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TOP SECRET: CIA briefing. You have arrived in 1959. It’s the middle of the Cold War. The United States and the Soviet Union are in a highly tense face-off. The United States is concerned that the spread of communism to the Western Hemisphere will tip the balance in favor of the Soviet Union. Many of the governments in Central and Latin America, close neighbors to the United States, are unstable, and America is keeping a close eye on the political situation in the region. On January 1, 1959, a revolution in Cuba, a mere 90 miles from the coast of Florida, changes everything. You’ll be facing a number of life and death decisions today. Can you manage to keep the United States safe without triggering a nuclear war with the Soviet Union? Everything in this game - the people, decisions, consequences, and maps - are all real. It all really happened. Just as in real life, there’s an element of chance to the game. Each choice has more than one possible consequence. If you make it out alive, you win.
Welcome to 1959, Time Traveler!
CHOOSE TO BE DULLES
TOP SECRET: CIA Briefing CIA DIRECTOR ALLEN DULLES Allen Dulles is the first civilian director of the CIA. In World War II, Dulles served as station chief of the Office of Strategic Services, a forerunner of the CIA. He helped develop the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 1947 when Congress passed the National Security Act, and then served as Deputy Director. Dulles became Director in 1953, and so far is the longest-serving CIA Director. Under Eisenhower, the CIA has helped overthrow the Iranian government in 1953, and the Guatemalan government in 1954. He sees this kind of activity as necessary in the Cold War struggle against communism, even if it is against the law. Eisenhower agrees with him. Dulles has a key role in shaping American policies - but he’s also the most visible person if something goes wrong.
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CIA Deputy Director of Plans Richard Bissell
CIA Director Allen Dulles
TOP SECRET: CIA briefing. Which identity would you like? <
**Why are there no women in this list?**
This game is an accurate representation of the Bay of Pigs crisis. The people who had real decision-making power during this event were in the CIA.
Unfortunately, because this was 1959-1961, the top people in the CIA were white men. Therefore, I’ve chosen historical accuracy over a desire to represent a wider variety of people.
Cuban Task Force Chief Jake Esterline
Cuban Task Force Paramilitary Chief Jack Hawkins
CHOOSE TO BE BISSELL
TOP SECRET: CIA briefing. DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF PLANS RICHARD BISSELL A former professor of economics at Yale, Richard Bissell earned a reputation for brilliance through his work on the Marshall Plan. In his first CIA assignment, Bissell was project manager for the development of the U2 spy plane, which could fly at 70,000 feet, had a range of 2,950 miles and had some of the best cameras in the world. This vastly increased the information America had about the Soviet Union. In 1958, Bissell was promoted to Deputy Director of Plans. Although he has no experience running covert operations, he has excellent managerial skills, is very detail-oriented, and can analyse situations and think statistically. Bissell is one of the key leaders of the CIA’s covert operation on Cuba.
TOP SECRET: CIA briefing. CUBAN TASK FORCE CHIEF JAKE ESTERLINE In World War II, Jake Esterline served for 20 months with the Office of Strategic Services, including two tours behind enemy lines in Burma. He commanded guerrilla units up to battalion strength. As part of the CIA, Esterline helped to overthrow the Guatemalan government. He’s also served as a Chief Instructor at Guerrilla Warfare School at Fort Benning.
CHOOSE TO BE ESTERLINE
CHOOSE TO BE HAWKINS
TOP SECRET: CIA briefing. CUBAN TASK FORCE PARAMILITARY CHIEF JACK HAWKINS Colonel Jack Hawkins graduated from the Naval Academy and was serving in the Philippines when he was taken prisoner. After escaping his prison camp, he joined guerrilla forces and led raiding parties against the enemy, earning himself the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest military medal. He later earned the Bronze Medal and Silver Star for his work in World War II, including as a Commander for the Marines. Hawkins is fluent in Spanish and was personally chosen for this assignment by General Shoup.
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Welcome to the CIA. Are you ready to make the world safe for democracy, and protect us from the communist threat? First, you’ll need to travel back in time...
Time Travel Field Trips Presents The Bay of Pigs
Cuba Click to enlarge
MEMO Welcome to the CIA! It’s great to have you on board!
Cuba’s location Click to enlarge
TOP SECRET: CIA briefing. Revolution in Cuba January 1, 1959 Fidel Castro, using a ragtag guerrilla army, forces General Fulgencio Batista into exile. Although Batista was a corrupt and repressive dictator, he was pro-American and friendly to US companies. For over 50 years, Cuba has been a playground for wealthy Americans, who own almost 1/2 of Cuba’s sugar plantations and most of its cattle ranches, mines, and utilities. Castro, who has named himself Cuba’s Prime Minister, wants Cubans to take more control of their nation. His popular slogan is, “Cuba, Si, Yanquis, No.” He’s already begun to reduce American influence on the island by nationalizing American-dominated industries such as sugar and mining. He’s also planning to eliminate public property. Americans who own land and houses in Cuba could lose everything.
4. Train Exiles
Secret plans Click to read
TOP SECRET: CIA briefing. Overthrow Castro from Within The CIA is very concerned about Castro; he is a leftist, possibly even communist, dictator. Now that he’s in power, it’s clear his goal is to “liberate Latin America from US domination.” In the first nine months of his rule, Castro sends armed expeditions to Panama, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. If we allow him to continue, he could destabilize the entire region and bring communism to the western hemisphere. He has to be stopped. Violent action is the only way to break Castro’s grip on power; he’s too charismatic and popular a leader for anything less to work. President Eisenhower asks you to create a plan to overthrow Castro from within. The operation must look like it is a failure of Castro’s government; no one can know that the United States is involved, since it is illegal for us to interfere with another country’s government. <
Choice One: Propaganda
Spread anti-Castro propaganda in Cuba by building a radio transmitter on Swan Island. You can subtly influence the attitudes of the Cuban people and weaken Castro’s hold on the island.
Choice Two: Agents
Put covert intelligence agents (spies) into Cuba. They can gather information, help sneak people into and out of the country, and help with distributing anti-Castro propaganda.
Choice Three: Supplies
Although Castro has a very high approval rating in Cuba (60-70%), his revolution has enemies. You can help counter-revolutionaries overthrow Castro from within if you give them weapons and supplies.
Choice Four: Train Exiles
Thousands of people fled Castro’s Cuba. Many are now living in Miami; they are very motivated to get rid of Castro and take their country back. Recruit 1,400 Cuban exiles, and train and arm them as guerrilla fighters. Once they are trained, you can drop them into Cuba’s Escambray Mountains. They can act as leaders for the Cubans who want to overthrow the government.
Kornbluh p. 8
TOP SECRET: CIA briefing. CIA’s Attitudes CIA Director Allen Dulles finds the CIA’s traditional roles of gathering intelligence, spreading counter-intelligence, and analyzing situations to be boring. He much prefers the drama and action of covert operations. In fact, Dulles once commented that espionage officers were like “a bunch of old washerwomen gossiping over their laundry.” Under his leadership, the CIA has become an active intelligence service-in-arms, running covert operations to overthrow governments. Many of the leaders preparing to deal with the new threat from Castro’s Cuba, including Richard Bissell and Jake Esterline, were involved in the CIA’s covert operation to overthrow the democratically elected government of Guatemala. The CIA considered the Guatemalan campaign a success, because even though their ragtag rebels refused to engage in active combat, the CIA’s psychological operations convinced Jacobo Arbenz to resign in the face of fears of a possible American invasion. Bissell and other officials in the Eisenhower administration believe Castro’s regime will similarly collapse under psychological stress. They plan to use the Guatemalan operation as a blueprint for Cuba.
Use Propaganda Although lots of Cubans listen to the station, they don’t believe what you are saying because the program producers have been using exaggeration to sensationalize their broadcasts. The whole purpose of the station is to change the minds of the Cuban people and turn them against Castro. In the end, the station doesn’t make much difference. Your score stays the same.
NY Times article about Radio Swan
Use Propaganda You’ve successfully built a radio station on Swan Island. Your broadcast reaches not only Cuba, but the entire Caribbean. Well done! Gain 1 point.
Use Propaganda The Cuban government complains that a counter-revolutionary radio station supported by US dollars is broadcasting from Swan Island. Castro uses the opportunity to denounce the radio station as a new form of aggression from imperialistic North America. Not only is Castro perfectly aware of your “covert” actions, his complaints are published in the New York Times. Lose 1 point.
Swan Island's location Click to enlarge
Use Agents Five convicted internal resistance force members have been executed by a firing squad. Eight others, including American Anthony Salvard, are scheduled to be executed. You may be next. Lose 2 points.
Use Agents I’m afraid you’ve been arrested for your anti-Castro intelligence work. Who knows if or when you’ll get out of a Cuban jail. Lose 1 point.
Click to enlarge
The life of a spy is very dangerous, especially in a dictatorship like Cuba. Castro’s police force is fiercely loyal and very active.
Use Agents I’m afraid the Cuban anti-revolutionary forces you are working with have been arrested. Castro’s police force has arrested 112 contra members. These are dangerous times and all the people you cultivated for information and influence are now in jail. Start over. Lose 1 point.
Supplies Thanks to the supplies and weapons you’ve given to Cuban anti-revolutionaries, sabotage and bombing missions are succeeding all over the island. In January 1960, for example, anti-Castro forces succeed in burning cane fields and destroy 40 million arribas (25 pounds) of cane. This is devastating to the Cuban economy, which is largely based on sugar exports. Your plan is not quite as covert as it might be, though. One bomb, which does not explode completely, is marked “Bristo Marines.” Although you did successfully sabotage Castro, you also left behind clear evidence of US involvement. Doh! Your score stays the same.
