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Department Seal

Volume X
Cuba, 1961-1962



Cuba, 1961-1962

1. Telegram From the Embassy in Cuba to the Department of State

Havana, January 3, 1961, 1 a.m.

//Source: Eisenhower Library, Project Clean Up, Cuba. Official Use Only; Niact.

2674. Reference: Embassy telegram 2667./1/ Note received from Ministry of Foreign Relations at 1:20 a.m. January 3 reading in translation as follows:

/1/In telegram 2667 from Havana, January 2, Charge Daniel M. Braddock reported that Castro had just announced that his government had decided that the United States would not be allowed to have a greater number of diplomatic personnel in Cuba than Cuba maintained in the United States. Castro indicated that if all the U.S. officials remaining in Cuba decided to leave that would be "perfectly all right with us." He added that "90 percent of functionaries are spies anyway." (Ibid.)

Havana, January 2, 1961, Year of Education

Mr. Charge d'Affaires:

I have the honor to inform you that the Revolutionary Government has decided that under present circumstances the personnel of the Embassy and Consulate of Cuba in the City of Washington, whether diplomatic, consular, or of other character, whatever their nationality, should not exceed eleven persons. Likewise it has decided that the personnel of the Embassy and Consulate of the United States in the city of Habana, whether diplomatic, consular or of other character, whatever their nationality, should likewise be limited to eleven persons.

For the purpose of facilitating the departure of the persons who for this reason must abandon the national territory, a period of 48 hours has been fixed from the time of receipt of this note.

I take the opportunity, Mr. Charge d'Affaires, to reiterate to you the assurance of my reciprocity of your considerations./2/

/2/Braddock assessed the Cuban note and its impact in telegram 2675 from Havana, January 3. His conclusion was that it would be impossible to maintain a useful operation at the level authorized by the Cuban Government. Braddock recommended that the United States respond by breaking relations immediately. (Ibid.) The note is also printed in Department of State Bulletin, January 23, 1961, p. 104.

Signed Carlos Olivares.


2. Editorial Note

On January 3, 1961, at 9 a.m., a meeting was held at the White House to consider a response to the note from the Cuban Foreign Ministry which was transmitted in telegram 2674 from Havana. (Document 1) According to notes on the meeting taken by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Lyman Lemnitzer, the participants included President Eisenhower, Secretary of State Christian Herter, Secretary of Defense Thomas Gates, Secretary of the Treasury Robert Anderson, Special Assistant for National Security Affairs Gordon Gray, Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles, CIA Deputy Director for Plans Richard Bissell, Bissell's Assistant C. Tracy Barnes, and several officials from the Department of State, including Under Secretary Livingston Merchant and Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs Thomas Mann.

Herter summarized the Cuban note and read Charge Braddock's message recommending an immediate break in relations. (See footnote 2, Document 1) Mann noted that, in the event of a break in relations, the Swiss Embassy in Havana could be expected to look after U.S. interests in Cuba. The President asked how the United States would know what was happening in Cuba if relations were broken and was told that, outside of Cuban exile sources, the United States would have only limited sources of information in Cuba after relations were broken. After some discussion, it was concluded that a break in relations would not affect the treaty guaranteeing the United States the use of Guantanamo naval base. Gates and Merchant questioned the need to respond immediately to the Cuban note, but Eisenhower decided to make a clean break and directed Herter to take the steps necessary to effect the break as quickly as possible.

Lemnitzer's notes conclude with the action assigned to the Joint Chiefs: "Look into ways and means of training Cuban refugees & expand the program." The program he referred to was the program developing under CIA direction to launch an invasion of Cuba with a force of Cuban exiles. (National Defense University, Lemnitzer Papers, Notes, Miscellaneous Meetings, 1961) Notes on the meeting were also taken by Barnes, who recorded that it was agreed that the number of Cuban exiles being trained for the invasion should be increased, possibly up to 1,500, and additional training sites would have to be developed. (Central Intelligence Agency, DCI Files: Job 85-00664R, Box 2, Vol. III, Part IV) For another record of the meeting, see Document 3.

3. Memorandum for the Record

Washington, January 3, 1961.

//Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, Cuba Program, Nov 1960-Jan 20, 1961. Secret. Prepared by Barnes. According to a chronology prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency on May 24, 1961, entitled "Special Group Consideration of the Strike Force Concept," those attending the meeting included Secretary of State Herter, Secretary of Defense Gates, Secretary of the Treasury Anderson, Director of Central Intelligence Dulles, Special Assistant for National Security Affairs Gray, Under Secretary of Defense James H. Douglas, Under Secretary of State Merchant, Assistant Secretary of State Mann, CIA Deputy Director for Plans Bissell, his assistant Tracy Barnes, and Brigadier General Andrew J. Goodpaster. The location of the meeting is not given. (Central Intelligence Agency, DDO/LA/COG Files: Job 82-00679R, Box 3, Gen Maxwell Taylor, Green Study Group, Vol. II) The chronology covers the period November 1960 through January 1961 and is included in the Supplement.


Outline of 3 January 1961 Meeting

Points covered were:

1. A discussion of whether or not to break relations which it was quickly decided should be done. It was stated that it might be more difficult [4-1/2 lines of source text not declassified]. The importance of commo obviously is to know on a current basis what the situation is and what sort of treatment is being accorded to American nationals. The tone of the meeting was clearly in support of overt introduction of U.S. forces if any steps were taken by the Cubans either to harm American citizens or to attack or damage official U.S. property (e.g. Guantanamo).

2. A fairly detailed discussion followed as to when the break should be announced. The upshot of this was to favor slightly an immediate break, i.e. even prior to the expected Cuban attack in the UN on 4 January but subject to discussions by the Department with Messrs. Braddock and Wadsworth in order to obtain their views. The Department will make the final decision.

