Saturday, 28 December 2019 22:35

Destitute Cuban Studies Institute on the JFK Assassination

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Arnaldo Fernandez answers Pedro Roig's recent article from the Cuban Studies Institute, in order to set the record straight regarding Castro's involvement in the JFK assassination.

The Executive Director of the so-called Cuban Studies Institute (CSI), Pedro Roig, presents himself as an attorney and historian in posting “Castro’s Complicity in Kennedy’s Assassination.” The piece leaves much to be desired of Roig’s expertise in both legal and historic studies. It exposes the CSI as a sanctuary of shameless and mindless anti-Castro propaganda. Let’s review Roig’s endeavor to persuade without regard for truth.

Oswald Contact with Cuban Security Agents

  • “It is now evident that Oswald made contact with Cuban intelligence officers while stationed at El Toro Marine Air Base in Santa Ana, California.”

No, it’s not. The FBI interviewed 26 U.S. Marines acquainted with Oswald at El Toro. None of them connected Oswald to the budding Castro’s foreign intelligence. Roig cherry-picked Nelson Delgado and disguises his presumptions as quantum of proof.

  • “Under oath, Delgado stated that ‘Oswald told him he was receiving mail from Cubans and had developed contact with Cuban government officials in Los Angeles. Delgado recalled that Oswald met with an unknown visitor … and they spent about one and a half, two hours talking.’”

Let’s summarize what Wesley J. Liebeler, assistant counsel of the Warren Commission, got from Delgado under oath, upon which Roig dares to even suggest that a Cuban handler came to a U.S. military base at night to talk with his agent Oswald.

Liebeler: You never asked Oswald who this fellow was that he talked to?

Delgado: No, no.

Q: Did you connect this visit that Oswald had at that time with the Cuban Consulate?

A: Personally, I did, because I thought it funny for him to be receiving a caller at such a late date time … After he started to get in contact with these Cuban people, he started getting little pamphlets and newspapers.

Q: Did you have any reason to believe that these things came to Oswald from the Cuban Consulate?

A: Well, I took it for granted that they did after I seen the envelope…

Q: What was on this envelope that made you think that?

A: Something like a Mexican eagle, with a big, impressive seal, you know. They had different colors on it, red and white … But I can't recall the seal. I just knew it was in Latin, United, something like that.

Q: You don't know for sure whether it was from the Cuban Consulate?

A: No. But he had told me prior, just before I found that envelope in his wall locker, that he was receiving mail from them.

Q: Did he tell you what his correspondence with the Cuban Consulate was about?

A: No, he didn’t.

As earwitness, Delgado didn’t know who visited Oswald one night at El Toro; as eyewitness, he described an impressive seal that could be anything but Cuban stuff. Roig has simply recycled the failed 1975 CIA trick of giving Delgado evidential weight to dispel the growing cloud of suspicion over the CIA itself and to point the finger at Castro. Thus, Roig has only proven that the CSI comes to the JFK research community with the spurious arguments of a previous generation.

In Oswald and the CIA (Carroll & Graf, 1995, 627 pages / Skyhorse, 2008, 696 pages), retired Major John M. Newman, who spent 20 years in U.S. Army Intelligence and became executive assistant of the National Security Agency (NSA), killed the two Delgado birds flown by the CIA with one stone. The ex-Marine Gerry Patrick Hemming told his 1960 CIA debriefers that he had met Oswald at the Cuban Consulate in Los Angeles and then confronted him about it outside the gate at El Toro the night before flying to Washington. In an interview by Dick Russell, Hemming destroyed the wild presumption of a 1959 link between Oswald and the budding Castro’s intelligence services:

I ran into Oswald in Los Angeles in 1959, when he showed up at the Cuban Consulate. The coordinator of the 26th of July Movement [Castro’s political group] called me aside and said a Marine officer had showed up, intimating that he was prepared to desert and go to Cuba to become a revolutionary. I met with the Marine … I thought he was a “penetrator” [and] I told the 26th of July leadership to get rid of him. (Argosy, Vol. 383, No. 3, April 1976)

In contrast to Oswald, Hemming did manage to join Castro’s army; in line with Oswald, he also exemplifies the adventurous spirit among many Americans in the early days of the triumphant Cuban revolution. Oswald was released by the U.S. Marine Corps at El Toro on September 11, 1959. On September 3-4, 1959, U.S. Ambassador Phillip Bonsal still expressed “the general sympathy with objectives of Cuban revolution and similarity with many of our own aims and aspirations.” (Foreign Relations of The U.S., 1958–1960, Volume VI, Cuba, Document 359)

Roig hides this Zeitgeist to portray Oswald as a fully dedicated soldier for Castro: “[Delgado] testified that Oswald kept on asking him ‘how he could help Castro’”. Roig stops here, but the beat goes on with Delgado explaining: “We were on friendly terms with Cuba, you know, so this wasn't no subversive or malintent”. Delgado clearly revealed the adventurous spirit:

[W]e had a head start, you see. We were getting honorable discharges, while Morgan [Delgado meant Major William Morgan, who also had been infatuated with the Cuban revolution and ended up executed by firing squad under charge of rebellion against Castro] got a dishonorable discharge from the Army and he went to Castro and fought with Castro. So, we could go over there and become officers and lead an expedition to some of these other islands and free them too … [W]e would do away with Trujillo [The dictator of Dominican Republic, the Caribbean nation that shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti].

However, Roig keeps on building a body of evidence about a Castroite Oswald, in a way that resembles the fate of the Cuban character “Chacumbele,” who killed himself. After acknowledging that “defectors like Oswald [were] under close surveillance” by the KGB, Roig broaches a “suspicious coincidence.” In Minsk (Belarus), Oswald was directed to enroll in a Foreign Language School “adjacent to the KGB Academy, attended by Cuban security personnel.”

The coincidence is not suspicious, but absolutely irrelevant. There is not a shred of evidence in reference to Cuban security personnel and Oswald in his KGB file, which includes daily reports of intensive surveillance, even through a peephole into his bedroom. In addressing this lack of evidence, Roig has concocted an undrinkable cocktail: Marina Oswald “testified that Oswald bragged that he had gotten close to some of the Cubans [and] remembered the Cubans with pleasant memories.”

Marina clearly stated that Oswald knew “a Cuban family” and she had heard about 300 Cubans in Minsk, “but I never knew even a single one.” In fact, Oswald knew a man named Alfred (last name unknown) from Cuba and a picture of them together is provided by [Warren] Commission Exhibit 2612. Newman demonstrated Alfred does not provide scope for suspicions. He was a student at the University of Minsk and his parents visited him. Oswald knew him through Anita Zieger, who was courted by Alfred. She and her family—of Argentinian origin—were friends of the Oswalds in Minsk.

Oswald’s Alleged Visits to the Cuban Consulate in Mexico City

Roig continues his deceptive handling of the facts by masking Oswald as “a militant advocate of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee.” He also labels the FPCC “as a Communist front that supported the Castro’s Marxist-Leninist revolution.” Ironically, this remark closes his new avenue of deception for good.

In the Spring 1963, Oswald formed a one-man New Orleans chapter of FPCC. Although its leadership warned him about “unnecessary incidents,” Oswald walked into a lair of the anti-Castro Student Revolutionary Directorate (DRE) to offer help. On August 9, he was handing out pro-Castro leaflets in downtown New Orleans. A brawl with DRE militants eventually ensued, but it was staged. Oswald had described the incident in a letter to FPCC postmarked five days before. Less than two weeks thereafter, Oswald and the local DRE head, Carlos Bringuier, met again on a debate at WDSU radio.

Bringuier exposed Oswald as a re-defector from the Soviet Union. Oswald turned the tables by boasting about his stay there as “excellent qualification to repudiate charges that the FPCC is Communist controlled.” He stressed: “It is inconsistent with my ideals to support Communism … We do not feel that we are supporting international Communism in supporting Fidel.”

