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Cryptonym: AMDENIM-14

Definition:
Antonio ("Tony") Cuesta Valle, aka Lobanillo, military leader of Comandos L and other militant anti-Castro organizations such as Alpha-66, the UR and the MRR.
Status:
Documented
Discussion:
CIA general counsel Lawrence Houston claimed that Cuesta himself was known as Commando L, and that his organization Alpha-66 was of no operational interest to the Agency.
Sources:

180-10143-10175: 180-10143-10175

This document is a listing of documents related to Antonio Cuesta Valle. On page 13 there is an entry for a 1961 request for approval, and the associated note is "Crypt assigned: AMDENIM-14."

104-10244-10126: ANTONIO CUESTA VALLE

This is the March 17, 1961 request for approval listed in the above document, and it includes the AMDENIM-14 crypt. JS Piccolo is listed as the case officer, and Jacob Esterline as branch chief.

104-10244-10077: MEMORANDUM; SUBJECT - CUESTA VALLE, ANTONIO

In 1961, Cuesta stayed in contact with his cousin Sergio Sanjenis in Cuba, also an MRR member. 1n 1961, he was active with the UR and the Black Falcons. From 1962-65 he was active with Comandos L.

124-90082-10020: No Title

9/6/61, FBI correlation memo on Antonio Cuesta: CIA furnished a list of members of the Halcones Negros - Cuesta's pseudonym was "Combat"; cryptonym "9-7"; radio pseudonym "Sucre"; cryptonym "29-7"; written pseudonym "San Martin"; cryptonym "39-7"; verbal pseudonym "Toto"; cryptonym "49-7". He was active with Alpha-66 until October 1962, when he formed the group Commandos L. In early 1963 he worked at the Les Violins nightclub in Miami. In Cuba, he had been the vice president of ITT of Havana. (pp. 8-9)

180-10118-10069

Cuesta was active in Comandos L, and these men were as well: Lawrence LaBorde (AMDENIM-4), Luis Balbuena ("El Gordo", long under ONI control), Santiago Alvarez Fernandez (AMDECK-1), Santiago Alvarez Rodriguez (AMBIG-3).

104-10069-10185: OPERATIONAL: AGREED ACTIVITIES W/ACSI

7/3/62 memo from Chief, JMWAVE to Chief, TFW re agreed activities between JMWAVE and ACSI. Colonel Carlos Causes asked about Tony Cuesta: "ACSI was interested in Cuesta and wanted to use him in an infiltration operation...(ACSI) had...previously...received a reply that (CIA) had been in touch with the individual but had terminated him because he was unreliable. In view of this response Lt. Col. Causes wanted to know whether we would recommend the reuse of Cuesta by ACSI." The decision was to let ACSI know in a few days.

124-90107-10242: No Title

1/14/63 memo from CIA General Counsel Lawrence Houston to Assistant AG Walter Yeagley: "This agency has no operational or contact with Alpha 66, which at present has no psychological exploitation value because of its serious discrediting in the Cuban exile community by the disclosing of its secret alliance of its leader, VECIANA (AMSHALE-1), and Eloy GUTIERREZ Menoyo, head of the SFNE...the dissident element of Alpha 66 is referred to at different times as Command L, meaning Commando Liberty or Lobanillo, the nickname for Antonio CUESTA del Valle, the Alpha 66 military operations officer; Commando Ponce, the place where Alpha 66 was founded; and L 66, presumably Lobanilla 66...this Agency has no current or pending operational interest in (Alpha-66)...and has no objection to investigation...by the Federal Bureau of Investigation." The source for this info appears to have been an FBI informant. Another source used by the FBI was SAC Ray Stephens of ONI in San Juan: https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=90071#relPageId=9&tab=page

104-10244-10085: DOCUMENT TRANSFER AND CROSS REFERENCE: SUBJECT INFORMATION RE ALPHA-66, - L-66 AND MR. JOHN I. LAVAGER Document View

1/28/63, Document Transfer Form, "According to Cuesta, Alpha-66 grew out of the action groups of UR. Most of the members became disgruntled when it appeared to them that UR action was impeded and hamstrung by the US government, mainly the CIA, and the separate organization, Alpha-66, was founded. The original founders were Antonio Veciana and Roberto Vale."