3. There was considerable discussion of the situation in Cuba with general agreement on its seriousness and on the need for action. It again was made clear that action would be taken immediately should the Cubans provoke it in any aggressive way. Even without such provocation, it was clear that the meeting felt that pretty rigorous action should be taken and obviously could successfully be taken--the danger, however, being that if it went too far it might rupture the structure of the OAS which, of course, is undesirable.

4. As to present preparations, there was some discussion about the use of U.S. soil for training. The consensus of the meeting was against this although it was agreed that efforts should be made to try and increase the number of trainees, possibly up to 1500, which if done would require additional training sites. In this connection it was felt that perhaps some additional trainees might be spread around in relatively small groups and given some training. The cover story could be that enlistment in these small cadres was the best way to keep them together, cover the language problems, provide them with some sustenance and keep them occupied. Another possibility suggested was some military training in refugee camps, some of which have already been created. The conclusion, however, was clear that preparations should proceed and that to the extent possible the size of the force should be increased.

5. There was some discussion about talking with other Latin American countries on a bi-lateral basis with a view to having them consider providing support against Cuba at an appropriate moment. This would involve breaking of relations at the proper time and possible active support such as recognition of an opposition government and the provision of material, men and conceivably a little money. In this connection it was made clear that action against Trujillo should be seriously pushed. It was urged that in all future propaganda Trujillo's name be paired with that of Castro in order to increase in people's minds the similarity between them as dictators and help overcome distinctions such as one being right and the other being left. It was suggested that possibly Venezuela would be willing to attack the DR if it could be assured of some U.S. support. This plan was thought to be worth examination particularly if it could be worked out so as to occur at the same time as an effort against Cuba.

6. There was some discussion as to when it might be advisable to recognize a provisional Cuban government. Although there was some argument that it might be well to do so fairly soon, the sense of the meeting was that it would be preferable to wait until the individuals involved were located on Cuban soil.

7. It was clearly the sense of the meeting that all possible reasonable efforts should be made now and through the immediate future to provide materiel support to opposition elements inside Cuba and to step up propaganda including leaflet missions.

8. (See below)

C. Tracy Barnes/1/

/1/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.

8. In addition to the above points, there was a brief discussion about briefing members of the new administration. The State Department made it clear that it considered such a briefing important, particularly for Mr. Rusk. No definite schedule was agreed upon but the consensus of the meeting was that appropriate briefings should be considered for the near future./2/

/2/Presumably paragraph 8 was added at a later time.

4. Memorandum of Conversation Between Secretary of State Herter and Dean Rusk

Washington, January 3, 1961, 12:30 p.m.

//Source: Eisenhower Library, Herter Papers, 1957-61. Secret. Drafted by Herter. Dean Rusk was Secretary of State-designate.

I discussed with Dean Rusk the following three matters:

1. The Cuban situation resulting from the note/1/ sent through the Embassy in Havana to the effect that our personnel had to be reduced within 48 hours to a total of eleven, including locals. I explained that our Charge d'Affaires in Havana had recommended that the best course for us would be to break off diplomatic relations completely since it would be impossible to carry on in anything like a dignified or effective way with such small staff. I further told him that we had checked with Wadsworth/2/ in New York, who had felt that such a break would not interfere with the debate on the charges brought by Cuba against us to begin tomorrow, and I, likewise, checked with Braddock in Havana, who reiterated his recommendation for a clean break and felt that such a break would not jeopardize the situation with respect to the remaining U.S. citizens in Cuba.

/1/Document 1.

/2/James J. Wadsworth, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

I then told Dean Rusk that I thought a decision would be reached this afternoon with respect to breaking diplomatic relations, and that my expectation was that this would be done. He asked if he could have until 3.00 p.m. to report reactions, and that his own impression was that there would be no reaction unless there was a very violent feeling on the part of the President-elect./3/

/3/Rusk telephoned Herter later the same afternoon to indicate that he had passed along the information concerning the possibility of breaking relations with Cuba, and that Kennedy did not want to comment on the merits "either way." (Eisenhower Library, Herter Papers, Telephone Conversations)

[Here follows a summary of discussion unrelated to Cuba.]

Christian A. Herter/4/

/4/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.

5. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between Secretary of State Herter and President Eisenhower

Washington, January 3, 1961, 7:30 p.m.

//Source: Eisenhower Library, Herter Papers, Telephone Conversations. No classification marking.

The President telephoned that if the Cubans attack Guantanamo, they would be kicked out with force. The Secretary said our Legal Adviser/1/ was doing what he was supposed to do in looking into it. He said we would move right along on this. The President said they were waiting for the other paper/2/ and the Secretary said it was on its way.

/1/Eric Hager.

/2/Not further identified.

6. Memorandum for the Record

Washington, January 5, 1961.

//Source: Eisenhower Library, Project Clean Up, Cuba. No classification marking. Drafted by Goodpaster.

On the evening of January third, Secretary Herter called me to say that he was sending a recommendation to the President as to timing of breaking relations with Cuba (the meeting with the President in the morning/1/ had resulted in the President's approval to break relations, with a request to State Department to give him their view on timing). Mr. Herter said the matter was entirely clear-cut, except that, contrary to his statement in the morning, it did seem that there is some basis for a possible charge that breach of relations would vitiate our treaty rights in Guantanamo. He said he would call me back shortly to elaborate on this point.

/1/See Documents 2 and 3.

He called back within an hour and said the point was essentially this--that the agreement reached in 1903/2/ involved a payment of rental on the part of the United States, and an undertaking to return fugitives. These provisions were confirmed in 1934 when the treaty was extended to state that it could not be altered or abrogated without agreement of both parties./3/ He said the problem is that it might be argued we would not be in position to carry out the provision about return of fugitives. I asked Mr. Herter whether the weight of legal opinion would support this charge, would support us against the charge, or would be rather evenly divided. He said he could not say, but had the legal advisor, Mr. Hager, come on the phone and talk to me about this./4/ Mr. Hager said this is a very gray area of international law. He added that a very good argument could be made by us, and a lot of non-Soviet nations would see some weight in our position, which would be a respectable one. However, the argument would be a very good one against us as well. He added that one key point is that he cannot think of a forum in which this charge could be effectively brought to bear, since the question would be held to be a political rather than a legal one.

