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March 1961 (two documents)

Translation from Spanish of a Memorandum by Dr. Luis Aguilar Leon

[Reference: Dade County OCB file #153-D]

DATE: March 9, 1961

TO:  THOMAS J. KELLY, Metropolitan Sheriff

FROM: LT. FRANK KAPPEL, Supervisor, Criminal Intelligence

                      ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Recent developments in the Cuban situation involving the anti-Castro factions have prompted this Unit to investigate certain rumors which could, if allowed to circulate, develop into a crisis with catastrophic effects for the U.S. position in Latin America.

The origin of these assertions is multiple and stems from the not so secret struggle for power among the anti-Castro groups closely connected with the Frente Revolucionario Democratico.

It is also evident that the preparations for the ultimate effort to overthrow the CASTRO regime have reached the final stages.  The only obstacle to this is the continuous bickering of the groups over ideological and political trivialities.

The main reason for this dissension is the formation of the provisional government which will have to take actual possession of part of the Cuban territory in order to gain support and recognition from other governments.  Several Latin American countries which have broken diplomatic relations with CASTRO'S Cuba are willing to recognize a provisional government opposed to CASTRO.  Nationalist China has agreed in principle to do the same.

At present there are only three organizations which have enough support both in exile and in Cuba to make their weight felt in the negotiations that have been taking place in New York and Washington during the past week.  The Frente Revolucionario Democratico, M.R.P. and the 30th of November Movement are the three organizations which sent representatives to a preliminary meeting that took place in Washington on March 4, 1961.

The Frente Revolucionario Democratico is by far the best organized, with an army, estimated to be 5,000 strong, trained in guerrilla warfare.  This organization is formed by six anti-Castro groups and has received sanction and financial backing from the U.S. Government since its conception.

The power behind the scenes in this political crisis is a C.I.A. agent known to the majority of the Cubans as Mr. B., an abbreviation of his name FRANK BENDER.

It is the consensus of every leader connected with the counter-revolutionary activities that Mr. BENDER is the only policy making contact they have with the Central Intelligence Agency.  Information received from responsible leaders revealed that Mr. BENDER is a highly qualified expert who is considered to have been responsible for the reorganization of West Germany and the consequent strengthening of German-American relations.  After this successful mission, Mr. BENDER was transferred to Formosa where he helped reorganize Chiang Kai-Shek's government and army.

In June 1960, Mr. BENDER undertook the task of binding together a few of the most eligible anti-CASTRO groups into an organization that could not only oppose CASTRO politically, but count on a strong nucleus of trained guerrillas for active opposition and sabotage.

On June 22, 1960 five groups, after a conference in Mexico City, formed the F.R.D.  Immediately afterward, Mr. BENDER met with representatives of the Frente in New York to formulate plans for military training.

Mr. BENDER, according to the Cuban sources, has a flair for cloak and dagger meetings when dealing with emissaries from the Frente.  Mexico City was selected on purpose to avoid drawing attention and consequent denunciations from the CASTRO regime.

One of the Frente emissaries revealed that at the initial meeting for the formulation of military plans, Mr. BENDER introduced himself as an industrialist from Pittsburgh.  The emissary had many contacts in that particular city and was able to ascertain that Mr. BENDER had no connections whatsoever with the firm he claimed to represent.  This is of course raised doubts as to Mr. B.'s intentions and also irked the representative who felt somewhat slighted by this approach.

Other sources have criticized Mr. BENDER's furtive ways of calling for meetings in motels and other places that, although safe security-wise, appear unsuitable to the dignity of the Cubans.

It is evident that Mr. BENDER has not yet mastered the complicated Latin mind and often irks the Cubans with his no-nonsense attitude apparently acquired from his experiences in West Germany.  Most Cubans agree though, that Mr. BENDER has been able, with the help of military experts, to create one of the best trained guerrilla contingents in the world.

