Plot to Invade the Dominican Republic
Am Embassy Report 4434
[Reference: State Department Report 4434 dated 17 October 1947]
[NOTE: The original report contained
some errors in spelling of names. The names were left as in the
original report unless indicated in brackets]
AMERICAN EMBASSY, HAVANA, CUBA
(V. LANSING COLLINS)
17 OCTOBER 1947
PLOT TO INVADE THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
DETAILED REPORT OF OPEN PREPARATIONS IN CUBA BY
DOMINICANS TO INVADE THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
AND REMOVE TRUJILLO FROM POWER.
The Secretary of State,
Washington, D. C.
I have the honor to submit information gathered by this Embassy on an
unsuccessful attempt to organize the invasion of the Dominican Republic
during the summer of 1947, and the extent to which Cuban authorities
were involved–as well as our own implication.
This plan to stage an amphibious and air attack, using modern war
tactics and equipment, had a fair chance of success. The
preliminary plans for the invasion were carried out with sufficient
efficiency to assure the revolutionaries of plentiful quantities of
modern arms and munitions, fast planes, and a small but willing
However, bad staff work, divided leadership, overwhelming personal
ambitions and an untimely Cuban political crisis doomed the project to
The scale of the attempt to overthrow President TRUJILLO, the almost
open preparations during the Rio Conference, and the patent disregard
of several governments for the Habana convention, have best been
described as "this incredible venture."
An E. Phillips Oppenheim could do the story justice, but even this
factual account, minus the alarums and side issues, presents a worthy
parallel to the old tales of filibustering in the Caribbean..
Many of the important facts, especially the involvement of governments
and the reasons for some events, will only come to light with the
passage of time, and can only be given now in speculative form.
Current developments were reported to the Department during the months
of July, August and September 1947 by frequent detailed cables.
This dispatch is confined to the principal features of the
attempt. Notes on the personalities involved are given as an
enclosure. Information on the material of the invasion forces is
being sought and will be submitted subsequently. So far as
possible, this dispatch is written objectively and without bias.
Origin of the Attempt
The inception of the attempt goes back several years.
Specifically it stems from the organization in Habana, Cuba, in 1941,
of the Dominican Revolutionary Party. Its raison d'etre was the
rise to power of Trujillo some 17 years ago and the continuance of his
regime. Very broadly its "intellectual" background (as the word
is used in the Caribbean) is the fetish of revolution which is
frequently manifest in feverish form.
Increasing numbers of Dominican political exiles formed ______ of
dissatisfaction years ago. Leadership by a few men made them into
units of resistance to Trujillo. Formation of the Dominican
Revolutionary Party in 1941 had two avowed purposes: the establishment
of a democratic regime in the Dominican Republic, and active
cooperation for the triumph of the United Nations in the late
war. The Party was organized in sectional form in Cuba (Habana,
Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo); in the United States (New York); in
Mexico (Mexico City); in Venezuela (Caracas) and in Puerto Rico (San
Juan and Mayaguez). Its leaders at that time included several who
were recently prominent. They were: Dr. J. I. JIMENEZ CRULLON,
Dr. Ramon DE LARA, Juan BOSCH, Dr. Romano PAREZ CABRAL, Angel AIOLAN,
Dr. Luis F. MEJIA. The objects, doctrine and statutes of the
organization were drawn up, and far as known continued to the present,
although in 1943 the Habana branch operated under the name of the
Dominican Anti-Nazi Democratic Union.
It was apparently realized that no overt attempt would be made to
change the Dominican Government while the war was on. However,
attempts to drum up sympathy and fervor continued through the
years. A good job of public relations work must be granted, not a
little aided by growing international resentment of Trujillo and his
methods. Installation of sympathetic governments in the Caribbean
was also important. These included Cuba, Venezuela and
Guatemala. The Peruvian Government was also sympathetic, largely
through the influence of its Ambassador here who has lived in Cuba many
years as an exiled Aprista and who on several occasions struck the key
note of the whole mentality when he argued that the violation of a few
inter-American treaties was nothing compared with the importance of
establishing a democracy. The revolutionaries were active and
their operations took such open form as broadcasts from the Cuban radio
station CMQ. These broadcasts from the Cuban radio station were
made by Juan Bosch. He, over the years, appears to have been the
most energetic and to have done most to further the cause through
newspaper writing, books, articles, broadcasting and general intrigue.
It has been noted that trouble among the leadership existed.
Although by 1944 the organization and the party appeared to be fairly
solid, there had been lack of coordination and leaders followed their
own course wherever they might be. Matters reached a point where
the leaders laid aside other activities and buried their differences to
hold the scattered exiled groups together. This early fault later
spelled doom to the invasion attempt. Lack of discipline and an
ineffective chain of command proved fatal.
By 1944 the party felt sufficiently strong to predict that as soon as
the war was over an armed revolution would take place in the Dominican
Republic. Juan Bosch then indicated that in the Republic itself
the United Front was complete and ready, that they counted on aid and
arms from elements of the Dominican Army. It was stated further
that a considerable quantity of arms was stored in another Latin
American country. Members of the Revolutionary Party outside the
Republic would participate in the revolution.
That the organization and activities of the Revolutionary Party were
strong and promised to be effective is revealed by the files of the
period. Trujillo was described as frightened and worried.
One significant despatch may be mentioned (Ciudad Trujillo No. 4, June
6, 1944) which in summary stated that President Trujillo was pleased at
Dr. Grau's election in Cuba because he did not like Batista. This
dislike was apparently caused by President Batista's failure is curb
political activities of certain Dominican exiles. Grau's
ascendancy to the Presidency was no alleviation, because these
activities continued. Juan Bosch became secretary to Senator
Carlos PRIO SOCARRAS, and a Dominican Freedom Committee was formed in
the Cuban Congress under Eddy CHIBAS, then the mouthpiece of
Grau. The two vice presidents of this organization were Autentico
Senator Tony VARONA, still very close to President Grau, and Alejo
COSSIO del Pino, now Minister of the Interior. Bosch was able to
see Grau frequently, and apparently on intimate terms. Others
must have been active, but progress was well exemplified by the
activities of Bosch, which were well reported. President Lescat
of Haiti is said to have mortgaged his home and to have given Bosch
$25,000. Romulo BETANCOURT, President of the Venezuelan
Revolutionary Junta, an old friend of Bosch, invited him to that
country where plans were laid.
The Revolutionary Party grew strongest in Habana. While other
centers aided and abetted, leaders in Cuba appeared to be most
effective. This cannot all be attributed to the local directors
so much as to the fertile ground in which the plant was
cultivated. Trujillo is reported to have placed agents within the
party to keep informed. Habana remains the principal center up to
With the end of the war, final plans for a revolt could be laid.