Within a week, Oswald wrote to the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), in order to leave a paper trail of the very linkages he had denied on the air: “I am the secretary of the local brach (sic) of the FPCC, a position which, frankly, I have used to foster communist ideals.” A prime soldier for Fidel Castro does not stab him in the back.

Roig circumvents the most burning question about Oswald in Mexico City by quoting from the unpublished autobiography of Winston Scott [CIA Chief of Station]: “Every piece of information concerning Oswald was reported immediately … These reports were made on all his contacts, with both the Cuban Consulate and the Soviets … Persons watching these embassies photographed Oswald as he entered and left; and clocked the time he spent on each visit.”

The core factual issue is that the CIA has never produced either a photo of Oswald nor a tape with his voice on it from Mexico City. Win Scott himself overlooked Oswald in his September 1963 report on the CIA telephone tapping program LIENVOY, although an American in phone contact with both Cuban and Soviet embassies was ipso facto of operational interest. In his attempt to escape from the facts, Roig falls into a preposterous dual story:

In March 1968, President Lyndon Johnson … requested from his close associate (sic) Marty Underwood to meet with Scott in Mexico City. The timing was excellent … In the meeting with Underwood, Scott stated that early in the morning of November 22, 1963, a small Cuban airplane landed at the Mexico City Airport. The passenger transferred to another plane, that immediately took off for Dallas, Texas. Later that evening, the same plane returned from Dallas and the individual transferred to the Cuban aircraft the flew back to Havana. After many months of investigation, the CIA was confident that the individual was Fabian Escalante.

Just the timing reveals Roig’s ignorance. Underwood’s only trip to Mexico City occurred in 1966. During his brief meeting with Scott, according to Underwood’s own notes, there was not the slightest reference to November 22, 1963. As a White House advance man, Underwood sought help from Scott for Johnson’s upcoming visit to Mexico. (ARRB Final Report, p. 136) And Escalante—as counterintelligence officer in the Section Q of Castro’s G-2—was so busy in 1963 watching anti-Castro fighters inside Cuba or in exile that he couldn’t have timed a wet operation, id est, involving spilling blood.

It is incredible that Roig would fall for the deceased Underwood. Because, as noted above, Underwood was exposed for telling fairy tales back in 1998 when the Final Report of the Assassination Records Review Board was published. Not only was his canard about Scott then revealed, but he had also been telling tall tales to Gus Russo and Sy Hersh for the deceitful Judith Exner. And those two willingly gobbled them up. (Ibid)

State Department: “Do Not Implicate Cuba”

From the bamboozler Underwood, Roig jumps to Thomas Mann, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, who “has the answer” about what happened to the CIA files on Oswald in Mexico City. Mann “was personally ordered by the State Department, a few days after Oswald murdered President Kennedy, to shut down any investigation that would implicate Cuba’s involvement.” Roig added that a top CIA official, Tom Karamessinger (sic), memoed Scott: “Arrest of Sylvia Duran is extremely serious matter which could prejudice (us) … Request you ensure that her arrest is kept absolutely secret, that no information from her is published or leaked.”

Roig is muddying the waters as if the report Oswald, the CIA, and Mexico City (1978), written by HSCA staffers Dan Hardway and Edwin Lopez, hasn’t gone through rounds of declassification since 1993. It became clear that the CIA knew Oswald had been impersonated by phone on September 28 and October 1. Duran was also impersonated on September 28.

That Saturday, a caller to the Soviet Consulate identified herself as Duran and announced that “an American that was just at the Soviet Embassy … is going to talk with you.” The CIA transcriber, Boris Tarasoff, commented that the American “speaks terrible, hardly recognizable Russian.” On October 1, a caller to the Soviet Consulate identified himself as Lee Oswald. Tarasoff noted he was “the same person who had called a day or so ago and spoken in broken Russian.” Duran was arrested and harshly interrogated by the Mexican Police on November 23 and November 28. The info taken from her included that she neither met Oswald nor made any call to the Soviet Consulate on September 28.

