CUBA 1959 to 1980s

The unforgivable revolution

excerpted from the book

Killing Hope

by William Blum


The existence of a revolutionary socialist government with

growing ties to the Soviet Union only 90 miles away, insisted

the United States Government, was a situation which no self-

respecting superpower should tolerate, and in 1961 it undertook

an invasion of Cuba.

But less than 50 miles from the Soviet Union sat Pakistan, a

close ally of the United States, a member since 1955 of the

South-East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), the US-created

anti-communist alliance. On the very border of the Soviet Union

was Iran, an even closer ally of the United States, with its

relentless electronic listening posts, aerial surveillance,

and infiltration into Russian territory by American agents.

And alongside Iran, also bordering the Soviet Union, was Turkey,

a member of the Russians' mortal enemy, NATO, since 1951.

In 1962 during the "Cuban Missile Crisis", Washington,

seemingly in a state of near-panic, informed the world that

the Russians were installing "offensive" missiles in Cuba. The

US promptly instituted a "quarantine" of the island -- a

powerful show of naval and marine forces in the Caribbean would

stop and search all vessels heading towards Cuba; any found to

contain military cargo would be forced to turn back.

The United States, however, had missiles and bomber bases

already in place in Turkey and other missiles in Western Europe

pointed toward the Soviet Union. Russian leader Nikita

Khrushchev later wrote:


The Americans had surrounded our country with military bases and threatened us with

nuclear weapons, and now they would learn just what it feels like to have enemy missiles

pointing at you; we'd be doing nothing more than giving them a little of their own

medicine. ... After all, the United States had no moral orlegal quarrel with us. We hadn't

given the Cubans anything more than the Americans were giving to their allies. We had

the same rights and opportunities as the Americans. Our conduct in the international

arena was governed by the same rules and limits as the Americans.{1}



Lest anyone misunderstand, as Khrushchev apparently did, the

rules under which Washington was operating, Time magazine

was quick to explain. "On the part of the Communists," the

magazine declared, "this equating [referring to Khrushchev's

offer to mutually remove missiles and bombers from Cuba and

Turkey] had obvious tactical motives. On the part of neutralists

and pacifists [who welcomed Khrushchev's offer] it betrayed

intellectual and moral confusion." The confusion lay, it seems,

in not seeing clearly who were the good guys and who were the bad

guys, for "The purpose of the U.S. bases [in Turkey] was not to

blackmail Russia but to strengthen the defense system of NATO,

which had been created as a safeguard against Russian aggression.

As a member of NATO, Turkey welcomed the bases as a contribution

to her own defense." Cuba, which had been invaded only the year

before, could have, it seems, no such concern. Time continued its



Beyond these differences between the two cases, there is an enormous moral difference

between U.S. and Russian objectives ... To equate U.S. and Russian bases is in effect to

equate U.S. and Russian purposes ... The U.S. bases, such as those in Turkey, have

helped keep the peace since World War II, while the Russian bases in Cuba threatened to

upset the peace. The Russian bases were intended to further conquest and domination,

while U.S. bases were erected to preserve freedom. The difference should have been

obvious to all.{2}



Equally obvious was the right of the United States to

maintain a military base on Cuban soil -- Guantánamo Naval

Base by name, a vestige of colonialism staring down the throats

of the Cuban people, which the US, to this day, refuses to vacate

despite the vehement protest of the Castro government.

In the American lexicon, in addition to good and bad bases

and missiles, there are good and bad revolutions. The American

and French Revolutions were good. The Cuban Revolution is bad.

It must be bad because so many people have left Cuba as a result

of it.

But at least 100,000 people left the British colonies in

America during and after the American Revolution. These Tories

could not abide by the political and social changes, both actual

and feared, particularly that change which attends all

revolutions worthy of the name: Those looked down upon as

inferiors no longer know their place. (Or as the US Secretary of

State put it after the Russian Revolution: The Bolsheviks sought

"to make the ignorant and incapable mass of humanity dominant in

the earth."){3}

The Tories fled to Nova Scotia and Britain carrying tales of

the godless, dissolute, barbaric American revolutionaries. Those

who remained and refused to take an oath of allegiance to the new

state governments were denied virtually all civil liberties.

Many were jailed, murdered, or forced into exile. After the

American Civil War, thousands more fled to South America and

other points, again disturbed by the social upheaval. How much

more is such an exodus to be expected following the Cuban

Revolution? -- a true social revolution, giving rise to changes

much more profound than anything in the American experience. How

many more would have left the United States if 90 miles away lay

the world's wealthiest nation welcoming their residence and

promising all manner of benefits and rewards?



