14. “Fall in Line or Drop Out”

Title Quote: Antonio Veciana

Despite Alpha 66’s mixed record of success, Veciana was able to use the media to cultivate a positive image. An October 26th article by Jan Carew reported that JFK’s blockade of Cuba had “brought rejoicing” to the Alpha 66 members who frequently met at the Villa Polmeres in San Juan. The group’s members, who claimed to have at least “some military training” had taken a “kamikaze-type oath” to incite rebellion in their former country. Speaking from the “splendidly appointed office of a business firm” Veciana was described as a “mild looking man with the thin and mournful face of a Don Quixote.” Veciana promised that Alpha 66 would “sink a British merchant ship shortly.” Veciana explained that “we have no quarrel with the British people, but the merchants, those who would make money at any cost, must learn that we are at war with Castro.”1

Perhaps buoyed by the positive press, Veciana made a calculated move. He decided to reveal his secret association with Menoyo and SNFE in a bid to gain favor with José Miró Cardona, head of the JFK-backed Cuban Revolutionary Council (CRC) who was in possession of the government funding that he craved. A report from a pair of CIA informants inside Alpha 66 tells the story of what they termed Veciana’s “deceptive tactics.” According to the informants, Veciana and SNFE leader Armando Fleites “offered their services and respective organizations” to Miró and admitted the organizations had formed a pact and that Menoyo (rather than the ethereal Bishop) was “behind” both groups and had masterminded all their operations against Cuba.

Before meeting with Miró, Veciana had revealed the “secret relationship” with SNFE to several Alpha 66 members and tried to gain their support. According to the informants, these members refused to help Veciana and instead urged him to break ties with SNFE and the controversial Menoyo. After Veciana steadfastly refused to disavow Menoyo, both Alpha 66 members and financial backers asked him to resign which he did effective November 2nd.2 Veciana traveled to San Juan to appeal his cause, but after a financial accounting found that he had diverted $27,000 out of the total Alpha 66 fund of $37,000 to SNFE his fate was sealed.3

On October 27th, Veciana and Fleites released a “joint communique” which admitted that Alpha 66 and SNFE had been “fighting together against Castro.” The communique also disingenuously claimed that Menoyo was “back in the mountains of Cuba hopeful of carrying the fight to its final stage.” The two leaders said that “in spite of their independent background” their groups were ready to back the CRC after its call for unity.4

The unchastened Veciana performed an abrupt legal maneuver to ensure that he would have control of the Alpha 66 name, if not the dissenting membership. On November 6, 1962, “Alpha 66” was incorporated with a principal office located at Georgetti 1395, Santurce, Puerto Rico. The incorporators were Rodolfo Garcia Guelme, Fernando Sanchez Garcia and Veciana. The three men stated that the objectives and purposes of the group were:5

To help and orient Cuban refugees, promote fraternization and social relations between the Cuban citizens who are in refuge in Puerto Rico; to organize social function and carry out all the operations of an organization of non-profit character permitted by law.

The same day that he incorporated Alpha 66, Veciana released a joint statement with SNFE leader Fleites declaring a “war pact” against Castro. But the fact that Alpha 66 and SNFE were trying to make war with Castro was hardly news. The real reason for the statement was likely to publicly clarify the split in ranks. Veciana addressed the issue by calling for the dissenting “faction” to “fall in line or drop out.”6 As Veciana’s indiscretions and his control of the Alpha 66 name became public knowledge, 63 disgruntled members of Alpha 66 indeed struck out on their own and formed a new group known as Commandos L-66.7 The new organization’s most prominent figure was Tony Cuesta, their Chief of Military Operations. Comandos L-66 later changed their name to simply Comandos L to completely erase ties to the parent group.8 According to one report, the number of remaining Alpha 66 members after the split was just 20, and a mere four according to a second source.

Veciana, who had been frustrated in his attempts to gain financial aid from the CIA, now turned to a new source—the US Army. Beginning in early September, Veciana and Alpha 66 used an intermediary named Jordan James Pfuntner (see Chapter 6) to contact the US Army Operational Survey Detachment (USAOSD).9 Pfuntner, who had been cleared through the Interagency Source Register10 and “carded” as an Army source, told USAOSD that he was in “direct contact” with the “highest echelon” of Alpha 66. Pfuntner said that Alpha 66 “refused” to work with the CIA and instead desired an association with the “US Military.” As always, Veciana and Alpha 66 were interested in funds, equipment and arms. In return, the group would provide intelligence and captured Soviet arms and additionally boasted the ability to “land agents in Cuba.” Pfuntner stated that Alpha 66 would need $100,000 to complete their program which consisted of four more raids on Cuba.

