Created: 11/15/1963

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The Effects of Hurricane Flora on Cuba



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The following intelligence organizations participated in the preparation,

The Control Intelligence Agency ond iho Intelligence organizations of thoof Stale. Defer.!- lhe Army, tho Navy, th* Air Forte, ond MSA.

Director o* IntellJgenee and Research, Deportment of State irector. Defense Intelligence Agency

Aiviiont Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Deportment of lhe Army

Assistont Chief of Naval Operationieportment of the Navy

Aitiitont Chief of Staff,.

Director of the National Security Agency '.

The Atomic Energy Conwnbston Representative to the USlB. and the Assistant Director, Federal Bureau of Investigators, th* subject being of


Thb moteriol contains Informotion iiTjeWj thes* of the United State* within the meaning cf the escianogjJ&wi,SC,. lhe "oni-mbtion or revelation ofJry manner to an unauthorizedrohibited.



The Effects of Hurricane Flora on




Flora was tbe worst that ever bit Cuba. Itsconsequence has been to exacerbate the alreadyproblems of the regime.

agriculture was hardest hit. but transportationalso suffered major damage. Industrialfacilities escaped relatively lightly. Orient* andthe two provinces which bore the brunt of the storm,heavy losses of homes and personal property.

regime had hoped that economic improvementthis year's harvest. Flora must have substantiallythese hopes and, because of damage to sugar cane,dimmed prospectshe4 sugarwill probably be reduced by aboutercent. Even so.still exceed3 foreign exchange earnings ifpricesnow seems likely. Because of thecosts of reconstruction, economic development will beunless there is an .increase in Soviet

need for greater aid will add to the strainsln Cuban-Soviet relations. We believe the Sovietsgive Castro all the assistance he desires, but that theyto provide aid at approximately the current levelmeeting emergency needs. )

E For another few weeks or months, Castro will probably succeed in rallying most Cubans to special efforts and to ac-.

ceptance of unusual hardships. Thereafter, shortages of goods, the continuation of depressed Uvtng conditions, and the regime's resort to draconian measures will alienate an increasing part of the citizenry. Even so, unless there Is major dissidence within the military establishment, he and the minority wedded to him will probably be able to maintain control. We believe that Castro will not reduce to any significant degree his incitement ofin Latin America.





the worst hurricane ever to hit Cuba, struck anwas already stagnant. Gross national product and personal,were less thannd there was no evidence thatprogress was in sight. Shortages of replacementlargely from the USa chronic and veryof concern to the regime Shortages of many foodstuffsall other consumer goods remained the most conspicuousthe Cuban economy. The distribution syslem continued to beand the rationing system was becoming increasingly burdensome.

degree of misdirection and mismanagement by thehas been extraordinary. Failing in Its ill-conceivedtransform Cuba quickly into an industrial economy, thebegun to re-emphaslze agricultural production. It hador no success in this program, partly because the revolutiona large migration of farm workers to other occupations. the small factories recently built with Soviet Bloc assistanceat ridiculously high costn antibioticsr Infar beyond Cuban needsick and shovel factory whichall of Cuba's requirementsew weeks). Theof economic administration has seriously hamperedprocess, partly because it placed tooew hands and partly because the new bureaucracy isand Inexperienced. Its efforts to increase laborhad little result, and absenteeism, indifference, andremain serious problems. These might become moreCastro decides to apply the work norm program which hasexperimentallyumber of enterprises.

efore Flora, the regime had been undertaking measures likely to cause further unrest among farmers. Just prior to theew decree nationalized practically all farms largercres. This "Second Agrarian Reform Law" will dispossessandowners and will addillion acres toillion already nationalized. It will Increase state-owned farm land to someercent of the total, the remainder being held by small private farmers. Castro has stated that the naUonalization decree will be his last agrarian reform measure and that the small private farmers will not bc bothered. Nevertheless, the regime has indicated in the past that It considerscres as the optimum size for an Individual farm, and this must cause foreboding among the0 owners of farms betweencres. Furthermore, Castro has indicated

that private farmers will be allowed to retain their land only If they utilize It efficiently. Aware that the interpretation of efficiency resides with Castro and the government apparatus, the private farmers also know that arbitrary seizure is possible at any time.


