Created: 9/30/1966

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This Special Report was produced by CIA. Aside from the normal substantive exchange with other agencies at the working level, this paper has not been coordinated outside CIA. It was prepared by the Office of Current Intelligence and coordinated with the Office of Research and Reports.

castro's cuba today

PLdel Castro is still the undisputedleader" of the Cuban revolution and the dominant figure in Cuban politics, despite rumors to thewhich circulated widely last spring. He sets policy, governs the country, and gives Impetus to the revolution. The Cuban Communist Party, of which Castro is first secretary, is graduallya pervasive influence in Cuban life. The struggle9 between the so-called "old- andCommunists liesand hisare in full control.

The military establishment, well equipped and capable of defending Cuba against anythingarge-scale, US-eupported attack from abroad, is staunchly loyal to Castro. Organized internalto the Castro regime has been eradicated and, aside from an occasional isolated act ofinternal security haa ceased toerious problem.

The Cuban economy, hamperedombination of mismanagement, natural disasters,earth of trained personnel, is sustained by massiveaid, primarily from the Soviet Union. Housing is inadequate, some foods are rationed, and many consumer commodities ara difficult or impossible to obtain, but the Cuban people are far fromand there is evidence that the next sugar crop, so Important to the national economy, will be among the best in the island's history.

Role of Pidel

when the corrupt Batista dictatorship collapsed on New Year's Day the political vacuum was quickly filled by the only available force that had not been compromised in tho eyes of theh of July Movement. Castro had set the stage for hisof powerarefullycampaign of clandestine press and radioh ofightful successor to the Batista regime by virtue of its two years of guerrilla-style resistance in the Sierra Maestra Mountains of eastern Cuba. Utopian promises of alife for all, his idealistic approach, and his magneticreacted with the Cuban people's innate propensity for hero worship to establish the enigmatic rebel leader in the


minds and hearts of thomajority of the

In tho ensuing years, the image of the romantic Robin Hood of the Sierra Maestra has become tarnished, but Castro has been able to maintain and even strengthen his politicalthrough maneuvers designed either to elicit popular support or to develop and reinforce those institutions by which he controls the masses. He often uses anthreat of imminent attack by "imperialist" foroes from the US to unite the people behind hie. and shift attention from disturbing domestic problems. His internal security apparatus ruthlessly suppresses anyreal or imagined. Through his hypnotic oratory, he holds out to the Cuban people the pledgerighter future and then resorts to the convenient scapegoat of US "imperialism" when the promises do not become reality.

ore practical vein, Castro has placed himself at the head of the three most Important institutions in Cuba. Besides his job as first secretary of the Cuban Communist Party, he is commander in chief of the armed forces and prime minister of the government. He has so integrated these three institutions that none functions independently of the other two. Bis appointment of his most faithful supporters,h of July Movement veterans, to key positionsurther guarantee of his ower structure, based on Soytet( financing and substantial popular support and acquiescence, haa provided the regimeigh degree ofstability.

However, so powerful is the Castro mystique and so Important is he to the regime that his sudden removal from the scene through death or permanentwould place astrain on the Cubanmachinery. Although Castro has already designated his younger brother, Raul, currently minister of the armed forces and second secretary of the Cuban Communist Party, as hisambitious members of the Cuban hierarchy could be expected ultimately to challenge Raul's authority in the event of Fidel's demise.

The Cuban Communist Party

The Cuban Communist Partyhich evolved from th* United Party of the Socialist Revolution during the letter's reorganisation in the fallrovides Fidel Castro with the machinery through which he governs. As Cuba's soleparty, itembership of On the national level, lt is organized onCommunistcentral coaanitte* ofecretariat, abureau, and six standing committees. Provincial,and local partycomprise the middle and lower levels of the party

while the basic party unit is the standard cell orof Active Revolutionaries.

Cells, organized in allwork centers, state farms, and military units, are composed of party militants and membership candidates who have effectively demonstrated their loyalty to Fidel Castro. The cells, numbering, are made up of from fiveeach. Party members and candidates must pay dues ranging from one to four percent of their monthly salaries and they receive in return official favors and special consideration.

Party officials below the provincial level are "elected" by local assemblies within each jurisdictionist ofnamed by the party upper echelons. Provincial partyhowever, are directly appointed by the national

The heart of the PCC is the central committee and the key to the central committee is the eight-man political bureau. This bureau, which sets party is composed of party first secretary Fidel Castro, second secretary Raul Castro, President Osvaldo Dorticos, organization secretary Armando Hart, and four military officers. The latter four, all veterans of the Sierra Maestra campaign, have scantin government and are probably included in the polit-buro to give strongto the military. Altogether,

almost two thirds of the members of the central committeeourth of the party rank and file are military personnel. This close political-militaryseems aimed atany polarisation of thetwo most Important

The party secretariat is responsible for administering the policies established by the politburo while the six standing committees functionupport and advisory capacity. TheStudios Committee is charged with drafting aconstitution to replace the Fundamental Law of Cuba9 which isin use. This committee will also lay the groundworkew judicial systemafter the Soviet example, and will probably plan the first PCC congress, to be held late this year orias Roca, long head of th* Communist Party in pre-Castro days, is thechairman.

Although the Committee for Revolutionary Orientation (COR) predates the formation of the PCC and is ostensibly anorgan, ite facto subordinate of th* central The COR overseesdissemination and also supervises and coordinates party indoctrination throughon provincial,and local party


party's youththe Union ofs responsible for grooming the "most exemplary" Cuban youth for party membership. The organisation claims aof0 Cubans be* tween the ages of unior version ot the group is the Union of Communist Pioneers which organizes and indoctrinates children between the agesreparing them for the UJC. The growing regimentation of the people is evident in plans to haveercent of Cuba's children enrolled in the Pioneers by

The Party: Apparatus for Ono-Man Rule

While theoretically anof collective management, the PCC has developed into anfor one-manis the political framework that Castro lacked when he replaced Batista in He borrowed it from theommunist Party and when the "old" Communists tried to retrieve it, he reshaped it, gaveew name, and called it his own. It is the machinery by which ho governs and its operation is simple. Castro dominates the politburo intotalitarian fashion; the politburo dominates the central coiaiiittee and central coraittee dominates the party; and the party, through its integration in all organs and aspects oflife, dominates the nation. This integration, still inensures that no otherwill have the strength.

the organization, or theto act against the regime.

Castros supremacy within the party is unchallenged. Those who might have been able to threaten his hold on the reins, such as Ernesto "Che* Guevara, Camilo Cienfuegos, and Huber Katos, have disappeared from the scene. The so-called "old* versus "new* controversy, which allegedly pitted the pre-Castro, or "old" Communists against the pro-Castro, orommunists, has been stifled. With Castro's savage denunciation of "old" Communist Anibal Escalante in2 and theof the original party inhe dispute hasdormant and factionalism in the regime appears to be at an all-time low. While more thanold" Comaunists are members of the central committee, they are effectively outweighed by an overwhelming preponderance of Castroite members* Moreover, the all-important politburo is composed solely of men who served with Castro'sh Movement during the Batista

The Cubans have discovered, however, that it is as difficult to create an effective Communist party as it has been to bring socialism to the island. The shortage of qualifiedhaseriousblock on both counts.pointed out in his speech ofugust that the party cadre is not fulfilling its intended role as the "main driving force"


behind the Cuban revolution. PCC organizing secretary Armando Hart spelled out this problem oneptember when he admitted that the party organization is "extraordinarily weak" because of the low technical knowledge of the party cadres. Hart said that all too often PCChave been "supervising" economic production, and that thin is one reason for Cuba's continued poor oconoraic