124-90107-10168: No Title

3/26/63: "Comandos L roared by speedboat into the harbor at Caibarien on the evening of March 26, firing three NATO rifles and a 20-mm Finnish cannon at a Soviet freighter, the Baku. The ship was all alight, and as we fired we could hear the Russian sailors running and shouting." said Tony Cuesta. "We had a homemade mine, of 50 pounds TNT, which we placed against the hull."...The explosion tore a 13 foot hole in the Baku's hull and the inrushing waters ruined 10,000 sacks of sugar. It also tore, beyond repair, the already strained relations between the exiled Cubans and the US government...Known raiders were given notice (note: on 3/31/63) that if they left the confines of Dade County they would be jailed, and the assorted exile-watchers doubled their efforts." Page 4 of 6 discusses Gerry Hemming's camp at No Name Key, operating for last two years. 6/5/63 article "Help Us Fight! Cry the Angry Exiles", by Harold H. Martin, Saturday Evening Post. Also see 180-10141-10365, p. 33: Cuesta led the action with three other Cubans. Boat "Alisan" supplied by Santiago Alvarez, Sr. John Thomas Dunkin and Andrew St. George were taking photos at the staging area at Cay Sal.

180-10141-10365: No Title

September 1963: "CL planning to be ready for ops and have 3 12-man teams operate in Oriente province. Supplies on Andros Island. Santiago Alvarez, Sr., skipper of 'M/V Silvia', cognizant of plan to blow up or shoot at oil tanks or sugar warehouses in Puerto Padre Bay, Oriente Province. This op to take place late Sept. (CL involved in) 3 radio transmitters at 1261 SE 8th Court, Hialeah, reportedly making bombs. 21 Sept. - Customs raids address - confiscates large cache - Georgette Meyer (aka Dickey Chapelle) and Tamayo Rodriguez (aka Rodriguez Tamayo, 'El Mexicano') in house, but not detained." In October, 4 boats confiscated by US Customs en route to Cuba. CL est. loss - $40,000.

124-10223-10092: No Title

10/14/63, Coordinator on Cuban Affairs, Miami, to Department of State: "Commandos L (Comandos L) is composed of a relatively small group of apolitical, action-minded, middle-class, middle-of-the-road individuals who say they are willing to work with any other honest and decent Cuban exiles to liberate Cuba...(Note: but recently they were talking with Somoza, Masferrer, and Paulino Sierra reputedly tied up with US gangsters)...Commandos L's leaders are Santiago Alvarez Rodriguez, a doctor, former governor, and senator from Matanzas; Antonio Cuesta, chief of military operations, who formerly worked for U.S. firms in Habana and belonged to several middle-of-the-road exile organizations; and Roberto Vale, "military coordinator", an accountant, former manager of a bank owned by Julio Lobo, and once an MRP member. Most of the leaders were originally in Alpha 66, but they broke away and formed Commandos L in November 1962 when Alpha revealed its connections with Eloy Gutierrez Menoyo, whom the Commandos L leaders distrust. They first called themselves Commandos L-66, but later dropped the '66' to avoid any connection at all with Alpha."

124-90094-10088: No Title

5/31/66: An intelligence agency told the FBI that the 5/29/66 "C-L Assassination Attempt" that attempted to land west of Havana involved "Antonio Cuesta del Valle, Sandalio Herminio Diaz, Armando Romero, Eugenio Saldivar Cadenas, Guillermo Alvsre Sanchez, and Roberto Anta Fernandez." The plan was for Herminio Diaz and Armando Romero to assassinate Fidel. The result was that Diaz, Romero, Anta Fernandez and Alvarez Sanchez were killed. Cuesta and Saldivar were wounded and taken prisoner. It was a joint operation of C-L, RECE and the 30th of November Movement. Page 12: Herminio Diaz was working on this plan for two years. Page 4: The FBI informant (MM T-%) was Col. Franklyn Bithos, USAFAD, Miami. See 124-90107-10365, p. 3: USAFAD was the US Army Field Appraisals Detachment. Bithos said that "the Army had an operational interest in Comandos L until May 25, 1966, and has no operational interest in the mission of May 29, 1966." Information provided by key source Carlos Zarraga. See 124-90107-10362: USAFAD was based in Ojus, Florida. See 124-90106-10203 for details on USAFAD's operational interest in Cuesta and others in late 1965,

Contributors:
Peter Dale Scott

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