Bay of pigs secrets-cia
THE BAY OF
PIGS INVASION/PLAYA GIRÓN
JAN 1, 1959: The 26 of July Movement, led by Fidel Castro, succeeds in forcing General Fulgencio Batista into exile. Fidel Castro gives a victory speech from Santiago: this new revolution, he states, will not be like 1898, "when the North Americans came and made themselves masters of our country."
JAN 7, 1959: Washington officially recognizes the new government; in a memo to the President, John Foster Dulles states, “The Provisional Government appears free from Communist taint and there are indications that it intends to pursue friendly relations with the United States.” Early the next day, Castro's victory caravan finally reaches Havana, and the new regime takes charge.
APR 19, 1959: During Fidel Castro's first post revolution trip to Washington, he meets with Vice President Richard Nixon for three and a half hours. "I spent as much time as I could trying to emphasize that he had the great gift of leadership, but that it was the responsibility of a leader not always to follow public opinion but to help to direct it in proper channels, not to give the people what they think they want at a time of emotional stress but to make them want what they ought to have," the Vice President reports in a four-page secret memo to Eisenhower, Secretary of State Christian A. Herter, and Allen Dulles. "It was apparent that while he paid lip service to such institutions as freedom of speech, press and religion that his primary concern was with developing programs for economic progress." Nixon concludes that Castro is "either incredibly naive about Communism or is under Communist discipline." But he also expresses his own “appraisal” of Castro as a man. “The one fact we can be sure of, is that he has those indefinable qualities which make him a leader of men. Whatever we may think of him, he is going to be a great factor in the development of Cuba and very possibly in the development of Latin American affairs generally.” (Richard M. Nixon, Rough Draft of Summary of Conversation Between the Vice President and Fidel Castro, April 25, 1959)
JUL 8, 1959: A CIA briefing for the National Security Council reports on “preparations in Cuba for efforts against Dominican Republic, either directly or through Haiti.” (CIA, Briefing, Carribean Situation, July 8, 1959)
SEP 4, 1959:
Ambassador Bonsal meets with Fidel Castro in Cuba. The Ambassador expresses,
“our serious concern at the treatment being given American private interests in
Cuba both agriculture and utilities.” Castro responds saying he “admires
Americans, especially tourists, for whom he is planning great things.”
(Department of State Cable, [Ambassador Report on Meeting With Castro],
September 4, 1959
LATE OCTOBER 1959: President Eisenhower approves a program proposed by the Department of State, in agreement with the CIA, to support elements in Cuba opposed to the Castro government. The operations are intended to make Castro's downfall seem to be the result of his own mistakes. As a part of this program, Cuban exiles mount sea borne raids against Cuba from U.S. territory. (Wyden, pp.28-29; Gleijeses, p.3; Taylor Report, pp.3-4)
FALL 1959: Manuel Artíme participates in a secret two-day meeting of the National Institute of Agrarian Reform in Havana. Numerous high officials of the revolution, including Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, attend the meeting. According to notes he takes on this "unforgettable reunion" - later published in his book Traicion - the discussion focuses on "the true goals of the revolution." He quotes Castro as defining Democracy as "this: a meeting of a group of men who know the road on which to take the people, that freely discuss the things they are going to do, having in their hands all the power of the State to do it." Castro also decides that the State will take possession of all land holdings, eliminating private property. At this point the campesinos will not be told of these plans, according to Artíme's notes. Artíme stresses that the leadership intends to deceive the Cuban public about the plans of the revolution.
The meeting of this "criollo Kremlin," according to Artíme, provides the catalyst for the "beginning of my rebellion." (Artíme, Traicion, pp. 3-16)
NOV 1959: Manuel Artíme travels undercover to Mexico and makes contact with other Cuban exiles from the LAR in Mexico. A bible is used for coding messages. Dr. Lino Fernandez is asked to begin stockpiling weapons gathered by LAR and to create a network of internal security and intelligence. (Chronology of Irregular Forces)
NOV 5, 1959: In a memorandum to President Eisenhower, Christian Herter describes the changing policy towards Cuba, “All actions of the United States Government should be designed to encourage within Cuba and elsewhere in Latin America opposition to the extremist, anti-American course of the Castro regime.” Herter adds, “[However], in achieving this objective, the United States should avoid giving the impression of direct pressure or intervention against Castro, except where defense of legitimate United States interest is involved.” (Department of State Memorandum, “Current Basic United States Policy Toward Cuba,” [Herter to Eisenhower], November 5, 1959)
EARLY DEC, 1959: Rogelio Gonzalez Corso, Rafael Rivas Vazquez, Carlos Rodriguez Santana, Jorge Sotus and Sergio Sanjenis meet in Mexico and decide to create the Movimiento de Recuperación Revolutionaries (MRR), or Revolutionary Recovery Movement. They designate Angel Ros as secretary general of the new organization; he leaves for the United States to confer with Ricardo Lorie other Cuban exiles. (Chronology of Irregular Forces)
DEC 11, 1959: J.C. King, head of the CIA's Western Division, writes a memorandum for Richard Bissell, and CIA Director, Allen Dulles stating that Castro has now established a dictatorship of the far left. The intelligence community estimates an increase in Cuban support for other revolutionary movements in Latin America, and "rapid nationalization of the banks, industry and commerce" sectors. The memorandum states that "violent action" is the only means of breaking Castro's grip on power, listing as the U.S. objective "the overthrow of Castro within one year." King also recommends that "thorough consideration be given to the elimination of Fidel Castro," marking the first time that the idea of assassination is committed to paper. (Cuban Problems, 12/11 /59)
JAN 1960: The CIA sets up a Task Force WH-4, Branch 4 of the Western Hemisphere Division to implement President Eisenhower's request for an ambitious covert program to overthrow the Castro government. Jacob Esterline, Guatemala station chief between 1954-1957, is put in charge of WH-4. (Wyden, pp.2-?29; Gleijeses, p.3; Taylor Report, pp.3-4)
JAN 12, 1960: Throughout the month of January, sabotage and small bombing missions in Cuba increase in frequency. A plane drops incendiary bombs in the areas of Bainoa, Caraballo, and San Antonio de Rio Blanco. Another plane coming from the north, with U.S. markings, drops inflammable material on cane fields next to the Hershey factory. (Informe Especial. 1960)
JAN 18, 1960: A plane drops live phosphorous over the cane plantations of Quemados de Guines and Rancho Veloz, in Las Villas. Seven people are detained in Sagua la Grande for trying to derail the Sagua?Havana train. (Informe Especial: 1960)
JAN 21, 1960: A plane drops four one-hundred pound bombs on the urban district of Cojimar y Regla in Havana. (Informe Especial: 1960)
JAN 25, 1960: President Eisenhower holds a conference to discuss the situation in Cuba. “The President said that Castro begins to look like a madman.” Ambassador Bonsal, also at the conference, adds, “[Castro] is a very conspiratorial individual who tries to create the impression that he and Cuba are beleaguered. He is an extreme Leftist and is strongly anti-American.”
JAN 28, 1960: At four in the afternoon in the town of Chambas on the north coast, a Catalina plane drops incendiary bombs that fail to go off. The bombs have the inscription "Bristo Marines." Another plane drops incendiary bombs on the cane fields in the refineries of Adelaida, Violeta, Patria, Punta Alegre, and Morón, in Camaguey; and Monati, Delicias, and Chapana, in Oriente. The incendiary devices dropped on the central Adelaide almost totally destroy 40 million "arrobas" ["arroba" = 25 pounds] of cane. (Informe Especial: 1960)
JAN 29-31, 1961: A plane drops incendiary phosphorous bombs on 10 districts in the area of the Chapana refinery. Other bombing attacks take place on cane plantations in San Isidro and on houses in the Central Toledo in Havana. More than one?hundred thousand "arrobas" of cane are burned in Alacranes and Jovellanos in the province of Matanzas. (Informe Especial: 1960)
FEB 1960: The Movimiento de Recuperación Revolucionaria - MRR - releases its "Ideario" of basic points. In the preamble, Manuel Artíme writes that MRR has been formed "not only to overthrow Fidel Castro, but to permanently fight for an ideology of Christ; and for a reality of liberating our nation treacherously sold to the Communist International." Luis Boza prepares the document. ("Ideario: Puntos Basicos.")
FEB 1-13, 1960: Planes drop bombs burning more than 17,000 arrobas of cane in Trinidad; and other bombing attacks take place in Punta Alegre, Camaguey province, against the Adelaide refinery, and in the central España. (Informe Especial: 1960)
FEB 17, 1960: A CIA briefing to the National Security Council reports on the visit of Soviet official Anastas Mikoyan to Cuba. “The USSR”, it states, “has shifted from cautious attitude to one of active support.” The briefing also indicates that opposition to Castro is growing but that “the anti-Castro groups both inside and outside the country lack organization and effective leadership.” (CIA, Briefing, Cuba, February 17, 1960)
FEB 18, 1960: A plane trying to bomb the central España, Matanzas province, explodes in mid-air. The pilot is identified as Robert Ellis Frost, an American who carries a U.S. military identification card. (Informe Especial: 1960)
FEB 21, 1960: Police detain a group of internal resistance forces that try to throw hand grenades at the Havana carnival. (Informe Especial: 1960)
FEB 22-25, 1960: A bi-motor B-25 plane takes part in burning cane fields in Las Villas. Simultaneous incursions by planes occur in Las Villas and Matanzas provinces. Counterrevolutionary groups burn 243,000 arrobas of cane in areas of Camaguey and Matanzas; and destroy 166,000 arrobas of cane in the district of La Papilla in Las Villas. (Informe Especial: 1960)
MAR 1960: The CIA begins training 300 guerrillas, initially in the U.S. and the Canal Zone. Following an agreement with President Ydígoras in June, training shifts to Guatemala. The CIA begins work to install a powerful radio station on Greater Swan Island, ninety?seven miles off the coast of Honduras. (Gleijeses, p.6)
-Rafael Rivas-Vasquez sends a confidential memorandum to Artíme on "Propaganda and Psychological Warfare of the F.R.D. (Revolutionary Democratic Front) in Cuba." The goals, he writes is to make the F.R.D. known inside of Cuba, win over sectors of the country, and "break the red power through creating a mystique [to oppose Communism] based on Christian principles and the democratic traditions of our people." Propaganda will be n and by radio. Psy-ops should include a "campaign directed a demoralizing the military ...based in terror," a radio and flyer campaign to identify Castro's intelligence officials and Communist spies, promoting civic resistance, and spread the word about the resistance and its operations. Among the recommendations are to "blow up" Castro's radio station, the Voz del INRA, which is interfering with Radio Swans transmissions. "Actions and sabotage, coordinated with written and radio propaganda ...give life to the slogans and civic resistance," Rivas Vasquez writes. (Propaganda y Guerra Psicológica 3/60)
MAR 4-5, 1961: Sabotage of a French ship, La Coubre, in Havana harbor, carrying arms for Cuba, kills about 100 people and wounds some 300. The following day at funerals for the victims Fidel Castro accuses the United States of responsibility for the action. (Informe Especial: 1960)
MID MARCH, 1960: The MRR's Miami-based secretary of propaganda, Rafael Rivas-Vasquez sends a memorandum to Manuel Artíme regarding methods of organizing resistance forces outside of Cuba. His suggestions include creating a Political Bureau, student movements, "pro-democracy worker's fronts," drafting and distribution of a manifesto and pamphlet on MRR, and structuring various Executive Committees in Mexico, Venezuela and other countries in order to build an "International Organization of Friends of a Free Cuba." (Algunas Sugerencias para el mejor funcionamiento en el Exilio ca. 3/13/60)
MAR 17, 1960: At an Oval Office meeting with high-ranking national security officials, President Eisenhower approves a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) policy paper titled "A Program of Covert Action Against the Castro Regime." The CIA plan involves four main courses of action: (i) form a moderate opposition group in exile whose slogan will be to restore the revolution which Castro has betrayed; (ii) create a medium wave radio station to broadcast into Cuba, probably on Swan Island, south of Cuba; (iii) create a covert intelligence and action organization within Cuba responsive to the orders and directions of the exile opposition; and (iv) begin training a para?military force outside Cuba and, in a second phase, train paramilitary cadres for immediate deployment into Cuba to organize, train and lead resistance forces recruited there.
During the meeting, Eisenhower states that he knows of "no better plan" for dealing with this situation but is concerned about leakage and breach of security. He argues that everyone must be prepared to deny its existence and only two or three people should have contact with the groups involved, agitating Cubans to do most of what must be done. The President tells Mr. Dulles that he thinks he should go ahead with the plan and the operations but that "our hand should not show in anything that is done." (Memorandum of Conference with the President, 3/18/60; CIA, A Program of Covert Action Against the Castro Regime, 3/16/60)
MAR 20-21, 1960: Internal resistance forces destroy 400,000 arrobas of cane in the Cunagua central in Camaguey province. Planes cause 7 fires in the zones bordering Matanzas and Las Villas, affecting the refineries of Australia, Perseverencia, and Tinguaro. (Informe Especial: 1960)
MAR 25, 1960: Internal resistance forces set fire simultaneously to different cane plantations around Havana. (Informe Especial: 1960)
MAR 27, 1960: Following a tour of Latin America by Artíme to drum up support for MRR, Rafael Rivas-Vasquez writes him a letter on the status of the movement. "The problem is to get going," the letter states. He notes that the Americans have yet be fully supportive beyond saying, "ok to everything." "If we show signs of life in Cuba ...they will definitively give us help." (Handwritten letter, 3/27/60)
MAR 27-28, 1960: Fidel Castro speaks to a gathering of militia in Ciudad Libertad: "We also are organizing ourselves... In the first place so that they do not carry out aggression against us, and in second place, if they do, they will have to pay very dearly for their impudence and audacity in finding themselves on the soil of our country."
The following day, Castro warns, "if there is an invasion, the war, they can be sure, will be to the death." (Informe Especial: 1960)
LATE MARCH 1960: David Atlee Phillips, a CIA contract employee who until recently had maintained a public-relations company in Havana, is selected by the CIA as chief of propaganda for the Cuba project. At operation headquarters in Washington, Phillips is told that the Cuba project will go by the Guatemala scenario. (Phillips had performed the same function in PBSUCCESS, the 1954 operation against Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz. During the coup by a CIA?directed exile force, Phillips had operated a clandestine station supporting them.) CIA operative E. Howard Hunt, also a veteran of the Guatemala operation, is assigned the position of chief of political action for the project. His primary responsibility is to form a government-in-exile to replace Castro's government following the invasion. (Wyden, pp.20-22; Hunt, p.23)
APR 14, 1960: At a National Security Council meeting, Eisenhower administration officials weigh options for broadcasting propaganda into Cuba. U.S. Information Agency Director George Allen reports that USIA is considering establishing a Cuba?directed station in Florida and buying time on commercial stations there. Also under study is a proposal to fly an aircraft over Key West for the purpose of beaming television programs into Cuba. Meanwhile, Allen says, USIA's short?wave broadcasts to Cuba have been augmented. CIA Director Allen Dulles reports that "some Cuban intellectuals [will] soon be broadcasting to Cuba from Boston at night, and that it is likely that a second radio station over which Cuban refugees might broadcast will be installed in five or six weeks." (NSC, Discussion of the 441st Meeting of the National Security Council, April 14, 1960.)
MID APRIL 1960: David Phillips meets with the CIA official in charge of the Cuba operation, Deputy Director for Plans Richard Bissell. When Bissell asks how long it will take to create the proper psychological climate, Phillips says it will take about six months. Bissell directs the propaganda chief to have Radio Swan up and running in one month.
On Swan Island, a tiny, contested territory located about 100 miles off Honduras; the CIA begins construction of a 50?kilowatt medium?wave radio station. The island had served as a base for CIA broadcasting during the agency's successful campaign to oust Guatemala's President Arbenz, and some radio equipment used in that operation is still on the island. Phillips obtains a transmitter from the U. S. Army in Germany, which was preparing to make it available to the Voice of America. A detachment of Navy Seabees constructs a pier at Swan Island to facilitate the unloading of the equipment. (Phillips, pp.112, 114; Wyden, pp.22? Gleijeses, p.6)
APR 19, 1960: A group of internal resistance forces plotting sabotage in Jovellanos are arrested. (Informe Especial: 1960).
APR 21?22, 1960: Pedro Martinez Fraga sends a letter to Ricardo Lorie and Manuel Artíme, regarding contacts with the CIA?referred to as "Group B," and "Mr. B"??on political, economic and military support preparing a political memorandum for MRR to present The letter states that the CIA has requested a meeting in New York the following week; Martinez Fraga recommends preparing a political manifesto to present to the Agency. (Strictly Confidential and Personal Memorandum, 4/21?22/60)
APR 23, 1960: Cuba's Foreign Minister Raúl Roa declares that "I can guarantee categorically that Guatemalan territory is being used at this very time with the complicity of President Ydígoras and the assistance of United Fruit, as a bridgehead for an invasion of our country." (Informe Especial: 1960)
APR 25, 1960: The MRR sends a memorandum to the CIA, summarizing the history, motivations, positions and goals of the organization. The document describes six major points of the MRR platform: respect for the dignity of the individual; firm devotion to representative democracy; unbreakable faith in the concept of private property and free markets; the development of capitalism; political pluralism; and the democratic credo against totalitarian communism. (MRR, Memorandum Personal y Confidencial, 4/25/60)
MAY 1960: CIA operative Howard Hunt spends several days in Cuba on an undercover visit, during which he observes Cuban attitudes toward the revolutionary government and visits areas around revolution?controlled radio stations. After returning to Washington, he reports on his findings to his supervisors at the CIA and offers several recommendations, including a suggestion that the Agency destroy the Cuban radio and television transmitters before or coincident with the invasion: Hunt's recommendation is based on his belief that without radio and television to inform the country, Castro's heirs would be unable to rally mass support. . (Hunt, pp.36, 38)
MAY 3, 1960: Fidel Castro proposes José Miró Cardona as new Cuban ambassador in the United States. Newspaper reports cite U.S. officials as seeing in the Cuban government's attitude a measure to improve relations between the two countries. (Informe Especial: 1960)
MAY 7, 1960: Two U.S. warplanes fly over Cuban territorial waters, close to the Cuban coast, and a U .S. destroyer enters Cuban waters. Two other U.S. warplanes fly over Cabo Cruz. (Informe Especial: 1960)
MAY 12, 1960: Cuban forces bring down a Piper Apache plane near Mariel killing the pilot, a U.S. citizen named Matthew Edward Duke. (Informe Especial: 1960)
MAY 13,1960: President Eisenhower meets with his advisers to discuss what to do about General Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. The conversation touches upon dealing with Castro. Eisenhower comments that he would like to see Castro and Trujillo "both sawed off." (Memorandum of Conference with the President, 5/13/60)
MAY 13, 1960: The organizing committee of the Revolutionary Democratic Front (FRD) meets in New York City. The participants approve statutes for the FRD, and authorize the drafting of a Manifesto to introduce the front to the United States and other countries. (Minutes of FRD meeting, 5/13/60)
MAY 14, 1960: The New York Times reports that a new commercial radio station will begin broadcasting soon from Swan Island. The station, the Times reports, plans to broadcast nothing of greater international import than waltzes, Latin American music, and commercials. (NYT, 5/14/60)
MAY 16, 1960: The U.S. receives José Miró Cardona as the new Cuban ambassador in the United States. (Informe Especial: 1960)
MAY 17,1960: Radio Swan goes on the air, on schedule. According to the CIA, the station's signal reaches not only its target area of Cuba, but the entire Caribbean as well. The station's programs are taped in studios in Miami, then routed through the Swan transmitter. (CIA, "Brief History of Radio Swan," Taylor Committee, Annex 2)
Bob Davis, the CIA station chief in Guatemala City, receives a message instructing him to build an airport. After getting Guatemalan permission, the agency contracts to have the airport built at Retalhuleu in thirty days for $1 million. The airport is built in ninety days and ultimately costs $1.8 million. (Wyden, p.37)
MAY 19, 1960: A small group from Brigade 2506, housed by the CIA in the motel Marie Antonet in Fort Lauderdale, are met by Manuel Artíme and two CIA officials, "Jimmy and Karl." Jimmy is identified as the chief of the operation, and later as chief of the infiltration team. The team is subsequently transported to Ussepa Island off the Florida coast for training of the Brigade 2506. Other members of the brigade arrive later and are assigned numbers, including José Basulta (2522), and Rafael Quintero (2527). The training is originally scheduled to last 15 days but extends into a month and a half. In early July, the Brigadistas are transferred by plane to camps in Guatemala. (Brigadista Diary p. 2?6)
MAY 24, 1960: CIA Director Allen Dulles updates the National Security Council on two semi?covert radio activities related to Cuba. He reports that "several well?known Cuban refugees [are] purchasing time for anti?Castro broadcasts from a short?wave station in Cuba." In addition, he announces that Radio Swan is now on the air for "test purposes. The station will go on the air quietly at first, will then attack [Dominican leader Rafael] Trujillo, and then later will begin to attack Castro." Radio Swan will be operated ostensibly by a commercial company. (NSC, "Discussion at the 445th Meeting of the National Security Council," May 24, 1960, 5/25/60)
MAY 31, 1960: Cuban security forces round up members of an internal resistance organization named the Western Anti?communist Organization. (Informe Especial: 1960)
SUMMER 1960: Howard Hunt visits operation headquarters in Coral Gables, Florida. There he meets an assistant to Phillips who is in charge of field propaganda work, and is dispensing CIA subsidies to several Cuban exile newspapers: Subscriptions to Latin Americans are sold at nominal cost to spread the anti?Castro word in countries where Fidel is regarded sympathetically.
decides that "a single station [is] not sufficient for the task" of transmitting
adequate propaganda. He later writes that "We soon created a second capability
independent of Radio Swan and the exile political groups by having CIA agents
buy space on existing radio stations around the perimeter of
JUN 21, 1960: Over Radio Mambi, a Cuban government station, Castro government officials charge that a counterrevolutionary radio station, supported by U.S. dollars, is now broadcasting on Swan island. (Wise and Ross, p.353)
JUN 8, 1960: MRR issues a communiqué denouncing the Castro Government for betraying the revolution. Artíme, Nino Diaz, Ricardo Lorie, and Michel Yabor sign it. (Chronology of Irregular Forces)
JUN 22, 1960: The Revolutionary Democratic Front (FRD) releases a "Constitutional Manifesto" in Mexico City. Artíme, Manuel Antonio de Verona, José Ignacio Rasco, Arueliano Sanchez Arango, and Justo Carrillo sign the document. (FRD Declaration, 6/22/60)
EARLY JULY 1960: Exile forces being trained on Ussepa Island are transferred to bases in Guatemala. They are taken to the Finca Helevetia owned by the Alejos brothers. There, “Mr. Karl,” the CIA official in charge of the training, meets this group of exiles. Three Americans, Bill, Bob and Nick, are in charge of training exile members in radio communications.
