Manuel Ray was born in Cuba in 1924. Ray was a outstanding student and in 1947 the Cuban Ministry of Public Works granted him a scholarship to study civil engineering at the University of Utah. Ray returned to Cuba in 1949 and became project manager for the construction of the Hilton Hotel in Havana.
Ray was opposed to the military rule of Fulgencio Batista and in 1957 he established the Civic Resistance Movement. Over the next two years Ray organized a series of sabotage and acts of terrorism against the Batista government. Fidel Castro recognised the important role Ray played in the overthrow of Batista and appointed him as his Minister of Public Works (February, 1959).
Ray clashed with Castro over certain issues. This included Castro’s decision to execute Hubert Matos. In November, 1959, Ray left Castro’s government. In May 1960 Ray formed the Revolutionary Movement of the People (MRP) and joined the underground resistance to Castro. The MRP was a left of centre political organization that’s policies included regulation of private investment and the nationalization of all utilities.
The Central Intelligence Agency considered Ray an important political asset and in November, 1960, arranged for him to escape to the United States. However, the CIA was not in complete agreement about Ray. For example, E. Howard Hunt saw Ray as too left-wing and described him as a supporter of “Fidelism without Fidel”.
Despite these fears, John F. Kennedy insisted that Ray should become part of the Frente Revolucionario Democratico (FRD). This upset its leader, Jose Miro Cardona, who considered Ray to be a dangerous radical. William Pawley, who believed that Ray was a communist, also objected to him becoming a member of FRD.
Kennedy also wanted Ray to join the Cuban Revolutionary Council (CRC). Ray agreed to do this three weeks before the Bay of Pigs operation. Ray became Chief of Sabotage and Internal Affairs. Other members of this government in exile included Tony Varona (Secretary of War), Manuel Artime (Head of the Army), Antonio Maceo (Secretary of Health) and Justo Carrillo (Economic Administrator).
Ray withdrew the MRP from the CRC soon after the failed invasion of Cuba. He gave a news conference on 28th May, 1961, where he criticised the Bay of Pigs operation. He claimed that CRC had broken a pledge to ensure that anyone closely associated with Fulgencio Batista would not be used in the invasion. Ray also argued that Castro should be overthrown by the Cuban people and was totally opposed to CIA backed invasions.
John F. Kennedy now cut off funds for the MRP. As a result, party members persuaded Ray to resign as leader of the MRP. Ray now moved to Puerto Rico. In October 1961 he became a member of the Puerto Rican Planning Board.
In April 1962, Ray formed a new anti-Castro organization called the Junta Revolucionario Cubana (JURE). This organization became part of the CRC. Ray also began providing information to the CIA about the possible defection of Castro’s officials. Ray made a tour of Latin American countries in an attempt to raise funds in order that JURE could mount resistance operations inside Cuba.
Silvia Odio was one of Ray’s supporters. On 25th September, 1963, Odio had a visit from three men who claimed they were from New Orleans. Two of the men, Leopoldo and Angelo, said they were members of the JURE. The third man, Leon, was introduced as an American sympathizer who was willing to take part in the assassination of Fidel Castro. After she told them that she was unwilling to get involved in any criminal activity, the three men left.
Odio became convinced that after the assassination of John F. Kennedy that Leon was Lee Harvey Oswald. Odio gave evidence to the Warren Commission and one of its lawyers commented: “Silvia Odio was checked out thoroughly… The evidence is unanimously favorable… Odio is the most significant witness linking Oswald to the anti-Castro Cubans.”
On 20th May, 1964, Ray and a crew of seven, including a reporter-photographer team from Life Magazine, landed at the Angguilla Cays, 40 miles off the Cuban coast. However, the British authorities discovered Ray and his group and their cache of weapons and explosives, arrested them for illegal entry into the Bahamas and took them to Nassau. After being fined Ray was deported to the United States.
The FBI now carried out an investigation into Ray’s activities and discovered that he had illegally purchased $50,000 worth of arms for JURE from a California arms manufacturer. As a result Ray was told to move all his operations outside of United States territory. Attempts were also made to stop people in the United States from financing Ray’s activities.