The considerable body of pertinent Information from photography, from the regime's own statements, from clandestine reports, and from the limited access of foreign observers, Is not enough to provide apicture of the damage sustained. In the case of sugar cane, where much damage may result from Inundation, it will be weeks or even months before we know the whole story.

Casualties and Disease Problems. As ofctober the Cuban regime reported that Flora had causedeaths, almost all in Orlente.

The regime estimates that lt had to evacuatefrom their homes; the public health problem is serious. It Is too early to ascertain the effectiveness of the regime's efforts to control the total health threat, but enough medical supplies appear to have been offered and administered to have prevented any immediate danger of the spread of epidemic diseases. Some general increase of communicable disease can be anticipated because of inadequate sanitation, inadequate reserves of medicines for normal use, and the inability of Cuban industry to manufacture anything approaching the needed quantities ofmedical equipment, chemicals, and disinfectants.

Boric Food Crops. The provinces of Oriente and Camaguey are the agricultural heart of Cuba, and the food crops in themeavy blow from Flora. The riceasic component of the Cuban diet, was entering its harvesting period. It is likely that about half the winter rice crop In Oriente and Camaguey was destroyed; this wouldoss of0 metric tons of milled5 percent of annual production orercent of the island's annual

Beans, Cuba's main staple vegetable, also suffered severe damage from Flora especially in the area around Holguin. one of the hardest bit areas as well as one of the major bean producing centers. The Cuban Government has estimated0 metric10

Flora itmelc snd res truck Cuba tor Ave9ta main Impact was on Orient* province and the eastern part of Camaguey. Wind velocity near the storm center exceededllea per hour and at times. More thannchet ot rain fell ln parts of Oriente. causing severe floods tn several major river valleys.

percent of totalcorn may have been lost. Both the banana and orange producing areas were severely hit by the storm; the bulk of these crops has probably been lost.

ugar. Together Orient* and Camaguey contain overercent of the sugar cane area in Cuba. Wind and flood damage has beenthe extent of the latter will not be fully known for some weeks or months, possibly not until the sugar harvest next spring. On the basis of the present tentative evidence we estimate that the total reduction in4 sugar harvest resulting from cane damage may amount to aboutercent of the previously estimated crop, oretric tons. Other effects oftransportation and on the availability of labor,ignificant additional shortfall in the amount of sugar available for export Thus total losses may range as high asercent. Moreover, much of the cane recently planted for initial harvesting5 was washed out.eriod ofonths is required for cane plantings lo reach maturity.) It Is unlikely that much of this area can bein time for5 harvest.

ther Crops. Cuba normally produces enough coffee for its own requirements and almostercent comes fromhe coffee harvest was partially completed when Flora struck.etric tons orercent of the total crop was destroyed by the storm. It ls also likely that much of Cuba's small cacao crop was lost. Oriente accounts for aboutercent of Cuba's cotton production, and about half of this crop was lost The loss amounts toetric tons orercent of Cuba's annual consumption. The only major crop which did nol suffer significant damage was tobacco; it Is grown primarily In the western provinces.

Livestock. Oriente and Camaguey also contain about half Cuba's cattle population. The number drowned In the floods caused by Flora was probably less than one percent of the total on the island. Losses among other livestock such as swine and poultry were almost certainly much higher. If adequate measures are not taken to prevent the spread of livestock diseases or if sufficient feed grains are not made available, losses will run higher. In any event, the meat shortage is likely to become worse.

Housing and Personal Property. There haseavy loss ot homes and personal property tn Oriente and Camaguey. Castro has reported that the regime's tabulation for Oriente as ofctober was0 houses destroyed0 damaged. The damage ln Camaguey was considerably less.

Transportation and Communications. Aside from agriculture, the transportation sector of the economy sustained the most serious

losses. Virtually all of the reported damage to land transportation has been in Oriente. Floods and landslides have rendered manyand railroads tmpassable, and segments of them as well as many bridge* have been washedumber of lan dimes were knocked out, and the Cuban microwave communications system betweende Cuba and Havana was temporarily inoperable. Thesystem in Eastern Cuba is being restored, although full repair mayear or more. Temporary structures can be employed in most cases where washouts have occurred. Furthermore, much of the damage was on secondary sections of the highway and railroad systems.

Industry. Industrial facilities. Including electric power plants and power lines, do not appear to have been seriouslyumber of facilities, Including some sugar mills, did suffer varying degrees of damage from wind and water. Although some replacement parts will be difficult to obtain, we believe that most damage can be repairedlengthy interruption of operations. Nickel and manganese mining areas were badly damaged by flooding, and some time Is required to pump out the mines and to dry and repair the equipment.

