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I never intended to write this article. I had a long 30,000-word article on U.S. PSYOP to Central and South America and had so little on Cuba that I just added it to the Americas article. Over time I got more on Cuba and suddenly realized it had grown to about 7,000 words. I had very few images (and I apologize to the readers for that, but The Cubans were not leaflet collectors and you cannot deal with them legally anyway, so no Cuban leaflets reached the shores of the U.S.). Although I was unhappy with so few leaflet images, I thought the story was important enough to make it an article, so here it is, pimples and all.

As we have seen in The Godfather films, Cuba was at one time an island run by a dictator named Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar, a sergeant who gained control of the army, where gambling and good times were offered to rich Americans and others who wanted to spend a few days in a tropical paradise. I will give a very brief history of the lead up to the Bay of Pigs invasion. Books have been written about it, but I want to talk only about the psychological operation leaflets and the very rare propaganda leaflets that were prepared for use in the invasion.

Fulgencio Batista

All that changed with the appearance of Fidel Castro. Britannica says Castro was educated in Santiago de Cuba and Havana, and, while he was still a student, he participated in revolutionary activities throughout Latin America. On 26 July 1953, he led around 160 men in a desperate and unsuccessful raid on a Santiago army barracks. He had hoped that the attack would ignite a general uprising against Batista, but most of the attackers were killed and Castro and his brother Raúl were arrested and imprisoned. In 1955 the Castro brothers received amnesty and were released, whereupon Fidel went to Mexico, where he began organizing an invading force of Cuban exiles.

Fidel Castro

Accompanied by a band of 81 men on board the yacht Granma, Castro landed in eastern Cuba on 2 December 1956, but most of the force was quickly killed or captured. Among the dozen men who escaped were the Castro brothers and Ernesto (“Che”) Guevara. The revolution continued into 1958 with sporadic raids and considerable destruction of property, as the unrest began to seriously disrupt the Cuban economy. Sugar mills and plantations were burned, bombings in Havana depressed the tourist trade, and rebel activity in Oriente province hampered the mining industry. In July government troops advanced to positions in the foothills of the Sierra Maestra. They were quickly thrown back. Cuban army forces retreated to their strongholds in government-held territory.

Support for Batista melted away. Although much of the army remained loyal to him, its combat effectiveness had been seriously compromised, because of ammunition shortages resulting from an American arms embargo. On 20 August 1959, he flew to the Portuguese island of Madeira; he would spend the rest of his life in exile in Portugal.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower

There were allegedly more than 600 attempts to overthrow or assassinate Castro, although those numbers are unproven. A Communist dictatorship in America’s backyard was impossible to accept, so there were many plots hatched, all unsuccessful. On January 3, 1961, in one of his final acts in office, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower severed diplomatic relations with Havana. A little more than three months later, on April 17, 1961, some 1,500 Cuban exiles who had been financed and directed by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency staged an abortive invasion at the Bay of Pigs. The invasion, crushed by the Cuban military, was the last large-scale overt attempt to overthrow the Castro regime.

To get an idea of what the CIA was up to in the early 1960s the official classified secret report: CIA Operations Against Cuba Prior to the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy on 23 November 1963 says in part:

Agency planning and operations directed at Cuba during the latter part of 1959, 1960 and early 1961 were almost totally devoted to the development of the paramilitary operation which culminated in the Bay of Pigs invasion on 17 April 1961. During this period, major efforts were devoted to training a paramilitary force, formation of a Cuban exile organization in Miami to direct opposition activities and to provide future Cuban leadership and a propaganda campaign designed to-rally opposition to Castro in Cuba and elsewhere in Latin America.

The CIA established a large Station in Miami in September 1961 to continue operations against Cuba. The Station initiated three major classes of activities: intelligence collection/espionage, covert action/propaganda, and infiltration/exfiltration actions.

Mailing operations were directed to Latin American countries outside of Cuba. This project, initiated in 1963 was designed as a mass mailing operation into Cuba to encourage subtle sabotage, resistance, and harassment. Utilizing names and addresses from Cuban telephone books, letters with fictitious return addresses were mailed to Cuba from various Latin American countries and by insertion into international mail.

Cuba – The Bay of Pigs 17-20 April 1961

The CIA has published a lot of information on the Bay of Pigs and by carefully going through it all we were able to identify some leaflets and get the text of others. We also found a few crude photocopies of leaflets. I show them all here. Other authors have written articles on this subject, and where I mention Don Bohning, the reader should know that he wrote an article titled "U.S. Propaganda war Preceded Exile Landing at Bay of Pigs" for the Miami Herald on 30 April 2000.

I will not go into the history of the Bay of Pigs invasion. Our readers know that Fidel Castro took over Cuba in January 1959 and installed a Communist regime. Cubans in the United States wanted to recover their country so with the help of the Central Intelligence Agency a plan was hatched to retake the island in April 1961. Kennedy once said that on his inauguration day Eisenhower warned him to avoid the hair-brained CIA scheme, but he ignored the suggestion. The invasion took place, and although the U.S. claimed no nationals were involved, U.S. Navy personnel told me that they took Cuban troops right up to the beach in landing craft. No U.S. military aircraft were to be used so B-26 bombers and other aircraft such as C46 and C-54 cargo planes with insignia painted over were flown by civilians, many contract pilots, members of the U.S. Reserves and National Guard. As the invasion went bad there was a call for fighter aircraft, but Kennedy refused. Fidel Castro later said that this was the main reason for the invasion’s failure.

During Tet 1968, North Vietnam ordered its guerrillas in the South to attack cities and military bases expecting the Vietnamese people to rise and support the revolution. They did not and the result was over 30,000 Viet Cong killed or captured.

Although not PSYOP, it is worth noting that several studies were made by the CIA of why the invasion went so wrong. The Jack B. Pfeiffer 1984 CIA secret internal investigation of the Bay of Pigs, titled Official History of the Bay of Pigs Operation (Draft Volume V) is interesting because instead of a report it is a verbal fistfight where all the comments of different people and studies are stated and then attacked. It is interesting to see all the sides of the argument, but the text below shows you how some thought the plan was destined to fail no matter what, and others thought it would succeed. Below you see the arguments that the various experts threw at each other. When you read this, you start to see why it went so bad. It seems everyone was doing their own thing and there was little communication between the various military and governmental planners, air, ground, and sea forces, and possible assets on the island:

The Agency was matching the 1,500-man brigade, after an amphibious landing, against Castro's combined military forces, estimated as follows: the revolutionary Army - 32,000 men; the militia - 200,000 men. Each member of the American Chiefs of Staff individually believed that the operation could succeed. The implied criticism of Colonel Jack Hawkins (USMC) who was Chief of the paramilitary staff for the task force seems completely unwarranted because Hawkins's basic task was to prepare the strike operations. Hawkins, who undoubtedly would have gotten his star because of a successful Bay of Pigs Operation, had been handpicked by the Commandant of the [Marine] Corps, General Shoup, to come over and do this job. Cuban exiles in the United States were loose lipped, and the news media, particularly the Miami and New York papers, also were eager to publicize any information they could get about plans involving the United States to overthrow Fidel Castro. Trying to mount an operation of this magnitude from the United States is about as covert as walking nude across Times Square without attracting attention. The political decisions by the White House at the critical hour cancelled the D-Day air strike and ignored the intelligence estimate that control of the air was essential to success. The cancellation of the D-Day air strike was the result of Department of state objections. There was no full-time chief of training to oversee requirements, define responsibilities, set up facilities, and provide support. On the night of 16 April 1961, a withdrawal of the invading force with minimum losses was a realistic option, why this point was never raised is difficult to understand. There was a complete lack of direction and command in the project; the operational plan was nothing short of ludicrous. It is the general view of the investigating team that the project was ill-conceived, badly administered, poorly led, and that the tradecraft doctrine was violated on a massive scale.

