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The Cuban Project, also known as Special Group Augmented or Operation Wikipedia:Mongoose (Operación Mangosta), was a Wikipedia:covert operation of the Wikipedia:Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) developed during the early years of President Wikipedia:John F. Kennedy's administration. On November 30, 1961, aggressive covert operations against Wikipedia:Fidel Castro's revolutionary government in Wikipedia:Cuba were authorized by President Kennedy. The operation was led by U.S. Air Force General Wikipedia:Edward Lansdale and went into effect after the failed Wikipedia:Bay of Pigs Invasion.

Operation Mongoose was a secret program against Cuba aimed at removing the communists from power, which was a prime focus of the Kennedy administration according to Harvard historian Jorge Domínguez.[1] The program has been described as Wikipedia:terrorism by some historians.[1][2]

A document from the U.S. State Department said it aimed "for a revolt which can take place in Cuba by October 1962".[3]

According to Wikipedia:Noam Chomsky in 1989, Operation Mongoose "won the prize for the largest operation of international terrorism in the world." According to the author, it had a budget of $ 50 million per year, employing 2,500 people including about 500 Americans, and still remained secret for 14 years, from 1961 to 1975. It was revealed in part by the Wikipedia:Church Commission in the U.S. Senate and in part "by good investigative journalism." "Here is a terrorist operation that could trigger a nuclear conflict" (because of operations during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962). He said that "it is possible that the operation is still ongoing [1989], but it certainly lasted throughout all the 70's."[2]

Origins Edit

After the Wikipedia:Cuban Revolution, and Wikipedia:communism's rise under Wikipedia:Fidel Castro, the U.S. government was determined to undercut the socialist revolution's integrity and install in its place a government more in line with U.S. philosophy. A special committee was formed to search for ways to overthrow Castro when the Wikipedia:Bay of Pigs Invasion failed. The committee became part of the Kennedy imperative to keep a tough line on communism, especially as Cuba was the nearest communist state to the U.S..

It was based on the U.S. government's estimation that coercion inside Cuba was severe and that the regime was serving as a spearhead for allied communist movements elsewhere in the Wikipedia:Americas.[4]

Planning Edit

The U.S. Defense Department's Wikipedia:Joint Chiefs of Staff saw the project's ultimate objective to be to provide adequate justification for U.S. military intervention in Cuba. They requested that the Secretary of Defense assign them responsibility for the project, but Attorney General Wikipedia:Robert F. Kennedy retained effective control.

Mongoose was led by Wikipedia:Edward Lansdale at the Defense Department and Wikipedia:William King Harvey at the CIA. Lansdale was chosen due to his experience with Wikipedia:counter-insurgency in the Wikipedia:Philippines during the Wikipedia:Hukbalahap Rebellion, and also due to his experience supporting Wikipedia:Vietnam's Diem regime. Samuel Halpern, a CIA co-organizer, conveyed the breadth of involvement: "CIA and the US Army and military forces and Department of Commerce, and Immigration, Treasury, God knows who else – everybody was in Mongoose. It was a government-wide operation run out of Bobby Kennedy's office with Ed Lansdale as the mastermind."[5]

There were 33 tasks[6] or plans[7] (as there are 33[8] living species of Wikipedia:mongooses) considered under the Cuban Project, some of which were carried out. The plans varied in efficacy and intention, from propagandistic purposes to effective disruption of the Cuban government and economy. Plans included the use of U.S. Army Special Forces, destruction of Cuban sugar crops, and mining of Wikipedia:harbors.

Wikipedia:Operation Northwoods was a 1962 plan, which was signed by the Wikipedia:Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and presented to Secretary of Defense Wikipedia:Robert McNamara for approval, that intended to use Wikipedia:false flag operations to justify intervention in Cuba. Among things considered were real and simulated attacks which would be blamed on the Cuban government. These would have involved attacking, or reporting fake attacks on Wikipedia:Cuban exiles, U.S. military targets, Cuban civilian aircraft, and development of a false-flag terror campaign on U.S. soil.[2] The operation was rejected by Kennedy and never carried out.

The Cuban Project played a significant role in the events leading up to the Wikipedia:Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. The Project's six-phase schedule was presented by Edward Lansdale on February 20, 1962; it was overseen by Attorney General Robert Kennedy. President Kennedy was briefed on the operation's guidelines on March 16, 1962. Lansdale outlined the coordinated program of political, psychological, military, Wikipedia:sabotage, and intelligence operations as well as assassination attempts on key political leaders. Each month since his presentation, a different method was in place to destabilize the communist regime, including the publication of Anti-Castro views, armaments for militant opposition groups, the establishment of guerilla bases throughout the country and preparations for an October military intervention in Cuba. Many individual plans were devised by the CIA to assassinate Castro. Plans to discredit Castro in the eyes of the Cuban public included contaminating his clothing with Wikipedia:thallium salts that would make his trademark beard fall out and spraying a broadcasting studio with Wikipedia:hallucinogens before a televised speech. Assassination plots included poisoning a box of Castro's favorite cigars with Wikipedia:botulinus toxin and placing explosive seashells in his favorite diving spots.[9]