After the Cuban Revolution in January 1959, we learned that there

are also good and bad hijackings. On several occasions Cuban planes

and boats were hijacked to the United States but they were not returned

to Cuba, nor were the hijackers punished. Instead, some of the

planes and boats were seized by US authorities for non-payment of

debts claimed by American firms against the Cuban government.{4}

But then there were the bad hijackings -- planes forced to fly

from the United States to Cuba. When there began to be more of

these than flights in the opposite direction, Washington was

obliged to reconsider its policy.

It appears that there are as well good and bad terrorists.

When the Israelis bombed PLO headquarters in Tunis in 1985, Ronald

Reagan expressed his approval. The president asserted that nations

have the right to retaliate against terrorist attacks "as long as you

pick out the people responsible".{5}

But if Cuba had dropped bombs on any of the headquarters of the

anti-Castro exiles in Miami or New Jersey, Ronald Reagan would likely

have gone to war, though for 25 years the Castro government had been

on the receiving end of an extraordinary series of terrorist attacks

carried out in Cuba, in the United States, and in other countries by the

exiles and their CIA mentors. (We shall not discuss the consequences of

Cuba bombing CIA headquarters.)

Bombing and strafing attacks of Cuba by planes based in the United

States began in October 1959, if not before.{6} In early 1960, there

were several fire-bomb air raids on Cuban cane fields and sugar mills, in

which American pilots also took part -- at least three of whom

died in crashes, while two others were captured. The State

Department acknowledged that one plane which crashed, killing two

Americans, had taken off from Florida, but insisted that it was

against the wishes of the US government.{7}

In March a French freighter unloading munitions from Belgium

exploded in Havana taking 75 lives and injuring 200, some of whom

subsequently died. The United States denied Cuba's accusation of

sabotage but admitted that it had sought to prevent the shipment.{8}

And so it went ... reaching a high point in April of the following

year in the infamous CIA-organized invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs.

Over 100 exiles died in the attack. Close to 1,200 others were taken

prisoner by the Cubans. It was later revealed that four American pilots

flying for the CIA had lost their lives as well.{9}

The Bay of Pigs assault had relied heavily on the Cuban people

rising up to join the invaders,{10} but this was not to be the case.

As it was, the leadership and ranks of the exile forces were riddled

with former supporters and henchmen of Fulgencio Batista, the dictator

overthrown by Castro, and would not have been welcomed back by

the Cuban people under any circumstances.

Despite the fact that the Kennedy administration was acutely

embarrassed by the unmitigated defeat -- indeed, because of it -- a

campaign of smaller-scale attacks upon Cuba was initiated almost

immediately, under the rubric of Operation Mongoose. Throughout

the 1960s, the Caribbean island was subjected to countless sea

and air commando raids by exiles, at times accompanied by their

CIA supervisors, inflicting damage upon oil refineries, chemical

plants and railroad bridges, cane fields, sugar mills and sugar

warehouses; infiltrating spies, saboteurs and assassins ...

anything to damage the Cuban economy, promote disaffection, or

make the revolution look bad ... taking the lives of Cuban

militia members and others in the process ... pirate attacks on

Cuban fishing boats and merchant ships, bombardments of Soviet

vessels docked in Cuba, an assault upon a Soviet army camp with

12 Russian soldiers reported wounded ... a hotel and a theatre

shelled from offshore because Russians and East Europeans were

supposed to be present there ...{11}

These actions were not always carried out on the direct order

of the CIA or with its foreknowledge, but the Agency could hardly

plead "rogue elephant". It had created Operation Mongoose headquarters in

Miami that was truly a state within a city -- over, above, and

outside the laws of the United States, not to mention

international law, with a staff of several hundred Americans

directing many more Cuban agents in just such types of actions,

with a budget in excess of $50 million a year, and an arrangement

with the local press to keep operations in Florida secret except

when the CIA wanted something publicized.{12}

Title 18 of the US Code declares it to be a crime to launch a

"military or naval expedition or enterprise" from the United States

against a country with which the United States is not (officially) at war.

Although US authorities now and then aborted an exile plot or

impounded a boat -- sometimes because the Coast Guard or other

officials had not been properly clued in -- no Cubans were

prosecuted under this act. This was no more than to be expected

inasmuch as Attorney General Robert Kennedy had determined after

the Bay of Pigs that the invasion did not constitute a military


The commando raids were combined with a total US trade and credit

embargo, which continues to this day, and which genuinely hurt the

Cuban economy and chipped away at the society's standard of living.