/2/For text of the agreement between the United States and the Republic of Cuba for the lease of lands in Cuba for coaling and naval stations, which was signed by the President of Cuba on February 1, 1903, and by the President of the United States on February 23, 1903, see Foreign Relations, 1903, pp. 350-351. The terms of the lease, signed at Havana on July 2, 1903, established an annual rent of $2,000 in gold coin for naval or coaling stations in Guantanamo and Bahia Honda, Cuba. (Ibid., pp. 351-353)

/3/For text of the agreement signed by the United States and Cuba on May 29, 1934, which extended the provisions of the 1903 treaty concerning the lease of the Guantanamo naval base, see Treaties, Conventions, International Acts, Protocols, and Agreements between the United States of America and Other Powers, 1933-1937, pp. 4054-4055.

/4/A fuller record of this conversation and several others on January 3 involving Herter and the question of breaking relations with Cuba are in the Eisenhower Library, Herter Papers, Telephone Conversations.

I asked Mr. Herter, who had heard all of this, whether in light of all these considerations he would still recommend that the President go forward with the proposed action. He said he would.

I then met with the President in the Mansion and he approved the proposed action and statements./5/ On my suggestion he talked by telephone to Mr. Herter in the foregoing sense.

/5/See Document 8.

A.J. Goodpaster/6/

Brigadier General, USA

/6/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.

7. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Cuba

Washington, January 3, 1961, 9:05 p.m.

//Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.37/1-361. Unclassified; Niact; Verbatim Text. Drafted by Hurwitch and approved by Vallon. The text of the note is also printed in Department of State Bulletin, January 23, 1961, pp. 103-104.

1347. Following is text of note delivered 8:30 p.m. January 3 to Cuban Charge:


I have the honor to refer to a note dated January 2, 1961/1/ from the Government of Cuba to the Charge d'Affaires of the United States Embassy in Habana stating that the Government of Cuba has decided that personnel of the Embassy and Consulate of the United States in the City of Habana, regardless of nationality, shall not exceed eleven persons.

/1/See Document 1.

This unwarranted action by the Government of Cuba places crippling limitations on the ability of the United States Mission to carry on its normal diplomatic and consular functions. It would consequently appear that it is designed to achieve an effective termination of diplomatic and consular relations between the Government of Cuba and the Government of the United States. Accordingly, the Government of the United States hereby formally notifies the Government of Cuba of the termination of such relations.

The Government of the United States intends to comply with the requirement of the Government of Cuba concerning the withdrawal of all but eleven persons within the period of 48 hours from 1:20 a.m. on January 3, the time of the delivery of the note under reference. In addition, the Government of the United States will withdraw its remaining diplomatic and consular personnel in Cuba as soon as possible thereafter.

The Government of Cuba is requested to withdraw from the United States as soon as possible all Cuban nationals employed in the Cuban Embassy in Washington and in all Cuban Consular establishments in the United States.

The Government of the United States is requesting the Government of Switzerland to assume diplomatic and consular representation in Cuba on behalf of the Government of the United States./2/

/2/A copy of the note addressed to the Swiss Government of January 4, requesting Switzerland to assume diplomatic and consular representation in Cuba on behalf of the United States, is in the Eisenhower Library, Project Clean Up, Cuba.

I take this opportunity to reiterate to you the assurances of my reciprocity of your considerations."/3/


/3/The Cuban Government acknowledged the "rupture" of relations in a note addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Havana on January 4. The note indicated that the Government of Czechoslovakia had been requested to assume responsibility for the diplomatic and consular interests of Cuba in the United States. (Despatch 1506 from Havana, January 4; Department of State, Central Files, 611.37/1-461)

8. Editorial Note

In conjunction with the delivery on January 3, 1961, of the note notifying the Cuban Embassy of the U.S. decision to terminate relations between the two countries (see Document 7), the White House released a statement by President Eisenhower. Eisenhower made reference to the note received earlier in the day from the Cuban Government, which he stated "can have no other purpose than to render impossible the conduct of normal diplomatic relations with that Government." It was, he added, a "calculated action on the part of the Castro government" and "the latest of a long series of harassments, baseless accusations, and vilification." Accordingly, he had instructed Secretary Herter to return a note stating that the United States "is hereby formally terminating diplomatic and consular relations with the Government of Cuba." He stressed that this move did not affect U.S. friendship and concern for the people of Cuba who were, he said, "suffering under the yoke of a dictator." (Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1960-61, page 891)

On January 4 White House Press Secretary James C. Hagerty issued a supplementary statement concerning the Guantanamo naval base: "The termination of our diplomatic and consular relations with Cuba has no effect on the status of our naval station at Guantanamo. The treaty rights under which we maintain the naval station may not be abrogated without the consent of the United States." (Department of State Bulletin, January 23, 1961, page 104)

9. Memorandum From the Chief of WH/4/PM, Central Intelligence Agency (Hawkins) to the Chief of WH/4 of the Directorate for Plans (Esterline)

Washington, January 4, 1961.

//Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, Subjects, Taylor Report. Secret. Branch 4 of the Western Hemishere Division was an internal task force created within the CIA in January 1960 to direct the Cuban project. J.D. Esterline became task force director on January 18, 1960. Esterline reported on the project to the Deputy Director for Plans, Richard M. Bissell, although Bissell's principal aide, Tracy Barnes, who acted for Bissell about 50 percent of the time. Branch 4 began with a staff of 20 and grew by April 1961 to a staff of more than 500 with its own communications, propaganda, and military sections. Marine Corps Colonel Jack Hawkins was assigned to Branch 4 in September 1960, with direct responsibility for military training operations. (Minutes of the Paramilitary Study Group, May 22, 1961, Envelope 6; Naval Historical Center, Area Files, Bumpy Road Materials)


Policy Decisions Required for Conduct of Strike Operations Against Government of Cuba

1. Purpose:

The purpose of this memorandum is to outline the current status of our preparations for the conduct of amphibious/airborne and tactical air operations against the Government of Cuba and to set forth certain requirements for policy decisions which must be reached and implemented if these operations are to be carried out.

