Faria: Fidel Castro, Cuban Intelligence and the Assassination of JFK

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

A book published last year by Brian Latell, a professor, scholar, and retired CIA officer who had been active in foreign intelligence for 35 years, has not received the attention it deserves. The book, Castro's Secrets — The CIA and Cuba's Intelligence Machine (2012) relies extensively on information provided by half a dozen Cuban defectors and several retired CIA officers. However, the most intriguing and reliable revelations come to light from Florentino Aspillaga ("Tiny"), the most knowledgeable and valuable foreign intelligence officer to ever defect from Cuba's foreign intelligence service, the powerful Directorio General de Inteligencia (DGI). Why does the book require careful perusal and attention? Because it contains information on the role the DGI, which had been run by Fidel Castro himself (until 2006), played in the death of JFK.

Tiny Aspillaga defected that fateful summer in 1987 "the Cuban Year of the Spy," when six major Cuban defections took place. Aspillaga had served with distinction in the elite ranks of the DGI and had even received a personal commendation from Fidel Castro.

Prior Knowledge of JFK's Assassination

President Kennedy and his brother Robert, the Attorney General, had brought immense pressure to bear on the CIA in order to continue their obsessive but futile covert war against Fidel Castro, which resumed in the Spring of 1963, several months after the Cuban Missile Crisis, and did not end until November 22, 1963, the day of JFK's assassination. It was futile because Fidel via his DGI double agents had been aware all along of the clandestine CIA operations, including continuing plans for a coup and "regime change," as well as Castro’s assassination.JFK

But most intriguing, particularly with the approaching 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK, were the revelations of Tiny Aspillaga concerning Cuba's involvement in that tragic event. The super defector revealed that as a young radio operator at Castro's ultra-secret Jaimanitas listening post on the northern coast of Cuba near Havana, he was suddenly and without precedent ordered to redirect his listening antennas from his usual target, the CIA, and switch the dials to Texas! It was the morning of November 22, 1963, three hours before the JFK assassination that took place at 12:30 p.m. (Dallas time). Aspillaga informed Latell, as he had told his previous debriefers (and had written in his unpublished memoirs in 1990): "Castro knew. They knew Kennedy would be killed." Latell then goes on to rearrange the pieces of this giant jigsaw puzzle and comes up with a clear, and in my opinion, the most probable version to date of the connection between Fidel Castro and the Kennedy assassination. We should note Castro had always publically insisted that the Cuban government knew nothing about Lee Harvey Oswald until they heard about Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas on November 22, 1963. But this declaration has been proven to be a lie. Oswald had visited the Cuban embassy in Mexico City several times in September 1963, attempting to obtain a visa to enter Cuba. He allegedly dated the Mexican receptionist at the embassy, Silvia Duran, with whom he had become acquainted during his visits.

What had not been known was that Oswald had become belligerent and stormed out of the Cuban embassy making a threat to kill Kennedy. Fidel Castro admitted to Jack Childs, who he trusted as an old Bolshevik, friend of Khrushchev, and senior official in the American Communist Party (along with his brother Morris Childs), that “Oswald stormed into the embassy, demanded the visa, and when it was refused to him, headed out saying, ‘I’m going to kill Kennedy for this.’ ” What Fidel did not know was that Jack Childs and his brother Morris Childs were in fact FBI master spies, American double agents. This information was too sensitive to be discussed at the time of the Warren Commission in the mid-1960s and the House Assassination Committee in the late 1970s and was filed as Top Secret in order to protect the two brothers and their wives who were still in active service as FBI double agents.

Lee Harvey Oswald's comings and goings, to and fro, between the Cuban and Russian embassies (and the CIA secret tapes of conversations of the Russian embassy) — in late September and October of 1963, while seeking a visa to visit Cuba — is well documented in another enthralling and well-researched book, Our Man in Mexico — Winston Scott and the Hidden History of the CIA (2008) by Jefferson Morley.

