17. “We Get Nothing from the United States”

Title Quote: Antonio Veciana
Photo: Veciana and Armando Fleites

On January 13, 1964, Veciana and Andres Nazario joined Menoyo when they officially became informants for Army Intelligence according to an FBI document. Menoyo was the only one of the three who had previously been listed as a “registered Army source” by the Interagency Source Register. One benefit of this association for the three men was the fact that the Department of Defense would not be pursuing a grand jury to potentially prosecute them for previously failing to comply with the Foreign Agents Registration Act. By January 30th, the Alpha 66-SNFE-MRP alliance had properly filed under the act with SNFE listed as the parent organization and Alpha 66 as a branch. Menoyo was listed as the head of the “military department” and Armando Fleites as the leader of the “political department.” Veciana was given as the leader of the “financial department” and Nazario as the head of “organization.”

Despite Menoyo’s previous skepticism regarding “unification” talks with JURE, on February 6th, informants reported that a “pact of honor” had been signed by the alliance leader and Manuel Ray. Under the agreement, Menoyo would go into Cuba first with Ray to follow later and assume political leadership after the overthrow of Castro. During February meanwhile, the rest of the alliance leadership busied themselves with fund-raising activities for Plan Omega. Nazario appeared at a rally at the Seminole Hotel in Jacksonville where he spoke before a crowd of 250-300 supporters. Veciana arranged another boxing event in Puerto Rico on February 22nd with 9000 in attendance which raised a reported $42,000. Another money-making scheme developed during this period was the “Campaign of the 1000 Bonds.” The idea was to sell “bonds” at $10 apiece to raise $10,000 for the spring activities of the alliance. By April, Veciana was again sending out mailers “pleading” for funds.

In March, the guessing game of exactly when Plan Omega would be launched began to heat up. On the 5th, Joaquin Godoy told the FBI that the operation would be launched by the end of that month. On March 10th, Menoyo told the Associated Press that Omega was “militarily impossible to defeat” but gave a more measured assessment of the infiltration date, promising that his men would be fighting in Cuba by May 20th.1 Another report in FBI files stated that Omega “would have to be” initiated prior to March 21st or 22nd for unspecified reasons.

Indeed, according to reports from a series of alliance meetings held near the end of March, Omega seemed to be imminent. Although no specific time was presented at the meetings, it was expected that the operation would begin “after Monday, the 30th of March.” Plan Omega was to be a joint operation between the alliance and JURE with the former group first infiltrating the island as previously agreed by Menoyo and Ray. Later, using a “large boat” he reportedly had access to, Ray would join the alliance leadership and form a temporary base for the “assembly of men and material” needed to launch large scale operations. 150 to 200 men were expected to be involved in this initial operation which would result in Ray assuming “political” leadership and Menoyo retaining military control.

A second report from these key meetings characterized the gathering as the “final executive committee meeting” before the launch of Omega. In addition to Menoyo, Veciana, Nazario, Fleites and Diego Medina were reportedly in attendance. A major administrative change was announced with Fleites ousted as Menoyo’s successor in exile following the presumed success of Omega. Fleites was to be replaced by Nazario’s brother Aurelio with Medina promoted to head of propaganda. The reason for Fleites’ dismissal was the fact that he reportedly had been “molesting” both a “12-year-old girl” and a “65-year-old woman.” To avoid embarrassment for the alliance, Fleites was to be reassigned to South America on a “speaking tour.”

Despite the “imminence” of Plan Omega, it was business as usual for Veciana when he left Miami for a west coast fund-raising swing on March 31st. Veciana told the San Francisco Examiner that although Omega would happen “within 90 days,” a full victory “may take years.” Significantly, Veciana expressed his “bitterness” toward the US government. “Why do you spend millions and millions of dollars in South Vietnam, thousands of miles away and then do nothing about Cuba which is 90 miles from your coast,” he complained. “We don’t ask for American people to die in Cuba,” Veciana continued, “we want that honor ourselves.” Veciana then arrived at the crux of the matter. “But we need help. Castro receives money from Russia. We get nothing from the United States,” he protested.2

At a gathering of 800 exiles at the Cherry Plaza Hotel in Orlando on April 16th that included representatives of the alliance, JURE and other groups, a new date for Plan Omega was proffered. Speaking for JURE, Orsorio Davila said that the infiltration would take place by May 20th. The date was significant and was known as Cuban Independence Day for the day that Cuba realized autonomy from the United States under the 1902 constitution. Interestingly, Davila claimed, “We already have the overwhelming majority of our forces inside Cuba.” The JURE man concluded, “By May 20, we will be back inside Cuba fighting the tyrant in our one final victorious drive back to freedom.”3

Speaking to a group of exiles at a Dallas church on April 19th, Veciana stuck to his prediction of an insurrection within 90 days. Veciana said that the alliance would launch what he termed “a civil war” in Cuba “aimed at toppling the Castro government.” Echoing Davila’s comments, Veciana stated that “supplies are already in Cuba” and claimed “sabotage and guerilla warfare” to be the primary objectives of the group. Veciana went on to say that the insurgents were training at a “secret base” in the Caribbean and maintained that “for the first time” there was “unity among the anti-Castro groups.” “The success of the revolt,” he concluded. “depends on Cubans, those on the island and those in exile.”4

On April 20th, the FBI received an anonymous letter from an individual who described herself as an “anguished wife.” The woman asked the bureau to do something to stop Menoyo whom she described as “crazy enough” to depart for Cuba with less than a hundred men. The woman went on to describe herself as a Cuban who wanted freedom but believed that “all Cubans” should fight rather than the small group proposed by Menoyo. The unidentified wife concluded by saying that Menoyo and his followers were facing “certain death” if they attempted to carry out their plans.

