Gerry Droller (Frank Bender)

Gerry Droller was born in Germany in about 1905. Not a great deal is known about his early life but during the Second World War he worked closely with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and the Marquis in France.

After the war Droller was recruited into the Central Intelligence Agency and for a while was a desk officer in Switzerland. According to one report, Droller "was responsible for the reorganization of West Germany and the consequent strengthening of German-American relations". Later he was transferred to Formosa where he helped Chiang Kai-Shek "organize his government and army".

In 1954 Droller took part in the successful CIA operation to overthrow Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala. Others involved in this project included Frank Wisner, Richard Bissell, Tracy Barnes, E. Howard Hunt, David Atlee Phillips, David Morales, Jake Esterline, Rip Robertson and William Pawley.

In June 1960, Droller was sent to Miami in order to help overthrow the government of Fidel Castro in Cuba. Adopting the name, Frank Bender, he posed as a wealthy steel tycoon. According to one report Bender was given the "task of binding together a few of the most eligible anti-Castro groups into an organization that could not only oppose Castro politically, but count on a strong nucleus of trained guerrillas for active opposition and sabotage."

Droller was also involved in the Bay of Pigs operation. Once again he worked closely with E. Howard Hunt. According to Jake Esterline, Droller and Hunt were brought in to "handle the political aspects of the operation". Manuel Artime met Droller in the summer of 1960. At the time he was using the name "Frank Bender" and had adopted the role of a Steel tycoon based in Miami. Droller told Artime: "I have nothing to do with the United States government. I am working for a powerful company that wants to fight communism."

Jake Esterline accused Droller as being "insanely ambitious". Another CIA agent described him in 1960 as "a man in his fifties, perhaps 185 pounds, of medium build" who "smoked a pipe, wore glasses, was well mannered and displayed a good knowledge of history".

© , September 1997 - April 2014

Primary Sources

(1) Jake Esterline was interviewed by Jack Pfeiffer about the Bay of Pigs operation (10th November, 1975)

Jack Pfeiffer: Was the principal reason for your choice - or King's choice of you - because you had been involved in the Guatemala thing?

Jack Esterline: Yes, I was a headquarters officer in charge of Guatemala. I would think that was one of the reasons, plus the fact that I had extensive guerrilla warfare experience during the Second World War in OSS; and the third thing, being that I think J. C. had pretty much confidence in my judgment.

Jack Pfeiffer: What about the selection of say, Dick Drain, and Droller... Were these your choices or were these others that came out of the bag and you were told, "here they are."

Jack Esterline: It was obvious that as the operation began to increase in size ... it was obvious that the Division didn't have the personnel, the senior personnel to staff out the organization; or if they did have,them, they weren't about to release them from the things they were doing, because they were considered indispensable, which was probably correct. It was on that basis, I think that when people like Dick Drain came back home from - in Dick's case I think he came in from Greece - where he had a pretty good record - but he was not returning to headquarters to go into an assignment, and Dick Bissell put him in the operation with us. Gerry Droller had been around headquarters for along time, had been quite a bit of a replacement problem. He was very bright, he was a German specialist, had a pretty good political background; and Gerry and Howard Hunt, for whatever reason, were sort of... they were selected, not by us, but they were told they were going to be the people who would handle the political aspects of the operation...

Jack Pfeiffer: What was your relation with Droller... were you directing Droller's activities, or was Dave Phillips running Droller...

Jack Esterline: Oh, I sort of ran Droller, except I never knew what Tracy Barnes was going to do next, when I turned my back. Droller was such an ambitious fellow trying to run in... trying to run circles around everybody for his own aggrandizement that you never knew... but Droller would never have had any continuing contact with Pawley, because they had met only once, and I recall Pawley saying that he never wanted to talk to that "you know what" again. He was very unhappy that somebody like Gerry... he just didn't like Gerry's looks, he didn't like his accent. He was very unfair about Gerry, and I don't mean to be unfair about Gerry - the only thing is that Gerry was insanely ambitious. He was his own worst enemy, that was all....

