CARIBBEAN LEGION (W/ATTACHMENTS)

Created: 1/20/1954

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

CIA HISTORICAL REVIEW

RELEASE^

an

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subjecti caribbean legion

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ue are traneaittlpgeport on tho caribbeanin cci in response tc the request of

rom/ois.

this report covert the substance of all data avpjlaale, to the best of our knowledge, in washington. further detail can be supplied if you desire development of any special aspects of this information.

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MEMORANDUM FOR: DAD/CI

Legion

is requested that the Latin American Branch

rief report on the Caribbean Legion covering as rar aa possible the following points:

brief history of the movementparagraph).

strength and centers ofand training.

and sources of supply.

(la it essentially mercenary?)

.ft Leadership (strength, ability, capability to

command allegiance, identification of leaders).

f. Would It be an assetiberal or leftist government in the area in caseevolution against that government? How aoon could It be mobilized and trained? Total potential strength? Liabilities or weaknesses?

fc befor supportevolution againstovernment? if so, how valuable would it be to any group it might support?

2. Deadline date for this request Is

L J

Chief, RQM/OIS

datv;

Officenited states government

UQM/OIS

from i Chief, Latin America Branch, OCI THROUGH: Chief, seatorn Division, 1

subject: RQM/OIS nemo to DAD/CI ofequesting information on the Caribbean Logion.

Attachedeport on the Caribbean Legion prepared in answer to tho questions posed in the subject memo.

It is the opinion of tho Latin America Branch of OCI that the Caribbean Legion is no longer in existence as anorganization, but that both "democratic" and "dictatorial" elements in the Caribbean area find it advantageous to maintain the fiction of an organized Legion in order to gain support and sympathy for their respective ideologies. Moreover, bocaus* the name "Caribbean Legion" does retain the prestige associated with its earlier, and relatively effective, organization, lt seems probable that the name will continue to be used by ambitious revolutionary elements.

Recent unconfirmed reports spoak oi sizeable armod forces in existence ln Guatemala. Ihose reports cannot bewithout further investigation. However, it is oossiblo that an organization similar to the Legion has been organized ac tho raw material for such an organization does exist in the various groups of exiles and political dissidents who are continually plotting to seize power ln their respective countries. Ifthe group probably has the liberal-leftist orientation of the earlier Legion, but its immediate objectives and its leaders probably differ, inasmuch as the most important exile groups at the present time are Venezuelan and Cuban, in contrast to the Nicaraguan and Dominican elemonts which formerly dominated the

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(a) Ili story

The irregular military group ol several hundred exiles ana political dissidents which took the name "Caribbean Legion" in lSjfe,ignificant lactor in Centralrribbsan affairs7 It had its origin in growing dissatisfaction vith traditional dictatorial forms oi government andalrly widespread desire for the dcvolopuient ot political institutions along more democratic lines. During most ol that period two rival powerhe "dictatorships" in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua and the "democratic" governments ol Costa Rica, Cuatemala, anoere competing tor dominant influence in the area, "ihe Caribbean let ionlandestine instrument of policy tor the "democracies."

lhe Caribbean legion was termed in8 when various dissidents and political exiles from theany of whom had participated in tho ill-iated Cayo Contites expedition against tbe Dominican Republicoined Jose Figueres (now President ot Costa Rica) ana gave hira decisive aid in over-

throwing the Communist-supported pro-Nicaragua Costa Sican government. At the close of the Costa Clean lighting the Legion was at lta peak in power, prestige, and influence and its leaders were on intimate terras with Figueres ana Presidents Arevalo oi Guatemala ana Prio ol Cuba. In8 President Somoza ot Nicaragua, acting to forestall an attempt by the Legion against his government, promoted an invasion oi Costa Klca Dy adherents oi tne oeposec cosia Hican regime, me speuay intervention oi