The arguments and attacks went on for 185 pages. Psychological Operations got one mention. It is stated that the wrong supplies were dropped, 1760 pounds of extra supplies, far too many to hide, and the plane then dropped leaflets which virtually pointed out the hiding place. It said about the person in charge, “He decided the Agency lacked the professional competence to make clandestine air drops.” The advance team refused any more drops, no matter what the cargo was.

Brigade 2506 Flag

In the case of Cuba, the anti-Castro fighters believed that the Cuban people would rush to join their ranks and free themselves from Communism. About 1400 fighters from Brigade 2506 invaded in 1961, the Cuban people did not rise, and the Brigade members were captured or killed except for about three dozen that were rescued by American military craft.

Brigade 2506 Patch

This is the short story of the PSYOP of that invasion. We have very few actual leaflets from the invasion. I am sure that many Americans and perhaps some Cubans kept souvenirs of this air-dropped propaganda. We would love to hear from anyone who saved some of the original pieces. It would be nice to take this section and change it into a major article.

We do know that on 17 September 1962 a secret memorandum was sent to General Lansdale about a request for approval to start a propaganda balloon campaign against Cuba as part of Operation Mongoose.

Helium inflated balloons were to be flown from a foreign-flag ship located at least 10 miles from Cuba in international waters. To protect U.S. involvement the ship would be chartered by a Cuban exile that was well-known and acceptable to the Cuban anti-Castro exiles. The sponsor would be put in touch with a “cleared” balloon facility and purchase the balloons. The sponsor would contact the Cuban Revolutionary Council and work with them. Anti-Castro groups could submit propaganda and if found acceptable by the CIA it would be accepted and disseminated by balloon.

Brigade 2506 Paratroopers

Cuban groups would hopefully prepare acceptable propaganda, but if not, the CIA would produce the anti-Castro leaflets and provide timely ideas, themes, news items and technical assistance. Propaganda might also be prepared for Soviet and Soviet-bloc personnel. For increased security, the sponsor is the only non-American to deal with the CIA.

Twenty balloons an hour could be launched from a station into the easterly trade winds, each carrying four pounds of leaflets (2,000 to 4,000 leaflets). Four such stations could launch 80 balloons an hour. It was estimated that 2,000,000 to 4,000,000 leaflets a month could be delivered.

Cuban exiles go through the undergrowth, in training for the invasion in Cuba on April 17th 1961.

The Bay of Pigs invasion began with the a CIA-financed and trained group of Cuban refugees landing in Cuba

Counter-attack by Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces supported by
T-34 tanks near Playa Giron during the Bay of Pigs invasion, 19 April 1961.


Medium wave Radio Swan – Political programming will be eliminated, and the best talent will be utilized under “Unity Program” controlled by Miami. In addition to Radio Swan, there will be clandestine programs, ostensibly originating within Cuba at least twice a day. It is hoped that the Cuban Freedom Committee will sponsor a music and news program – a mild “Tokyo Rose” operation, from a Key West Station. Propaganda teams infiltrating into Cuba will carry Viking Transmitters that can broadcast from denied areas within the country.

[Author’s note] Bohning adds (edited for brevity): The centerpiece of the propaganda effort was Radio Swan, a medium-wave CIA station that broadcast from a tiny island named Swan Island in the western Caribbean that was later used as a transfer point for supplies sent to Honduran-based, U.S.-backed rebels fighting Nicaragua's Sandinista government in the 1980s. The island has since been turned over to Honduras, settling a longstanding ownership dispute.

The station became operational on 17 May 1960, two months after President Eisenhower approved the effort to rid Cuba of revolutionary leader Fidel Castro. It operated through a commercial front in Miami known as the Gibraltar Steamship Corp.

Taped programs produced in Miami by Cuban exiles were air-expressed to about 40 stations in five countries around the Caribbean. There was also Station WGBS in Miami, a very powerful medium-wave station. There was a medium-wave station in Key West, and they broadcast from a series of other stations from countries all around the Caribbean.

As the invasion drew closer, two teams were available to go into Cuba to take over captured radio stations or captured newspapers. They had a radio propaganda transmitter which went in with the Brigade and had trained the men to operate it. The history of Radio Swan noted that Castro began jamming it almost immediately, but he was successful only in the city of Havana.

Scores of letters were received from all parts of Cuba to show that the station had listeners. In March 1961, a survey was conducted to determine the extent of the listening coverage. An inexpensive ballpoint pen was offered to those listeners who would write into the station. The reply was immediate: almost 3,000 letters from 26 countries. This barrage of mail included significant amounts from all parts of Cuba.

Although great numbers of Cubans still listened to the station, its credibility and reputation began to suffer as the result of statements representing the selfish interests of the Cuban groups producing the various programs. Efforts to achieve the proper control failed, the document said, so on 27 March 1961, Radio Swan management sent a letter to program producers terminating their programs. The CIA took direct control of radio broadcasts after becoming disillusioned with infighting among Miami exile groups that had been conducting them.

Swan Island lies between Honduras and Cuba

London Shortwave is a website dedicated to shortwave radio. They covered Cuban radio on 19 December 2013 and of course Radio Swan was mentioned.

In its ideological battle against Cuba, the United States have employed a number of shortwave radio stations broadcasting towards the Caribbean island. One of the more famous was Radio Swan, which was set up by the CIA to promote an uprising against the Castro regime and used during the abortive Bay of Pigs invasion to assist with the landings of the US troops by transmitting coded messages. These days, the most prominent US government-funded clandestine station targeting Cuba is the Miami-based Radio Martí, which is primarily staffed by Cuban immigrants. From listening to it with my limited comprehension of Spanish I understood that they use correspondents in Cuba who have American mobile phones that can make calls outside the country (which were obviously smuggled in). Some programs are very propaganda-driven, brutally exposing the deficiencies of the current Cuban economic system, while a few others, such as Avanza Cuba (Cuba Forward) are more positive in their tone and explore Cuba's potential.