To assess Pfuntner’s claims regarding Alpha 66, the USAOSD asked him to have the group supply Soviet ordinance and Cuban intelligence. On October 12th, Pfuntner stated that the requested items would be forthcoming because of the Isabela de Sagua raid. Pfuntner also indicated that important intelligence regarding Soviet underwater demolition team countermeasures was obtained during the raid and the frogmen who tried to sink a Russian ship wanted to discuss their experience with US experts. The Office of Naval Intelligence expressed a keen interest in hearing the frogmen’s story. The Boucher memo concluded that Alpha 66 “has an excellent potential to obtain military intelligence information on Cuba as well as well as items of Soviet ordinance material.”

The stage was now set for an interesting interaction between Veciana and Army Intelligence. Sometime on the morning of November 1st, an unidentified Army man in San Juan using the alias “Roberts” made an appointment by phone to meet at 6:30 p.m. with an Army asset known only as DUP 737.11 At 11:45 a.m., Roberts received a call from the Pentagon requesting “immediate action” on Alpha 66. In response to the call, Roberts moved the meeting with DUP 737 from dinner to lunch. At 12:30 p.m., Roberts picked up DUP 737 and after being joined by Army Captain Milford Hubbard (using the alias “Patrick Harris”) the trio departed for the meeting.12

The luncheon took place at a favorite Army location called “Under the Trees.” Hubbard stressed the importance to DUP 737 of contacting the frogmen who had taken part in the Isabela raid. At 2:30 p.m., DUP 737 phoned Roberts to say that Veciana had called and left a number where he could be reached. At 2:35 p.m., Ralph DeGagne of the 471st INTC detachment at Fort Brooke called Veciana and made an appointment to meet at the “Red Rooster,” another Army favorite, with Hubbard and Roberts also attending. At 3:15p.m., Veciana met the three Army men at the Red Rooster and presented them with the rifles and ammunition promised by Pfuntner that were allegedly taken at the Isabela raid. Veciana, Hubbard and Roberts then left to talk privately on a side street. Veciana gave the Army men the names of the SNFE frogmen (Cruz and Castillo) and added that they were not on US soil but were located a day and a half out of Miami by boat. Hubbard made an appointment to meet Veciana again at 7:30 that evening.13

Veciana and Hubbard met at the Red Rooster as planned. Before dining, the men again walked and talked on side streets for about a half hour. Veciana wanted to know if the Army was interested in recruiting the frogmen but Hubbard assured him that they only wanted to debrief the men. Later while dining, Veciana told Hubbard that he wanted him to see the training of the exiles which was taking place at the same location where the frogmen were to be debriefed.14 According to Hubbard, the interview of the frogmen ultimately did take place. After first meeting with Menoyo, Hubbard agreed to be blindfolded during the trip by boat to the SNFE base camp in the Bahamas where the frogmen were located.15 Despite this precaution, Hubbard was able to determine that the base was located near Andros Island. As a result of the meeting, Hubbard made a deal with Menoyo and SNFE to supply the group with small arms, rations, ammunition and medical supplies in exchange for permission to send agents into Cuba to develop an intelligence network.

Shortly after SNFE received the initial shipment of supplies from the Army, Hubbard abruptly received word from his superiors that they would no longer support the exile group. This about face was a result of a new attitude toward the exiles that had made its way down the chain of command. At a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Security Council (Ex Comm) on October 30, JFK laid out his policy regarding exile attacks, “Insofar as we [have] any control over the actions of Alpha 66, we should try to keep them from doing something that might upset the deal with the Russians [that ended the Cuban Missile Crisis].”16 Hubbard was placed in the awkward situation of trying to maintain good relations with SNFE following this news, but ultimately he was “burned” for intelligence purposes and he and his family left Puerto Rico by late 1963.