(2) Lieutenant Frank Kappel, Supervisor, Criminal Intelligence, Cuban Counter-Revolutionary Activities. This document was later passed to Thomas J. Kelly, Metropolitan Sheriff, Dade County on 9th March, 1961.

Recent developments in the Cuban situation involving the anti-Castro factions have prompted this Unit to investigate certain rumors which could, if allowed to circulate, develop into a crisis with catastrophic effects for the U.S. position in Latin America.

The origin of these assertions is multiple and stems from the not so secret struggle for power among the anti-Castro groups closely connected with the Frente Revolucionario Democratico.

It is also evident that the preparations for the ultimate effort to overthrow the CASTRO regime have reached the final stages. The only obstacle to this is the continuous bickering of the groups over ideological and political trivialities.

The main reason for this dissension is the formation of the provisional government which will have to take actual possession of part of the Cuban territory in order to gain support and recognition from other governments. Several Latin American countries which have broken diplomatic relations with CASTRO'S Cuba are willing to recognize a provisional government opposed to CASTRO. Nationalist China has agreed in principle to do the same.

At present there are only three organizations which have enough support both in exile and in Cuba to make their weight felt in the negotiations that have been taking place in New York and Washington during the past week. The Frente Revolucionario Democratico, M.R.P. and the 30th of November Movement are the three organizations which sent representatives to a preliminary meeting that took place in Washington on March 4, 1961.

The Frente Revolucionario Democratico is by far the best organized, with an army, estimated to be 5,000 strong, trained in guerrilla warfare. This organization is formed by six anti-Castro groups and has received sanction and financial backing from the US Government since its conception.

The power behind the scenes in this political crisis is a C.I.A. agent known to the majority of the Cubans as Mr. B., an abbreviation of his name FRANK BENDER.

It is the consensus of every leader connected with the counter-revolutionary activities that Mr. BENDER is the only policy making contact they have with the Central Intelligence Agency. Information received from responsible leaders revealed that Mr. BENDER is a highly qualified expert who is considered to have been responsible for the reorganization of West Germany and the consequent strengthening of German-American relations. After this successful mission, Mr. BENDER was transferred to Formosa where he helped reorganize Chiang Kai-Shek's government and army.

In June 1960, Mr. BENDER undertook the task of binding together a few of the most eligible anti-CASTRO groups into an organization that could not only oppose CASTRO politically, but count on a strong nucleus of trained guerrillas for active opposition and sabotage.

On June 22, 1960 five groups, after a conference in Mexico City, formed the F.R.D. Immediately afterward, Mr. BENDER met with representatives of the Frente in New York to formulate plans for military training.

Mr. BENDER, according to the Cuban sources, has a flair for cloak and dagger meetings when dealing with emissaries from the Frente. Mexico City was selected on purpose to avoid drawing attention and consequent denunciations from the CASTRO regime.

One of the Frente emissaries revealed that at the initial meeting for the formulation of military plans, Mr. BENDER introduced himself as an industrialist from Pittsburgh. The emissary had many contacts in that particular city and was able to ascertain that Mr. BENDER had no connections whatsoever with the firm he claimed to represent. This is of course raised doubts as to Mr. B.'s intentions and also irked the representative who felt somewhat slighted by this approach.

Other sources have criticized Mr. BENDER's furtive ways of calling for meetings in motels and other places that, although safe security-wise, appear unsuitable to the dignity of the Cubans.

It is evident that Mr. BENDER has not yet mastered the complicated Latin mind and often irks the Cubans with his no-nonsense attitude apparently acquired from his experiences in West Germany. Most Cubans agree though, that Mr. BENDER has been able, with the help of military experts, to create one of the best trained guerrilla contingents in the world.

(3) Dr. Luis Aguilar Leon, memorandum, sent to Lieutenant Frank Kappel, Supervisor, Criminal Intelligence. This document was later passed to Thomas J. Kelly, Metropolitan Sheriff, Dade County on 9th March, 1961.