Duran emphasized “she had no fear [of] extradition to the United States to face Oswald.” On the contrary, the CIA was afraid [that] “any Americans [might] confront Silvia DURAN or […] be in contact with her” [DIR 85318, 11-27-63, in [Duran’s] Information - NARA Record Number: 104-10102-10145, p. 14]. That’s why neither the eyewitness Duran nor the earwitness Tarasoff were ever questioned about the call by the Warren Commission. The CIA itself, not the State Department, shut down any further investigation on a Cuban connection after its Mexico City station not only produced both a tape and a photo that weren’t Oswald’s, but also spread stories—all of them debunked—of Communist conspiracies:

  • Mexican writer Elena Garro de Paz transformed Duran from the Mexican employee, who handled Oswald’s visa request at the Cuban Consulate, into the intelligence officer of Castro, who met Oswald again at a twist party in order to put him up to killing Kennedy.
  • Nicaraguan secret agent Gilberto Alvarado watched Oswald taking $6500 in the Cuban Embassy to kill Kennedy, while Mexican credit examiner Pedro Gutierrez saw Oswald taking money outside the Cuban Embassy.
  • Cuban Embassy employee Luisa Calderon expressed foreknowledge of JFK’s assassination…

Fidel Castro vs. John F. Kennedy

Roig comes to his overarching issue with an “unavoidable” clash between Castro and JFK. As veteran of the Brigade 2506, he is as misguided in his analysis now as he was as a member of the force that failed twice in making a diversionary landing near Guantanamo in mid-April 1961. Roig rarefies JFK’s oath—in the December 29, 1962, ceremony at the Orange Bowl stadium (Miami) with the participants in the Bay of Pigs invasion just released from Castro’s prison—that the flag of the Assault Brigade 2506 was to “fly again in a free Havana.”

For Roig, it was the spark that ignited Castro to engage in “a personal fight to the end” against Kennedy but that’s an utter cognitive distortion of history. On Christmas Eve 1962, the American lawyer Jim Donovan boarded the last flight with the Bay of Pigs prisoners airlifted to Miami as result of his negotiation with Castro. Just before departure, Castro’s aide Dr. Rene Vallejo broached the subject of re-establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Let’s suppose Castro was, indeed, trying to lure Kennedy. Even so, killing the sitting U.S. President offered nothing else to gain than having Johnson in the White House with no hope of more favorable U.S. policies toward Cuba. The Soviet bloc’s diplomats in Havana were aware of it. On March 31, 1963, Hungarian Ambassador János Beck set out in a secret report to Budapest that Castro was convinced “Kennedy is the best” option among the possible candidates for the U.S. presidency in 1964 (“Talks between Cuba and the USA, March 31, 1963,” in Selected Hungarian Documents on Cuba, 1960-1963,” Cold War History Research Center [Budapest]).

The anti-Castro fighter Roig is not aware yet of who his greatest enemy was. Castro knew that killing JFK wouldn´t solve anything and entailed risking everything. His personal fight was system-centered. Accordingly, he proceeded to infiltrate both the CIA and the Cuban exile community. Thus, Castro managed to win in the dirty USA-Cuba war.

Rolando Cubela Secade (sic): The Double Agent Chosen to Kill Fidel Castro

Nonetheless, Roig obsessively resorted to the neither logically nor circumstantially justified hypothesis brought by Senator Robert Morgan (D / N.C.) of the Church Committee: “JFK was assassinated by Fidel Castro or someone under his influence in retaliation for our efforts to assassinate him [and] this fellow [Cubela] was nothing but a double agent.”

This fellow [AMLASH-1 for the CIA] was involved in two assassination plots against Castro. His key co-conspirators were the CIA officer Desmond FitzGerald [Chief of the anti-Castro Task Force known as Special Affair Staff (SAS)] and the CIA golden boy Manuel Artime [Chief of the anti-Castro paramilitary group Revolutionary Recovery Movement (MRR)]. Cubela does not fit at all into the facts as double agent loyal to Castro.

