13. “Grandiose Cuban Exile Schemes”

Title Quote: CIA report

After the establishment of Alpha 66, Veciana relocated to Miami where he reunited with his family who had first been in Spain during Operation Liborio and then in Miami since late 1961.1 One of the enduring myths regarding Alpha 66-SNFE is they were primarily funded by the CIA or some other US government entity. This myth has been popularized by JFK conspiracy authors. For example, Henry Hurt writes, “With the exception of the official CIA denial, there is no serious doubt that Veciana and Alpha 66 were creatures of the CIA.”2 But the truth is, Veciana’s primary function was raising the money needed for the fledgling organization to carry out its anti-Castro activities.

There is no doubt that Veciana coveted the money that groups like the DRE were receiving from Uncle Sam and wanted to get in on the action. But his efforts to secure such funding were mostly in vain and the times that the organization did receive help from the government were the exception rather than the rule.3 Alpha 66 used just about every means imaginable to raise money. Mail campaigns, posters, bonds, raffles, lotteries, dances, boxing matches and other sporting events were just some of the methods employed by the group over the next three years.

One of the most visible and frequently used fund-raising mechanisms was the old-fashioned political rally where one or more of the Alpha 66-SNFE leaders would speak and ask for donations to the cause. A classic example of this was an event in Bayamon, Puerto Rico at the home of Emilio Fuentes in early July that was part of an extensive “high pressure” fundraising push that started in May of 1962. Speaking was Veciana who, never known for tact, “demanded” that the attendees, who were “above average” Cuban exile professionals, donate funds to be used in an “action program outside of US control.” Those who failed this “duty,” according to Veciana, could expect to face unspecified reprisals.

A CIA report on this meeting stated that Alpha 66, “appears typical of numerous grandiose Cuban exile schemes we have seen over [the] past several years and perhaps is only [a] new fund-raising gimmick. On the other hand [redacted] impressed with [the] caliber of people attending meeting and spot judgement of Veciana is that he is [the] type who can and will attempt these actions if he gets financial backing.”4 Undoubtedly one of the larger donations Veciana received at this fundraiser was $500 from Luis A. Ferre. Although Ferre was a CIA asset (cryptonym SKEWER-1) who later became Governor of Puerto Rico, the agency insisted that the money came from Ferre’s personal funds, a fact that was confirmed by a confidential informant.5

After a fundraising swing through Chicago in early July, Veciana traveled to New York where he met on the 23rd with Harry Real of the CIA DCS. This was the second of three meetings that Veciana initiated with the agency, looking for assistance of some form. Veciana explained to Real the meaning of the Alpha 66 name and stated that the first objective of the group was the assassination of Castro.6 Veciana then went to the heart of the matter. He told Real that Alpha 66 had been unsuccessful in soliciting CIA funding in Miami and requested a meeting with “someone in the Agency who is sufficiently high-placed to make a [monetary] commitment.” Veciana qualified this request by making it clear that CIA assistance must come with no strings attached.7 There is no indication Veciana’s request was acted on by the agency.8

One of the most important sources of funds were dues from the delegations that the alliance had all over the United States. In February of 1964, Nazario told an FBI informant that Alpha 66-SNFE had 58 delegations with a view to increasing that number to 100. Nazario went on to say that the Miami delegation alone “sometimes” brought in as much as $10,000 a month.

Private donations by financially successful anti-Castro Cubans were another source of Alpha 66-SNFE funds. Veciana’s old boss Julio Lobo was said to be a frequent donor. So too was a man named Leon Nick although some of his money may have come from dubious sources. Nick, whose real name was possibly Leon Shapochnik, had been associated with underworld elements in the Batista government during his time in Cuba. A distributor of jukeboxes, Nick was described by one informant as the “biggest financial supporter of Alpha 66 in Puerto Rico.” It was further reported that Nick had supplied Alpha 66 with “launches” through an “agent” and that he employed several leaders of the anti-Castro group in San Juan.

Joining the list of those who did not believe that the CIA funded or assisted Alpha 66 was Rufo López-Fresquet. Veciana’s mentor told investigators “on the contrary” when asked if the group was “CIA assisted.” The former Castro cabinet member continued, “[their] reputation … was one of the then few Cuban organizations that didn’t have any assistance from the CIA.”9 A CIA veteran who doubted that Alpha 66 was agency backed was Guy Vitale. “I don’t think [Alpha 66] was ever used by the CIA, according to my recollection,” he told Fonzi.

The final confirmation that Alpha 66 was not government funded comes from the group’s co-founders. Menoyo told George Volsky in 1987, “All our expenses were paid by exile donations. We never asked for, nor did we receive, any support from the CIA.”10 Similarly, Veciana admitted in his autobiography that financing the organization was “our own responsibility”.11 Additionally, in an interview with E2 films, Veciana conceded, “… we received little, if any, aid [from the CIA].”

It should be noted that not everyone in the Cuban exile community was enthusiastic about donating money to Alpha 66. One FBI informant said that the Division of Intelligence Police of Puerto Rico had received complaints from exiles who thought Alpha 66 was “just another fraud to obtain money from exiles.” Another bureau informant stated that the anti-Castro group was “another of the many hopeful Cuban exile operations which do not have a chance of success from the start” and consequently he would “not donate a penny” since he considered it “a possible fraud.” Finally, a third informant who was a member of the MRR echoed the statements of his fellow exiles. “To do the things Alpha 66 plans to do would end up in suicide for all concerned,” he maintained adding that he “would not lend any of his MRR members to Alpha’s movement nor would he donate money to their cause.”

An FBI report on a meeting with a San Juan informant makes it clear that Veciana had grand plans for the money that he was working so hard to raise. The informant said that Veciana told him that the US government “does not intend to liberate Cuba in the near future.” Veciana based this belief on the fact that the US “allowed” Castro to take over Cuba and confiscate property owned by US citizens. Veciana went on to tell the informant that the execution of US citizens was another reason for his belief that the US would not act in the island nation.

Through the informant, Veciana laid out an ambitious plan that was to be completed by September 22nd. The plan called for five separate actions:

  • Kill the Russian ambassador to Cuba or another highly placed Russian official in Cuba.
  • Blow up the Esso oil refinery in Havana.
  • Destroy the power plant at the Havana suburb of Tallapiedra.
  • Sink a Russian ship in Havana harbor.
  • Kill a high-ranking Cuban official.

Veciana maintained that if none of the actions were successful, the money collected would be returned to the donors. The funds for the missions were being held in a bank in the Santurce neighborhood of San Juan where Alpha 66 ran their operations.

According to a CIA memo, on August 2nd, a meeting of the San Juan chapter of Alpha 66 was held in that city with about 200 exiles attending. It was announced that a recruitment strategy for young Cubans in Puerto Rico, Miami and Venezuela would be ready by the next meeting. Other business included a call for men with a minimum of military training to be used as raiders in future actions. The DRE announced that they planned future raids as well. The meeting was headed by Geronimo Estevez who had spoken to Veciana recently by phone. Veciana had expressed to Estevez the determination of Alpha 66 to move forward by September 22nd with “planned actions” despite the efforts of the US government to “restrain exile groups.”

As revealed in this same memo, one of the problems faced by Veciana and Alpha 66 at this time was mounting pressure from the San Juan branch to see tangible results since his fundraising campaign had been underway for several months. In July, San Juan had received a sealed envelope from Veciana containing the details of the “first action” of Alpha 66. The envelope was “ceremoniously” placed in a safe deposit box with restricted access and was to be opened at a public rally after the action was completed. By mid-August, the San Juan branch had become “greatly discouraged” by the lack of any such action and pressed the Miami brain trust for an explanation. Veciana informed them that operatives had embarked on a mission, but they were forced to return due to “faulty equipment.” The San Juan branch was not satisfied with this clarification and made plans to send a “commission” to Miami to get answers. By August 25th, Veciana was forced to admit that the alleged mission had been canceled because of “heat from the United States authorities.”