The diary of an unidentified brigadista on a radio team describes a daily routine that beings at 6:45am with calisthenics and running. At 8:45, classes in radio and telegram communications are conducted; at noon lunch is held; classes resume at 2pm and end at 6pm; dinner at 7pm and then a free evening to listen to the Voice of America or WRUL in New York, and to sneak a drink since alcohol is prohibited at the camp. (Brigadista Diary p. 8)
JUL 6, 1960: The National Office of the MRR in Havana designates Rogelio Gonzalez Corso (Francisco Gutierrez) to be its national coordinator. (Minutes of MRR meeting, 7/6/60)
JUL 12, 1960: The National Office of the MRR in Havana decides to send Gutierrez to the U.S. to address internal divisions in the U.S.?based section of the organization at plenary meeting in Miami. (Minutes of MRR meeting, 6/12/60)
JUL 18, 1960: The MRR meets in Miami for a special plenary session. The gathering addresses a move by a number of members to set up a "parallel movement" to the MRR "with the purpose of sabotaging the existing organization." Several prominent members of the leadership are dismissed from the organization. Manuel Artíme is designated to be Secretary General and MRR representative to the Democratic Revolutionary Front. (Minutes of MRR Meeting, July 18, 1960)
JUL 21, 1960: CIA headquarters sends a cable to Havana regarding an upcoming meeting between a Cuban volunteer agent and Raul Castro. The cable states that "Possible removal top three leaders is receiving serious consideration at HQS," enquiring whether the Cuban agent is sufficiently motivated to risk arranging an accident for Raul Castro, and offering $10,000 after successful completion. After the agent agrees to carry out the task, the CIA cancels the assignment. (Wyden, p.39)
JUL 23, 1960: CIA Director Dulles briefs Senator John F. Kennedy, who is running for president, at Hyannis Port on Cape Cod. The meeting on intelligence matters lasts two and a half hours and includes a description of the training of Cuban exiles for operations against the Castro government. (CIA Director Allen Dulles, Memorandum for the President, August 3, 1960)
AUG 1960: Richard Bissell meets with Colonel Sheffield Edwards, director of the CIA's Office of Security, and discusses with him ways to eliminate or assassinate Fidel Castro. Edwards proposes that the job be done by assassins hand?picked by the American underworld, specifically syndicate interests who have been driven out of their Havana gambling casinos by the Castro regime. Bissell gives Edwards the go?ahead to proceed. Between August 1960, and April 1961, the CIA with the help of the Mafia pursues a series of plots to poison or shot Castro. The CIA’s own internal report on these efforts states that these plots "were viewed by at least some of the participants as being merely one aspect of the over?all active effort to overthrow the regime that culminated in the Bay of Pigs." (CIA, Inspector General's Report on Efforts to Assassinate Fidel Castro, p. 3, 14)
?The Miami Herald considers publishing a story by David Kraslow about CIA training of Cuban exiles near Homestead, Florida. The story reports that the Justice and State departments are unhappy about this violation of the Neutrality Act and are pressuring President Eisenhower to move all such CIA training operations; and that the exiles are to be sent into Cuba to wage guerrilla war against Castro. After meeting with Allen Dulles and being informed that publication would be most harmful to the national interest, the paper's editors decide not to print the story. (Wyden, pp.45?46)
?The CIA hires a small New York public relations firm, Lem Jones Associates, Inc., to handle official announcements by the exile groups involved in the Cuba project. (Wyden, p.117)
?Members of the exile Brigade begin to move from the Finca to TRAX base, another installation in Guatemala. (Brigade Diary, p. 15)
AUG 1, 1960: The Cuban representative at the OAS presents a memorandum detailing U.S. acts of aggression against the people and government of Cuba. (Informe Especial: 1960)
?A high official of the U.S. armed forces declares that Russia could easily destroy cities in the southeast of the U.S. with nuclear weapons launched from Cuba. The military official adds that if the Russians take such steps in Cuba, the chiefs of staff, the National Security Council, and the President would have to make a big decision.
AUG 5, 1960: Cuban militias capture a total of 112 contra forces, including a U.S. citizen, operating in Escambray. (Informe Especial: 1960)
The Cuban government passes a law to nationalize U.S. businesses: the Cuban Electricity Company, the telephone company, petrol refineries, and 36 sugar refineries with an approximate value of 800 million pesos. (Informe Especial: 1960)
AUG 7, 1960: In various churches in the capital a pastoral letter from the country's bishops is read, condemning the nationalization and other revolutionary measures as communist. (Informe Especial: 1960)
AUG 13, 1960: Cuban security forces arrest 16 resistance members accusing them of acts of sabotage. (Informe Especial: 1960)
AUG 18, 1960: President Eisenhower approves a budget of $13 million for the covert anti?Castro operation, as well as the use of the Department of Defense personnel and equipment. However, it is specified at this time that no United States military personnel are to be used in a combat status. (Gleijeses, p.10; Wyden, p.30)
AUG 28, 1960: Cuba withdraws from the Seventh Consultative Meeting of the Ministers of the OAS after 19 governments vote against a Cuban proposal concerning the aggression by one American state against another. (Informe Especial: 1960)
LATE SUMMER 1960: The concept of the covert operation begins to shift from infiltrating teams to wage guerrilla warfare to an amphibious operation involving at least 1,500 men who would seize and defend an area by sea and air assault and establish a base for further operations. Minutes of the Special Group meetings in the fall of 1960 indicate a declining confidence in the effectiveness of guerrilla efforts alone to overthrow Castro. (Gleijeses, p.10; Aguilar, p.5)
SEP 1960: An unidentified member of the resistance passes intelligence on the San Antonio de los Banos base. In addition, a typed memorandum, presumably sent to the MRR in Miami asks for action materials and propaganda that other groups inside Cuba already have. The report also offers data on the number of men and arms in the Hoguin region who are willing to use arms against the government. (Untitled memorandum, ca 9160)
SEP 2, 1960: At a demonstration in the Plaza Civica to respond to the OAS vote, Fidel Castro declares: "If they continue the economic aggression against our country, we will continue nationalizing U.S. businesses." (Informe Especial: 1960)
SEP 8, 1960: Carlos Rodriguez Santana, a member of the Brigade, dies in a training accident in Guatemala. He becomes the first casualty of the exile force. In his honor, the brigade assumes his assigned number?2506?as the name of the exile force.
SEP 10, 1960: The New York Times publishes a front?page story on Radio Swan. The station is described as being owned and operated by the Gibraltar Steamship Company, with headquarters in New York. (NYT, 9/10160)
SEP 14, 1960: A Cuban government radio commentary charges that the United States is pirating long?wave frequencies belonging to Cuba and calls Radio Swan's broadcasts a new aggression of imperialistic North America. (NYT, 9/15/60).
SEP 15: 1960: The Mexican government pressures the FRD to leave Mexico City and relocate to Miami. (Chronology of Irregular Forces)
SEP 15, 1960: Cuban security forces arrest a group of North Americans, among them two officials of the U.S. Embassy. (Informe Especial: 1960)
SEP 18, 1960: Fidel Castro arrives at Idlewild airport for a visit to the United Nations. (Informe Especial: 1960)
SEP 19, 1960: CIA Director Dulles briefs John F. Kennedy again on intelligence matters.
SEP 21, 1960: Soviet premier Khrushchev visits Castro at the Hotel Theresa. (Informe Especial: 1960)
SEP 26, 1960: During an address before the United Nations General Assembly, Fidel Castro charges that the U.S. has taken over Swan Island and has set up a very powerful broadcasting station there, which it has placed at the disposal of war criminals. (NYT, 10/15/60)
SEP 28, 1960: The CIA attempts its first drop of weapons and supplies to the Cuban resistance. The aircrew tries to drop an arms pack for a hundred men to an agent waiting on the ground. They miss the drop zone by seven miles and land the weapons on top of a dam where they are picked up by Castro's forces. The agent is caught and shot. The plane gets lost on the way to Guatemala and lands in Mexico. (Thomas, p.241)
SEP 29, 1960: A plane coming from the U.S. drops a heavy load of arms by parachute in Escambray. (Informe Especial: 1960)
OCT 5?6, 1960: Armed exiles land in Bahía de Navas and Baracoa and engage Cuban Army and peasant militia forces. (Informe Especial. 1960)
OCT 7, 1960: Raúl Roa, Cuba's Foreign Minister, denounces U.S. plans to invade Cuba, based on intelligence information obtained by Cuba's security services: "In the Finca Helvetia, located in the municipality of El Palmer, adjoining the departments of Retalhuleu and Quetzaltenango, acquired recently by Roberto Alejos, brother of the Guatemalan ambassador in the U.S. . . numerous exiles and adventurers are receiving training under the command of r North American military men. In August and September, more than a hundred airmen and American technical military personnel entered Guatemala. In the La Aurora airport bomber aircraft have been seen. The public rumor is that they serve a double mission to attack Cuba or to simulate a Cuban attack against Guatemala." (Molina, "Diario de Girón,” p. 1?2)
?Senator John Kennedy, running for president, attacks the Eisenhower Administration for "permitting a communist menace ... to arise only ninety miles from the shores of the United States." (Gleijeses, p.24)
OCT 12, 1960: Five convicted internal resistance force members captured in Escambray are executed by firing squad. Eight others, including an American, Anthony Salvard, who landed in Bahía de Navas are also executed.
?The Cuban government nationalizes 382 big businesses including manufacturers of sugar, liquor, beer, perfume, soap, textiles, milk products, as well as banks. (Informe Especial.1960)
OCT 14, 1960: The United States issues a false fact sheet at the United Nations in response to Castro's accusations before the General Assembly. The paper addresses the issue of Radio Swan: "
There is a private commercial broadcasting station on the [Swan] islands, operated by the Gibraltar Steamship Company. The United States Government understands that this station carries programs in Spanish that are heard in Cuba, and Cuban political refugees have purchased that some of its broadcast time. (NYT, 10/15/60)
OCT 16 and 21, 1960: Kennedy again attacks Eisenhower's Cuba policy: "If you can't stand up to Castro, how can you be expected to stand up to Khrushchev?" And five days later: "We must attempt to strengthen the non-Batista democratic anti?Castro forces in exile, and in Cuba itself, who offer eventual hope of overthrowing Castro. Thus far these fighters for freedom have had virtually no support from our government."
Richard Nixon, running for president and fully aware of the anti?Castro activities taking place and being planned, attacks Kennedy's position on Cuba as irresponsible and reckless. Nixon argues that if the United States were to back the Cuban exiles, it would be condemned in the United Nations and would not accomplish our objective. "It would be an open invitation for Mr. Khrushchev ... to come into Latin America and to engage us m what would be a civil war and possibly even worse than that." Nixon proposes a quarantine of Cuba. (Gleijeses, pp.24?25; Wyden, pp.67?68)
OCT 17, 1960: A Honduran deputy denounces the fact that 30 transport planes coming from the U.S. and bringing equipment to counterrevolutionary Cubans landed at various Guatemalan bases to be used in an attack against Cuba. (Informe Especial: 1960)
OCT 17?18, 1960: Cuban?based members of the FRD meet with Manuel de Verona to complain about the lack of support from the United States. Verona offers $200,000 to support the political and other resistance operations on the island. He also tells them that two shipments of arms, presumably from the CIA, have entered CUBA. (Report to Manuel Artíme, 10/17/60)
OCT 20, 1960: A State Department spokesman announces that U.S. Ambassador Philip Bonsal will be recalled for a prolonged period and that there are no plans to replace him. (Informe Especial, 1960)
OCT 24, 1960: The Cuban Council of Ministers decrees the nationalization of another 166 U.S. businesses as a response to the aggressive measures of the U.S. against Cuba. (Informe Especial: 1960)
OCT 25, 1960: in its Havana headquarters, the FRD drafts an operational blueprint for overthrowing Castro. The document suggests that some arms have arrived and others are expected. It lists the first resistance goal as liberating Pinar del Río; "commando actions" in Havana are also planned "producing unrest and weakening control to make sure the government cannot accumulate troops and send them to Pinar del Rio." The plan also refers to "armed expeditions from outside Cuba" which will coincide with the beginning of operations in the province. (Plan of Operation No. 1, 10/25/60)
Francisco Gutierrez provides an MRR status/intelligence report on resistance strength in various provinces. Among the opposition forces in various zones are 450 men in the district of Guanajay?including some ex?military personnel from Batista's army?approximately 200 ex military and civilians from Santa Cruz, and 14 men in the zone known as Consolacion del Sur. The report also notes that some resistance leaders have recently been detained, and provides intelligence on placements of Castro's regiments and weaponry. (Gutierrez report, 10/25/60)
OCT 26, 1960: The press officer for the Guatemalan president admits that there are military personnel in more than twenty fincas in the country but denies they are related to any invasion of Cuba. Their purpose is to "respond to any eventual attack by Fidelista guerrillas." (Informe Especial: 1960)
OCT 27, 1960: The FRD distributes its first Combat Order. In general terms, the order describes the logistics of an attack on the San Julian air base. That plan calls for seizing the airfield and using it as an operational base for "our air and land force." The order also describes how supplies will be obtained and communications handled during the operations. (Combat Order, 10/27/60)
OCT 30, 1960: A Guatemalan newspaper La Hora publishes a story disclosing that the CIA has built a heavily guarded $1 million base near Retalhuleu to train Cuban counterrevolutionaries for landing in Cuba. (Wyden, p.46)
OCT 31, 1960: Cable from CIA Headquarters to senior agency officer in Guatemala outlines plan for amphibious invasion of Cuba by assault force of at least 1,500 men who will receive conventional military training. (CIA, Classified Message, October 31, 1960)
NOV 1960: President Eisenhower presses CIA director Dulles about the missing Cuban government in exile. Dulles and Bissell assure him that the CIA is making progress. Eisenhower is skeptical. The President is quoted as remarking: "I'm going along with you boys, but I want to be sure the damned thing works." (Wyden, p.68)
NOV 4, 1960: A CIA cable from Washington to the project officer in Guatemala directs a reduction in the guerrilla teams in training to 60 men and the introduction of conventional training for the remainder as an amphibious and airborne assault force. From this time on, the men become deeply imbued with the importance of the landing operation and its superiority over any form of guerrilla action to the point that it would have been difficult to persuade them to return to a guerrilla?type mission. (Aguilar, p.6)
NOV 8?9, 1960: The CIA informs the Special Group of its plans, including a change in the conception of the operation from guerrilla infiltration to amphibious invasion and there is no approval or disapproval. (Gleijeses, p.11)
NOV 13, 1960: Young officers revolt in Guatemala. A major grievance is the presence of the CIA?directed Cuban Expeditionary Force in Guatemala. President Ydígoras calls for U.S. aid in putting down the rebellion, and Brigade planes strafe the rebels, helping to put down the rebellion. (Gleijeses, p.16)
NOV 13,1960: Guatemalan "friends" of the Cuban revolution supply intelligence to the Castro government on the activities of Cuban exiles in Guatemala. A six-page intelligence report records the build?up of exile forces over the previous summer and fall, the type of aircraft being used, and location of the training bases. (Informacion sobre la contrarrevolucion Cubana en Guatemala, 2/24/61)
NOV 18, 1960: CIA Director Dulles and Deputy Director for Plans Bissell visit President?elect Kennedy in Palm Beach and brief him on the plan to overthrow Castro. (Allen W. Dulles, Memorandum for General Maxwell Taylor, 6/1/61)
NOV 19, 1960: The Nation magazine prints an editorial entitled "Are We Training Cuban Guerrillas?" Following a query from a reader, the New York Times instructs its Central America correspondent, Paul P. Kennedy to look into the story of CIA training of Cuban exiles in Guatemala. (Wyden, p.46)
NOV 29, 1960: President Eisenhower meets with key aides from the State, Treasury, and Defense departments, CIA, and the White House. He expresses his unhappiness about the general situation: "Are we being sufficiently imaginative and bold, subject to not letting our hand appear; and ...are we doing the things we are doing, effectively?" State Department Acting Secretary Dillon voices the department's concern that the operation is no longer secret but is known all over Latin America and has been discussed in U.N. circles. President Eisenhower states he thinks, "we should be prepared to take more chances and be more aggressive." (Memorandum of Meeting with the President, Tuesday, November 29, 1960, 12/5/60)
NOV 30, 1960: Manuel Artíme sends a letter to "Jimmy"?a CIA contact?stating that Roberto Verona will replace Gonzalez Mora as the MRR liaison to the CIA (Artíme letter, 11/30/60)
DEC 2, 1960: Acting Secretary of State Dillon informs President Eisenhower that the 5412 Group has decided that a senior official in the State Department and a senior officer in CIA should work full time to better organize the government's "total program with respect to Cuba." Whiting Whitauer and Tracy Barnes are suggested to fill the roles and the 5412 Group (Messrs. Dulles, Gray, Douglas, and Merchant) recommends that it "intensify its general supervision of the covert operation." (Douglas Dillon, Memorandum for the President, Subject: Cuba, December 2, 1960)
DEC 6, 1960: President Eisenhower meets with President?elect Kennedy to discuss the anti?Castro Cuban operation currently being planned. (Gleijeses, p.26)
DEC 7, 1960: President Eisenhower responds to Doug Dillon's December 2, memo. He grants approval for reorganization of the Cuba program, but wants to clarify that; “Mr. Willauer should have a position directly subordinate to the Secretary of State for so long as Cuba remains a critical problem in our foreign relations. There should be no doubt as to the authority of the Special Assistant in the State department (Willauer) to coordinate [deleted] activities.” (President Eisenhower, Memorandum for the Secretary of State, December 7, 1960).
DEC 8, 1960: The CIA Task Force presents the new paramilitary concept to the Special Group. The Special Group authorizes use of Special Forces to train the Strike Force, the use of an airstrip at Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, and supply missions. (Taylor Board, First Meeting, 4/22/61; Gleijeses, p.12)
A seven?week training program begins in Guatemala with approximately 575 to 600 troops. (Aguilar, p.170)
In a meeting of the Special Group, Colonel Edward G. Lansdale, an expert in guerrilla warfare, shares his doubts that the Cuban people will rise up in the face of the landings. He quizzes Dulles about the political base and popularity of the operation. (Wyden, pp.72?73)
DEC 12, 1960: Unidentified planes from the U.S. fly over a number of Cuban cities dropping anti?Castro propaganda. (Informe Especial: 1960)
DEC 16, 1960: The White House press secretary reads President Eisenhower's decision to prohibit the import of Cuban sugar that will affect 800,000 tons of Cuban sugar. (Informe Especial: 1960)
DEC 20, 1960: Admiral Robert Dennison, the Commander in Chief Atlantic (CINCLANT), sends the CIA 119 questions about the CIA operation. His questions imply that planning has been wholly inadequate for the invasion. Only twelve are answered. (Wyden, p.79)
DEC 31, 1960: In a speech, Fidel Castro denounces the "imperialist plan" to invade Cuba. He attempts to focus world attention on the "danger our country is running," and declares that Cuba will "mobilize the people and adopt such measures as can persuade the imperialists that it will not be a military cakewalk." Castro warns the United States "if they want to invade us and destroy the resistance they will not succeed ...because as long as a single man or woman with honor remains there will be resistance." Castro predicts that a few thousand paratroops with some boats will not take the capital or any major cities and that they will need many more troops and that they will pay a heavier price than in the landings in Normandy and Okinawa. ("Playa Girón," Primer Tomo, 8?11)
LATE 1960: The CIA purchases two LCls (landing craft, infantry) in Miami that are modified for landing troops. The agency recruits Cuban crews, but the ships do not get to sea until January 1961. Since these two ships can only carry 150 men, the CIA charters two small (1,500?2,000 ton) freighters from a Cuban ship owner named Garca who asks only that operating expenses be covered. The LCls are armed and kept as command ships and also used for other operations such as the raid on the Santiago refinery. (Aguilar, p.70)
?José San Román, who had served in the Batista military and in Castro's, and who had been imprisoned under both regimes, becomes Brigade commander of the forces in training. Four battalions are formed under Alejandro del Valle (First), Hugo Sueiro Second, Infantry), Erneido Oliva (Armored), and Roberto San Román (Heavy Gun Battalion). The force takes the name 2506 Brigade, from the serial number of its first casualty, Carlos Rodriguez Santana, who fell two thousand feet off a cliff on a training hike. (Johnson, p.57; Wyden, p.51)
The CIA later reports that during this period, the effectiveness of Radio Swan begins to diminish: Although great numbers of Cubans still listen to the station, its credibility and reputation suffers because programming only represents the narrow interests of the Cuban groups producing the various broadcasts. The program producers are using exaggeration in order to sensationalize their broadcasts. An example: One of the announcers stated that there were 3,000 Russians in a park in Santiago de Cuba; the residents had only to walk to the park to see that this was untrue. (Taylor Report, Annex 2: CIA, Brief History of Radio Swan)
JAN 1, 1961: Recruitment of Cuban exiles for training in Guatemala is significantly increased. (Taylor Board, First Meeting, 4/22161)
JAN 3, 1961: At 1:20 a.m., the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Relations in Havana sends a telegram to the Charge d'Affaires at the U.S. Embassy informing him that the total number of personnel at the U.S. Embassy and Consulate should not exceed eleven persons. Further, U.S. government personnel "must abandon the national territory" of Cuba within 48 hours of receipt of the telegram. (Cuban Ministry of Foreign Relations, "Embassy Telegram 2667," January 3, 1961)
President Eisenhower meets with advisers at 9:30 a.m. to discuss steps to take on Cuba, including the breaking of diplomatic relations in response to Cuba's demand that U.S. official representation in Cuba be cut to 11 people. Turning to discussion of planned covert action against Cuba, Gordon Gray quotes [deleted] as describing the Cuban exiles in training as the best Army in Latin America and General Lemnitzer [chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] agrees. Regarding the trend of public opinion in Cuba, Assistant Secretary of State Mann argues that support for Castro has gone down from approximately 95% to about 25 to 33%.
During the meeting, President Eisenhower offers that he would move against Castro before the 20th (of January) if the Cubans provided him a really good excuse. Failing that, he says, perhaps the U.S. "could think of manufacturing something that would be generally acceptable." (Memorandum of Meeting with the President, January 3, 1961, 1/9/61)
At 8:30 p.m.
the U.S. Department of State sends a note to the Cuban Charge d'Affaires
advising of the decision to break diplomatic relations between the two countries
and requests that the Government of Cuba withdraw all Cuban nationals employed
in the Cuban Embassy in Washington as soon as possible.
?Later in the
day, Fidel Castro announces that Cuba will go to the U.N. and "declare that if
the United States believes it has the right to promote counterrevolution in
Cuba, and believes it has the right to promote
?On this day,
Manuel Artíme meets in Miami with Marcos Valdes Castilla, the exile
representative of the Union Revolucionaria Anticomunista. The two sign a "unity
pact" and the URA offers recognition of the FRD's civilian leadership of the
resistance forces, and agrees that Artíme will represent them on the FRD
JAN 4, 1961:
Senior CIA officials prepare a memorandum "to outline the status of 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
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.... If matters do not eventuate as predicted above, the lodgment ....can be used as the site for establishment of a ?, provisional government that can be recognized by the United States .... 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.
Air strikes are seen as a crucial component of the invasion: "It is considered crucial that the Cuban air force and naval vessels capable of opposing the landing be knocked out or neutralized before amphibious shipping makes its final run into the beach." (CIA, Memorandum For. Chief WH/4, Policy Decisions Required for Conduct of Strike Operations Against Government of Cuba, 1 /4/61)
JAN 5, 1961: In preparation for a January 5 meeting of the Special Group, Tracy Barnes drafts a memorandum for the Director of Central Intelligence in which he outlines problems that need to be addressed. Most importantly, he argues that, contrary to views expressed at a January 3 meeting, the operation is unable to house or train more than 750 strike force members. Further, he argues that the operation "should" have a U.S. base for resupply following the strike landing. (CIA, Material for the 5 January Special Group Meeting, Memorandum for Director of Central Intelligence, 1/5/60)
?The Fair Play for Cuba Committee asks Congress to investigate reports that the CIA is establishing secret bases for an invasion of Cuba. (Johnson, p.58)
?The Cuban Council of Ministers approves the sentence of capital punishment for those who carry out terrorist acts such as sabotage, arson, and assassinations. At the United Nations, Cuban Minister Roa denounces the U.S for sending arms and equipment to rebel groups in the Escambray, sending pirate planes based in Florida with powerful explosives to bomb economic targets in Cuba, and training mercenaries in the U.S., Guatemala, and Nicaragua, to attack Cuba. (Molina, "Diario de Girón", pp. 9?10)
JAN 6, 1961: The State Department says it doubts newspaper reports that Castro is planning to let the Soviet Union establish missile bases in Cuba. (Johnson, p.58)
JAN 10, 1961: The New York Times publishes a front page story entitled "U.S. Helps Train an Anti?Castro Force at Secret Guatemalan Air?Ground Base." Written by Paul Kennedy, the article reports that "Commando?like forces are being drilled in guerrilla warfare tactics by foreign personnel, mostly from the United States." (Wyden, p.46)
JAN 11, 1961: Ambassador Willauer representing the State Department and Tracy Barnes of CIA discuss with representatives of the Joint Staff the overall problem of effecting the overthrow of Castro. This is the first time the JCS at the working level is informed of the plan being developed in the CIA for an invasion by a Cuban exile force. As a result, a working committee including representatives of CIA, State, Defense, and the JCS is formed to coordinate future actions in pursuit of this objective. (JCS, Chronology of JCS Participation in Bumpy Road)
JAN 12, 1961: The Cuban government arrests a group of internal resistance forces, including their commander, Ramon Carvajal, for conspiring against the state. (Informe Especial: 1961)
JAN 16, 1961: URA representative Marcos Valdes Castilla sends a message to the MRR stating that a message has been received from Cuba stating that Castro's forces will start an offensive against the resistance forces in the Escambray. "Help is urgently needed; if it is possible, the attackers should be bombed." Urgent assistance is requested in order to "unleash an offensive of terror and sabotage in the capital." The source of the intelligence on Castro's offensive apparently comes from an agent working in the government palace. (Memo, 1/16/61)
?The Interdepartmental Working Group on Cuba meets to discuss a Defense Department memorandum entitled "Evaluation of Possible Military Courses of Action in Cuba." The memo outlines military actions to be used "in the event currently planned political and paramilitary operations are determined to be inadequate."
Three possible courses of action are outlined: unilateral action by the U.S. armed forces under. a contingency plan already approved by the JCS; invasion by an overtly U.S. trained and supported Volunteer Army; and invasion by a combination of possible courses of action a and b. The memo concludes that "courses of action a and c are the only courses of action which assure success." (Department of Defense, Evaluation of Possible Military Courses of Action in Cuba (S), Staff Study Prepared in the Department of Defense, 1/16/96)
JAN 16?18, 1961: The U.S. prohibits its citizens from traveling to Cuba unless specifically authorized by the State Department. In Cuba, an American citizen, John Gentile, is sentenced to 30 years in prison for being part of a group that carried out sabotage and assassination attempts against Cuban leaders. (Molina, "Diario de Girón", pp. 20?21)
JAN 18, 1961: Ambassador Willauer reports to Under Secretary of State Merchant that "the Group, DOD, CIA, and ARA (to a limited extent)" have updated DOD on "current thinking on the program for Cuba," and "after concluding this [they] assumed that the December 6 plan (updated in light of developments since that time) might not succeed in the objective of overthrowing the Castro regime." Willauer concurs with DOD's "Evaluation of Possible Military Courses of Action in Cuba" (January 16, 1961) that any chance of success hinges on several "very important policy decisions that many of [them] feel must be taken immediately."
Willauer also states his own view that the plan "will probably get support from many Latin American countries of democratic inclination in direct proportion to the degree [the U.S. is] felt to be siding in the overthrow of Trujillo (of the Dominican Republic) and generally are 'on the side of the angels' in the entire problem of dictatorships vs. free governments in the hemisphere." Finally, Willauer informs Merchant that his committee "weighed without coming to a conclusion the advantages of rapid, effective action by direct war in terms of getting matters over with without a long buildup of world opinion, vs. the inevitability of such a buildup under any seven?month program." (Ambassador Willauer, Memorandum to Under Secretary Merchant, The Suggested Program for Cuba Contained in the Memorandum to You Dated December 6, 9960. 1 /18/61)
JAN 19, 1961: President Eisenhower meets again with President?elect Kennedy and endorses the covert Cuban operation. Eisenhower makes it clear that the project is going very well and that it is the new administration's responsibility to do whatever is necessary to bring it to a successful conclusion. According to notes taken during the meeting, "Senator Kennedy asked the President's judgment as to the United States supporting the guerrilla operation in Cuba, even if this support involves the United States publicly. The President replied Yes as we cannot let the present government there go on." (The White House, Meeting in the Cabinet Room, 9:45 a.m., January 19, 1961)
JAN 19?20, 1961: Six American military men aboard the yacht "Aries" dock in Havana and claim that they have come to defend the Cuban revolution. On interrogation, they admit to coming to fight against the government but because of bad weather and running out of fuel they were obliged to enter Havana. The six are sent before a Revolutionary Tribunal. (Molina, "Diario de Girón", pp. 2223)
JAN 22, 1961: Several members of the incoming Kennedy Administration including Dean Rusk, Robert McNamara, Chester Bowles, and Robert Kennedy receive a briefing on the Cuba operation at the State Department. (CIA Deputy Director for Plans Tracy Barnes, Memorandum for the Record, Conclusions of Dean Rusk's 22 January Meeting on Cuba, 1/23/61)
JAN 24, 1961: Alberto Muller Quintana, secretary general of the Cuban Student's Directorate (DRE) sends a letter to President Kennedy denouncing Castro's political, and economic programs. The letter reviews the regime's "calculated" takeover of all sectors of the society?politics, religion, unions, repression etc. The DRE requests U.S. support in what they call a "transcendent fight" against Communism in Cuba. 'The role of the US is to prevent communism, disguised as Fidelism, from becoming the expression of the present revolutionary feeling in Latin America," the letter states. "Finally, Mr. President, we want to state [that] our hope lies with someone like you..." (DRE letter to Kennedy, 1/24/61)
Clark Clifford, special counsel to President Harry S. Truman and later Secretary of Defense under Lyndon Johnson, reminds President Kennedy in a memorandum that Eisenhower said it was the policy of this government to help the exiles to the utmost and that this effort should be continued and accelerated. (Wyden, p.88)
JAN 25, 1961: President Kennedy meets with the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the White House. According to a memorandum on the meeting, Gen. Lemnitzer tells the President that in light of the "shipment of heavy new military equipment from Czechoslovakia?30,000 tons or more?clandestine forces are not strong enough. [The U.S.] must increase the size of this force and this creates very difficult problems. What is required is a basic expansion of plans." (Gen. Goodpaster, Memorandum of Conference with President Kennedy, Washington, January 23, 1961, 10:15a.m., 1/27/61)
JAN 27, 1961: The Joint Chiefs of Staff send a memo to the Secretary of Defense expressing their increasing concern that Cuba will become permanently established as a part of the Communist Bloc?with disastrous consequences to the security of the Western Hemisphere. They also state their belief that the primary objective of the United States in Cuba should be the speedy overthrow of the Castro Government.
The Joint Chiefs argue that the current Political?Para?Military Plan does not assure the accomplishment of the above objective and recommend that an overall U.S. Plan of Action for the overthrow of the Castro Government be developed by an Inter?Departmental Planning Group. (Joint Chiefs of Staff, Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense, U. S. Plan of Action in Cuba, 1 /27/61)?Sherman Kent, chairman of the CIA's Board of National Estimates, sends Allen Dulles a secret memorandum entitled "Is Time on Our Side in Cuba?," concluding that Castro's position in Cuba is likely to grow stronger rather than weaker as time goes on. The board, which does not know of the invasion plans, argues against the view that the Cuban population is eager to stage an uprising against Castro: While Castro will probably continue to lose popular support, this loss is likely to be more than counter?balanced by the regime's effective controls over daily life in Cuba and by the increasing effectiveness of its security forces for maintaining control. (Wyden, p.93)
?An attempt to infiltrate five members of Brigade 2506 into Matanzas Province, Cuba, fails. (Johnson, p.59)
?Eloy Gutierrez Menoyo and a group of members of the Second Front of Escambray during the revolution arrive in Key West, Florida, having left Cuba in a fleet of three fishing boats. (Molina, "Diario de Giron pp. 45?46)
LATE JAN, 1961: Lino Fernandez, a.k.a. Ojeda, leads an MRR squad into the Santa Lucia region near Sancti Spiritus to rendezvous with a guerrilla column led by Merejo Ramirez. Ramirez has already left the area to avoid encirclement by Cuban government troops. (Chronology of Irregular Forces)
JAN 28, 1961: Kennedy receives his first briefing as President on the Cuban operation in a meeting attended by Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy, CIA Director Dulles, General Lemnitzer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Assistant Secretaries Mann and Nitze, and Tracy Barnes of the CIA.
After hearing the estimate of the Defense Department that no course of action currently authorized by the United States Government will be effective in reaching the agreed national goal of overthrowing the Castro regime, and the State Department's view that any overt military action not authorized and supported by the OAS will have grave political dangers, President Kennedy authorizes:
1) A continuation and accentuation of current activities of the Central Intelligence Agency, Including increased propaganda,increased political action and increased sabotage. Continued overflights for these purposes were specifically authorized; 2)The Defense Department, with CIA, will review proposals for active deployment of anti?Castro Cuban forces on Cuban territory, and the results of this analysis will be promptly reported to the President; 3) The Department of State will prepare a concrete proposal for action with other Latin?American countries to isolate the Castro regime and to bring against it the judgment of the Organization of American States. (McGeorge Bundy, Memorandum of Discussion on Cuba, Cabinet Room, January 28, 1961, 1 /28/61)
?Fidel Castro, in a talk in Santa Clara, analyzes the causes of counterrevolution in Las Villas mentioning "the infiltration of public posts, in the municipal and national administration, and even in the army and police forces, by elements that are truly adventurist, negative, and corrupt who link up with henchmen who flee immediately ...and begin to parachute arms into Escambray." (Informe Especial: 1961)
JAN 30, 1961: C/WH/4 Jake Esterline attends a briefing given by Colonel Jack Hawkins and members of the [deleted] PM Section to Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, Admiral Wright, General Bull, and General Barnes in preparation for the January 32 briefing of designees of the Chairman of the JCS. The briefing, presented in a special CIA Bay of Pigs task force "war room," emphasizes that "the proposed strike could be conducted with no overt U.S. military support other than the provision of one LSD (landing ship dock)." It was also emphasized that the "estimate of the likelihood of success was very high in terms of staying in the initial objective area long enough and in sufficient control to permit introduction of a 'Provisional Government' and provide a rationale for the subsequent employment of overt military force, if desired." (R.D. Drain, Memorandum for the Record, 1 /30/61)
LATE JANUARY 1961: Brigadier General David W. Gray, chief of the Joint Subsidiary Activities Division of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, receives orders from the JCS to form a committee with four other officers to study the CIA plan on behalf of the chiefs. After reviewing what will come to be known as the "Trinidad Plan," Grays group concludes that the invading Brigade could last for up to four days, given complete surprise and complete air supremacy. Success will depend on uprisings in Cuba. Gray estimates the chances of success at about 30?70 but no figures are used in the Gray committees report. At a meeting with the Joint Chiefs on January 31, Gray’s report becomes an official JCS document. (Wyden, pp.89?90)
?A revolt occurs among the Cuban exiles in training in Guatemala. Almost half of the more than five hundred men in camp resign, including the entire second and third battalions. The commander, "Pepe" San Roman then resigns but the CIA operative in charge of the base, known as "Frank," reinstates him. The CIA transfers twelve men considered to be troublemakers to the jungle of northern Guatemala and imprisons them until after the invasion is over. (Johnson, p.61)
FEB 1?5, 1961: In another act of sabotage, a tobacco warehouse bums down in Cuba; losses are estimated at 12 million pesos. Three bombs explode in Havana and one in Santa Clara. Three people are arrested for the Havana bombings. (Molina, "Diario de Girón pp. 32?33)
FEB 3, 1961: The Joint Chiefs of Staff approve JCSM ?57?61, the Military Evaluation of the CIA Para?Military Plan for Cuba and forward it to Defense Secretary McNamara. The evaluation concludes that "since the Cuban Army is without experience in coordinated offensive action, the invasion force should be able to successfully resist the initial attacks" but "lacking a popular uprising or substantial follow?on forces, the Cuban Army could eventually reduce the beachhead." According to the JCS, "the operation as presently envisaged would not necessarily require overt U.S. intervention." At the same time, the evaluation cautions that: “It is obvious that ultimate success will depend upon political factors. It should be noted that assessment of the combat worth of assault forces is based upon second and third hand reports. For these reasons, an independent evaluation of the combat effectiveness of the invasion force and detailed analysis of logistics plans should be made by a team of Army, Naval, and Air Force officers. Despite the shortcomings pointed out in the assessment, the Joint Chiefs of Staff consider that timely execution of this plan has a "fair" chance of ultimate success and, even if it does not achieve the full results desired, could contribute to the eventual overthrow of the Castro regime.” (JCS, Chairman L.L. Lemnitzer, Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense, Military Evaluation of the CIA Paramilitary Plan, Cuba, 2/3/61)
FEB 4 and 6, 1961: President Kennedy writes to Security Adviser Bundy inquiring whether the sharp differences of opinion on the Cuban operation have been settled, and two days later asks again whether the differences between the departments of State and Defense and the CIA have been resolved. The President asks if it has been determined what is to be done about Cuba and stresses that, if there are differences of opinion between the agencies, he would like them brought to his attention. (Gleijeses, pp.20?21)
FEB 7, 1961: Officials of the Departments of State and Defense, the White House, and the CIA meet to discuss the "Agency Plan" and the "JCS evaluation." According to a memo on the meeting, "while the soundness of the plan itself [is] at no time questioned, a number of questions [are] raised." Specifically, the group discusses the ability of the strike force to reach the mountains from the landing site, the chances of a popular uprising in support of the invasion, the international political ramifications of the plan, and the need to introduce U.S. forces to ensure success.
The group reaches no consensus on what course of action to recommend to the President. White House Adviser Richard Goodwin points out that the President has "made it quite clear that if there were unresolved differences of opinion of the, Cuban problem, the persons concerned should come to the President's office and in his presence orally set forth their arguments for his consideration and eventual decision." (Assistant Secretary of State Thomas . Mann, Memorandum for the Record, Meeting on Cuba, 2/7/61)
FEB 8, 1961: In a memo to the President, McGeorge Bundy highlights the difference of opinion on the Cuba operation between the State Department, and CIA and Defense:
CIA now feel quite enthusiastic about the invasion from Guatemala. At worst,
they think the invaders would get into the mountains, and at best they think
they might get a full?fledged civil war in which we could then back the
anti?Castro forces openly. The State Department takes a much cooler view,
primarily because of its belief that the political consequences would be very
grave both in the United Nations and in Latin America.
that he and Richard Goodwin "join in believing that there should certainly not
be an invasion adventure without careful diplomatic soundings" which are likely
to support the position of the State Department. (McGeorge Bundy, Memorandum
from the President's Special Assistant for National Security
?In an afternoon meeting of President Kennedy and his top advisers, Richard Bissell of the CIA reports the assessment of the JCS?that the CIA plan for landing the brigade has a fair chance of success. Success is defined as an ability to survive, hold ground, and attract growing support from Cubans. At worst, the invaders should be able to fight their way to the Escambray and go into guerrilla action. After the State Department representatives point out the grave effects such an operation could have on the U.S. position in Latin America without careful and successful diplomatic preparation, President Kennedy presses for alternatives to a full?fledged invasion, supported by U.S. planes, ships and supplies. A memcon written by McGeorge Bundy records Kennedy's question: "Could not such a force be landed gradually and quietly and make its first major military efforts from the mountains?then taking shape as a Cuban force within Cuba, not as an invasion force sent by the Yankees?" Kennedy authorizes creation of a small junta of anti?Castro leaders to give the Brigade forces some political purpose. (McGeorge Bundy, Memorandum of Meeting with President Kennedy, White House, Washington, February 8, 1961, 2/8/61)
FEB 8?9, 1961: A car bomb explodes at the University of Havana throwing the car's roof 50 meters and gravely wounding a student. (Molina, "Diario de Girón pp. 38?39)
FEB?8?16, 1961: Lino Fernandez leads an MRR squad into Yaguajay, to a camp once used by Camilo Cienfuegos during the revolution. Over the next week, the camp is marked for an airdrop of supplies, and peasant recruits begin to sign up. Instead of the scheduled airdrop, however, the resistance force is surrounded by 16,000 government troops and police; Fernandez and five hundred of his men are captured on and around February 16th and taken to the Santa Clara jail. (Chronology of Irregular Forces)
FEB 9, 1961: Admiral Dennison, Commander?in?Chief, Atlantic, meets with the President and asks him if the Navy needs?to prepare for any possible bail?out operations. The President responds definitely no, that if anything went wrong the force would fade into the hinterland. (Aguilar, p.164)
FEB 11, 1961: In a memo to the President, Arthur Schlesinger argues that the "drastic decision" to enact the plan being promoted within the government only makes sense "if one excludes everything but Cuba." Taken in the context of "the hemisphere and the rest of the world, the arguments against this decision begin to gain force." He points out that there is no way to disguise U.S. complicity in the plan and "at one stroke, it would dissipate all the extraordinary good will which has been rising toward the new Administration through the world." (Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., "Memorandum from the President's Special Assistant to President Kennedy," 2/11/61)
The CIA's Board of National Estimates sends the Director a memorandum outlining. international reactions to various U.S. actions against the Castro regime. The Board argues that the Soviet Bloc "would regard Castro's downfall as a substantial, political defeat and would respond vigorously to any major U.S. move." While that response would be primarily political, in the event of a prolonged military struggle, the Bloc would seek to continue or increase military aid to the Castro regime. However, the Board "believe[s] that the Bloc would avoid a direct military confrontation with U.S. forces."
The Board reports that most governments in Latin America would "at least privately approve of unobtrusive U.S. support for an opposition move against Castro..." However, reaction would ultimately depend on whether the U.S. is perceived to be "assisting the Cubans themselves to settle their own destinies," or is "imposing a new regime." As for "reactions elsewhere in the Free World," the Board believes "it would remind many people of the Soviet intervention in Hungary." (CIA, Memorandum for the Director, By Abbot Smith, Acting Chairman, Board of National Estimates, 2/11/96)
The CIA makes a further attempt to infiltrate a team from Brigade 2506 into Cuba. The ship almost capsizes in heavy seas. The men swim ashore practically naked, without weapons, money, or radio equipment. They are the first of the Brigade infiltration teams to land in Cuba. (Johnson, p.59)
FEB 12, 1961: The Voice of America announces it will broadcast a series of anti?Castro radio programs, beginning with a documentary "The Anatomy of a Broken Promise" which reviews Castro's pledges to hold elections and how these pledges were broken one by one. (NYT, 2/13/61)
FEB 13, 1961: Militia forces intercept a cargo dropped by plane and intended for internal resistance forces in Escambray. (Informe Especial: 1969)
Approval is received for the establishment of a Revolutionary Council with the understanding that there should be no U.S. interference and that the Cubans were to nominate anyone they saw fit as Council President; also the President was to be free to select his own Council members. (Chronology of the Development and Emergence of the Revolutionary Council, 5/17/61)
MID?FEBRUARY 1961: Tony Verona, Antonio Maceo, and another member of the Frente arrive in the training camp in Guatemala. Varona, the coordinator and principal official of the Frente speaks to the Brigade and says that the Brigade headquarters cannot make decisions without first consulting the civilian structure in Miami. The following day, Verona expresses confidence in San Roman's leadership, which Brigade members greet with catcalls and shouts of derision. (Johnson, pp.62? 63)
FEB 14, 1961: Adolph Berle writes a memo to Secretary Rusk on a decision-making meeting on the Cuba operation. "We arranged leadership for the camps," he states. He also highlights a CIA paper on the dangers of aborting the operation. "It suggests that dismantling the Cuban operation may mean explosions in three or four countries in Central America. If it is accurate, we should be prepared for the consequences of dismantling." (Cuba, 2/14/61)
FEB 15, 1961: Thomas Mann, the assistant secretary of for Inter?American affairs, writes a memo to Rusk opposing the invasion. Mann notes that the CIA's original plan is based on the assumption that the invasion will inspire a popular uprising which is unlikely to take place. "It therefore appears possible, even probable, that we would be faced with ...a) abandoning the brigade to its fate, which would cost us dearly in prestige and respect or b) attempting execution of the plan to move the brigade into the mountains as guerrillas, which would pose a prolonged problem of air drops or supplies or c) overt U.S. military intervention."