2. Concept:

As a basis for the policy requirements to be presented below, it would appear appropriate to review briefly the concept of the strike operations contemplated and outline the objectives which these operations are designed to accomplish.

The concept envisages the seizure of a small lodgement on Cuban soil by an all-Cuban amphibious/airborne force of about 750 men. The landings in Cuba will be preceded by a tactical air preparation, beginning at dawn of D-1 Day. The primary purpose of the air preparation will be to destroy or neutralize all Cuban military aircraft and naval vessels constituting a threat to the invasion force. When this task is accomplished, attacks will then be directed against other military targets, including artillery parks, tank parks, military vehicles, supply dumps, etc. Close air support will be provided to the invasion force on D-Day and thereafter as long as the force is engaged in combat. The primary targets during this time will be opposing military formations in the field. Particular efforts will be made to interdict opposing troop movements against the lodgement.

The initial mission of the invasion force will be to seize and defend a small area, which under ideal conditions will include an airfield and access to the sea for logistic support. Plans must provide, however, for the eventuality that the force will be driven into a tight defensive formation which will preclude supply by sea or control of an airfield. Under such circumstances supply would have to be provided entirely by air drop. The primary objective of the force will be to survive and maintain its integrity on Cuban soil. There will be no early attempt to break out of the lodgement for further offensive operations unless and until there is a general uprising against the Castro regime or overt military intervention by United States forces has taken place.

It is expected that these operations will precipitate a general uprising throughout Cuba and cause the revolt of large segments of the Cuban Army and Militia. The lodgement, it is hoped, will serve as a rallying point for the thousands who are ready for overt resistance to Castro but who hesitate to act until they can feel some assurance of success. A general revolt in Cuba, if one is successfully triggered by our operations, may serve to topple the Castro regime within a period of weeks.

If matters do not eventuate as predicted above, the lodgement established by our force can be used as the site for establishment of a provisional government which can be recognized by the United States, and hopefully by other American states, and given overt military assistance. The way will then be paved for United States military intervention aimed at pacification of Cuba, and this will result in the prompt overthrow of the Castro Government.

While this paper is directed to the subject of strike operations, it should not be presumed that other paramilitary programs will be suspended or abandoned. These are being intensified and accelerated. They include the supply by air and sea of guerrilla elements in Cuba, the conduct of sabotage operations, the introduction of specially trained paramilitary teams, and the expansion of our agent networks throughout the island.

3. Status of Forces:

a. Air. The Project tactical air force includes ten B-28 aircraft currently based in Guatamala and at Eglin Air Force Base. However, there are only five Cuban B-26 pilots available at this time who are considered to be of highly technical competence. Six additional Cuban pilots are available, but their proficiency is questionable.

It is planned that seven C-54 and four C-46 transports will be available for strike operations. Here again, the number of qualified Cuban crews is insufficient. There is one qualified C-54 crew on hand at this time, and three C-46 crews.

Aviation ordnance for conduct of strike operations is yet to be positioned at the strike base in Nicaragua. Necessary construction and repairs at this base are now scheduled to commence, and there appears to be no obstacle to placing this facility in a state of readiness in time for operations as planned.


(1) The number of qualified Cuban B-26 crews available is inadequate for conduct of strike operations.

(2) The number of qualified Cuban transport crews is grossly inadequate for supply operations which will be required in support of the invasion forces and other friendly forces which are expected to join or operate in conjunction with it in many parts of Cuba. It is anticipated that multiple sorties will be required on a daily basis.

b. Maritime. Amphibious craft for the operation, including three LOU's and four LCVP's are now at Viaques, Puerto Rico, where Cuban crew training is progressing satisfactorily. These craft with their crews will soon be ready for operations.

The Barbara J (LCI), now enroute to the United States from Puerto Rico, requires repairs which may take up to two weeks for completion. The sister ship, the Blagar, is outfitting in Miami, and its crew is being assembled. It is expected that both vessels will be fully operational by mid-January at the latest.

In view of the difficulty and delay encountered in purchasing, outfitting and readying for sea the two LCI's, the decision has been reached to purchase no more major vessels, but to charter them instead. The motor ship, Rio Escondido (converted LCT) will be chartered this week and one additional steam ship, somewhat larger, will be chartered early in February. Both ships belong to a Panamanian Corporation controlled by the Garcia family of Cuba, who are actively cooperating with this Project. These two ships will provide sufficient lift for troops and supplies in the invasion operation.


Maritime assets required will be available in ample time for strike operations in late February.

a. Ground. There are approximately 500 Cuban personnel now in training in Guatemala. Results being achieved in the FRD recruiting drive now underway in Miami indicate that extraordinary measures may be required if the ranks of the Assault Brigade are to be filled to its planned strength of 750 by mid-January. Special recruiting teams comprised of members of the Assault Brigade are being brought to Miami to assist in recruiting efforts in that city and possibly in other countries, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. All recruits should be available by mid-January to allow at least four to six weeks of training prior to commitment.

The Assault Brigade has been formed into its basic organization (a quadrangular infantry battalion, including four rifle companies, and a weapons company). Training is proceeding to the extent possible with the limited number of military instructors available. This force cannot be adequately trained for combat unless additional military trainers are provided.


(1) It is probable that the Assault Brigade can reach its planned strength of 750 prior to commitment, but it is possible that upwards of 100 of these men will be recruited too late for adequate training.