Every time that there was an attempt to talk or plan the unity, the biggest worry of every representative of the groups has been the personal position of every one of them, the possibilities that the unity would open to their aspiration and the bigger or smaller remuneration's and side benefits that they could obtain. In addition, there is total absence of political vision. Representatives of the groups in exile who should support and present the forces that fight in Cuba have managed to become directors and guides of those who daily risk everything in the fight against Communism. From there they have adopted false positions of leaders that do not exist outside the newspapers of Miami or plans for the future which do not include the true voice of the popular aspirations and last, there has been without doubt, a weakness in regard to the promises or the reality of economical help from the U.S. This help which was to be destined to strengthen and enlarge an apparatus of fight, political and military, has been converted in arbiter of disputes, in monopoly of wealth in lieu of aspirations. Many a fighting group has been threatened openly to be left outside of the American help if it did not accept this or that point. And many worthy professional man has silenced his criticism and censure for fear that his opinion would cause the cessation of this help. In reality, there were cases like Anit VILLAREAL who was fired from the offices of the Frente and left without any means of livelihood because she happened to disagree with the policies of the movement to whom she belonged.

The fault of the Americans: Speaking of Americans, I have to clarify immediately that I refer to those in charge of the Cuban situation - specifically, Mr. Frank BENDER and his minor associates in Miami, like Mr. [Bernard] BARKER. It is the personal opinion of the writer that the personal intervention of Mr. BENDER in the conflict of the groups in exile has been the cause of major dissension's and it has caused conflicts, delays and obstacles that a serene and impartial performance would have avoided. Far from utilizing his privileged position of donor of material, of economic subsistence to unite and enlarge anti-CASTRO forces, Mr. BENDER almost from the beginning, decided on a policy of preferences through a system of not listening to anyone else except those who for some reason he conceded his preference by a method of supporting some against others or of encouraging those more than these. The result of this erratic and incomprehensible policy in a problem as serious as that of Cuba is well described in the picture of the exiles in the first section of this report. Not even Mr. BENDER's personal work, the instrument created by him and through his mediation the organism which has received the entire support and the backing of the powerful forces which Mr. BENDER represents has succeeded, after nine months of existence, according to the DIARIO DE LA MARINA last week, "Unite all the Cubans against their own will". In the so-called "Frente Democratico Revolucionario", the crises have followed upon crises. The defections have disturbed them. The public arguments have reduced it and nothing positive has been done so far as politics, ideology, propaganda or unity, without mentioning military force, about which we will speak later.

What I have said above regarding Frank BENDER implies an indictment that deserves to be clarified. Let's begin by saying that we consider just as responsible for the errors and mistakes made by BENDER those who accorded to just one man the destiny of the Cuban case, turning him automatically into a supreme force and dreamier of all problems. Having said this , let us go on to express some personal of all problems. Having said this, let us go on to express some personal experiences which need to sustain my thesis concerning Mr. Frank Bender's actions.