One very favorable circumstance was present. The countries in and
bordering the Caribbean had grown rich during the conflict. Much
money was available from generous sources. But cash, while the
touchstone of such an attempt, was not enough. Trujillo had built
up his defenses and arms were needed. During1946 it became
possible to foresee that ample armament supplies would become available
from war surplus not too tightly controlled in the United States, and
from lend-lease equipment in friendly countries. And so it
was. Juan RODRIGUEZ GARCIA, wealthy Dominican landowner exiled
late in the game, made available a reported $600,000. Other money
By January 1947, leaders of the movement meeting in Venezuela indicated
that preparations for an invasion were under way. It was stated
at that time (Caracas despatch No. 9694, January 28, 1947) "that the
delay in starting it before this time was no doubt due to procurement
difficulties and desire to see that no detail was overlooked which
might endanger success." There was ample warning that something
was afoot and in February the President of Haiti was concerned and
feared that an attempt on the Dominican Republic would in one manner or
another involve Haiti, which would suffer. Report had it
that the revolutionaries already had considerable quantities of small
arms, a few aircraft, three vessels, etc. Subsequent developments
showed that they had no such quantities of material, but that they had
no such quantities of material, but that they were actively seeking
armament was clearly shown in March, the following month, when the FBI
ascertained that Dominican exiles were purchasing arms in New York for
use in a revolution. In April, it was alleged that two B-18
aircraft had been flown to Cuba from the United States for the use of
revolutionaries. These planes did not subsequently appear and the
report was undoubtedly false.
Most people appeared to have forgotten about an invasion of the
Dominican Republic during June and the first half of July because of
the diversional interest of a threatened invasion of Venezuela.
Rumors of increasing preparations in the Dominican Republic for an
armed invasion against the Government of Romulo Betancourt so dominated
thinking about the Caribbean theater that first reports from Cuba of an
imminent invasion of the Dominican Republic were discounted or looked
upon as a possible smoke screen for the Venezuelan affair.
Final Preparations and Disaster-A Chronology
Information which during this period care to the attention of the
Embassy indicated that an attempt towards an invasion of the Dominican
Republic was rapidly taking shape within Cuba. Efforts were made
to verify rumors and reports and it became clear that they were well
Act drafted electing a Dominican Central Revolutionary Committee by
Juan Rodriguez Garcia, Rolando MASFERRER, Angel MORALES, Eufemio
FERNANDEZ, Manuel CALDERON, Jose R. ALFORSECA, Enrique C. HENRIQUEZ,
Gregorio GARCIA, Feliciano MADERNE, Aristides SARABIA, Virginio
MAINARSE, Rafael MAINARDI, Alexis LIZ, Luis CASTILLO, Manuel DEL
CASTRO, Luis W. BORDAS, Cruz ALONSO and Antonio MORALES.
Act of Acceptance agreed among Messrs. Rodriguez Garcia, Angel
Morales, Bosch, Jimenez Crullon, and Leovigildo Cuello to serve as the
Central Revolutionary Committee, They considered it their duty to
"bring about in the Dominican Republic an armed revolution, the
immediate purpose of which shall be the overthrow of the tyranny of
Rafael L. Trujillo and the establishment of a revolutionary government
which shall organize the life of the Dominican people on the basis of
political and economic liberty and social justice and which shall
collaborate in the struggle for the establishment of democracy in all
countries of America."
Act of Constitution of Central Committee signed by members of Committee.
Statutes of Central Revolutionary Committee adopted by members.
Minimum Program and Constitutional Statutes of the Revolutionary
Government voted and signed by members of Dominican Central
Revolutionary Committee: Morales, Rodriguez, Bosch, JIMENEZ Crullon,
Ambassador Norweb, during a cal on the foreign Minister, mentioned that
there were many reports that Cuba was being used at the base for
revolutionary activity. The Minister stated that, though he had
heard such rumors, Cuban authorities had investigated and there were no
preparations or arms.
Information sent to the Department indicated men were assembling in
eastern Cuba. The Minister of foreign Affairs maintained he was
still unaware that anything was happening.
Additional information submitted showing Director General Sports of the
General Directorate of Sports, Ministry of Education assisting in
The same day a telegram from Consul STORY at Santiago de Cuba stated
that forces were assembling at Antilla and that high Cuban Government
officials were involved.
Embassy investigations revealed that the revolution had available six
airplanes, including two Lockheed Vega Ventura bombers, two Cessna
C-78's, and two Douglas C-47's. It was rumored also that a larger
bomber, a B-24, was expected. It was apparent by this time that
recruiting was going on openly, that men were being taken to eastern
Cuba and that a number of Government personalities were involved.
The matter was rapidly becoming an open secret.
At this time unexpected publicity occurred. Two members of the
revolutionary forces, recruited in Puerto Rico, deserted, made their
way to Miami, and talked to the press.
Press reports of the invasion army permitted the Dominican Government
to make charges; which it did. The Dominican Ambassador in
Washington stated that a 3000-man army of Communist revolutionaries was
poised in Cuba to invade the Dominican Republic. It was quite
clear that President Trujillo had his sources of intelligence
working. It was assumed, both by the Embassy and the
revolutionaries, that spies had been planted in the revolutionary
ranks. It may be mentioned at this time that while the Dominican
Government knew in general what was going on, it made many statements
which were quite incorrect, naming names and places. Viewing the
matter in retrospect, it must be said that their intelligence was much
poorer than had been believed.
At this time a decisive turn of events took place. The open
manner of recruitment, transport of men in Cuban Government trucks, the
general activity which was taking place, made a great many people aware
of what was going on. The "revelations" carried in the Miami,
Florida press, and the charges of the Dominicans made some action
necessary. It was learned by the Embassy that the Chief of the
Cuban Army had become concerned over the number of armed men in eastern
Cuba, who could easily create a threat to domestic tranquility.
The Chief of Staff was reported to have given the revolutionaries a
short time to leave Cuba or to be disbanded. Vigorously,
preparations went forward. The Habana press, with one exception,
did not carry the stories from Miami and as far as the local newspapers
were concerned, the attempt had never been reported.
The Ambassador, in response to instructions, saw the Foreign Minister
on July 27 and stated that it was hoped that no action would occur
which would disturb the peace of the Western Hemisphere. The
Minister admitted that the Government was aware of what was occurring,
and that the Government was following activities in order to prevent
any abuse of hospitality. Significantly, it also appeared that he
had exchanged telegrams with the Foreign Minister of the Dominican
Republic. This he subsequently denied to the press.
The invasion scare was now really on. Vessels were at Nipe Bay,
men were being transported from the training ground at Holquin to
Antilla, vessels ready to participate. It was stated that
President Grau gave the movement until July 30 to leave Cuba.
Money was being gathered by Mario SALABARRIA, Chief of Special
Investigations Section of the National Police, and others.
Estimates of the number won went up 5,000. The Foreign Minister
was playing hide-and-seek with the Ambassador.
The Ambassador saw President Grau, who told him that measurer would be
taken. To remove any revolutionary activity from Cuba.
The Departure of Vessels from Antilla was reported in the press.
It was popularly assumed either that the effort had been suppressed or
that the invasion was taking place. Naval Base at Guantanamo,
which had been making observations, lost track of the vessels.
The Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, the Chief of Police and Juan
Bosch denied reports that revolutionaries were being trained in Cuba.
A B-24 aircraft, which had arrived at Rancho Boyeros on July 31, was
seized by the Cuban Army, and, together with the two Lockheed Vega
Venturas, was removed to the Army field at Camp Columbia.
Intelligence began to pour in from all sides, including Venezuela and
Haiti. The Caribbean at last seemed to be convinced that
something was afoot. The Dominican Government stated that the
invasion was on its way.
During this period a lull took place, due largely to a lack of concrete
information. It appeared to the Embassy that the attempted
invasion definitely was not off because preparations continued.