Cuba has one international radio broadcaster, Radio Habana Cuba (RHC), and several clandestine stations that broadcast from it. These days, RHC broadcasts towards several regions: the USA (in English and Spanish), Europe (in French, Portuguese and Arabic), Central America (in English, Spanish, French and Creole), South America (in French, Spanish and even in Quechua - the language of the native populations of Bolivia and Peru) and Africa (in English).

A numbers station is a shortwave station that transmits a sequence of encrypted messages, usually in the form numbers read out by an automated voice. During the Cold War, such stations were very active on both sides of the Iron Curtain, and it is hypothesized that they were used to send ciphered instructions to spies. Cuba operates a network of these stations, and they have previously been implicated in Cuban anti-US espionage cases. In 2001, Los Cinco (the Cuban Five) were tried and convicted of spying for Cuba in the United States. It is alleged that the group had received and decoded messages that had been broadcast from Cuban numbers’ stations.

Tom Kneitel wrote about Radio Swan in a November 1995 article in the Monitoring Magazine. He says in part:

Without any warning whatsoever, a broadcaster calling itself Radio Swan appeared with a 50-kW signal (3.5 kW on 6.000 MHz shortwave). And where was it operating? Right on 1160 kHz (measured 1157 kHz), a "clear channel" which, until then, had been mainly occupied by KSL in Salt Lake City and WJJD in Chicago, both 50 kilowatts. Listeners throughout North America reported the RS signals on 1160 kHz while the 6 MHz signals were heard over a far wider area. No governmental authority had ever been granted for the RS station to exist. It seemed to be operating outside of all international agreements and treaties.

The easternmost island, “Little Swan," is uninhabited. The western island, "Great Swan," is 2 miles long and was inhabited by 20 Cayman Islanders who were brought there by the Americans to work as laborers. There were also employees of the U.S. Federal Aviation Agency, the Weather Bureau, and the Radio Swan personnel. Radio Swan, at that time, was owned by the Gibraltar Steamship Corporation of New York City, a company that did not own a single steamship. “One of my information sources was this report provided me by Cuban nationals employed at one time by RS/RA. This is part of one of these memos. In the second paragraph the memo notes that the plant transmitter was constructed by technicians of the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States.”

The RS technical staff on Swan consisted of 15 engineers and technicians who were employees of The Philco Corporation's Tech Rep "flying squad," which provided these people on a "for hire” basis. Operators were sent to Swan for a six-month hitch. During the Bay of Pigs invasion of April 1961, RS took a new turn in its broadcasting career. Immediately prior to the invasion, and throughout the event, RS broadcast an almost endless stream of cryptic messages. One typical message was, “Attention, Stanislaus, the moon is red 19 April.” Other messages were overt battle instructions to specific military units. Whether or not any of these were valid messages or were simply a matter of psychological warfare intended to impress or frighten the Cubans has never been determined.


Pre-invasion leaflets will be stepped up shortly before D-Day. The D-Day leaflet will be a statement from the military leader (Roughly in the form of Eisenhower’s D-Day statement). It is understood that weather, accident, or low priority on available aircraft may preclude the actual dropping of this leaflet.

Another secret CIA document entitled Propaganda Action Plan in Support of Military Forces makes some of the following points:

D-Day plus 1 leaflets will be specific instructions to the military and militia about how they should defect. Delicately intimidating, hopefully promising that they can play a glorious role in the overthrow of the tyrant.

D-Day plus 2 leaflets will be specific instructions to the general populace on civil resistance, sabotage and how to locate radio stations for guidance. Messages geared to women, youth, workers, etc.

Target of opportunity leaflets will be written according to developments in the fighting. They may be in the form of amnesty passes so soldiers can surrender or defect with impunity.

Bohning adds about leaflets: There was, as well, a leaflet campaign with 16 straight propaganda drops and seven more . . . combined with supply drops. Regarding newspapers, he adds that small propaganda teams were also recruited, trained, and infiltrated into Cuba, carrying printing presses, radios, and other equipment. They successfully published a clandestine newspaper in Havana and a [words deleted by the CIA] carried out the only successful political action that occurred in Havana before D-Day, which was a student strike. The propaganda effort as directed by David Atlee Phillips, who also headed the CIA propaganda effort in the overthrow of Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz seven years earlier.

Fidel Castro in a tank near Playa Girón in Cuba on
April 17, 1961, as the Bay of Pigs invasion was underway.

Soviet anti-aircraft guns staffed by the Cubans watched for incoming warplanes.
They shot down one B-26 medium bomber during the initial attacks by rebel aircraft.

The U.S. military planned an initial leaflet drop in urban and metropolitan areas, as well as the countryside across the nation, including Havana, Santa Clara, Matanzas, and the northern half of the Isle of Pines. The drop plan called for "max leaflet bomb load per aircraft, and an "altitude of burst which will insure wide dissemination of leaflets.


Exhausted, without munitions, and trapped on the beach.
The 2506 Brigade were captured within 72 hours of landing on the island.

Some Leaflet Problems

Reuben S. Nathan mentions some leaflet problems in his article Cuba: Strategic Dilemma (edited for brevity):

President John F. Kennedy was confronted with incontestable evidence that the Soviets were installing nuclear missile sites in Cuba.

Soviet missiles that close to the United States represented a clear threat to U.S. security. Conventional military planning was complemented by the creation of a Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force Atlantic (JUWTFA). JUWTFA was a small unit - a Special Forces Group supported by some naval forces and aircraft-assigned to organize and lead Cuban anti-Castro forces behind enemy lines. Obviously, strong propaganda appeals would be needed to achieve this objective.

A review of the leaflets the Fort Bragg PSYOP Battalion had been ordered to produce disclosed obviously counterproductive materials--cartoons showing red-faced Castro leaving a sinking ship with bags of gold in his hand (incredible), leaflets showing women and children during a holocxaust of exploding projectiles (suggesting no escape). The officers in charge indicated that their original drafts had been entirely different but had been disapproved of by a high-ranking troop commander who had then ordered them to execute his own ideas of what constituted effective psychological warfare. It is less relevant that the general officer in question had not been trained in PSYWAR than that he had quite obviously not been furnished with directives from more knowledgeable echelons. We acted to develop better materials.

The Cuban case illustrates that crises are sometimes not amenable to the most systematic planning and control.

Final preparations for the U.S. invasion and occupation of Cuba were halted on October 28, when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev announced he was withdrawing the missiles from the island. His decision was the result of a secret, back-channel agreement to remove the Soviet missiles from Cuba in exchange for Kennedy’s commitment to pull out U.S. Jupiter missiles positioned in Turkey.

On 26 October 2017, formerly classified documents of the Cuban leafleting plan were made available from the files on the assassination of President Kennedy. One of the more interesting ones was classified “top secret” and regarding a reward for the death of Fidel Castro.

This operation was after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. One plot encouraged Cubans to kill government agents for financial rewards. It was called “Operation Bounty.” The bounties for targeting Communist informers, cell leaders, department heads, foreign supporters, and government officials ranged from $5,000 to as much as $100,000. The plan was to drop leaflets from the air in Cuba advertising the rewards.

The Genuine Cuban 20 Peso Banknote


CIA Counterfeit Cuban Note F69 with serial number at right


CIA Counterfeit Cuban Note F70 Counterfeit without serial number

It is alleged that the United States CIA forged Cuban 20 pesos Banco Nacional de Cuba notes of 1961 for the Bay of Pigs (Playa Girón) invasion. According to Alejandro Quesada in The Bay of Pigs: Cuba 1961, Osprey Publishing, 2009:

Each Brigade member taking part in the invasion was issued approximately 100 counterfeit Cuban pesos made by the CIA. This money was intended for purchasing supplies from the peasants and/or bribery.

The forgery: or a similar operation is mentioned in Bay of Pigs, Peter Wyden, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1979. Wyden says:

When two million pesos worth came ashore in four jute sacks that had gotten wet, the sacks were leaking blue, red, and green liquid, but the underground workers were only mildly annoyed. They knew that the CIA was sending them counterfeit money; that the printing and the paper were excellent, but the ink was so unreliable you could usually wipe it off with saliva. The counterfeit money, tens and twenties, was used by middlemen who bought expensive items such as cars from people they hoped never to see again. The currency supplied to the infiltrators for their own use was authentic; at least the ink did not run.

The forgeries are rather easy to spot because of their serial numbers or lack of same. Four types are known:

1. F69 at left; no serial number at right.
2. F69 at left; reduced size serial number at right.
3. F70 at left; no serial number at right.
4. F70 at left: serial number at right.

Hinckle and Turner say in THE FISH IS RED: The Story of the Secret War Against Castro, Harper, and Row, 1981:

The counterfeit currency project was the brainchild of a 26-year-old engineering whiz named Robert D. Morrow, who was employed by a CIA Proprietary, Comcor Inc. Morrow figured that by printing large batches of bogus pesos they could not only : "blow the Cuban economy off the face of the map," but enable the underground in Cuba to buy arms and supplies.

Allegedly this operation was done without the government’s permission. Morrow asked, "what if the President or Department of Treasury finds out?" "Who’s going to tell them? We want Cuba's economy broken before they discover what hit them. Then we deal with Fidel on our terms…" The plot was found out and the planners punished, Morrow receiving a suspended sentence and one of the CIA agents received 9 months before being paroled. According to the authors of the book, Nixon wrote a letter to the judge on their behalf.


The Bay of Pigs “Victory” Medallion

I want to place this under the counterfeit money because some people have called them “victory coins.” They bear no denomination, so I think we need to call them “medallions” or “commemorative coins. I will stick with medallions.

As you know by now, the invasion was an unqualified disaster; Castro’s military forces captured or killed most of the invasion force within three days. The Soviet Union, having found an ally in Castro, feared for his government’s survival. Tensions rose between the US and Soviets, paving the way the following year for the Cuban Missile Crisis that brought the world to the brink of nuclear disaster.

However, some were planning for victory. This 3.7cm x 0.2cm silver coin commemorating an anticipated Bay of Pigs victory features an outline of Cuba with a rebel invader advancing past a fallen member of Castro’s military in the foreground. The text in Spanish is There will be no end but victory – 17 April 1961.

The reverse side prominently displays a cross, shield, and the flag of Cuba with the phrases in English - Crusade to Free Cuba and There will be no end but victory.

There is no mention of who designed and had the medallion minted, but it is on the CIA website, and they did run the operation. I think this might be one of theirs. At least they never disseminated the medallions, or did they? It seems they did not go for silver as reported. Another source claims they were made of stainless steel…much less expensive.

Preparing to Invade

Very little has appeared in the U.S. press about the PSYOP of the invasion of the Bay of Pigs. It was a classified CIA operation. However, the Communists felt no need to keep any secrets and the book by Juan Carlos Rodriquez, The Inevitable Battle – From the Bay of Pigs to Playa Giron, Editorial Capitan San Luis, Havana, Cuba, 2013, although Cuban propaganda, does talk a lot about American PSYOP. Some of his data seems to be from the formerly classified CIA’s own Inspector’s General Survey of the Cuban Operation. Some of the comments are:

A psychological warfare campaign had been carried out by radio stations prepared especially for that purpose. One of them had gone on the air eleven months earlier: Radio Swan (Radio Free Cuba), which came in clearly, powerfully, and with a triumphal tone. Swan Island was a small island in the Gulf of Honduras.

The American command post was set up in a Washington DC building known as Quarters Eye. Propaganda plans were drawn up for psychologically softening up the Cuban people…This was the source of pamphlets dropped over the island…Cuba did not have sufficient or adequate radar equipment…several small planes in the Florida Keys dropped hundreds of thousands of pamphlets urging people to carry out sabotage, set fire to sugar cane fields and to attack militia members.

In Happy Valley, Nicaragua, the operations base for Brigade 2506, 11 million brochures were ready to be dropped over Cuban territory…By the time of the invasion, a total of 12 million pounds of leaflets had been dropped on Cuba.

The CIA estimates for the cost of propaganda operations was $500,000 in fiscal year 1960 and $1,200,000 in fiscal year 1961.

There are also anti-Castro propaganda overprints known on various Cuban banknotes. For instance, U.S. News and World Report stated on 20 May 1963 that evidence was mounting that harassment of Fidel Castro’s Communist regime was growing inside Cuba. Cuba’s one peso banknote depicted Castro’s Triumphal entry into Havana in 1959, but on many of the notes in circulation, anti-Castro forces had printed the message:

Valueless for food. Valueless for clothing.

Because Communism is hunger, misery, and destruction.

This is the work of the great traitor.

Anti-Cuban Invasion Propaganda Leaflets

Numerous propaganda leaflets were printed along with the fake banknotes. This Miami Herald staff photograph taken by Bill Kuenzel depicts a number of anti-Castro sabotage and propaganda leaflets washed up on Miami Beach on 26 July 1963. One of the leaflets depicts two ways to sabotage a telephone and text. Many of the leaflet's end with “Sabotage is necessary for liberty” and “Russians: out of Cuba.” Another depicts cogs in a machine and an oil can and asks Cuban workers to sabotage production by breaking machinery and not oiling it. A third propaganda leaflet depicts an automobile motor and radiator. It tells the Cubans:

If it is necessary to damage official vehicles or those confiscated from businesses. Zero oil to the motor. Zero water to the radiator.

A fourth leaflet depicts a hand dropping a lit match into flammable materials and tells the Cubans:

It causes fires…Drop matches or cigars where there are rags, straw, wood, paper and fuel.

A Propaganda Banknote

A poor photocopy from CIA files

This banknote leaflet was dropped during the Bay of Pigs invasion. It is a 10 peso note depicting Fidel Castro on the front with the serial number D682697A. The propaganda message on the back in Spanish is:

Peasants! You have the right to have your own piece of land. Fight for it against INRA.