Veciana was soon back doing what he did best when he spoke for the reconstituted Alpha 66 at a fundraiser on November 10th in West New York, New Jersey. The event, which “resulted in an extraordinary patriotic demonstration,” was a joint effort with SNFE and featured Fleites and Amaury Fraginales speaking for the latter group.17 That same day, Veciana told newsmen that SNFE/Alpha 66 would make more raids against Cuba once JFK’s naval blockade of the island was lifted. Veciana also claimed that “underground couriers” had reported that “Soviet offensive weapons” were being secreted in caves in Cuba in violation of the agreement between JFK and Khrushchev.18

Veciana and Fleites appeared at a rally of about 300 exiles in Bridgeport, Connecticut on December 9th with the latter garnering most of the press coverage. Fleites repeated Veciana’s claim that the Cubans were hiding Russian “bombers and missiles” in caves and added that support on the US mainland for the anti-Castro resistance was at “90 percent and growing every day.” The only thing backing Castro, according to Fleites, was “15,000 Russian troops.” Fleites further claimed that a joint raid in Cuba’s Las Villas Province by Alpha 66 and SNFE the previous Tuesday had been successful and the town of Juan Francisco “was held for more than an hour.” To accomplish the difficult task of liberating Cuba, Fleites asked the rally attendees for “food, medicine, uniforms” and, inevitably, money.19 A few days before this rally, Veciana reportedly had received “large sums of money” from his former boss Julio Lobo, who was known to bankroll the group.

Go to Chapter 15

The Bishop Hoax Table of Contents


1. Jan Carew, “Exiles Rejoicing.” The Marion Star, October 26, 1962, 6.
2. FBI FOIA ALPHA-66 File #105-112098, Section 1-4, (page 122 of PDF). These Freedom of Information Act compilations are available here.
3. CIA TFW/CI to multiple agencies, November 8, 1962. RIF 104-10181-10196. The split in Alpha 66 had a secondary effect. It killed any remaining interest the CIA may have had in the group since they had been discredited “in the Cuban exile community.”
4. “Cuba Groups Fight as One.” The Miami News, October 28, 1962, 8.
5. FBI FOIA ALPHA-66 File #105-112098, Section 1-4, (page 108 of PDF).
6. Associated Press. “Alpha 66 Signs Pact.” The Pensacola News, November 6, 1962, 11.
7. CIA Cuban Counterrevolutionary Handbook; Number of members who left Alpha 66: FBI FOIA ALPHA 66 #105-112098, (page 122 of PDF).
8. CIA Cuban Counterrevolutionary Handbook, 240-241. In his book, On the Trail of the JFK Assassins, Dick Russell, citing Fabian Escalante, writes, “In his written statement [to Cuban authorities], Tony Cuesta named two other exiles involved in the JFK assassination, Eladio del Valle and Herminio Díaz García.” Russell’s book is just one of several to report this allegation. But since the evidence is overwhelming that Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK and there is no known connection between Oswald and any of these men, Escalante’s information must be viewed with extreme skepticism.
9. Disposition Form from Major Swafford to CO/USAOSD, October 15, 1962. RIF 194-10012-10040.
10. The Interagency Source Register was designed to prevent the use of a confidential source by more than one agency at a time (Newman, Into the Storm, 298).
11. The “DUP” designation was the Army’s shorthand for intelligence assets under the auspices of the Puerto Rico station according to Captain Hubbard (RIF 157-10014-10084). DUP 737 was an Army Intelligence asset described as a “US insurance man” working in San Juan (RIF 194-10012-10040). John Newman believes (but admits he does not know) that “Roberts” may be Grover C. King, the San Juan USAOSD commander. (Newman, Into the Storm, 309).
12. Newman, Into the Storm, 308.
13. Newman, Into the Storm, 308-309.
14. Newman, Into the Storm, 309.
15. Handwritten notes by an unknown author refer to a November 16, 1962 meeting between “King & Pat,” (which is likely a reference to Grover King and Hubbard), and Nazario, Menoyo and Rafael Huguet, who was an associate of Menoyo’s. The notes also say “first meeting” which likely means that this was the preliminary meeting at which the parties made the agreement for Hubbard to travel to the base to see the frogmen (RIF 194-10003-10413).
16. Bohning, The Castro Obsession, 153.
17. FBI FOIA ALPHA-66 File #105-112098, Section 1-4, (page 74 of PDF).
18. Associated Press, “Exiles Plan More Raids Against Cuba.” Fort Lauderdale News, November 11, 1962, 17.
19. UPI, “Anti-Castro Resistance Surge Seen.” The Orlando Sentinel, December 10, 1962, 1.


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