Assassination of Alfonso FOLS, reportedly an agent of Trujillo, was
attempted in Habana on August 5. The Cuban Government endeavored
to obtain release of an LCI proved to be a considerable hindrance to
the revolutionaries. It is also known that disunity of command
had grown, that there were fears about the United States' attitude, and
that something would have to be done fairly soon. It was apparent
from investigations of the FBI and Customs services of the United
States that attempts to obtain aircraft were continuing.
The Ambassador received from the British Minister a copy of a deposition made by four British
Minister a copy of a deposition made by four British seamen (Embassy's
secret despatch No. 4270, August 14, 1947). This deposition
provided some of the first documentary evidence of just what had been
happening and revealed that the expeditionary force had gone to Cayo
Confites. Knowing this, the Naval Operating Base at Guantanamo
thereafter kept activities under observation.
Two P-35 type aircraft observed on Cuban Navy Field.
Documents of the Dominican Central Revolutionary Committee transmitted
to the Department (despatch 4282 of August 18.) The Cuban Foreign
Minister denied his Government had received through official channels
any formal protest from the Dominican Governments. General
Genovevo PEREZ Damera, Cuban Chief of Staff, stated that there were no
armed groups of forces which might be preparing to invade the Dominican
Republic in any territory under his jurisdiction. This, it
appears, was literally true because Cayo Confites is probably under
Navy Command. The Foreign Minister's statement was the same sort
Four Lockheed F-5 (P-38 type) planes observed. Existence of
substantial quantities of armament and munitions were reported on the
property of the Minister of Education.
The men on Cayo Confites, sleeping on the sand, contending with
mosquitos, poor food and inaction, were becoming restive. It
appeared that the timetable of the invasion was upset and that troops
were ready before the aircraft. Planes were being brought in, but
they were not equipped for warfare. Bomb racks, machine guns and
radios were being sought frantically.
While the troops on Cayo Confites had been training, and arms and
munitions for them were now plentiful, the action of the Cuban Army in
holding seized planes held matters up. A pilot had brought in a
P-38 type to Camp Columbia by mistake. It had been held.
Manolo Castro, Director General of sports, on whom the burden of
aircraft preparations fell, went to the Palace and had a long
conference with officials there. This resulted in the release of
a C-47 plane and the P-38 type plane. The latter was flown to the
Navy field at Mariel on September 4.
The original purchase of munitions and the recruitment of troops was
largely done by the Revolutionary Committee aided by Cubans. Once
the move to Cayo Confites had been made, aircraft preparations and
maintenance of the force of troops appears to have fallen upon Cuban
shoulders. The long delay apparently exhausted the Revolutionary
far Chest and subsequent costs and preparations were mainly paid for by
Revolutionaries decided not to use the B-24 and Vega Ventura Bombers
held by Army, and they were busy buying other planes in the United
States. One B-25 arrived and three more were expected.
The leaders had been making heroic efforts to hold their forces
together and complete preparations. They appeared to be
succeeding. An additional vessel had been observed at Cayo
Confites (making three). Regular trips to the harbor of Nuevitas
assured supplies of food and water. There were reports of plans
to move forces to another acre agreeable location. American
pilots and mechanics were conditioning aircraft at Mariel and flying
them daily. It appeared that if the force could be held together
another three weeks, success was assured. Apart from the Army,
the Cuban Government was lending every assistance. The men were
being controlled, even though some reports were ominous. The air
striking force promised to be large enough to do immediate and
extensive damage to Ciudad Trujillo.
A group departed to seek support of Haitian President.
This date found General Perez in Washington.
On the same day, a battle between rival factions in the National
Police, costing six lives, was broken up by the Army. Police
Major Mario Salabarria appeared to be the principal instigator.
President Grau asked General Perez to return at once, and he left
Washington in an American Army plane. This was the payoff:
the "untimely political crisis", mentioned at the beginning of this
General Perez arrived at 3:25 a.m. and quickly took the situation in
hand. He summoned the military court and brought charges against
Salabarria and other members of the police force.
At a press conference General Perez stated that groups formed to carry
out personal vengeance would not be permitted in Cuba. The
General's steps to restore order were applauded in the press.
An Army detachment took possession of Salabarria's headquarters.
The President appointed an Army Supervisor for the National Police.
The Army seized some 13 truckloads of arms and munitions on a farm said
to belong to Aleman, Minister of Education. General Perez
informed the press that he believed the arms were to be used in a
conspiracy against the Army. Minister Aleman issued a statement
that General Perez was acting in accordance with the President's wishes.
Army raided the Hotel Sevilla, Habana, which was used by certain
revolutionaries as headquarters. Firearms and documents were
Generals Perez, Quarejeta and Cabrera conferred with President Grau
with Minister Aleman present. Embassy reported Army would
probably disarm revolutionaries. Revolutionaries left Cayo
Revolutionaries arrived at Cayo Santa Maria. Army and Navy
alerted throughout Cuba. Vice Consul, Nuevitas, reported road
blocks, and added that Army had seized revolutionary ship BERTA and had
disarmed a number of revolutionaries.
General Perez, in an interview with the press, after seeing President
Grau and the Navy Chief of Staff (Aguila Ruiz) denied reports of a rift
between the Army and Navy and said (quite correctly) that "there is
nothing on Cayo Confites". Virtually all the American pilots
returned to the United States. Revolutionary leaders in Habana
made a last-minute unsuccessful attempt to organize a suicide air raid
on Ciudad Trujillo using Cuban pilots.
Habana newspaper Prensa Libre reported 1500 men, besieged on Cayo
Confites by Cuban Army and Navy, had appealed to Senate for permission
to leave with arms. (This was the first press report.)
Revolutionary ships sighted at Cayo Guinches under observation of Cuban
Navy frigate. General Perez arrived at Camaguey. Grau
conferred with Generals Querejeta and Cabrera.
After his return to Habana, General Perez conferred with President Grau
and labeled as "absurd", rumors that he would be replaced. Bulk
of revolutionary force in two LCI's made unsuccessful attempt to reach
Haiti for attack on Dominican Republic.
Troop movements from Camaguey to Nuevitas reported.
Some 270 revolutionaries who had been abandoned at Cayo Guinches
arrived at Camp Columbia (Habana) from Nuevitas under Army
escort. Bulk of revolutionary force aboard two LCI's oversighted
at Nipe Bay.
Army Investigator of Warianeao incident informed press that Dominican
expeditionary force had been seized. Revolutionary ships left
Nipe Bay under naval escort. Manolo Castro arrested at Miami for
illegal export of arms.
Army announced 800 revolutionaries landed at Antilla. Senator
Chibas accused President Grau of having "betrayed the cause of
Bulk of invasion force (725 men), including General Juan Rodriguez Garcia arrived in Habana and were detained at Camp Columbia.
Chief of Cuban Navy announced revolutionary ships had been seized by Government.
All revolutionaries ordered released by court except 26 held under
$5000 bail (bond was provided and all were subsequently released.)
General Rodriguez denied coup had been planned against Cuba; confirmed
that two LCI's had tried to make last minute dash to Santo Domingo but
were intercepted by Cuban Navy; said that arms at Aleman's finca were
his own; failed to charge any Cuban official but admitted Government
had been "tolerat".
General Perez and Navy Chief Aguila Ruiz failed to answer summons to testify before investigating magistrate.
Supreme Court ruled that, in accordance with the Constitution, Senate
should try the case against Aleman and that Urgency Court should take
cognizance of charges against others involved.
