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Cryptonym: JMTRAX

Definition:
Base in Guatemala to train the soldiers for the Bay of Pigs.
Status:
Documented
Sources:

Alejandro de Quesada, The Bay of Pigs, Cuba 1961: https://clubamistadcubausa.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/the-bay-of-pigs-cuba-1961-ed-2009.pdf

"When the CIA decided that it was time to get some safely distant foreign bases to complete the training of the Brigade's soldiers and pilots, Guatemala - with a friendly government and a similar tropical environment to Cuba - was again the solution. The CIA negotiated the establishment of two secret bases, one for training the Brigade's soldiers (codenamed "JMTRAX") and the other its aircrews ("JMMADD"). JMTRAX was located on the La Helvetia coffee plantation in the foothills between Quetzaltenango and Retalhuleu Departments; at first the Cuban pilots were also located there while their base was constructed, but two weeks later they moved to JMMADD (known to the Cubans as 'Rayo Base'). The land was leased to them by Roberto Alejos (p. 10).

Peter Wyden, Bay of Pigs (New Press, 1979), pp. 34-37

1960: "Robert K. Davis...his title was First Secretary of the American Embassy in Guatemala City; actually, he was the CIA chief of station...In 1954 he had been part of the CIA's Guatemala team, setting up the logistics for the overthrow of President Jacobo Arbenz Guzman...he needed no permission to get his end of the new Cuba project started. It required only lunch with his old friend Roberto Alejos...(Roberto) had once been (President) Arbenz's secretary. Now he was close to Ydigoras. His political connections and his coffee plantation had made him very rich. The plantation, Helvetia, is where Alejos took Davis. It covered five thousand acres in the Sierra Madre mountains at altitudes from four thousand to eight thousand feet. It was criss-crossed with sixty miles of private roads...(he) began to realize he had not heard the last of the new Cuba project when Washington instructed him to get barracks ready...on volcanic soil a thousand feet below Helvetia, a spot was found for the barracks that became known as Camp Trax. Then, towards the end of May, Davis was astounded to get a message instructing him to build an airport." The project was built at Retalhuleu, below Helvetia.

John Prados, Safe for Democracy, pp. 219ss-223 (Ivan R. Dee, Chicago, 2006)

10/60:...As Guatemala chief years before, (Jake) Esterline knew the prominent Alejos family...the Helvetia (mountain) plantation became known as Camp Trax...In October there were exactly four CIA trainers at Camp Trax. Its total agency staff numbered nine. Trax lacked any counterintelligence officer for a long time while Radio Swan spent months looking for an announcer...Jake Esterline led a task force many of whose ley slots were filled by people renowned in their specialties, either in Project Success or elsewhere. Take the political action staff: Howard Hunt and Dave Phillips were known political operators, and Jerry Droller was well esteemed...the task force also included Jim Noel, former Havana station chief; his deputy; the Cuba desk officer from WH division...The air boss was Col. Stanley Beerli, CIA's top airman and the mastermind behind U-2 opertions, his field assistant Gar Thorstud...Esterline's deputy, Ed Stanulis, had been top planner for the Western Hemisphere Division. Dick Drain, chief of operations, fresh from service in Greece, had held the same job at the station, and had psychological operations experience in the Eisenhower White House (with Nelson Rockefeller)...The top trainer at Camp Trax was an army Special Forces lieutenant colonel, Frank Egan; and the field commander, Hawkins, had participated in World War II amphibious landings and had been guerrilla commander against the Japanese in the Philippines...Esterline thought highly of (Rip) Robertson and didn't mind brining him back...(Robertson) became an amphibious warfare trainer, case officer aboard the landing ship Barbara J. Another fresh face was Grayston L. Lynch...Hawkins employed Lynch to train Cuban frogmen and later as case officer aboard the landing ship Blagar."

104-10301-10004: INTERNAL DRAFT HISTORY OF THE BAY OF PIGS PREPARED BY JACK PFEIFFER , VOL III. EVOLUTION OF CIA'S ANTI-CASTRO POLICIES, 1959 - JANUARY 1961

11/60: "...a cable of 22 November 1960 to the Director from Guatemala indicated that the ground training base was undergoing a major reorganization because permission for the establishment of a tactical training area at another of the fincas (estates) of Roberto Alejos - this one near San Jose - was being undertaken. Inasmuch as Alejos was Ydigoras' right-hand man and conducted the liaison with WH/4 representatives for the establishment and operation of Guatemalan training bases, the contradiction in positions between State and the Agency was obvious."

FBI Cuba 109-12-210 - Volume 59 - Serials 2995-3037

A Federal Bureau of Investigation report details the "TRAX BASE" was training units in Guatemala for a Cuban invasion with American weapons. "This recruit advised...they were transferred from the air base near Retalhuleu to some place in Nicaragua. The transfer from Trax to Retalhuleu was made by truck during the day." These details and location would support JMTRAX was a base for anti-Cuban operations in Guatemala supported by the CIA.

1993.07.14.15:07:44:590280: INTERVIEW WITH POW (FORMER BAY OF PIGS PRISONER)

Bay of Pigs prisoner Edgardo Antonio Buttari told the CIA during a debriefing report that some members of Brigade 2506 "remained at Trax Base for combat infantry training." Buttari extensively details the leadership and composition of three battalions trained in airborne battle, armored combat, heavy weapons fighting.

Nestor Carbonell, Why Cuba Matters (2020): https://www.google.com/books/edition/Why_Cuba_Matters/c4fiDwAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=varona

"The invasion went ahead on the seventeenth (4/17/61) with virtually no support from the underground, hamstrung by mass arrests, and with no air cover to protect the ships and the troops during the landings. In the letter that accompanied the Bay of Pigs plan, Colonel Hawkins had issued this stern warning: This is a marginal plan. It will succeed only if all elements of the plan are left intact. Also, all of Castro's fighters must be destroyed on the ground prior to the landings. If only one of his fighters are left intact, the invasion forces must withdraw at once. Otherwise, this operation will result in a complete disaster."

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Contributors:
Bill Simpich • Carmine Savastano

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