Military. Damage to Cuban military installations andresulted in no more than temporary Inconvenience.were cut off. tents, barracks, and storage facilities were damaged or destroyed, and there were some losses of ammunition, light artillery, and electronics gear. No aircraft or naval vessels are known to have been lost, however, and there apparently have beenew casualties among militaryew Soviet SAM sites and othersuffered minor damage. Much Cuban military equipment andand clothing, vehicles, cranes, bridging equipment,navalmany military personnel have been diverted to hurricane relief and rescue work and will probably be employed in repair and reconstruction operations for some months to come.


Emergency Measures. Over the next few months the Cuban regime will be forced to focus its attention on recovery andFood, medicines, and other supplies will have to be obtained and distributed; damages will have to be repaired; people will have to be fed, clothed, and resettled; crops will have to be harvested; replanting will have to be accomplished. These problems are not insurmountable, but they will divert needed manpower and resources from otheractivity.

The regime has undertaken several programs to meet thecreated by Flora; accompanying all of these have been appeals to

rally to the fatherland in this time of disaster. Farmers have been told to salvage and clear what Ls left of the ruined crops and then replant, placing special emphasis upon food crops and brigades have been formed to help in the stricken provinces. Throughout the labor force, the work-week and work-day have been extended without any increase In wages. Castro has announced sharp Increases in the prices of first-class meat, poultry, beer, and cigars.

quotas on shoesew food items have beenFor example, the meat ration has been cut by SO percentlt was already down tounces of meat per week andchicken per month. For the first time in Cuban historybeing rationed. As relief supplies promised by the Communistseveral non-Communist countries arrive in quantity, some ofto conserve foodstuffs and other supplies can be reducedregime chooses to do so.

Prognosis. The most important consequences ofbeen to exacerbate the already serious economic problems ofregime. Shortages and tighter rationing will probablyat least another year and quite possibly beyond. In its attemptsindustrial and agricultural productivity, tho regime willuse more coercion: wages may be frozen, work-normslonger work-week may be kept in effect, agricultural policysteadily tougher.

It is clear that the effects of Hurricane Flora were greatest upon the local food supply and the balance of payments problem. While the impact of the storm will hurt, the economy can probably absorb the shortrun effects without Intolerable strain. To import foods and fibers to replace those lost in the storm would costillion. Some of this will be covered by gifts, and the Castro regime still has modest holdings of foreign exchange resulting from high prices3 sugar exports.

The regime had hoped to halt the three year decline Inproduction4 and toomewhat4 sugar crop volume. The winds and floods of Flora have demolished these hopes and. because of damage to new cane plantings, have also dimmed prospects for substantially higher volumesrior to Flora lt seemed likely that the regime might be able to take advantage of rising world market sugar prices (the spot price was nine cents per poundctober and is now twelve cents)robable small increase over3 crop ofillion metric tons to increase export earnings by perhapsercent or0 millionow. the regime will not be able to increase the volume of sugar exports

but It may still3 foreign exchange earningsif higher sugar pricesnow seems likely."

repair of all damage from the hurricane and fullagricultural production will probably take several years.will be reduced and foreign exchange will be drawnpay for imported foodstuffs, seed grains, and other suppliesreconstruction. At the same time, new investment will beduring the next year or two by the economic costs ofincluding theprobable uneconomicmanpower, materials, and equipment. Economicbe retarded unless there Is an increase in Soviet Bloc assistance


Background. Bloc development credits extended to Cuba since Castro took power have totaled0 million, of which perhapsercent has been expended. These credits are Important for Cuba's economic future, but of greater immediate importance has been Bloc willingness to supply aboutercent of Cuban Import needs, even though the island's export capability is severely limited.2 the total cost of Bloc economic support to Cuba is estimated to have been0 million. Cuba, however, involves other costs impossible to measure in dollar terms. For example, certain foodstuffs, consumer goods, raw materials, and machinery have been shipped to Cuba even when these items are scarce wilhin the Bloc.

