282. Memorandum From the Central Intelligence Agency to the 40 Committee1


  • Radio Programs Targeted at Cuban and Other Latin American Youth

1. Introduction

a. On 8 December 1967 the 303 Committee endorsed in principle the continued need for a specialized voice to Cuba to supplant Radio [Page 757] Americas, which had engaged in hard-hitting, unrelenting criticism of the Castro regime for several years and which had become widely known as a CIA facility. A lower-key approach to propaganda aimed at Cuba was required. By mid-1968 the Agency had established a program-tape production company, operating as a normal commercial facility, to produce Spanish-language radio programs designed to appeal especially to Cuban youth.

b. The programs, designed to appeal to young people in the 14–25 years of age range, evolved as a mixture of music, news, interviews, and commentaries with the objectives of informing Cuban youth in a subtle fashion of the substantial social, economic, and political changes and progress taking place elsewhere in Latin America and inspiring comparison with their own restricted and controlled opportunities in these fields. The programs are ostensibly directed to audiences in the countries where the transmitting stations are located. Although heard in Cuba, they carry no material identifiably addressed to Cuban audiences.

c. A regional Caribbean program is now carried weekly on stations [1 line not declassified]. The Spanish-language programs are being broadcast by 35 stations in 10 Latin American countries. Analysis of listener response has shown that the themes selected have been of interest and concern to the target audiences both in Cuba and elsewhere in the hemisphere.

d. Reviews of this activity by the 40 Committee in December 1968, March 1970, April 1972, and November 1973 reaffirmed the original objective of broadcasting to Cuban youth. Two additional objectives were approved: (1) programming for other Latin youth to encourage them to work toward positive change in their societies through nonviolent means; and (2) the maintenance of a standby operational capability in the Caribbean, given the increasing Cuban influence there.

e. The Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, and the Director of the Voice of America were briefed on the status of this activity and endorsed its continuation for FY 1974. No briefings have been given since the FY 74 approval.

2. Current Status

a. As the sixth year of operation draws to a close, changing circumstances—particularly with respect to budget and manpower—have led to a reevaluation of the activity in terms of overall priorities. Cuban so [Page 758] ciety today is somewhat less ingrown and limited in outlook than was the case when this effort began, and we can even anticipate a time when Cuba will once more be exposed to a number of diverse outside influences. Various pressures within and upon the society in general and youth in particular appear to be operating in the same direction as our own effort. The latter is believed to have contributed to this trend, but its net effect relative to other factors is now beginning to diminish. Elsewhere in the Caribbean and Latin America, with some exceptions (notably Argentina), the involvement of youth in terrorist and other violence seems to be lessening. The need for this type of activity in the hemisphere therefore no longer appears to be as great as in the past.

b. It is accordingly desired to withdraw from the activity during the course of Fiscal Year 1975. The process must be gradual in order to permit orderly liquidation of the program-production company, so that it may appear to go out of business in a normal commercial manner and thus protect the security of the operation.

c. The greatest risk in this activity continues to be disclosure of U.S. Government involvement in the production company and its activities. Termination will be effected in such a manner as to minimize this danger.

3. Termination Plan

a. As the first step toward termination, the two witting officials of the two U.S. firms which have ostensibly sponsored these radio programs [less than 1 line not declassified] will be contacted to coordinate the timing for the cutoff. These two firms have marketing interests which must be protected by an orderly withdrawal. The nominal trustee of the company will be briefed on the cover story for the termination; namely, that the company has found competition to be stiff and has not been able to make enough money. Existing contracts for programs will be reviewed to determine how rapidly outstanding commitments can be liquidated. On the basis of this determination a schedule for cessation of business activities will be established. Employees will be given notice that the company is going out of business, with individual separation dates to be dependent on the length of time during which programs must be produced to meet existing commitments.

b. Employees will be afforded ample time to find other employment. Return transportation of their families and household effects to their point of origin or any intermediate point chosen will be paid for as provided in their contracts. They will also be given separation payments equal to two months’ salary to assist them in making the transition to another field of activity.

c. The legal dissolution of the company will be effected in accordance with the statutory requirements [less than 1 line not declassified].

[Page 759]

d. The maximum anticipated costs of the foregoing plan would be approximately as follows:

(1) Employee salaries, termination bonuses, and relocation [dollar amount not declassified]
(2) Production expenses, broadcast fees, air time costs, and possible penalty and forfeiture payments [dollar amount not declassified]
(3) Office operating expenses [dollar amount not declassified]
(4) Office rent (remaining four years of lease) [dollar amount not declassified]
(5) Federal and state taxes and insurance [dollar amount not declassified]
(6) Travel and transportation expenses [dollar amount not declassified]
TOTAL $335,000

4. Costs

Fiscal Year 1973 costs were [dollar amount not declassified]. It is estimated that Fiscal Year 1974 costs will be $335,000 and that Fiscal Year 1975 costs for termination will not exceed this amount.

5. Recommendation

It is recommended that the 40 Committee approve the termination of this activity in Fiscal Year 1975.

  1. Summary: The Central Intelligence Agency proposed terminating a clandestine program that had produced radio broadcasts designed to appeal to Cuban youth.

    Source: National Security Council, Nixon Intelligence Files, Subject Files A–I, Box I008, Cuba 26 April 1969–4 September 1974. Secret; Eyes Only. All brackets are in the original except those indicating text that remains classified. In a September 4 memorandum, Ratliff sought Kissinger’s authorization to record termination of the radio broadcasting program in a minute that would be sent to 40 Committee members; Kissinger initialed his approval, and a notation indicates that the minute recording the decision was dated September 19. (Ibid., Ford Intelligence Files, Subject Files M–Z, Box I012, Youth and Students, 4 Sep 1974)