As many of you know, I’ve spent years researching and writing on the extremely complex, convoluted (and by 1963 Chaotic) context of the American opposition to the Castro regime in Cuba. I’ve explored that context in several books including Shadow Warfare, In Denial and most recently Tipping Point.

The problem with discussing the Cuba context – and relating it to the Kennedy assassination – is that the US Cuban operations and programs had very little true continuity. We see that from the earliest years when the Cuba Project that President Eisenhower launched turned into something totally different than he had initially ordered, ending with the disaster to the Cuban Brigade at the Bay of Pigs.

Hopefully the work in my books clears up a lot of the policy and operational discontinuities that make this such a confusing subject. However, I’ve also had a chance to do some interviews on the Cuban context and recently did a far ranging discussion at the link you will find below. I’ve had some positive comments on it, for those of you interested in the subject and new to it I hope you find it educational:

6 responses »

  1. John F Davies says:

    A question on the Cuba project that I don’t hear mentioned much is alleged US Support for Castro and his 26 July Movement. I have read in a number of articles and heard from many other researchers, (The most prominent being Dr. John Newman.), that there were factions in the US Establishment that secretly aided Castro. John Newman has even stated that during the 1950s the CIA was covertly funneling money to Fidel. From my own research I’m aware that many of the more liberal members of the US Establishment viewed Castro a better alternative to Batista, this sentiment being prominent in State Department Circles. I have even heard rumors that there were factions in the CIA who supported Castro as well, but they were overruled by the more conservative members.
    That Batista was such an embarrassment to the US may have motivated some to look on Castro as just another revolutionary who could be easily controlled and coopted. If the rumors above are true, then the US Foreign Policy establishment may have been used and manipulated by Fidel, and unwittingly created a monster.
    P.S. Great video, and it’s good to see you up and running again.

  2. larryjoe2 says:

    Hi John, well I must say I’ve seen the same things but I have found literally nothing to support it – including among the very detailed Cuban books on their revolution and what support came from where.

    To the contrary, the documents I have seen show that both the CIA, especially its Western Hemisphere director JC King were livid about Castro taking hostages from American companies with employees working in Cuba and demanding contributions for their release. Given that I find it hard to believe he had any support within the CIA or from military intelligence operating inside Cuba. In fact one of the missions for agents of both groups was to parse out the right wing revolutionary groups from the populist or communist groups so the US would only support the “right” ones in the event we needed to gain some influence over a successful revolution.

    It is true that some agencies, especially State, had some support for the revolution given their understanding of how deeply corrupt Batista was, however their positions were totally ignored by the CIA and of little impact on Eisenhower.

    I cover (in Tipping Point) what military support was provided and it was minimal, a few attempted private flights which were largely abortive and which carried a few dozen rifles at the most – with the money coming from Cuban expats and Batista political opponents.

    So, I’ve heard the same claims you have, I’ve just found nothing to support them in my years of research up to this point.

  3. John F Davies says:

    Greetings in return, Larry.
    One thing that has been documented is the CIA did support left leaning political groups that were anti- Castro. It’s covered in John Newman’s book “Oswald and the CIA”, ( p. 118 ), where he mentions Dulles saying to his closest associates that the Agency “Had to start working with the Left”. It’s also interesting to ponder how many so-called “Progressive” organizations may have been infiltrated and coopted by the CIA and other Intelligence agencies. The recent revelations of the CIA’s illegal domestic operation MH Chaos show that this sort of thing indeed happened right in our own backyard and may even be continuing today.

  4. larryjoe2 says:

    I think the problem here is separating high level in meeting talk from anything real that actually happened on the ground from an operational standpoint.

    As I mentioned, both the CIA and Army intelligence attempted to penetrate all stripes of anti-Castro groups inside Cuba – to establish their real level of support and capability and to try and determine the true nature of their politics – the populist left groups were only nominally in league with the communist groups and often actually at odds with the old school political groups who had actually competed with Batista for power.

    But translating talk at Dulles’ level to actual field activity such as backing groups with money or shipping in weapons and ammunition is a far different story, and as I said I find no evidence of CIA involvement with that. What weapons purchases that did occur had support from the old school anti-Batista factions and from some fund raising by groups like the DRE who did have operatives in Miami. I can recommend some very good Cuban books on the real politics of the revolution – you don’t find them discussed in the JFK community writings though.

    Also, I mentioned Tipping Point in my previous post as a reference for details on weapons purchasing and smuggling in my earlier reply but actually I explore that revolutionary era Cuban group fund raising and weapons efforts in detail in my book In Denial.

    Until someone shows me documentation counter to what I present there, I’m afraid I have to stay with my position that Castro received no actual support in terms of money or weapons from the CIA – on the other hand his blackmail efforts against American companies in Cuba likely did bring him in some funds. The problem with that is that while the hostage incidents and demands for money are documented, I’ve not seen any sign of details on actual payments.

  5. John F Davies says:

    Agree with you on the weapons sales and all. However, you do also mention that the CIA and Army Intel were indeed going so far as to investigate all Anti-Castro groups in Cuba, with some of them being on the political left. This was a common tactic for the CIA in Latin America at that time namely, to put one left leaning political faction against a rival one, with the group they funded coming out on top. This method is well described in Phillip Agee’s classic whistleblowing autobiography ” Inside the Company: CIA Diary”.

  6. larryjoe2 says:

    Oh yes, certainly they wanted to find a group that they could support if it came down to a struggle for power in a new regime – there was a point by ’59 that it became clear Batista would be succeeded one way or the other. The US actually sent in William Pawley to try and talk Batista to leaving and putting power with a clique that would be pro-US, sort of Batista without such obvious corruption. Batista just wasn’t having it.

    Another problem for the CIA and Eisenhower was that things were so chaotic they really did not develop a trusted relationship with any exile faction by the time the Batista regime imploded. As you can imagine, all the exile groups were suspicious and all felt the US was backing Batista (rightly so) – that led to a very challenging situation for gaining influence.

    The Agency did manage to leave an operational stay behind network involving extremely deep and competent assets like Tony Sforza and Emelio Rodriquez but their focus quickly turned to a focus on Artime and Ray and other revolutionary groups who quickly became satisfied with Castro.

    But at that point the CIA once again ran into the classic problem that the groups they might have most liked to support from the perspective of politics were not necessarily the most competent or effective in regard to having deep on island networks or the ability to conduct effective guerilla operations.

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