  • For unveiling the Artime-Cubela plot, Castro burned his intelligence officer Juan Felaifel, who had infiltrated the CIA in 1963. Another officer, Erasmo Terrero, was gathering evidence against Cubela in Paris. On March 11, 1966 Cubela was sentenced to 25 years.
  • For unveiling the FitzGerald-Cubela plot, Castro had to wait for a July 16, 1976, report by his State Security Department (DSE) stating that the “counterrevolutionary inmate” Cubela was the CIA agent AMLASH-1 who surfaced at the Church Committee. Before that, Castro lacked intel on this 1963 CIA plot.

At the XI World Festival of Youth and Students in Havana, Castro set up an agitprop court to prosecute the crimes committed by Yankee imperialism. On August 2, 1978, Cubela confessed to both CIA assassination plots against Castro and spelled an inconvenient truth for Roig: “It is absurd to think that a double agent would have spent 12 years in jail.” Cubela also testified before an HSCA panel in Havana. Castro rewarded him by granting the parole legally prescribed after serving half the sentence.

The Cuban Exile Clandestine Operations

As a fugitive from history, Roig runs so fast that he misses the two-track policy of the Kennedy administration towards Cuba after the debacle of Operation Mongoose. Roig just follows the track of (sometimes) autonomous operations by select Cuban exile groups, backed, in any event, by the CIA, and forgets the parallel track of accommodation with Castro. In fact, due to the ARRB, we now know just how feeble this activity was. For the incoming president Lyndon Johnson, CIA officer Desmond Fitzgerald wrote a report on what these operations consisted of at the time. He wrote that in the entire second half of 1963, there had been a total of five raids against Cuba. There were only fifty men involved in three cadres. In this letter, Fitzgerald admitted it was completely unrealistic to think that such a meager force would result in any real change in Cuba. He stated that they had now become counter productive, since they could not be taken seriously. And he advised they be discontinued. (Letter from Fitzgerald to McGeorge Bundy, 3/6/64)

Ignoring this factual aspect, Roig can please himself with a pharisaic righteousness: Kennedy remained “true to his commitment to get rid of Fidel Castro,” thus ignoring Kennedy’s crackdown on other anti-Castro belligerent exiles groups. How the administration was going to overthrow Castro with fifty men is the author’s secret. Perhaps Roig was modeling his essay on the Peter Sellers comedy The Mouse that Roared?

“Listen to Communications from Texas”

After such an intermezzo, Roig next stages an act against intellectual integrity. The protagonist is the late Cuban defector Florentino Aspillaga, who back in 1963 was working for Castro at a listening post in Jaimanitas [a small beach town near Castro’s main residence, dubbed as Point Zero, seven miles west of Havana]. The script reads thus:

On Friday morning, November 22, 1963, Aspillaga received precise orders: “The leadership wants you to stop all your CIA work, (repeat), All your CIA work” and listen to communications from Texas. Around 1:30 (Havana Time), “I began hearing broadcast on amateur radio bands about the shooting of President Kennedy in Dallas.”

Roig drops the question: “Did Fidel Castro know Kennedy would be killed?” instead of asking: “Who would believe such a tale?” Castro would have never resorted to electronic intelligence to learn something that would have been instantly available through mass media. In 1963, info about anything occurring in Dallas during the JFK visit meant broadcast reports interrupting soap operas on the three national TV networks, and radio stations giving breaking news.

Aspillaga was in fact a self-defeating storyteller. Radio amateurs must have just been chatting about what the commercial media had already reported. In late 1963, a unique witness gave conclusive evidence contradicting Aspillaga’s claim. French journalist Jean Daniel wrote a first-hand account (“When Castro Heard the News,” The New Republic, December 7, 1963). As Kennedy’s emissary, he was talking with Castro in Varadero Beach the very day of the assassination. After a phone call by Cuban President Osvaldo Dorticós, Castro got all the news “from the NBC network in Miami.” Daniel also recounted Castro was utterly shocked and turned to him saying—about the plans for rapprochement—that everything was going to change.