In order to achieve this, Mr. BENDER and his assistant Mr. [E  Howard] HUNT, have isolated the troops from their leaders, who, in theory, were to assume command after the training had been completed.  The Frente had selected COL. EDUARDO MARTIN ELENA as military coordinator for the volunteers who were recruited in Miami and then sent to the training camps in the mountains of Guatemala.  COL. HAWKINS and a nucleus of U.S. Officers and Non-Coms were in charge of training in the F.R.D. camps.

Most of the responsible leaders of the F.R.D. agree that the military figures selected to command the troops lack fighting experience and are unsuitable for effective leadership in the field.  On the other hand, they emphasize the necessity of Cuban leadership for morale purposes, which is said o have suffered lately because of the aforementioned situation.

It has been learned that a request by the six leaders of the Frente to spend Christmas with the troops in the training camps was turned down with a flimsy excuse.  This request was made on December 22, 1960 and was vetoed by Mr. BENDER who stated that the means of transportation were not adequate, meaning that the aircraft to be used was not safe.  The Cubans took this for what it was meant to be: an attempt to keep the political branch away from the troops.

The troops had been carefully screened to prevent infiltration of Castro agents on one hand and individuals deeply involved with the BATISTA regime on the other.  The location of the camps has been a closely guarded secret with only a recent disclosure of the whereabouts of the depot located near the Pacific Coast of Guatemala.  Both the number of camps and men are a matter of speculation among Cubans because no one is allowed to leave the training camps after arrival.

The efforts to keep the Army away from the aspirations of the political leaders created a vacuum between the Cuban military command based in Miami and the troops in training in the Guatemalan mountains.  The situation deteriorated toward the end of January when COL. MARTIN ELENA and his staff resigned in protest.

The only leader who had free access to the camps was MANUEL ARTIME BUESA [photo left] of the M.R.R. who stayed for considerable time among the troops.  This favoritism aroused considerable resentment among the other leaders of the Frente who accused ARTIME of trying to captivate Mr. BENDER's favors.

A hastily arranged visit to the camps permitted the Frente leaders to have a brief contact with the troops due to the impatience that had develop after their training had been completed.  The visit received wide publicity and a number of photographs taken in the camps were released to the press.

On January 25, 1961 Mr. BENDER called for an executive meeting to be held at his residence at 8:00 PM.  All the Frente leaders had been invited as this was to be decisive meeting.

At 8:00 PM, DR. MANUEL A. DE VARONA [photo left] of the Rescate Revolucionario Democratico, DR. MANUEL ARTIME BUESA of the Movement of Revolutionary Recovery, DR. JUSTO CARRILLO of the Agrupacion Montecristi and RICARDO R. SARDINA of the Sugar Growers Association, arrived at Mr. BENDER's residence and learned from DR. ARTIME that the meeting had been canceled.  DR. ARTIME revealed that he had the key to the apartment and the four decided to hold the meeting just the same.

At 9:00 PM DR. JOSE RASCO [photo left] of the Christian Democratic Movement appeared and stated that he had been invited to a meeting for 9:00 PM.  The difference in time surprised those present who received a greater surprise when at 10:00 PM MANUEL COVO, leader of A.A.A. arrived and revealed that Mr. BENDER had invited him for that exact time.

This schedule left the Cubans baffled and they concluded that Mr. BENDER intended to play one against the other for reasons unknown.

The morale of the Cuban leaders and, consequently, that of most other Cubans involved in the struggle to overthrow Castro, has suffered considerably because of the lack of comprehension, mistrust and disregard for national pride on the part of the American agents in charge of this operation.

The prevalent feeling among Cubans is that the United States wants to eliminate Castro because of the threat he poses to the Western Hemisphere but does not give the impression that it is willing to correct the mistakes which helped bring Castro to power.  They add that they are grateful for the material and financial help received but they also believe that they are entitled to a greater participation in the policy-making stages of the operations.  While Mr. BENDER's intentions are considered above-board his attitude towards the Cubans draws nothing but criticism.  The main reason for the criticism stems from the fact that most of Mr. BENDER's actions are guided by personal preferences and frequent allusions to the economic help he is granting the Cuban revolutionaries.  A statement to that effect has been made by Mr. BENDER to DR. LUIS AGUILAR LEON during an interview that took place last summer.