Under incessant pressure, Menoyo and Alpha 66 finally acted. In the early morning hours of September 10th, a forty-foot launch machine-gunned the British freighter the Newlane and a Cuban ship the San Pascual at Cape Francis, a small key 210 miles southeast of Havana near Caibarién. Despite a reported sixty rounds fired by the Alpha 66 vessel, there were no casualties and minimal damage was inflicted on the target ships. The Newlane was loading sugar at the time of the attack while the Cuban ship was being used as a depository for molasses and ice. The Alpha 66 version of the story told of a dubious “naval battle” with Cuban helicopters pursuing the Alpha 66 ship after the attack. Alpha 66, seeking to make the most of the moment, told the news media that the “communists quickly withdrew.”12

Two days after the attack at Caibarién, Veciana gave a “fiery” speech to a meeting of 500 exiles at the Casa de Cuba resort in Isla Verde, Puerto Rico. Veciana claimed that Alpha 66 had 300 “fighting men” and $100,000 in cash and supplies and vowed the group would carry out five more attacks within 60 days. The following day as reported by the San Juan Star, when asked what the raiders would do if confronted by US Navy ships, Veciana declared, “We will never accept orders of a foreign country. They’ll have to fire at and capture our patriots.” Apparently referring to his own unsuccessful contacts with the CIA, Veciana stated that Alpha 66 had been repeatedly denied agency support at “meetings that summer in Miami and New York,” although Veciana himself had only one confirmed CIA contact that year.13

Shortly after Veciana’s Casa de Cuba speech, he was visited by the FBI who quizzed him about some of the statements he made at Isla Verde as reported by the media. Veciana assured the agents that the only activities engaged in by himself and Alpha 66 in Puerto Rico were fundraising in nature and the organization had no knowledge of military actions. Veciana went on to explain that the newspaper had drawn an inference that the Alpha 66 raiding party was based out of Puerto Rico because of something he said in response to a hypothetical question, but he assured agents that was not the case. The FBI also asked Veciana about the infamous “letter in the safe deposit box” and if the recent meeting at Isla Verde was for the purpose of opening such a letter claiming credit for the Caibarién action. Veciana admitted the letter existed but said that the action described in that letter had not been carried out.14

On the 23rd of September, Veciana spoke before a meeting of 150 exiles in Ponce. He promised two new attacks in October which he said would be called “Accion [Spanish for action] Antonietta and Accion Carmen.” “The greater the financial contributions to our cause,” Veciana maintained, “the bigger our attacks.” Veciana warned that neutral countries shipping goods into Cuba would have their vessels attacked. “We don’t want to attack ships from other nations,” he said, “but if they persist, we tell them now they will find themselves on the bottom of the sea.” Veciana claimed that his organization was backed by all the major exile groups.15 The September 10th attack, now referred to as Operation Ponce, had cost $5825.05, but Antonietta and Carmen were respectively budgeted at $12,000 and $13,000 according to a September 24th article by Miami Herald Latin American Editor Al Burt.16

Veciana, through Menoyo and his men, soon made good on his promise of more attacks. The next action occurred on October 8th at Isabela de Sagua on Cuba’s north coast. The exile group released a “war communique” to the press that described the raid as follows:17

A commando group of ALPHA 66 on Monday, October 8 at 12:20 a.m. attacked the port of Isabela de Sagua on the north coast of Cuba. The principal objective was a camp of Russian military men and communist (Cuban) militiamen protected by numerous trenches and powerful lights. In front of the office of the camp was a giant photograph of Lenin. The battle ended at 2:12 a.m. In the railroad yards of the city a warehouse of military supplies and four other strategic points were destroyed, many weapons and some flags of the enemy were captured. No fewer than 20 enemy were killed.

