Document Type: 
Document Number (FOIA) /ESDN (CREST): 
Release Decision: 
Original Classification: 
Document Page Count: 
Document Creation Date: 
December 12, 2016
Document Release Date: 
March 26, 2002
Sequence Number: 
Case Number: 
Publication Date: 
May 2, 1975
Content Type: 
PDF icon CIA-RDP79T00865A002600010001-3.pdf473.28 KB
,Rpproved For Release 2002/05/09 : CIA-RDP79T00865A0026000100a No. 0545/75 2 May 1975 The Status of Cuban Subversion in Latin A erica Cuban efforts to promote revolution in Latin America remain at a low ebb, reflecting Havana's desire to gain re- spectability :in the hemisphere and .its recognition of the absence of revolutionary conditions in countries whose governments Castro opposes. To promote normal government-to--government relations with the countries that supported the lifting of sanctions last November, Havana is loosening ties with the few il- legal and guerrilla groups it still assists. It is un- likely that for the sake of any marginal subversive group,, Castro will compromise the formal ties he has worked so persistently to acquire or endanger prospective ties with other potentially friendly Latin American governments. Even in countries hostile to the Castro regime, Havana no longer sponsors insurgent groups. Eschewing subversion in these countries is a tactical decision, however, and the Cuban leadership reserves the option in the future to sup- port well organized armed groups that demonstrate an ability to attract broad popular support. This attitude stems from a belief that in the long run governments ideologically com- patible with the Castro regime can carry out the broad social changes necessary to fulfill Castro's definition of revolution only by violent means. In the meantime, Cuban representatives in Latin America will provide unobtrusive assistance to leftist groups in order to promote mass organizations that might per- suade existing governments to move further to the left. This memorandum was prepared by the Office -,f Current Intelligence and has been coordinated with Directorate of Operations. pproved For Release 2002/05/09 : CIA-RDP79T00865A002600010001-3 Approved For Release 2002/05/09 : CIA-RDP79T00865A002600010001-3I 25X1 DISCUSSION 1. After sponsoring revolution in Latin America for nine years, Castro began in 1968 to reappraise his methods and objectives. Successive and costly failures by revolu- tionary groups and their poor prospects for the future, in- creasing Soviet pressure to promote the policy of detente, rapidly changing conditions in the hemisphere, and domestic problems gradually persuaded him to eschew violent methods. Subsequent efforts to extend Cuban influence through more conventional means succeeded dramatically, and a significant change in Castro's view of his role in the region became ap- parent. For a time he continued to assert that he would es- tablish formal ties only with "revolutionary" governments, but by the early 1970s he had broadened his definition of the term to include "patriotic" regimes "independent of the US > 2. The Castro regime's heightened interest in pursuing conventional diplomacy has been greatly influenced by the current mood in Latin America. The increasing readiness of many Latin American governments to cooperate with other Third World governments especially on economic issues, the dimin- ished sense of mutual interest between Latin America and the US, and the growing respectability of Castro himself in the hemisphere have made government-to--government ties seem more profitable than the subversive approach. Castro has used his improving ties with the leaders of friendly countries to press for Latin unity on issues which affect US interests. Even with those governments with which the Cuban leadership does not share a world view--such as Argentina and even Brazil-- Havana has found a pragmatic approach to be advantageous. 3. Havana's increased diplomatic representation abroad has provided greater opportunities for some types of intelli- gence and political activity. Cuban intelligence officers in diplomatic guise are present in relatively large numbers in the countries where Havana is officially represented. There and elsewhere, the Cuban news agency, national airline, and pproved For Release 2002/05/09 : CIA-RDP79T00865A002600010001-3 25X1 25X1 Cuba's Advocates at Quito 4. Since the meeting of OAS foreign ministers in Quito last November, Cuba has even further broadened the range of governments with which it is willing to conduct relations through accepted and orthodox means. Late last November Castro stated that "the Cuban revolution must take into consideration the governments that voted against the block- ade,.. .and if any of these governments decides to reestablish relations with Cuba, we will have no objection."* 5. Havana maintains good relations with the governments of Panama, Mexico, and Venezuela and will take pains to keep relations at. this level. There is no evidence of recent Cuban support. to subversives in any of these countries. In the case of Mexico, for example, Castro feels a mutuality of interest with the Echeverria government. F_ 1 Venezuela's President Carlos Andres Perez is another leader of Third World causes and thus shares some of Castro's interests. Castro's speeches indicate that he looks upon Venezuela as a supplier of oil that could enable Cuba to escape its heavy dependence on the Soviet Union and also as a potential source of large- scale financial assistance for national development. He therefore undoubtedly feels that there is much more to gain from government-to-government relations than from supporting Venezuelan subversive groups that, in any event, are weak and disunited. In the case of Panama, while having no illusions about Torrijos' conviction as a "revolutionary," Castro has found the present government a useful ally because of its strongly nationalistic posture, particularly on the canal issue. pproved For Release 2002/05/09 : CIA-RDP79T00865AO02600010001-3 25X1 25X6 Twelve governments--members of the Rio Pact--voted to lift the OAS sanctions at Quito; these included seven with which Havana now has relations--Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela--as well as five others--Costa Rica, Ecuador, EZ Salvador, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic. Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana and the Bahamas were not present at Quito because they are not signatories of the Rio Pact, but Havana has relations with all four. and government-to-government reZaz;ions have been so profitable that the Castro regime would have little motive for supporting subversives. Aq' proved For Release 2002/05/09 : CIA-RDP79T00865AO02600010001-4 25X1 App~oved For Release 2002/05/09 : CIA-RDP79T00865A002600010I001-3 25X1 6. The economic ties Cuba has developed with Argentina are too important to risk by giving significant support to the existing revolutionary groups. The People's Revolutionary Army (ERP) has had contact with the Castro regime in the past 25X1 but the extent of current ties is unknown. 'Inc e otner principal Argentine subversive group, the Montoneros, is not known to receive Cuban support. 7. There is no evidence that Cuba has financed or armed Colombian guerrilla groups since the mid-,1960s. The impending opening of a Cuban embassy in-Bogota may raise the expectations of the pro-Havana ELN or even the pro-Moscow FARC for assis.- tance, but the Castro regime is not likely to provide anything more than token financial support---even to a unified guerrilla movement-?--in order not to endanger newly established relations with the Lopez government. S. In the case of the Dominican Republic, Cuba continues to provide a safehaven for a small number of revolutionaries and apparently is providing some financial assistance to a small left-wing'terrorist group 25X1 There is no evidence; however, that a is sponsoring insur-- gent or terrorist activities in the Dominican Republic, and the Castro regime would be unlikely to promote subversion in light of its willingness to restore relations with the Balaguer government. Balaguer apparently sees restoration of ties with Cuba as a way, of getting the Castro regime to be even more careful of its links with Dominican leftist extremists. 9. Relations with Peru seem to fall into a special cate-- gory. In order to ensure the continuation of the Peruvian revolution, the Castro regime apparently is willing to support armed para-military organizations. Havana considers the Velasco government its closest ally in Latin America, but fears that when the ailing Velasco leaves office his successor may attempt to slow down the revolution. 25X1 25X1 Approved For Release 2002/05/09 : CIA-RDP79T00865AO02600010901-3 App}oved For Release 2002/05/09 : CIA-RDP79T00865A00260001000I1-3 25X1 Governments Hostile to the Castro Regime 1.0. At present, Havana no longer sponsors insurgent groups even in those countries in Latin America that are hostile to the Castro regime. Cubans are no longer sent abroad as advisers or participants in revolutionary action. Financial, material, and training support have been reduced to the lowest levels since 1959. The guerrilla training that Cubans still offer to foreign revolutionaries is aimed at maintaining small nuclei of paramilitary specialists for future contingencies, rather than as part of ongoing plans to infiltrate guerrillas back into their countries for the purpose of armed subversion. Factual coverage, as opposed to exhortative propaganda, will probably continue to be given to the exploits of guerrillas and revolutionaries in order to help Cuba maintain its revolutionary bona fides in the Third World. Havana will permit limited use of its propaganda facilities by selected foreign extremists and revolutionary leaders to call for violent revolution. In the past year, for example, exiles from Uruguay, Chile, and Nicaragua have been granted this privilege. 11. The Castro government, although antagonistic toward Brazil, is aware that armed subversion has virtually no chance of succeeding there. Castro reportedly now sees the most likely impetus for change in Brazil as coming from within the military, rather than from any guerrilla movement. Havana has cooperated with the Brazilians on some economic issues, and is apparently hopeful that Brazil eventually will loosen its ties with the US. 12. Uruguayan Foreign Minister Blanco's repeated charges that Cuba has not ceased its efforts to foment revolution in Uruguay have yet to be substantiated. The Castro government provides a safehaven for an unknown number of former Tupamaro guerrillas and may also provide training and technical assis- tance. the 25X1 Tupamaros have almost disappeared as a movement, and the Cuban leadership apparently has little hope that they will again be-- come a threat to the government. There is no evidence of Cuban support for subversives in Paraguay or Bolivia and so long as there are no viable leftist opposition groups in those coun- tries, Havana is not likely to get involved. 