Rear-view Mirror

Half-century of unofficial warfare

Cuba recalls 50th anniversary of Eisenhower's Executive Order
approving secret and terrorist action against the small island nation


Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952. (Photo: Copyright 1952 Fabian Bachrach/Library of Congress.
Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952. (Photo: Copyright 1952 Fabian Bachrach/Library of Congress.)

HAVANA — In the face of another hostile media campaign directed by Washington, Cuba recalls today the 50th anniversary of former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower's executive order approving covert and terrorist action against the island.

Called the Program of Covert Action against the Castro Regime, the document signed by Eisenhower gave the official green light to all kinds of illegal operations aimed at overthrowing the revolutionary government.

In violation of all international standards regulating relations between governments and peoples, instructions were given to create a CIA front organization made up of the remnants of the Batista dictatorship in exile in the United States.

In parallel, the entire U.S. military and espionage apparatus was put at the program's disposition with the immediate objective of organizing a paramilitary force that would secretly enter Cuba to train and lead terrorist groups.

Declassified documents released by the U.S. National Security Archive reveal that the order included an international propaganda offensive and the creation on the island of a clandestine group to provide intelligence information.

Eisenhower issued instructions that the hand of the United States should not be seen in any of those actions and made those present at the signing of the order swear that they had heard nothing of what was said there.

Allen W. Dulles, then director of the CIA, subsequently received the president's order that secret reports related to Cuba should not even be presented to the National Security Council.

A medium wave radio station was set up to broadcast to Cuba via Swan Island, located to the south of Cuba, to support the propaganda aspect of the program.

The executive order was equivalent to a declaration of war on a little country that had not attacked the United States, and Eisenhower himself acknowledged in his memoirs what happened next.

"On March 17, 1960 I ordered the Central Intelligence Agency to begin organizing the training of Cuban exiles in Guatemala ... Another idea was to set up an anti-Castro force inside Cuba. Some thought the United States should quarantine [i.e., blockade] the island, arguing that if the economy suddenly collapsed, the Cuban people themselves would overthrow Castro," he wrote.

The result of that direct aggression against Cuba was quickly felt with a huge increase in terrorist attacks, the killing of campesinos by armed bands in the island's central mountains, and the defeated Bay of Pigs invasion.

War had been unilaterally declared. Decades later, that attempt to destroy the Cuban Revolution is still latent within the government of the United States.

17 March 2010 — Return to cover.