A planned invasion of Haiti, led by a former ally of Cuban dictator Fulgencia Batista, was prevented Tuesday (Jan 3) with the arrest of armed plotters throughout the Florida Keys.
A planned invasion of Haiti, led by a former ally of Cuban dictator Fulgencia Batista, was prevented Tuesday (Jan 3) with the arrest of armed plotters throughout the Florida Keys. The "invasion force" was reported to be going to use Haiti as a stepping stone for a war against Cuba.
Most of the group were picked up in a raid by U.S. Customs agents on an artifical island near the island of Marathon. The Group included Cuban and Haitian exiles, United States soldiers of fortune, and one woman. They were led by Rolando Masferrer, the former publisher of the Cuban newspaper El Tiempo who was a close ally of Fulgencia Batista when Batista ran Cuba. Masferrer was born in Cuba, served on the Communist side during the Spanish Civil War, but changed his political affiliation to the right wing on his return to Cuba.
Customs agents are still searching the Florida Keys for members of the "invasion force" who were missed in the major arrests. 52 men were booked at the jail in Miami, 25 were booked in Key West.
Before he was put in jail, Masferrer said 50 commandos had escaped in a boat and he hinted that as many as 200 others of his band had escaped the roundup by U.S. officials. U.S. officials refused to talk about the boat. Masferrer was bitter at his arrest saying "The United States is protecting Fidel Castro."
Armed Customs agents arrested some of the men and seized a huge cache of arms when they surrounded a large, two-story concrete-block house on the island. After the "invaders" were arrested, agents found the following arsenal inside. 100 M-1 rifles, 50 carbines, 10 automatic rifles, 15 .30 caliber machine guns, 10 .50 caliber machine guns, six 60 m m mortars, three 80-mm mortars and 50 Belgian rifles.
A man interviewed by the Associated Press who escaped arrest gave plans of the invasion. He said 20 exiles had already sneaked into Haiti and were ready to attack and capture a small airport at Cap-Haitian, a port on the island's remote north coast and favorite target of Haitian invasion forces over the years.
The group is said to have a miniature air force of five planes a B 25, a B 26, a DC-3 transport and two P-51's. All except the DC-3 are U.S. war planes used in World War Two.
The planes were reported prepared to use the field at Cap-Haitian for attacks on the garrisons next to the Presidential Palace in Port-au-Prince.
Then as rebels rallied and confusion spread in the Haitian Army, -- so the plan went -- a band of 100 men would go ashore at Port-au-Prince and oust Doctor Duvalier. The arrest of the plotter nipped the plan in the bud, but the fact that recruiting for the trip had gone on openly in Miami, and that the whole invasion was general knowledge in Cuban communities, had led to it being called "the invasion farce."