The Military Establishment

Thanks to Soviet andassistance, Cuba haa one of the largest and moat modern

military establishments in Latin America. Roughly four percent of the entire population is'either on active duty. In the readyor in the militia. Young men fromore subject to draft and must serve for three years unless exempted because of physical or mental disability, or deferred as students. The Cuban forces are eguipped with such sophisticated armament as surface-to-air and short-range surface-to-surfaceiring surface craft, and rocket-armed MIG jet fighter planes. Theof the armed forces isto defend against internal insurrection and external



Sep 6i

Fidel Castro is commander in chief of the militaryand his brother, Raul, heads the Ministry of theArmed Forces he army is made up of active duty personneleadythat is capableew hours. To keep records, service equipment, and conduct training, the ready reserve units apparentlyskeleton cadres on active duty) reservists on inactive duty train oneeek and one Sunday per month. The navy and tha air/air defense force have their own headquartersto HXHFAR, but the army is controlled directly by the Operations Directorate of the MINFAR General Staff. There is no army headquarters between it and the four major fieldEastern Army, Central Army, Western Army, and Isle of Pines Military Region.

The navy is similarlyinto Eastern, Centrel, and Western naval districts, and the lale of Pines area. Cuba's four coastal defense cruisesites, three surrounding Havana and the fourth at Sigu-anea, are manned by the navy, as is the coastal defense radar system. The navy's major units afloat, Xomar-class guidedboats, motor torpedo boats, and submarine chasers, arebased on the north coast at Cabanas and Mariel in Pinar del Rio Province and in Havanai on the south coast at Cienfuegos; and on the Isle of Pines ot Siguanea.

The Revolutionary Air Force/withot fighters, is headquartered at Caropo Libertad Airfield in The air defense force haaAM installations located to provide protection forareas. In addition,ntiaircraft artillery pieces, some of which are radar controlled, are sitedthe island. These weapons are highly mobile and can be used in an infantry support role as well as against aircraft.

The popular defensearamilitary organization made up of both men and women, isto haveimitedcapability* In the event of hostilities, it would probably be used for local defense andduties, and would also serveanpower reserve for the rogular forces. Workers areto volunteer for the militia if they want to befor advancement or for membership in the PCC; militia duties consist mainly of drilling and standing guard over radiogovernment offices, power plants, communications facilities, and other public buildings and

The Cuban armed forces are developingapableorganization. Several units comprising the Fight Against Bandits anti-insurgency forces, have gained practical experience in the field combating anti-Castro bands that roamed theprior Others have engaged in firefights with small groups of exiles attempting hit-and-run attacks or infiltration

operations along the coastline. Trainingontinuousand sometimes involvesair/navy/ground forcessimulating an air-seaby the US. The Cuban armed forces are estimated to beof maintaining internaland successfully defending the island against anything shortarge-scale, US-supported external attack.

Morale in the armed forces, except for some of the draftees and the men of the laboris apparently good,among the jet pilots of the air force. Military lifemany of the soldiersand opportunities they would never have receivedadequate clothing, regularmall amount of spending money, and for some, education in the USSR. The uniform also carries withertain degree of pres-tige, particularly if the wearerember of one of the more dramatic units suchissile batalion or the Frontier Brigade facing the US Naval Base at Guantanamo. Jet pilots have been so affected by their own prestige that their arrogant attitude has reportedly created resentment among their ground crews.

Members of the armed forces are subjectedonstantof political propaganda against which, for lackasic education, they aredefenseless. PCC cells in every military unit instruct the ranks in the principles of Communism. In addition, it is their duty toigh state of combat readiness. The

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vast majority of tha troopa ara undoubtedly loyal to the regime, and to Fidel Castro in The sane is true of thecorps.