(2) Unless U.S. Army Special Forces training teams as requested are sent promptly to Guatemala, the Assault Brigade cannot be readied for combat by late February as planned and desired.

(3) The Assault Brigade should not be committed to action until it has received at least four and preferably six weeks of training under supervision of the U.S. Army team. This means that the latter half of February is the earliest satisfactory time for the strike operation.

4. Major Policy Questions Requiring Resolution:

In order that planning and preparation for the strike operation may proceed in an orderly manner and correct positioning of hundreds of tons of supplies and equipment can be effected, a number of firm decisions concerning major questions or policy are required. These are discussed below.

a. The Concept Itself.

Discussion. The question of whether the incoming administration of President-Elect Kennedy will concur in the conduct of the strike operations outlined above needs to be resolved at the earlist possible time. If these operations are not to be conducted, then preparations for them should cease forthwith in order to avoid the needless waste of great human effort and many millions of dollars. Recruitment of additional Cuban personnel should be stopped, for every new recruit who is not employed in operations as intended presents an additional problem of eventual disposition.

Recommendation. That the Director of Central Intelligence attempt to determine the position of the President-Elect and his Secretary of State-Designate in regard to this question as soon as possible.

b. Timing of the Operation.

If Army Special Forces training teams are made available and dispatched to Guatemala by mid-January, the Assault Brigade can achieve acceptable readiness for combat during the latter half of February, 1961. All other required preparations can be made by that same time. The operation should be launched during this period. Any delay beyond 1 March, 1961, would be inadvisable for the following reasons:

(1) It is doubtful that Cuban forces can be maintained at our Guatemalan training base beyond 1 March, 1961. Pressures upon the Government of Guatemala may become unmanageable if Cuban ground troops are not removed by that date.

(2) Cuban trainees cannot be held in training for much longer. Many have been in the camp for months under most austere and restrictive conditions. They are becoming restive and if not committed to action soon there will probably be a general lowering of morale. Large-scale desertions could occur with attendant possibilities of surfacing the entire program.

(3) While the support of the Castro Government by the Cuban populace is deteriorating rapidly and time is working in our favor in that sense, it is working to our disadvantage in a military sense. Cuban jet pilots are being trained in Czechoslovakia and the appearance of modern radar throughout Cuba indicates a strong possibility that Castro may soon have an all-weather jet intercept capability. His ground forces have received vast quantities of military equipment from the Bloc countries, including medium and heavy tanks, field artillery, heavy mortars and anti-aircraft artillery. Bloc technicians are training his forces in the use of this formidable equipment. Undoubtedly, within the near future Castro's hard core of loyal armed forces will achieve technical proficiency in the use of available modern weapons.

(4) Castro is making rapid progress in establishing a Communist-style police state which will be difficult to unseat by any means short of overt intervention by U.S. military forces.

Recommendation. That the strike operation be conducted in the latter half of February, and not later than 1 March, 1961.

c. Air Strike.

The question has been raised in some quarters as to whether amphibious/airborne operation could not be mounted without tactical air preparation or support or with minimal air support. It is axiomatic in amphibious operations that control of air and sea in the objective area is absolutely required. The Cuban Air Force and naval vessels capable of opposing our landing must be knocked out or neutralized before our amphibious shipping makes its final run into the beach. If this is not done, we will be courting disaster. Also, since our invasion force is very small in comparison to forces which may be thrown against it, we must compensate for numerical inferiority by effective tactical air support not only during the landing but thereafter as long as the force remains in combat. It is essential that opposing military targets such as artillery parks, tank parks, supply dumps, military convoys and troops in the field be brought under effective and continuing air attack. Psychological considerations also make such attacks essential. The spectacular aspects of air operations will go far toward producing the uprising in Cuba that we seek.


(1) That the air preparation commence not later than dawn of D minus 1 day.

(2) That any move to curtail the number of aircraft to be employed from those available be firmly resisted.

(3) That the operation be abandoned if policy does not provide for use of adequate tactical air support.

d. Use of American Contract Pilots.

The paragraph above outlines the requirement for precise and effective air strikes, while an earlier paragraph points up the shortage of qualified Cuban pilots. It is very questionable that the limited number of Cuban B-26 pilots available to us can produce the desired results unless augmented by highly skillful American contract pilots to serve as section and flight leaders in attacks against the more critical targets. The Cuban pilots are inexperienced in war and of limited technical competence in navigation and gunnery. There is reason also to suspect that they may lack the motivation to take the stern measures required against targets in their own country. It is considered that the success of the operation will be jeopardized unless a few American contract B-26 pilots are employed.

With regard to logistical air operations, the shortage of Cuban crews has already been mentioned. There is no prospect of producing sufficient Cuban C-54 crews to run the seven C-54 aircraft to be used in the operation. Our experience to date with the Cuban transport crews has left much to be desired. It is concluded that the only satisfactory solution to the problem of air logistical support of the strike force and other forces joining it will be to employ a number of American contract crews.


That policy approval be obtained for use of American contract crews for tactical and transport aircraft in augmentation of the inadequate number of Cuban crews available.

e. Use of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua.

The airfield at Puerto Cabezas is essential for conduct of the air strike operation unless a base is made available in the United States. Our air lease [base?] in Guatemala is 800 miles from central Cuba--too distant for B-26 operations and for air supply operations of the magnitude required, using the C-46 and C-54 aircraft. Puerto Cabezas is only 500 miles from central Cuba--acceptable, although too distant to be completely desirable, for B-26 and transport operations.

Puerto Cabezas will also serve as the staging area for loading assault troops into transports much more satisfactorily than Puerto Barries, Guatemala which is exposed to hostile observation and lacks security. It is planned that troops will be flown in from Guatemala to Puerto Cabezas, placed in covered trucks, loaded over the docks at night into amphibious shipping, which will then immediately retire to sea.


