CIA (Lt. Col. James Patchell)

Operation Mongoose:

Pentagon Plan for an "Imaginary Cuban Leader"

Written: May 13, 1963
First Published: 1998
Source: ParaScope
Markup: Brian Baggins
Online Version: Cuban History Archive ( 2000

This May 13, 1963 proposal for creating an "imaginary Cuban leader" to "serve as a focal point" for the anti-Castro movement was authored by Lt. Col. James Patchell, a veteran of Operation Mongoose who worked out of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. This particular propaganda plan was never put into action, but similar ones were. Patchell's proposal was declassified in 1998.


SUBJECT: Future Cuban Leadership


Following is a proposal for the creation of an imaginary Cuban leader. This proposal is presented primarily to fill gaps existing in the present policy study. It will become obvious that this proposal can be utilized in conjunction with current programs as well as many of those programs proposed for the future. It may be necessary to address this proposal or a similar proposal separately and in advance of the policy study; however, in the event no pressing requirement exists, it is suggested that this proposal be considered in conjunction with the policy study and handled on a closely held basis.


Following are listed a number of indications that the leadership question will be addressed in the near future:

a. With the termination of U.S. support to the Cuban Revolutionary Council (CRC) a vacuum has been created. Various exile groups in the U.S. and elsewhere will be vying for recognition and support in an attempt to fill this void.
b. There has been constant pressure on the U.S. and on other Latin American countries to recognize a government in exile. This proposal could serve to lessen or eliminate much of this political and psychological pressure.
c. This proposal could serve to reduce the bickering among exile groups and may serve to resolve some of the problems of Cuban exile unification.
d. The proposal could emphasize the development of a native "David" in opposition to Castro, the Cuban "Goliath." This could serve the U.S. image by making Castro the "Goliath" rather than the "David" who opposes the "North American Giant."
e. This proposal could serve to prevent the U.S. from making premature commitments to a leader or a particular exile group and could be used as a device to test exile response.
f. This proposal could retain for the U.S. the ability to control future selections of leaders or groups (timing and political ideologies).
g. This proposal could permit the U.S. on a progressive basis to influence the ideologies of the resistance and thus to influence the platform of a future Cuban Government.
h. The publicity associated with the prolonged existence of a resistance in Cuba can serve to delay the furtherance of the de facto recognition of the present Cuban Regime.


To create an imaginary leader or image of resistance in Cuba. This image would serve as a focal point for resistance directed against Castro by Cubans or Latin Americans.


An imaginary name of a resistance leader could be developed utilizing a popular name from Cuban history, a name associated with resistance in Cuba or a newly devised name. The name selected should typify a person who is friendly to the Cuban people, is anti-communist, is willing to fight against the Regime, and is little -- but tough. There is no requirement for a detailed staff study in order to determine this name. "The Little Bull," "The Little Worm," "The Friendly Worm," "The Fighting Friend," "The Tough Peasant," or any such name which is acceptable and meaningful in Spanish could suffice. Over a period of several months the name could be "dropped" or leaked through U.S. officialdom, in diplomatic channels, in intelligence channels or within the Cuban exile community. Specific acts against the Regime could be credited to this individual or members of his group. Communications could be arranged between this individual and his subordinates to be picked up either by Castro's censors or by radio intercept in Cuba or in the U.S.

After a period of time, all unexplained incidents and actions for which credit has not been seized by some other exile group would automatically be ascribed to our imaginary friend. At some point in time it could be leaked that the U.S. is, in fact, supporting this imaginary person. Similarly, other Latin American countries may, without inducement, publicly follow the U.S. pattern.

During the course of this operation it is quite possible that the Castro Regime could indicate that the activities of this individual were terminated, that the individual was captured, that he was being pursued, or that he was an imaginary faker or fraud. Such action would only serve to further publicize the actions of the individual and so long as resistance in general continued the fame of our "Cuban Kilroy" would spread. Humorous antics could be credited to our imaginary friend and rumors of his exploits of bravery (ala Zoro) could be circulated.

At some point in time it may be wise to indicate what this individual stands for. (It will become obvious that he is opposed to the Regime in Cuba.) It could be possible to indicate little-by-little his political platform in very general terms -- realizing that the mistique and the "generalness" connected with his operation is, in fact, the power behind the operation. Ultimately, Cubans and others may demand that he proclaim his complete political views or even that he present himself physically. Since this is not desirable, arrangements could be made to have selected individuals meet with his appointed representative. His instructions and words could be relayed to the public by many means.

As his political platform becomes more apparent within the exile groups, it may be possible to determine those willing to follow his leadership (to gain Cuban independence under his terms) or those who are unwilling to accept his leadership. The lines of controversy among exiles can be drawn more clearly. Undesirable leaders and exile groups can be eliminated from the competition through his disavowals.

Eventually, a member of the resistance in Cuba may gain sufficient stature to assume or to be given the title of this imaginary leader. This, of course, will depend in large measure on individual leadership ability and the ability to "fill the boots" of this anti-Castro image.

While this scheme is replete with gimmickery, its implementation could be undertaken in a relatively short period of time. Sensitivity of this scheme is such that the knowledge should be held on the tightest basis and if implemented, those proposing should not be informed. In the event the scheme is compromised, (unless knowledge is widespread) there is little need for plausible deniability; however, once used and compromised the scheme can hardly be reinstated. A major advantage is that this image can be created over a long period of time or developed rapidly without a political or economic commitment on the part of the U.S. There may be a point at which the U.S. could no longer disavow collaboration with this imaginary person. This point, however, is so distant that during any point in the intervening period it would be possible for the U.S. to disengage easily without suffering embarrassment or loss of prestige.


Based on a consideration of factors indicated above, it appears that the U.S. should immediately undertake to implement this proposal, determining at 30 to 60 day future intervals what additional action should be taken to improve, reduce, or change the image during the subsequent 30 or 60 day period.

James K. Patchell
Lt. Colonel, USA