But privately, Veciana told a Department of Defense source that the raid was a failure. The original intent of the attack was to sink a Soviet ship. But the 3 SNFE frogmen who were to plant a mine on the vessel had evidently been “sucked up” to the side of the ship by strong undercurrents and the mine was lost. The raid on the port was an improvised action and the casualties amounted to only five wounded. On October 11th, Veciana stepped up his rhetoric and “declared war” on all ships carrying supplies to Cuba. Speaking from San Juan on the ABC radio network, Veciana declared that the attacks would be made on “any and all” ships, not just those from countries behind the iron curtain. Veciana promised a raid like Isabela de Sagua within two weeks.18 The following day, the United States told Great Britain that it could not take responsibility for armed raids by anti-Castro groups. The statement by the US was in response to the September attack on the Newlane at Caibarién.19

But Alpha 66 was about to experience an even bigger setback. The disaster was foretold by a news report on October 25th stating that the group had lost contact with two vessels on an attack mission.20 On October 31st, the Miami News confirmed the worst, reporting that the group’s two attack boats sank in heavy seas leaving the exiles “without a Navy.” The raiders had made their way to shore and after hiding for two days, “stole a battered leaking sailboat” and escaped to the island of Cay Sal in the Bahamas. An unidentified “observer” told the paper that the incident had “virtually ended” the group’s attack potential.21 The raiding party was picked up by the Coast Guard on October 28th and released after questioning.22

Go to Chapter 14

The Bishop Hoax Table of Contents


1. Veciana with Harrison, Trained to Kill, 110.
2. Hurt, Reasonable Doubt, 328.
3. One example of CIA assistance for Alpha 66 comes from an interview with Army Intelligence. Veciana reported that the agency had provided Alpha 66 with “special rations” that were “very rich” in vitamins and minerals (RIF 194-10003-10417).
4. CIA FOIA ALPHA 66 F82-0430, 13. These documents are compilations of documents obtained from Freedom of Information Act requests. They were obtained at http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/belligerence/.
5. Letter from S.D. Breckinridge to G. Robert Blakey, March 30, 1979. RIF 104-10067-10185; Confidential informant: RIF 104-10102-10073.
6. In yet another version of the meaning of the Alpha 66 name, Veciana told Real that Alpha meant that the group was “the first of its kind” rather than “the beginning of the end of Castro” as he claimed in his book.
7. CIA Memo from Chief of New York Office to Chief of Domestic Contacts, July 26, 1962. Record Number 1993. 07.14.17:06:24:150340.
8. RIF 180-10144-10153. This was the second of three meetings Veciana initiated with the CIA after he allegedly met Bishop. The mysterious mentor had informed him of the ground rules of their partnership at the outset. Veciana and Alpha 66 had to find their own funding. Bishop would provide weapons and information and direct the group (Veciana with Harrison, Trained to Kill, 108). Why then did Veciana go to the CIA on three separate occasions asking for money or other assistance against Bishop’s orders?
9. Transcript of HSCA Interview with Rufo López-Fresquet, May 19, 1977, 13. RIF 180-10086-10456.
10. Volsky, “In Castro’s Gulag.”
11. Veciana with Harrison, Trained to Kill, 108. Responding to an FBI request, the CIA stated, “CIA, Miami has never offered funds to the SNFE for propaganda purposes or any other purposes and that CIA had no operational interest in this group as of that time.” (RIF 124-90094-10074).
12. Associated Press, “Secret Organization Claims Ship Attacks.” The Tampa Times, September 12, 1962, 4; Newman, Into the Storm, 296.
13. FBI FOIA ALPHA 66 File #105-112098, Section 1-4, 24-25.
14. FBI FOIA ALPHA 66 File #105-112098, Section 1-4, 25-26.
15. FBI FOIA ALPHA 66 File #105-112098, Section 1-4, 28-29.
16. FBI FOIA ALPHA 66 File #105-112098, Section 1-4, 33.
17. Associated Press, “Cuba Raid Claimed: Exiles Report Port Attack.” Fort Lauderdale News, October 10, 1962, 1.
18. Associated Press, “Group Declares War on Cuban Shipping.” (Richmond, Indiana) Palladium-Item, October 11, 1962, 1.
19. Robert Young, “U.S. Refuses to Protect British Ships.” Chicago Tribune, October 13, 1962, 1.
20. Clay Gowran, “Alpha 66 to Strike?” The Miami News, October 25, 1962, 9.
21. Associated Press, “Alpha 66 Without a Navy.” The Miami News, October 31, 1962, 15.
22. FBI FOIA ALPHA 66 File #105-112098, Section 1-4, 53.


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