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the Council o* the Organization o; American Slates brought tba invasionalt and Costa Xica was advised to remove the Lofcion troia its territory. According to its leaders, the organization van disbanded in Dissension within the Legion had been growing over the nature ol the government it had hoped to establish in Nicaragua and the remnants of tho organization apparently split into two iactlons, one remaining in Costa .'ilea and the othor based in Guatemala. In Junorroup ot revolutionaries drawn from mei tho Le( ionecono abortive attempt to inne Dominican rtopuolic irom oases in Guatemala. Alter this demoralizinghe revolutionaries disported antl, reportedly,keleton general staff railnad ortanized in Guatemalahile, (b) Current strength and centers ol organization

She Caribbean Legion, as constituted several yeare ago, is probably no longer la existence as an offee live organization. Although invosiifcations by US embassy officials and service attachesesulted in no reliable evidenca to substantiate the periodic rumors of the Legion's reactivation, recentreports speakizeable armed force in Guatemala, Undoubtedly conditions which led to the Caribbean Legion's organization still persist: revolutionary plotting is endemic in tho area and political refugees from repressive regimes, which have now increased to include Venezuela and Cuba, arc floating about the area ready to join forcesilitant group such as the Legion bo reorganized. Many ol these elementsow concentrated in Costa Rica, the area's traditional haven for political exiles, and Jose Kigueres, who worked closely with the legion in its heyday and who still retains

his bliter hatred for Caribbean dictators, was recently elected president of Costa Rica.

Several former members of the Caribbean Legion are now in Guatemala whore they are employed in various capacities by the Guatemalan government or engaged in private business, last June the US Embassy in Guatemala noted that "General Miguel Angel Ramirez, former Chief of Staff of the Caribbean Legion, and his aide Jorge Ribas Montes, were 'at loose ends' and obviously not engaged ln 'any active enterprise such as the reactivation of the Caribbean Legion.'" (c) Arms and sources of supply

During its period of activity, ihe Caribbean Legionits arms and other supplies chiefly through the help oi sympathetic. Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Cuba. Unconfirmed reports that an unstated supply oi arms which formerly belonged to the Legion is now stored in Costa Rica. Presumably, these arms could be made available to former legionnaires orew and similar organization, but there is no evidence ofevelopment. In Guatemala twoSockheed Lodestar, which *ere formerly controlled

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by the Caribbean Legion, have recently been soldolitical associate of ex-President Pno of Cuba and wero undergoing repairs, .tumors that the planes were to take part in an attempt against the present Cuban government have not been confirnod.

<d) Orientation

Ihe Caribbean Legion contained individualsariety ofnified political philosophy never developed. In fact, political factionalism within the Lcpioniajor factor in its decline. Ihe common goal wan opposition to dictatorships and "tho reinstatement of popular sovereignty in the Caribbean." Communists were generally unsuccessful in their attempts to infiltrate tho organization though the Nicaraguan revolutionary, Edclburto Torres, who headed the leftist faction of the Legion, ls now regarded as pro-Communist There were undoubtedly some mercenaries in the Legion, though they do not seem to have predominated.

ew group with Legion objectives should be formed, Communists would have an excellent channel for infiltrating that organization through the numbers of Communist-influenced oxiles now in Guatemala. Prominent among these are Salvadorans llondurans, and tficarai.uans. (u) Leadorsh ij)

Ihe leaders of the Caribbean Legion are now scattered throughout the Caribbean area and some have disappeared from view. Tho Legions Chief of Staff, "General" Kiguel Angelominican, is now in Guatemala *hore he waslast June to be in bad financial straits and engaged inawmill near Guatemala City. It was obvious to the US Krabassy in Guatemala last June that he was engaged in no revolutionary plotting at that time. "General" Juan Rodriguezealthy Dominican who was exiled by