According to AGUILAR's signed statements, Mr. BENDER's reply to a request for arms aid an economic help to support the underground forces of his movement was almost cynical.  Mr. BENDER is quoted as saying, "I can disband the Frente in ten minutes, all I have to do is withdraw my checkbook".  This was to emphasize that only the Frente was the recipient of direct economic aid while all other anti-Castro groups would receive moral support, encouragement, and some arms if and when his military advisors approved the destination and reception.  (Attached is a translation of AGUILAR LEON's statement.)

Mr. BENDER's attitude has prompted most Cubans who come in contact with him to refer to him as the "Proconsul".  Another cause for friction and consequent disillusionment is a singular arrangement, devised by Mr. BENDER's advisers, to man the vessels that supply the underground forces in Cuba.  During an interview with the Chief of Naval Operations of the Cuban Navy in exile, COMMANDER RENATO DIAZ, the writer has learned that the morale of the Cuban crews that man the supply vessels in at a low ebb.

According to COMMANDER DIAZ, the U.S. agents in charge of the operation have put the Cuban officers and men under the command of mercenary captains contracted on a yearly basis of $20,000.00.  The captains are foreign nationals and consider themselves as domesticated pirates in contrast to the Cubans who view the operation as a sacred mission to liberate their country from a tyrant.

In addition the captains bypass the Cuban executive officers when they come in contact with the non-Cuban personnel working on the vessels.  A segregated mess exists for the Cuban crew while the non-Cuban crew members eat in the officers mess.

COMMANDER DIAZ cited an incident that occurred very recently when a non-Cuban crew member pushed aside the Cuban cook who, on orders from the captain, refused to allow the crewman to help himself to a beer.  According to COMMANDER DIAZ no disciplinary action was taken against the crewmen.

A recent decision to open a recruiting office for additional volunteers has created alarm and resentment among most Cubans who are concerned with the repercussions that such a decision can have inside Cuba.

Towards the end of February a C.I.A. - sponsored recruiting office opened at 1045 S.W. 27th Avenue and was staffed with individuals of dubious morality and character.  The person in charge of the office is ROBERTO CARDENAS, former commander of the military airport in Camaguey under HUBERT [Huber] MATOS.  CARDENAS left Camaguey after MATOS' arrest and asked for political asylum in the United States.  At his arrival he alleged that he knew the circumstances of CAMILO CIENFUEGO's assassination but he offered no corroborating evidence to support his allegations.

CARDENAS employs DR. ANTONIO LAMAS as medical examiner for the recruits, who are required to pass a physical examination prior to being accepted.  DR. LAMAS is married to the daughter of FULGENCIO BATISTA and was rewarded by BATISTA with the directorship of the Insane Asylum of Havana.

Among CARDENAS' close associations is HUMBERTO TRUEBA former mayor of San Cristobal and reputed to be a Castro spy.  TRUEBA's name appeared on a list containing the names of Castro agents operating in Miami.  This list was allegedly stolen from the Cuban Consulate last October.

TRUEBA participated in the leaflet-dropping incident which took place in Aruba, Netherlands W. Indies in November 1959.  TRUEBA has been a TRUJILLO agent in Miami and although he denied any participation in the leaflet-dropping meant for MARACAIBO, VENEZUELA, the writer found an original copy of the leaflet signed by TRUEBA among papers seized from Chafardet URBINA. CHAFARDET URBINA was a Venezuelan agent working for TRUJILLO. (See cases #56442-B, 12-3-59 and #17374-C, 3-30-60.)

