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The E-Sylum: Volume 14, Number 52, December 18, 2011, Article 20

THE CIA BAY OF PIGS COUNTERFEITS

The January 2012 issue of the Cuban Numismatic Association newsletter has a short item about a counterfeit note I wasn't aware of - the Central Intelligence Agency's counterfeit of the Cuban 20 peso note prepared for the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion. It's not a psywar or propaganda piece, but a counterfeit produced by a government. These were not for the purpose of undermining the target country's currency, but to help carry out a covert operation. But why go to the trouble of counterfeiting what must have been a relatively small number of notes? Was it too hard to get hold of enough of the genuine notes? Do any of our readers have more information on these counterfeits? -Editor

CIA Bay of Pigs counterfeit

Since the invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs by CIA backed Cubans was a covert operation, supposed "locals", flashing gold or foreign currency was deemed too noticeable. With relations non-existent with the Castro regime and not wanting to alert Castro, fake notes were printed for the invasion force of about 1200. These all bear series F69 and F70. All this secrecy was of course for naught, with Castro waiting for the invasion. The forged note, a 20 Peso note, depicts Camilo Cienfuegos on the front and troops in the jungle on reverse. Cienfuegos died in a mysterious plane crash soon after the Cuban Revolution.

I did find a mention of these on (where else) Herb Friedman's psywar.org site, on a page about Cold War notes. -Editor

Friedman writes:

I hesitate to mention these banknotes as part of a Cold War operation because they were allegedly to be used in the Bay of Pigs invasion. However, one would assume that the notes were printed well before the invasion and because they were such good imitations were probably used before and after the invasion in an attempt to harm the Cuban economy.

It is alleged that the United States CIA forged Cuban 20 pesos Banco Nacional de Cuba notes of 1961 for the Bay of Pigs invasion. It is also alleged that each soldier in the invasion force was issued 100 of the forgeries. However, a news item in Bank Note Reporter of June 1987, entitled "Cuban counterfeit deleted from Pick" reports that Cuban sources claimed that these items were privately produced, and were not made by the CIA. We tend to doubt the veracity of this report, delayed 25 years. The forgery is mentioned in Bay of Pigs, Peter Wyden, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1979. The forgeries are rather easy to spot because of their serial numbers or lack of same. Four types are known

To read the complete article (scroll down to Cuba), see: COLD WAR AND INSURGENCY PROPAGANDA BANKNOTES (www.psywar.org/coldwarcurrency.php)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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