Participation of the Cuban Government
Short of a declaration of War, Cuba lent every aid to the organization
of the invasion. Until late September 1947, when the Chief of
Staff of the Army suppressed the plot, assistance was active all the
way from the Palace down to truck drivers. Perhaps the briefest
method of relating the facts is to describe the participation of the
principal Government agencies involved.
The implication of the Navy was deep. Beginning with the port
captains who condoned very frequent arrivals and departures of vessels,
it went so far as a port captain signing a letter stating that fresh
water was for "official" purposes. (The original is in the
Embassy safe.) A Cuban Navy coastguard vessel was in Nipe Bay at
the time the force embarked for Cayo Confites. Thereafter Navy
vessels were at Nuevites and complacently made visits to Cayo Confites.
The leading craft purchased by Cubans for the revolutionaries had been
cleared by the Navy to the Embassy. the Commodore even personally
recommended Mr. Cruz Alonso to the Naval Attache, at the time when the
U.S. Customs was detaining a landing craft at Baltimore which had been
purchased by Cruz Alonso and was clearly for the invasion.
The Navy permitted use of its flying field at the Mariel Naval Base by
the revolutionary aircraft. It was there that the P-38 type
aircraft were worked on in preparation for an attack, and almost daily
flown by American pilots.
Concerning the Navy, the most categoric statement of its Participation
was made by Rolando MASFERRER in an interview published in the
periodical Bohemia in its issue of October 12. He said:
"The Army and the Navy cooperated with us. For example, the three
37 mm. cannon installed on the AURORA and their mounts, as well as the
bombs and all the material stored on the Finca "America" were furnished
us by the Navy, following an interview held by us with Commodore Jose
AGUILA RUIZ and at which Commander Gejate was present. These were
surplus war materials of our Navy from the last war. Other proof
of its adherence to the Dominican revolutionary movement is the fact
that bazookas seized by the Army as well as the mounts for the machine
guns were taken in a Navy truck driven by a sergeant to the finca
"America" in the presence of Commander Gajate. In addition, the
high-powered explosives which we had were given to us by the
Navy. At Mariel we had, under the custody of the Navy,
explosives, six P-38 fighters and three bombers, as well as two PT
boats which had been acquired in the United States. I remember
that one of the PT's required the change of an engine. Mechanics
of our force proceeded to the base and changed the engine for a new one
purchased in Miami. Commodore Aguila Ruiz furnished us with
information concerning Dominican naval strength. There is no
doubt that the Navy behaved with fervent loyalty to the cause of the
Gasoline of 100 octane was purchased for revolutionary use. (Cuban Navy planes do not use this.)
Manolo CASTRO Director of Sports
The role played by this man was so large that it is treated separately
from the Ministry of Education. As a Cuban Government official,
he worked very actively to organize the effort and towards the end his
full time was occupied with that of getting the air striking force
ready. Sufficient information must be available from the
investigations of the FBI and the U.S. Customs Service to require
little amplification. Be it said in summary that the Sports
Palace was used at one time for bomb storage. Castro purchased
aircraft, recruited pilots, bought munitions, armament, communications
equipment, and, in short, engaged in a multitude of activities in a
desperate effort to ready the air force. He almost
succeeded. He operated with the full knowledge of the Minister of
Jose Manuel ALEMAN, Minister of Education,
was one of the prime movers in the attempt.
History may reveal-but probably will not--the amount of funds used for
the invasion. Quite apart from the use of Government schools as
training centers, and of equipment such as trucks to transport men and
supplies, there were large direct expenditures. Equipment was
obtained on Government voucher, and following the depletion of the
original revolutionary war chest, the Minister is reported to have
furnished all food and supplies for the force on Cayo Confites, at one
time stated to cost a minimum of $60,000 per month. Total Cuban
participation in money has been announced in millions; how much no one
knows at present.
Masferrer has stated, "We decided that Manolo Castro would acquire them
(aircraft) in the United States. With money furnished by Minister
Jose Manuel Aleman, he was able to buy six P-38 fighter planes, eight
B-25's as well as six Douglas transports."
On the Minister's farm property, the present ownership of which has by
curious coincidence become obscure, 13 truckloads of munitions were
As previously pointed out, the Army's role in the whole matter is not
clear. Its sins, as far as implication of the Cuban Government is
concerned, are those of omission rather than commission. While
the Army finally suppressed the movement, and while during the summer
it seized planes that did not land safely at friendly fields, it was
certainly aware of what was happening. It knew of the recruiting
that took place. General Perez observed the training at
Holguin. The Army forced the departure of the force from Holguin
and Antilla to Cayo Confites. Had the Army been imbued with a
deep desire to maintain domestic tranquility, to keep down firearms and
to suppress revolutionary organizations, it could have acted in June
rather than in September.
The police, like the Army, are implicated by inaction rather than by
action. Through the period of recruiting (a recruiting office was
run rather openly in Habana), and as regards the carrying of arms and
similar matters, the police condoned the affair. What role the
principal police officials played is not clear at this point.
Major Salabarria, head of the Special Investigation Section of the
National Police, who precipitated the Marianao affair, was tied in
rather closely, even to the point of engineering a train hold-up on
June 28 to get funds for the revolution. A train bearing $300,000
in cash to cover sugar central payrolls was to have been held up, but
the plan miscarried, and another was robbed instead, with a relatively
poor haul of $7,000. Open direction of provisioning for the force
on Cayo Confites was undertaken by Captain AGOSTINI, Chief of the
Large quantities of arms were brought into Cuba, both clandestinely and
through regular channels with the knowledge of customs officials.
Much equipment was addressed to the Director of Sports. A few of
the events are amusing, such as the surprise of an employee of the
Sevilla Biltmore Hotel to find that when a case of "vegetable oil"
broke open contained machine guns.
Customs officials of the ports of Nuevitas and Antilla were aware of
the plot and permitted almost daily arrivals and departures of ships
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The statements made by the Foreign Minister during the hue and cry over
the invasion provide a unique chapter in diplomatic history and a
sidelight on Autentico politics in Cuba. Diplomatic illness, a
severe case of double talk and blindness, appeared to have afflicted
him. When the Dominican Government first charged than an invasion
was being organized in Cuba, it seemed that no one had ever heard of
it. When the Cuban Government's good offices to suppress the
attempt were requested, the invasion was a myth. These statements
could be understood, even when the affair was a topic of gossip by
every chief of mission. However, even the local press could not
stomach the Minister's denials of having received a note of protest or
other communications from the Dominican Government. It is quite
possible that the Minister was strictly correct. He may have
received no note--his Chargé in Ciudad Trujillo may have
received it! However ridiculous this patent effort to mislead,
made him, he persisted therein until Trujillo sent a direct message to
Grau which Trujillo released had difficulty reaching the
Minister. The Minister, he was told, had just left for home--but
mysteriously the twenty-minute journey required hours.
The Foreign Ministry made no protest ever daily American Navy observation flights over or near Cayo Confites.
The length to which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs went in support of
the invasion was illustrated by the pressure from the Cuban Embassy in
Washington to secure release of the landing craft detained by the
Customs Service at Baltimore. That Embassy and the Ministry which
requested its release could not have been unaware of its intended use.
On August 25, the Ambassador, accompanied by Mr. Joseph R. DILLON,
Treasury Representative, called upon the Foreign Minister to request
assistance in determining if any aircraft had been illegally exported
from the United States. this approach was made under instructions
from the Department. The Ambassador made clear that the
information desired was purely for customs purposes and to ascertain
whether there had been violations of law within the United
States. The Minister promised to put the competent authorities in
touch with Mr. Dillon and facilitate his task.