So unyielding has the embargo been that when Cuba was hard hit by a

hurricane in October 1963, and Casa Cuba, a New York social club,

raised a large quantity of clothing for relief, the United States

refused to grant it an export license on the grounds that such shipment

was "contrary to the national interest".{14}

Moreover, pressure was brought to bear upon other countries to

conform to the embargo, and goods destined for Cuba were sabotaged:

machinery damaged, chemicals added to lubricating fluids to cause rapid

wear on diesel engines, a manufacturer in West Germany paid to produce

ball-bearings off-center, another to do the same with balanced

wheel gears -- "You're talking about big money," said a CIA

officer involved in the sabotage efforts, "when you ask a

manufacturer to go along with you on that kind of project because

he has to reset his whole mold. And he is probably going to

worry about the effect on future business. You might have to pay

him several hundred thousand dollars or more."{15}

One manufacturer who defied the embargo was the British Leyland

Company, which sold a large number of buses to Cuba in 1964.

Repeated expressions of criticism and protest by Washington

officials and Congressmen failed to stem deliveries of some of

the buses. Then, in October, an East German cargo ship carrying

another 42 buses to Cuba collided in thick fog with a Japanese

vessel in the Thames. The Japanese ship was able to continue on,

but the cargo ship was beached on its side; the buses would have

to be "written off", said the Leyland company. In the leading

British newspapers it was just an accident story.{16} In the

New York Times it was not even reported. A decade was to

pass before the American columnist Jack Anderson disclosed that

his CIA and National Security Agency sources had confirmed that

the collision had been arranged by the CIA with the cooperation

of British intelligence.{17} Subsequently, another CIA officer

stated that he was skeptical about the collision story, although

admitting that "it is true that we were sabotaging the Leyland

buses going to Cuba from England, and that was pretty sensitive




What undoubtedly was an even more sensitive venture was the use

of chemical and biological weapons against Cuba by the United States.

It is a remarkable record.

In August 1962, a British freighter under Soviet lease, having

damaged its propeller on a reef, crept into the harbor at San

Juan, Puerto Rico for repairs. It was bound for a Soviet port

with 80,000 bags of Cuban sugar. The ship was put into dry dock

and 14,135 sacks of sugar were unloaded to a warehouse to

facilitate the repairs. While in the warehouse, the sugar was

contaminated by CIA agents with a substance that was allegedly

harmless but unpalatable. When President Kennedy learned of the

operation he was furious because it had taken place in US

territory and if discovered could provide the Soviet Union with a

propaganda field-day and could set a terrible precedent for

chemical sabotage in the cold war. He directed that the sugar

not be returned to the Russians, although what explanation was

given to them is not publicly known.{19} Similar undertakings

were apparently not canceled. The CIA official who helped direct

worldwide sabotage efforts, referred to above, later revealed

that "There was lots of sugar being sent out from Cuba, and we

were putting a lot of contaminants in it."{20}

The same year, a Canadian agricultural technician working

as an adviser to the Cuban government was paid $5,000 by "an American

military intelligence agent" to infect Cuban turkeys with a virus which

would produce the fatal Newcastle disease. Subsequently, 8,000

turkeys died. The technician later claimed that although he had

been to the farm where the turkeys had died, he had not actually

administered the virus, but had instead pocketed the money, and

that the turkeys had died from neglect and other causes unrelated

to the virus. This may have been a self-serving statement. The

Washington Post reported that "According to U.S.

intelligence reports, the Cubans -- and some Americans -- believe

the turkeys died as the result of espionage."{21} Authors

Warren Hinckle and William Turner, citing a participant in the

project, have reported in their book on Cuba that:


During 1969 and 1970, the CIA deployed futuristic weather modification technology to

ravage Cuba's sugar crop and undermine the economy. Planes from the China Lake Naval

Weapons Center in the California desert, where hi tech was developed, overflew the

island, seeding rain clouds with crystals that precipitated torrential rains over

non-agricultural areas and left the cane fields arid (the downpours caused killer flash

