Front Door to Cuba

Manuel Artime Buesa

Manuel Artime

There was a time when Manuel Artíme Buesa was considered the CIA's "golden boy." Not only did he agree with the CIA-Pentagon decision to invade Cuba right away (at Bay of Pigs), but he seemed to be in agreement that land confiscated and nationalized by the Cuban government should be returned to their former owners. He also fully supported the various assassination tracks considered in the early 1960s.

On the day that the Bay of Pigs invasion began, while "Free Cuba's" government was held incommunicado by the CIA, Artime's taped message came over Miami's WMET radio: "I am in Cuba again after my promise last year that I would come back." He was introduced as "Commander in Chief of the Army of Liberation."

He was, in fact, the "Political Chief" of Brigade 2506. During the failed invasion, Artíme escaped into the Zapata swamp with 21 invading soldiers, and was not captured until 5/2/61.

Artíme was born in Cuba on January 29, 1932. Before embarking on a career of politics, Artime received a degree in medicine, and may have served as a medic in the war against Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista (although this is often denied by Castro supporters).

After moving to the U.S. in opposition to Castro (with Tony Varona, Rafael Quintero, Aureliano Arango and Jose Cardona) he helped establish the Movement for the Recovery of the Revolution. At the 1960 Democratic National Convention, Artíme met future president John F. Kennedy.

"In early 1963," wrote David Korn in Blond Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA's Crusades, "Artime set up four bases in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, in preparation for another exile military campaign against Castro. As much as there was a plan, it called for MRR to carry out scores of acts of sabotage with the goals of harassing Castro, hindering shipping, provoking resistance inside Cuba, and perhaps assassinating the man."

Korn adds that "the Artime project recruited several hundred men for its paramilitary force. Payroll cost ran more than $50,000 a month. The CIA trained Artime's men, as Artime pulled together a small navy, obtained several planes, and collected over 200 tons of American-made arms. The CIA budget for Artime's war would come to total $7 million."

Years later Artime organized the Miami Watergate Defense Relief Fund for those accused of the break-in at Watergate.

Artíme died of cancer in Miami on November 18, 1977.

Cuba in The 1960s

Bay of Pigs | Rolando Cubela | José Miró Cardona | Tony Varona | Huber Matos | Juan Orta