Ray continued to get involved in anti-Castro activities and in 1972 he formed the People’s Revolutionary Party, but it failed to make an impact.
In 1978 Ray moved to Puerto Rico when he headed his own engineering consulting firm in San Juan.
(1) Jake Esterline was interviewed by Jack Pfeiffer on 10th November, 1975.
Jack Pfeiffer: What about Manuel Ray in terms of leaders?
Jake Esterline: Well, he was so anti-CIA, starting back in the early 50’s… he was anti-US government. So the CIA was lumped in with that – probably because of the Ambassadorial image we had in Cuba in those early 50’s with Ambassador Gardner, who distinguished himself when he was the American Ambassador there by buying a thousand pounds of ice from the ice plant every time they gave a cocktail party so he could have the pool cooled properly. You know, that kind of thing, Ray has never really been in sympathy with the U.S. His reasons were probably not all that bad, and in those earlier years, gave him an affinity with Castro. He wanted an independent Cuba, and he didn’t want the United States to be a continuous satellite to the United States. So he would have ended up in the category of a political unreliable. He did have a pretty good friendship with Jim Noel, whom I mentioned earlier. Jim used to say, “Gee, can’t we bring him in more – and everybody threw up their hands. Jerry Droller would throw up his hands and say “you can’t do this.” He would have been absolutely unacceptable to any Cuban politician we had to deal with.
Three men appeared unannounced at the Dallas doorstep of Sylvia Odio, a well-known Cuban exile and a backer of Manuel Ray’s JURE, the social-democrat group that most exiles considered flamingly pink. The trio’s Latin-looking spokesman called himself Leopoldo. He said it was a “war name”. He introduced a dark companion with a stocky build as “Angelo”. The third man, an Angelo who stood shyly in the background, he introduced “Leon Oswal”.
Notes on Manuel Ray Rivero by J.A. Sierra
In 1947, at the age of 23, Manuel Ray Rivero received a scholarship from the Cuban Ministry of Public Works to study civil engineering at the University of Utah. He returned to Cuba in 1949 to work in the field of engineering, and later became project manager for the construction of the Havana Hilton Hotel.
Instead of simply accepting his good fortune and success, Ray joined the effort to oust Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. He organized the Civic Resistance Movement in 1957, overseeing sabotage and acts of urban violence against the government.
In February of 1959, just over a month after Batista’s infamous middle-of-the-night departure, the new rebel government appointed Manuel Ray to the position of Public Works Minister. This job would last until November. (By the end of the year, 12 of the 29 ministers originally assigned had resigned or been removed.)
Again Ray found it necessary to oppose a Cuban dictator, as he feared Castro would become. To this end he created the Revolutionary Movement of the People (MRP) in May 1960. Soon the anti-Castro organization had an active membership in each of Cuba’s six provinces.
The MRP was designed as a progressive organization, and it clearly did not wish to turn back the clock, or re-instate the 1940 Constitution. Instead, it proposed a continuation of laws passed by Castro and the Revolution, including the nationalization of all utilities.
Eventually Manuel Ray was forced to leave Cuba or face jail and/or execution. He entered the United States on November 10, 1960, but he wasn’t exactly welcomed by recently established Cuban-American leaders Miró Cardona and Manuel Artíme. Because his group had been dramatically to the left of other popular Miami-based anti-Castro groups, they found it “suspicious” that Ray said he would not outlaw the Communist Party in Cuba.
Some CIA analysts contended that Ray was so far “left in his thinking that he would be as dangerous to U.S. interests as Castro.” To further confound matters, Ray declined to join the Cuban Revolutionary Council (CRC), of which Miró Cardona was President.
The CRC was a CIA-picked government that would be flown into Cuba once the invading rebels held a sizeable piece of land. This “government in arms” would request U.S. assistance against Castro, and the U.S. would immediately recognize it as Cuba’s legitimate government. This would open the door for military assistance.
Ray felt that this “government” was “too restricted” by CIA priorities and did not reflect the needs of the Cuban people. But as a show of support for an armed effort against Castro, however, he joined the CRC about three weeks before the invasion at Bay of Pigs.