There followed from August 25 until the beginning of October several
conferences, appointments and broken appointments, that can only be
described as the most complete run-around. Mr. Dillon arrived
exactly no where through these channels. It was completely clear
that the Foreign Minister did not wish any United States official to
see the aircraft in question. It appears inconceivable that his
Ministry did not know that we were aware of the number and type of
plane held at each field. His completely negative and
un-cooperative attitude has continued.
Mr. Dillon was able finally to gather the evidence required through an entirely different channel.
Little need be said concerning the participation of President
Grau. His long friendship with some of the leaders; the active
participation of at least one Cabinet Minister (a favorite);
intelligence from the Cuban Army, Navy and Secret Police; even the
local newspaper stories, all showed that the Government was
implicated. The responsibility must finally be laid at the door
of the Chief of State. There is little doubt that Grau had long
extended his blessing and support to the plot.
Presumptive Implication of the United states.
In the rapid confusion of events the position of the United States was
a curious one. We made an effort to remind the Cuban Government
of its international commitments and of the dangers of so ill-advised a
venture (see despatch No. 4235 of August 4 reporting a conversation
with the Minister of State). But it became increasingly
difficult, and at last impossible, to get the ear of any important
member of the Government: at least in Habana. While the Cubans
were seized with diplomatic deafness, the invasion leaders straining
their ears in our direction; were in fact using every art to gain some
information of our attitude; and in our silence their wishful
thinking read assent. Meanwhile the other American
Republics watched and listened with interest. For them it was an
interesting test case, both of that might be expected from the United
States in such circumstances and of how much the plotters could get
away with. The origin of the material, the presence of American
technicians, the probably well-founded suspicion the funds for the
movement were collected in the United States from Americans with
interests in the Dominican Republic, and our apparent inaction all
contributed to the impression that the enterprise had our tacit
approval; that the package, though delivered from Cuba, was marked
"Made in USA". Thus by circumstantial evidence some of the
responsibility was laid at our door.
The term "apparent inaction" is used because outsiders were not aware
of our efforts to make representations on the one hand, and on the
other to avoid moral commitments; nor of the closeness with which we
followed every development. For many weeks this Embassy saw the
finest kind of staff work, daily correlated, between ourselves, the
Army, the Navy, the Intelligence Group, the Treasury and our Public
Relations officer; very effectively aided by the investigations made by
Commodore Battle at Guantanamo. Members of the American business
community throughout the island were also helpful and discreet.
All information was pooled, screened, analyzed, and interpreted to our
best ability. Thus we kept ghostly step with the conspirators,
and no development could have caught us unawares.
In retrospect, four things stand out from our daily observation of the
attempt. First, the invasion could have been successful.
Second, there was a change of character, leadership and spirit from one
of idealism to one of materialism and the strong hand. Third,
there is the deep implication of the Cuban Government. Fourth,
there was widespread presumption of our own implication.
Of munitions, aircraft and men there were plenty. The Government
of Cuba gave every aid. Sympathies were with the attempt.
Enthusiasm was high; even while being brought under arrest to Habana,
the troops--after two months of privation on a barren island--still
wished to fight. It is quite possible that had a strong initial
showing been made in an invasion, substantial support would have been
given within the Dominican Republic. The invasion was within a
hair's breadth of taking place and possibly would have succeeded.
Its failure was due primarily to an accident of time. Had the
police affray on September 15 at Marianao not occurred, it is quite
likely that preparations would have continued and the Army might not
have intervened. But apart from this contretemps, several factors
contributed to failure. It may be mentioned in review that
leadership was poor and divided. Coordination of supplies, troops
and aircraft was poor. Particularly bad were the logistics of
procurement. The munitions, arms and aircraft should have been
ready by the time recruitment started. As it was, men held for
two months on Cayo Confites began to be a disciplinary problem of the
first order. The aircraft were never finally put into combat
condition. Plans were too grandiose. Highly specialized
military aircraft requiring special fittings, bomb racks, gun mounts
and armament difficult to obtain posed problems. An equal number
of cargo planes from which bombs might be rolled out the doors could
have been ready in a matter of days rather than weeks. There was
too much loose talk and publicity. The support of the Army was
not first assured. This was of especial importance inasmuch as
the principal Cuban Government official concerned, Minister Aleman, was
an enemy of General Perez. It may even be said that reliance on
President Grau was a tactical error, for although he is by no means a
broken reed, yet when the crucial moment came he either could not or
would not deliver.
The character of the leadership and spirit deteriorated from the
idealism of the Dominican exile leaders into what can be described as
almost gangsterism, one would not deny that General Juan Rodriguez
wished to regain his confiscated properties in the Dominican
Republic. However, his contribution of over half a million
dollars to the cause could not be called a good risk. Juan Bosch,
inspired by what appears to be a disinterested hatred of Trujillo and
his works, was probably not thinking deeply in materialist terms, and
neither were some others. But Bosch, who with the original 150
men went to eastern Cuba with large supplies of arms and with the
landing craft already arranged for, gradually found--along with other
Dominican leaders--that he was being taken over by the Cubans.
All the later preparations in Habana--recruitment, the procurement of
aircraft, hiring of pilots--were entirely in Cuban hands.
Recruitment in Cuba was by the MSR, a revolutionary and violently
inclined group of men. Juan Bosch became a virtual prisoner on
Cayo Confites. Dominican exiles stated in Habana in early
September that many of the Dominicans (there were only about 130 on the
island) felt that the invasion should be called off; one Trujillo was
bad enough but 15 men as bad or worse than Trujillo would be too much
to inflict upon the Dominican people. Just before the force left
Cayo Confites, Rolando Masferrer, head of the MSR, had practically
assumed command and it was reported to the Embassy, discipline was
maintained by a virtual reign of terror. The suicidal proposal of
Masferrer still to attack the Dominican Republic with only a part of
the force and without aircraft demonstrates the lengths to which such
men might go.
The motivation of the Cubans can always be laid in part to some
quixotic idealism, to an ingrained fetish of revolution, to a hatred of
Trujillo; but the participation of such men as Jose Aleman, Masferrer
and Salabarria can only finally be explained in terms of gross
self-seeking. Some were to be given properties, another was to be
a collector of customs, another was to be Minister of Finance.
The cooked goose promised to be rich with gravy. Reported partly
in jest but probably true, was the statement that there were twelve
persons at one time on Cayo Confites who expected to be the next
President of the Dominican Republic. How the change from a
certain outraged liberalism to the materialism of the
what-is-there-in-it-for-me brand contributed to success or failure is
less germane to the outcome of the story than the fact that, as the
plot to overthrow Trujillo developed, the knights in shining armor were
unhorsed by that type of buccaneer which seems always to have abounded
in the Spanish ____.
The role played by the Cuban Government should sound a warning
concerning the usefulness of its high [unreadable] obligations. A
party to the Habana Convention of 192_, a member of the United Nations,
a participant uttering high-sounding phrases at the Rio Conference and
their attacking the "economic imperialism" of [not clear] sugar
legislation--was at one and the same time breaking its treaty
obligations, preparing to disturb the peace of the hemisphere, and
plotting against the life of a government with which it maintained
diplomatic relations. The more one reflects on what has taken
place, and the more the evidence accumulates, the more one becomes
convinced that the burden of responsibility falls upon the President of
Cuba. Furthermore, the general popularity of the invasion
attempt, the public disregard and the almost complete press disregard
of any of Cuba's obligations, is striking. Than too, the attitude
of certain other government that the breaking of a couple of treaties
was of no moment when there was a chance of getting rid of Trujillo
again illustrates the difference in the concept of moral obligation as
between the American and the Latin mind.
