June 9, 1961
MEMORANDUM FOR MR. RICHARD GOODWIN
Sam Halper, who has been the Times correspondent in Habana and more
recently in Miami, came to see me last week. He has excellent contracts among
the Cuban exiles. One of Miro's comments this morning reminded me that I have
been meaning to pass on the following story as told me by Halper. Halper says
that CIA set up something called Operation 40 under the direction of a man named
(as he recalled) Captain Luis Sanjenis, who was also chief of intelligence.
(Could this be the man to whom Miro referred this morning?) It was called
Operation 40 because originally only 40 men were involved: later the group was
enlarged to 70. The ostensible purpose of Operation 40 was to administer
liberated territories in Cuba. But the CIA agent in charge, a man known as
Felix, trained the members of the group in methods of third degree
interrogation, torture and general terrorism. The liberal Cuban exiles believe
that the real purpose of Operation 40 was to "kill Communists" and, after
eliminating hard-core Fidelistas, to go on to eliminate first the followers of
Ray, then the followers of Varona and finally to set up a right wing
dictatorship, presumably under Artime. Varona fired Sanjenis as chief of
intelligence after the landings and appointed a man named Despaign in his place.
Sanjenis removed 40 files and set up his own office; the exiles believe that he
continues to have CIA support. As for the intelligence operation, the CIA is
alleged to have said that, if Varona fired Sanjenis, let Varona pay the bills.
Subsequently Sanjenis's hoods beat up Despaign's chief aide; and Despaign
himself was arrested on a charge of trespassing brought by Sanjenis. The
exiles believe that all these things had CIA approval. Halper says that Lt Col
Vireia Castro (1820 SW 6th Street, Miami; FR 4 3684) can supply further
details. Halper also quotes Bender as having said at one point when someone
talked about the Cuban revolution against Castro: "The Cuban Revolution? The
Cuban Revolution is something I carry around in my checkbook.
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr