The CIA sets up a Task Force WH-4, Branch 4 of the Western Hemisphere Division to implement President Eisenhower's request for an ambitious covert program to overthrow the Castro government.
JAN 12, 1960: Throughout the month of January, sabotage and small bombing missions in Cuba increase in frequency. A plane drops incendiary bombs in the areas of Bainoa, Caraballo, and San Antonio de Rio Blanco. Another plane coming from the north, with U.S. markings, drops inflammable material on cane fields next to the Hershey factory.
JAN 18, 1960: A plane drops live phosphorous over the cane plantations of Quemados de Guines and Rancho Veloz
JAN 21, 1960: A plane drops four one-hundred pound bombs on the urban district of Cojimar y Regla in Havana.
JAN 29-31, 1960: A plane drops incendiary phosphorous bombs on 10 districts in the area of the Chapana refinery.
FEB 1-13, 1960: Planes drop bombs burning more than 17,000 arrobas of cane in Trinidad; and other bombing attacks take place in Punta Alegre, Camaguey province, against the Adelaide refinery, and in the central España.
FEB 18, 1960: A plane trying to bomb the central España, Matanzas province, explodes in mid-air. The pilot is identified as Robert Ellis Frost, an American who carries a U.S. military identification card.
FEB 22-25, 1960: A bi-motor B-25 plane takes part in burning cane fields in Las Villas. Simultaneous incursions by planes occur in Las Villas and Matanzas provinces.
MAR 1960: The CIA begins training 300 guerrillas, initially in the U.S. and the Canal Zone. Following an agreement with President Ydígoras in June, training shifts to Guatemala. The CIA begins work to install a powerful radio station on Greater Swan Island, ninety?seven miles off the coast of Honduras.
Rafael Rivas-Vasquez sends a confidential memorandum to Artíme on "Propaganda and Psychological Warfare of the F.R.D. (Revolutionary Democratic Front) in Cuba." The goals, he writes is to make the F.R.D. known inside of Cuba, win over sectors of the country, and "break the red power through creating a mystique [to oppose Communism] based on Christian principles and the democratic traditions of our people." Propaganda will be n and by radio. Psy-ops should include a "campaign directed a demoralizing the military ...based in terror," a radio and flyer campaign to identify Castro's intelligence officials and Communist spies, promoting civic resistance, and spread the word about the resistance and its operations. Among the recommendations are to "blow up" Castro's radio station, the Voz del INRA, which is interfering with Radio Swans transmissions. "Actions and sabotage, coordinated with written and radio propaganda
MAR 4-5, 1960: Sabotage of a French ship, La Coubre, in Havana harbor, carrying arms for Cuba, kills about 100 people and wounds some 300.
MAR 17, 1960: At an Oval Office meeting with high-ranking national security officials, President Eisenhower approves a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) policy paper titled "A Program of Covert Action Against the Castro Regime." The CIA plan involves four main courses of action: (i) form a moderate opposition group in exile whose slogan will be to restore the revolution which Castro has betrayed; (ii) create a medium wave radio station to broadcast into Cuba, probably on Swan Island, south of Cuba; (iii) create a covert intelligence and action organization within Cuba responsive to the orders and directions of the exile opposition; and (iv) begin training a para?military force outside Cuba and, in a second phase, train paramilitary cadres for immediate deployment into Cuba to organize, train and lead resistance forces recruited there.
During the meeting, Eisenhower states that he knows of "no better plan" for dealing with this situation but is concerned about leakage and breach of security. He argues that everyone must be prepared to deny its existence and only two or three people should have contact with the groups involved, agitating Cubans to do most of what must be done. The President tells Mr. Dulles that he thinks he should go ahead with the plan and the operations but that "our hand should not show in anything that is done."