Wikipedia:Peter Kornbluh, senior analyst at the Wikipedia:National Security Archive at Wikipedia:George Washington University, pointed out that according to the documentary record, directly after the first executive committee (Wikipedia:EXCOMM) meeting about the missile crisis, Wikipedia:US Attorney General Wikipedia:Robert Kennedy “convened a meeting of the Operation Mongoose team” expressing disappointment in its results and pledging to take a closer personal attention on the matter. Kornbluh accused RFK of taking “the most irrational position during the most extraordinary crisis in the history of US foreign policy”, remarking that “Not to belabor the obvious, but for chrissake, a nuclear crisis is happening and Bobby wants to start blowing things up”.[5]

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The CIA operation was based in Miami, Florida and among its other aspects enlisted the aid of the Mafia (who were eager to regain their Cuban casino operations) to plot an assassination attempt against Castro; William Harvey was one of the CIA case officers who directly dealt with mafioso Wikipedia:John Roselli.[10]

Professor of History Wikipedia:Stephen Rabe writes that "scholars have understandably focused on…the Bay of Pigs invasion, the US campaign of terrorism and sabotage known as Operation Mongoose, the assassination plots against Fidel Castro, and, of course, the Cuban Missile Crisis. Less attention has been given to the state of US-Cuban relations in the aftermath of the missile crisis." Rabe writes that reports from the Wikipedia:Church Committee reveal that from June 1963 onward, the Kennedy administration intensified its war against Cuba while the CIA integrated propaganda, "economic denial", and sabotage to attack the Cuban state as well as specific targets within.[11] One example cited is an incident where CIA agents, seeking to assassinate Castro, provided a Cuban official, Wikipedia:Rolando Cubela Secades, with a ballpoint pen rigged with a poisonous Wikipedia:hypodermic needle.[11] At this time, the CIA received authorization for 13 major operations in Cuba, including attacks on an electric power plant, an Wikipedia:oil refinery, and a sugar mill.[11] Rabe has argued that the "Kennedy administration... showed no interest in Castro's repeated request that the United States cease its campaign of sabotage and terrorism against Cuba. Kennedy did not pursue a dual-track policy toward Cuba.... The United States would entertain only proposals of surrender." Rabe further documents how "Exile groups, such as Wikipedia:Alpha 66 and the Second Front of Escambray, staged hit-and-run raids on the island... on ships transporting goods…purchased arms in the United States and launched...attacks from the Bahamas."[11]

Harvard Historian Jorge Domínguez states that the scope of Mongoose included sabotage actions against a railway bridge, petroleum storage facilities, a molasses storage container, a petroleum refinery, a power plant, a sawmill, and a floating crane. Harvard Historian Jorge Domínguez states that "only once in these nearly thousand pages of documentation did a U.S. official raise something that resembled a faint moral objection to U.S. government sponsored terrorism."[1] Dominguez writes that "sabotage actions were approved against a railway bridge, some petroleum storage facilities and a molasses storage vessel. Actions were subsequently carried out against a petroleum refinery, a power plant, a sawmill, and a floating crane in a Cuban harbour.” The CIA operation was based in Wikipedia:Miami, Florida and among other aspects of the operation, enlisted the help of the Wikipedia:Mafia to plot an assassination attempt against Wikipedia:Fidel Castro, the Cuban president. William Harvey was one of the CIA case officers who dealt with the mafiosi Wikipedia:John Roselli.[10][12]

The Cuban Project was originally designed to culminate in October 1962 with an "open revolt and overthrow of the Communist regime." This was at the peak of the Cuban Missile Crisis, where the U.S. and the USSR came alarmingly close to Wikipedia:nuclear war over the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba, verified by low flying aircraft on photographic missions and ground surveillance photography. The operation was suspended on October 30, 1962, but 3 of 10 six-man sabotage teams had already been deployed to Cuba.