An opinion piece in the Lansing Michigan State Journal commenting on Veciana’s speech asked a question that was undoubtedly on the mind of skeptics everywhere. The article, entitled “Why Warn Him?” made the reasonable assumption that the element of surprise would work in the exile’s favor. “Perhaps the talkative exile leader has his own reason for publicizing the project he says is being planned,” the Journal speculated. “Possibly he is engaged only in a verbal war of nerves,” the piece continued. “But if there really are plans for an attempt to overthrow Castro within 90 days, we can’t understand why Veciana has told the world about them. It isn’t ordinarily considered sound strategy to warn an enemy of an impending attack,” the Journal concluded.5

To offset May Day celebrations by Castro, a rally was held by the alliance on May 1st at the Cuban Club in Tampa. The gathering, which featured a small but enthusiastic crowd, heard keynote speaker Amaury Fraginals compare Plan Omega to the activities of Cuba hero Jose Marti. “Now is the time,” Fraginals exclaimed, “We need but take one step forward and Cuba will be free,” he declared.6 Meanwhile, on May 6th, FBI informants reported that Menoyo’s wife said that he would be unable to keep an appointment that day and had left the area at about 1:00 pm and was not expected back right away. These facts refueled speculation that Omega was again forthcoming.

On May 12th, the ephemeral Menoyo resurfaced in Miami at a meeting with leaders of the University Student Federation (FEU). The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the possible entry of the group into the alliance. At the meeting, Menoyo stated that Plan Omega would be implemented “within a month.” The following day, a bolt from the blue hit the exile community when Manuel Artime’s Revolutionary Recovery Movement (MRR) launched an attack on a sugar mill and the Port of Pilon in eastern Cuba. The assault was angrily confirmed by Castro who called the action an “act of vandalism” by the CIA and Washington. The surprise assault came as both the alliance and Manuel Ray’s JURE were making noises about acting before May 20th. The MRR promised more raids with a spokesman characterizing the assault as the “beginning of a chain.”7

The MRR action spawned a wave of speculative news reports regarding a full-scale invasion of Cuba by the exiles. Ray, who was presumed to be plotting an invasion, was reportedly out of the country to avoid what he termed “pro-Castro elements.” Helping to fuel rumors of an assault were reports of the defection of Castro confidant and G-2 chief Samuel Rodiles. Additional signs that fed the rumors were:8

  • Indications of a Cuban Naval alert.
  • The playing of Cuba’s “invasion hymn” on shortwave radio.
  • Unsubstantiated claims of landings in Cuba by Menoyo.
  • Radio messages beamed to Cuba that appeared to be in code.

By the 19th, one day before the deadline for an assault set by Ray and at least implied by Menoyo, rumors were at a zenith. According to United Press International, Ray, Menoyo and Artime had all “dropped out of sight.” Ray, who was described as a “specialist in terrorist tactics,” was said to be “already back in Cuba or about to link up with clandestine forces.” Meanwhile, Menoyo was reportedly, “mapping a separate infiltration action against Castro.” Calls to the alliance headquarters were answered with the words, “Plan Omega is now underway.” Artime was said to be planning a “follow through” raid on the previous week’s sea attack. Castro was reported to be keeping a pair of domestic radio stations online 24 hours a day and ordered “maximum vigilance” on his private communications network.9

But those in the know seemed to sense what was coming. An editorial in the Tampa Tribune published on the 20th was already lowering expectations for the exiles and their supporters. “Even if no blow falls today from Ray, Menoyo or Artime,” the piece concluded, “the mounting activity of their groups is keeping Castro mentally and militarily off balance.” Indeed, the deadline passed without a sound from the three exile leaders. Ray immediately sought to put the best spin on the situation and JURE released a statement that said the group was “satisfied with progress achieved” and maintained that a “new independence war has begun on Cuban soil.” The junta added that “objectives have been obtained especially from a point of view of psychological warfare.” The statement concluded that “there will be victory by the people but not in the form of spectacular invasions.”10

For the alliance, it was business as usual when they held what was described as the “third congress of SNFE” on May 23rd and 24th in Tampa. Reported to be in attendance were Menoyo, Nazario, Fleites and Medina. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss Plan Omega and the attendees were advised to “make no public statements, especially to news media,” regarding the secret project. Privately, Fleites was unwittingly telling an FBI informant what had to be on the minds of many alliance supporters. He admitted that Cuba would be “difficult to infiltrate clandestinely,” since the alliance had few contacts there. He went on to say that the alliance had only “35-50 men who could be sent to Cuba,” and that the leadership considered this to be “suicide.” Accordingly, Fleites concluded, the alliance had no choice but to “wait and follow developments.”