Note: INRA is the Instituto Nacional de Reforma Agraria (National Institute for Agrarian Reform), formed by the Fidel Castro government in 1959.

We know a good deal about the propaganda missions over Cuba from the CIA Official History of the Bay of Pigs Operation.

The B-26 bomber

Documents on air operations show that in late November 1960, a major air strike was planned for B-26's bombers carrying both ordnance and leaflets against unspecified targets in Cuba. Two other B-26s flew a propaganda drop on 12 December 1960. They worked the western end of Cuba, from the Isle of Pines to Cienfuegos, including Havana; and on the same night, a C-54 cargo aircraft dropped leaflets in the Manzanillo area. The total leaflets dropped during the three December 1960 missions by the B26s were 1,700 pounds and 1000 pounds of leaflets. The C-54 dropped 1,000 pounds of leaflets. The CIA said about the crews:

The performance of the B-26 pilots reflected to the high credit of both the Cuban pilots and the U.S instructors and pilots who were willing to risk the invasion of the air space over Cuba in B-26 medium bombers which stood no chance in combat against Castro’s T-33 jet fighters and Sea Furies. On the morning of D-Day+2, two B-26's with US crews had been lost over Cuba. One was shot down by a T-33. The other B-26 was lost to ground fire. Four Alabama Air National Guard flyers lost their lives.

The Fish Symbol Leaflets

A poor photocopy from CIA files

It appears that the limited aircraft assigned to the invasion were unable to drop all the leaflets that had been printed. On 15 February 1961, 75,000 leaflets asking teachers to support a student strike were available from Miami for an upcoming drop and that 100 pounds of materials bearing the “fish symbol” were also ready for use in a drop aimed at Villanueva University in Havana. On 18 February, a cable stated that there were approximately 18,000 pounds of leaflets in a warehouse ready for pickup. A small leaflet was prepared that contained 12 perforated fish symbols that could be stuck on walls or tables. This could be the leaflet mentioned above a second fish leaflet. Notice that this fish is the same secret symbol used by early Christians besieged in the Roman Empire. The CIA seems to be saying that like the early Christians, Cuban Catholics today were being martyred by the Communist regime.

In all, there were 23 leaflet drops between 12 December 1960 and the collapse of the Bay of Pigs Operation. About 12 million leaflets were dropped in addition to assorted publications.

The CIA report mentions some specific leaflets. One suggestion was that leaflets should be prepared depicting the crucifix upside down, to signify the Soviet treatment of religion, and that these leaflets should be distributed widely through Cuba. There is no indication that this particular leaflet was ever printed.

In another instance, the Hammer and Sickle was used to form the “T” in the word “Traidor” on a sticker that was prepared for propaganda use. In anticipation of the possible visit, 10,000 stickers of an anti-Khrushchev, anti-Soviet nature were forwarded from Headquarters to Havana Station. The legend on one of these was “Cuba, Yes; Russia, No; Khrushchev, No;" and a second item showed a prisoner behind bars formed by the stripes of the Cuban flag with the words Sin Palabras, (“Without Words”). The stickers were never used.

A Safe Conduct Pass

A poor photocopy from CIA files

Another leaflet was in the form of a safe conduct pass with six paragraphs explaining how to surrender and a warning against carrying weapons or crossing the lines at night. It bears a small fish symbol like the early Christian symbol at the bottom left. The fish was a symbol of the liberation movement.

A leaflet was prepared for use with armaments drops. It had 11 short paragraphs and basically told the recipients that the end of Communism was near, to use the arms in their fight and not to let them fall into enemy hands.

While all of this was going on the CIA had prepared a radio station to broadcast from Swan Island and inside Cuba, a CIA-controlled action group produced and distributed anti-Castro and anti-Communist publications. The CIA was in contact with groups outside Cuba who assisted in producing similar materials for clandestine introduction into Cuba.

The CIA documents reveal that during the fiscal years 1960-1961 they spent 1.1 million dollars on radio operations and programming and establishment of transmitters, and $600,000 on press and publications. This assumed the invasion would take place in 1961. If it occurred sooner, more money was promised.

Before leaving Cuba, we should point out that it was not only during the Bay of Pigs invasion that propaganda was used against it. The United States regularly produced propaganda that was anti-Castro and anti-Communist. One campaign in late January 1962 was built around offering rewards for Cubans who killed Communist officials. Another plan was to produce leaflets showing an overweight Castro with beautiful women and bountiful tables of food explaining that his rations were different from the common worker.

During the Bay of Pigs, the liberation movement used fish symbols. Later, the CIA decided to use the term “worm” since Castro called all anti-revolutionaries “worms.” A whole propaganda campaign was planned around Gusano Libre (Free Worm) leaflets flown over Cuba by helium balloons from ships sailing close to the island. The CIA produced thousands of leaflets showing a small worm taking part in various sabotage acts. The balloon operation was to be called “Mongoose” It was estimated that each balloon would carry 2000 to 4000 leaflets. The CIA estimated a 500-balloon operation with a total of 2 million to 4 million leaflets delivered.

In 2018, Max Boot mentioned the “worm” operation in his book: The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam:

Under Lansdale’s prodding, the CIA had come up with a symbol for the Cuban resistance: Gusano Libre (Free Worm). Castro had denigrated his enemies as “worms”; the CIA hoped to turn a term of derision into “a symbol of resistance and pride.” Cartoons were commissioned and mailed to Cuban households showing a smirking worm cutting electrical wires and spilling tacks in front of a jeep carrying Castro’s troops. Soon to come were “Gusano Libre pins, armbands, seals, pencils, balloons, etc.,” which could be delivered to Cuba via helium-filled balloons launched from a chartered ship in international waters. A State Department official expressed well-justified skepticism about “whether ‘worms of the world unite’ will cause people to revolt,” but such doubts were ignored in the heat of the moment.

The Cuban Missile Crisis - 16-29 October 1962

The Cuban Missile Crisis was a 13-day (October 16 – October 29, 1962) confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union, which escalated into an international crisis when American deployments of missiles in Italy and Turkey were matched by Soviet deployments of similar ballistic missiles in Cuba.

The U-2 Spy Plane

The missile preparations were confirmed when a US Air Force U-2 spy plane produced clear photographic evidence of medium-range R-12 (NATO code name SS-4) and intermediate-range R-14 (NATO code name SS-5) ballistic missile facilities. When this was reported to President John F. Kennedy, he then convened a meeting of the nine members of the National Security Council and five other key advisers. During this meeting, President Kennedy was originally advised to carry out an air strike on Cuban soil to compromise Soviet missile supplies, followed by an invasion of the Cuban mainland. After careful consideration, President Kennedy chose a less aggressive course of action, to avoid a declaration of war. Kennedy ordered a naval "quarantine" on October 22 to prevent further missiles from reaching Cuba. The US announced it would not permit offensive weapons to be delivered to Cuba and demanded that the weapons already in Cuba be dismantled and returned to the Soviet Union.


