The Cuban Missile Crisis
Memorandum From the President's Military Aide (Clifton) to the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)


Washington, December 29, 1962.


Cuban Focal Point in the Miami Area

During the Joint Chiefs of Staff meeting at Palm Beach,(1) the question came up of the future use and employment of the Cuban brigade(2) trainees.

For the military, the question was how many of these brigade officers could be used at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, in helping to train the Cuban trainees, how many of the Cuban officers might need a special officers' course for updating and retraining as officers, and finally, how many of the Cuban refugee prisoners would actually go in for a 20-week retraining course.

There were no numbers involved, but it was agreed by all that certainly some of them would end up at Fort Jackson.

The next question raised was whether this Cuban brigade would be a focal point for a new political groupment. From all we could learn it looks like they might become such a party. The President pointed out that one of the tough problems in dealing with the 100,000 Cuban refugees in the Miami area is their lack of formalized party--he stated that there are four major parties and about one hundred splinter groups--and he thinks that the Cuban brigade might become a fifth rallying point, possibly a rather heavily emotionally charged one.

The Chiefs brought up the future political problems in connection with future military plans for Cuba, and it was stated that what we actually need is the establishment of a government-in-exile. This was in response to the President's directive that in their future planning the political preparations would have to be carefully organized. By this he meant the military, political preparations: the civil affairs, military government aspects, and the preparations to receive defectors en masse, if and when it occurred; but also to be prepared for their political organization at any time that we were back on Cuban soil.

With all this as background, the question came up about how our government is going to deal with this 100,000 nucleus in the future. It was suggested that whatever we do in Washington it was essential that we establish a "focal point" in the Miami area. Right now these various groups sit down there, stew in their own juice, elect committees, become emotionally upset, and then finally call upon somebody in Washington to let off their steam. If we are to get any benefit for future operations with this large group of people, it was suggested that we have a continuing office down in that area so that these committees could be guided and they would have a place to put in their requests and let off steam before they get to such an emotional pitch.

That evening after I got home the President called me and asked me to discuss this further with General Wheeler (because of the Army's future involvement both as a trainer of Cubans and as the executive agent for the Department of Defense in Cuban affairs), with Katzenbach of Justice, and with Director McCone (because of the Agency's interests). I have done all this.

General Wheeler and Secretary Vance both want to sit in on any meeting that you hold to formulate recommendations for the President on this matter; Mr. Katzenbach says that the Department of Justice's future interest is primarily one of the immigration authorities and he would very much like to have immigration represented, both in Washington and in Miami in anything that is established, including preliminary discussions. Mr. McCone has some deep feelings about the whole process, and especially his future relationships with the Cubans, and he would like to have General Carter sit in on any deliberations. He feels that if we establish a Miami "focal point," the Agency certainly would have to work in coordination with them.

The President then asked especially that I get the matter to your attention and he will await your early recommendations, including the advice of the Department of State. All concerned felt that the Department of State should be the chief agency for the focal point, if it were established.

Last footnote: HEW is the most involved at the moment. There are 100,000 Cuban refugees down there and 60,000 of them draw money from the Cuban refugee relief program. They obviously would be very important in the Miami area and are going to be continuously involved as long as they are paying money out to these refugees.

Mr. Katzenbach has a rather large immigration installation at the Miami National Airport--it can house as many as 600 people on a transient basis. It was his suggestion that any headquarters set up in the Miami area be set up at this location because the Cubans are already used to dealing with the government at that location. HEW concurs in this.

C.V. Clifton(3)

1 President Kennedy met the Joint Chiefs of Staff on December 27, 10:15 to 10:40 a.m. (Ibid., President's Appointment Book) Back

2 On December 29 President Kennedy addressed the members of the Cuban Brigade who had been released and returned to the United States on December 25. The text of the President's remarks are in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1962, pp. 911-913. Back

3 Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature. Back

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, NSAM 213. Secret.

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