03/04/13 - Cuba-L Document (Albuquerque) - National Security Archives Chronology of January to early March 1960*
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, 1960: 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)
Source: The National Security Arvhies, Bay of pigs: Forty years After - Chronology.
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