Our own Government, in the circumstances, had a delicate and difficult
role to play. Looking back, it is hard to see what errors of
omission might have been avoided. The policy of apparent
inaction, while generally misinterpreted, kept us reasonably clear of
the melee and, it is to be hoped, did not diminish our moral weight in
the inter-American community. Looking forward, we can profit from
this experience by establishing a tighter control on the export of war
surplus and war material, and by losing no opportunity to make our
For the threat of a revolution or invasion of the Dominican Republic is
not dead. So long as Trujillo continues to be President, exiles
will fan the flames of hope. It will not be so easy again.
Much money was spent. The material very likely may not be
released by the Cuban Army. President Grau's term of office is
drawing to a close. Other governments may not be so
hospitable. However, plotting continues. A larger sugar
crop is promised in Cuba in 1948. Venezuela lacks no markets for
oil. Money may be found. The impresarios are still on the
stage. the curtain may yet rise on a hit show.
R. Henry Norweb
1. Notes on principal personalities involved.
2. Newspaper photographs of principal personalities.
3. Photographs taken on Cayo Confites.
File No. 800
October 17, 1947
Enclosure No. 1
ATTEMPTED INVASION OF THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
PRINCIPAL PERSONALITIES DEVOLVED:
Lie. Angel MORALES, President of the Central Revolutionary
Committee, former Dominican Ambassador in Washington, former Vice
President of the League of Nations Assembly, former Vice President of
the Dominican Republic prior to Trujillo's regime. Morales has
only been in Cuba since the summer of 1947.
Juan BOSCH, about 45, writer and contributor to leading local
publications. Resident of Cuba for the past seven or eight
years. Close friend of Presidents Betancourt of Venezuela and
Grau of Cuba. Bosch once edited a newspaper controlled by
President Grau. Bosch is also close tot he Minister of Labor,
Carlos Prio Socarras. Bosch has received continued financial
support from Prio principally through "botellas". He is a member
of the Central Revolutionary Committee which was led by Morales.
Juan Isidro Jimenez Grullon, clever and able writer who with Bosch has
led the Dominican revolutionary activities in Cuba for the past eight
or nine years. Resident of Cuba since 1937. Jimenez makes
his appeal to leftists groups in Cuba and has on occasion contributed
to the Communist daily Hoy. He is considered to be an intelligent
man and an able one. He is a member of the central Revolutionary
Committee which was led by Morales.
Juan RODRIGUEZ Garcia, 60, one of the heavy financial backers of the
expedition, who was slated to be President of the Dominican Republic if
the movement succeeded. Rodriguez has been living in Cuba only
about six months. He held the title of Commander-in-Chief of the
Revolutionary Army and it was understood that he was a large land owner
in the Dominican Republic until about two or three years ago, when he
was forced to flee. Rodriguez was a member of the Central
Revolutionary Committee which was led by Morales. Rodriguez had a
son who accompanied him named Jose Rodriguez who was graduate of the
Harvard Law School and who is understood to be an able and intelligent
Dr. Leovigildo CUELLO, 58, doctor of medicine, graduated from the
universities of Santo Domingo and Paris. Dr. Cuello is not
particularly well know in Cuba. He was a member of the Central
Revolutionary Committee led by Morales.
Dr. Enrique "Gotubanama" HENRIQUES, born in the Dominican Republic but
raised in Cuba and possibly a Cuban citizen. Dr. Henriques is
married to the sister of the Minister of Labor, Carlos Prio
Socorras. he served as liaison between the revolutionaries and
Prio. Although Dr. Henriques is married to the sister of the
Minister of Labor, Carlos Prio Socorras. He served as liaison
between the revolutionaries and Prio. Although Dr. Henriques has
been close to the Movimiento Socialista Revolucionario, a nationalistic
group of Marxist taint, many of whose leaders were formerly affiliated
with the Communist Party, his sympathies are believed to have been with
the Dominicans and not with the other members of the Movimiento
Socialista Revolucionario (Castro, Masferrer and Fernandez) when the
latter took the leadership of the revolutionary movement away from the
Felix Buenaventura Sanchez (known as "El Dominicano"), approximately
46, a Dominican exile who was sent to Haiti on or about September 15,
1947 in an attempt to persuade the Haitian Government to allow the
revolutionary forces to land in and transit Haiti. Sanchez
traveled under a Venezuelan official passport and went immediately to
see the Venezuelan charge in Port-at-Prince upon his arrival. He
may be a Venezuelan and not a Dominican but it is known that he left
Haiti in somewhat of a hurry as President Trujillo had a price on his
Irundino VILELA, believed to be a Dominican or a Cuban, accompanied the
mission to Haiti on or about September 15, 1947 and is believed to have
been a propaganda expert. It is reported that he carried with him
a considerable quantity of propaganda material of one kind or another
and that he was supposed to start an anti-Trujillo movement in Haiti.
Dr. Luis F. MEJIAS and Dr. Eduardo VICIOSO, Dominican exiles apparently
living in Venezuela, visited the revolutionary forces on Cayo
Confites. Considered to be important members of the
movement. Upon their return to Caracas they published a report in
the Venezuelan press that President Grau was 100 percent behind the
President Ramon GRAU San Martin, knew all about the revolutionary
attempt and authorized the cooperation of the Cuban Army and Navy.
Rafael GONZALEZ Munoz, Cuban Minister of State.
Jose Manuel ALEMAN, 42, former Minister of Education, presently
Minister without Portfolio. Aleman is the leader of the BAGA
political group and one of President Grau's close associates. He
was the Minister entrusted with the organization of the revolutionary
movement and his complicity was complete. Aleman is one of the
gangster-type young revolutionaries in Cuba and his name has been
connected with the Movimiento Socialista Revolucionario. It is
clear that Aleman contributed funds, both personal and governmental;
that he used the Ministry of Education trucks to transport the
revolutionaries and that he was in constant touch with the leaders of
the movement. A large cache of arms destined for the
revolutionary movement was located on the finca "America", reportedly
his property. Aleman's complicity was so obvious that a motion of
censure in the Cuban Senate resulted, something which his political
enemies had hoped to do for some time. Following the Senate's
motion of lack of confidence, Aleman was forced to resign as Minister
of Education on September 30, 1947 and following his resignation he was
immediately appointed Minister without Portfolio by President
Grau, who continues to base reliance on Aleman.
Carlos PRIO Socorras, Minister of Labor, was unquestionably close to
the revolutionary movement. Both Juan Bosch and Dr. Enrique
Henriques are close friends of Prio. While Prio probably did not
take an active part in the details of the movement, there is little
doubt that he was fully aware of what was going on.
Manolo CASTRO del Campo, 38, formerly President of the Federacion
Estudantil Universitaria, Director General of National Sports in the
Ministry of Education and a member of the Movimiento Socialista
Revolucionario. Castro is a true revolutionary, friendly to
President Grau. He is one of the group of persons who were close
to Grau in 1933 and for whom President Grau has felt that he had to do
something. When the purchase of aircraft in the United States for
the revolutionary group was not working out satisfactorily under Dr.