About a month after the failed invasion, on May 28, 1961, Ray gave a news conference in Miami announcing his break with the CRC. His reasons were varied but clearly articulated; priority should have been given to underground fighters in Cuba, members of Batista’s regime should not have been involved in the invasion, and he should have had a “say” about the military leaders of the invasion. He added that to overthrow Castro, it would be necessary to mobilize the discontented people in Cuba, to which he had more access than any of the CIA-selected leaders.
Ray moved to Puerto Rico in July 1961, and Governor Luis Muñoz Marin offered support. In October of that year Ray accepted a position as a consultant to the Puerto Rican Planning Board.
A year later (July 1962) Ray formed the Junta Revolucionario Cubana (JURE). It was to be strictly political in nature, although it would cooperate with the CRC. Ray hoped that JURE would eventually control the CRC.
JURE proved to be useful to the CIA, particularly to JMWAVE, the CIA station in Miami from which operations against Cuba were run. David Korn wrote in Blond Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA’s Crusades; “It provided the CIA information on people in Cuba who might be recruited by the Agency or enticed to defect. But Ray’s leftist politics still troubled some JMWAVE officers.”
In June 1963, Rogelio Cisneros became JURE’s military coordinator. Based on his interpretation of the “Rules of Engagement of the Autonomous Operations,” Cisneros didn’t feel “a need” to report political or military activities to the CIA or anybody else, even when they were the main funding source. [This tendency to act independently and without unity hurt JURE and the anti-Castro movement throughout this decade.]
Ray began to plan an infiltration into Cuba in January 1964, and he turned over control of JURE to Cisneros. In May he quit his job in Puerto Rico and dropped out of sight.
With a crew of seven (which included a reporter and a photographer from LIFE Magazine) Ray headed for Cuba, but days of bad weather and expanded patrol of the Cuban coastline prevented them from reaching the island. They were forced to land at the Antilla Cays, 40 miles away from Cuba, and legally part of the Bahamas. While anchored, British military officers arrested them and confiscated their weapons.
In the U.S., the FBI and the U.S. Treasury Department charged Cisneros with illegally purchasing $50,000 worth of weapons in California.
Ray tried to infiltrate Cuba again in July 1964, with plans to start a revolution against Castro. But again the boat had trouble, and he was forced to abort the plan.
JURE came apart in August 1968. Ray tried to organize Cubans against Castro again in 1969 and 1972.
By 1978 Ray was heading his own engineering consulting firm in Puerto Rico’s San Juan.
Cuban Information Archives: http://cuban-exile.com/doc_401-425/doc0412.html
Junta Revolucionaria Cubana JURE
Cuban Revolutionary Unity
[REF: Cuban Counter Revolutionary Handbook 10 October 1962 by the CIA.
FBI HQ file number 109-584-3387; NARA RIF Number 124-10279-10032]
[NOTE: The copies were very hard to transcribe because of poor photo reproduction. At points where the words were unreadable, three dots (…) were inserted to indicate a missing word or words. Words in brackets are not contained in the original. FURTHER NOTE: Please consider the date, 10 Oct. 1962, when evaluating the organization.
COUNTER REVOLUTIONARY HANDBOOK
PART II: SECONDARY ORGANIZATIONS
I. IDENTIFYING DATA:
Common Title: JURE or JRC
Title: Junta Revolucionaria Cubana
Cuban Revolutionary Unity
Political: Created in Puerto Rico by Manolo RAY Rivero around nucleus of former 26 July Movement leaders. Leftists group. Advocate socialist government. RAY calls it “democratic left.” Maintain Cuba be liberated by Cubans. Oppose U. S. intervention but want U. S. material and monetary support. Propose equal opportunity for education, work, housing, social welfare, and avoidance of concentration of national wealth in hands of few. Support agrarian reform.
Leading Personalities: In Exile: Manolo RAY, Rogelio CISNEROS, Felipe Pazos, Raul CHIBAS, Ramon BARQUIN, Justo CARRILLO, Ernesto BETANCOURT, Eleno MEDEROS, Agustin CASTELLANOS, Carlos HEVIA de los Reyes Gavilan, Osorio DAVILA Santana and Raul MARTINEZ Arara.