The strike operation cannot be conducted unless the Puerto Cabezas air facility is available for our use, or unless an air base in the United States is made available.

Recommendation. That firm policy be obtained for use of Puerto Cabezas as an air strike base and staging area.

f. Use of U.S. Air Base for Logistical Flights.

An air base in southern Florida would be roughly twice as close to central Cuba as Puerto Cabezas. This means that the logistical capability of our limited number of transport aircraft would be almost doubled if operated from Florida rather than Puerto Cabezas. Logistical support of the strike force in the target would be much more certain and efficient if flown from Florida.

There is also a possibility that once the strike operations commence, conditions would develop which would force us out of the Nicaraguan air base. Without some flexibility of air base with pre-positioned supplies in the United States, we could conceivably be confronted with a situation wherein the Assault Brigade would be left entirely without logistical air support. Supply by sea cannot be relied upon, for the Brigade may be driven by superior forces from the beach area. Such a situation could lead to complete defeat of the Brigade and failure of the mission.

It seems obvious that the only real estate which the United States can, without question, continue to employ once the operation commences is its own soil. Therefore, an air base for logistical support should be provided in the United States. This will offer the possibility of continued, flexible operations, if one or both of our bases in Guatemala and/or Nicaragua are lost to our use.


That policy be established to permit use of an air base in southern Florida (preferably Opa Locka which is now available to us and has storage facilities for supplies) for logistical support flights to Cuba.

J. Hawkins/1/

Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps

/1/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.

10. Editorial Note

On January 4, 1961, the U.N. Security Council met in response to a request on December 31, 1960, from the Foreign Minister of Cuba to adopt the measures necessary to prevent the armed forces of the United States from violating the sovereignty of Cuba. (U.N. doc. S/4605) James J. Wadsworth, U.S. Representative in the Security Council, dismissed Cuban allegations of a "sinister plan," which he stated were based on "the kind of second-hand rumor which Dr. Roa uses instead of evidence." Wadsworth added that it was "natural and readily understandable" that some of the Cuban exiles who had found refuge in the United States would want to attempt to overturn the government which had caused them and their homeland so much hardship. But he stated that "the United States Government has been in no way associated with such activities." (U.N. doc. S/PV.921)

At the afternoon meeting of the Security Council on January 4, the Representatives of Chile and Ecuador introduced a draft resolution calling upon the Governments of the United States and Cuba to resolve their differences. (U.N. doc. S/4612) Debate on the Cuban complaint carried over to January 5, and the Council dropped the complaint for want of sufficient grounds for taking action. The Representatives of Chile and Ecuador did not press for a vote on their draft resolution. (U.N. doc. S/PV.923)

11. Editorial Note

In briefing the National Security Council on January 5, 1961, on significant world developments affecting U.S. security, Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles offered the following assessment of developments relating to Cuba:

"Mr. Dulles reported that Castro had reacted violently and defiantly to the rupture in U.S.-Cuban diplomatic relations. The controlled Cuban press had hurled a great deal of invective at the U.S. On the eve of the rupture in diplomatic relations, Khrushchev had said at a Cuban reception in Moscow that the U.S. was pursuing a dangerous policy in attempting to suppress the Cuban revolution; while reiterating Soviet support for Cuba, he had remained vague as to the character of that support. Peru was pleased at our action in breaking off diplomatic relations; Chile had indicated it would not follow our example; Venezuela, Honduras and other countries were considering a rupture but will take no immediate action. Newspapers in Brazil are calling the present situation a crisis and suggesting that Latin American countries do not follow the U.S. lead. The President said this was a typical South American reaction. Continuing, Mr. Dulles said Panama seemed on the verge of declaring the Cuban Ambassador persona non grata while Mexico had remarked that it would now be difficult to influence Cuba and get rid of Castro. Secretary Herter said the reaction from Mexico had been much more moderate than anticipated.

"Mr. Dulles said that all Latin American Communists and Communist front groups were urging support for Castro. Apparently, Canada will continue to maintain relations with Cuba. Mr. Dulles said the 50,000 applicants for U.S. visas in Cuba were very distressed at the severance of diplomatic relations. He added that [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] the Soviet, Czechoslovakian, Polish, and Chinese Communist embassies in Cuba now contained about 100 persons and that 200 additional Bloc nationals not directly attached to the embassies were in Cuba. Five more Bloc countries--Hungary, Roumania, Albania, North Vietnam, and Mongolia--had been recognized by Cuba. Military equipment from the Bloc continues to arrive in Cuba.

"Secretary Anderson pointed out that economic controls had not been applied against Cuba. He thought such controls would have little effect now although they might have had some effect if applied a year ago. The Treasury Department was prepared to apply these controls if a political decision were made to do so. Secretary Herter said the application of these controls would involve invoking the Trading-with-the Enemy Act. Secretary Gates asked why it would not be desirable to apply such controls. He thought this would mean a desirable psychological move even though there was not much U.S.-Cuban trade at present. The President said that the Secretary of Commerce should be consulted with respect to our trade with Cuba. The Vice President noted that many people in Florida objected very strenuously to such trade as we still carried on with Cuba. Mr. Dulles said the businessmen he talked to believed that the elimination of our lard exports to Cuba would have a desirable effect because the Cuban people would blame Castro for the lack of lard.

"The President asked whether economic controls could be applied to Cuba without a public order. Secretary Herter said an Executive Order would be required. Secretary Anderson said the application of such controls would not have much economic effect now, so that the decision for such application should rest on a political judgment. The Vice President felt that economic controls should be applied to Cuba now that diplomatic relations with that country had been severed. In response to a question from the President, Mr. Randall said that while he had been opposed to the early invocation of the Trading-with-the-Enemy Act, he now favored using all the instruments at hand against Cuba and would, therefore, favor economic controls. The President asked Secretary Herter, consulting as necessary with Secretaries Anderson and Mueller, to let him have recommendations on the imposition of economic controls against Cuba." (Memorandum of discussion at the 473d meeting of the National Security Council, prepared on January 5 by Deputy Executive Secretary Marion W. Boggs; Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records) The Trading with the Enemy Act was enacted on October 6, 1917. For text, and revisions, see 40 Stat. 411, as amended.