Mann argues that international law, the inability to hide the hand of the U.S., and the fact that Castroism would be more useful to the U.S. as a model of socioeconomic failure, rather than as a martyr?or victor?against U.S. intervention all are reasons to abandon the operation. "I therefore conclude it would not be in the national interest to proceed unilaterally to put this plan into execution" (Mann, The March 1960 Plan, 2/15/61)
FEB 16?17, 1961: At 12.30 a.m. planes enter Cuban airspace flying at 300?500 feet over the village of Tortuguilla. At 8.35 a.m. two planes fly east to west at 500 feet over national territory. Between 7.45 a.m. and 9.50 a.m. planes enter Cuban airspace four times and at 2.00 p.m. planes again fly over the island. (Informe Especial: 1961)
FEB 17, 1961: President Kennedy meets with representatives from the State Department, CIA, and Joint Chiefs of Staff, and following a discussion of planning and preparations for the invasion indicates that he would be in favor of a more moderate approach to the problem such as mass infiltration. The President urges an examination of all possible alternatives. Since the meeting does not result in a decision, the military plan for a D?Day of 5 March is forced to slip by a month. (Gleijeses, p.22; Aguilar, p.65)
Two days later, Richard Bissell responds to the Mann argument with a comprehensive opinion paper arguing for the invasion. He addresses the "disposal" problem if the mission is aborted: Brigade "members will be angry, disillusioned and aggressive with the inevitable result that they will provide honey for the press bees and the U.S. will have to face the resulting indignities and embarrassments." Bissell concludes by arguing that this is the last opportunity for the U.S. to bring down Castro without overt U.S. military intervention or a full embargo:
“The Cuban paramilitary force, if used, has a good chance of overthrowing Castro or at the very least causing a damaging civil war without requiring the U.S. to commit itself to overt action against Cuba. Whatever embarrassment the alleged (though deniable) U.S. support may cause, it may well be considerably less than that resulting from the continuation of the Castro regime or from the more drastic and more attributable actions necessary to accomplish the result at a later date." (Cuba, 2/17/61)
FEB 18, 1961: McGeorge Bundy passes on both the Bissell and the Mann position papers to the President. "Bissell and Mann are the real antagonists at the staff level," Bundy writes in a cover memo. "Since I think you lean toward Mann's view, I have put Bissell on top." Bundy's own position is that the U.S. should institute a trade embargo first, let internal opposition build for several months and then launch "Bissell's battalion." At that point, he writes, "the color of civil war would be quite a bit stronger." (Bundy to JFK, 2/18/61)
FEB 19, 1961: A plane flies over Cuban airspace and drops anti?Castro propaganda in Marianao, Regla and other districts of Havana. The pamphlets call for violence to overthrow the Cuban government. (Molina, "Diario de Girón p. 53)
FEB 20?MAR 1, 1961: The U.S. carries out maneuvers in the Caribbean as a military demonstration for high Latin American military officials. The operation begins at the Ramey airbase in Puerto Rico and is attended by 60 members of Latin American armed forces and five delegates of the Interamerican Defense Board. H. H. Fischer, president of the Board, announces that the U.S. will keep a military force in the Caribbean on conclusion of the maneuvers. This force will consist of five naval units and a marine infantry battalion. (Molina, "Diario de Girón?? pp. 56?57)
FEB 24, 1961: A conservative newspaper, El Siglo of Bogotá, Colombia, publishes testimony of a South American diplomat who has witnessed a parachute training session, in preparation for a landing in Cuba, 350 kilometers from Guatemala City. The article states that the exercises were conducted using U.S. transport planes and that another camp existed on the San Carlos finca on the Pacific coast. (Molina, "Diario de Girón?? p. 60)
FEB 24?27, 1961: A team of three officers from the Joint Staff examines and reports on the military effectiveness of the Cuban Expeditionary Force at its Guatemala base. The report includes the estimate that because of the visibility of activities at Retalhuleu in Guatemala and Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, the odds against surprise being achieved are about 85 to 15. The JCS air evaluation points out that if surprise is not achieved, the attack against Cuba will fail, adding that one Castro aircraft armed with .50 caliber machine guns could sink all or most of the invasion force. (Aguilar, p.10)
FEB 24, 1961: Anatoly Dobrynin transmits to Soviet in the Central Committee's International Department an intelligence report provided by the Cubans on the "activities of the Cuban counterrevolution in Guatemala." (Información sobre la contrarrevolución Cubana en Guatemala, 2/24/61)
FEB 24?MAR 1, 1961: Numerous violations of Cuban airspace are reported including at least ten on March 1. On only one occasion do planes drop bombs or other explosives. (Informe Especial: 1969)
MARCH 1961: Howard Hunt is transferred from his post in Miami to Washington, where he assists David Phillips in conducting propaganda for the coming invasion. He is put in charge of contacts with the exiles public relations man, Lem Jones. (Wyden, p.116; Phillips, pp.127?128)
MAR 1?3, 1961: A bomb explodes in the Nobel Academy in the Vibora district, wounding seven students and a professor. In Matanzas a plane drops thousands of anti?Castro pamphlets over the city. In Santa Ana, Cidra, 17 kilometers from Matanzas, a plane drops live phosphorous over cane fields, hitting a house on the edge of the cane plantation. Three explosive devices go off in the capital. (Molina, "Diario de Girón", p. 67?68)
?El Salvador announces that it is breaking diplomatic relations with Cuba. (Informe Especial: 1961)
MAR 2, 1961: The CIA's Supplement to the Current Intelligence Digest is cautiously optimistic regarding the opposition to Castro in Cuba: The fact that at least some of these outbreaks of skirmishes between Cuban guerrilla bands and government forces involve personnel who defected from the armed forces or other government entities is indicative of a situation that could in the long run become a threat to the Castro regime. (Wyden, p.98)
MAR 4?6, 1961: In Escambray, 60,000?70,000 militia members and army troops participate in cleaning?up operations to put an end to the guerrilla bands operating in the area. The step?by?step combing of the mountains in the center of the country leads to the capture of four leaders known as Coco, Marinero, Manilo, and Zacarias Garcia, and 100 of their accomplices. (Molina, "Diario de Girón", p. 69?70)
An explosion destroys a tank?truck in the Rico Lopez refinery. A plane flies over Cabanas, drops arms, and heads for Jamaica, landing at Montego Bay. (Informe Especial: 1961)
MAR 7, 1961: Two Costa Rican deputies denounce the use of their country for training of exiled Cubans to invade Cuba. The deputies state that three fincas are being used for training and that the exiles have a boat, the Don Fabio, prepared to "leave for the Bay of Pigs, on the south coast of the province of Las Villas, in Cuba." (Molina, "Diario de Girón", pp. 70?72)
In the zone of Baracoa a plane dropping propaganda is brought down. In the parking area of the hotel Havana Libre a bomb explodes. (Molina, "Diario de Girón", pp. 71?72)
Two members of the internal resistance forces who hid large quantities of arms in a school and used them for sabotage are executed. (Informe Especial: 1961)
MAR 8, 1961: The Guatemalan Workers' Party (PGT) issues a denunciation of continued plans to invade Cuba. The Party reports that the Retalhuleu base is the site of a great movement of planes, "including daily flights between Guatemala and the Guantanamo naval base." The document adds that the port of Champerico has received 200 tons of bombs, explosives, and arms from an American ship that were taken immediately to the training bases in Retalhuleu and the Helvetia finca. (Molina, "Diario de Girón", pp. 72?73)
Internal resistance members set fire to a gas station in Cueto, Oriente, vandalize twelve delivery trucks at the nationalized Coca?Cola plant, and set off an explosive device at the Antonio Guiteras electricity company. (Informe Especial: 1961)
?Four resistance members accused of sabotage, espionage, possession of arms, and terrorist activities and sentenced by the Havana Revolutionary Tribunal are executed. (Informe Especial: 1961)
MAR 9?11, 1961: A bomb goes off killing a 20 year old student in Altahabana; another is defused in San Julio y San Quintin; and in Campo Florido, another bomb placed in an electrical facility explodes leaving local zones without electricity for some hours. In Camaguey, Pinar del Rio and Artemisa, B?26 planes drop anti?Castro pamphlets. (Molina, "Diario de Girón pp. 74?75)
?Josh Maria Velasco lbarra, president of Ecuador, announces that the U.S. is conditioning loans to his country on its agreement to break diplomatic relations with Cuba. (Molina, "Diario de Girón", pp. 74?75)
?Fidel Castro announces the capture in Escambray of more than 400 "rebels who were waiting for the invasion organized by the government of the United States.'." Molina, "Diario de Girón", pp. 74?75)
?Two internal resistance force members, a U.S. citizen named William Morgan and Jesus Carreras, accused of sending arms to Escambray, are sentenced to death. (Informe Especial: 1961)
MAR 10, 1961: CIA Director Dulles, preparing to meet with President Kennedy, is briefed on the agency's efforts to create a provisional government of exile leaders. "At the covert instigation of the Agency," a memo for Dulles begins, "six leading figures of the Cuban opposition met in New York City." The purpose of the meeting was to agree on procedures for electing a revolutionary council, and to draw up a minimal political and economic program. (CIA, Status of Efforts to Form a Provisional Government of Cuba, 3/10/61)
?A study appearing the same day from the CIA's Board of National Estimates, however, is much less reassuring. Again entitled "is Time on Our Side in Cuba?," it argues: 'To be sure, the regimes once overwhelming popular support has greatly diminished in recent months and various instances of guerrilla position, sabotage and economic dislocation have arisen to plague it. However, we see no signs that such developments portend any serious threat to a regime which by now has established a formidable structure of control over the daily lives of the Cuban people." (Wyden, p.99)
MAR 11, 1961: At a White House meeting between 10:05 a.m. and 12:15 p.m., Richard Bissell presents the CIA's Proposed Operation Against Cuba to President Kennedy. The paper provides four alternative courses of action involving the commitment of the paramilitary force being readied by the U.S. These include the course of action favored by the CIA ? the Trinidad Plan that involves "an amphibious/airborne assault .... to seize a beachhead contiguous to terrain suitable for guerrilla operations," with a landing of the "provisional government ...as soon as the beachhead had been secured." The invading force is expected to repulse attacks by Castro militia with substantial losses to the attacking forces followed by defections from the armed forces and widespread rebellion. If the actions are unsuccessful in detonating a major revolt, the assault force would retreat to the contiguous mountain area and continue operations as a powerful guerrilla force. The assault, combined with a diversionary landing, according to the CIA plan, has the potential for administering a demoralizing shock that could lead to the prompt overthrow of the Castro regime. If not, guerrilla action could be continued on a sizable scale in favorable terrain.
The President rejects the Trinidad Plan as too spectacular, too much like a World War II invasion. He prefers a quiet landing, preferably at night, with no basis for American military intervention. No decision comes from the March 11 meeting and the President states his view that "the best possible plan... has not yet been presented, and new proposals are to be concerted promptly."
The same day Bundy signs National Security Action Memorandum 31 noting that "the President expects to authorize U.S. support for an appropriate number of patriotic Cubans to return to their homeland." Kennedy wants a plan to be prepared that would be less spectacular in execution, and therefore more plausible as an essentially Cuban operation. CIA officials, directed by Bissell, scramble to come up with a new plan in less than three days. (CIA, Proposed Operation Against Cuba, 11 March 1961, pp.1?12; Wyden, pp.99?101; and Gleijeses, p.34)
MAR 13, 1961: A launch attacks the refinery in Santiago de Cuba with 50 caliber machine guns, killing a seaman and wounding a militia member. (Molina, "Diario de Girón", p. 83; Informe Especial: 1961)
MAR 14 and 15, 1961: The CIA presents three alternative invasion scenarios to the Working Group of the Joint Staff. The Joint Chiefs of Staff review the plans and choose the alternative recommended by the Working Group?the Zapata Plan which involves a landing at the Bay of Pigs. They add, however, that none of the alternative concepts is considered as feasible and likely to accomplish the objective as the Trinidad Plan. (JCS, Evaluation of the Military Aspects of Alternative Concepts, CIA Para?Military Plan, Cuba, 3/15/61)
MAR 16, 1961: At 4:15 p.m., Dulles and Bissell present President Kennedy with three alternative plans for the Cuban operation. His national security adviser reports that the CIA “has done a remarkable job of reframing the landing plan so as to make it unspectacular and quiet, and plausibly Cuban in its essentials,” and has briefed Kennedy in advance on the proposals.
The first option is a modification of the Trinidad Plan, the second targets an area on the northeast coast of Cuba, and the third, the so?called Zapata Plan, is an invasion at the Bay of Pigs. The President orders modifications of the Zapata Plan to make it appear more of an inside guerrilla?type operation. (Notes of General Gray; Gleijeses p.36)
?Cuban security forces announce that 420 "counterrevolutionaries" have been put out of action in the Escambray campaign ? 39 killed in combat and 381 taken prisoner. Six of the leaders of the rebels are reportedly captured and some 80 members remain hidden in Escambray. (Molina, "Diario de Girón?? pp. 80?81; Informe Especial: 1961)
MAR 16, 1961: Drawing on intelligence gathered in Cuba at the end of February, the CIA generates an information report that claims "diminishing popular support of the Castro government." Estimates are that "fewer than 20 percent of the people" support Castro, and that "many Cubans think that it is possible that Castro will soon fall." It concludes that "approximately 75 to 80 percent of the militia units will defect when it becomes evident that the real fight against Castro has begun."
Bissell uses this and several similar intelligence reports to bolster his case that the invasion will spark a major uprising. (Richard Bissell, Reflections of a Cold Warrior, Yale University Press, 1996, pg. 180; CIA, Information Report, Diminishing Popular Support of the Castro Government, 3/16/61)
A plane drops anti?Castro pamphlets over the city of Matanzas. (Informe Especial. 1961)
MAR 17, 1961: The New York Times reports that in the coming weeks simultaneous invasions will take place at different points in Cuba. (NYT; 3/17/61)
MAR 18, 1961: Richard Bissell sends "Jim Noble," the last CIA station chief in Havana, to Miami to pull together the Cuban exile leadership into a unified body. The Cubans are summoned to the Skyways Motel where Noble's Spanish speaking assistant Jim Can? tells them: "if you don't come out of this meeting with a committee, you just forget the whole fuckin business, because we’re through." Three days later, the exile groups announce the creation of the Consejo Revolucionano Cubano, replacing the FDR. Dr. José Miró Cardona is appointed coordinator. (Wyden, p.116; Chronology of Irregular Forces)
MAR 18, 1961: Leading officials of the internal opposition, including the military coordinators of the FDR, are detained while at a strategy meeting in Miramar. A number of them, including Humberto Sori Marin, Manuel Puig, and Rogelio Gonzalez Corso, are executed for treason a month later, in the midst of the Playa Girón invasion. (Chronology of Irregular Forces)
MAR 20, 1961: In the zone of La Montana, the Cuban army apprehends a group of internal resistance forces. In fighting three of the rebels are killed, one is wounded, and twelve are taken prisoner. In Santa Clara, a rebel leader, Israel Hernandez, is apprehended. In Havana, two shops are set on fire with gelatinous dynamite contained in small plastic cases. (Molina, "Diario de Girón pp. 85?86)
MAR 21?22, 1961: Two people are killed when a large car bomb explodes in Vedado, where an event of the Federation of Cuban Women is taking place. In Holguin, Santa Clara, and Colon, Matanzas, students and teachers protest against internal resistance activities taking place in secondary schools. In Cabanas, Pinar del Rio, four Cubans and a North American are arrested with guns, a radio transmitter, and tanks of gasoline when they try to disembark clandestinely after arriving on the launch "Mercury." (Molina, "Diario de Girón pp. 88?89; Informe Especial: 1961)
MAR 22, 1961: Cuban exile politicians reach agreement and form a Revolutionary Council. Several days later, Tracy Barnes sends Arthur Schlesinger the first draft of a proposed Council Manifesto, which Schlesinger later describes as "so overwrought in tone and sterile in thought that it made one wonder what sort of people we were planning to send back to Havana." Barnes and Schlesinger recruit two Harvard academics, John Plank and William Barnes, to help redraft the document. (Schlesinger, A Thousand Days, p. 243.)
MAR 23, 1961: The Working Group produces a paper containing agreed tasks prepared by the Joint Staff for assignment to the various agencies of the federal government. (Aguilar, p.16)
Captain Enrique Llans, who has been sailing from the Florida Keys to supply the Cuban underground with arms and ammunition for a year, picks up the twelve last survivors of the guerrilla effort in the Escambray and brings them to the U.S. They have fought their way out of the mountains and are wounded, starved, and defeated. (Johnson, p.67)
MAR 23?29, 1961: Six groups of accused resistance forces are captured in less than a week. In raids by members of the security services, bombs, machine guns, grenades, dynamite, and other war materials are found. (Molina, "Diario de Girón pp. 104?105)
MAR 24, 1961: General Lemnitzer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, informs Admiral Dennison, (Commander?in Chief, Atlantic ? CINCLANT) of the requirements for naval support for CIA Operation Crosspatch. One destroyer will escort the CEF ships to about 3 miles offshore. A landing ship dock (LSD) will deliver landing craft (3 landing craft, utility ? LCUs, and 4 landing craft, vehicle and personnel ? LCVPs) to the transport area and U.S. naval air cover will be provided over the CEF ships from 0600 hours on the day before the invasion (then scheduled for 10 April 1961) (Rules of Engagement, 3/24/61)
MAR 27, 1961: The CIA intensifies its propaganda campaign against Castro's government, directing the stations managers to inform Radio Swans producers that their programs are terminated and replacing them with a new schedule that includes increased broadcasting hours. (Taylor Report, Annex 2: CIA, Brief History of Radio Swan)
MAR 28, 1961: Admiral Dennison proposes rules of engagement to General Lemnitzer including the provision that U.S. forces escorting the invasion force open fire if Cuban aircraft or ships reach a position to attack or attacked the CEF ships. (Rules of Engagement, 3/28/61)
?Arthur Schlesinger talks to the President and asks: "What do you think about this damned invasion?" Kennedy reportedly responds: "I think about it as little as possible." (Thomas, p. 251)
MAR 29, 1961: Arthur Schlesinger notes in his journal that "a final decision on the invasion will have to be made on April 4." He feels "the tide is flowing against the project." At a meeting in the Cabinet Room he finds the President growing steadily more skeptical. Kennedy asks Bissell: "Do you really have to have these air strikes?" Bissell says his group will work to insure maximum effectiveness for minimum noise from the air and reassures the President that Cubans on the island will join in a rising. (Schlesinger, A Thousand Days, p. 233,234)
The Guatemalan government claims to have discovered a plot to overthrow it organized by local political groups allied with Cuban agents who provided money and subversive propaganda from Cuba. (Informe Especial: 1961)
Cuban forces capture a CIA agent Carlos Antonio Rodriguez Cabo, alias El Gallego, who has orders to unify different internal resistance groups and has been accused of committing various acts of terrorism. (Informe Especial: 1961)
MAR 30, 1961: Senator J. William Fulbright, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, travels to Florida on Air Force One and hands President Kennedy a 3,766 word memorandum on the planned invasion. The memo describes the venture as ill?considered and states that it will be impossible to conceal the U.S. hand. Fulbright also raises the issue of what to do if things go awry: “The prospect must also be faced that an invasion of Cuba by exiles would encounter formidable resistance which the exiles, by themselves, might not be able to overcome. The question would then arise of whether the United States would be willing to let the enterprise fail ... or ... would respond with progressive assistance as necessary to insure success. This would include ultimately the use of armed force; and if we came to' that, even under the paper cover of legitimacy, we would have undone the work of thirty years in trying to live down earlier interventions." (Fulbright Memorandum, Cuba Policy, 3/29/61)
The CIA's Current Intelligence Weekly Summary continues to emphasize the strength of opposition to Castro within Cuba: Sabotage and organized resistance activities evidently are continuing to increase throughout Cuba despite a presumably steady gain in the strength of the government’s instruments of repression. Accounts of attempted sabotage of industrial and agricultural installations are becoming increasingly frequent, and anti?Castro terrorists are exploding bombs daily in Havana ? twelve in a single day. (Wyden, p.140)
MAR 31,1961: Under Secretary of State Chester Bowles hands a memorandum to Secretary Rusk advising that a decision on the Cuba operation will be made at an April 4 meeting. Bowles considers the plan profoundly disturbing and a grave mistake. "[A]s the venture is now planned, the chances of success are not greater than one out of three. This makes it a highly risky operation. If it fails, Castro's strength and prestige will be greatly enhanced. If you agree that this operation would be a mistake, I suggest that you personally and privately communicate your views to the President. It is my guess that your voice will be decisive." Rusk files the memo away. (Schlesinger, A Thousand Days, p. 235; Wyden, pp.120?121)
APRIL 1961: Manuel Artíme writes "my political testament," before the invasion, seeking to leave behind a statement if he is killed in combat. “This struggle that we are undertaking," he writes, "may mark a new period in Cuban history; we do not seek to overthrow one more tyranny; we seek to extirpate the roots of an international monster that intends to absorb the free world." (Artíme, Mi Testamento Politico, undated)
EARLY APRIL 1961: The State and Defense departments and CIA reach a compromise on the air plan for the invasion. Limited air strikes will be made on D?2 (two days prior to the invasion) at the time of a diversionary landing of 160 men in eastern Cuba. These strikes will give the impression of being the action of Cuban pilots defecting from the Cuban air force and thus supporting the fiction that air support for the invasion force is coming from within Cuba. The JCS does not favor the D?2 air strikes because of their indecisive nature and the danger of prematurely alarming the Castro force. The pre?invasion strikes are, however, included in the plan with the realization that the main reliance for the obstruction of the Castro air force must be placed on the D?Day strikes. (Aguilar, p.16)
The Defense Department and CIA prepare a total of 35,000 arms packs in anticipation of the invasion and the expanded military activities within Cuba that is expected to follow it. Packs for 15,000 men are actually loaded on ships and headed for the area along with recoilless rifles, mortars, jeeps and trucks. (Aguilar, p.88)
EARLY AND MID?APRIL 1961: Anticipating an invasion, Fidel Castro begins preparations for Cuba's defense. He concentrates troops close to the most probable landing points throughout the island, particularly near access zones to the mountains??especially near Trinidad where the Escambray guerrillas have been eliminated in March. Also, expecting an attempt to destroy Cuba's air force, Castro places out?of?service planes together in threes and disperses, camouflages, and surrounds those planes that are in service with anti?aircraft batteries.