Sylvia OdioAnother intriguing but little discussed, or even known documented fact, is that Oswald visited Cuban exiles, Sylvia and Annie Odio, at their home in Dallas on September 25, 1963, shortly before Oswald traveled to Mexico. Their father was a Cuban rebel incarcerated in a Cuban prison since 1962 for anti-Castro activities. According to Sylvia Odio (photo, left), Oswald was accompanied by two Cubans, who were evidently Castro’s agents.* They tried to pose as anti-Castro activists to get information from Odio to convey to the Cuban secret service. Oswald also wanted to prove and give credence to his pro-Castro activities in the U.S. before he visited the Cuban embassy seeking a visa to travel to the communist island. This information was obtained by the FBI but was not given to or used by the Warren Commission, which was in a hurry to conclude their report before the approaching November elections of 1964, at the instigation of the new president, LBJ. This is all well-documented in both Brian Latell's book, Castro's Secrets and Edward J. Epstein's book, The JFK Assassination Diary.

Returning to Oswald's visitations to the Cuban and Russian embassies in Mexico City, Latell has convinced me that Fidel knew of the imminent assassination because as Cuba's supreme spymaster, Fidel had been apprised of Lee Harvey Oswald's threat to kill Kennedy following Oswald’s visit to the Cuban embassy in Mexico City that September 1963. The experienced senior DGI agents posted at the Cuban embassy at that time plausibly used calculated human psychology to plant the seeds and "winding up" the distraught Oswald without necessarily having to formally recruit him for the assassination mission. Oswald did not need further encouragement. He had already been "wound up" by the barrage of vitriolic speeches Castro made denouncing, attacking, and warning Kennedy and the CIA; all through October and November, and up to the time of the assassination in Dallas, Castro had been hammering, warning JFK.

The warnings were not being heeded, and so Fidel Castro, through his DGI agents in the Cuban embassy, allowed and probably even encouraged Oswald to shoot Kennedy, before the CIA snipers would have a chance "to get" Castro. Fidel had planned well. He had the perfect alibi at his Varadero beach resort home, where on November 22, 1963 he was conveniently entertaining Kennedy's friend and envoy, Jean Daniel. Ominously at the same time, CIA Chief of Operations Des FitzGerald, acting as Robert Kennedy's personal (and family related) envoy, was meeting with Cuba’s would-be military coup leader and Castro assassin, Comandante Rolando Cubela, to add the final touches to their plot. Castro knew all about this too, just as he had known about previous arrangements made in the first week of September in Porto Alegre, Brazil, where Cubela's conversation with the CIA were probably monitored via secret listening posts.

At the same time in Havana, Fidel CastroJFK and Fidel Castro chose a gathering at the Brazilian embassy on Sunday, September 8, to announce his warning to Kennedy and the CIA via his chosen American journalist, Daniel Harker. Castro admonished the Americans: "We are prepared to fight them and answer in kind. U.S. leaders should think that if they are aiding terrorist plans to eliminate Cuban leaders, they themselves will not be safe... United States leaders would be in danger if they helped in any attempt to do away with leaders of Cuba."

Mafia Connections

The Attorney General's legal war against the mafia continued, even during the second stage of the covert war against Castro — i.e., Operation Mongoose (1961-1962) — when the mafia had been asked to help with the assassination efforts against Fidel. The mafia was still on the run, despite "the services" it had rendered in Illinois during the 1960 presidential election and was still providing via the informant Johnny Roselli of Chicago and the questionable information Sam Giancanaprovided by Santos Trafficante of Florida. Trafficante may have still been a friend of Fidel from their Havana days. In 1959, Fidel had allowed Trafficante to leave Havana for Miami with his casino money, and after providing further services in the South Florida-Miami community, Trafficante ended up in Tampa, where he remained the long time (and tight-lipped) crime boss until his death in 1987. There were also the mafia godfathers Sam Giancana of Chicago (photo, left) and Carlos Marcello of New Orleans, both of whom came to hate Robert Kennedy with a passion, and they had frequently not minced words about their hatred for both Kennedy brothers because of their ingratitude and treachery.

