CUBAN INFORMATION ARCHIVES




DOCUMENT  0041


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BOP INVASION
FIRST HAND ACCOUNT
MAY 1961


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


CI 153-D
DATE: May 29, 1961

TO:  THOMAS J. KELLY, Metropolitan Sheriff

FROM: LT. FRANK KAPPEL, Supervisor, Criminal Intelligence

SUBJECT: CUBAN COUNTER-REVOLUTIONARY ACTIVITIES -
                  Additional Information - ULISES CARBO

Reference is made to the report under the same case number dated May 21, 1961 in which the initial contact with the delegation of ten Cuban prisoners was related.  The prisoners arrived in Miami on May 20, 1961 to negotiate an offer made by FIDEL CASTRO to exchange the captured invaders of Bahia de Cochinos for 500 tractors.

The leader of the group, ULISES CARBO, a personal acquaintance of the writer, related several episodes of the invasion in addition to information concerning the treatment of the captives by the Communist regime of Cuba.

ULISES CARBO was aboard the transport "Houston" when the invasion force sailed from Puerto Cabezas toward the Bahia de Cochinos landing beaches.  Just prior to departure, the ranking officers aboard the transport had a strong argument with a C.I.A. agent known as "Jerry" about the feasibility and need for anti aircraft protection.  As a result, eight .50 caliber machine guns were installed on the "Houston".  The "Houston" was the slowest vessel in the convoy, her speed being only eight knots.  This caused an earlier departure from Puerto Cabezas and by consequence a longer stay at sea.

The "Houston" was carried two battalions plus fuel and ammunition.  The troops were supposed to be transferred to waiting L.C.I.'s which, in turn, would land them to the selected beach.

When the transport reached the rendezvous point at the inner tip of the Bay of Cochinos, the L.C.I.'s failed to materialize and consequently t he troops had to be landed by outboard launches which were to be used only for beach patrol duty.

At approximately 2 a.m. when the "Houston" approached the objective, it became necessary to lower the patrol launches and lifeboats to land the troops.  In contrast with orders of strict silence to be observed by the troops, the lowering of the boats was a noisy operation.  It is the opinion of CARBO that the militiamen ashore were alerted by the noise of the steam operated davits when they put the small boats overboard.  CARBO related an incident of a man who dropped a clip on deck and was immediately placed under arrest while almost immediately afterwards, the noisy davits were put in operation.

As a consequence of the lack of appropriate landing means, the disembarking of the personnel, which was originally planned to take only one and one and a half hours, took such a long time to accomplish, that at daylight only half of the personnel had reached shore.

With daylight the "Houston" came under constant attack by enemy aircraft.  As a consequence all landing operations had to be halted after an attempt to land a party of eight men ended with the death of five as the strafing aircraft singled the small craft for target.

The "Houston" was escorted by the "Barbara J" which, according to CARBO, had four United States officers aboard.  These officers were observed manning the anti aircraft guns of the vessel and drew the admiration of the Cubans for their courage.

At approximately 8:00 a.m., a Seafury launched two rockets against the "Houston" that completely disabled the transport which had already suffered damages in the ruder during a previous attack.  Since there was no possibility of repairing the two large holes amidships produced by the rockets, Captain LUIS MORSE DELGADO decided to proceed toward land and beach the ship.

ULISES CARBO related an incident that left him and his companions astonished and bitter at the unaccountable behavior of the crew of the "Barbara J"

When the "Houston" was disabled by the direct hit several men jumped overboard an began swimming toward the "Barbara J" which was standing by.

For some unexplainable reason the "Barbara J" instead of picking up the survivors, revved up her engines and began moving toward the opposite direction.  This action caused such a resentment among the men left on the "Houston" that they opened fire against the "Barbara J".

CARBO added that when the transport ran around approximately 800 meters ( mile) from shore, it had just reached the limit of its endurance because it sank with only a few feet of superstructure remaining above water.  Through the hole on her side, the "Houston" lost a large quantity of oil which rendered more difficult the evacuation of the ship.

The two lifeboats, capable of carrying 30 men each, were used to land the non swimmers, while the personnel capable of swimming, covered the distance as best as it could under constant strafing by the CASTRO aircraft.

ULISES CARBO revealed that he had to shed his boots and pants to facilitate his movements and thus he reached shore in his underwear.

From the time he landed until captured ten days later, ULISES CARBO had very little to eat and drink with the exception of grub worms, crabs, and roots all eaten raw to prevent detention.

CARBO related that the morale of the invaders was very high and, contrary to CASTRO'S claims, several hundred militiamen surrendered during the initial phases of the invasion.