In July 1960, the exile situation was very different. The Frente Revolucionario Democratico had just been constituted and there were hardly any persons or revolutionary organizations which were not within it, or which, at least, did not expect to enter at the proper moment. The "Frente" had announced that it was constituted by a group intended to integrate all the forces that opposed Fidel CASTRO. Within the Frente, the organization which appeared to be more powerful because of its nucleus of young fighters having come from the rebel army itself was the Movimiento de Recuperacion Revolucionaria. In that same month of July, in an absurd and incomprehensible form, the MRR entered into a crisis. Its delegate at the front, Manuel ARTIME BUESA, decided to constitute his own organization and expel the other three members of the executive committee, the three commanders who had founded the Movimiento. In view of the planed crisis, BENDER was consulted and he recommended that nothing be done, that no public declaration be formulated, and that he would take care of the ARTIME situation. On July 25, 1960, ARTIME made a public statement revealing the expulsion of the three commanders and setting himself up in a separate movement. In trying to speak with BENDER to find out why ARTIME was permitted to express his version of the situation, BENDER said that it was a question of supporting ARTIME and leaving to Commandante LORIE. These were his words to Commander Antonio Michel YABOR, and when the latter reasoned that the movement was weakened, that the cause against Fidel CASTRO was going to suffer a blow, that there was no moral or principle for the expulsion of a companion like Comandante LORIE, Mr. BENDER only replied, "In matters of politics, there is no moral". The result of Mr. Bender's intervention far from being conciliatory, far from attempting to avoid the breakup of the Frente caused quite the contrary. Mr. BENDER encouraged ARTIME in his attitude. He tried to split up even more the component of the MRR and succeeded in separating from the Frente a strong group of fighters against Fidel CASTRO who would fight on their own. This action was backed simply by his personnel in Miami, especially Mr. BARKER, about whom exists a declaration in the MRR files signed by the person to whom Mr. BARKER tried to employ for, according to his own phraseology, "the destruction of commanders Antonio MICHEL and Nino DIAZ [HIGINIO "Nino"DIAZ ANE]. Since then, and now I speak only by references made, Mr. Bender's partiality for Mr. ARTIME, his refusal to receive or hear the reasons of other revolutionary groups which were becoming cohesive in exile, his imposition of the Frente at all costs and without alternative, his lack of political sense in hampering the Frente, are well known by all those in exile. Three months after the division of the MRR, Dr. Aureliano SANCHEZ ARANGO withdrew from the Frente Democratico Revolucionario. After this, the door was closed to the group of Manolo RAY, important persons of political prestige who might have strengthened the standing of the organism were blackballed and lastly a month ago within the Frente itself there has been a new division represented on one side by a group calling themselves Grupo Generacional and on the other side by Dr. Antonio de VARONA and Dr. Justo CARRILLO. The public argument, harsh and bitter, has reduced even more, the prestige of the Frente as an organism spearheading the fight against Communism. In the meantime, we had an interview with Mr. BENDER. The only thing that the MRR asked was armed aid and some economic backing destined only and exclusively for sending money to Cuba to fully support our clandestine apparatus to maintain here the necessary personnel for communications and arms shipments. Mr. Bender's reply was clear - his economic aid was exclusively for the Frente ("I can disband the Frente in 10 minutes - all I need is to withdraw my checkbook" were his words.) For the others, encouragement, moral support, friendship and some arms were available only if his military advisors approved the destination and reception of said arms. In his words, the MRR, the Ray Movement and those others outside the Frente would have to operate on their own and without help. Unfortunately, we were unable to convince Mr. BENDER nor were we able to have a valid explanation from him as to why a group, whose only fault was trying with all its might to fight the communist tyranny of Fidel CASTRO, was being abandoned and weakened. The separation of Commander Nino DIAZ [HIGINIO "Nino"DIAZ ANE] of the MRR was also encouraged and fomented by Mr. Bender's assistants, especially Mr. BARKER, who according to Commandante DIAZ, made him promises and offers to reach certain positions or commands which would permit him to take the war to Cuba as was his wish.