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Generalissimo Trujillo vowed to devote his life and his property to overthrowing the dictator, snd led the ill-fated Cayo Confitea expedition against the Dominican Republicas not been heard from in recent years. Juan Bosch another Dominican and top Legion loader, ls now enjoying asylum ln Costa Rica. The Honduran oxile, Jorge Ribas Montos reputed to be an excellent soldier, is in Guatemala working full time for the government airline. He was not engaged ln any revolutionary plotting as of last June. Another Honduran who was formerly active in the Legion, Francisco Moravian, an unsavory character who took part in the assassination of tho Guatemalan Chief of the Armed Forcoss now the private secretary of Guatemalan President Arbenz. Certain Cubans who took prominent parts in the Legion's affairs, particularly Lufemlo Pomander. Ortega, are now engaged in revolutionary plotting to restore the presidency to deposed President Prlo Loccaras. fc.nric.ue C. Henriquez, Frio's brother-in-law, may also be involved in this plotting. The Nicaraguans who were prominent in the conservative faction of the Legion, Lmtliano Chamorro and the Arguello brothers, are now back in Nicaragua leading tho opposition Conservative Party, bdelborto Torres, leader of the leftist Nicaraguans in the Legion, is now in Guatemala where he is prominent in various Communist front groups.

It is difficult to determine the leadership potential of these men at this time. Jorge Ribas Monies, "general Ramirez

and Juan Bosch are probably tho most capable, but they nowedicated followingingle "cause" to unify the various nationality and ideological groups which formerly comprised the Legion.

(f) ftould it be an assetiberal or leftist government in theoinstve r'nment? How soon could it be mobiTfzed and trained? Total potentia1 strongth? Liabilit1os or weaknesses?

An evaluation of assistance from the Caribbean Legion

iberal or leftist Caribbean government threatened by

revolt would necessarily be speculative, lhe Legion *as al-

legedly motivated by purely ideological considerations during its active period. It was comprised mainly of political exiles but contained some mercenaries. It can be pointed out that even were its manpower asset in defenseympathetic regime, its open toleration by the government in any country wouldiplomatic liability, Inasmuch as official assistance to any exiles engaged in revolutionary plotting could always be interpreted as support for tho overthrow of another government.

Despite reports that the Legion could be reactivated in as little as two months, there is no information here on which an estimate ol required mobilization time or potential strength could be based. Such an estimate would minimally require reliable information, currently unobtainable, on: thereabouts and prcsont attitudes of ex-Legionnaires, availability and typo of arms and equipment, availability of

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rocrutts and non-Legion organizations for integration with tho Legion, etc. Reports of unknown reliability received since3 variously set Legion forces al0 Theretrong Inference that the main components of these forces are Cuban or Venezuelan exiles, committed primarily to the reinstatement of Frio in Cuba or Betancourl in Venezuela. Such reports often implicate tho Guatemalan and Costa Rican governments as activu in Legion activities, providing safe locations for training camps and supply dopots. Moreover, unconfirmed reports allege that high officials oi the Guatemalan and Costa Rican Governments have participated personally in negotiations among revolutionary iactions. These include Foreign Minister Osegueda, President Arbenz, and iormorArevalo of Guatemala, and President Figueres oi Costa Rica. Nevertheless, the Guatemalan government is careful to maintain pood diplomatic relations with Cuba.

Cc2 Gould It be bought for support ol revolution againstovernment? If so7 how"valuabTc would it be to any group it might support?

While the Legion probably docs not exist as an armed force dedicated impartially to the defense ofroup of revolutionaries exiled from one countryommittment against tho government of another country in exchangeromise of assistance in lurtheriog personal or factional aims. Though the Legion was traditionallynd presumably thereforo could not be bought toiberal regime, there Is

currently insufficient information to showow group under the old name could or could not be motivated by political or mercenary considerations to undertake an advantageouscontrary to the original concept of the Legion.

In the absence of conllrmation of the identity and alms of any group proposing to call itself the Caribbean Legion, an evaluation of the Legion's role in the overthrowiberal or leitist regime could only be speculative.

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