Declassified first proposed letter to Fidel Castro

The declassified Robert F. Kennedy papers include the first proposed letter to "Mr. F.C.," evaluated by the Executive Committee of advisors to Kennedy on 17 October just one day after the president learned of the existence of the Soviet missiles in Cuba. The draft letter, available to historians for the first time, initiated a chain of events that led to a complicated back-channel diplomacy between Washington and Havana at the height of what Kennedy aide Arthur Schlesinger called "the most dangerous moment in human history."

A National Security Archives article titled The Cuban Missile Crisis at 55, added:

The U.S. military drew up plans to occupy Cuba and establish a temporary government headed by a U.S. Commander and Military Governor during the 1962 missile crisis, according to the National Security Archive at The George Washington University. These documents were prepared on 20 October for use in Cuba.


Adlai Stevenson at the U.N. shows the U-2 pictures of the Russian Missile Buildup.

Air reconnaissance photograph of medium-range ballistic missile launch site number 1 in
San Cristobal, Cuba showing missile shelter tents, launch pad, transporters, and other equipment 

After several days of tense negotiations, an agreement was reached between Kennedy and Khrushchev: publicly, the Soviets would dismantle their offensive weapons in Cuba and return them to the Soviet Union, subject to United Nations verification, in exchange for a US public declaration and agreement to not invade Cuba. Secretly, the United States agreed with the Soviets that it would dismantle all the Jupiter medium range ballistic missiles which had been deployed to Turkey against the Soviet Union.

A Russian ship Carrying Ballistic Missiles to Cuba

While all this was going on. The United States was preparing for psychological operations against Cuba. On 27 October 1962 a memorandum for the Secretary of Defense was prepared titled, Psychological Leaflet Campaign to Accompany Cuban Surveillance Program. The memorandum said that on 26 October 1962, the President approved the text of a psychological leaflet to be dropped over Cuba in quantity. The leaflet text was sent to Ft. Bragg where it was printed pending an order to execute the mission. We have seen no images of these leaflets; we don’t know if they were disseminated or destroyed.

The U.S. Navy prepares to stop or fire on Russian Ships

Apparently three different versions of the initial leaflet were prepared. The text of each is as follows:



The United States aircraft you see intend no harm. They are over Cuba on a peaceful mission.

The Castro-Communists and the Soviet Union have installed offensive nuclear missiles on your land to threaten all the Americas. In doing this they have endangered the lives of every Cuban.

The United States aircraft are taking photographs of these missiles to show the world how the Communist aggressors have threatened the peaceful people of the Western hemisphere.



The Castro-Communists and the Soviet Union have endangered the lives of the innocent people of Cuba. They have installed long range nuclear missiles on your soil to threaten all the American republics. Cuba does not need nuclear missiles for her defense. None of the American republics mean your country any harm, but as long as the Russian missiles are in your land there is great danger to all Cubans.

The United States aircraft are flying over Cuba only to take pictures of these dangerous missiles, to show the world what the Castro-Communists and the Russians have done to innocent Cuban people.



The Castro Communists and the Russians have installed dangerous long range nuclear missiles in your country. The American republics all have sympathy for their brothers in Cuba who are suffering under Communist oppression, and who are now endangered by these offensive weapons which the Communists have built on your soil. Until the missiles are removed, the people of Cuba must live under the terrible fear of nuclear war.

The aircraft you see are taking photographs to tell the story of the Cuban people to the world.

Two other leaflets were also prepared:


The leaflet bears a sketch of a rocket, with a hammer and sickle in the background. The text is:


The Russians and the Castro Communists have stolen your beautiful island.

They are using it as a base for nuclear missiles to threaten the whole Western hemisphere.

They have no interest in your welfare and have now brought great danger to your land.

The innocent people of Cuba have the good will and respect of all their American neighbors. They do not need Russian nuclear weapons for their defense.

The Russians must take their missiles out of Cuba.


This leaflet bears a sketch of Cuba encircled by a chain of rockets with a hammer and sickle in the background. The text is:

The Russians and Castro Communists are using Cuba as a base to threaten the entire western hemisphere. They have installed many long-range nuclear rockets on your island,

As long as those rockets remain on your soil they hold innocent Cubans in chains - chains of fear of a terrible nuclear war.

The United States aircraft you see are your friends, they are taking photographs to prove to the world what has happened in Cuba, in the hope that the Russians can be persuaded to take their weapons out of your county. 

Another secret CIA document entitled Propaganda Action Plan in Support of Military Forces makes some of the following points:

On D-Day the propaganda campaign will enter its action stage. The two primary propaganda mechanisms will be radio and leaflet operations.

The Truth

The Joint Chiefs of Staff were briefed on a leaflet program for Cuba in October 1962. Some of the classified confidential comments were:

A program for the surveillance of Cuba was announced by the President on 22 October and has since been initiated. On 26 October, the President approved the text of a leaflet, drafted at the White House, to be used in a leaflet campaign to accompany the surveillance program.

The text was delivered to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina and reproduction began at 1500 hours, 26 October 1962. The leaflets will be loaded into air delivery containers, moved to Pope Air Force Base, then to McCoy AFB, Florida for final launch.

The code word for this operation is “Bugle Call.” 16 F-105s will deliver the leaflets from medium height (2,500 to 5,000 feet). 32 containers, 1,600,000 leaflets per strike. Altitude of release – 2,000 feet. Time – daylight. Losses of aircraft and pilots assigned to this mission can be expected in the same magnitude as those assigned to the surveillance mission. A second strike of the same amount can be launched if necessary.

Operation “Bugle Call” would ultimately drop six million leaflets by F-105 fighters showing the Russian missiles on Cuban soil to convince any Cubans that believed it was an American propaganda plot. One leaflet is entitled La Verdad (the Truth) and depicts a Russian missile site on Cuban soil. The full text on the front and back of this leaflet is:

The Truth

The Russians have secretly built offensive nuclear missile bases in Cuba. The bases endanger Cuban lives and world peace because Cuba is now a forward base for Russian aggression.

The Russians, with the consent of Castro, did their work in secret. Cubans are not allowed on these bases. But the bases are there.

To protect the Cuban people - and all the people of the Western Hemisphere – President Kennedy, with the unanimous approval of all the Latin American nations, has imposed quarantine on offensive war equipment being shipped into Cuba. Food is not being stopped – medicine is not being stopped – only aggressive Russian war materials.

When the war weapons are removed from Cuba, the quarantine will end.


Eight or ten Russian offensive nuclear missile bases are located near Guanajay, San Cristobal, and Sagua la Grande.


This photo was taken within the past week from an airplane flying over Cuba. It shows a Russian offensive nuclear missile base near San Cristobal. This is one of several bases hastily and secretly built by and for the Russians.

Leaflet container and Leaflet Packaging.

Standard leaflet container M129E1 is constructed of fiberglass, measures 21 x 35 inches, and has an empty weight of 92 pounds. The casing is fragmented by Primacord. Although never employed in military operations, the container has a high degree of technical reliability.

