Home/ Resources / Projects / CIA Cryptonyms / bigram: MH / cryptonym: MHVIPER

Cryptonym: MHVIPER

Return to Main Crypts Page

Economic denial program focusing on sabotage of all Cuban traffic involving buying, selling, and shipment of parts and supplies.


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."


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."


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."


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.

104-10101-10049: DETAILS OF SALE TO CUBANS

11/19/63 cable 83587 from Director to Mexico City, info WAVE PARI slugline PBRUMEN MHVIPER: "...we infer Cubans will not be able (to) conduct large scale transactions with French CGEE unless they come up with cash or meet short term credits...(Paris) if UNRUMBLE-2 still has or can renew contact with subj of DIR 72857, urge you exploit this contact for more info on electric parts deal."

157-10014-10178: [No Title]

11/12/64 memo from White House aide Gordon Chase to McGeorge Bundy: "I refer to your interest in hearing more about the Fitzgerald operation which involves the current shipments of contaminating elements to Cuba and which is aimed in bringing about a breakdown of a substantial amount of Cuban machinery...I think this operation is probably too far down the road to stop, if indeed we do want to stop it. In any event, you will be able to find this out, by some gentle questioning, when Des gives his status report."

157-10011-10083: Testimony of William C. Sturbitts

Also see more legible copy for redactions at 178-10002-10279: "We conducted one hit and run sabotage...against what used to be the Texaco refinery...another time we took a team in to burn some cane fields...we did lay down a cache, if you will, sabotage kits to be used by our own island agents. They contained sugar to dump into gas tanks and metal fragments to put down crank cases...one of our main objects, of course, was to sabotage all the oil. We did that with our own operation. We made our own oil, substandard. Additives, I should say, not oil. We contracted with an American firm for that. And we shipped it in through third countries in Europe. It did hit the target. The thing we wanted to get at was the oil and the automative machinery on the island. We knew it was breaking down and if we could get a complete breakdown we could have everything at a standstill because in those days the automotive equipment wasn't coming that accurately from Europe because Castro didn't have the money to buy it and they weren't going to extend the credit. The railroad system was in total disaster. The Soviets had such a long logistics line, supply line, plus the fact that the Cubans didn't like the Soviet equipment because they were used to good American equipment. And these were principal targets that we were trying to get to... "...But as far as sabotaging any Cuban product, no, we didn't go into that. Our object was to enforce the blockade and cut off his sources of supply."

Bill Simpich

© Mary Ferrell Foundation. All Rights Reserved. |Site Map |MFF Policies |Contact Us