I am convinced that the mafia leaders came to believe in their legendary reaching power and Jack Rubythus suspected their own indirect involvement in the JFK assassination. Consequently, they used the mobster and nightclub owner, Jack Ruby (photo, right), to kill and silence Oswald, the supposed "patsy." Likewise, many of these mafiosos who had been involved in the ill-fated Operation Mongoose were later themselves fatally silenced, including Johnny Roselli, the friend of the legendary "American James Bond," CIA Chief Bill Harvey, and the flamboyant and outspoken Chicago boss, Sam Giancana. To send a clear message and warn others about enforcement of the mafia code of silence, Roselli and Giancana were both murdered in gruesome, gangland style. Marcello died in Louisiana of Alzheimer's disease in 1993. Trafficante never talked. There were no leaks.

I have also come to believe Oswald did the shooting alone, despite the objections to the controversial “magic bullet” theory and the highly disturbing Zapruder film, and my own long-time, previously held belief that there were other shooters. Oswald did it alone but apparently with the blessings (and encouragement) of the infamous DGI — and ultimately Fidel Castro.

* Watch a video interview with Sylvia Odio at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1am-EkfBcmM

Written by Dr. Miguel Faria

Miguel A. Faria Jr., M.D. is Associate Editor in Chief and World Affairs Editor of Surgical Neurology International. He is Clinical Professor of Surgery (Neurosurgery, ret.) and Adjunct Professor of Medical History (ret.), Mercer University School of Medicine. Dr. Faria is the author of Cuba in Revolution — Escape From a Lost Paradise (2002). This article is excerpted from and specific references may be found at a longer essay posted at the author’s website: www.haciendapub.com.

Different versions of this article have been published in GOPUSA and the Macon Telegraph. This specially edited version was published in GOPUSA.com on November 21, 2013. Note: The photographs used to illustrate this essay for Hacienda Publishing came from a variety of sources and do not appear necessarily in Latell's book or in other public versions. It is reprinted in the wake of Fidel Castro's death, November 25, 2016

Copyright ©2013 Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D.

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Comments on this post


It's incredible you've managed to piece together who really shot JFK -- and how timely considering the recent 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination. So interesting.

JFK's Assassination and Cuba's Involvement

Great article! In his new book, The JFK Assassination Diary (2013), Edward J. Epstein — who has done by far the most research and critical analysis of the JFK assassination in two previous books, including his totally engrossing Legend — The Secret World of Lee Harvey Oswald (1978) — also implicates Cuban involvement. Epstein confirms Oswald visited Sylvia Odio at her home in Dallas in September 1963, shortly before Oswald traveled to Mexico. He and Latell assert Odio's father was an anti-Castro rebel incarcerated in a Cuban prison; that Oswald was accompanied by two Cubans who were later strongly suspected of being Castro's agents; and that these men tried to pose as anti-Castro activists to get information from her or attempt to inflitrate anti-Castro groups in the U.S. This information was not given to the Warren Commission. In fact, an FBI agent told Epstein that the Commission was getting ready for the report and did not want that information in the report.Mohrenschildt

Epstein also implicates the Russians and the KGB citing compelling evidence for his view, and cites information from his friend and informant, CIA Chief James Angleton, who had been dismissed from the CIA.

Most fascinating, Epstein relates his dramatic and revealing interview of Lee Harvey Oswald's friend, the secretive George De Mohrenschildt (photo, right), who halfway through the interview takes a lunch break and commits suicide! I also recommend Latell's as well as Epstein's books, which largely support the information in this fascinating article.


Replies to GOPUSA version of this article
November 23, 2013

miniver: Interesting information, but it hardly addresses the mountain of evidence against Oswald having done the deed as posited, or even having fired a shot on that fateful day. Knowing of his threats made framing him all the easier.

Dido: In addition to Brian Latell’s book cited by the author of this article, there are a mountain of books that heavily implicate Oswald. For example, Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK by Gerald Posner (1993), the authoritative Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy by Vincent Bugliosi (2007), and the Epstein books already mentioned.

Despite the obvious shortcomings of the Warren Commission investigation, its report has been shown to be largely correct. Nevertheless, people will continue to believe whatever they want to believe. It gives them a sense of superiority that “they have not been fooled”; besides people like mysteries and conspiracies, and want to have their say and opinions, informed, misinformed or completely uninformed.

