Bay of Pigs

Old history exposes new dirty tricks

The foreign policy chapter of the official CIA history also exposes new spy agency lies and manipulations, sometimes called dirty tricks, in America’s bid to cover up the clandestine training of Cuban exiles.

Both sides also created bogus provocations as a way of tarring Fidel Castro and his young Cuban revolution

Here are a few:

•  With Time magazine on the trail of the secret paramilitary training of hundreds of Cubans, President Miguel Ydigoras Fuentes decided to turn their eastern Guatemalan base camp into a Potemkin village ahead of a show tour for the “newsmen,” as the history describes them.

Cuban air trainees and their aircraft were sent to circle the ocean in U.S.-provided C-54 ahead of the arrival of the reporters. Others were hidden, as were some trainers who took to the woods. Guatemalan soldiers were brought in to pose as trainees by a few CIA agents posting as “Americans posing as mercenaries” on the Guatemalan payroll.

“Through the device of admitting to a certain amount of U.S. technical help in the form of ‘mercenaries,’ the official history recounts, Ydigoras Fuentes “hoped to blunt the charges that he was preparing and supporting the Cubans who planned to overthrow Castro.”

•  An unidentified person involved in the program proposed to CIA headquarters that they “fabricate a photo of a Soviet submarine supposedly off the Guatemalan coast.”

Ydigoras Fuentes had already manufactured a fake sightings of a Cuban warship off his country’s coast, according to the CIA historian, and this would raise the stakes a bit higher just before Nikita Khrushchev’s infamous October 1960 shoe-banging appearance at the United Nations.

Guatemala was eager to join in, too. That same month, Ambassador to the United States Carlos Alejos told President Dwight D. Eisenhower of a Guatemalan plan to stage a bogus Cuban invasion of Guatemala, followed by a bogus but merciful show trial.

A CIA cable described the plan as having Cubans land on a Guatemalan beach “and dig for arms caches ostensibly placed there by Castro agents.” The so-called “invading Cubans” would be captured “bloodless and without shooting” then brought to “extremely fair” trials followed by light sentences.

Wrote CIA historian Jack B. Pfeiffer, relaying the plot: “It was not clear whether the ‘invaders’ were to be volunteers among the troops in training” for the Bay of Pigs invasion. “But before any such operation could take place, a real crisis broke in Guatemala.”