floods in some areas).{22}


In 1971, also according to participants, the CIA turned over to Cuban

exiles a virus which causes African swine fever. Six weeks later, an

outbreak of the disease in Cuba forced the slaughter of 500,000 pigs to

prevent a nationwide animal epidemic. The outbreak, the first ever

in the Western hemisphere, was called the "most alarming event" of the

year by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization.{23}

Ten years later, the target may well have been human beings,

as an epidemic of dengue fever swept the Cuban island. Transmitted

by blood-eating insects, usually mosquitos, the disease produces

severe flu symptoms and incapacitating bone pain. Between May and

October 1981, over 300,000 cases were reported in Cuba with 158

fatalities, 101 of which were children under 15.{24} In 1956 and 1958,

declassified documents have revealed, the US Army loosed swarms of

specially bred mosquitos in Georgia and Florida to see whether

disease-carrying insects could be weapons in a biological war. The

mosquitos bred for the tests were of the Aedes Aegypti type, the

precise carrier of dengue fever as well as other diseases.{25} In

1967 it was reported by Science magazine that at the US government

center in Fort Detrick, Maryland, dengue fever was amongst those

"diseases that are at least the objects of considerable research

and that appear to be among those regarded as potential BW

[biological warfare] agents."{26} Then, in 1984, a Cuban exile

on trial in New York testified that in the latter part of 1980 a

ship travelled from Florida to Cuba with


a mission to carry some germs to introduce them in Cuba to be used against the Soviets

and against the Cuban economy, to begin what was called chemical war, which later on

produced results that were not what we had expected, because we thought that it was

going to be used against the Soviet forces, and it was used against our own people, and

with that we did not agree.{27}


It's not clear from the testimony whether the Cuban man thought

that the germs would somehow be able to confine their actions to only

Russians, or whether he had been misled by the people behind the


The full extent of American chemical and biological warfare

against Cuba will never be known. Over the years, the Castro

government has in fact blamed the United States for a number of

other plagues which afflicted various animals and crops.{28} And

in 1977, newly-released CIA documents disclosed that the Agency

"maintained a clandestine anti-crop warfare research program

targeted during the 1960s at a number of countries throughout the



It came to pass that the United States felt the need to put some

of its chemical and biological warfare (CBW)expertise into the

hands of other nations. As of 1969, some 550 students, from 36

countries, had completed courses at the US Army's Chemical School

at Fort McClellan, Alabama. The CBW instruction was provided to

the students under the guise of "defense" against such weapons --

just as in Vietnam, as we have seen, torture was taught. As will

be described in the chapter on Uruguay, the manufacture and use of

bombs was taught under the cover of combating terrorist bombings.{30} go to notes


The ingenuity which went into the chemical and

biological warfare against Cuba was apparent in some of the

dozens of plans to assassinate or humiliate Fidel Castro.

Devised by the CIA or Cuban exiles, with the cooperation of

American mafiosi, the plans ranged from poisoning Castro's cigars

and food to a chemical designed to make his hair and beard fall

off and LSD to be administered just before a public speech.

There were also of course the more traditional approaches of gun

and bomb, one being an attempt to drop bombs on a baseball

stadium while Castro was speaking; the B-26 bomber was driven

away by anti-aircraft fire before it could reach the stadium.{31}

It is a combination of such Cuban security measures, informers,

incompetence, and luck which has served to keep the bearded one

alive to the present day.

Attempts were also made on the lives of Castro's brother Raul

and Che Guevara. The latter was the target of a bazooka fired at the

United Nations building in New York in December 1964.{32} Various Cuban

exile groups have engaged in violence on a regular basis in the United

States with relative impunity for decades. One of them, going by the

name of Omega 7 and headquartered in Union City, New Jersey, was

characterized by the FBI in 1980 as "the most dangerous terrorist

organization in the United States".{33} Attacks against Cuba

itself began to lessen around the end of the 1960s, due probably

to a lack of satisfying results combined with ageing warriors,

and exile groups turned to targets in the United States and

elsewhere in the world.

During the next decade, while the CIA continued to pour money

into the exile community, more than 100 serious "incidents" took place

in the United States for which Omega 7 and other groups claimed

responsibility. (Within the community, the distinction between a

terrorist and a non-terrorist group is not especially precise; there is

much overlapping identity and frequent creation of new names.) There

occurred repeated bombings of the Soviet UN Mission, its

Washington embassy, its automobiles, a Soviet ship docked in New

Jersey, the offices of the Soviet airline Aeroflot, with a number

of American policemen and Russians injured in these attacks;