Among the recruits who reached the training depot were the vitriolic editor of ROLANDO MASFERRER's newspaper, CEFERINO PEREZ CARRIL and CANDIDO MORA, a BATISTA henchman accused of the murder of his own brother.

Such was the outcry raised by responsible Cubans that the office had to suspend operations for a few days after Under-Secretary MORALES CARRION was contacted by telephone.  The recruiting has resumed and individuals like SILITO TABERNILLA, [Esteban] VENTURA, [Rolando] MASFERRER et al have applied for enlistment.  It is easy to imagine the anti-American propaganda barrage that FIDEL CASTRO will unleash against the United States in general and the Frente in particular when his agents furnish him with the available information.

The mention of the names of TABERNILLA, VENTURA, AND MASFERRER as members of a liberating army would be sufficient to send back to the Castro ranks many a defector.

At this point, it will be necessary to emphasize that this report is the product of several interviews with highly placed members of the Frente including most of the leaders and represents their views.  For obvious reasons the writer has not attempted to contact the U.S. agency involved.

It would also be necessary to emphasize that this report is the product of several interviews with highly placed members of the Frente including most of the leaders and represents their views.  For obvious reasons the writer has not attempted to contact the U.S. agency involved.

It would also be necessary to emphasize the gravity of the situation and the future repercussions that this state of affairs can create both in Cuba and Latin America.

FIDEL CASTRO's anti-American propaganda has made deep inroads in the minds of Latin Americans.  Propaganda tours have been arranged to correct this situation but it is evident that such propaganda has to be conducted by Latins who have easier access to the minds of their compatriots.  At present the majority of Cubans eligible to help in this important campaign feel very disillusioned if not angry toward the United States because they believe they are being exploited in their plea to free their country from the tyranny of FIDEL CASTRO.

Respectfully submitted,

Intelligence Agent

LT. FRANK KAPPEL, Supervisor
Criminal Intelligence

[document 2]


Every time that there was an attempt to talk or plan the unity, the biggest worry of every representative of the groups has been the personal position of every one of them, the possibilities that the unity would open to their aspiration and the bigger or smaller remuneration's and side benefits that they could obtain.  In addition, there is total absence of political vision.  Representatives of the groups in exile who should support and present the forces that fight in Cuba have managed to become directors and guides of those who daily risk everything in the fight against Communism.  From there they have adopted false positions of leaders that do not exist outside the newspapers of Miami or plans for the future which do not include the true voice of the popular aspirations and last, there has been without doubt, a weakness in regard to the promises or the reality of economical help from the U.S.  This help which was to be destined to strengthen and enlarge an apparatus of fight, political and military, has been converted in arbiter of disputes, in monopoly of wealth in lieu of aspirations.  Many a fighting group has been threatened openly to be left outside of the American help if it did not accept this or that point.  And many worthy professional man has silenced his criticism and censure for fear that his opinion would cause the cessation of this help.  In reality, there were cases like Anit VILLAREAL who was fired from the offices of the Frente and left without any means of livelihood because she happened to disagree with the policies of the movement to whom she belonged.

The fault of the Americans: Speaking of Americans, I have to clarify immediately that I refer to those in charge of the Cuban situation - specifically, Mr. Frank BENDER and his minor associates in Miami, like Mr. [Bernard] BARKER.  It is the personal opinion of the writer that the personal intervention of Mr. BENDER in the conflict of the groups in exile has been the cause of major dissension's and it has caused conflicts, delays and obstacles that a serene and impartial performance would have avoided.  Far from utilizing his privileged position of donor of material, of economic subsistence to unite and enlarge anti-CASTRO forces, Mr. BENDER almost from the beginning, decided on a policy of preferences through a system of not listening to anyone else except those who for some reason he conceded his preference by a method of supporting some against others or of encouraging those more than these.  The result of this erratic and incomprehensible policy in a problem as serious as that of Cuba is well described in the picture of the exiles in the first section of this report.  Not even Mr.  BENDER's personal work, the instrument created by him and through his mediation the organism which has received the entire support and the backing of the powerful forces which Mr. BENDER represents has succeeded, after nine months of existence, according to the DIARIO DE LA MARINA last week, "Unite all the Cubans against their own will".  In the so-called "Frente Democratico Revolucionario", the crises have followed upon crises.  The defections have disturbed them.  The public arguments have reduced it and nothing positive has been done so far as politics, ideology, propaganda or unity, without mentioning military force, about which we will speak later.