Each container has a capacity of 50,000 5 x 7-inch leaflets. Fifty leaflet containers (2,500,000 leaflets) have been prepositioned at Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina. Additional containers from a stockpile of 1,350 are available at Bluegrass Ordnance Depot, Kentucky.

Leaflet Production:

At the U.S. Army Special Warfare Center, maximum rate of leaflet production is 200,000 an hour, or approximately 5,000,000 per 24-hour period.

Leaflet Aircraft:

F-100 and F-105 aircraft are readily available for the leaflet task. Each will carry two leaflet containers (100,000 leaflets). These aircraft are available at Homestead A.F.B. or at Key West.

Leaflets were also prepared in case the United States took part in a full-scale invasion of Cuba. One showed a woman and child among falling bombs, the other depicted Fidel Castro sneaking off the island with bags of gold.

Pope Air Force Base – North Carolina

A Lieutenant assigned to the 1st PSYOP Battalion during the Cuban Missile Crisis told me that while at Ft. Bragg:

When the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred, the S-4 called me and told me to take covered trucks to Pope AFB and bring them directly to the Battalion's print shop (I was one of few with a Top-Secret clearance). We had triple concertina wire around the print shop while we printed leaflets and packed them into leaflet bombs. I don't know if the leaflet bombs were dropped, nor if there was any other form of dissemination. The leaflets were highly classified at the time and still may be, although the photo later appeared in the media (I think Air Force magazine was one).

The National Security Archive says about the missile crisis:

The U.S. military drew up plans to occupy Cuba and establish a temporary government headed by a U.S. “commander and military governor” during the 1962 missile crisis, according to the recently declassified “Military Government Proclamation No. 1,”

Military Government Proclamation No. 1

To the people of Cuba

All persons in the occupied territory will obey immediately and without question all enactments and orders of the military government. Resistance of the United States Armed Forces will be forcefully stamped out. Serious offenders will be dealt with severely. So long as you remain peaceable and comply with my orders, you will be subjected to no greater interference than may be required by military exigencies. Once the aggressive Castro regime has been destroyed, and the U.S. installed a new government responsive to the needs of the people of Cuba, the U.S. armed forces will depart, and the traditional friendship of the United States and the government of Cuba will once more be assured.

To prepare the Cuban populace for the invasion, the U.S. military planned to airdrop thousands of leaflets over Cuban cities and the countryside. The leaflets would warn Cuban citizens to “remain at home” because “everything that moves is a target.” “Within the next few days,” the leaflets stated, “U.S. armed forces will take temporary charge of your country.”

The U.S. Navy Atlantic Command also drafted a top-secret proclamation No. 1 for the invasion and forwarded it for approval. None of these proclamations was ever disseminated.

Whereas as the aggressive and illegal acts of the Castro regime against Humanity have violated international law and the fundamental principles of freedom and independence of nations: and whereas the United States of America, in order to honor its obligations and to secure itself and the other free nations of the world against the threats generated by these aggressive actions of the Castro regime, has been required to enter armed conflict with the forces of Castro regime in Cuba: and whereas the people of the United States have never during the Castro dictatorship have lost their feeling of warm friendship for the people of Cuba and whereas the armed force of the United States and whereas the armed forces of the United States will protect the people of Cuba in the peaceful exercise of their legitimate pursuits in so far as their exigencies of war will permit: and whereas in order to preserve law and order and provide for the maximum safety of both the United States military forces in Cuba and the people of Cuba, the Military Government is temporarily necessary in Cuba.

Now therefore, I (Insert name of Commander Joint Task Force Cuba) U.S. Army, Commanding the United States forces in Cuba, do hereby proclaim as follows: [Seven numbered paragraphs continue over another page and a half].

Once the invasion had started, the proposed Proclamation leaflet would be dropped over 27 heavily populated areas.

A second top secret Navy document from the Commander in Charge of the Atlantic Fleet to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Special Warfare center at Ft. Bragg has another proposed leaflet that will be dropped after U.S. forces are on the ground:


The armed forces of the United States are destroying the military power of Castro and the Communists. Stay away from military targets. Remain at home. Everything that moves is a target. Within the next few days, U.S. armed forces will take temporary charge of your country. This action is only taken to avoid prolonged shedding of blood and destruction of property. As soon as order is reestablished and a responsible element takes charge of your government, the armed forces of the United States will be withdrawn.

A third top secret Naval message lists all the targets of the leaflet campaign:

The following metropolitan and urban areas are designated as target areas for initial leaflet drops.

Urban areas: Pinar del Rio, La Habana, Mariano, Cardenas, Cienfuegos, Santa Clara, Camaguey, Ciego de Avila, Santiago de Cuba, Guantanamo, and Manzanillo. Plus, the northern half of Isle of Pines.

Maximum leaflet bomb load per aircraft desired. Set fusing for and an altitude of burst which will insure wide dissemination of leaflets.

Approved negatives held by Special Warfare Center are to be used only in conjunction with ground operations.

Leaflet suitable for drops in conjunction with air operations is now in approval channels.

Before I leave Cuba, I should mention that the Russian side of the missile crisis had never been told. Some Soviet documents were later declassified, and we know a bit more about what happened. Sergey Radchenko and Vladislav Zubok tell us about the Soviet actions in Cuba in “Blundering on the Brink: The Secret History and Unlearned Lessons of the Cuban Missile Crisis,” in FOREIGN AFFAIRS, 3 April 2023:

According to the proposal, the Soviet army would send to Cuba the 51st Missile Division, consisting of five regiments: all the group’s officers and soldiers, about 8,000 men, would leave their base in western Ukraine and be permanently stationed in Cuba. They would bring with them 60 ballistic missiles: 36 medium-range R-12s and 24 intermediate-range R-14s. The R-14s were a particular challenge: at 80 feet long and 86 metric tons, the missiles required a host of construction engineers and technicians, as well as dozens of tracks, cranes, bulldozers, excavators, and cement mixers to install them on launching pads in Cuba. The troops of the missile division would be joined by many other soldiers and equipment in Cuba: two antiaircraft divisions, one regiment of IL-28 bombers, one air force squadron of MiG fighters, three regiments with helicopters and cruise missiles, four infantry regiments with tanks, and support and logistics troops. The list of these units filled five pages of the proposal on May 24: 44,000 men in uniform, plus 1,800 construction and engineering specialists.

Soviet generals had never deployed a full missile division and so many troops by sea, and now they had to send them to another hemisphere. Unfazed, the military planners christened the operation with the code name “Anadyr,” after the Arctic River, across the Bering Sea from Alaska—geographical misdirection designed to confuse U.S. intelligence.

Top Soviet commanders also wanted to conceal the true purpose of Operation Anadyr—even from much of the rest of the Soviet military. The official documents, part of the recently declassified trove, referred to the operation as an “exercise.” Thus, the greatest gamble in nuclear history was presented to the rest of the military as routine training. In a striking parallel, Putin’s misadventure in Ukraine was also billed as an “exercise,” with unit-level commanders being left in the dark until the last moment.