several bombings of the Cuban UN Mission and its Interests

Section in Washington, many attacks upon Cuban diplomats,

including at least one murder; a bomb discovered at New York's

Academy of Music in 1976 shortly before a celebration of the

Cuban Revolution was to begin; a bombing two years later of the

Lincoln Center after the Cuban ballet had performed; three

bombings in a single night in 1979: the office of a New Jersey

Cuban refugee program, a New Jersey pharmacy that sent medical

supplies to Cuba, and a suitcase that exploded at JFK Airport,

injuring four luggage handlers, minutes before it was to be

placed aboard a TWA flight to Los Angeles.{34}

The single most violent act of this period was the blowing up

of a Cubana Airlines plane shortly after it took off from Barbados on 6

October 1976, which took the lives of 73 people including the

entire Cuban championship fencing team. CIA documents later

revealed that on 22 June, a CIA officer abroad had cabled a

report to Agency headquarters that he had learned from a source

that a Cuban exile group planned to bomb a Cubana airliner flying

between Panama and Havana. The group's leader was a baby doctor

named Orlando Bosch. After the plane crashed in the sea in

October, it was Bosch's network of exiles that claimed

responsibility. The cable showed that the CIA had the means to

penetrate the Bosch organization, but there's no indication in

any of the documents that the Agency undertook any special

monitoring of Bosch and his group because of their plans, or that

the CIA warned Havana.{35}

In 1983, while Orlando Bosch sat in a Venezuelan prison charged

with masterminding the plane bombing, the City Commission of Miami

proclaimed a "Dr. Orlando Bosch Day".{36} In 1968, Bosch had been

convicted of a bazooka attack on a Polish ship in Miami.

Cuban exiles themselves have often come in for harsh treatment.

Those who have visited Cuba for any reason whatever, or publicly

suggested, however timidly, a rapprochement with the homeland, they

too have been the victims of bombings and shootings in Florida and

New Jersey. American groups advocating a resumption of diplomatic

relations or an end to the embargo have been similarly attacked, as

have travel agencies handling trips to Cuba and a pharmaceutical

company in New Jersey which shipped medicines to the island.

Dissent in Miami has been effectively silenced, while the police,

city officials, and the media look the other way, when not

actually demonstrating support for the exiles' campaign of

intimidation.{37} In Miami and elsewhere, the CIA -- ostensibly

to uncover Castro agents -- has employed exiles to spy on their

countrymen, to keep files on them, as well as on Americans who

associate with them.{38}

Although there has always been the extreme lunatic fringe in

the Cuban exile community (as opposed to the normal lunatic fringe)

insisting that Washington has sold out their cause, over the years

there has been only the occasional arrest and conviction of an exile

for a terrorist attack in the United States, so occasional that the

exiles can only assume that Washington's heart is not wholly in it. The

exile groups and their key members are well known to the

authorities, for the anti-Castroites have not excessively shied

away from publicity. At least as late as the early 1980s, they

were training openly in southern Florida and southern California;

pictures of them flaunting their weapons appeared in the

press.{39} The CIA, with its countless contacts-cum-informers

amongst the exiles, could fill in many of the missing pieces for

the FBI and the police, if it wished to. In 1980, in a detailed

report on Cuban-exile terrorism, The Village Voice of New

York reported:


Two stories were squeezed out of New York police officials ... "You know, it's funny," said

one cautiously, "there have been one or two things ... but let's put it this way. You get

just so far on a case and suddenly the dust is blown away. Case closed. You ask the CIA to

help, and they say they aren't really interested. You get the message." Another

investigator said he was working on a narcotics case involving Cuban exiles a couple of

years ago, and telephone records he obtained showed a frequently dialed number in

Miami. He said he traced the number to a company called Zodiac, "which turned out to be

a CIA front." He dropped his investigation.{40}


The Cuban exiles in the United States, collectively, may well

constitute the longest lasting and most prolific terrorist group in

the world. It is thus the height of irony, not to mention hypocrisy,

that for many years up to the present time in the 1990s, the State

Department has included Cuba amongst those nations that "sponsor

terrorism", not because of any terrorist acts committed by the Cuban

government, but solely because they "harbor terrorists".



In 1961, amid much fanfare, the Kennedy administration unveiled its

showpiece program, the Alliance for Progress. Conceived as a direct

response to Castro's Cuba, it was meant to prove that genuine

social change could take place in Latin America without resort to

revolution or socialism. "If the only alternatives for the

people of Latin America are the status quo and communism," said

John F. Kennedy, "then they will inevitably choose


The multi-billion dollar Alliance program established for

itself an ambitious set of goals which it hoped to achieve by the

end of the decade. These had to do with economic growth, more

equitable distribution of national income, reduced unemployment,

agrarian reform, education, housing, health, etc. In 1970, the

Twentieth Century Fund of New York -- whose list of officers reads

like a Who's Who in the government/industry revolving-door world --

undertook a study to evaluate how close the Alliance had come to

realizing its objectives. One of the study's conclusions was that Cuba,

which was not one of the recipient countries, had


come closer to some of the Alliance objectives than most Alliance members. In education

