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Directorio Revolucionario Estudiantil (DRE)
Cuban Student Directorate

Jefferson Morley


Often known in the North American press as the Cuban Student Directorate, the DRE was, in the words of one CIA analyst, "perhaps the most militant and deeply motivated" of all the Cuban exile organizations seeking to oust Castro after the Cuban revolution of 1959. According to a CIA study in October in 1962, the DRE had the largest following of any individual exile group.

The group was formed by Alberto Muller, Ernesto Travieso, and Juan Manual Salvat, young Catholic students at the University of Havana, in February 1960. They protested the visit of the Anastas Mikoyan, the Soviet deputy foreign minister. They battled with pro-Castro activists near the statue of Jose Marti in Havana's Parque Central. Later that spring they were expelled from the University in hearings presided over by Castro's campus enforcer, Rolando Cubela.

In Miami the DRE-in-Exile quickly attracted the support of CIA covert operations officers such as David Phillips and Howard Hunt. (Both men took care in their memoirs to praise the leaders of the DRE. See Phillips's "The Night Watch" and Hunt's "Give Us This Day.")

In early 1961 Muller, who had been a member of Castro's 26th of July Movement, returned to the island to organize peasants in the Escambray mountains to resist the new communist government. Muller, an intelligent and charismatic young man, attracted a small following but was arrested by Castro's security forces at a bus stop just before the exiles' aborted invasion at the Bay of Pigs. He would spend the next twenty years in jail.

In August 1962, Salvat led a group of DRE militants in a small boat from Miami to Havana to launch a maritime midnight raid on the Hornedo de Rosita Hotel, located on the beach on the west side of Havana. Salvat and Co sprayed the hotel with cannon fire terrorizing the residents, mostly advisers from Eastern European countries, but otherwise doing no damage. The DRE denied it was an assassination attempt.

The group's leaders passed along reports of Soviet missile installations in Cuba to the CIA in the summer of 1962. When these reports were confirmed by photographs from U.S. reconnaissance planes, the Cuban Missile Crisis resulted.

After the missile crisis the group's claims that the Soviet Union had not removed all of its missiles but had stashed some in caves, won headlines but were soon discredited by the CIA.

In August 1963, the group's delegation in New Orleans had a series of encounters with a pro-Castro activist named Lee Harvey Oswald. After the assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963, the DRE publicized Oswald's activities on behalf of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. Their statements attracted wide media coverage in the wake of the president's murder.

By 1963-64, the group's membership was declining along with its organizational effectiveness. The DRE was formally disbanded in December 1966 by co-founder Juan Manuel Salvat who is now director of publishing house Universal Editions [ Ediciones Universal ] in Miami.

             Albert Muller was released from Cuban jail in 1980 and lives in Miami.
             Carlos Bringuier lives in Miami.

Several members of the DRE would go on to prominent roles in the Cuban exile community.

             Jose Basulto, the triggerman in the 1962 Hornedo de Rosita attack, founded the
             humanitarian organization Brothers to the Rescue in 1995.

             Jorge Mas Canosa, the late founder and president of the Cuban American National
             Foundation (CANF), got his start in politics as a young  member of the DRE.

Jefferson Morley
Washington Post
January 2000

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