Notes Concerning Mr. BENDER: What I have said above regarding Frank BENDER implies an indictment that deserves to be clarified.  Let's begin by saying that we consider just as responsible for the errors and mistakes made by BENDER those who accorded to just one man the destiny of the Cuban case, turning him automatically into a supreme force and dreamier of all problems.  Having said this , let us go on to express some personal of all problems.  Having said this, let us go on to express some personal experiences which need to sustain my thesis concerning Mr. Frank BENDER's actions.

In July 1960, the exile situation was very different.  The Frente Revolucionario Democratico had just been constituted and there were hardly any persons or revolutionary organizations which were not within it, or which, at least, did not expect to enter at the proper moment.  The "Frente" had announced that it was constituted by a group intended to integrate all the forces that opposed Fidel CASTRO.  Within the Frente, the organization which appeared to be more powerful because of its nucleus of young fighters having come from the rebel army itself was the Movimiento de Recuperacion Revolucionaria.  In that same month of July, in an absurd and incomprehensible form, the MRR entered into a crisis.  Its delegate at the front, Manuel ARTIME BUESA, decided to constitute his own organization and expel the other three members of the executive committee, the three commanders who had founded the Movimiento.  In view of the planed crisis, BENDER was consulted and he recommended that nothing be done, that no public declaration be formulated, and that he would take care of the ARTIME situation.  On July 25, 1960, ARTIME made a public statement revealing the expulsion of the three commanders and setting himself up in a separate movement.  In trying to speak with BENDER to find out why ARTIME was permitted to express his version of the situation,  BENDER said that it was a question of supporting ARTIME and leaving to Commandante LORIE.  These were his words to Commander Antonio Michel YABOR, and when the latter reasoned that the movement was weakened, that the cause against Fidel CASTRO was going to suffer a blow, that there was no moral or principle for the expulsion of a companion like Comandante LORIE, Mr. BENDER only replied, "In matters of politics, there is no moral".  The result of Mr. BENDER's intervention far from being conciliatory, far from attempting to avoid the breakup of the Frente caused quite the contrary.  Mr. BENDER encouraged ARTIME in his attitude.  He tried to split up even more the component of the MRR and succeeded in separating from the Frente a strong group of fighters against Fidel CASTRO who would fight on their own.  This action was backed simply by his personnel in Miami, especially Mr. BARKER, about whom exists a declaration in the MRR files signed by the person to whom Mr. BARKER tried to employ for, according to his own phraseology, "the destruction of commanders Antonio MICHEL and Nino DIAZ [HIGINIO "Nino"DIAZ ANE].  Since then, and now I speak only by references made, Mr. BENDER's partiality for Mr. ARTIME, his refusal to receive or hear the reasons of other revolutionary groups which were becoming cohesive in exile, his imposition of the Frente at all costs and without alternative, his lack of political sense in hampering the Frente, are well known by all those in exile.  Three months after the division of the MRR, Dr. Aureliano SANCHEZ ARANGO withdrew from the Frente Democratico Revolucionario.  After this, the door was closed to the group of Manolo RAY, important persons of political prestige who might have strengthened the standing of the organism were blackballed and lastly a month ago within the Frente itself there has been a new division represented on one side by a group calling themselves Grupo Generacional and on the other side by Dr. Antonio de VARONA and Dr. Justo CARRILLO.  The public argument, harsh and bitter, has reduced even more, the prestige of the Frente as an organism spearheading the fight against Communism.  In the meantime, we had an interview with Mr. BENDER.  The only thing that the MRR asked was armed aid and some economic backing destined only and exclusively for sending money to Cuba to fully support our clandestine apparatus to maintain here the necessary personnel for communications and arms shipments.  Mr. BENDER's reply was clear - his economic aid was exclusively for the Frente ("I can disband the Frente in 10 minutes - all I need is to withdraw my checkbook" were his words.)  For the others, encouragement, moral support, friendship and some arms were available only if his military advisors approved the destination and reception of said arms.  In his words, the MRR, the Ray Movement and those others outside the Frente would have to operate on their own and without help.  Unfortunately, we were unable to convince Mr. BENDER nor were we able to have a valid explanation from him as to why a group, whose only fault was trying with all its might to fight the communist tyranny of Fidel CASTRO, was being abandoned and weakened.  The separation of Commander Nino DIAZ [HIGINIO "Nino"DIAZ ANE] of the MRR was also encouraged and fomented by Mr. BENDER's assistants, especially Mr. BARKER, who according to Commandante DIAZ, made him promises and offers to reach certain positions or commands which would permit him to take the war to Cuba as was his wish.