The Military Apparatus: In the military aspect, one of the most fundamentals in the fight against Fidel CASTRO, not only identical but even greater errors have been committed. On the one hand, Mr. BENDER has constantly affirmed that the military instrument did not depend on the Frente, that the Frente did not mean, nor was it necessarily, the future provisional government, and on the other that all the declarations made by the components of the Frente, all its political projections contradicted these affirmations and permitted the support of the thesis that those who were going to fight and train in the camp would do so in order to establish a provisional government integrated by the directors of the Frente, which prospect was certainly not very encouraging to many Cubans. To this is added the news that in some camps the doors have been opened to certain figures of the past regime who distinguished themselves by their criminal "exploits" against those who fought BATISTA. Naturally, this has also lessened the enthusiasm for fighting by many compatriots. The general staff of this army, whose names would throw some light upon the intentions of the military apparatus to be formed, remain a mystery. By such action, the only thing that has been accomplished is that within and outside of Cuba, all kinds of rumors are being circulated about whom these military figures are who will be charged to carry out the invasion plan, and generally these rumors, encouraged by Fidel CASTRO propaganda, have depicted an armed body charged more in punishing and avenging the Fidelistas and the patriots than in carrying democracy and justice to Cuba. The maneuvers, the conspiracies and the intrigue within the Frente necessarily were reflected in the camps. We know for a fact that some four weeks ago, several boys who escaped from the camps in order to bring to the Frente direct information about the arbitrariness and the attempts at control which had developed in their own camp. I do not think it necessary to go further into this matter in order to demonstrate the nefarious effect which such news has produced in all sections. That which appears even more serious is that said boys who brought this information said they had proof that some of the leaders of the Frente itself had much to do with the conspiracies in the camp.

Conclusion: This is the ominous picture of the Cuban groups in exile. The lack of patriotism, the personal ambitions and the nefarious influence of Mr. BENDER, have given Fidel CASTRO the time necessary to increase his strength and propaganda. Far from creating a united front, far from uniting coherently the various groups, big or small, that have something to bring to the fight, was the policy followed was that of choosing a small handful and then trying to impose them at all costs. Not even the publication and formulation of a program of objectives has been made, one that could put a stop to CASTRO's claim that those who were against him are only interested in bringing back the past. This report has been compiled with the intention of bringing to the attention of whomever might be interested, the urgency and desperate necessity to bring forth a policy of high ideals destined to fight CASTRO on all fronts and to show new ways for Latin America, confused and weakened by the formidable propaganda of the Communists and for the absence of an ideology, firm and clean, that could attack Communism not only in the defensive but in a vigorous offensive of material and spiritual values.

(4) Fabian Escalante, The Secret War: CIA Covert Operations Against Cuba, 1959-62 (1995)

One of Howard Hunt's first jobs when he arrived in Miami was to find an efficient assistant. His mission was to convince "prominent" Cubans there to form a front to back-up the operational plans of the CIA in the months ahead. He selected Bernard Baker, the CIA agent who, months earlier, had helped Manuel Artime flee from Cuba. He also talked with Batista supporters, organized into the Anticommunist Crusade. They were a powerful force that could not be ignored. Besides, Colonel King had instructed Hunt to give preferential attention to this group, which was favorably disposed to the United States, and with whom they could do business once their cause triumphed.

Hunt had risen as far as he could in the CIA and knew that he would never be made division chief; therefore this mission suited him perfectly. He would do his job for the Agency while preparing himself for the new life he envisioned as a businessman after the fall of "the Castro regime."

Meanwhile, other plans were underway in Langley. Tracy Barnes and Frank Bender knew that Batista and his supporters had lost all prestige in Cuba and Latin America in general. The Agency was also looking for its own candidates. Two men were particularly favored because they represented two different generations of Cuban politicians: one was Tony Varona, and the other Manuel Artime Buesa. Another important candidate was the deserter Pedro Luis Diaz Lanz.

Personal interests interfered with the work of the CIA operatives. Finally a deal was struck: the political front would be represented by all of the tendencies in exile, including the Batista supporters. Howard Hunt heaved a sigh of relief; however, he still continued to question the decision by Barnes and Bender not to give that group the preferential treatment that Colonel King, the division chief, had ordered.