RAY has been working on unity since pulled faction out MRP in mid 1961. Held interviews with refugee leaders Miami in effort have them dissolve their respective movements and integrate into JURE. Concentrated on groups that splintered from 26 July Movement such as MRP, UR, MRRC, MRTN, MAPA, and SFNE. Relatively unsuccessful. Majority nor mentioned groups denounced RAY’s activities. 16 Sept. meeting in Puerto Rico officially creating JURE attended by over 100 exiles, but mostly relatively unknowns. Members of some larger anti-CASTRO groups participated as individuals.
III. CURRENT STATUS
Ray’s failure get desired support of Cuban exile community set back his plan to represent himself as Cuban exile leader. Failure due in part to fact he and his associates considered by many to still represent “fidelismo sin Fidel” and also due to opposition to his non U. S. intervention policy RAY continuing to work for larger representation. Currently negotiating with former Rebel Army military group and labor union factions. Some JURE leaders feel they should conduct an ALPHA-66 raid in near future in order to boost. JURE prestige. Only apparent achievement so far is creation of further confusion and disunity within Cuban exile community.
Letter from Amador Odio from Cuban prison: http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/russ/jfkinfo3/exhibits/odio1.htm
TRANSLATOR’S NOTE: It is noted that the original letter is written in a conversational and personal vein without regard for proper punctuation.
Nueva Gerona, Dec. 25, ’63
From the visit of my brothers, I learned about you. It is a consolation to hear that our children are taking very good advantage of the time. It is one more compensation of Divine Providence for our sufferings. It is difficult to write these days in which memories are so vivid and it is almost impossible to coordinate ideas because emotion chokes us. It is at Christmas time when sentiments, through the sorrow of absence draw us closer to our loved ones. The more presents we have the more we are aware of the separation. But the sorrow is not important, my children, and if having you always in my heart and thinking intensely of you, it increases, then blessed be the sorrow! Fortunately, we are strong; a great faith sustains us with the firmest hopes of our soon being reunited with the family. Any of the steps that are being taken must prosper. Our desires for peace, to live in the company of our children, stirs us to hope a little for comprehension and assistance. At this time of the year, 30 years ago, Mama and I were an engaged couple in love, full of illusions and faith in the future. We were enjoying the preparations for the marriage which happily would eternally unite our destinies. We were making at that time many plans, converted since into a full and beautiful reality. We were ecstatically dreaming about the great adventure of love, and you, my children, were the summation of our dreams. We were in ectasy over the prospect of many children, the combination of our flesh, of our blood, of our souls in the purest ideals of parents in bloom. Our desires were culminated with the arrival of such a beautiful group of children exceeding our expectations – our aspirations – children extremely gifted with the most brilliant qualities and virtues; – honest – intelligent – children who have the love and respect of one another – who adore and devotedly admire their parents – children who work hard, study earnestly – who make sacrifices whenever necessary. In sum, good children, a benefit to the family and to society – loving children who gladly cooperate with one another without complaint – who go through life joined fraternally in perfect communion with God and family. Such are our children for whom today and every day in our prayers we humbly thank God. The All Powerful gives you, my children, a glory of a repeated verse of a most beautiful descendency! What else in the world can surpass it? Nothing that I may know and it is for this reason that I want to sum in that idea my great desire of happiness for each one of my children at this Christmas time. On the anniversary, shower Mama with pretty cards, letters, photos and as much as can make her happy. It occurs to me, Cesar, that you with Mauricio, could give her a good gift. I am not referring now to the marvelous gift of free giving, It is a little grand gift. Since he has so many resources and friends, he could arrange that on the basis of her 30 years, her photo be published in a newspaper section. It would be something to fill us with pride, to do justice to this great wife and mother so that her friends may not forget her. That would do us all good and the reason is plausible. Not always are so many years of marriage completed encompassed with so many children and grandchildren, nor under the circumstances which surround it. If you do not have a good photo, ask Felo immediately for it. (I imagine some persons pale with envy, among them some neurotic!) I am not able to give any gift, but I pray for (her/your) health and ask for (her/it) so intensely that God is listening to me. Freddie is getting along very well in his studies. It has taken him time and work, but in the end he will graduate from this course. I always believed that he would, but I fear for him for the very