and public health, no country in Latin America has carried out such ambitious and

nationally comprehensive programs. Cuba's centrally planned economy has done more to

integrate the rural and urban sectors (through a national income distribution policy) than

the market economies of the other Latin American countries.{42}


Cuba's agrarian reform program as well was recognized

as having been more widesweeping than that of any other Latin

American country, although the study took a wait-and-see attitude

towards its results.{43}

These and other economic and social gains were achieved despite

the US embargo and the inordinate amount of resources and labor Cuba

was obliged to devote to defense and security because of the hovering

giant to the north. Moreover, though not amongst the stated objectives

of the Alliance, there was another area of universal importance in which

Cuba stood apart from many of its Latin neighbors: there were no

legions of desaparecidos, no death squads, no systematic,

routine torture.

Cuba had become what Washington had always feared from the

Third World -- a good example.



Parallel to the military and economic belligerence, the United

States has long maintained a relentless propaganda offensive against

Cuba. A number of examples of this occurring in other countries can be

found in other chapters of this book. In addition to its vast

overseas journalistic empire, the CIA has maintained anti-Castro

news-article factories in the United States for decades. The

Agency has reportedly subsidized at times such publications in

Miami as Avance, El Mundo, El Prensa Libre, Bohemia and El Diario

de Las Americas, as well as AIP, a radio news agency that produced

programs sent free of charge to more than 100 small stations in Latin

America. Two CIA fronts in New York, Foreign Publications, Inc, and

Editors Press Service, also served as part of the propaganda network.{44}



Was it inevitable that the United States would attempt to topple the

Cuban government? Could relations between the two neighboring

countries have taken a different path? Based on the American

record of invariable hostility towards even moderately leftist

governments, the answer would appear to be that there's no reason

to believe that Cuba's revolutionary government could have been

an exception. Washington officials, however, were not

immediately ill-disposed towards the Cuban Revolution. There

were those who even expressed their tentative approval or

optimism. This was evidently based on the belief that what had

taken place in Cuba was little more than another Latin American

change in government, the kind which had occurred with monotonous

regularity for over a century, where the names and faces change

but subservience to the United States remains fixed. (The fact

that John Foster Dulles was dying of cancer at this time could

only contribute to the atmosphere of tolerance. Dulles left the

State Department in early February 1959, a month after the

revolution. One of his last acts was to withdraw the US military

mission from Cuba.)

Then Castro revealed himself to be cut from a wholly different

cloth. It was not to be business as usual in the Caribbean. He soon

became outspoken in his criticism of the United States. He referred

acrimoniously to the 60 years of American control of Cuba; how, at the

end of those 60 years, the masses of Cubans found themselves

impoverished; how the United States used the sugar quota as a threat.

He spoke of the unacceptable presence of the Guantánamo base; and he

made it clear enough to Washington that Cuba would pursue a

policy of independence and neutralism in the cold war. It was

for just such reasons that Castro and Che Guevara had forsaken

the prosperous bourgeois careers awaiting them in law and

medicine to lead the revolution in the first place. Serious

compromise was not on their agenda; nor on Washington's, which

was not prepared to live with such men and such a government.

Soon, Castro and his regime were consigned to the "communist"

slot, a word known to instantly cut off the flow of blood to the

brain cells of the user.

A National Security Council meeting of 10 March 1959

included on its agenda the feasibility of bringing "another

government to power in Cuba".{45} This was before Castro had

nationalized any US property. The following month, after meeting

with Castro in Washington, Vice President Richard Nixon wrote a memo

in which he stated that he was convinced that Castro was "either

incredibly naive about Communism or under Communist discipline" and

that the Cuban leader would have to be treated and dealt with

accordingly. Nixon later wrote that his opinion at this time was a

minority one within the Eisenhower administration.{46} But before the

year was over, CIA Director Allen Dulles had decided that an

invasion of Cuba was necessary. In March of 1960, it was

approved by President Eisenhower.{47} Then came the embargo,

leaving Castro no alternative but to turn more and more to the

Soviet Union, thus confirming in the minds of Washington

officials that Castro was indeed a communist. Some speculated

that he had been a covert Red all along.