Supplies September 28, 1960 Today you try to send weapons and supplies to one of your Cuban resistence fighters. Your goal is to drop an arms pack for a hundred men to an agent waiting on the ground. Unfortunately, you miss the drop zone by seven miles and land the weapons on top of a dam, where they are picked up by Castro’s forces. Your resistance agent is caught and shot. To make matters even worse, your plane gets lost on the way to Guatemala and ends up landing in Mexico. This mission is a total failure. Lose 3 points.
Change plan Click to read
Train Exiles After further consideration, we just don’t feel guerrilla forces alone will be able to overthrow Castro. We need something bigger that will spark an internal uprising strong enough to dislodge Castro and his tight grip on the government. We need a new plan.
Fidel Castro and Soviet Premier Khrushchev
Eisenhower cuts sugar imports
TOP SECRET: CIA briefing. Tensions Increase Between US and Cuba August 1960: Castro complains to the Organization of American States (OAS) about American aggression and sabotage, including the funding of an anti-Castro radio station, bombing of cane fields, dropping weapons and supplies to counter-revolutionaries, and putting intelligence agents into Cuba. Castro gets no support from the OAS. Cuba takes over American businesses in Cuba and makes them government property. October 30, 1960: A Guatemalan newspaper reports the US is training Cuban exiles in a secret base. Dec 16, 1960: Eisenhower decides to ban the import of Cuban sugar - affecting 800,000 tons of sugar. Since the US is Cuba’s largest buyer for sugar, the entire Cuban economy is threatened, until the Soviet Union agrees to buy Cuban sugar. The ties between Cuba and the Soviet Union are strengthened. December 31, 1960: Castro denounces America’s imperialist plan to invade Cuba. January 3, 1961: Cuba cuts US representation at the embassy to 11 people. In response, the US breaks diplomatic relations with Cuba. Cuba announces it will declare to the UN that if the US has the right to promote counter-revolution in Latin America, Cuba has the right to encourage revolution in Latin America.
3. US Military
2. Exiles Invade
TOP SECRET: CIA briefing Take Direct Action to Overthrow Castro Your worst nightmares have come true! Castro is allied with the Soviet Union! Communism is a serious threat to the entire region. Your more subtle plan to get the Cuban people to overthrow Castro isn’t working; they need a bigger spark to start the fire of counter-revolution. You are sure there are thousands of Cubans who hate Castro. Only by taking direct action against Castro can you get them to rise up and overthrow the Cuban government. You need to do something bold. What do you want to do? <
Choice One: Assassination
Team up with the Mafia to assassinate Castro. You can use secret government resources to develop and test poison pills which Mafia leaders can use to kill Cuba’s leader.
Choice Two: Exiles Invade
You already recruited Cuban exiles when you were planning to to drop them into the Cuban mountains as guerilla fighters. Now that the plan is for a proper invasion force, you need to get US military experts to come train and arm your exile force to attack Cuba by air, sea, and land. Once there, the exile brigade can be a rallying point for anti-Castro forces on the island, and if necessary, can live in the mountains while gathering strength.
Choice Three: US Military
Your best chance of success is just to send in the US military to invade Cuba, overthrow Castro, and establish a new, democratic government.
Open entire primary source in new window
Washington, June 13, 1961. NARRATIVE OF THE ANTI-Castro CUBAN OPERATION ZAPATAI. Development of the Concept and Plan 1. […]This document, developed by the Central Intelligence Agency and indorsed by the Special Group, provided a program divided into four parts to bring about the replacement of the Castro regime by covert means: a.The creation of a responsible and unified Cuban opposition to the Castro regime located outside of Cuba.b.The development of means for mass communication to the Cuban people as a part of a powerful propaganda offensive.c.The creation and development of a covert intelligence and action organization within Cuba which would be responsive to the orders and directions of the exile opposition.d.The development of a paramilitary force outside of Cuba for future guerrilla action. Source: https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v10/d231Analysis based on original document:https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1958-60v06/pg_850
Excerpt from: Washington, January 28, 1961. MEMORANDUM OF DISCUSSION ON CUBA The United States has undertaken a number of covert measures against Castro, including propaganda, sabotage, political action, and direct assistance to anti-Castro Cubans in military training. A particularly urgent question is the use to be made of a group of such Cubans now in training in Guatemala, who cannot remain indefinitely where they are. The present estimate of the Department of Defense is that no course of action currently authorized by the United States Government will be effective in reaching the agreed national goal of overthrowing the Castro regime. Meanwhile, the Department of State sees grave political dangers to our position throughout the Western hemisphere in any overt military action not authorized and supported by the Organization of American States. Source: https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v10/d30
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