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Cryptonym: MHVIPER

Definition:
Economic denial program focusing on sabotage of all Cuban traffic involving buying, selling, and shipment of parts and supplies.
Status:
Documented
Sources:

104-10308-10157: INTERVIEW OF JUAN FALCON TAMAR, UNDER ARREST IN CUBA, ALLEGED NATIONAL COORDINATOR OF THE "MOVIMIENTO DE RECUPERACION REVOLUCIONARIA" (M.R.R.) IN CUBA

1961 events: ...as discussed in this July 18, 1962 interview with Juan Falcon, also known as AMFOX-1, relates a campaign that may have been a precursor to MHVIPER: "Can you give me an explanation of the sabotage of the 'Petroquimica of Cotorro?" "Well, there we used materials manufactured by us. Practically no materials received from abroad, that is from the United States, were used there. A chemical preparation of some capsules which burned immediately was made." "What other sabotage plans did you have?" "That of destroying some 'Compania de Omnibus Aliados' bus company plants. We have the plan for the systematic destruction of the economy, which contemplated, among other things as I already told you, poisoning cattle with potassium cyanide." "And how did you burn buses?" "With incendiary cigarette cases." "Simulating cigarette packs?" "Yes, more or less."

Dick Russell, "The Man Who Knew Too Much" (Carroll & Graf, 1992), p. 246.

An incident on 8/22/62 was another precedent to MHVIPER: "...a British freighter under lease to the Soviets crept into a harbor in San Juan, Puerto Rico for repairs. Headed for a Soviet port, and carrying eighty thousand bags of Cuban sugar, the ship had damaged its propeller on a reef...CIA agents surreptitiously entered the customs shed and contaminated the sugar with a purportedly harmless - but unpalatable - substance. When a White House official came upon an intelligence report about the operation, President Kennedy was furious. Such an operation, he raged, had taken place on our territory and could set a horrible precedent for chemical sabotage. To the CIA's chagrin, Kennedy ordered the doctored sugar to not be allowed to leave Puerto Rico." Russell's source was "CIA Operations: A Plot Scuttled", New York Times, 4/28/66, p. 1.

David Robarge, CIA Chief Historian, "John McCone: As Director of Central Intelligence 1961-1965" (2015), page 115 of 251: https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/DOC_0001262720.pdf

"...the SGA decided to interdict a cargo of contaminated sugar bound from Cuba for Eastern Europe. MONGOOSE operatives had tainted the sugar with a drug that would sicken anyone who ate it and, it was hoped, frighten Soviet Bloc countries from buying anymore of Cuba's chief export. On order from the White House, the US government purchased the cargo and dumped it."

104-10102-10225: OUTLINE OF A PROGRAM TO EXACERBATE AND STIMULATE DISAFFECTION IN THE CUBAN ARMED FORCES

March 1963, Draft Copy, Memorandum to the DCI from Desmond FitzGerald. Under Buckslip - see page 4, Seymour Bolten passed it on to Alfonso Rodriguez for review - it went into a folder entitled "Split the Regime": "The only potentially effective course of action open to the United States is a pincers policy of economic strangulation to weaken and undermine the regime and establish channels of communication to disaffected and potentially dissident non-Communist elements in the power centers of the regime. With regard to the economic aspects of an economic strangulation program, I intend to submit to you in the near future a request for policy approval to mount sabotage operations against Cuban-owned ships and cargoes as the first stage of a broader sabotage program. As you know, only last week we secured Special Group approval for a psychological warfare program to stimulate low-risk simple sabotage in Cuba. With regard to the other arm of the pincers - the power center of the regime - we propose to devote our main effort against key officers in the armed forces and militia..."

104-10301-10001: Excerpts from History: Western Hemisphere Division, 1946-1965

"One of FitzGerald's major successes against Cuba was in the field of economic warfare -- called the MHVIPER program in CIA." After a hurricane, the Cuban government planned to raise the price of sugar. "At a time when fluctuations of one cent a pound meant millions of dollars to the Cuban economy, publication of the essentially correct (US) estimate upset Castro's efforts to manipulate the market."

104-10100-10099: CUBA ECONOMIC DENIAL PROGRAM

9/24/63, SAS/EOB W. COWGILL, x 6567, Book Cable DIR 72666: "(CIA) operations supporting general (US) economic denial program against Cuba are becoming so pervasive and complex it now necessary set up program in order channel correspondence of all interested components, categorize assets, ensure efficient coordinated HQs action, maintain satisfactory record of assignments, etc. IDEN A (104-10100-10095: MHVIPER) is traffic slug assigned this program...(MHVIPER) should be used on all traffic concerned with Cuban machinations involving buying, selling, and shipment of parts and supplies, e.g., Lomar(?) attempts displace Rabien and Stadtlander (ships), Sybell/Unsigma(?) when they involved etc. Do not confuse with Iden B (104-100-10095: ZRWAGON) which separate program involved with recruitment (of) Cuban seamen and sabotaging of Cuban ships and cargoes...(MHVIPER) file, a CS (clandestine services) subject file, has been assigned no. 200-120-58, restricted to correspondence of a general nature of concern to all addees. Intel reporting on this subject should also be slugged (MHVIPER). Prospects attaining almost complete coverage Cuban purchasing, bartering, and other commercial arrangements via penetrations and audio appear excellent...FYI following are principal economic denial targets in priority order: A. Economic power generating plants with emphasis on replacement vital parts; B. Petroleum refineries and industries with emphasis on denial vital parts and denial bright stock and lube oil additives; C. Transportation, with emphasis on denial of replacement parts for ships, diesel locomotives, tractors, trucks, buses, and automobiles; D. Miscellaneous items with emphasis on parts for machinery used in key industries...actual denial action therefore should normally be handled by (State Dept.), ODMARK (Treasury?), or (US) private business and undertaken by (CIA) personnel when such is the only or best alternative."

104-10100-10263: HIGH INTEREST IN DEBRIEFING ON CUBA

10/26/63: Cable DIR 77848 from WH/3/MEXICO to Mexico City, slugline PBRUMBEN MHVIPER: Asked Mexico City station to debrief LITAMIL-13 after return from Mexico City. Had previously left NY 10/9, left for the interior 10/11.

Contributors:
Bill Simpich

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