Aspillaga told Dr. Brian Latell in 2007 that the CIA had learned the Jaimanitas’ story during his debriefing in 1987. However, it is not to be found among the documents—either declassified or withheld—from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) on the JFK assassination. The CIA would not have objected to furnishing a carefully redacted Aspillaga debriefing to the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB).

The Paris Meting (sic): Assurance of American support

In this intermezzo, Roig again addresses Operation AMLASH to reinforce the discredited notion of Cubela as fake conspirator. The Castroite General Directorate of Intelligence (DGI) did not control but rather watched Cubela with a certain inefficiency. Before the Church Committee, the CIA moved to transfigure him into a double agent, even a provocateur, to hide its own shortcoming in recruiting a heavy-drinking, loquacious, third-rate Castro official who couldn’t provide any valuable service.

The DGI manipulated Oswald’s Violent Outburst at the Cuban Consulate in Mexico City?

Roig stages this act with an outright lie:

Oswald requested at the Cuban Consulate in the City of Mexico a transit visa to Russia via Cuba and was denied. Oswald turned violent and began screaming “I am going to kill Kennedy.”

As FBI super-spy Jakob “Jack Childs” informed J. Edgar Hoover, Castro himself recounted:

I was told this by my people in the Embassy exactly how he (Oswald) stalked in and walked in and ran out. That in itself was a suspicious movement, because nobody comes to an Embassy for a visa (they go to a Consulate) [W]hen Oswald was refused his visa at the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City, he acted like a madman and started yelling and shouting on his way out, “I’m going to kill this bastard. I'm going to kill Kennedy” [Castro]was speaking on the basis of facts given to him by his embassy personnel, who dealt with Oswald, and apparently had made a full, detailed report to Castro after President Kennedy was assassinated.

The Consulate was in a separate building from the Embassy. The Cuban diplomatic compound in Mexico City was located at Francisco Marquez Street (Colonia Condesa) with two main entrances: one to the Embassy, on the corner of Tacubaya Alley, and the other to the Consulate, on the corner of Zamora Street. Both the outgoing (Eusebio Azcue) and incoming (Alfredo Mirabal) consuls testified before HSCA that they did not hear Oswald threatening Kennedy’s life. Neither did the Mexican employee Sylvia Duran, who was consistent about it in both her interrogation by Mexican Police and her interview by the HSCA, nor did two other witnesses who had come downstairs from the Commercial Office.

Roig’s opera seria continues as a vaudeville with a substandard duet: DGI defector Vladimir Rodriguez [dispatched by his own CIA debriefer, Harold Swenson, as lacking “any significant information” on Oswald] and Oscar Marino [an alleged former Cuban intelligence officer imported from the bestiary described by Gus Russo and Stephen Molton in Brothers in Arms (Bloomsbury USA, 2008)]. Roig closes the act by foisting two “outrageous lies [on Castro as] part of a premeditated deniability perfidy[:] that he knew nothing of Oswald’s existence before the Dallas assassination and that he was never informed of Oswald’s threatening remarks against Kennedy in the Cuban Consulate in Mexico City”. The latter is refuted by Childs’ report; the former is still wanting for any evidence.

Fidel Castro Got Kennedy First

Before the curtain falls, Roig concocts a Castroite Oswald with a Castro prone to react to the CIA plots against him in the spaghetti western manner summed up by Lyndon Johnson: “Kennedy was trying to get Castro, but Castro got to him first.” Such a fact-free approach thrives only on claques of people who cannot think logically or will not think logically, because they have a fanatical and counterproductive anti-Castro agenda.

Last modified on Tuesday, 31 December 2019 20:46
Arnaldo M. Fernandez

Arnaldo M. Fernandez is a former lecturer (1997-2003) of Philosophy and History of Law at the University of Havana. He earned a Masters Degree in Journalism and taught Interpretative Journalism (2005-2010) at the Koubek Center, U. Miami. He has published a book (in Spanish) about the death of Cuban patriot José Marti (Miami, Cuban New Press, 2005). Regarding JFK research, he focuses on the Cuban connection in order to debunk the "Castro did it" and "Castro knew it" theses.

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