Honduran, Paraguayan and Haitian fighters.” (Current Digest of the Soviet Press, Vol. XVII, No. 3, February 10, 1965, pp. 15–16)
  4. No evidence was found that the Latin American Ad Hoc Working Group completed a full-scale review of counterinsurgency.
  5. Regarding the airborne unit, the so-called Special Police Emergency Unit (SPEU), see Document 471.