Episodes of heroism were common but in some instances, there were acts that were outstanding.  According to CARBO, a tank manned by the invaders engaged in combat with a Stalin-type enemy tank.  When its ammunition was exhausted, it charged against its opponent and pushed it out of the road into the swamp where it sank in the mud.

On another instance, 17 men with a few bazookas and two mortars placed on the highway linking San Blas to the interior held at bay an estimated five to six thousand militiamen for two days.

CARBO also related that one of the high ranking officers committed an act of cowardice that earned him the name of "Sabana blanca" (white sheet) because he was one of the first to surrender and used a white sheet to attract attention.  CARBO did not reveal his name.

CARBO revealed that during the peak of the air attacks, he overheard the frantic appeals for air support by the Captain of the United States D.D. "Santiago". In one of the verbal exchanges the Captain is desperation exclaimed, "The State Department is full of shit".  When the Captain of a nearby carrier replied that he could not order his plane to support the desperate invaders because of express orders from the Department of State.

CARBO added that United States planes were observed flying overhead at a high altitude towards the end of the first day and observed a delta wing-type aircraft peel off from a group of three and open fire on some distant objective.  This is the only alleged intervention by a United States aircraft reported so far by participants in the invasion.

CARBO stated that the invaders managed to penetrate as far as 30 miles inland but after the second day the lack of ammunition and food became so acute that there was no other alternative but to surrender or try to escape towards the Escambray Mountains.

The CASTRO forces, which towards the end of the fighting had reached an estimated strength of 61,000, began gaining terrain only after the third day and after the ammunition had been exhausted.

The writer was able to establish, after a perusal of a Cuban magazine relating the CASTRO version of the operations, that only a dozen of mortar shells were captured with the equipment which appeared in photographs published by the magazine.

CARBO revealed that he received fair treatment at the hands of his captors and added that during his meanderings in the swamps, he and three companions came in contact with several patrols of militiamen.  Although the enemy was superior in number and armament, it was also very restive in engaging the small haggard group armed with only a .30 caliber machine gun and three belts of ammunition.

The group of prisoners arrived in Miami related an episode of genocide perpetrated by the CASTRO forces that equals in cruelty similar acts performed by Nazi exterminators during World War II.

A group of the first prisoners to be captured, totaling 152 was packed in a refrigerator trailer for the trip to Havana.  There was no ventilation in the insulated van and soon the heat and the lack of air rendered the situation unbearable.  One of the prisoners managed to open a hole with the aid of a crucifix allowing thus a small group to take turns in breathing fresh air.  No amount of pounding on the sides of the van resulted in improving the captive's conditions since they were escorted by a hardened communist, Captain OSMANI CIENFUEGOS, Minister of Public Works and brother of CAMILO CIENFUEGOS who disappeared on October 28, 1959, allegedly killed on CASTRO'S orders.

At the end of the 90 mile trip, nine prisoners were found dead by asphyxiation.  Five of them were identified as follows: RENE SILVA, PEPE MILLAN, PEPE VILLARELLO, CUCO CERVANTES, and JOSE IGNACIO MACIA.  RENE SILVA is a cousin of ULISES CARBO who asked that this incident be kept from the press until the negotiations for the tractors were ended.

CARBO revealed that he underwent a 4 hour interrogation by FIDEL CASTRO who was extremely polite and at one point revealed that his side had deployed no less than 49 battalions of an estimated strength of 50,000 men.  According to CASTRO, 80,000 mortar and 50,000 cannon shells were expended during the battle.  CASTRO called the invaders fools for opposing such a superior force as long as they did.

One of the prisoners in the group, a Negro named ELOY FELIX PEREZ TAMAYO, when told by CASTRO during a television interrogatory that Negroes in Cuba could swim in the same beaches with whites replied, "I did not come to fight in Cuba because I wanted to go swimming".

CARBO revealed that just prior to departure, the group was taken to a 3 hour tour of Havana and shown the accomplishments of the communist regime.  At the end of the tour, CASTRO personally took the group into a restaurant an ordered that they be served food and beer without limitations.  Obviously this was meant to convince the prisoners about to embark for Miami that there was no food shortage in Havana.

Many of the prisoners revealed that the women employs of the Social Welfare who came in contact with them slipped rosaries in their hands and expressed their sympathy.  Many of the militia guards serve as contacts with the outside and CARBO revealed that he had means of communicating with Miami when necessary.

At approximately 7:25 a.m., May 27, 1961 the ten prisoners returned to Havana on P.A.A. flight 421.  They expressed confidence that their negotiations would bring about the proposed exchange of prisoners.

Respectfully submitted,

A.L. TARABOCHIA
Intelligence Agent

LT. FRANK KAPPEL, Supervisor
Criminal Intelligence
ALT /rcw

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