There were no announcements of new Soviet aid programs during Castro's long visit to the USSR last spring. In fact, there have been signsrowing irritation on the part of Soviet and satellite countries over the waste involved in Cuban use of their assistance. There have been press reports that at the recent CEMA conferences the Cubans requested substantial new economic aid and were rebuffed. Thesehave not been confirmed, but we believe the Bloc governments are anxious to avoid increased commitments to Cuba.

Nevertheless, the Soviet Bloc has responded to Cuban appeals for emergency supplies with substantial shipments of food, medicines, and other vitally needed items, and these are now beginning to reach the stricken areas. The Soviets have also made promises of modest additional aidore permanentuilding equipment and supplies, machines,ouse prefabricating factory. All of the European Satellites have promised some emergency supplies.China has already sent0 worth of medicine and powdered milkash gift of an equal amount. It has offered other

ore detailed discussion ot the prospects for Cuban suaarec annex,

items0 tons of0 tons of wheat and com.illion pair of rubber shoes. The total magnitude of emergency aid from the Communist countries will be sizable, but it probably will not meet Castro's earpecutions nor will it be sufficient to meet fully the exigencies caused by Flora.

astro will probably press the Soviet Union for substantialaid above and beyond disaster relief and those programs already in being. Disagreement on this issue will add to the strains already manifest in the relationship between the two governments. It wouldarticularly abrasive factor if the Soviets tried to use the leverage provided by the urgency of Cuba's needs to attach political conditions to the provision of aid. For example, the Soviets would like Castro to align himself with their policy on the test ban treaty and Bast-West detente. They would like to have him stop competing with other Latin American Communist leaders and start exercising more caution in his revolutionary Incitements. And they would probably like to see their aid program in Cuba placed under closer Soviet supervision.

mposition of such political conditions would be unpalatable to Castro, and we do not think he would consider accepting any of them unless his economic straits had become more desperate than they now appear to be. He might make some temporary concessionsro forma character in order to acquire quickly some especially neededassistance. We believe that, although the Soviets might seek to acquire assurances on certain points, they would be unlikely to press so hard as toreak ln their relationship with Cuba. Thus, we conclude that the Soviets will not give Castro all the assistance he desires, but that they probably will continue to provide regular aid at approximately the current level along with emergency assistance.


he economic problems exacerbated by Flora, and themeasures which the regime is Imposing upon the population, will almost certainly further erode Castro's personal popularity. For the immediate future (the next two or threeastro will probably succeed in rallying most Cubans to special efforts and to acceptance of unusual hardships to meet the hurricane's devastation. As time, passes, however, his exhortations will begin to wear thin. Shortages of goods, the continuation of depressed living conditions, and the regime's resort to draconian measures will alienate an increasing part of the citizenry. Even so, unless major dissidence develops within the military establishment, Castro and the minority wedded to him will probably be able to maintain control.


In any event, we believe Castro will not reduce to any significant degree his incitement of subversion in Latin America. He remains first ofevolutionary, and any increase in internal pressures might even encourage him to intensify agitation. We doubt that he will make any genuine efforts to improve relations with the US; indeed he is likely to make more and more use of the Yankee whipping boy as his difficulties grow within Cuba.




FOR CUBAN SUGAR EXPORTS4 The Cuban sugar crop4 is estimatedillion tons which

would produce an exportable surplus a!illion tons. It is not yet clear how this surplus will be divided between Bloc and free world markets. Cuba is now negotiating4 trade protocols with the Bloc and the sugar export pattern will not be established until'.these are signed. On the basis oi the history of the past several years, however. It seems likely that Cuba will export about one million tons to the free worldith the other two million tons going to the Bloc.


of metric fortll

European Satellites




the figures3 are estimates they are now supported by abody oi evidence and appear to be reasonably accurate. As of mid-October, Cuba had already contractedinimumons of sugar for delivery4 to Iran. Italy, Japan, the Middle East, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK. In addition. Cubaong term agreement with Morocco calling for the deliveryonsowever, the status of this commitment Is now in doubt due to the recent break in relations between the two countries.

Exports to the free world can be expected to sell at aboutents per pound If current world future prices are takenuide.


Acq Oct ov

January 50


July 8




O rand Total


At this price, one million tons would be0 million There is no evidence that Bloc prices will be increased aboveents per pound set inwo mUllon tons sold to the Bloc at this price would be valued at5 million Therefore, under theseCuban export earnings from sugar alone would amount5 million compared to0 millionotal earnings from exports duringight thus0illion compared to00 million estimated for




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