On Wikipedia:November 8, Wikipedia:1962, one six-man CIA team blew up a Cuban industrial facility, killing 400 workers.[13]

Dominguez writes that Kennedy put a hold on Mongoose actions as the Cuban Missile Crisis escalated, but "returned to its policy of sponsoring terrorism against Cuba as the confrontation with the Soviet Union lessened."[1] However, Wikipedia:Noam Chomsky has argued that "terrorist operations continued through the tensest moments of the missile crisis", remarking that "they were formally canceled on October 30, several days after the Kennedy and Khrushchev agreement, but went on nonetheless". Accordingly, "the Executive Committee of the National Security Council recommended various courses of action, "including ‘using selected Cuban exiles to sabotage key Cuban installations in such a manner that the action could plausibly be attributed to Cubans in Cuba’ as well as ‘sabotaging Cuban cargo and shipping, and [Soviet] Bloc cargo and shipping to Cuba."[14]

Assassination proposalsEdit

Many assassination ideas were floated by the CIA during Operation Mongoose.[15] The most infamous was the CIA's alleged plot to capitalize on Castro's well-known love of cigars by slipping into his supply a very real and lethal "Wikipedia:exploding cigar."[16][17][18][19][20] While numerous sources state the exploding cigar plot as fact, at least one source asserts it to be simply a myth,[21] and another, mere supermarket tabloid fodder.[22] Another suggests that the story does have its origins in the CIA, but that it was never seriously proposed by them as a plot. Rather, the plot was made up by the CIA as an intentionally "silly" idea to feed to those questioning them about their plans for Castro, in order to deflect scrutiny from more serious areas of inquiry.[23]

Other plots to assassinate Castro that are ascribed to the CIA include, among others: poisoning his cigars[24] (a box of the lethal smokes was actually prepared and delivered to Havana[25]); exploding seashells to be planted at a Wikipedia:scuba diving site;[26] a gift diving Wikipedia:wetsuit impregnated with noxious bacteria[26] and mold spores,[27] or with lethal chemical agents; infecting Castro's scuba regulator apparatus with tuberculous bacilli; dousing his handkerchiefs, his tea, and his coffee with other lethal bacteria;[28] having a former lover slip him poison pills;[26][28] and exposing him to various other poisoned items such as a fountain pen and even ice cream.[15] The CIA even tried to embarrass Castro by attempting to sneak thallium salts, a potent Wikipedia:depilatory, into Castro's shoes, causing "his beard, eyebrows, and pubic hair to fall out".[29] The US Senate's Wikipedia:Church Committee of 1975 stated that it had confirmed at least eight separate CIA run plots to assassinate Castro.[30] Fabian Escalante, who was long tasked with protecting the life of Castro, contends that there have been 638 separate CIA assassination schemes or attempts on Castro's life.[28]

In March 1960 author Wikipedia:Ian Fleming met John F. Kennedy at a dinner through a mutual friend where he proposed several schemes to discredit Castro.[31][32]

Internal propaganda Edit

The operation's documentation sheds some interesting light on the propaganda with which operators and overseers convince themselves and others of the rightness of their cause. A document from the U.S. State Department ignored not only the means used by the operation, but the current political trends in Cuba, when it described the operation as a means to "help Cuba overthrow the Communist regime", including its leader Fidel Castro. U.S. policymakers also wanted to see "a new government with which the United States can live in peace".[3]

Legacy Edit

The Cuban Project, as with the earlier Bay of Pigs invasion, is widely acknowledged as an American policy failure against Cuba. According to Wikipedia:Noam Chomsky, it had a budget of $50 million per year, employing 2,500 people including about 500 Americans, and still remained secret for 14 years, from 1961 to 1975. It was revealed in part by the Wikipedia:Church Commission in the U.S. Senate and in part "by good investigative journalism." He said that "it is possible that the operation is still ongoing [1989], but it certainly lasted throughout all the 70's."[33]

Media portrayalsEdit

In the Wikipedia:Oliver Stone film JFK, Operation Mongoose is portrayed in flash-back sequences as a training ground where, among others, Wikipedia:Lee Harvey Oswald becomes versed in anti-Castro militia tactics.