12. Memorandum From Secretary of State Herter to President Eisenhower

Washington, January 5, 1961.

//Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Dulles-Herter Series. Secret. Initialed as seen by President Eisenhower. A handwritten note on the source text by Goodpaster, dated January 6, reads: "Told State President has approved."


Invocation of Trading with the Enemy Act Against Cuba

From an economic point of view the application of the Trading with the Enemy Act would have a limited effect. The assets of the Cuban Government in the United States are believed to be very small. We have already embargoed exports from the United States to Cuba under the Export Control Act except for certain foods and medical supplies which continue to go forward on humanitarian grounds. On the import side you have already exercised your authority to eliminate imports of Cuban sugar, which constitute approximately 70% of Cuba's exports to the United States. The principal economic effect of the application of the Trading with the Enemy Act would therefore be to limit the remaining 30% of Cuba's exports to the United States, consisting principally of tobacco, molasses, fruits and vegetables. Cuba obtains about $100 million a year for these items, but not all of this trade would be lost since Cuba could presumably market most of these items in other countries.

From a political standpoint the application of the Trading with the Enemy Act would create certain problems. In freezing Cuban assets in the United States it would be necessary to exempt the funds of some Cuban nationals in order to avoid creating hardships on anti-Castro elements. This would lead to difficult problems of selection in individual instances.

But more importantly, there would be the problem of our taking unilateral action in an area where it has hitherto been our policy to act multilaterally through the Organization of American States and under the Rio Treaty./1/ Whether or not a new proclamation were issued under the Trading with the Enemy Act, it would be necessary to make some public statement regarding the reasons for invoking the Act. Such a statement would of necessity base such invocation on a threat to the peace and security of the Hemisphere caused by the Communist and interventionist character of the Cuban regime. This is an area which the Rio Treaty contemplates would be treated with in a multilateral way. Failure to act under the Treaty would expose us to charges in Latin America that we failed to avail ourselves of the inter-American machinery for the maintenance of security in the Hemisphere.

/1/For text of the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, signed at Rio de Janeiro on September 2, 1947, see American Foreign Policy, 1950-1955: Basic Documents, pp. 789-796.

Nevertheless, I believe that the time is fast approaching when it should be possible to ascertain whether there is any reasonable prospect for prompt action in this direction on a multilateral basis. If this multilateral action is not taken in the near future, I believe we should then proceed unilaterally. I think it would be appropriate for me to say to Mr. Rusk that had it not been for the time factor this Administration would have applied the Trading with the Enemy Act and to recommend to him that he give this matter his urgent attention.

On balance, it is my recommendation that, given the extent to which this step would commit the new Administration, this decision be left to them.

Christian A. Herter

13. Memorandum From the Assistant to the Deputy Director (Plans) for Covert Operations (Barnes) to Director of Central Intelligence Dulles

Washington, January 5, 1961.

//Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DCI Files: Job 85-00664R, Box 2, Vol. III, Part IV. Secret.


Material for the 5 January Special Group Meeting/1/

/1/See Document 14.

Essentially what we should try to obtain from this meeting is some specific understandings on certain important problems, all of which have been discussed but no precise resolutions reached. We should also report on certain of our plans to avoid any possibility of misunderstanding.

A. Points on which we should report:

1. The 3 January meeting spoke of increasing the strike force./2/ We all agree that this would be useful but we should make it absolutely clear that we are only able to handle the 750 maximum planned. Assuming we get the Special Force trainers, we can be ready by the end of February with, we believe, 750 although it is likely that a number of these will only have been in training by then a very short time. In this connection, a definite understanding should be reached as to:

/2/See Documents 2 and 3.

a. Where will the additional men (i.e. over 750) be sought? Who will do the recruiting? Where will they be maintained? Who has the responsibility for preparing the site or sites? Who will undertake whatever training is necessary?

b. In the remaining time, how realistic is it to assume any additional individuals can be obtained? Moreover, since this would become substantially overt and since the U.S. has now broken relations, wouldn't it be better to concentrate on some acceptable method of providing military back up with U.S. forces joined perhaps overtly by a few Latin American countries?

2. We have started to prepare the Puerto Cabezas strike base since it is absolutely essential that we have a strike base and since the Nicaraguan base is the only available one if we cannot use some U.S. base.

3. We are presently contemplating resupply (after the strike landing) from Puerto Cabezas and from Guatemala. We should have, however, a U.S. base for this purpose. Authority to do so is needed immediately in order to get ready but if this is impossible at least authority to settle on which base could be used if later approved.

4. We are planning to move to Puerto Cabezas substantial amounts of material starting around the 15th or 20th of January including aviation ordnance, resupply ammo and weapons for ground forces, aviation gas, diesel fuel, and possibly some extra one-man packs. Should we delay longer, there is a danger that we might not be able to get the needed inventories in place in time. It should be recognized, however, that in making those moves, we are risking a possible loss of the inventories since Somoza will unquestionably take them over if they are not used as planned. Consequently, if there is any likelihood that ultimately U.S. bases may be authorized, these preparations would result in a substantial increase in our costs as the inventories will roughly have an estimated value of about $1,500,000.

B. Issues which we should clarify with the State Department:

1. There has been a lot of talk about bi-lateral arrangements with selected Latin American countries in order to get them on our side. Work on this should start immediately particularly now that there has been a break in relations. We are prepared to help on this. With whom should we work, what countries will be involved and what will the approaches to these countries consist of and when will they be made?

2. For sometime now it has been agreed that a post-Castro regime should receive economic aid from the U.S. Definitive decisions as to how much and what kind should be reached very soon and plans made as to how it may best be announced since an announcement will clearly give a strong political boost to any provisional government.