APR 1, 1961: The Joint Chiefs of Staff approve the rules of engagement submitted by Admiral Dennison. (Rules of Engagement)
APR 2?3, 1961: Explosive devices go off in front of the Cuban periodical Verde Ofvo, wounding one person, and in the Coca?Cola factory. Internal resistance forces set a fire in the Sabanilla area of the Trinidad central, destroying half a million "arrobas" of sugar cane. (Informe Especial., 1961)
?Cuban agents capture a sabotage group linked to the internal resistance leader Aureliano Sanchez Arango. (Informe Especial: 1961)
APR 3, 1961: Dr. José Miró Cardona, head of the Cuban Revolutionary Council, meets with former U.S. Ambassador to Cuba Philip Bonsal, the State Department’s Adolf Berle and Kennedy assistant Arthur Schlesinger. When propaganda to support the invasion is discussed, Miró complains that "Radio Swan is controlled by people who [are] not in my confidence." (Taylor Report, Memorandum of Meeting Twenty, 5/25/61)
APR 4, 1961: At a meeting at the State Department, President Kennedy polls a dozen advisers on whether to go ahead with the Bay of Pigs invasion. He has invited Senator Fulbright to voice his strong position against the operation. After Fulbright outlines his objections, all vote in favor of moving ahead, with only Secretary of State Rusk remaining non?committal. After the meeting, the President takes Arthur Schlesinger aside and asks his opinion. After a rushed reply, Schlesinger returns to his office to draft a substantive memorandum outlining why the invasion is "a terrible idea." (Schlesinger, A Thousand Days, p. 236)
After a conference with the President, Secretary of Defense McNamara requests that the JCS reconsider the rules of engagement to insure that the U.S. would not become overtly engaged with Castro forces. (Rules of Engagement)
APR 5, 1961: Arthur Schlesinger sends President Kennedy a comprehensive memo laying out why the CIA invasion "seems to me to involve many hazards." He argues that the invasion force is not strong enough to topple Castro quickly and that the operation will turn into a "protracted civil conflict" that will lead to pressures to send in the marines. The United States, he predicts, will be branded as an aggressor; "Cuba will become our Hungary." The President reads the memorandum and tells Schlesinger, "You know, I've reserved the right to stop this thing up to twenty?four hours before the landing. In the meantime, I'm trying to make some sense out of it. We'll just have to see." (Schlesinger Memo, Cuba, 4/5/61; A Thousand Days, p. 240)
?At a meeting at the White House between the President, Secretary of Defense McNamara, General Lemnitzer, Dulles, Bissell, and General Cabell it is agreed that the rules of engagement should definitely spell out the President's requirement that the operation be aborted if United States forces were required to protect the Brigade's ships from damage or capture. At this meeting the idea of fake defections and preliminary air strikes is discussed. The President indicates approval of the general idea but says everyone should consider further measures overnight and meet the following morning. (Pfeiffer, p.100; and Rules of Engagement)
Edward Murrow, director of the United States Information Agency (USIA) hears from a New York Times reporter that operations are underway for a landing in Cuba, backed and planned by the CIA. The reporter indicates that the Times has a very full story which, however, they do not intend to print; he hopes to persuade USIA to authorize briefings of the press in Miami following the landing. Armed with this information, Murrow calls on the Director of Central Intelligence who informs him that preparations are indeed underway, but does not give him details of the magnitude or the time of the landing. The Department of State agrees to provide policy guidance to the USIA beginning three days before the invasion, but this guidance is apparently not given and the USIA is caught unprepared. (Aguilar, p.19)
?Cuba's Foreign Minister Raul Roa calls the U.S. State Department's "White Paper" on Cuba "an undeclared declaration of war." He states that this document is almost identical to one circulated by the State Department in Latin America before the intervention in Guatemala. (Informe Especial: 1961)
APR 6, 1961: At the follow up to the April 5 meeting, the President questions CIA officials on whether a preliminary air strike would constitute an alarm to the Castro government that the invasion is underway. (Pfeiffer, p.100)
APR 6?7, 1961: The Cuban Armed Forces Ministry announces that a vast counterrevolutionary plot organized from Guantanamo has been foiled. The Ministry states that a rebel group attempted to ambush an army and militia patrol in a place called "Los Montes de Pilabó" on 25 February, resulting in the death of two militia members. In successive encounters revolutionary troops capture 107 rebels from a group known as the counterrevolutionary nucleus of Monte Rus. These arrests neutralize the internal counterrevolution m Oriente province according to the Ministry. (Molina, "Diario de Girón pp. 109?110)
APR 7, 1961: The CIA sends a memo to General Gray, JCS Liaison Officer, modifying the naval support requirements to provide area coverage (instead of convoying the CEF ships) and to provide an extra day of air cover over the CEF ships. The invasion date is changed to 17 April 1961. (Rules of Engagement)
The Chairman, JCS, sends Admiral Dennison a memo with the revised rules of engagement, pointing out the necessity for avoiding any sign of U.S. participation. The destroyers are not to approach within 20 miles (instead of the previous 3 miles) of Cuban territory. U.S. naval units are not to open fire on Cuban ships or aircraft unless the CEF is attacked and if U.S. forces intervene to protect CEF ships the operation is automatically canceled. (Rules of Engagement)
?The New York Times runs a story by Tad Szulc entitled "Anti? Castro Units Trained to Fight at Florida Bases." The article overestimates the Brigade to number five to six thousand men but discloses that training has been discontinued because the forces have reached the stage of adequate preparation. Near the end of the story, Szulc cites CBS as reporting unmistakable signs that invasion plans are in their final stages. Following discussions between President Kennedy and Times publisher Orvil E. Dryfoos, editors shrink the story from a four?column lead article on the front page to a one?column headline near the middle of page one. Even so, when Kennedy reads the story he exclaims that Castro doesn't need spies in the United States; all he has to do is read the newspaper. (NYT, 4/7/61; Wyden, pp.153?154)
APR 8, 11, 13, 1961: Reconnaissance flights indicate that the Cubans have 36 combat aircrafts. The number of aircraft taking part in the air strikes two days prior to the invasion and on the day of the invasion increases from six to eight. (Aguilar, p.128)
APR 8, 1961: Jacob Esterline and Jack Hawkins, the two CIA subcommanders most directly in charge of the invasion planning, go to Bissell's house in Northwest Washington D.C. and inform him that they want to resign. Their primary concerns are the changes that the White House has ordered in the operation making it far less likely to succeed; "by pruning away at the operation [the politicians] were making it technically impossible to win," they reportedly tell Bissell. Bissell asks them to stay on, arguing that the invasion will go forward with or without them. Reluctantly they agree to his request. (Wyden, p. 160; Thomas, p. 252)
APR 8, 1961: Two members of the internal resistance forces, convicted of sabotage against economic targets in Havana, are executed. (Informe Especial: 1961)
APR 9, 1961: A bomb explodes in the exclusive commercial establishment El Encanto causing damage to businesses. An explosive device goes off next to the Pepsi Cola factory in Havana. (Molina, "Diario de Girón", p. 113)
?The commanders of the invasion force in Guatemala receive orders to mobilize. The following day the troops begin their three-day move to the point from which the invasion will be launched, Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua. (Johnson, p.77)
APR 10, 1961: Richard Bissell briefs Attorney General Robert Kennedy on the operation. He rates the chance of success as two out of three and assures Kennedy that even in the worst case the invaders can turn guerrilla. "I hope you're right," responds Kennedy. (Thomas, p. 253; Bissell, p 182.)
?Internal resistance forces set fire to a cane field in the Macagua central in Las Villas. (Informe Especial: 1961)
?Cuban agents capture an alleged counterrevolutionary group of twenty?two people linked to Cuban Miami?resident Manuel Antonio de Varona, vice-president of the Revolutionary Council. (Informe Especial: 1961)
APR 11, 1961: The New York Times runs a lead article by James Reston on a sharp policy dispute in the administration about how far to go in helping the Cuban refugees to overthrow the Castro government. (Wyden, p.165)
APR 12, 1961: At a meeting attended by the President, Secretary of State, the JCS, and other NSC officials, Richard Bissell presents a paper outlining the latest changes in the Zapata Operation. The paper includes a countdown to D-day which is now scheduled for April 17: D?7, Commence staging main force; D6, First vessel sails from staging area; D ?2, Diversionary landing in Oriente (night of D?3 to D?2); D?2, Limited air strikes; Two fake defector Brigade pilots in B?26s land in Florida to create the impression that the air strikes originate in Cuba; D?Day, Main landings?limited air strikes; Two B?26s and liaison plane land on seized airstrip; D?day to D+1, Vessels return night of D to D+1 to complete discharge of supplies; D+7, Diversionary landing in Pinar del Rio. President Kennedy does not give final approval to the plan at this meeting. However, he is informed that the decision cannot be delayed much longer as the no?go time for preliminary operations would be 12.00, 14 April, and for the main landing, 12.00, 16 April. (Aguilar, p.17)
At a press conference at the State Department, President Kennedy rules out, under any condition, an intervention in Cuba by the United States armed forces. (Johnson, p.72)
?Theodore C. Sorensen, Kennedy's special counsel, who has not been informed about the Cuban operation, asks the President about the invasion. Kennedy cuts the conversation short: "I know everybody is grabbing their nuts on this," he graphically tells his aide. (Wyden, p. 165)
APR 12?16, 1961: Another explosion at the El Encanto store reduces the seven?story building to ruins on April 13. In Galiano y Troacadero security forces arrest a man with dynamite and detonators. In Obispo y Chacon policearrest four alleged counterrevolutionaries, and in Melena del Sur militia and army forces detain six members of an internal resistance group accused of burning cane fields. (Informe Especial: 1961; Molina, "Diario de Girón pp. 118?119)
APR 13, 1961: Two U.S. citizens, Howard Anderson, and August McNair (presumably working for the CIA) are arrested in Cuba; and Cuban government troops seize eight tons of weapons in Pinar del Rio.
APR 13, 1961: Task Force Chief, Jake Esterline, sends an emergency cable to Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, requesting information on any change in the evaluation of the Cuban invasion force. In response, Colonel Jack Hawkins sends back a cable reporting "my confidence in the ability of this force to accomplish not only initial combat missions but also the ultimate objective of Castro’s overthrow:
“These officers are young, vigorous, intelligent and motivated with a fanatical urge to begin battle for which most of them have been preparing in the rugged conditions of training camps for almost a year .... Without exception, they have utmost confidence in their ability to win. They say they know their own people and believe after they have inflicted one serious defeat upon opposing forces, the latter will melt away from Castro, who they have no wish to support. They say it is Cuban tradition to join a winner and they have supreme confidence they will win all engagements against the best Castro has to offer. I share their confidence." (Memorandum for General Maxwell D. Taylor, 4/26/61)
Bissell makes sure that Hawkins’s cable is transmitted to the President who reads it on April 14; it helps convince Kennedy to go ahead with the invasion. (Wyden, pp.168?169; Thomas, p. 253.)
?Reflecting the concern that premature U.S. intervention could lead to the cancellation of the invasion, Admiral Dennison receives a memo that concludes: "In summary, hope is that over?all operation will not rpt not need to be aborted because of U.S. military intervention and to this end CEF prepared to take substantial risks." (Rules of Engagement)
?At the same time, CIA intelligence continues to emphasize opposition to Castro within Cuba: 'The Castro regime is steadily losing popularity... The people have begun to lose their fear of government, and subtle sabotage is common ... It is generally believed that the Cuban army has been successfully penetrated by opposition groups and that it will not fight in the event of a showdown ... The morale of the militia is falling." (Wyden, p.169)
?McGeorge Bundy informs Rusk, McNamara, and Dulles of Kennedy's decision to close the door on employing U.S. troops against Cuba during the Bay of Pigs operation. The President has rejected the “Nestor Plan” for paramilitary support, according to Bundy. (Bundy Memo, 4/13/61)
?Adolph Berle and Arthur Schlesinger meet Dr. Miro Cardona at the Century Club in New York City. They tell him that the U.S. will not provide U.S. troops in support of the Brigade forces if problems develop on the beachhead. "Dr. Cardona displayed considerable resistance," Schlesinger reports back to the President. ' If the Cuban movement against Castro failed ...the United States would be held responsible." (Schlesinger, Conversation with Dr. MW Cardona, 4/14/61)
APR 14, 1961: In his New York Times column, James Reston asks how far the administration is prepared to go to help the Cuban exiles. "if they get in trouble once they land, will it continue to supply them?" (NYT, 4/14/61)
?From the White House, President Kennedy calls Bissell and says the Saturday air strikes can go forward. He asks how many planes will participate and is told sixteen. "Well, I don't want it on that scale. I want it minimal." Bissell passes the word down for only eight planes to fly. "I believe the president did not realize that the air strike was an integral part of the operational plan he had approved," Bissell later writes in his memoirs. (Bissell, p. 183; Wyden, p.170)
?Luis Somoza, the Nicaraguan dictator, comes to the dock to say good?bye to the Cuban Forces about to launch the invasion: "Bring me a couple of hairs from Castro's beard," he reportedly tells them. (Johnson, p.86)
APR 15, 1961: At dawn eight B?26 planes of the Cuban Expeditionary Force carry out air strikes at three sites to destroy the Castro air capability. Initial pilot reports indicate that 50% of Castro's offensive air was destroyed at Campo Libertad, 75 to 80% at San Antonio de los Baos, and five planes destroyed at Santiago de Cuba. Subsequent photographic studies and interpretations indicate a greatly reduced estimate of the damage, amounting to five aircrafts definitely destroyed and an indeterminable number of other planes suffering some damage. After the attacks and expecting further attempts to destroy his small air force, Castro orders his pilots to sleep under the wings of the planes, ready to take off immediately. (Aguilar, p.18; Wyden, pp.184?185)
?At seven a.m., a bullet?ridden B?26 with Cuban markings lands at Miami International Airport. The Cuban pilot claims that he and three of his comrades have defected from Castro's air force in stolen planes. They claim to have carried out the attack against Castro's airfields and after being hit by antiaircraft fire and low on fuel have flown to the United States. Reporters note that the planes machine guns have evidently. not been fired and that its nose is of solid metal while Castro's B?26s have plastic noses. Dr. Miró Cardona issues a statement from New York that the raids in Cuba were carried out by Cubans inside Cuba. On reading American wire service accounts of the defection, Fidel Castro comments that even Hollywood would not try to film such a story. (Johnson, pp.90?91; Wyden, p.185)
?Adlai Stevenson, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, responding to Cuban charges of involvement in the bombing attacks in Cuba, denies any U.S. role and reaffirms the U.S. commitment to make sure that no American participates in any actions against Cuba. (Johnson, pp.92? 93)
?Fidel Castro announces that at 6 a.m., U.S.?made B?26 planes attacked simultaneously points in Ciudad Libertad, in Havana, San Antonio de los Banos, and Santiago de Cuba, in Oriente. “The Cuban delegation at the United Nations has received instructions to accuse directly the government of the United States as to blame for this aggression against Cuba." Castro announces that all militia and army units have been mobilized and placed on a state of alert. "If this air attack is the prelude to an invasion, the country is ready to struggle and will resist and destroy with an iron hand whatever force tries to land in our country." ("Playa Girón Primer Tomo, 15?16)
?Nino Diaz leads a group of 160 men in the diversionary landing 30 miles east of Guantanamo. The landing is aborted. The reasons given are the failure to appear of a friendly reception party and the loss of three boats. The Cubans are ordered to land the following night (April 15/16). Again the 168 men do not land because of the breakdown of a reconnaissance boat and loss of time retrieving it, failure of a friendly landing party to appear, and heavy enemy activity in the area. The Diaz group is ordered to join the main invasion force but they fail to arrive in time to participate. (Sequence of Events, 5/3/61)
?State security agents arrest an internal resistance group made up of 15 persons led by a North American, Howard Frederick Anderson. The agents discover eight tons of hidden arms consisting of 40 cases of rifles, 12 cases of automatic weapons, 18 cases of Thompson machine guns, as well as mortars and plastic explosives. (Molina, "Diario de Girón." p. 127)
?In Pinar del Rio, "Che" Guevara states: "We do not know if this attack will be the prelude to the announced invasion of the five thousand worms (gusanos) . . . We have to be prepared for a long and hard war." (lnforme Especial: 1961)
?Cuba's Foreign Minister Dr. Raul Roa, speaking to the General Assembly of the United Nations, accuses the United States of responsibility for the bombing attack on Havana, San Antonio, and Santiago. Cuba succeeds in getting the General Assembly to convene a special session of the First Commission (Political and Security Commission) of the Assembly to hear their charges against the U.S. At this meeting, Roa calls the bombing "undoubtedly the prologue to a large scale invasion, planned, organized, provisioned, armed, and financed by the government of the United States. . . The Revolutionary Government of Cuba solemnly accuses the government of the United States, before the Political and Security Commission and before world public opinion of having resorted to the use of force to settle its differences with a member state of the organization."
In response, Adlai Stevenson, the U.S. representative to the U.N., states that there will be no intervention by the armed forces of the United States; that the U.S. will do everything in its power to assure that no American participates in any action against Cuba." Stevenson then presents photographs of the planes that landed in Florida claiming that their markings show them to be Cuban Air Force aircraft. He finishes stating that the "fundamental question is not between the U.S. and Cuba but among the Cubans themselves." (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón,” 5?10)
APR 16, 1961: The Airborne battalion moves from base camp in Guatemala to Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, during the night of April 15/16. At about midday, the President formally approves the landing plan and the word is passed to all commanders in the operation. Assault shipping moves on separate courses toward the objective area. The ships make their rendezvous at about 1730 hours approximately 40 miles off the coast. They proceed in column and make rendezvous with U.S. Navy LSD (San Marcos) about 5,000 yards from Blue Beach. LCU and LCVP aboard the San Marcos are transferred to Cuban crews between 2300 and 2400 hours. Radio Swan repeatedly broadcasts a message which Phillips and Hunt compose to give the appearance that the station is activating resistance groups in Cuba: “Alert! Alert! Look well at the rainbow. The fish will rise very soon. Chico is in the house. Visit him. The sky is blue. Place notice in the tree. The tree is green and brown. The letters arrived well. The letters are white. The fish will not take much time to rise. The fish is red.” Hunt later writes that these were nonsense messages: “We couched it in terms that could, conceivably, confuse and misdirect Castro's G?2 ... I remember thinking at the time of BBCs wartime broadcasts which used plain texts to communicate with resistance teams in Europe.” (Johnson, p.100; Hunt, p.201)
?At about 9:30 p.m., McGeorge Bundy telephones General Cabell of CIA to tell him that the dawn air strikes the following morning should not be launched until planes can conduct them from a strip within the beachhead. Bundy indicates that any further consultation with regard to this matter should be with the Secretary of State. General Cabell and Richard Bissell go to Secretary Rusk's office at about 10.15 p.m. Rusk tells them he has just been talking to the President on the phone and recommended that the Monday?morning air strikes (D?Day) should be canceled and the President agreed.
Cabell and Bissell protest, arguing that the ships as well as the landings will be seriously endangered without the dawn strikes. The Secretary indicates there are policy considerations against air strikes before the beachhead airfield is in the hands of the landing force and completely operational and capable of supporting the raids. Rusk calls the President and tells him of the CIA men's objections but restates his own recommendation to cancel the strikes. The Secretary offers to let the CIA representatives talk to the President directly but they decline. "I don't think there's any point," Cabell tells Rusk. "I think I agree with that," Bissell also says. In his memoirs, Bissell writes that "I view this decision of Cabell's and mine as a major mistake. For the record, we should have spoken to the president and made as strong a case as possible on behalf of the operation and the welfare of the brigade." The order canceling the air strikes is dispatched to the departure field in Nicaragua, arriving when the pilots are in their cockpits ready for takeoff.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff learn of the cancellation at varying hours on the morning of April 17. Realizing the seriousness of the cancellation of air strikes, CIA officials try to offset the damage. They warn the invasion force of likely air attacks and the ships to expedite unloading and to withdraw from the beach by dawn. A continuous cover of two B?26s over the beach is laid on. At 0430 hours, General Cabell calls the Secretary of State at his home, reiterates the need to protect the shipping by providing air cover, and makes the request to the President by telephone. The President disapproves the request for air cover but authorizes early warning destroyers, provided they stay at least 30 miles from Cuban territory. (Bissell, p. 184; Wyden, pp. 198?201; Aguilar, pp.20?21)
At the funeral of the victims of the April 15 attack Fidel Castro calls on "all units to make their way to their respective battalions... Let us face the enemy...with the conviction that to die for the country is to live, and to live in chains is to live in shame and disgrace." The leaders of the revolution take charge of their areas: Raul Castro in Oriente province; "Che" Guevara in Pinar del Rio, in the west; Juan Almeida, in Santa Clara, at the head of the Army of the Center; Ramiro Valdes responsible for Intelligence and Counterintelligence; Guillermo Garcia in the tactical center of Managua, city of Havana. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón p. 67)
On the afternoon of April 16, Commander Juan Almeida travels through the sector of the Bay of Pigs and visits the radio post of Punta Perdiz. He learns there that they have contact with the command post in Santa Clara but not with the Australia central where the closest concentration of troops is: Battalion 339 of the Cienfuegos militias. Unable to resolve the technical problems, he orders a company of the battalion situated the entire length of the bay to strengthen the defense. Almeida is informed that a band of 35 counter?revolutionaries has been spotted in the zone of Amarillas. He wonders why they have abandoned their wooded positions and embarked on this march south. The high command of the Cuban Armed Forces receives other reports of suspicious activities: movements of boats and signals in Baitiquirí, Baracoa Oriental, and Punta Alegre, Camaguey; a large and a small boat headed toward Santa Fe; four boats in the mouth of the Guajaibón River and two more to the right; three unknown boats six or seven miles out, seen from Havana; and black shadows in the sea at Punta Perdiz, Girón (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón 67?68)
On the night of April 16 Committees for the Defense of the Revolution are mobilized to detain those opposed to the revolution. In a few hours they detain thousands of individuals. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón 67)
At 11.45 p.m., the head of the militia post of Playa Girón Mariano Mustelier, sees a red light in the sea. Reaching the beach, he and a companion observe signals coming from a boat. Jumping in a jeep they turn the lights on and off, thinking that it is a boat that has lost its way. A group of the invading forces fires at the jeep and puts out the lights. Mustelier fires back then returns to the militia post: The North Americans have arrived." Mustelier orders the militia to retreat and to radio the announcement of the invasion to Santa Clare. They fail to get through. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón 68?69)
APR 17, 1961: Aboard the Blagar, CIA agent Grayston Lynch (Gray) receives a message on a yellow pad from Washington: "Castro still has operational aircraft. Expect you to be hit at dawn. Unload all troops and supplies and take ships to sea as soon as possible." On learning that the invading troops will meet resistance in the landing area, due to failure to destroy all of the Cuban Air Force, the Blagar moves in close to shore and delivers gunfire support. Brigade troops commence landing at 0100 hours. 0115 ? The Brigade Commander, José Perez San Roman, goes ashore and begins unloading troops and supplies. Local militias discover the landing at once. Some firing occurs, and the alarm is transmitted to troop and air headquarters throughout the island. 0300 Unloading of troops on the Caribe is completed. Unloading of troops from the Atlantico begins. 0315 ?Fidel Castro is woken in Havana and told that the enemy is landing at Playa Larga and Playa Girón and that his platoons in the area are resisting. Castro alerts the forces in that section ? a battalion of nine hundred men stationed at the Central Australia sugar mill on the road to Playa Larga, and several platoons of armed militia.
Castro also mobilizes a battalion of militia in Matanzas Province, containing three mortar batteries, and orders them to head toward Playa Larga while he dispatches three battalions from Las Villas Province to protect the other two major highways through the swamps. The air force gets orders to take off at dawn and attack the ships facing Playa Larga and Girón After giving his orders, Castro leaves immediately for the Bay of Pigs. On arriving there he is told that another landing is happening simultaneously at Pinar del Rio Province. He hurries there and finds out that it is a false report. (Johnson, pp.109?110)
0330 ?Troops from the Atlantico come under fire. 0344?Radio Swan calls on the Cuban armed forces to revolt:
“Take up strategic positions that control roads and railroads! Make prisoners or shoot those who refuse to obey your orders! .... All planes must stay on the ground. See that no Fidelist plane takes off. Destroy its radios. Destroy its tail. Break its instruments. Puncture its fuel tanks.” Throughout the day the station suggests the exile force is succeeding: “The invaders are advancing steadily on every front; Castro's forces are surrendering in droves;"
It is reported, incorrectly, that Raul Castro has committed suicide. (Wyden, p.208; Wise and Ross, p.56; Penabaz, p.48)
0400 ? Castro calls Captain Enrique Carreras at San Antonio base twenty miles west of Havana: “At this moment a landing is taking place at Playa Girón But I want you to sink those ships! Don't let those ships go!” The pilots wait in their planes until six?thirty, about twenty minutes prior to daylight, then take off. (Wyden, p.251)
0420 ? In view of the Cuban response, the Brigade commander cancels the landing at Green Beach and puts this force ashore at Blue Beach. 0630 ? Cuban air attacks on shipping and Blue Beach commence. 270 men are landed at Red Beach and immediately come under fire. The landing of the Second Battalion at Red Beach is slowed by motor trouble with the aluminum ships boats, which are the only landing craft available. The battalions can only use two out of nine boats for the 20?minute run from the Houston to the beach. The Fifth Battalion, which is to follow the Second, never gets ashore partly due to boat trouble and partly because of the lack of initiative of the Brigade Commander. Few supplies get ashore.