(5) Evan Thomas, The Very Best Men: The Early Days of the CIA (1995)

The two men chosen by Barnes to act as political officers, charged with setting up the Cuban government-in-exile, were unpromising. Gerry Droller, a German who chain-smoked cheap cigars in closed rooms and dined on liverwurst sandwiches, chose to be a steel tycoon as his cover in Miami; he treated the Cubans like peons and bragged, "I carry the counterrevolution in my checkbook." A former Swiss desk officer, he could not speak a word of Spanish. His sidekick was E. Howard Hunt. After the Guatemala operation Hunt had served as station chief in Uruguay. Told that he was being sent back to Washington, Hunt had enlisted the president of Uruguay to lobby the president of the United States to let him stay on; Eisenhower was embarrassed and Hunt was yanked back from Montevideo. As ever, Hunt had a fertile, if not always practical imagination. One of his schemes, never implemented, was to send a white-painted "flight of truth" on a tour of Latin America bringing a "Billy Graham-type operation the message of Castro's betrayal of the Cuban Revolution."

(6) David Wise and Thomas B. Ross, The Invisible Government (1964)

Bender said, "we've got lots to talk about. I am the man in charge of the Cuban case." Bender repeated the explanation that Artime had heard so often: the great company of wealthy people he represented had directed a large part of its money and effort toward the solution of the Cuban problem, and the defeat of communism everywhere. They had nothing to do with the American government, Bender told him, but they did have influence. Then he asked for Artime's thoughts on the future of Cuba.

"I told him that Cuba could not return to the old corrupt government," Artime said, "that a return to a military dictatorship would lead once more down the road to communism. I told him I believed we needed a genuinely democratic government. We needed social justice. We had to fight unemployment and raise the standard of living of the workers; we had to establish cooperatives to protect the small farmer and the small land owner; and we had to enact social laws to protect old people; we needed a progressive income tax, as in the United States. I told him that if we didn't do these things, we would go back to a corrupt democracy and then again we would have a military dictator who would destroy democracy. And, in the end, a reaction that would lead again to communism. I also told him that I thought the propaganda being used against Castro was wrong. When I went to South America, the people were being warned against Castro because he had taken the land of the rich people. The poor Indians said 'good' and applauded."

Bender apparently was impressed. He listened quietly as Artime discussed his ideas for a guerrilla uprising in Oriente Province, and then Bender asked, "Why not an uprising all over the island?" Artime said he didn't have enough men or weapons for that.

"Well, Artime, what if I told you that we have men who will help you to prepare for guerrilla warfare and others who will prepare men to fight in a conventional war with army training?"

"And you will give us the weapons?"

"All the weapons you need," Bender replied. "And also we will train radio operators so you can be in contact directly with Cuba."

Bender wanted to know if Artime could get men out of Cuba to be trained for such an operation. Artime replied that he could.

"Fine," Bender said, as he got up and handed Artime a piece of paper. "Call this number whenever you need me. Just say 'To Frank Bender from Manolo' and I will come to the phone." He instructed Artime to go to Miami where more friends would be in touch with him, and said he had reserved a plane ticket for him; Artime could pick it up at the hotel. "When you leave," the American said, "don't bother about paying the hotel bill. Just throw the key on the desk in the lobby."

As he left the room, Bender shook hands and said, "Remember, Manolo, I am not a member of the United States government. I have nothing to do with the United States government. I am only working for a powerful company that wants to fight communism."

(7) Hayes Johnson and Manuel Artime, The Bay of Pigs (1964)

Then it was Frank Bender's turn to speak. They were to hold the beach for seventy-two hours, he said. And what were they supposed to do after that? "We will be there with you for the next step," Frank said. "But you will be so strong, you will be getting so many people to your side, that you won't want to wait for us. You will go straight ahead. You will put your hands out, turn left, and go straight into Havana."

Frank made a sweeping gesture with his arm that no man present that day will ever forget. There was a great shout from the Cubans. Some had tears in their eyes.

When it came to support, Frank was equally emphatic: there was no question they would have air superiority. Nothing was said about United States air support, or about jets. It was said that the enemy would not be able to get to the Brigade; that it would be destroyed from the air; that no trucks or troops would be able to get through the roads because all the roads would be bombed; that "every five minutes there will be a plane over all the major roads of Cuba." The Brigade cargo ships were loaded with thirty to forty thousand gallons of gasoline so its air force could begin immediate missions once the field at Giron was seized. The air missions were already planned for that moment: the operations order called for them to destroy the main rail¬road and highway bridges in "the zones of Havana, Matanzas, Jovellanos, Colon, Santa Clara and Cienfuegos in order to iso¬late said areas from enemy operations."