A new type of quasi-military unit, the labor battalion, was formed ln the armed forces ln Facedabor shortage inugar harvest, Cuban authorities killed two birds with one atone by drafting clergymen, suspected aotiregime elements, riff-raff, petty criminals, andnto Military Units for Aid to Production. In some towns troops reportedly went up and down the streets picking up anyone who could not produce proof ofemployment. Special targets for induction war* priests,seminarians, and members of the Jehovah's Witnesses aeot. These draftees live under guard in prison-like encampments aur-rounded by barbed-wireiscipline i* aever* and they are rarely allowed to receive visitors or to go home onhey raceive no weapons training and are uaed in atrenuouawork, primarily in the sugarcane fields. As of the springhere were onlyuch camps, all in Camaguey Provinae where labor is scarce, but th* system is spreading to other While lamenting the need for these labor units, Fidelannounced in hisugust speech that they would beand would be usedCuba. Regular troops are also used in the sugar harvest and sometimes in construction projects, but the conditionswhich they serve are quite

different from those of the labor-unit unfortunates.

Internal Security

The Castro regime has been effective in dealing with minor and sporadic internal resistance. Attempts at assassination and isolated acts of sabotage have been reported from time to tim* but th* Department ofhe branch of th*of tha Interior that is chargad with counterIntelligence responsibilities, haa achieved auch proficiency that its agents have been able to penetrate the occasional small groups bent on subversion and to spoil their plots.

Larger scale resistance, in the form of roving bands ofhiding in the hills and mountains, seems tohing of the past. Working in closethe DSB and theunits of the armed forces liquidated the last of such bands in Those disaffected elements of the populace that would normally form the core of an Insurgent or undergroundrecognising their impotence in the face of powerful and well-organised organs of repression, have chosen exile rather then

The ubiquitousor th* Defense of theorganized by the Ministry of the Interior0 asvigilante teams for rooting out real and suspectedhaveunctional evolution. Originally developed to provide the Cuban security service*etwork

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of informants reaching into every factory, block, and apartment house, the civilian teamslost their raison d'etre as the more professional government and armed forces unitsuncovered and eliminatedall organized subversive Rather than beinghowever, the vigilante units were shifted from theof the Interior to the Superior Council of Urban Reform where today, under the direction ofcoordinator Luis Gonzalez Marturelo, they perform suchlow-level administrative tasks as distributing health cards and ration books, conducting in-noculation campaigns and blood donor drives, and mustering people for rallies and demonstrations in support of the regime. Their transfer from the Ministry of the Interiorribute to theof the DSE and an acknowledgment that internalis noajor problem in Cuba.

Not infrequently, rumors con out of Cuba, usually via theroute, announcingurge Is being carried out and alleging that the Caatro regime has been seriously undermined or divided and may be ready to

The basis for many such rumors has been thecampaign that began in4 in the Cuban National Bank and the Cuban Workers' The campaign, conducted by units known as Fight Against Bureaucracy Conmisaions, is aimed at increasing governmentalthrough eradloation of

bureaucratic overemployment and duplication of effort. As aby-product of theirthe commissions sometimes uncovered evidence of embezzlement or other administrativewhich resulted inmeasures being taken against the perpetrators.

In Havana Province, where the bureaucratic fat was the greateat,0 positions had been eliminated by the and of As ofore0 positions had been abolished in thefive provinces. Such changes are bound to raise cries of "purge" but the purge is largely administrative in nature rather than political, and is not motivated by concern for the'a stability.

The Economy

The economic situationto be the Castro regime's greateat problem. eries of natural disasters has aggravated troubles arising from misxtanage-ment, inefficiency, and low labor productivity. Many personnel and organizational changes, however, are improving the situation in some important sectors. Theplans which placedemphasis on industrialwere sharply revised23 and the basicof agriculture to the Cuban economy was again Greatest stress is now on increased sugar production.0 the regime hopes toan annual crop of ten million metric tons. Special attention

is also being given tothe livestock and fishing industries.