Reinaldo RAMIREZ Rosell, Castro took over the job. Castro was one
of the most active of the revolutionary group both in Cuba and in the
United States. He was arrested at Miami in late September 1947
and charged with illegal export of munitions from the United
States. Very courageous, Castro is intensely nationalistic and
Rodriguez CRUZ ALONSO, owner of the Hotel San Luis in Habana. One
of the revolutionary plotters. Cruz Alonso's hotel in Habana was
the headquarters of the plotters for a long time and Cruz Alonso was
very active in purchasing material. He is reported to have gone
to Argentine at one time and it is known that he went to the United
States in the summer of 1947 to purchase landing craft. His
failure to obtain sufficient landing craft is one of the causes of the
failure of the expedition because of the expedition's weakness in
transportation. Although Cruz Alonso was one of the principal
purchasing agents, it is believed he was materialistic in his outlook
and that he had a good job lined up in the Dominican Republic if the
Dr. Reinaldo RAMIREZ Rosell, head of Aerovias Cubanas Internacionalos,
was one of the purchasing agents for the expedition in the United
States. Dr. Ramirez was supposed to purchase a number of
aircraft. Although he was successful in obtaining some, he
apparently over-charged the revolutionaries and fell out of grace and
was succeeded by Manolo Castro. Ramirez has an unsavory
reputation in Cuba and is regarded as a complete opportunist. Of
all the revolutionary movement, Ramirez is one of the few who probably
made some money out of it.
Colonel Fabio RUIZ Rojas, Chief of the Police, currently on
leave. Ruiz was one of the young revolutionaries of 1933 and was
put in the police force to keep him out of trouble. A lawyer,
Ruiz was an active collaborator with the revolutionaries and he sent
his bro-there Iran Ruiz to Haiti on or about September 15, 1947 with
the mission to request the Haitian Government to allow the
Revolutionary force to disembark and transit Haiti. Iran Ruiz was
accompanied by Lieutenant Rene DE CARDENAS of the National Police and
the two were traveling under police orders.
General Genovevo PEREZ Damara, 38, Commanding General of the Cuban
Army, is one of the important figures of the Dominican revolutionary
attempt. Although many of the revolutionaries claimed that
General Perez was brought in on the plans of the revolutionary movement
as long as a year ago, there appears to be considerable evidence
nevertheless that when the movement actually got started, he was not
kept informed of all the details. Whether this was an oversight
on President Grau's part or stemmed from the fact that Grau was using
Minister of Education Aleman, who is a known enemy of Perez, is
immaterial. In any event General Perez began in July 1947 to
place obstacles in the way of the revolutionaries. Whether
General Perez favored the plot at first and then realized the
implications or whether he acted solely in a spirit of pique and anger
at his enemies is possibly immaterial; the fact remains that General
Perez, of all the Cuban figures involved, was the only one who emerged
from the whole incident with more power than before. Perez was a
veterinary student under Grau in 1933. After he entered the Army,
President Grau advanced him very rapidly since 1944. General
Peres has been close to President Grau and apparently in complete
control of the Army.
Jose Enrique CAMEJO y Argudin, former Cuban Charge d'Affaires in Haiti,
now in the Cuban Foreign Office, a member of the mission to Haiti on or
about September 15, 1947. Camajo carried an official letter of
introduction from President Grau to President ESTIME of Haiti and was
Grau's representative in the group which want to Haiti. Camejo
also had a tommygun in his luggage and traveled on a Cuban official
Commodore Jose Aguila Ruiz, Commanding officer of the Cuban Navy, very
close to the revolutionary movement. Supplies, munitions and
aircraft were openly landed at Cuban Naval Bases and Cuban naval
vessels carried supplies for the revolutionaries. Unquestionably
commodore Aguila Ruiz knew all about the movement from the beginning
and possibly was kept better informed then General Perez as to the
details of the revolution.
Captain Jorge Felipe Agostini, naval officer and Chief of the Secret
Police of the Palace. Agostini acted as principal liaison officer
between President Grau and the revolutionaries. Agostini fought
in Spain, was a Batista officer in the Navy but through friendship with
General Perez was able to work himself into the good graces of
Jose Rufemio FERNANDEZ Ortega, doctor of medicine, former officer in
the National Police, veteran of the Spanish Civil War, member of the
Movimiento Socialista Revolucionario, one of the three or four Cuban
leftists (Masferrer, Castro, etc.) who took the leadership of the
revolutionary movement away from the Dominican group. Fernandez
used to be a close friend of Major Mario SALABARRIA, Chief of the
Special Investigations Section of the National Police. He was one
of the chief plotters and incidentally was with Castro when he was
arrested in Miami in October 1947.
George OSAWA, American-born Japanese, who claims to be a doctor of
medicine. Possibly a former Japanese naval officer, presently a
Cuban citizen. He was jailed from 1938 to 1941 for practicing
medicine without a license, and later interned throughout the war as a
Japanese agent. An opportunist and gangster, Osawa entered into
the movement through his friend Dr. Enrique Henriques.
Dr. Rolando MASFERRER, director of weekly publication "Tiempo en Cuba", leader of the Movimiento Sosialista Revolucionario
30 years of age, veteran of the International Brigade in Spain, one of
the leaders in the field of the movement. Intensely
nationalistic, anti-United States, Masferrer was ostensibly read out of
the Communist party in August 1945.
Rogelio CAPARNOS [Caparros], also of the weekly "Tiempo en Cuba". A close friend of Masferrer, Member of the Movimiento Socialista Revolucionario
Major Mario Salabarria,, formerly head of the Special Investigations
Section of the National Police, reportedly a man of honest convictions
but extremely rough methods. He fought in the Spanish Civil
War. Salabarria was close to the Movimiento Socialista Revolucionario
and Manolo Castro, is clearly implicated in the revolutionary movement
for which he raised men and money. Salabarria came into
prominence several years ago when he accused the Minister of Commerce
of dishonest dealings in a rice deal with Ecuador. This caused
the dismissal of that Minister of Commerce. Salabarria recently
avenged the assassination of a police officer friend with typical rough
and ready tactics when he and his men shot the friend's alleged
slayers, as well as others in the general vicinity. This shooting
has been referred to as the "Marianao Incident" and was not connected
with the revolutionary movement in any way except that it provided
General Perez with an excuse to round up all arms and munitions loose
in Cuba. Thus Salabarria contributed to breaking up of the
Alejandro DEL VALLE, approximately 35, black sheep of a prominent Cuban
family, was raised in Spain. He claims to have fought in the
Abyssinian war, and took an active part in the revolutionary
movement. He was one of the emissaries to Haiti on or about
September 15, 1947.
Major Feliciano MADERNE, officer in the National Police, and former
Cuban Army officer, was recently catapulted into prominence when he
accused President Grau and Minister Aleman of complicity in the
revolutionary movement. His accusation is presently before the
Senate of Cuba. It appears unlikely that Major Maderne will live
very much longer unless he is extremely careful.
Romulo BETANCOURT, President of the Venezuelan Revolutionary Junta, is
believed to have been at all times interested in the expedition.
Although it was reported that the Minister of Foreign Relations was
opposed to any Venezuelan participation, official Venezuelan sanction
of the movement appears certain. For example, Felix Buenaventura
Sanchez is known to have traveled on an official Venezuelan
passport. A large group of Venezuelans are known to have been
among the revolutionaries at Cayo Confites. Members of the
Dominican Central Revolutionary Committee traveled back and forth
between Habana and Caracas during the entire period of the movement.