Following the lack of action through May 20th by the alliance and the other exile groups, a guessing game developed regarding the whereabouts of Menoyo that would last for the rest of the year. On May 31st, Fleites told an informant that he thought Menoyo might be in New York. On June 8th, Nazario’s brother Aurelio maintained that the civilian leadership of the alliance, “did not know the whereabouts” of Menoyo due to strict “compartmentalization” within the organization. However, several clues to Menoyo’s true location emerged during this time frame.

First, Veciana told an informant that he had received a radio message directing him to send $10,000 to the alliance leader and an additional $20,000 within the next ten days. A second informant confirmed Veciana’s information and added the detail that Menoyo had purchased $24,000 in arms with the help of a “general in Santo Domingo” using Veciana as a conduit. Finally, Max Lesnik’s father Samuel sent his son a letter saying that he had seen Menoyo confidant Cecilio Vazquez in Santo Domingo on several occasions. The elder Lesnik went on to say that Vazquez met frequently with the “good people outside the city,” which Max assumed was a reference to Menoyo’s group.11

Nevertheless, even the top leaders did not know where Menoyo was at any given moment. Nazario decided that the best way to handle the speculation regarding Menoyo was to say that he was in Cuba. Although Nazario admitted that he did not know where Menoyo was, he justified the deception by saying that “such a statement would serve to lift the morale” of the exiles. But by August, Nazario and “a number of leading [alliance] officers,” had become concerned about Menoyo since he had received a “considerable sum of money for the purchase of arms.” Indeed, according to another report, the alliance expected to be broke by the end of the month. An August 13th report placed Menoyo in the Dominican Republic training with 200-300 men at the invitation of the military there. Evidently, the alliance was not aware of this information since the leadership had a “heated discussion” regarding Menoyo’s whereabouts on the 18th.

The speculation regarding Menoyo’s whereabouts and plans continued until late October when Nazario’s brother Aurelio told an informant that a written message had been received from the alliance chief. Menoyo told the alliance that he expected two groups of seven to ten fighters to join him soon. Menoyo went on to say that despite unexpected problems, which included the sinking of one of his boats, he hoped to be in Cuba “shortly.” From then on, Menoyo’s location was anything but a secret. The November issue of the New York propaganda journal “El Tiempo” inexplicably reported that Menoyo had a “secret base” in the Dominican Republic from which he intended to infiltrate Cuba.

While Menoyo was marshalling his forces, Veciana was dividing his time between Miami and Puerto Rico and keeping busy with his usual fundraising activity. In late September and early October, he was in Puerto Rico planning another boxing match. In late October, he was staying in the commonwealth with his friend Felix Zabala while working on a carnival for the alliance. By late November, Veciana was still with Zabala and working on another campaign, this time a raffle. In early December, Veciana returned to Miami where he stayed a few days before heading back to Puerto Rico for alliance meetings. On December 14th, Veciana told the FBI that he had not had contact with Manuel Ray for over four months. The bureau was apparently concerned about collaboration between JURE and the alliance as they questioned several informants about a Veciana-Ray connection during this time.

The Bishop Hoax Table of Contents


1. Associated Press, “Exile Group Renews Promise to be Fighting in Cuba Soon.” Fort Lauderdale News, March 10, 1964, 11.
2. “Cuban Exile’s ‘Plan Omega’.” The San Francisco Examiner, April 12, 1964.
3. FBI FOIA ALPHA-66 File #105-112098, Section 9-11, 176-177. These Freedom of Information Act compilations are available here.
4. United Press International, “Cuban Exiles Claim Invasion in Three Months.” The Odessa American, April 20, 1964, 8.
5. “Why Warn Him?” Lansing State Journal, April 23, 1964, 14.
6. Patrick Kelly, “Cubans Told All-Out Fight Near.” Tampa Tribune, May 2, 1964, 1.
7. “Cuban Exile Commandos Launch War.” Tampa Bay Times, May 14, 1964, 1.
8. Associated Press and United Press International, “Cuba Invasion Jitters.” The San Francisco Examiner, May 18, 1964, 1.
9. United Press International, “Cuban Radio on Full Alert for Next Raid.” The Tampa Tribune, May 19, 1964, 1.
10. Associated Press, “Castro’s Foes Explain War Psychological.” Pensacola News Journal, May 21, 1964, 1.
11. FBI Report of William Mayo Drew, December 9, 1964, 14-16, 18 (MFF). RIF 157-10004-10125. Similarly, Nazario’s brother Aurelio said that Menoyo had received $30,000 for the “repair of his ships, the purchase of another transport vessel and the acquisition of new weapons.”


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