As far as shootings, Oswald did fire shots that day, including 4 shots that killed 39-year-old decorated Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit, 45 minutes after the JFK shooting. The last shot was a coup de grace to Tippit’s right temple.

Bobinms: I have always thought that Castro had Kennedy killed. Just look at US-Cuban relations. To this day they are awful and in the meantime relations with the 2 communist “biggies” Russia and China are quite warm. But Cuba….NO! Why is this? By comparison Cuba is a flea. The answer for this continued freeze in diplomatic relations is that Castro did the unforgivable….he had a head of state killed. Watch what happens when Castro dies.

Dido: Bobinms, intriguing and it makes sense! Moreover there is plenty of evidence implicating the Cubans, but not the Russians. The only credible source implicating the Soviets is the Rumanian defector Ion Pacepa but it is based on assumptions but no solid evidence as the direct involvement of the Cubans.

Dido: Cliff Kinkade, I admit that Pacepa’s analysis is troubling. He has been an accurate defector in most other cases. His analysis is usually excellent, but the info on JFK is indirect and circumstantial. I also believed for years the Soviets and the KGB had to be involved, as related in Epstein’s book Legend, but then, why has no solid evidence appear from that direction; how about the negative testimony of all Soviet defectors (loyal to the U.S. and with a price on their heads placed on them by the KBG); and most revealing the revelations of Mitrokhin. How do you explain the Mitrokhin archive info?

As to the Cubans, I agree with Edward Jay Epstein’s findings and the information of Dr. Miguel Faria’s article posted here, which explains the Cuban and mafia connections. Oswald and communism killed Kennedy!

Conspiracy II: Oswald's paraffin test

Additional comments:

miniver (GOPUSA Nov. 21, 2013): “Belief” is the trap here, of course, and has no real place in such an inquiry, except in scientific findings assuming they were done correctly. I had always read that paraffin tests showed he had NOT used a firearm. Eyewitness accounts describe a person or persons at the Tippit scene that does not match LHO’s description. Logistics and timeline studies leave scant/insufficient time for the necessary activities to have taken place. As most of us know, this barely scratches the surface… without getting into all of that, the preponderance of evidence seems overwhelmingly against the Lone Assassin theory.

Dido (12-12-13): I here respond with this article: "Firearm Factoids — Did the Paraffin Test Show Oswald Had Not Fired a Rifle?"

"During his questioning Lee Harvey Oswald was administered a paraffin test by W. E. Barnes of the Dallas Police Department. In this test warm paraffin, which is applied to the skin to open up its pores, collects contaminants. If the suspect had fired a gun, one potential contaminant would be the nitrates from gun powder residue. Once the paraffin hardens, either diphenylamine or diphenylbenzidine is introduced to the paraffin cast, which will turn it blue in the presence of nitrates. Thus, the presence of blue dots on the paraffin casts is evidence that the suspect had fired a gun.

"A paraffin test was applied to Oswald's hands and right cheek; his hands reacted positively, whereas his cheek did not. Since shooting a rifle should have exposed his right cheek to gunpowder, the negative reaction is often cited as evidence that he did not fire a rifle. One such example of a writer citing this test as proof Oswald did not shoot a rifle is Oglesby, from The JFK Assassination: The Facts and the Theories, p. 283: 'Nitrate tests performed on Oswald when he was arrested supported his claim that he had not fired a rifle in the previous 24 hours.'

"Mark Lane makes a similar assertion in Rush to Judgment, p. 149: 'A positive response on both hands and a negative response on the face is consistent with innocence. It is also consistent with Oswald's claim that he had not a rifle on November 22.'

"And that treasure trove of conspiracy lore, Jim Marrs' Crossfire, makes a similar claim:

" 'another important piece of evidence involved a paraffin test made on Oswald the day of the assassination. The results of this test presented evidence that Oswald may not have fired a rifle that day, yet these results were downplayed and even suppressed by the federal authorities...Oswald's hands both reacted positively to the paraffin test, indicating the presence of nitrates. But a cast of his right cheek showed no reaction. Any competent defense attorney would have pointed to this test as evidence that his client had not fired a rifle.' (pp. 442-443)

"The ballistic matches of bullet fragments and CE399 to C2766 showed that they all came from Oswald's rifle but say nothing about whether he actually shot it. And the paraffin test seemingly absolved him of that, right?