Luis Augusto DUBUC, believed to be close to the Revolutionary Junta of
Venezuela, was sent by President Betancourt to Cuba on or about
September 25, 1947 to find out what was happening to the revolutionary
movement in Cuba. The Venezuelan Ambassador in Cuba took Dubuc to
see President Grau and it is reported that they were both very
displeased with the results of the interview - probably because
President Grau told them that the movement was going to be broken up.
There is no evidence that any American officials or Americans of
prominence (other than soldiers of fortune or small business men
anxious to sell surplus war material) participated in the Dominican
The following is a list of the soldiers of fortune who are believed to
have participated; it should be stressed, however, that as there are
very lenient passport requirements between Cuba and the United States
today, the names given by these men may have been entirely fictitious.
Louis C. DELL, formerly Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force, member of
General Chennault's "Flying Tigers", was apparently involved in the
export of military aircraft to Cuba in the summer of 1947. It is
known that Ramirez Rosell did business with him.
Carl KNIGHT, a Miami aviator, formerly a lieutenant in the Air
Force. Is known to have purchased a B-24 from the War Assets
Administration and to have immediately resold it to Ramirez Rosell.
Chester H. PICKUP, apparently aided Ramirez Rosell in purchasing planes
in the United States and is known to have flown a B-24, bought by
knight from the War Assets Administration, from Florida to Cuba.
Frank (Francis) ADKINS was apparently close to Ramirez Rosell in the
summer of 1947; was sent to Los Angeles to buy P-38's. Later
Adkins came to Cuba where he was the leader of the aviators
participating in the revolutionary movement.
Luis M. BORDAD, formerly of the Dominican Republic, but presently a
resident of Santuros, Puerto Rico; served in the Marine Corps during
the war and is known to have aided Ramirez Rosell in the purchase of
aircraft in the United States. Bordas accompanied Adkins on the
mission to Los Angeles to purchase a P-38 in the summer of 1947.
Hollis Burton SMITH, approximately 25, resides at Palisades Park, New
Jersey, was apparently hired by the Dominican revolutionary group in
New York to manufacture explosives for the revolution-aries. In
this connection his name has been clearly connected with Castro and
Smith manufactured explosives in New Jersey before coming to
Cuba. Reportedly, three tons of explosives were flown to
Cuba. After the failure of the expedition, Smith returned to the
United States and was immediately arrested by the United States
The following persons are believed to have actually been in Cuba with
the revolutionary forces. Most of them are believed to have been
pilots or members of ground crews. Again it should be stressed
that the names given may have been fictitious.
Louis TANASSY (Tannessy), 35, who gave his address as 3209 86th Street, Jackson Heights, Long Island, New York.
Arthur ROSCOE, 26, who gave his address as 6910 Las Tilos Road,
Hollywood, California. Roscoe bought a P-38 to Cuba on or about
August 15, 1947, is known to have been one of the aviators. Upon
his return to the United States, however, he told the press that he was
from Chicago, Ill.
Loren C. SNOW (Loren Snarr), 25, gave his address as Club Pedro, Coral Gables, Florida.
Frank D. OERGES (Frank Dergel) (Frank Oreal) (Frank O'Neal), gave his address as 557 West Stacker Street, Glendale, Calif.
Fraili MATABANY (Frank Matasvage) (Frank Matasavage), 31, gave his address as 140 Chancelord North, New Jersey.
Michael CULLEN (Callas), 38, gave him address as Box 14, Madison, Conn.
Steve KURSTAY (Kostey), 31, gave his address 220 Almond Street, Catasunque, Pa.
John MAYER (Meyer), 24, gave his address as 6218 Lagores, Miami, Fla.
Donald KOHN (Kohin), 23, gave his address as 1413 Broce Ave., Glendale, Calif.
Peter ETHIER (Ethler), 26, gave his address as Chappaque, N.Y.
Lyman MIDDLEDITCH, 32, gave his address as Highlands, N. J.
Buck Templeton and Jessie MAYS known to be mechanics attached to the
revolutionary force who left in a huff and went back to the United
States before the collapse of the expedition.
John ALEXANDER, a pilot who flew a P-38 from Florida to Cuba on August
23, 1947. Joined the revolutionary forces but later had an
argument and returned to the United States before the failure of the
Robert ELLIOTT, known to have gone to the United States before the
failure of the expedition, his home is known to be Los Angeles,
James T. LAWYER (Sawyer), 25, of New York City, and Rupert WADDELL, two
other Americans, known to have assisted the revolutionary force.
Robert L. BROWN, American pilot for Linea Aeropostal Venezolana, is
know to have flown a plane from the United States to Cuba, acting under
orders from Manolo Castro.
Aside from clear implication of Dominicans, Cubans, Venezuelans and
Americans in the revolutionary movement, there are indications that the
Government of Guatemala was implicated. There were a number of
Guatemalan volunteers and it has been rumored that some of the arms and
munitions came from Guatemala. After the expedition failed,
Masferrer accused President AREVALDO of Guatemala of having been
involved in the shipment of arms to Cuba. He said that the
arrangement had been made by Cruz Alonso.
Strangely enough, the Peruvian diplomatic representatives in Habana and
Ciudad Trujillo were both extremely interested in the
revolutionary movement, although from a different point of view, The
Peruvian diplomatic representative in Habana favored the movement and
is reported to have been extremely annoyed when it failed. On the
other hand, the Peruvian diplomatic representatives in Ciudad Trujillo
is known to have been close to President Trujillo and unquestionably
gave him any information he received regarding the progress of the
There is considerable rumor to the effect that PERON was involved in
the revolutionary movement. Felix Buenaventura Sanchez and
Alejandro Del Valle told the press after the failure of the
revolutionary expedition that Peron was interested in supporting the
regime of Trujillo and offered its financial support. Masferrer,
however, told the press that President Aravalo of Guatemala had
obtained arms from Argentine for the revolutionaries. In any
event, it appears quite probably that MOLINART, Special Argentine
Ambassador to the inaugural ceremony at Ciudad Trujillo and Special
Argentine Emissary to Central America and the Caribbean for the past
ten months, was extremely close to President Trujillo, while he was in
Ciudad Trujillo. It is said that Molinari advised Trujillo on all
phases of policy, and Ambassador Butler has re-ported that Molinari
probably drafted some of Trujillo's notes. Strangely enough, this
same information was at a later date. Both stories, however,
might have come ordinally from the same source.
President Trujillo has claimed that the revolutionary movement was
dominated by Communists. There is little evidence that any large
number of Communists participated.
The Movimiento de Liberacion de America, a Cuban Communist
organization, recruited for the revolutionary movement; and there were
a number of Venezuelan Communist volunteer; in the force. Rumor
has it, however, that there volunteers caused considerable
trouble and were disbanded.
Gustavo MACHADO, Communist member of the Venezuelan Constitutent
Assembly and Communist candidate for the presidency of Venezuela, had a
conference with Gilberto VIERA, head of the Communists in Colombia at
which conference it was decided that Machado should join the
expeditionary force to ensure proper Communist influence in the new
Government of the Dominican Republic if the expedition succeeded.
Whether or not Machado actually came to Cuba is not known.
VLansing Collins, jr/dts
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