Operation Pluto also included plans for a diversionary landing in Oriente Province by a commando group of 168 men, led by Nino Diaz, and a simulated attack, or "feint," in the vicinity of Pinar del Rio. The "feint" would be accomplished with special sound equipment that would make it sound as if a great battle were being waged.

When Frank had finished, there was a brief moment of silence and then a stir as the Cubans realized it was over. The plan sounded so good, the Cubans were so confident, that no one asked any questions. As Pepe said, "We didn't want to ask these men we knew any embarrassing questions."

Frank had said earlier, in response to a question, that if anything went wrong the Cubans should communicate with the rear base and he would give them instructions. Nothing was said about an alternative plan and as this is written, only one of the four leading Cubans knows that such a plan existed; he learned of it two years after the invasion. Later, in a secret toplevel administration investigation that followed in the wake of the invasion, it was learned that the CIA decided, on its own, not to give the Brigade the alternative plan. The explanation was given that it might weaken the Brigade's resolve to keep fighting, that they might choose the alternative plan when the going became rough, even though the invasion still had a chance of success. The most charitable explanation that can be placed on this reckless action is that the CIA assumed such terrible responsibility with the best of intentions: it was convinced the Cubans would win and therefore in the classic sense the end would justify the means.

It was five o'clock in the afternoon on Friday, April 14 when the officers left the briefing area for the pier. At the last moment Frank took Pepe aside. He told him that if he were ordered to halt the invasion while the ships were at sea he would send Pepe a radio message saying: COME BACK, DON 'T GO AHEAD.

That meant the opposite: it was really clear; they were to go ahead.

"But if I send you a message in code that says the bird-the Guatemalan bird, the quetzal - 'The quetzal is on the branches of the tree'- that means Fidel is waiting for you so you will have to come back."

One of Frank's assistants named Phillips handed Pepe a big briefcase, locked and without a key, and told him to sign a receipt for it. Inside, he said, was $35,000-$10,000 in American money and $25,000 in Cuban. It was for use as the need arose. Pepe rejoined his staff and they prepared to board the ships.

(8) John Simkin, Gerry Droller, International Education Forum (12th February, 2005)

Jake Esterline revealed in an interview with Jack Pfeiffer on 10th November, 1975, that Droller upset William Pawley and E. Howard Hunt during the planning for the Bay of Pigs operation. This mainly concerned political issues. Pawley thought it was important to get a right-wing government established in Cuba after the invasion. Droller, on the other hand, wanted people like Manuel Ray to be involved in the new administration (as did JFK). Hunt agreed with Pawley but was Droller’s subordinate and could do nothing about it.

It could be argued that Droller reflected the CIA thinking that encouraged them to initially support Fidel Castro in Cuba. Wisner, Barnes and Bissell held similar views. They believed it was in American interests to establish liberal, reforming governments in Latin America, rather than military dictatorships that were unpopular with the people. They took the view that supporting tyrannical and corrupt dictators was not in the long-term best interests of America.

However, it is possible that there is another explanation for Droller’s behaviour. Is it possible he was a long-time Soviet mole. I say this because of his background. If he fled from Nazi Germany in the 1930s and ended up fighting up with the Marquis in France, he almost certainly held left-wing views. It is possible that his views changed after the war. Obviously, he must have given that impression to the CIA otherwise they would not have recruited him.

Luis Aguilar Leon’s report suggests the possibility that Droller was creating disunity in the anti-Castro exile community on purpose. If Droller was a Soviet mole he would have been providing the Soviets (and presumably Castro) with some very important information.

Droller appears to disappear after the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Was he sacked for incompetence? Did he flee to the Soviet Union? Or was he dealt with in some other way?