In this context, it's interesting to note that the Cuban

Communist Party had long supported Batista, had served in his cabinet,

and had been unsupportive of Castro and his followers until their

accession to power appeared imminent.{48} To add to the irony, during

1957-58 the CIA was channeling funds to Castro's movement; this while the

US continued to support Batista with weapons to counter the

rebels; in all likelihood, another example of the Agency hedging

its bets.{49}

If Castro had toned down his early rhetoric and observed

the usual diplomatic niceties, but still pursued the

policies of self-determination and socialism which he felt were

best for Cuba (or inescapable if certain changes were to be

realized), he could only have postponed the day of reckoning, and

that not for long. Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala, Mossadegh of

Iran, Cheddi Jagan of British Guiana, and other Third World

leaders have gone out of their way to avoid stepping on

Washington's very sensitive toes unnecessarily, and were much

less radical in their programs and in their stance toward the

United States than Castro; nonetheless, all of them fell under

the CIA axe.

We now know that in August, 1961, four months after

the Bay of Pigs, Che Guevara met with Richard Goodwin,

President Kennedy's assistant special counsel, at an

international gathering in Uruguay. Guevara had a message for

Kennedy. Cuba was prepared to forswear any political alliance

with the Soviet bloc, pay for confiscated American properties in

trade, and consider curbing Cuba's support for leftist

insurgencies in other countries. In return, the United States

would cease all hostile actions against Cuba. Back in

Washington, Goodwin's advice to the president was to "quietly

intensify" economic pressure on Cuba. In November, Kennedy

authorized Operation Mongoose. {50}

return to mid-text



1. Khrushchev Remembers (London, 1971) pp. 494, 496.


2. Time, 2 November 1962.


3. Cited by William Appleman Williams, "American Intervention in Russia:

1917-20", in David Horowitz, ed., Containment and Revolution

(Boston, 1967). Written in a letter to President Wilson by

Secretary of State Robert Lansing, uncle of John Foster and Allen



4. Facts on File, Cuba, the U.S. & Russia, 1960-63 (New York, 1964)

pp. 56-8.


5. International Herald Tribune (Paris), 2 October 1985, p. 1.


6. New York Times, 23 October 1959, p. 1.


7. Facts on File, op. cit., pp. 7-8; New York Times, 19, 20 February

1960; 22 March 1960.


8. New York Times, 5, 6 March 1960.


9. David Wise, "Colby of CIA -- CIA of Colby", New

York Times Magazine, 1 July 1973, p. 9.


10. A report about the post-invasion inquiry ordered by Kennedy

disclosed that "It was never intended, the planners testified, that

the invasion itself would topple Castro. The hope was that an initial

success would spur an uprising by thousands of anti-Castro Cubans.

Ships in the invasion fleet carried 15,000 weapons to be distributed to

the expected volunteers." U.S. News & World Report, 13 August 1979,

p. 82. Some CIA officials, including Allen Dulles,

later denied that an uprising was expected, but this may be no

more than an attempt to mask their ideological embarrassment that

people living under a "communist tyranny" did not respond at all

to the call of "The Free World".


11. Attacks on Cuba:

a) Taylor Branch and George Crile III, "The Kennedy Vendetta",

Harper's magazine (New York), August 1975, pp. 49-63

b) Facts on File, op. cit., passim

c) New York Times, 26 August 1962, p. 1;21 March 1963, p. 3;

Washington Post, 1 June 1966; 30 September 1966; plus many other

articles in both newspapers during the 1960s

d) Warren Hinckle and William W. Turner, The Fish is Red:

The Story of the Secret War Against Castro (Harper & Row, New

York, 1981) passim.


12. Branch and Crile, op. cit., pp. 49-63.

The article states that there were in excess of 300 Americans

involved in the operation, but in "CBS Reports: The CIA's Secret

Army", broadcast 10 June 1977, written by Bill Moyers and the

same George Crile III, former CIA official Ray Cline states that

there were between 600 and 700 American staff officers.


13. New York Times, 26 August 1962, p. 1.


14. John Gerassi, The Great Fear in Latin America (New York, 1965,

revised edition) p. 278.


15. Branch and Crile, op. cit., p. 52.


16. The Times (London), 8, 10 January 1964; 12 May, p. 10; 21 July,

p. 10; 28, 29 October; The Guardian (London), 28, 29 October 1964.


17. Washington Post, 14 February 1975, p. C31; Anderson's story

stated that there were only 24 buses involved and that they were

dried and used in England.


18. Branch and Crile, op. cit., p. 52


19. New York Times, 28 April 1966, p. 1.


20. Branch and Crile, op. cit., p. 52


21. Washington Post, 21 March 1977, p.A18.


22. Hinckle and Turner, p. 293, based on their interview

with the participant in Ridgecrest, California, 27 September



23. San Francisco Chronicle, 10 January 1977.


24. Bill Schaap, "The 1981 Cuba Dengue Epidemic", Covert Action

Information Bulletin (Washington), No. 17, Summer 1982, pp. 28-31.