"Wrong, as it turns out. Before the assassination, the FBI had conducted experiments showing the unreliability of paraffin tests. FBI expert Cortlandt Cunningham testified to this in front of the Warren Commission (3H487):

"And 17 men were involved in this test. Each man fired five shots from a .38 caliber revolver. Both the firing hand and the hand that was not involved in the firing were treated with paraffin casts, and then those casts treated with diphenylamine. A total of eight men showed negative or essentially negative results on both hands. A total of three men showed positive results on the idle hand, but negative on the firing hand. Two men showed positive results on their firing hand and negative results on their idle hands. And four men showed positive on both hands, after having fired only with their right hands..."

Dr. Miguel Faria: You can google the rest of the article. Moreover, there is a famous backyard photograph of a belligerent, determined Oswald posing with the revolver in a holster and the Italian Mannlicher-Carcano rifle found at the Book Depository. He also holds copies of Marxist newspapers, the Militant and Daily Worker, the official newspaper of the American Communist Party. The photos were taken by Marina, who testified to that effect. As to the other assertions, even in the conspiratorially biased documentary, "The Men who killed Kennedy," they cite at least two witnesses who identified Oswald as the man who did the shooting of officer Tippit. Ditto for the timing and logistics. On the contrary, there was sufficient time, according to FBI studies, for Oswald to do all that he did with time left over. (I have cited four books in the above comments.) Conspiratorial people also conveniently forget that Oswald also shot at and nearly killed Major General Edwin Walker a few weeks before!

Conspiracy III: Parting shots

As I have written elsewhere stirring the ire of many readers, everyone has his/her own opinion or conspiracy theory about the JFK assassination, particularly whether or not Oswald acted alone or was manipulated by others in a terrible conspiracy. Some citizens believe Oswald was a patsy and that multiple gunmen were involved in such a conspiracy, and that the Warren Commission was a smoke screen. They are also convinced as to who is behind the assassination. Politics play a large role in formulating their opinions and pointing at the culprits. Some citizens have actually read books, books that support their view and nothing will change their perspectives. Others have formed opinions, informed or not; have taken firm stands from which they will not be swayed; and they will not be fooled!

"The Men Who Killed Kennedy"(1991)is a controversial documentary which fueled my own conspiracy theories, when I first watched it years ago. Originally produced and aired in the United Kingdom in 1988, this TV documentary was then taken, added footage, and shown in the U.S by the History Channel in 1991. Although entertaining, very long, and suspenseful enough, it has been criticized and found to be loaded with many inaccuracies, as discussed under its entry in Wikipedia.

A more balanced and shorter documentary was aired on November 20, 2013 by Newsmax-TV on the JFK assassination. It shows JFK through rose-colored glasses, but it is concise and most points of view are discussed. You see and hear every conspiracy theory proponent speak, including Oliver Stone, director of the fictional movie, "JFK" (1991), who blames the military industrial complex; researcher and author Roger Stone, who implicates LBJ; respected forensic pathologist,Dr. Cyril Wecht, who in this case, unfortunately, letting passion override the need for proof in the scientific method, circuitously blames the CIA. Unfortunately, neither Edward J. Epstein, Vincent Bugliosi, or Brian Latell, is interviewed for this documentary. But do we hear Dr. Gerald Posner, author of "Case Close: Lee Harvey Oswald and the assassination of JFK," who in the end categorically rebuts every conspiracy theory in the books, and affirms that Oswald, as a very unstable individual, who could not be trusted by or linked to any of the organizations posited to be involved in the JFK assassination, acted alone. This is also I have come to believe, except for the indirect involvement and possible encouragement of the Cuban DGI.

As to proof of Cuban involvement, see Cuban Espionage — The Saga of Florentino Aspillaga and the Assassination of JFK, (a longer version of the article above).