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Domínguez, Jorge I. "The @#$%& Missile Crisis (Or, What was 'Cuban' about US Decisions during the Cuban Missile Crisis.Diplomatic History: The Journal of the Society for Historians of Foreign Relations, Vol. 24, No. 2, (Spring 2000): 305–15.)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Noam Chomsky, Peter Mitchell, Understanding Power, 2002, The New Press
  3. 3.0 3.1 US Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States 1961–1963, Volume X Cuba, 1961–1962 Washington, DC [1])
  4. Michael Grow. "Cuba, 1961". U.S. Presidents and Latin American Interventions: Pursuing Regime Change in the Cold War. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2008. 42.
  5. 5.0 5.1 James G. Blight, and Peter Kornbluh, eds., Politics of Illusion: The Bay of Pigs Invasion Reexamined. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1999, 125)
  8. Vaughan, Terry A.; James M. Ryan; Nicholas J. Czaplewski (2010). Mammalogy. Jones & Bartlett Learning. p. 300. ISBN 0-7637-6299-7
  9. "Castro: Profile of the great survivor". BBC News. 2008-02-19. Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Jack Anderson (1971-01-18). "6 Attempts to Kill Castro Laid to CIA". The Washington Post. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Stephen G. Rabe -Presidential Studies Quarterly. Volume: 30. Issue: 4. 2000,714
  12. Humberto Fontova (2005). "Fidel: Hollywood's Favorite Tyrant". Washington D.C.: Regnery Publishing, Inc.. p. 94. Template:Citation/identifier. 
  13. The factory bombing during the Cuban Missile Crisis,see David A. Welch and James G. Blight, "The Eleventh Hour of the Cuban Missile Crisis: An Introduction to the ExComm Transcripts," International Security, Winter 1987- 88, p. 12 n.18; Raymond L. Garthoff, Reflections on the Cuban Missile Crisis (1989 edition), Washington: Brookings Institution, 1989, pp. 122-123.
  14. Chomsky, Noam. Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance, Henry Holt and Company, 80.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Stewart Brewer and Michael LaRosa (2006). "Borders and Bridges: A History of US-Latin American Relations". Westport, Ct.: Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 123. Template:Citation/identifier. 
  16. Malcolm Chandler and John Wright (2001). "Modern World History". Oxford: Heinemann Education Publishers. p. 282. Template:Citation/identifier. 
  17. Joseph J. Hobbs, Christopher L. Salter (2006). "Essentials Of World Regional Geography". Toronto: Thomson Brooks/Cole. p. 543. Template:Citation/identifier. 
  18. Derek Leebaert (2006). "The Fifty-year Wound: How America's Cold War Victory Shapes Our World". Boston: Little, Brown and Company. p. 302. Template:Citation/identifier. 
  19. Fred Inglis (2002). "The People's Witness: The Journalist in Modern Politics". New Haven and London: Yale University Press. p. 223. Template:Citation/identifier. 
  20. BBC News (2008-02-19). "Castro: Profile of the great survivor". Retrieved 2008-06-03. 
  21. David Hambling (2005). "Weapons Grade: How Modern Warfare Gave Birth to Our High-Tech World". New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers. p. 391. Template:Citation/identifier. 
  22. Charles R. Morris (1984). "A Time of Passion: America, 1960–1980". New York: Harper & Row. p. 210. Template:Citation/identifier. 
  23. Lamar Waldron and Thom Hartmann (2005). "Ultimate Sacrifice: John and Robert Kennedy, the Plan for a Coup in Cuba, and the Murder of JFK". New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers. p. 409. Template:Citation/identifier. 
  24. Lucien S. Vandenbroucke (1993). "Perilous Options: Special Operations as an Instrument of US Foreign Policy". New York: Oxford University Press. p. 30. Template:Citation/identifier. 
  25. Charles Schudson (1992). "Watergate in American Memory: How We Remember, Forget, and Reconstruct the Past". New York: Basic Books. p. 45. Template:Citation/identifier. 
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 Ted Shackley and Richard A. Finney (1992). "Spymaster: my life in the CIA". Dulles, Virginia: Potomac Books, Inc.. p. 57. Template:Citation/identifier. 
  27. Fidel Castro and Ignacio Ramonet (2008). "Fidel Castro: My Life: a Spoken Autobiography". Washington D.C.: Simon and Schuster. p. 262. Template:Citation/identifier. 
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 Campbell, Duncan (April 3, 2006). "638 ways to kill Castro". London: The Guardian Unlimited.,,1835930,00.html. Retrieved 2006-05-28. 
  29. "If at First You Don't Succeed: Killing Castro". Retrieved 2011-04-09. Template:Dead link
  30. Wikipedia:Gus Russo (1998). "Live by the Sword: The Secret War Against Castro and the Death of JFK". Baltimore: Bancroft Press. p. 83. Template:Citation/identifier. 
  31. p.323 Pearson, John The Life of Ian Fleming Cape, 1966
  32. p.178 Comentale, Edward P.; Watt, Stephen & Willman, Skip Ian Fleming & James Bond: The Cultural Politics of 007 Indiana University Press, 2005
  33. Noam Chomsky, Peter Mitchell, Understanding Power, 2002, The New Press

External linksEdit

  • [3] Operation Mongoose: The Cuba Project, Cuban History Archive, 20 Feb 1962.
  • [4] The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962, The National Security Archive.
  • [5] Meeting with the Attorney General of the United States Concerning Cuba, CIA minutes, 19 January 1962.
  • [6] Justification for US Military Intervention in Cuba, Joint Chiefs of Staff, 13 March 1962.
  • [7] Minutes of Meeting of the Special Group on Operation Mongoose, 4 October 1962.
  • [8] CIA Inspector General's Report on Plots to Assassinate Fidel Castro, CIA Historical Review Program, 23 May 1967. (HTML version)

Wikipedia:Template:Cuba-United States relations Wikipedia:Template:United States in Latin America Wikipedia:Template:John F. Kennedy

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