The Houston comes under air attack and is hit. It goes aground with about 180 men of the Fifth Battalion on the west side of Bahía de Cochinos?about 5 miles from the landing beach. During this air attack, machine gun fire damages the LCI Barbara J disabling two of its engines. After cleaning up the Red Beach area, the troops of the Second Battalion push north about four miles but soon encounter militia forces that prevent them from reaching the southern exit of the road across the swamp which they were to block. 0640 ?Friendly air support arrives. 0730 ? All vehicles and tanks are discharged from L CUs. After landing, the troops push out from the beach as planned. Parachutists of the First Battalion at 0730, seize the road center of San Blas ten miles northeast of Blue Beach, and establish outposts to the north and east to cover the routes of ingress into the beachhead. They are reinforced by the Third Battalion and a heavy weapons detachment. 0825 ? The Blagar shoots down a Cuban T?33. All troops are ashore at Blue Beach.
0930 ? The freighter Rio Escondido is sunk ? by a direct rocket hit from a Sea Fury ? with ten days reserves of ammunition on board, as well as food, hospital equipment and gasoline. All crewmembers are rescued and transferred to the Blagar. At Blue Beach, Rip Robertson shouts into his radio, "God Almighty, what was that? Fidel got the A? bomb?" "Naw," responds his CIA colleague Grayston Lynch, "that was the damned Rio Escondido that blew." (Wyden, p.230)
1000 ? In face of continuous air attacks, the contract skipper in charge of the shipping radios CIA Headquarters that if jet air coverage is not immediately available, the ships will put out to sea. Castro is told that the Matanzas cadet battalion has arrived along with the 225th Militia Battalion. He orders the cadet battalion south to take the town of Palpite. On receiving news that the town has been taken shortly after noon, Castro is exuberant: "We've already won the war!" (Wyden, p.257)
1030 ? Following the air attack which sunk the freighters, all others in the landing area put out to sea with the order to rendezvous 50 miles off the coast. * As ships withdraw they continue to come under air attack. The freighters Atlantico and Caribe head south and do not stop till intercepted by U.S. Navy 110 and 218 miles respectively south of Cuba. The Caribe is thus never available for resupply operations while the fight on the beach lasts and the Atlantico does not get back to the rendezvous point until 1645 on April 18.
1530 ? Based on a CIA request which has presidential approval, the JCS directs CINCLANT to establish a safe haven for CEF ships with U.S. naval air cover subject to the restrictions that no carrier ship operate closer than 50 miles from Cuban territory, no aircraft closer that 15 miles, and no more than 4 aircraft on station at one time. Commanders modify the rules of engagement of enemy aircrafts to allow an attack if an unfriendly aircraft makes an aggressive move when headed towards a ship to be protected. (Rules of Engagement, p.2)
Afternoon ? Troops of the First and Third Battalions make contact with Castro forces and their outpost situated to the east is pushed back. Starting at about 1700 and intermittently thereafter, San Blas comes under attack from forces coming down the road from the north. Radio communications within Blue Beach are nonexistent during the entire operation since the troops have to wade ashore and most of the portable radios get wet and never function thereafter. In the area north of Red Beach, fighting astride the road continues throughout the day, enemy tanks appear in mid-afternoon, and enemy artillery becomes active about 1800. B?26 aircraft, rotated over the beachhead throughout the day, sink one gunboat, make strikes against Cuban ground troops at Red Beach, and inflict several hundred casualties, according to report. Four B?26s are lost to enemy T?33 action while the Castro air force loses two Sea Furies and two B?26s to anti?aircraft fire. (Aguilar, pp.21?24)
At 7.15 p.m. the Cuban Revolutionary Council issues a press bulletin. The bulletin quotes a Council spokesman as predicting that before dawn the island of Cuba will rise up en masse in a coordinated wave of sabotage and rebellion that will sweep communism from our country. In another bulletin on D?Day the Revolutionary Council claims that our information from Cuba indicates that much of the militia in the countryside has already defected from Castro. (Johnson, p.129; CRC Bulletins No. 2 and 3, 4/17/61)
On the evening of D?Day the situation looks bad to the President in Washington. U.S. ships might have to be used. “I’d rather be an aggressor than a bum,” he tells his brother Robert. Allen Dulles arriving back in Baltimore from Puerto Rico is met by a CIA aide who tells him, “we’re hanging on by our fingernails.” (Wyden, pp.264?265) (Aguilar, pp.3?35; Johnson, pp.103?139; Wyden, pp. 273?288)
APR 17, 1961:
12.30 a.m.: The operator for battalion 339 informs the Australia station that flashes can be seen around the zone of Girón.
12.55 a.m.: Punta Perdiz, Girón, sends a message of gunfire in the Playa Girón zone.
1.08 a.m.: The chief mechanic at Playa Girón succeeds in communicating with Cienfuegos and tells of the combat taking place. 2.10 a.m.: The post at Cienfuegos informs Santa Clara that a landing of major proportions is taking place at Playa Girón.
2.18 a.m.: A message from Playa Larga, Bay of Pigs: "Come in Australia, Playa Larga here, urgent, they are attacking us.”
2.30 a.m. The battalion chief at the Australia central makes the decision to advance toward Playa Larga. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón 69?71)
The offices of the high command receive numerous reports: at 3.00 a.m. from the tourist site of Laguna del Tesoro, in the Zapata Marsh, of gun and cannon fire around Playa Larga; movements of boats near the coast north of Pinar del Rio; from the coast north of Havana, a group of ships moving toward Santa Fe; black shapes identified as U.S. boats north of Camaguey; boats in the north of Oriente province and launches in the south; landings at Trinidad; and suspicious movements at sea north of Havana. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón," 7172)
Fidel Castro meets with key advisers to assess the incoming information. They examine the exceptional conditions of the Bay of Pigs ? its isolation from the rest of the island because of the Zapata swamp; only three roads link this area with the rest of the country. They conclude that this is the major attack that they have been expecting and that if there are others they will only be diversionary. Time is a critical factor. The invaders must be prevented from establishing a beachhead that will permit the U.S. to recognize a counterrevolutionary government on Cuban soil and intervene with arms to support it. At 3.35 a.m. Castro orders Captain Osmany Cienfuegos to have all the battalions in his sector ready in trucks to leave for battle. A minute later he orders Militia Battalion 339, in the Australia central, to move toward the coast; and the Matanzas School for Militia Leaders to be mobilized by emergency alarm. Advancing down the road from the Australia central to Playa Larga, prior to the official order, Militia Battalion 339 meets troops of the invading force and a firefight ensues. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón," 72?73)
At 3.45 a.m. Fidel Castro calls Battalion 1 of Special Forces of the Rebel Army, located in Cojimar, east of Havana, and orders Captain Aroldo Ferrer to send troops to the Marsh and await orders.
Around 4.30 a.m. the main guidelines for the defending Cuban forces are established: with the order to wipe out immediately the invaders, they will attack from three directions ?from the Australia central, from Covadonga and from Yaguaramas.
At 4.45 a.m. Castro calls the base at San Antonio de los Banos and gives the order to pilot Silva Tablada that two Sea Furies and one B?26 should take off at 5.20 to attack the boats in the Bay of Pigs and then return to Havana to report. At 5.10 he calls again: "You have to see if there are planes in the airport [at Girón?? If there are, shoot them, if not, give it to the boats in territorial waters. First objective: planes, second, boats and observe if there are movements of trucks near Girón." A little earlier, Lt. Jacinto Vazquez de la Garza, head of Battalion 180, based south of Havana, receives the order to mobilize his twelve hundred men and head for Jovellanos in the province of Matanzas. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón," 74?81)
At 5.20 a.m. Fidel Castro, during a meeting with Abraham Maciques, head of the Tourist Plan of Laguna del Tesoro, insists that the invaders not be allowed to pass Palpite. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón," 82)
Airmen Carreras, Bourzac, Fernandez, Lagas, Ulloa, and Silva wait for the sun to rise before taking off from San Antonio de los Banos. At five in the morning only three planes are active: two "Sea Furies" and one B?26. Fidel Castro asks to speak directly to airmen Carreras and Curbelo by telephone: "Carreras! You have to sink those boats! You have to promise me that you're going to sink them!" (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón," 83)
The planes are ordered to take off at five in the morning and arrive over the target area twenty minutes later. Reaching the invasion area the pilots see seven or eight large boats and an indeterminate number of launches and landing craft. Captain Enrique Carreras Rojas, known by his comrades as "grandfather," launches the first attack. From a height of five to six thousand feet, he descends to fifteen hundred feet and fires four rockets at the "Houston," hitting it astern. The two other planes fire rockets at the "Houston" and hit the target. The ship begins to zig?zag and turns around to reach the mouth of the bay and join the flotilla facing Playa Girón (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón 83?84)
After returning to base for more fuel and ammunition, Carreras sets off again in his Sea?Fury for Playa Girón. The "Houston" lies "like a big mortally wounded fish," while the "Rio Escondido" is about three miles to the south of the coast. He fires rockets that hit the "Rio Escondido" dead center, and it goes up in flames. The "Rio Escondido" goes down with 145 tons of munitions, 38,000 gallons of vehicle fuel and 3,000 gallons of aircraft fuel. Attacked by a B?26 with the colors, flag, and insignia of the Cuban armed forces, Carreras' Sea?Fury shoots it down. Another B?26 is shot down by a T?33 piloted by Captain Alvaro Prendes Quintana. ("Playa Girón Primer Tomo, 91?111)
At 8.13 a.m. Castro communicates again with the command post of the Army of the Center to order troops from this force to march from Cienfuegos toward Girón?? He is informed that there has been a new drop of paratroops at Horquita, a point midway between Yaguaramas and San Blas. Castro responds: 'The paratroops of Horquita are condemned to death. Use the militia forces against them." (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón," 87)
At 9.25 a.m. Castro orders a plane to protect the troops in the Australia central: "We need to keep that road protected." On being told of the sinking of a ship, Castro replies," We're going to keep up the attack on the ships but we need to use the "Sea Fury" in Fernandez' advance." (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón 92)
The attempt to take Palpite is pushed back by the invading forces. The militias, under attack from aviation, are withdrawing when they meet up with troops from the School for Militia Leaders. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón 91)
At the National School for Militia Leaders on the outskirts of the city of Matanzas the radio operator receives the news by microwave receiver: the invasion has begun. At four a.m. the battalion forms in the practice field and fifty minutes later is ready to leave. As the sun rises the battalion of eight hundred and seventy-five men leaves in trucks for the area of the Australia central. Reaching this area at nine a.m. they are bombarded by a B?26 plane. Some civilian drivers disappear in fear. Arriving at kilometer twelve, the first and second companies receive orders to head for Palpite and Soplillar which is rumored to have fallen into the hands of invading paratroops. Following a skirmish the paratroops retreat. The Battalion meets up with sixty militia members from Battalion 339 in Cienfuegos and ten peasants armed with old shotguns. ("Playa Girón Primer Tomo, 143?147)
At 10.00 a.m. the Militia School Battalion takes the village of Palpite. Informed by telephone, Fidel Castro replies: "We've won! We've won the war! We've sunk two ships and three launches and if they don't realize that they need to defend Palpite then they've lost." He then gives the order to Fernandez: "Advance and take Playa Larga. Wait for me in Australia (central)." (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón 94)
Meanwhile, the rest of the battalion of the Militia School continues toward the coast. At kilometer 21 they receive a prolonged and violent attack with bombs and artillery from two B?26s. At 11 a.m., two miles from Playa Larga, they enter into combat with the advance guard of the enemy forces. The planes continue to threaten. The invaders retire in the direction of the sea and set up positions on the beach. The battalion waits for nightfall to avoid the constant attacks of the planes. At four p.m. the B?26s return and attack with machine gun fire, rockets, bombs, and napalm. The militia battalion receives orders to advance toward Playa Larga. The invading force is dug in with its back to the sea in trenches and behind natural features. The militia has to advance without knowing where they will come into contact with the enemy. Huts set fire to by the invaders make the advancing militia a perfect target. As the militia begins its attack, four T?34 tanks of the Cuban Army appear to support the attack. Bazookas destroy the tracks and door of the first tank, rendering it useless. The second tank is damaged. The tanks are ordered to retreat. All night long the militia battalion fires mortars at the enemy positions. ("Playa Girón Primer Tomo, 147?156) .
At 10.30 a.m.
the United Nations Political and Security Commission begins its planned debate
on the intervention in Cuba, as well as Africa and Korea. Roa accuses the U.S.
of responsibility for the invasion of Cuba. Stevenson replies that these
accusations are false and denies them categorically. What Roa is asking the U.N.
to do, he says, is to protect the Castro regime against the natural anger of its
own people. In his reply, Roa states that he has not come to the U.N. to ask
support in defending Cuba against U.S. aggression but "to accuse the imperialist
government of the United States before the conscience of the world." He informs
the commission that Lazaro Cardenas, former president of Mexico has arrived in
Cuba that day to stand beside the Cuban people. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de
Fidel Castro declares the country in a State of Alert and orders the army, militias, and security forces to proceed forthrightly against all those committing acts of sabotage, shootings, and attacks. ("Playa Girón Primer Tomo, 81?84)
At midday, Companies One and Two of Battalion 117 enter Yaguaramas and receiving orders to continue their advance toward San Bias. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón 95?96)
Around 2.00 p.m., after ascertaining that all necessary measures have been taken to defend the capital and other key zones, Castro leaves for the combat zone of Australia central. On arriving at the Australia central, he sets up his command post in the area chosen for the main attack. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón 101?102)
As the day progresses more Cuban troops arrive. On the Covadonga front three companies of Battalion 117 stop on the edge of the marsh where the invading forces have put up strong defenses at a point called Canal de Munoz. Close by is a battery of 85mm anti?tank guns and another of 120mm mortars. In the Yaguaramas area, two companies of Battalion 117 stop for the night in San Miguel de Pita, not far from the edge of the marsh. At midnight Battalion 113 arrives and a line of fire is formed to prevent an attack from the rear. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón 103?104)
Meanwhile, the main contingent of the offensive whose mission is to attack and occupy Playa Larga by night arrives. Special Column No. 1 of the Rebel Army, with four howitzer batteries, a tank company, and two heavy mortar batteries, will reinforce the Matanzas Militia Leaders Battalion. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón 104?105)
Around 10.00 p.m., Castro assesses the situation for the night?time offensive with his advisers. As well as the main attack on Playa Larga, a battalion will advance parallel to the coast along the Soplillar road, take that village, and advance 30 kilometers to the east to be in the rearguard of the invading forces. Battalion 111 will take that route and Battalion 144 will advance from Soplillar to Caleta del Rosario, a small hamlet on the coast between Playa Larga and Playa Girón, to cut off the retreat of invading troops at Playa Larga. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón?? 106)
At the end of the first day of combat the Brigade controls two of the three access roads and has the third within its line of fire. The Cuban Air Force has sunk two ships and a landing craft and damaged a ship and three barges. They have also brought down three B?26s and damaged two. A sixth plane crashes in the Nicaraguan mountains near Puerto Cabezas. The invading forces have shot down a Sea Fury and a B?26. A fourth road along the coast exists along which is advancing a reinforced battalion of the Cuban Armed Forces. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón 107)
APR 18, 1961: Responding to the ease with which the T?33 aircraft is able to destroy the obsolete B?26, CIA leaders issue orders to bomb as many airfields as possible on the ground on the night of April 17/18 with fragmentation bombs. Three B?26s are launched for San Antonio de los Baos but fail to find the target. 0300 ? The troops north of Red Beach come under heavy attack in the early morning hours. Enemy tanks approach from the north and by 0730 the situation is so difficult that the decision is made to move the force to Blue Beach. 0400 Artillery fire begins falling on the troops in the San Bias area and continues most of the day. Artillery fire and enemy pressure on the San Bias troops force a gradual contraction of their position around the town. They attempt a counterattack to the north in the afternoon, but it bogs down in the face of superior forces. 0440 ? Fidel Castro sends an eight?point order with step?by step instructions for deploying the tanks. Point eight is, Fidel says Playa Larga has to be taken sin excuse. (Wyden, p.259)
0730 ? The 2d Battalion at Red Beach reports that its position cannot be maintained without air support for more than 30 minutes. Movement to Blue Beach begins at 0900 and is completed by 1030. The Red Beach force has suffered about 20 casualties. After reaching Blue Beach, the retreating force has two hours rest and gets additional ammunition and is ordered back to Red Beach to block the coast road against the forces they engaged in the Red Beach area. They encounter this force west of Blue Beach and heavy fighting ensues. It is not known what occurred but it is assumed that the invaders succumbed to the superior numbers of Castro forces moving down from the south. 0824 Brigade commander reports that Blue Beach is under attack by 12 tanks and 4 jets, and requests supplies. Authority to use napalm is granted for use in the beachhead area. 1010 ? Red Beach is reported wiped out. José Ramon Fernandez, Castro's principal troop commander, receives a call from Fidel to advance to Girón?? Two hours later Castro orders him to take Girón by 6 p.m. (Wyden, p.259?260)
1200 ? Blue Beach is reported under attack by MIG?15s and T? 33s, out of tank ammunition, and almost out of small arms ammunition. Morning ? President Kennedy receives a message from Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev: “It is not a secret to anyone that the armed bands which invaded that country have been trained, equipped and armed in the United States of America. The planes which bomb Cuban cities belong to the United States of America, the bombs they drop have been made available by the American Government... As to the Soviet Union, there should be no misunderstanding of our position: we shall render the Cuban people and the Government all necessary assistance in beating back the armed attack on Cuba. We are sincerely interested in a relaxation of international tension, but if others aggravate it, we shall reply in full measure.” Kennedy responds that the United States intends no military intervention in Cuba but should an outside force intervene we will immediately honor our obligations under the inter?American system to protect this hemisphere against external aggression. (Johnson, pp.151?152)
1200 ? National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy reports to the President that the situation in Cuba is not good. "The Cuban armed forces are stronger, the popular response is weaker, and our tactical position is feebler than we had hoped. Tanks have done in one beachhead, and the position is precarious at the others." Bundy informs Kennedy that the CIA will press hard for further air help against a formidable enemy; he recommends that air support be provided because "in my own judgment, the right course now is to eliminate the Castro air force, by neutrally?painted U.S. planes if necessary, and then let the battle go its way." (Pfeiffer, Zapata report, Appendix F)
1400 ? With only about a third of the Cuban pilots at Puerto Cabezas willing to continue flying, Bissell, for the first time, authorizes American pilots to fly combat missions. Two CIA contract men, Peters and Seig, joined by Cuban pilots head for Cuba. Castro's troops mistake them for friendly aircraft and instead of dispersing they begin to cheer. The six Brigade planes swoop down, dropping napalm and regular bombs, firing rockets, inflicting what is claimed as eighteen hundred casualties and destroying seven tanks. (Wyden, pp.235?236)
1449 ? The JCS directs CINCLANT to prepare unmarked naval planes for possible combat use following a call from Admiral Burke at the White House. This message makes clear that there is no intention of U.S. intervention. The aircraft are readied but permission is not given to use them. 1600 ? The Essex reports a long line of tanks and trucks approaching Blue Beach from the east. By the end of the day ammunition is very low throughout the beachhead. In spite of heavy fighting, casualties appear to be few among the invaders. At the end of the evening, CIA Headquarters asks the Brigade commander, via the Blagar, if he wishes to be evacuated. He replies: "I will not be evacuated. We will fight to the end here if we have to." At the annual Congressional Reception, Robert Kennedy takes aside Senator Smathers of Florida and tells him, "The shit has hit the fan. The thing has turned sour in a way you wouldn't believe." (Wyden, p.269)
In New York, Lem Jones issues another Revolutionary Council statement: Peasants, workers and militia are joining the freedom front and aiding the rapidly expanding area already liberated by the Revolutionary Command. The Cuban Revolutionary Council announces that heavy Soviet tanks and MIG aircraft that have destroyed sizable amounts of medical supplies and equipment are attacking the Cuban freedom fighters in the Matanzas area. (CRC, Bulletin No. 4, 4/18/61; Wyden, pp.173?288; Johnson 140?153; Aguilar, pp. 3?35)
APR 18, 1961: In the first minutes of the new day, Heavy Battalion 180 arrives at the Australia central ready to enter combat. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón?? 109)
In the early hours of the morning, Fidel Castro receives information of an attack to the west of Havana. He attempts to verify the information and it is confirmed. He returns to Havana and finds that the information is false. But the maneuver, is successful in removing from the area of Playa Larga/Playa Girón the only official who knows intimately the terrain, Fidel Castro. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón?? 112?113)
At 4.40 a.m. Castro orders forces from Battalion 180 or 144 to advance through Palpite to reach Caleta de Rosario to cut the enemy in two. "Finally, Fidel says that Playa Larga must be taken without excuses." (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón?? 114?115)
At the air base of San Antonio, Captain Curbelos outlines the day's priorities to the pilots: to bomb and fire on Playa Larga, destroy buildings in the hands of the enemy, and prevent the enemy receiving reinforcements or war materials 'Today's mission will be to support our troops, to harass the enemy, and maintain domination of the air." (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón 116)
At 7.00 a.m. Radio Swan transmits the call to citizens of Havana to sabotage the electrical system by putting on all the lights in houses and connecting all electrical appliances at 7.45 a.m. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón 117)
At 10.30 a.m. Cuban army troops take Playa Larga. Captain Fernandez reports that the invading troops have moved toward Girón. "I am moving anti?aircraft and field artillery to Playa Larga to attack toward Girón. I expect to attack in daylight hours." Castro sends orders to Fernandez to take Girón by six that afternoon. He also orders troops to advance on Girón from the east and to stay four kilometers from there. Fierce combat continues between Covadonga and San Bias. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón," 121?127)
At the United Nations, the Soviet delegate reads a letter from his country's prime minister to the president of the United States calling for "an end to the aggression against the Republic of Cuba," and reads a Soviet government declaration that "reserves the right ? in the event that the intervention against Cuba does not end immediately ? to take, jointly with other states, the necessary measures to lend assistance to the Republic of Cuba." At 10.00 p.m. Stevenson reads President Kennedy's reply to Soviet Premier Khrushchev denying that the U.S. is intervening militarily in Cuba and claiming the right of the U.S. to protect the hemisphere from external aggression in the event of an intervention of outside forces. Stevenson goes on to claim that there is no evidence against the United States and that it is not true that the guerrillas have been brought by planes from the U.S. piloted by Americans. (Pino Machado, “La Batalla de Girón,” 20-25)
At 3.00 p.m. Battalion 326 marching toward Girón from the east arrives in the vicinity of Caleta Redonda. Advancing, they are attacked by a B?26 flying over. The commander, Captain Pupo orders a retreat to Caleta Buena to spend the night. His instructions are to not attack Girón but to entrench themselves and form a siege. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón 128)
At 5.00 p.m. B?26 planes of the invading forces launch an attack on advancing troops and tanks of Battalion 123, firing rockets and dropping napalm and causing extensive casualties. Following the attack, Captain Fernandez reorganizes Battalion 123 which has suffered heavy casualties and assesses the conditions for an attack on Girón At 9.00 p.m. he sends a message that he plans to make his lines at 2?3 kilometers from Girón and to attack at dawn with artillery, infantry, and tanks. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón 128?131)
In the zone of Covadonga and Yaguaramas, Cuban forces are a few kilometers from San Blas. Reinforcements are on their way to support the advance: for Covadonga, two batteries of 122mm. cannons and for Yaguaramas, fifteen tanks. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón 132)
During the night Battalion 111 reaches Cayo Ramona after a tiring twenty?four hour march across the coastal mountains from Palpite. They are positioned to prevent any of the invading forces from moving north and to ensure their capture. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón 131)
Death sentences are carried out against eight counterrevolutionary heads of terrorist groups. Two priests are arrested for counterrevolutionary activity. Cuban agents detain a number of individuals who landed on the north coast of Havana on March 13. (Informe Especial: 1961)
APR 19, 1961: At a meeting at the White House that begins just after midnight, the. President, Vice President Johnson, McNamara and Rusk, all in white tie, with General Lemnitzer and Admiral Burke in dress uniform, hear a report on the decline of the invasion force. Burke asks the President to "Let me take two jets and shoot down the. enemy aircraft." The President says, no, reminding Bissell and Burke that he has warned them over and over again that he would not commit U.S. forces to combat. Around 1.00 a.m., the President authorizes one hour of air cover from 0630 to 0730 for the invading brigades B?26s by six unmarked jets from the carrier Essex. The jets are not to seek air combat nor attack ground targets. By the morning of April 19 nine of the invading forces sixteen B?26s have been shot down and several of the remaining planes are in poor flying condition. The U.S. Navy Combat Air Patrol and the B?26s fail to rendezvous because the CIA and the Pentagon fail to realize a time zone difference between Nicaragua and Cuba. Two B?26s are shot down and four Americans are lost.