hard examinations that await him. Sally also – I do now what career – and I am grateful to Jim because he wishes, as we, that she continue studying until receiving her doctorate. He would only desire to offer his assistance and inspiration. I received a telegram from Felo explaining the call that he made to Cesar after the visit. I am happy that he calmed you, and I am presently all right and give you my message. I know that everyone has moved tirelessly and that on our negotiations being renewed, we will be in first place. To all, I am thankful for Mama who needs to rest with peace and security. My daughters, in spite problems that you have, you have found time to move heaven and earth and our great son with his business relatlona bas succeeded in locating us in a preferable p1ace. I received a letter from Sari on Oct. 27, from Silvia, with her photo in the offlce – the 3rd that I received; of the rest I do not know what they look like now – on Nov. 8, from Cesar, Julie and Lolie on Nov. 11. Thus we are able to endure solitude. Thus help us to wait. Mama telegraphed me, content because she already reeeived many. Remember that you must take a moment and write to one another. It is sad to read that there are times when you do not know about one another “because the telephone is expensive now.” Annie needs to adopt a firm resolution for the New Year of involving herself in the reaponaibilities of the family. We are proud of your conduct in college, in a strange home. We are completely satisfied in having such a good and studious daughter who has perfectly fulfilled her obligations. But you have not kept contact with your sister – too often unmindful of their problems when you should share them. Therefore, my pretty brunette, you yourself think of the best way to cooperate with them. It would be nice for you to share the time with your brothers and sisters. Would it be possible, love, for you to spend week-ends and vacations at Silvia’s house? In this way you could be of great benefit, just as Lolie has been for some time with Julie. You are a complete woman. You understand that you have obligations, in addition to your studies which you are to pursue with eagerness above everything. If what I suggest upsets in any way your school tasks, then you should continue as you are and in no way should you neglect them. Understood? I leave it to your own judgment, but anyway maintain frequent contact with all the family, and watch out for parties and drinking! Silvia, It is difficult to become oriented with you – who are in contact with the atmosphere and who have taken up to now so many intelligent and proper steps. You will continue with that vast experience, determining what ought to be done on each occasion. It is one more reason for pride for us Before I forget, let me congratulate you on your fine position. You are worthy of these distinctions. Tell me who this is who says he is my friend – be careful, I do not have any friend who might be here, through Dallas, so reject his friendship until you give me his nameYou are alone, without men to protect you and you can be deceived. Grant me blndie the additional sacrifice of not going out Wednesdays with your girlfriends. Stay for a good time at home. You still are not free – you should avoid everything that might affect your good name. Never accept going out with anyone or to the house of anyone if you are not accompanied by your brothers. That of Guille is still not definite – he can return – I am sure that he loves you and adores his children in his way. He was criminally indisposed against you by his neurotic mother. When you have to be understanding, make yourse1f interested, but be careful not to exceed. Do not abandon literature. Persevere, write a good book even though it takes you years. arita love, your letters are always interesting to me in that you tell me everything is marvelous. It is the beet sedative for calming my anxietiea for information concerning the family. Your letters, as those of all your brothers and sisters, fill my life with joy and hopes. They come to be the only light which enters the darkness in which I am living. I regret not having received yet a photo of your Jim. Mama was enchanted by him. I hope that Cesar furnishes you with spending money in sufficient amount. Do not scrape – please – go to your brother. It would please me for the elders to arrange for an allowance. I leave it to your judgment. Tell me as much as you can of your activities. Lolie, beautiful blonde, you do not tell about yourself even though, in spite of being an adolescent, you are already a woman because of the harsh experience through which you have lived. Your labors and sufferings have made you grow intellectually and spiritually. I am happy that you have in C. and J. the tenderness of brothers and parents. Soon you will again be my little spoiled girl, my heart’s desire. Take care of rebellions, Study and work gladly. Cesar, Julie, beloved children, there LB hardly space left. I am happy with your progrress in the program. To Ama,, Javier, Jorge, Freddie, Marianne, I express how anxious I am to hold you against my heart To Gretel and Raul my thanks, Fond regards to Carola, Carmen Rosa, Rene. Loving greetings and my thanks to all but especially to Mauricio and Joe.
– kisses – Papa Amador 0dio