The Military Apparatus: In the military aspect, one of the most fundamentals in the fight against Fidel CASTRO, not only identical but even greater errors have been committed.  On the one hand, Mr. BENDER has constantly affirmed that the military instrument did not depend on the Frente, that the Frente did not mean, nor was it necessarily, the future provisional government, and on the other that all the declarations made by the components of the Frente, all its political projections contradicted these affirmations and permitted the support of the thesis that those who were going to fight and train in the camp would do so in order to establish a provisional government integrated by the directors of the Frente, which prospect was certainly not very encouraging to many Cubans.  To this is added the news that in some camps the doors have been opened to certain figures of the past regime who distinguished themselves by their criminal "exploits" against those who fought BATISTA.  Naturally, this has also lessened the enthusiasm for fighting by many compatriots.  The general staff of this army, whose names would throw some light upon the intentions of the military apparatus to be formed, remain a mystery.  By such action, the only thing that has been accomplished is that within and outside of Cuba, all kinds of rumors are being circulated about whom these military figures are who will be charged to carry out the invasion plan, and generally these rumors, encouraged by Fidel CASTRO propaganda, have depicted an armed body charged more in punishing and avenging the Fidelistas and the patriots than in carrying democracy and justice to Cuba.  The maneuvers, the conspiracies and the intrigue within the Frente necessarily were reflected in the camps.  We know for a fact that some four weeks ago, several boys who escaped from the camps in order to bring to the Frente direct information about the arbitrariness and the attempts at control which had developed in their own camp.  I do not think it necessary to go further into this matter in order to demonstrate the nefarious effect which such news has produced in all sections.  That which appears even more serious is that said boys who brought this information said they had proof that some of the leaders of the Frente itself had much to do with the conspiracies in the camp.

Conclusion: This is the ominous picture of the Cuban groups in exile.  The lack of patriotism, the personal ambitions and the nefarious influence of Mr. BENDER, have given Fidel CASTRO the time necessary to increase his strength and propaganda.  Far from creating a united front, far from uniting coherently the various groups, big or small, that have something to bring to the fight, was the policy followed was that of choosing a small handful and then trying to impose them at all costs.  Not even the publication and formulation of a program of objectives has been made, one that could put a stop to CASTRO's claim that those who were against him are only interested in bringing back the past.  This report has been compiled with the intention of bringing to the attention of whomever might be interested, the urgency and desperate necessity to bring forth a policy of high ideals destined to fight CASTRO on all fronts and to show new ways for Latin America, confused and weakened by the formidable propaganda of the Communists and for the absence of an ideology, firm and clean, that could attack Communism not only in the defensive but in a vigorous offensive of material and spiritual values.


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