The total output of thetoday is about what it washe year of highest prosperity during the prerevolu-tion period. In per capita terms, however, the economy hadand per capita income6 will beoercent below that With therecovery of sugarnext year, this situation will improve somewhat;per capita income willbelow the pre-Castro levels.

At present, the economyheavily on the largesse of tbe Soviet Onion and the other Communist countries. 00 million in military aid, Cuba, as ofad utilised1 billion in economic credits from Communist countries, of which more0 million wasby the Soviet Onion. The USSR is also expected to help Cuba out of difficulties caused by the6 sugar harvest byarge portion of its quotaillion tons of sugar and by providing additional trade credits.

6 sugar harvestslightly lessmetric tons,below5 harvest sndillion below the planned level. The poor crop was caused mainly by the droughtthe growing season, but lack of fertilizerecline in the area of sugarcane available for harvest alsoart.

Prospects for next year's harvest are considerably brighter. It has already been announced that this harvest will start onovsmber and by December,f theills will be in operation. Innly three mills were The regimeoalillion metric tonstill somewhat belowillion set

Lookinghe Cubans continue to lay the basis for trying to realize their goal ofillion tons of sugar in0 harvest. Construction was begun2 on dama and canals for irrigation, flood control, and drainage of areas that can be reclaimed foruse. illion acres of uncultivated landa are scheduled to beilea of roads connecting the farmlands with towns snd seaports sre to ba constructed. Port facilities are being improved and railroads are to receive new equipment.quantities of fertilizer are being imported from Europe, as are large amounts ofmachinery andequipment. Cuba is also negotiating with severalcountries for the purchase of fertilizer plants. are being increased toand expand many of the sugar mills and new mills will probably be purchased in Europe. In the field of education, emphasisto be placed on theof agricultural technicians and hydraulic engineers. to repair and maintain the


construction equipment are also being trained, aone of then in Prance.

"Living Standard*

The Cuban people have already been told that in order to finance these purchases and improvements they are going to have to tighten their belts and continue to make sacrifices. This is notnew. Meat, rice, coffee, and milk are all on the rationed list. Many other food items are very scarce or impossible toand food distribution is poor. Fruit and poultrywas damaged by hurricane Alma and these are in short supply as is fish, despite the rapidof the Cuban fishing fleet. The limit of three pounds of rice per month is particularly irksome since rice haa alwaysasic food in tbe Cuban diet. In en effort toeplacement, the regime is negotiating for pasta and macaroni manufacturing plants from Europe and has tried through the press, radio, and television to get the people to change soma of their eating

The shortage of spare parts for automobiles and all types of machinery and the wearing out of electrical appliances is another source of irritation to those fortunate to have owned such luxuries. The lack of adequate housing has been aggravated by the hurricanes that periodically strike Cuba, and Castro himself has admitted that it will be bobm time before the housing situation is appreciably improved. City-wide power failures are becoming

regular occurrences in Havana; this situation, however, will probably be corrected when the new power station at Mariel comes into operation. Prices of most consumer goods are high, and poor services are getting worse. These difficulties are bound to cause grumbling and lower morale.

The exodus of refugees and defectors is evidence that all is not well inside Cuba, but it woad be misleading to imply that the domestic record of theregime is without itsand social succeaaas. private automobiles are fast disappearing from the streets for want of repairs, publichas improvedthanks to Leyland busses imported from Britain. Medical services, although poor, have at last been made available in the countryside. In pre-Castro times such services werein the cities, primarily Havana, and many rural areas were entirely without medical support. Educational facilities, too, have been made widely available to the rural areas and to the poverty stricken. The Ministry of Education hasoalupils in the various levels of study duringcademicreviously unheard of educational program. Various sanitation and innocula-tion drives have also benefited the masses.


The Roman Catholic Church, the largest religious coesninity in tha country, has lost theit once held in Cuba.