?Later Radio Havana broadcasts communiqué No. 3: The participation of the United States in the aggression against Cuba was dramatically proved this morning when our antiaircraft batteries brought down a U.S. military plane piloted by a U.S. airman who was bombing the civilian population and our infantry forces in the area of Australia Central. The radio says that papers found on the American pilots body identify him as Leo Francis Bell from Boston. (Wyden, pp.277?278)
0550 ? A C?46 carrying 850 pounds of rockets and ammunition, maps, messages and communications equipment, lands on the Girón airstrip. After dropping off equipment and picking up messages, maps, and a wounded pilot who had been shot down on D?Day, the plane flies back to Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua. 0600 Cuban air strikes begin. 0630 ? The Blagar is due to arrive at Blue Beach escorting three LCUs with ammunition. During the night, however, the captain reports to CIA Headquarters that if low jet cover is not provided, he believes all ships will be lost. Prior to this time, he has requested a U.S. Navy destroyer. The CIA Headquarters wire that a destroyer escort is not possible and the captain replies that if he cannot get a destroyer escort in and out of Blue Beach, his Cuban crew will mutiny. CIA Headquarters directs the ammunition ships to stop northern movement and to rendezvous some 60 miles south of the Cuban coast. Beyond an arrangement for another airdrop, no further effort is made to get in ammunition before the final surrender. 0710?1430 ? Cuban forces close in on invasion force in Blue Beach sector with tanks and infantry in coordination with air attacks. 0925 ? Invasion brigade commander San Roman reports 2,000 militia attacking Blue Beach from east and west. Need close air support immediately. 1000 ? Castro's troops enter San Blas and by eleven a.m. are approaching the last defenses blocking the road to Girón 1157 ? JCS directs CINCLANT to send two destroyers to a position off Blue Beach to determine possibilities for evacuation. 1312 ? Based on a call from Admiral Burke from the White House, the JCS directs CINCLANT to have destroyers take CEF personnel off the beach and from the water to the limit of their capability. Landing force surrenders at about 1400. 1432 ?Brigade Commander sends last message that is received by the Blagar and reads: Am destroying all equipment and communications. I have nothing left to fight with. Am taking to the woods. I can’t wait for you. The Revolutionary Council issues its sixth and final bulletin at nine p.m. claiming that the recent landings in Cuba have been constantly and inaccurately described as an invasion. It was, in fact, a landing of supplies and support for our patriots who have been fighting in Cuba for months .... [Today's action] allowed the major portion of our landing party to reach the Escambray mountains. (Johnson, p.172; CRC Bulletin No. 6, 4/19/61)
Allen Dulles meets with former Vice President Richard Nixon and tells him: "Everything is lost. The Cuban invasion is a total failure." Dulles blames the loss on soft?liners in the Kennedy Administration who doomed the operation to failure by last?minute compromises. (Wyden, p.294)
In the days and weeks following the invasion, 1,180 Brigade members are taken prisoner. (Johnson, pp.154?172; Wyden, pp.173?288; Aguilar, pp.3?35)
APR 19, 1961:
On the Covadonga road, artillery pieces begin harassment fire from dawn. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón 134)
At 5.00 a.m. San Roman, leader of the invading forces radios: "You don't know how desperate our situation is... All we need is strong air protection ...lf not, we don't survive." (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón," 134)
When the clouds clear, Cuban planes take off from San Antonio to see the number of enemy ships that are approaching the coast. About 80 to 100 kilometers from the coast, they spot a squadron of B?26s heading in the opposite direction, toward Girón They surprise the enemy planes and shoot two down. The Cuban pilots hear, on the same radio frequency as their own, the airmen whom they have attacked calling for help in English. Following the attack, two of B?26 planes of the invading forces return to their base in Nicaragua. The fifth plane, piloted by Leo Francis Berliss and Thomas Williard Ray attacks the Australia central with machine gun fire, rockets, and bombs. Troops on the ground fire back but miss the target. The plane turns to make another attack and is shot down. It makes a forced landing about a mile from the Australia central. Two crewmembers leap out before the plane bursts into flames. The two, Berliss and Williard, are killed resisting capture. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón," 137?143)
Communiqué Number Three from the Cuban government claims "dramatic proof of U.S. participation in the aggression against Cuba" when a "North American military plane piloted by a U.S. flier" is shot down by Cuban anti?aircraft batteries. The pilot's name is Leo Francis Berliss of 48 Beacon Street, Boston, and his Social Security card number is 014?07?6921. This plane is one of four shot down this morning bringing to nine the total of planes brought down since the attack began in the Zapata Peninsula. ("Playa Girón," Primer Tomo, 87)
At the United Nations, Cuban Minister Roa states that Cuban anti?aircraft batteries have shot down a U.S. plane, piloted by an American airman, that morning. The Political and Security Commission debates whether the issue of U.S. intervention in Cuba should be moved to the Organization of American States (which is dominated by the United States) or heard by the General Assembly of the U.N. U Thant of Burma argues that "there is sufficient proof that some external powers are involved in the escalation of this conflict" and asks the U.N. to "ensure that the territory or resources of any state not be used to foment an armed intervention in Cuba." Cuba's representative Roa presents information on the identification card of the American pilot brought down over the Australia central in Cuba and finishes: "Naturally ...these planes came from the moon." (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón," 27?29)
?One kilometer from Girón?? troops of the Police Battalion begin to suffer casualties from the advantageous placement of artillery and mortars) by the invading forces. Commander Rodiles decides to split his forces in two: one half, under Captain Carbo, moving close to the coast along the narrow strip between the coast and the slope; the other, under Captain Sandino, heading inland between the embankment and the mountain. Carbo's advancing troops move toward the trenches of the invading forces. Members of the invasion brigade wait till the last moment and open fire at point blank range. Twelve of Carbo's men fall instantly. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón," 144?145)
At 7.12 a.m. San Roman radios to Nicaragua that enemy forces in trucks are just three miles from Playa Girón. Between 7.30 and 7.45 a.m. Fidel Castro communicates with Captain Aragones in Yaguaramas to prepare the advance on San Blas with eight tanks, a company in trucks, and infantry behind; and with Captain Raul Curbelo to provide continuous air support to the attack from 9 a.m. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón 146?148)
At 8.15 a.m. San Roman radios to Nicaragua: "Situation desperate on the west flank. We need urgent air support." Twenty?five minutes later he radios that Playa Girón is under air attack. In the San Bias zone, Alejandro del Valle sends a message to San Roman: "We are under strong artillery attack in San Bias, we are retreating two kilometers:' (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón 149?152)
Around 9.00 a.m. Commander Felix Duque begins the attack on San Bias, following the artillery barrage. As they advance, there is no response and they find machine guns, mortars, and other arms abandoned at the side of the road. At the same time, two companies with ten tanks move out from Yaguaramas. (Pint Machado, "La Batalla de Girón 152)
At ?9.25 a.m. San Roman radios that two thousand troops are attacking Girón from the east and the west and calls for urgent air support. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón 153)
At 10.00 a.m. forces under Commander Duque take San Bias and move on to occupy Bermeja. At 10.30 Castro orders an extra battalion to support the forces coming down the coast from the east and to ensure that the invading forces are surrounded at a distance of 1 or 2 kilometers. He gives orders for a "great siege, so that no one escapes." (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón 153?154)
On the west side, the Police Battalion under Captain Carbo advances towards the trenches of the invaders. Then T?34 tanks arrive and the troops advance behind them. Three tanks are hit and burn. Captain Carbo is hit and killed. The advance continues inch by inch. Around noon artillery fire is launched against the defensive positions of the invading forces. The siege around the invaders is tightened to prevent any escape by land. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón, 155-156)
At 1.48 p.m. Fidel Castro gives the order to Captain Curbelo in San Antonio to launch a bombing attack in the area of the airport and within the village of Girón but?avoiding the road, beginning at 3.30 p.m. At 3.00 p.m. pilots Prendes and Del Pino fly their T?33s over Girón and see launches approaching to evacuate the invading forces. They fly low and launch an attack on the boats. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón 163?164)
At 3.30 p.m. Cuban planes bombard the zone of Girón Two B?26s, two Sea Furies, and two T?33s launch rockets, bombs, and machine gun fire on the invading forces. At 4.00 p.m. Fidel Castro, en route to the war zone, calls from a public phone in Jovellanos, and informed of the evacuation, gives orders to attack the small boats. He orders the artillery to bombard Girón and the sea (to prevent escape.) (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón 168?170)
Captain Fernandez orders artillery to attack the boats trying to evacuate the invaders. After about twenty or thirty minutes of fire, the destroyers from which the evacuation boats are coming push out to sea and sail away. In anger and frustration, the invading forces fire on their own comrades fleeing in boats and fire on the destroyers from a tank.
At 5:00 p.m. p.m. Fidel Castro arrives with President Dorticos and various officials. Castro orders the attack: "We have to take Girón before 72 hours are up, for international reasons." He leads and takes part in the attack from the fifth armored vehicle leaving from Helechal. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón 171?173)
Combatants from Battalion 180 and the Police Battalion enter Girón without encountering organized resistance. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón 173)
Communiqué No. 4 from Fidel Castro informs the Cuban people that "Forces of the Rebel Army and National Revolutionary Militias took by assault the last positions that the mercenary forces had occupied in the national territory. . . Playa Girón, which was the mercenaries' last point, fell at 5.30 in the afternoon. . . The enemy has suffered a crushing defeat." ("Playa Girón Primer Tomo, 88-89; Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón," 176?177)
After three days of fighting, the invading forces lose 89 killed and 1,197 taken prisoner. 157 of the Cuban defenders lose their lives. (Molina, "Diario de Girón, p. 130)
Between April 17th and 20th, ten Cuban pilots fly a total of 70 missions, bringing down nine B?26 planes, and sinking two 5,000 ton boats, one communication boat, three landing craft for transporting equipment and five for troops. ("Playa Girón Primer Tomo, 114?115)
Nine people, including ex?Commander Humberto Sori Marín, are executed for treason and counterrevolutionary activities. Three priests are detained for counterrevolutionary activity. (Informe Especial: 1961)
APR 20, 1961: Fidel Castro speaks on television for four hours. He explains the reasons for the failure of the invasion: "Imperialism examines geography, analyzes the number of cannons, of planes, of tanks, the positions. The revolutionary examines the social composition of the population. The imperialists don't give a damn about how the population there thinks or feels." (Wyden, p.295)
The task begins in earnest of capturing invading troops who have fled into the mountains and the marsh and along the coast. Castro personally detains about fifty prisoners and interrogates them. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón 177?178)
?At 1946 hours, on direction of the President to Admiral Burke, the JCS directs CINCLANT to take charge of CEF ships and personnel and get them safely to Vieques and to conduct destroyer patrols of Blue Beach tonight for possible evacuation of survivors. (Rules of Engagement, p.4)
APR 21, 1961: At a press conference President Kennedy accepts responsibility for the failed invasion: “There's an old saying that victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan. What matters,” he says, is only one fact, “I am the responsible officer of the government.” (Wyden, p.305)
APR 22, 1961: President Kennedy meets with former?President Dwight Eisenhower at Camp David. Kennedy explains in detail where things began to go awry and states that the whole operation has become a complete failure. Apparently some men are still hiding in the bosque and possibly have made their way to the mountains. Apparently about 400 prisoners were taken. Eisenhower reports in his memorandum that the Cubans shot down a number of our airplanes and apparently operated effectively against our troops. (Notes by General Eisenhower on Luncheon Meeting April 22, 1961, with President Kennedy at Camp David, 4/22/61)
President Kennedy charges General Maxwell D. Taylor, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, Admiral Arleigh Burke and Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles to study our governmental practices and programs in the areas of military and paramilitary, guerrilla and anti? guerrilla activity which fell short of outright war with a view to strengthening our work in this area, with special attention to the lessons which can be learned from the recent events in Cuba. (Aguilar, p.1)
Three days after the defeat of the exile brigade, Radio Swan is still giving cryptic battle orders. As it becomes clear that the invasion has failed, broadcasts state that some members of the brigade have escaped and joined resistance groups within Cuba. As the CIA later reports, the station then ceases to overtly promote insurrection: Radio Swan then returned to a calm presentation of straight world news and over a period of one week changed from round?the?clock broadcasting to a normal schedule, avoiding all program content designed to incite the Cuban people. The producer of the consolidated program was instructed to present programs with a minimum of emotional content, but to continue the anti?Castro orientation through the selection of news items. (Wise and Ross, p.356; Taylor Report, Annex 2: CIA, Brief History of Radio Swan)
APR 23,1961: Fidel Castro responds to President Kennedy's statement of April 20 that "his patience is running out": "His patience is running out! And how much patience have we had to have to put up with economic aggression, economic blockade, suspension of [sugar] quota, air attack, mercenary attacks, bombardment of our towns, destruction of our mills, cane plantations, shops... simply because that government, an international bully, has taken on itself the right to murder, bomb, attack, prepare invasions. . ." (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón 180)
In a televised speech at the Popular University, Fidel Castro analyzes the reasons for the failure of the invasion: “We did not expect that they would send all their forces to one single point because even if that offered more immediate promise, nevertheless it risked a crushing and total defeat; whereas sending their forces to a number of different points would never have had the characteristic of a crushing defeat, but of many small defeats . . . and they would have been able to maintain the fiction that these groups were still struggling.” Castro goes on to state that information the Cuban government had received "that the last shipments of men and arms to Guatemala had arrived, that the enemy was moving, made us increase our vigilance . . . thinking that the moment of the enemy attack was close." (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón," 445?446)
Castro explains that prior to the invasion, Cuban leaders had feared that one of the first things to happen in the case of an invasion would be the attempt to destroy Cuba's small air force. So "orders were given to disperse the planes... Two planes could not be together, and all the planes, absolutely, had to be dispersed over a large area." In the April 15 attack, he explains, in the attack on Ciudad Libertad no functioning aircraft were destroyed, only some that were out of service; in San Antonio they destroyed a transport plane and a combat plane; and in Santiago de Cuba, where the field was smaller and there was less possibility of dispersion, they destroyed another combat plane, a Cubana plane, and other civil aircraft. (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón 451?452)
Following these attacks, Castro continues, "we were alert: we had adopted the practice of sleeping in the afternoon and not sleeping at night; we were waiting. . . We calculated that this was not a harassment attack, because such an attack would have been carried out against industrial targets to try to cause damage; this was an attack... with a military objective of destroying our planes. So we concluded that the attack was only hours away. What we didn't know till now was why they didn't invade the same day; why they attacked two days later, which from a military view point was an error, because it put the world on a state of alert; we were already on a state of alert, but we reinforced these measures. . . we mobilized all the combat units." (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón," 455)
Castro goes on to discuss the area the invasion took place: "We had considered, among the different landing points, that this zone [Bay of Pigs] was a possible landing point." This was an inhospitable area of impassable swamps where the people lived in wretched conditions prior to the revolution and no roads existed through the swamps. Since the revolution, Castro states, three roads across the swamps have been built, the coal miners now earn a decent living, and two hundred teachers were in the area at the time of the invasion carrying out the literacy campaign. "This gives an idea about the place that these people [the invading force and their backers] have chosen. And it is important, because it shows the imperialist mentality, the opposite of the revolutionary mentality. The imperialist looks to geography, analyzes the number of cannon, planes, tanks, positions; the revolutionary looks to the social composition, that is the people. The imperialist doesn't give a damn about how the people think or feel, they don't care; the revolutionary thinks first of the people, and the population of the Zapata Swamp was entirely with us." (Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón", 468?470)
APR 24, 1961: The White House issues a press statement stating that President Kennedy has stated from the beginning that as President he bears sole responsibility for the events of the past few days. (Johnson, p.220)
APR 26, 1961: In a four?hour television appearance with more than one thousand of the captured invading forces, Fidel Castro tells them: to execute you, which all our people would agree with, would only shrink our great victory. (Informe Especial: 1961)
APR 29, 1961: President Kennedy, Robert McNamara and Admiral Burke review a contingency plan on U.S. troop deployment to Cuba. The plan calls for an invasion force of 60,000 men and estimates that “complete control of the island could be obtained within eight days, although it was recognized that guerilla forces would continue to operate ...." Two days later, McNamara advises the Joint Chiefs that they should be prepared to implement this plan, but that it "should not be interpreted as an indication that U.S. military action against Cuba is probable." (McNamara, Cuban Contingency Plan, 5/1/61)
MAY 1961: Responding to a public offer by Fidel Castro to exchange the Bay of Pigs prisoners for farm machinery, President Kennedy begins making phone calls to form the Tractors for Freedom Committee. The Committee, made up of Milton Eisenhower, Walter Reuther, Joe Dodge, and chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt, is to privately attempt to raise the needed money to make the exchange for the prisoners. (Paterson, p.139)
MAY 2, 1961: Manuel Artíme Buesa, one of the leaders of Brigade 2506, is captured near the Covadonga central in the Zapata swamp with twenty?one other members of the exile force. (Informe Especial: 1961)
MAY 5, 1961: President Kennedy presides over a NSC meeting. Significant time is spent discussing post?Bay of Pigs policy. The NSC agrees that "U.S. policy toward Cuba should aim at the downfall of Castro… that the United States should not undertake military intervention in Cuba now, but should do nothing that would foreclose the possibility of military intervention in the future." The NSC also discusses a full U.S. trade embargo, organization of a multilateral trade embargo, and relations with the Cuban exiles. (483rd Meeting of NSC, Record of Action, 5/5/61)
MAY 8, 1961: Arthur Schlesinger sends a memorandum to the Political Warfare Subcommittee of the Cuban Task Force outlining the need to redefine the Cuba issue so as to garner national and international support for U.S. policy. He recommends a widespread public relations strategy targeting Europe, Asia, Africa, and the United States. (Schlesinger, Memorandum, 5/8/61)
MAY 11, 1961: The Taylor Committee in its initial report concludes that "a paramilitary operation of the magnitude of ZAPATA ... exceeded the organizational capacity of the CIA... and should have been transferred to the Department of Defense about November 1960. If the transfer of the operation was not approved, it should have been canceled." (Taylor Report, Appendix D, Study of the Anti?Castro Invasion (Zapata)
MAY 17, 1961: Speaking before a meeting of the National Association of Small Farmers, Fidel Castro states: "History recounts that on a certain occasion the Spanish people exchanged Napoleon’s soldiers against pigs. We, on this occasion, are going to be a little more delicate: we will exchange with imperialism the soldiers against tractors. All except those who have committed murder, we will exchange... against five hundred bulldozers." (Johnson, p.229)
MAY 18, 1961: Castro's soldiers inform the imprisoned members of Brigade 2506 that they are to be exchanged for tractors and instruct them to vote for representatives to go to the United States as a commission. The commission leaves for Miami the next day. (Johnson, pp.230?231)
MAY 20, 1961: The Tractors for Freedom Committee sends a telegram to Fidel Castro announcing its intention to raise funds for the release of the prisoners. It reads, "We make this proposal not as a response to a demand for political ransom, but out of common humanity." (Eisenhower, p. 275)
MAY 22, 1961: The Committee, made up of Eisenhower, Walter Reuther, Joe Dodge, and Eleanor Roosevelt, are briefed at a Washington hotel by White House aide Richard Goodwin on the extent of the government's involvement. They are assured that Treasury will arrange tax exemption on gifts; the government will arrange transportation for the prisoners, and that their efforts have the full approval of the government. (Eisenhower, p. 277)
A representative team of ten prisoners arrives at one o'clock and repeats Castro's offer to trade the 1214 prisoners for 500 "bulldozers." The Committee gives the prisoners a letter for Castro stating that they would raise funds for five hundred agricultural tractors on the condition that they receive a list of the prisoners for verification. (Eisenhower, pp. 277?278)
MAY 24, 1961: President Kennedy issues a statement that calls upon citizens to contribute funds but adds that "the United States government has not been and cannot be a party to these negotiations..." He adds that the government is "putting forward neither obstacles nor assistance to this wholly private effort." (Eisenhower, pg. 281)
LATE SPRING AND SUMMER, 1961: The CIA's inspector general at the time of the invasion, Lyman Kirkpatrick, conducts a postmortem of the operation and issues a highly critical report based on his findings. The report accuses Bissell and Barnes of "playing it by ear" by setting up an "anarchic and disorganized" command structure for the operation. Kirkpatrick characterizes the planning as "frenzied" and suggests that Bissell misled the president by failing to tell Kennedy that "success had become dubious." The report concludes that "plausible deniability had become a pathetic illusion."
Angered at the tone of the report, Bissell receives permission from the newly appointed CIA director John McCone to draft a rebuttal arguing that the operation would have worked if Kennedy had allowed the air strikes to go forward as planned. Later in his memoirs, however, Bissell explicitly reexamines the question of whether "we [would] have succeeded if the air strikes had not been cut back and the supply ships had not been sunk in the attack." His answer:
I believe that, even if the supply ships had been able to continue to resupply the brigade, the brigade might not necessarily have established and held the beachhead. Even in the best scenario, the air arm would have been stretched to the limits of its capabilities, and while there would have been no problem in purchasing more B?26 bombers to increase its strength, there were no additional qualified Cuban pilots to recruit. In the latter weeks of the operation it became clear that the only way to bolster the air force was to use U.S. volunteers, but doing so meant violating Kennedy's mandate against involving U.S. military personnel. The Kirkpatrick report "wounded me," Bissell writes in his memoirs. "A number of his critical comments were, or may have been, valid, but that didn't make them any more welcome to me ...."