25. San Francisco Chronicle, 30 October 1980.


26. Science (American Association for the Advancement of Science,

Washington), 13 January 1967, p. 176.


27. Covert Action Information Bulletin (Washington), No. 22,

Fall 1984, p. 35; the trial of Eduardo Victor Arocena Perez,

Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York,

transcript of 10 September 1984, pp. 2187-89.


28. See, e.g., San Francisco Chronicle, 27 July 1981.


29. Washington Post, 16 September 1977, p. A2.


30. Ibid., 25 October 1969, column by Jack Anderson.


31. Reports of the assassination attempts have been disclosed in

many places; see Interim Report: Alleged Assassination Plots

Involving Foreign Leaders, The Select Committee to Study Governmental

Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities (US Senate),

20 November 1975, pp. 71-180, for a detailed, although not complete,

account. Stadium bombing attempt: New York Times, 22 November 1964, p. 26.


32. New York Times, 12 December 1964, p. 1.


33. Ibid., 3 March 1980, p. 1.


34. Terrorist attacks within the United States:

a) Jeff Stein, "Inside Omega 7", The Village Voice (New York), 10

March 1980

b) San Francisco Chronicle, 26 March 1979, p. 3; 11 & 12 December, 1979.

c) New York Times, 13 September 1980, p. 24; 3 March, 1980, p. 1.

d) John Dinges and Saul Landau, Assassination on Embassy Row (London,

1981), pp. 251-52, note (also includes attacks on Cuban targets in

other countries)

e) Covert Action Information Bulletin (Washington), No. 6, October

1979, pp. 8-9.


35. The plane bombing:

a) Washington Post, 1 November 1986, pp. A1, A18.

b) Jonathan Kwitny, The Crimes of Patriots (New York, 1987), p. 379.

c) William Schaap, "New Spate of Terrorism: Key Leaders Unleashed",

Covert Action Information Bulletin (Washington), No. 11, December 1980,


d) Dinges and Landau, pp. 245-6.

e) Speech by Fidel Castro, 15 October 1976, reprinted in Toward

Improved U.S.-Cuba Relations, House Committee on International

Relations, Appendix A, 23 May 1977.

The CIA documents: Amongst those declassified by the Agency,

sent to the National Archives in 1993, and made available to the

public. Reported in The Nation (New York), 29 November 1993, p.657.


36. Dangerous Dialogue: Attacks on Freedom of Expression in

Miami's Cuban Exile Community, p. 26, published by America's

Watch and The Fund for Free Expression, New York and Washington,

August 1992.


37. Ibid., passim. Also see: "Terrorism in Miami:Suppressing Free

Speech", CounterSpy magazine (Washington), Vol. 8, No. 3, March-May

1984, pp. 26-30; The Village Voice, op. cit.; Covert Action Information

Bulletin (Washington), No. 6, October 1979, pp. 8-9.


38. New York Times, 4 January 1975, p. 8.


39. San Francisco Chronicle, 12 January 1982, p. 14; Parade magazine

(Washington Post), 15 March 1981, p. 5.


40. The Village Voice, op. cit.


41. Jerome Levinson and Juan de Onis, The Alliance That

Lost Its Way: A Critical Report on the Alliance for Progress (A

Twentieth Century Fund Study, Chicago, 1970) p. 56.


42. Ibid.,p. 309; the list of Alliance goals can be found on pp. 352-5.



43. Ibid., pp. 226-7.


44. New York Times, 26 December 1977, p.37. See also: Philip Agee,

Inside the Company: CIA Diary (New York, 1975) p. 380 (Editors Press



45. Tad Szulc, Fidel, A Critical Portrait (New York, 1986), pp. 480-1.


46. Richard Nixon, Six Crises (New York, 1962, paperback edition) pp.



47. Victor Marchetti and John Marks, The CIA and the

Cult of Intelligence (New York, 1975), p. 289.


48. Marc Edelman, "The Other Super Power: The Soviet Union and

Latin America 1917-1987", NACLA'S Report on the Americas (North American

Congress on Latin America, New York), January-February 1987, p.

16; Szulc, see index.


49. Szulc, pp. 427-8.


50. Miami Herald, 29 April 1996, p. 1, from Kennedy administration

documents declassified in 1996.


This is a chapter from Killing Hope: U.S. Military and

CIA Interventions Since World War II, by William Blum

Killing Hope