There were about 42,000 Soviet military personnel on Cuban soil.

The leaflets would be dropped in phases. The first series would just bear names; the next would bear their titles; and a third series would mention the bounties. The Castro leaflet would be the final one. A meager two cents were offered for the killing of Cuba's Prime Minister Fidel Castro. To collect the reward, a Cuban would show the leaflet and proof of killing the named individual; his Communist Party membership card was an example of acceptable proof.

USAF Colonel G. Edward Lansdale
Retired in 1963 as a major general before continuing his work with the CIA

Edward Lansdale, a “dirty tricks” expert with experience in the Philippines and Vietnam said that the miniscule offering for the Cuban leader was meant "to denigrate Castro in the eyes of the Cuban population.” Lansdale claimed that he "tabled" the concept because he didn't think it was something that should be seriously undertaken or supported further.


Sam Giancana - Boss of the Chicago Outfit from 1957 to 1966.
During the 1960s, he was recruited by the CIA to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Murdered 19 June 1975, before he was scheduled to appear before the Church Committee.

Other documents showed that the CIA was in contract with "Boss" Sam Giancana of the Mafia in 1959 and 1960, and discussions were held on using poison or botulism against Castro.

Hinckle and Turner add:

Retired Air Force Colonel Fletcher Prouty, the former liaison officer between the Pentagon and the CIA said, "You must think of the CIA and organized crime as two concentric circles spread all over the world. Inevitably, in some places, the circles overlap."


Many people believed that the United States and the USSR were very close to starting a war during the missile crisis. If the US had stopped, boarded or sunk missile ships on the high sea it would have been an act of war. Everyone felt tremendous relief when it appeared Khrushchev had “blinked,” and turned his ships around. Kennedy was considered a hero that had stared the Russians down. Only later did we find out that a secret deal had been made and the US would quietly remove their missiles around the USSR using some excuse like “they are obsolete and outdated.” A case could be made that Khrushchev won. But there was more we did not know about. Years later the Russians admitted their commanders in Cuba had the right to fire atomic missiles at a US invasion force, and since Kennedy had stated that any missile fired from Cuba would be considered a missile fired from Russia, what would have happened then. Could cooler minds prevail or would the US have launched massive retaliation against the USSR. It is rather scary to think about.


Soviet medium-range R-12 Ballistic Missile

James G. Blight and Janet M. Lang wrote an article titled “The Cuban Missile Crisis at 55” for the 27 October 2017 issue of The Nation. They said in part (edited for brevity):

In January 1992, top-level decision-makers of the Cuban missile crisis—former Cuban leader Fidel Castro and former US defense secretary Robert McNamara conveyed how close the world had been to nuclear annihilation on October 26-27, 1962.

McNamara had already believed in October 1962 that the crisis was dangerous. He worried about a panicky Russian second lieutenant who might launch a nuke at the United States without authorization. In these instances, a nuclear response would be required, and after that, probable escalation to all-out nuclear war.

Soviet intermediate-range R-14 ballistic missile

But what he learned in January 1992, 30 years later, was far more horrifying to him. He learned that the Russians on the island were ready and willing to nuke any invading US force with tactical nuclear weapons—something McNamara had never dreamed was possible. He also learned later that the Russians were ready and willing, with Cuban logistical assistance, to strike the US base at Guantánamo Bay with tactical nukes that, by October 27, had been moved into battle positions in eastern Cuba—another eventuality that had never appeared on his scope. If either of these scenarios had materialized, a nuclear US counterattack would have followed immediately, killing millions of Cubans and thousands of Russians on the island. Cuba would have been destroyed. And that would have been only the beginning—of the end of the world, as we know it. Essentially, McNamara learned that he was monumentally wrong about the basic assumptions on which any US attack on Cuba would have been based.

Castro wrote a letter on October 26, 1962, requesting that Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev order a nuclear attack on the United States if, as expected, the Americans first attacked and invaded Cuba. Fidel Castro was dead wrong about his most fundamental and unshakeable assumption: that a decision had been made in the Kennedy White House to destroy the Cuban Revolution, liquidate its leaders, and reestablish Cuba as a quasi-colony of the United States, with a government willing to follow orders from Washington. In all, 162 nuclear warheads were shipped, delivered, stored, and made ready to fire by Soviet technicians in Cuba. Nobody won. Nobody lost. Nobody “blinked.” Once Kennedy and Khrushchev realized they were losing control of the crisis, they worked feverishly, collaboratively, and effectively to terminate it.

1963 Banknote Leaflet Propaganda against Cuba

Cuba's 1 peso note shows Castro’s triumphant entry into Havana in 1959.
On many of the notes in circulation anti-Castro forces have printed a message.

An old photocopy of the U.S. News and World Report dated 20 May 1963 depicted an overprinted propaganda banknote of Cuba with the added text:



The article said in part:

Evidence is mounting that harassment of Fidel Castro’s Communist regime is increasing inside Cuba. Printing of anti-Castro, and anti-Communist slogans on paper money is one such harassment. "Volunteer" workers are missing the buses to the cane fields. Phony orders send shipments of scarce materials to the wrong destinations. Cigarette smokers are getting more careless in the highly inflammable cane fields. Skilled shoemakers are becoming adept at stealing shoe leather, Returnable bottle are broken more than returned….

Anti-Castro and Cuba Leaflets used in Venezuela

The U.S. also attacked Castro, Cuba, and the Communist movement in general in Bolivia. They were CIA leaflets dropped on Venezuela during the visit of Cuban foreign minister Ricardo Alarcon de Quezada in 1993. These leaflets were dropped on Caracas, Venezuela during Alarcon’s visit. Alarcon was the trusted adviser to Fidel Castro, and his brother and successor Raul, for decades and was a key negotiator in difficult talks with the United States.


The first leaflet depicts Fidel Castro giving one of the long-winded speeches he was famous for. The text is:


The “or” is then changed to “and” so the top then reads:




The second leaflet depicts Castro in front of a crowd. He holds a note in a net. The text is:




The third leaflet is a simple message, all in text:






The fourth leaflet is all text, a longer message concerning a pro-Cuban terrorist group’s action in Venezuela:


Twenty-nine years ago, a Castro terrorist group known as the Armed Forces of Liberation, whose agents had committed all kinds of crimes, were preparing a massacre against Caracas to thwart the elections that were held in Venezuela, following direct orders from Fidel Castro, with the aim of wrecking our democratic regime, but thanks to the prompt intervention of the military authorities could not be executed.



The fifth leaflet has the longest message of all:


Our help for his betrayal.
Our oil on credit forever.
Vindication of his dictatorship for democracy.
They promote their dictatorship through espionage.
Infiltration of Venezuela with its foreign propaganda.
Continued mocking the principals of justice and freedom.

Our request:


If any reader was involved in the Bay of Pigs invasion or you can add anything to this article about anti-Castro actions taken by the U.S., or care to comment I urge you to contact me at