228. Memorandum From Viron P. Vaky of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1 2

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  • Cuban Exiles and the Current Cuban/Soviet Sub-Base Issue

Attached at Tab A is a Canadian report from its Embassy in Havana describing alleged Cuban Government preoccupation with fears of an exile invasion. The reported concern centers on exile activity in Central America.

There is exile activity in Central America. Attached at Tab B is a CIA report on this.

I call your attention to other items which are related:

  • —Since May Castro has repeatedly declared the right of Cuba to carry the fight to the territory of any country which lends itself to the exiles’ organization of invasions.
  • —If exiles are organizing in Central America they may be making a mistake in including Costa Rica President Figueres in their discussions, for reasons which you know about. If we should be supporting these exile plans, all the more so.
  • —We have wondered what the Cubans got out of agreeing to Soviet construction at Cienfuegos. Increased military assistance is probably part of the price. If Castro is worried about exiles, or if he wants some kind of capacity to project his own military strength, the Soviets may have decided to up their military aid accordingly. Exile activity in Central America might now be a convenient excuse for (a) Soviet aid, and (b) Cuban adventurism and retaliation.
  • —Alpha-66, a Miami-based group, has undertaken about three or four infiltration raids since May. All have been rolled up. The Agency denies they have anything to do with Alpha-66. The equipment reported captured by the Cubans when exiles were arrested include AR–18 rifles, cipher pads, and other items indicating some sophisticated support. DOD also has the capacity for clandestine support of such activity.
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Our approach to the Cuban sub-base problem seems to me to require a very controlled precise approach. While in the abstract exile raids might seem useful to give Castro trouble, they are also “unguided missiles”. How would such raids fit into the total picture? Are we sure of the reaction and its relation to other things? What do raids do by way of projecting signals to the Soviets and the Cubans?

In sum, do we have any well-thought-out purpose for encouraging exiles? Have we thought out the chess moves down the road? Shouldn’t these be very controlled? Should they be done now?

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 782, Country Files, Latin America, Soviet Naval Activity in Cuban Waters, Vol. I, Cienfuegos. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. Sent for information and designated “non-log.” Attached but not published are Tabs A and B. Tab A is a September 16 telegram from the Canadian Embassy in Havana. Tab B is a September 24 CIA intelligence memorandum, titled “Cuban Exiles in Central America and the Caribbean.” In an October 5 memorandum to Haig, Vaky reported on a Cuban exile plot to assassinate Cuban officials at the United Nations, noting: “My view is that it would not help our general capacity to fine-tune and control things to have an assassination like this take place in New York, and that therefore any such plan should be cut off.” (Ibid.)
  2. Vaky noted reports that the Cuban Government was preoccupied with exile incursions and speculated about the relationship between exile activities and the establishment of a Soviet submarine base at Cienfuegos.