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While th* regime theoretically tolerate* the practice of in fact almoat all religious group* ere Che target, ofand denigration. t, inhas come in for severeand many of its members have been denounced in the preas as US spiaa. Priests, ministers, seminarians, and lay leaders, as noted earlier, are being drafted into the forced labor battalions where they are thrown in with sex perverts, drug addicts, and. The Roman Catholicin Havana and El Cobra, the Evangical Seminary innd eight of theethodistn Oriente Province were closed early this year and many pastors have been imprisoned for "antigovemmenthe Catholic Church had already been hard hit by the departure or expulsion1 of virtually all of its foreign priests and nuns, and priests now usually must serve several parishesof just one. Only the Presbyterian Church seems to be favored by the regime; the Cuban branch may sever its ties with its parent organisation in the DS andational churchthe influence of several pro-Castro ministers and the regime's Office of ReligiouB Affairs.

All religious groups are forbidden to hold services or processions outside churchand each congregation isrequired to getfrom the Interior Ministry if lt wishes to hold more than two services per week. The Office of Religious Affairs requires pastors to register the names, addresses,

and places of employment of allnd to fileon church finances. ess subtle form of harassment has been the practice since6 of blocking off streets bordering on churches on Sunday mornings during services and using them as sports and recreation areas for school-age children. reacher ofFirst Pentecostal Church states that agents from theof State Security attend all services and can interruptat any time in order to make propaganda statements. The regime is likely to continue to use steady pressure of this sort, rather than blatant persecution, to undermine religious influence.

Cultural Cuba

Culture in Cubs today isbeing usedool to shape the mind* of the people. The various art forms mustalal1st message or teach alesson.

Former education minister and third-ranking party officialHart, in addressing theUniversity humanities facultylearly identified tha Castro regime's position on the role of culture; "All ourin the field of art,historical research,inquiry,hould be aimed at fighting imperialism and the exploiters, atlassless society and forming th* Communist

Western observers in Havana report that intellectuals in the Cuban capital claim to be moving toward what theyrisis. Originally,

most vara staunch supporters of the revolution but many are nowbecoming progressively ublic expression of dissent, in the formetter to Fidel Castro and Armando Hart signed by virtually the entire membership of the National Writers and Artists Onion, was provokedecent regime drive against homosexuals resulted in theof four of that organization's members to the forced labor

The government may beto release soawj of theon intellectuals byincreased travel abroad. Several have left Cuba onandaneuver probably designed to allow their departure without an open break with the regime.

In addition to experiencing internal tensions, the Cubanworld is being subjected to external influences. There hasteady flow of artists, musicians, dancers, vocal groups, and other entertainers between Cuba and the Comnunist countries for several years. Throughexchange agreements, Cubans can watch television programs produced in East Germany and Czechoalovakia, see movies made in Poland and the USSR, hear radio programs recorded in Rumania and Bulgaria, and visit exhibits frosi North Vietnam and Hungary.

Even sports activities are steeped in politics. Cuban teams participating in international matches are heralded as heroic defenders of the revolutiongreat battles against theofhe new sports stadiums in Oriente,

Camaguey, and Las Villas, built in disregard of the critical need for other types of construction, are an Indication of the priority the regime has assigned to sports.

The mass gymnasticso common to politicalin the.Communist countries have alsoart of Cuban life. During theulycelebratinghof the Koncada Barracks attack, more0 students, youth groups, and armed forcea personnel took partaasive gymnastics spectacular.


The political machine forged by Fidel Castro is being developed and refined until eventually it will absorb the vast majority of the nation's population. Those Cubans who cannot conform to the increasing regimentation have the Varadero-Hiami airlift as ansafety valve. Those who do conform can expect greater state encroachments on theirlives and continuedhardships for at least the next few years.

The chances adical change in leadership in Cuba are remote. Castro has moved quickly and effectively against anythreat to his position from within the regime and his security forces have been equally vigilant in subduing andany elements of resistance within the population. Barring Castro's death or disability, the present regime will maintain an unassailable hold on Cubaately. [

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