13. Castro maintains the strongest enmity for the Chilean military government, but with the destruction of leftist orga-- nizations there he has apparently become resigned to the reaLi-- ties of a situation he has little ability to influence. Havana Ap 25X1 Apps continues to invest small amounts of money to aid Chilean ex- tremist groups and has encouraged the disorganized Chilean exile organizations to unify and form a common front. Castro remains committed to the need for the revolutionary overthrow of the Pinochet government, nonetheless, and if a viable in- surgent force were put together, the Cubans would probably provide them with significant support. At present, Havana sees external military intervention--a war between Peru and Chile for example--as the only possible, though somewhat un- realistic, way of unseating Chile's military government. The Cubans have promised the Peruvian military, assistance in the event of war with Chile, and would undoubtedly live up to their commitment within the constraints of the logistical problems inherent in a lengthy and complex supply line. 14. The successful terrorist attack last December by the Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional (FSLN) has aroused Havana's interest in events in Nicaragua. The per- petrators of the act were subsequently granted asylum in Cuba where they joined other Nicaraguan revolutionaries. The overthrow of the Somoza regime is a long-term personal ambition of Castro's. However, stepped-up Cuban support-- beyond token training and funding--will likely be contingent upon the FSLN's ability to demonstrate that it is a viable force with mass appeal. 15. Despite the high level of Cuban interest in Guatemai_a, Castro apparently is not optimistic about the short-run pros- pects for revolution. The rebel movement is so disorganized and disunited as to endanger continued Cuban support. Guatemala will remain iq on Castro 's list of priorities, but Cuba's support of revo- lutionaries will probably continue at a very low level until there is a change in the political situation which either ob-- vi.ates the need for armed struggle or creates better conditions for its success. Conclusions and Outlook 16. Castro is unlikely, for the sake of any marginal subversive groups, to compromise the formal ties he has worked so persistently to acquire in Latin America or endanger pro- spective ties with governments that may soon restore relations with Havana. He will be increasingly mindful of Cuba's im- proving image throughout the region and anxious to capitalize on it. Even when his intrinsic revolutionary sensitivities 25X1 25X1 25X1 Ap Approved For Release 2002/05/09 : CIA-RDP79T00865A002600010001 -3 25X1 are strained by governments he is contemptuous of, he will, remember the deleterious effects that proof of Cuban subver- sion would have on his entire foreign policy. 1.7. Nevertheless, the Cuban leadership--deeply influ- enced by the overthrow of Salvador Allende--continues to be- lieve that in the long run "national liberation" in Latin America can be achieved only through the use of violence. Several t Cuban leaders including Raul Roa, Blas Roca, and oCastro himself have expressed the view that there is no peaceful road to socialism. Furthermore, a Cuban of- ficial who presumably spoke for the leadership stated last October that "it is impossible to implant a revolution from above via an established government no matter how good its intentions." 18. The draft constitution released in early April re- flects Havana's intention of keeping open the option to re- turn to "exporting the revolution." It specifically acknowl- edges the "right of peoples to reject imperialist violence with revolutionary violence" and "recognizes the legitimacy of wars of national liberation as well as armed resistance to aggression and conquest, and considers its right and its internationalist duty to aid the besieged and the peoples who fight for their liberation." 19. It is clear, however, that the Cuban leadership now recognizes that there are no quick solutions to complex political conditions. Castro realizes that Cuban efforts can no longer be the catalyst of revolution in Latin America in the absence of local revolutionary conditions and local cadres capable of exploiting them. It was this new awareness that Castro was expressing when he told a group of Mexican journa- lists in early January that: "We cannot extend our private revolutionary objectives to Latin America because I think a revolution belongs to the people of each nation and no one can conduct it for them." Castro will hold open the option of supporting insurgents in countries such as Chile, Guatemala. or Nicaragua if their prospects dramatically improve, but he apparently feels that even in these areas revolutionary con- ditions are not sufficiently advanced to warrant significant support. 20. Until conditions are more favorable for leftist armed insurgents, the Castro regime will probably concen- trate on expanding and maintaining normal diplomatic and economic ties with governments friendly to Havana. Where possible the Cubans may try to assist left-leaning govern- ments-such as that of Forbes Burnham of Guyana--to develop ,Ppproved For Release 2002/05/09 : CIA-RDP79T00865A002600010001 -3 25X1 Ap' proved For Release 2002/05/09 : CIA-RDP79T00865AO026000101 a broad base of mass support. Cuba can provide expertise in creating or further developing mass organizations--such as student, labor, and peasant groups. The Cubans could be expected to use whatever influence they have with the leader- ship of these mass organizations to strengthen the leftward inclination of the government. n 8 - 25X1 pproved For Release 2002/05/09 : CIA-RDP79T00865AO02600010001-3 Approved For Release 2002/05/09 : CIA-RDP79T00865AO02600010001-3 Next 1 Page(s) In Document Exempt Approved For Release 2002/05/09 : CIA-RDP79T00865AO02600010001-3