JUN 1, 1961: The Tractors for Freedom Committee sends Castro a list of the agricultural equipment it will be willing to exchange for the Bay of Pigs prisoners and gives him until noon on June 7 to reply. The Committee offers to send one hundred agricultural tractors to Cuba provided Castro releases one?fifth of the prisoners. (Eisenhower, p.285)
JUN 6, 1961: Castro responds to the cable from the Committee. Insisting on "indemnification" for the invasion, and refusing to negotiate by cable, Castro suggests that either Eleanor Roosevelt or Milton Eisenhower meet with him in Havana. (Eisenhower, p.287)
JUN 13, 1961: General Taylor submits to President Kennedy the report of the Board of Inquiry. The Board's report summarizes the proximate cause of the failure of the invasion as a shortage of ammunition resulting from poor ammunition discipline by the invading forces, the loss of the freighters Rio Escondido and Houston, and the fact that all other ships in the landing area put to sea following the sinking of the freighters and so much of the supplies were not available while the fighting lasted. The Board finds that the causes of the ammunition shortage lay deeper in the plans and organization of this operation and the attitude toward it on the part of government officials.
Failure to destroy Castro's air force was due to restraints placed on the anti-Castro air force to protect the covert character of the operation. So only the 1326 was used as a combat aircraft because it had been widely distributed to foreign countries but it proved no match for the Cuban T?33. Prelanding strikes could only be flown from non?U.S. controlled airfields under the guise of coming from Cuban strips. It was not possible to use non? Cuban bases within easy reach of Cuba and the B?26s required nine hours to turn around for a second mission from Nicaragua. Prohibitions were placed on the use of American contract pilots and there were restrictions on the use of ammunitions, notably napalm. Finally, the Board finds the cancellation of air strikes at dawn on D?Day to be the most serious reason for the failure of the operation since it eliminated the last favorable opportunity to destroy the Castro air force on the ground. (Aguilar, pp.1?2, 36?38)
The Taylor Board of Inquiry concludes that: "A paramilitary operation of the magnitude of Zapata could not be prepared and conducted in such a way that all U.S. support of it and connection with it could be plausibly disclaimed... By about November 1960, the impossibility of running Zapata as a covert operation under CIA should have been recognized and the situation reviewed. If a reorientation of the operation had not been possible, the project should have been abandoned. However, the Board ends its assessment of the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion with the conclusion that the preparations and execution of paramilitary operations such as Zapata are a form of Cold War action in which the country must be prepared to engage. If it does so, it must engage in it with a maximum chance of success. Such operations should be planned and executed by a governmental mechanism capable of bringing into play, in addition to military and covert techniques, all other forces, political, economic, ideological, and intelligence, which can contribute to its success." (Aguilar, pp.40?43)
JUN 15, 1961: Agricultural experts representing the Tractors for Freedom Committee return from Havana with Castro's demand for $28 million in cash, credits, or tractors (in contrast to the initial offer for $3 million worth of tractors. The Committee refuses to meet his demands and is disbanded. (Eisenhower, p.295)
JUN 25?30, 1961: Following weeks of negotiations and political attacks against Kennedy for being willing to trade agricultural equipment for the release of the Cuban prisoners captured in the abortive invasion, the deal falls through and the private group, the Tractors for Freedom Committee (set up to plausibly deny official involvement in the exchange) is dissolved. (Johnson, pp.244?245)
JULY 8, 1961: The CIA disseminates a new covert plan to overthrow Castro. The plan is critiqued in a memo from Arthur Schlesinger to Richard Goodwin, who is serving as head of the Cuba Task Force. Schlesinger argues that the plan will "invest our resources in the people least capable of generating broad support within Cuba." He recommends that "you stop this paper in its present form and demand that it be recast to make political sense." (Schlesinger, Cuban Covert Plan, 7/8/61)
AUG 22, 1961: Richard Goodwin sends a memo to President Kennedy following a secret meeting with Che Guevara in Uruguay. Goodwin advocates enhanced economic sabotage and covert operations, stepped up propaganda, and quiet military pressure. He also suggests continuing the "below ground dialogue" he has started with Che, and a conscious effort not to appear obsessed with Castro: Pay little public attention to Cuba. Do not allow them to appear as the victims of U.S. aggression. Do not create the impression we are obsessed with Castro?an impression that only strengthens Castro's hand in Cuba and encourages anti-American and leftist forces in other countries to rally around the Cuban flag. (Goodwin, Memorandum for the President, 8/22/61)
NOV 1, 1961: Richard Goodwin sends a memo to President Kennedy supporting the concept of a "command operation" on Cuba, commanded by Attorney General Robert Kennedy. The reorganization of the "all?out attack on the Cuban problem, Goodwin writes, sets the stage for the decision to launch a new, multifaceted, set of anti?Castro activities, codenamed Operation Mongoose. "The beauty of such an operation over the next few months is that we cannot lose. If the best happens we will unseat Castro. If not, then at least we will emerge with a stronger underground, better propaganda and a far clearer idea of the dimensions of the problems which affect us." (Goodwin, Memorandum, 11/1/61)
NOV 4, 1961: A major new covert action program aimed at overthrowing the Cuban government is developed during a meeting at the White House. The new program, code named OPERATION MONGOOSE, is to be run by counterinsurgency specialist Edward G. Lansdale. A high?level inter?agency group, the Special Group?Augmented (SGA), is created with the sole purpose of overseeing OPERATION MONGOOSE. President Kennedy signs a memorandum formally establishing Mongoose on November 30. (The Cuba Project, 3/2/62)
NOV 30, 1961: A White House directive is distributed to key officials including Rusk, McCone, McNamara and others establishing a new top secret operation "to help Cuba overthrow the Communist regime."
DEC 1, 1961: Guidelines are drafted for Operation Mongoose which state that "high authority"?a reference to the President?has determined "that higher priority be given to Cuba, and that General Edward Lansdale, a counterinsurgency specialist, has been designated "Chief of Operations." Lansdale is tasked to develop a program to spark a revolution within Cuba. (Draft Guidelines, 12/1/61) .
Late 1961 or Early 1962: William K. Harvey is put in charge of Task Force W, the CIA unit for OPERATION MONGOOSE. Task Force W operates under guidance from the SGA and subsequently will involve approximately four hundred Americans at CIA headquarters and its Miami station, in addition to about two thousand Cubans, a private navy of speedboats, and an annual budget of some $50 million. Task Force W carries out a wide range of activities, mostly against Cuban ships and aircraft outside Cuba (and non?Cuban ships engaged in Cuban trade), such as contaminating shipments of sugar from Cuba and tampering with industrial products imported into the country. (Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders, 11/20/75, p. 140)
JAN 18, 1962: Edward Lansdale outlines "The Cuba Project," a program under OPERATION MONGOOSE aimed at the overthrow of the Castro government. Thirty-two planning tasks, ranging from sabotage actions to intelligence activities, are assigned to the agencies involved in MONGOOSE. The program is designed to develop a "strongly motivated political action movement" within Cuba capable of generating a revolt eventually leading to the downfall of the Castro government. Lansdale envisions that the United States will provide overt support in the final stages of an uprising, including, if necessary, using military force. (The Cuba Project, 1/18/62)
FEB 20, 1962: Edward Lansdale presents a six?phase schedule for OPERATION MONGOOSE designed to culminate in October 1962 with an "open revolt and overthrow of the Communist regime." The basic plan includes political, psychological, military, sabotage, and intelligence operations as well as proposed "attacks on the cadre of the regime, including key leaders." Lansdale notes that a "vital decision" has not yet been made regarding possible U.S. military actions in support of plans to overthrow Fidel Castro. (The Cuba Project, 2/20/62 62
FEB 26, 1962: At a meeting of the SGA, the scale of Lansdale's "Cuba Project" is sharply reduced, and Lansdale is directed to develop a detailed plan for an intelligence?gathering program only. On March 1, the SGA confirms that the immediate objective of the program would be intelligence collection and that all other actions would be inconspicuous and consistent with the U.S. overt policy of isolating Castro and neutralizing Cuban influence in the hemisphere.(Guidelines for OPERATION MONGOOSE 3/14/62)
MAR 14, 1962: Guidelines for OPERATION MONGOOSE are approved by the SGA Drafted by Maxwell Taylor, they note that the United States would attempt to "make maximum use of indigenous resources" in trying to overthrow Fidel Castro but recognize that "final success will require decisive U.S. military intervention." Indigenous resources would act to "prepare and justify this intervention, and thereafter to facilitate and support it." Kennedy is briefed on the guidelines on March 16. (Guidelines for OPERATION MONGOOSE, 3/14/62)
MID?JUNE, 1962: U.S. intelligence received reports that the Cuban people were about to revolt against the Castro government without any sponsorship by the United States. The Special Group?Augmented, upon learning of the reports, requests that studies be undertaken so the United States will be prepared for such a contingency. Edward Lansdale consequently directs General Benjamin Harris, the Defense Department and JCS representative to OPERATION MONGOOSE, to develop a contingency plan for such a situation. Harris' contingency plan, disseminated at the end of July, outlines a program whereby the United States might "support and sustain the rebellion in Cuba through all its resources including the use of U.S. military force." (Office of the Secretary of Defense, Memorandum for Special Group?Augmented, 7/31/62)
JUN 19, 1962: At the urging of Attorney General Robert Kennedy, the Cuban Families Committee asks attorney James B. Donovan to represent them in their efforts to secure the release of the Bay of Pigs Prisoners. The Committee is made up of parents, brothers and wives of prisoners taken during the invasion seeking their release. (James B. Donovan, "Chronology ?'The Bay of Pigs,"' James B. Donovan Papers)
JUL 3, 1962: James B. Donovan meets with Robert F. Kennedy and is assured that his efforts to secure the release of the Bay of Pigs prisoners is in the national interest and that any negotiation with Castro would not be in violation of the Logan Act. (James B. Donovan, "Chronology ?'The Bay of Pigs,"' James B. Donovan Papers)
JUL 25, 1962: Edward Lansdale offers the SGA an assessment of Phase I of OPERATION MONGOOSE. Some successes are reported, such as the infiltration of 11 CIA guerrilla teams into Cuba, including one team in Pinar del Rio that had grown to as many as 250 men. Nonetheless, Lansdale warns that "time is running out for the U.S. to make a free choice on Cuba." Lansdale outlines four different ways in which the United States could now proceed:
a. Cancel operational plans; treat Cuba as a Bloc nation, or
b. Exert all possible diplomatic, economic, psychological, and all other pressures to overthrow the Castro?Communist regime without overt employment of the U.S. military, or
c. Commit U.S. to help Cubans overthrow the Castro?Communist regime ...including the use of U.S. military force if required at the end, or
d. Use a provocation and overthrow the Castro?Communist regime by U.S. military force.
Following discussion in the SGA, President Kennedy directs the development of "option b" in National Security Action Memorandum 181, signed on August 23, 1962. (National Security Action Memorandum 181, on Actions and Studies in Response to New Soviet Bloc Activity in Cuba, 8/23/62; Office of the Secretary of Defense, Memorandum for Special Group?Augmented, 7/25/62)
AUG 10, 1962:
The SGA meets in Dean Rusk's office to decide on a course of action for
OPERATION MONGOOSE following the intelligence collection phase scheduled to
conclude in August. The SGA initially chooses a plan proposed by John McCone in
which limited actions, including economic sabotage, would be
AUG 20, 1962:
Maxwell Taylor, the chairman of the SGA, informs President Kennedy in a memo
that the SGA sees no likelihood that the Castro government can be overthrown
without direct U.S. military intervention. Taylor reports that the SGA
recommends a more aggressive OPERATION MONGOOSE program.
AUG 23, 1962: Kennedy's instructions are formalized in National Security Action Memorandum (NSAM) 181, issued that same day. Kennedy directs that several additional actions and studies to be undertaken "in light of the evidence of new bloc activity in Cuba." Papers are to consider the pros and cons of a statement warning against the deployment of any nuclear weapons in Cuba; the psychological, political, and military effect of such a deployment; and the military options that might be exercised by the United States to eliminate such a threat. In addition, Kennedy requests that the Defense Department investigate what actions could be taken to remove U.S. Jupiter nuclear missiles from Turkey. With regard to Mongoose, Kennedy orders that "Plan B Plus " a program aimed at overthrowing Castro without overtly employing the U.S. military be developed "with all possible speed” (National Security Action Memorandum 181, on Actions and Studies in Response to New Soviet Bloc Activity in Cuba, 8/23/62; Recollection of Intelligence Prior to the Discovery of Soviet Missiles and of Penkovsky Affair, n.d.; Chronology of John McCone's Suspicions on the Military Build?up in Cuba Prior to Kennedy's October 22 Speech, 11/30/62)
AUG 25, 1962: Fidel Castro sharply attacks the previous day's gunboat raid on Cuba in a formal protest to the United Nations, saying that Cuba held the United States responsible for the raid. U.S. officials deny involvement, and the U.S. Coast Guard pending and inquiry into possible violations of neutrality laws impound the two speedboats used in the attack. Although the CIA's Task Force W was behind several harassing attacks, U.S. officials apparently not directly sanctioned this particular raid. Nonetheless, the United States does allow the DRE to base itself in Florida, and the CIA had previously instructed the DRE in demolition techniques and had donated the speedboats used in the attack. (Memorandum to Robert McCloskey, 8/25/62; Memorandum from Permanent Mission of Cuba to United Nations, New York, 8/25/62)
AUG 30, 1962: In response to President Kennedy's decision to pursue an aggressive program of covert action to overthrow Fidel Castro, the CIA begins drawing up a list of sabotage targets in Cuba for the SGA. (Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders, 11/20/75, p. 147)
AUG 31, 1962: James B. Donovan meets for four hours with Castro in the Presidential Palace and details his proposal of medicine and baby foods but no cash or tractors.
SEP 1, 1962: Talks continue and Castro responds that the Cuban government has accepted the following proposals: payment of $2,925,000 in cash for 60 prisoners released 14 April 1962; and payments of indemnification of $25,000,000 worth of foods and medicines for the rest of the Brigade. Castro g says the Cuban government will prepare a list of products needed by Cuba. (James B. Donovan, "Chronology ?'The Bay of Pigs,"')
SEP 9, 1962: In an SGA meeting, the possibility of "attacking and harassing of Soviet personnel within Cuba" is raised. It is unclear what action, if any, is taken regarding the proposal. (Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders, 11/20/75, p. 147)
SEP 27, 1962: A CIA sabotage team is arrested in Cuba. Earlier in the month, the CIA had begun a new phase of Task Force W aimed at increasing the number of raids into Cuba. (Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign) Leaders, 11/20/75, p. 193?143)
OCT 4, 1962: The SGA meets to discuss the progress of OPERATION MONGOOSE. According to minutes of the meeting, Robert Kennedy states that the President was "concerned about progress on the MONGOOSE program" and believed that "more priority should be given to trying to mount sabotage operations." The attorney general also expresses the president's "concern over [the] developing situation," and urges that "massive activity" be undertaken within the MONGOOSE framework The group agrees that plans for the mining of Cuban harbors and for capturing Cuban forces for interrogation should be considered. (Memorandum Of MONGOOSE Meeting Held on Thursday, October 4, 1962, 10/4/62; Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders, 11/20/75, p. 147)
OCT 10, 1962: On his third trip to Havana, Donovan presents Castro with a memo of agreement stating that Castro will receive drugs at wholesale prices, baby food, banking arrangements to guarantee payment and an "act of faith delivery of 20% of goods before any prisoners are released. Castro objects to the offer on the grounds that, among other things, he wants an additional 35% taken off the drug prices and more than 20% payment before release. (Cuban Families Committee, Memorandum of Agreement, Havana, Cuba, October 1962)
OCT 15, 1962: The SGA orders the acceleration of covert activities against Cuba. In particular, the group agrees that "considerably more sabotage should be undertaken" and that "all efforts should be made to develop new and imaginative approaches with the possibility of getting rid of the Castro regime.” (Alleged Assassination Pots Involving Foreign Leaders, 1 /20/ 75, p. 147)
OCT 16, 1962: The SGA convenes in the White House prior to the second ExComm meeting. According to Richard Helms' notes, Robert Kennedy expresses President Kennedy's "general dissatisfaction" with progress under the MONGOOSE program. The PA discusses but rejects several alternatives for eliminating the newly discovered Soviet missile sites in Cuba, including a proposal to have Cuban émigrés bomb the missile sites. (Memorandum for the Record, MONGOOSE meeting with the Attorney General, 10/16/92)
OCT 25, 1962: A CIA sabotage team, dispatched to Cuba to destroy facilities at the Matahambre copper mine in Cuba (see entry for October 15, 1962), is prevented from executing the sabotage attack by Cuban authorities. (Garthoff, p. 78)
OCT 26, 1962: A paper reviewing OPERATION MONGOOSE in light of the missile crisis argued that a "sharp focus" on the purpose of Mongoose is necessary so that it could be determined whether U.S. assets should be committed "against the Communist regime immediately." (Operation Mongoose, 10/26/62)
OCT 30, 1962: All operations by Task Force W, the CIA’s action arm for Operation Mongoose activities, are called to an immediate halt. However during the crisis, Director of Task Force W. William Harvey orders teams of covert agents into Cuba to support any conventional U.S. military operation that might occur. At the end of October, a new mission is about to be dispatched. One of the operatives, concerned about a covert operation so soon after a settlement to the missile crisis has been reached, sends a message to Attorney General Robert Kennedy to verify that the mission is in order. Kennedy, angered to learn that CIA missions are continuing, chastises Harvey and asks CIA Director McCone to terminate the operations. Edward Lansdale is subsequently sent to Miami to oversee the end of MONGOOSE. However, three of ten scheduled six?man sabotage teams have already been dispatched to Cuba. On November 8, one of the teams carries out its assigned sabotage mission. (Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders, 11/20/75, pp. 147?48)
DEC 7 ?8, 1962: Robert Kennedy meets with the Pharmaceutical Association and members of the baby food industry to discuss the need for voluntary contributions. He emphasizes the "U.S. responsibility for the prisoners, their courage, the non?strategic value of drugs," and "assure[s1 them that [the] sight of returning prisoners would silence criticism." (James B. Donovan, " chronology 'The Bay of Pigs,"' James B. Donovan Papers)
DEC 21, 1962: James Donovan and Fidel Castro sign an agreement in which the Cuban Families Committee "agrees that it will ...supply the Government [Cuba] with medical and pharmaceutical supplies ...before July 1st. 1963", and in return "every effort humanly possible will be made [by both parties] to effect the exchange of the prisoners upon delivery of the first shipment..."
For its part, "the Government states its intention that the materials supplied under the agreement satisfy the indemnity fixed by the Revolutionary Tribunals which passed judgment,(sic) upon the happening of the Bay of Pigs." (Fidel Castro and James B. Donovan, Memorandum of Agreement, 12/21/62)
1962: Castro releases the Brigade prisoners of the Bay of Pigs invasion to the
United States and they arrive at =ad Air force base in Florida. He also allows
1000 relatives of the prisoners to leave by ship, the African Pilot, "as Xmas
bonus." Twenty-three United States citizens remain in prison in Cuba. Castro
says that, after 80% of shipments of $53 million in food and medicine arrive, he
will examine each case individually. (James B. Donovan, Chronology?'The Bay of
Pigs, James B. Donovan Papers)
Aguilar = Operation ZAPATA: The Ultrasensitive Report and Testimony of the Board of Inquiry on the Bay of Pigs, Introduction by Luis Aguilar, Aletheia Books, 1981.
Bissell = Richard Bissell, Reflections of a Cold Warrior, Yale University Press, Princeton, 1996.
Eisenhower = Milton Eisenhower. The Wine is Bitter: The US and Latin America. New York: Doubleday and Co., Inc., 1963.
Garthoff = Garthoff, Raymond L., Reflections on the Cuban Missile Crisis. 2nd ad. Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1989.
Gleijeses = Piero Gleijeses. "Ships in the Night: The CIA, the White House and the Bay of Pigs." Journal of Latin American Studies, Feb. 1995, pp. 1?42.
Hunt = Howard Hunt. Give Us This Day. New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House, 1973.
Informe Especial: 1960 and 1961 = Centro de Estudios Sobre America. "Crisis de Octubre: Cronologia." Informe Especial, 1960 and 1961.
Johnson = Haynes Johnson. The Bay of Pigs: The Leaders` Story of Brigade 2506. New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 1964.
Molina, "Diario de Girón = Gabriel Molina, "Diario de Girón?? Editora Politica,” La Habana, 1983.
NYT = New York Times
Penabaz = Manuel Penabaz. "We Were Betrayed: A Veteran of the Cuban Invasion Speaks Out." U.S. News and World Report, Jan. 14, 1963, pp. 46?49.
Jack Pfeiffer = Jack Pfeiffer. The Taylor Committee Investigation of the Bay of Pigs. November 9, 1984.
Phillips= David Atlee Phillips. The Night Watch. New York: Ballentine, 1977.
Paterson = Thomas Paterson, Contesting Castro, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1994
Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón?? = Quintin Pino Machado, "La Batalla de Girón?? Razones de una Victoria," Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, La Habana, 1983.
"Playa Girón Primer Tomo = "Playa Girón Derrota del imperialismo," first of four volumes, Ediciones R, La Habana, 1961.
Ranelagh = John Ranelagh. The Agency: The Rise and Decline of the CIA. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987.
Rules of Engagement = U.S. Navy. Memorandum for Record. Rules of Engagement Operations Bumpy Road. pp. 1?4. Annex 29 of Taylor Committee documents, n.d.
Schlesinger = Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy and the White House. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965.
Sequence of Events, 5/3/61 = CIA. Sequence of Events (D?2 to D+2) and Organization and Operation of Command Post. Annex 22 of Taylor Committee documents, 3 May 1961, pp. 1?11 and maps.
Soley and Nichols = Lawrence C. Soley and John S. Nichols. Clandestine Radio Broadcasting: A Study. of.. Revolutionary., and Counterrevolutionary Electronic Communication. New York: Praeger, 1987.
Szulc = Tad Szulc. Fidel: A Critical Portrait. New York: Avon Books, 1986.
Taylor Board, First Meeting, 4/22/61 = First Meeting of General Maxwell Taylor's Board of Inquiry on Cuban Operations Conducted by CIA. 1400?1800 hours, 22 April 1961, Quarters Eye.
Taylor Report = General Maxwell B. Taylor, Paramilitary Study Group Report, June 13, 1961.
Thomas = Evan Thomas. The Very Best Men: The Early Years of the CIA. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995.
Wise and Ross = David Wise and Thomas B. Ross. The Invisible Government. New York: Random House, 1964.
Wyden = Peter Wyden. Bay of Pigs: The Untold Story. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979.