3. A number of issues regarding the provisional government must immediately be decided.

a. It has been stated that such a government will be recognized but it has not definitively been indicated that there are no legal objections.

b. When will it be recognized? We still believe that it should not be recognized until it is in place or about to be put in place on some Cuban real estate.

c. Who should be in the provisional government and how should they be selected? In this connection, we believe that the U.S. should retain control of designating the individuals, at least the two or three leaders of the original junta, leaving the expansion to these individuals and such selection process as the times may produce.

d. Precisely what benefits will recognition of a provisional government provide, i.e., presumably it will mean support both in equipment and men to defend any Cuban real estate held by the provisional government (on an analogy to the recent U.S. action in support of Nicaragua and Guatemala).

e. Will it mean overt U.S. support to enable the provisional government to extend its control over the rest of Cuba by overcoming Castro's forces?

3. Who has the responsibility for doing something about Trujillo and what will be done? Again, the time is very short. We had a program approved last week but it is not one that can move rapidly enough to meet the kind of time schedules discussed on 3 January. Figueres has been invited to come to Washington as soon as possible.

C. Issues which we should clarify with the Defense Department:

1. The top levels of Defense should make it clear in appropriate places that we should obtain full and rapid cooperation from the services on matters requested through General Erskine's office. We are happy to work with Erskine's office but the actual support must come from the services and the channels have been very unclear and consequently slow in a number of cases. This could be clarified if the Secretary or the Deputy Secretary of Defense could call in an appropriate representative of each of the services together with a representative of Erskine's office and direct them to take the responsibility to see that appropriate requests are rapidly supported. The case of the Special Force trainers is a ghastly example of how things can go badly.

2. Is there any need for us to work with appropriate Defense elements with respect to post-strike support which may be needed?

C. Tracy Barnes/3/

/3/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.

14. Memorandum Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency

Washington, January 5, 1961.

//Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DDO/LA/COG Files: Job 82-00679R, Box 3, Special Group Mtgs-Cuba. Secret; Eyes Only. No drafting information is given.


5 January 1961

1. Mr. Douglas felt that Defense (Col. Prouty) was now in a position to iron out all the difficulties in connection with the Special Forces personnel for Guatemala. It was agreed that State concurrence in the arrangements should be obtained, but Mr. Douglas said Defense would not slow down its activities awaiting this.

2. Mr. Douglas then read from a paper/1/ left with him by Gen. Lemnitzer. This indicated a schedule of training time, if training were conducted under Army auspices, which would approximate 24 weeks or--on a sketchier basis--12-16 weeks. The memo also referred to numerous difficulties which might arise, such as medical care, pay, etc., as well as problems of cover, political orientation and the like. All agreed that a training schedule of this kind is totally impractical in current circumstances. The members appeared to agree that this constituted a good argument for a re-examination of basic concepts, particularly as to the need for overt intervention and early recognition of an exile government.

/1/Not found.

3. Mr. Barnes pointed out that due to the different political colorations of the emigres, if for no other reason, it would be difficult to name a government before members of it are physically on Cuban soil.

4. It was agreed that in any case a decision as to ultimate overt intervention is required, but that it will probably not be practicable to obtain this in the next fifteen days. Mr. Gray undertook to pass on the word that the Army plans, as outlined in the paper read by Mr. Douglas, were not responsive to the need. Mr. Bissell said that one alternative action that can be taken is to obtain Cubans who have already had military experience and to train them in the U.S. He recognized that this would constitute essentially an overt act.

5. Mr. Barnes pointed out the desirability, in the course of bilateral discussions with other Latin American countries, of attempting to obtain commitments for limited personnel support at an appropriate time. In answer to a question, Mr. Merchant said that he did not forsee the necessity for a temporary evacuation of the Guatemala base.

15. Memorandum From the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Merchant) to Secretary of State Herter

Washington, January 10, 1961.

//Source: Department of State, Central Files, 711.56314/1-1061. Secret. Drafted by Merchant.

The meeting with the President this afternoon on the New York Times Guatemala base story/1/ was attended by Messrs. Gates, Douglas, Dulles, Gray, Willauer, Mann, J.C. King, General Goodpaster, and myself.

/1/The New York Times on January 10 ran a front-page article under the headline "U.S. Helps Train an Anti-Castro Force at Secret Guatemalan Air-Ground Base."

After considerable discussion the President decided that we should make no statement to the press today on the matter and continue to refuse to comment./2/ The question of a statement, however, can be re-examined if news interest persists and grows.

/2/In response to questions concerning The New York Times story, Department of State spokesman Lincoln White denied any knowledge of a base to train Cuban exiles in Guatemala. (The New York Times, January 11, 1961)

The statement which we had agreed upon in advance and showed to the President/3/ was modified during the course of the discussion by inserting after the words in the first sentence "--to train a small number of men" the additional words "including some Cuban refugees,--". The President also struck out the opening clause in the second sentence "in the face of this threat."

/3/Not found.

Two questions were raised indicating weaknesses in the statement, the first being the reference to the purpose of training as being purely defensive and designed to cope with infiltration and subversion. Mr. Gates in particular felt that this was misleading and could cause us later trouble.

The second point discussed and criticized was the implication in the second sentence that the special training was merely an extension of the conventional training program whereas actually it was carried out in a different area under different trainers of a different character.

Concerning the meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee tomorrow, after considerable discussion (during the course of which the President indicated that he felt we allowed ourselves to be pushed around to an unwarranted extent by Congressional committees) the President ruled that Mr. Dulles should testify but that he should insist on no record being kept and no one else being present other than members of the committee and the Chief Clerk. The billed purpose for the committee meeting would be a general intelligence round-up by Mr. Dulles similar to those given in past years.

[end of document]


Department Seal Return to Foreign Relations of the U.S., Vol. X, Cuba.

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