The assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 may have spawned more books and movies than any other single topic. Originally, Lee Harvey Oswald was named the lone assassin- then various groups and individuals blamed fidel castro, the Miami anti-castro Cubans, the Soviets, the Mafia, the CIA, Woody Harrelson's father, right-wing racists, a French bounty hunter, pro-Vietnam war Pentagon officials, New Orleans homosexuals with no hair, New Orleans homosexuals with lots of hair, and a large cabal of U.S. officials including doctors at Bethesda Naval Hospital, Congressmen, Senators, and J. Edgar Hoover. I've long thought a good book would be a look at the evolution of conspiracy theory in the late 20th Century using the assassination as a vehicle.
Anyway, now there's a new German film coming out that says fidel killed Kennedy. The online newspaper newkerala.com reports:
The film by journalist Wilfried Huismann says Kennedy's killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, travelled to Mexico City a few weeks before the assassination and met agents from Cuba's G-2 intelligence service.
"Oswald ... did not act on his own but rather was motivated, encouraged and supported by a foreign power: namely Cuba," said Huismann in an interview with the newspaper Die Welt.
Oswald's trip to the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City has long been accepted as fact. According to the Warren Commission Report, Oswald packed up his pregnant wife and child and sent them from New Orleans to Dallas. Oswald said he would join them in a few days. However, Oswald left New Orleans by bus and instead traveled to Mexico City. There, he visited the Russian Embassy and the Cuban Embassy. Oswald said he wanted to return to the Soviet Union by way of Cuba. According to the Warren Report, the Russians refused to give him a visa, so the Cubans also refused. Interestingly, there's another controvery involved. The CIA gave the Warren Commission a photograph of a man it said was Oswald leaving the embassy. It is clearly not Oswald, and the identity of the man has never been established.
The documentary claims to add new information - it has interviews with Rolando Cubela, who is described as a double agent. Cubela says he was sent by the U.S. to Cuba to kill castro, but he also claims to have been involved in the plot to kill Kennedy.
Cubela's story is not new. Here's a report published by Cubanet more than two years ago.
The Saga of Rolando Cubela
By Tim Gratz and Mark Howell. keysnews.com. Nov 24, 2003.
The Citizen's Thursday story on the Keys connection to the Kennedy assassination described the suspicious travels of one-time Key West resident Gilberto Lopez, who was in Texas the day of the assassination and only days later returned to Cuba via Mexico.
It is possible his mysterious travels were merely coincidental. But if Lopez's location in Texas the day of the assassination was sinister, his subsequent flight to Cuba implies that Castro motivated the assassination, in what can only be characterized as retaliatory self-defense.
From the early 1960s the CIA had, on numerous occasions, attempted to kill Castro, sometimes through schemes that in retrospect seem ludicrous. The CIA even engaged the Mafia to kill Castro on its behalf.
Any investigation of Castro's possible involvement in Kennedy's death must consider the story of Rolando Cubela.
Cubela was a high-ranking official in the Castro regime and longtime associate of Castro. In 1961 he approached the CIA about defecting to the United States, but the CIA wanted him to stay undercover in Cuba.
On Sept. 7, 1963, Cubela was attending a conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil. There he approached the CIA and stated he would stay in Cuba if he could do something very big for the cause. He offered to kill Castro for the United States. First, however, he wanted proof that his operation was endorsed at the highest level of American government. He demanded to meet with Attorney General Robert Kennedy.
The CIA knew Cubela was capable of murder. In 1956, Cubela entered a fancy Havana nightclub, walked up to the head of the Batista security forces and shot him in the head.
The very same day that Cubela approached the CIA in Brazil, Castro entered the Brazilian embassy in Havana and granted an unusual interview to an American reporter. Castro stated that the leaders of the U.S. government would not be safe if they continued their efforts to kill Cuban leaders. Castro's remarks were widely reported in the American press.
Cubela's demand to meet with Robert Kennedy was out of the question, of course. But the CIA decided to send Desmond FitzGerald, the number-three man in the CIA, to meet with Cubela and give him the assurances he required. FitzGerald would tell Cubela that he was the personal emissary of Robert Kennedy.
Richard Helms was the number-two man in the CIA at that time. Helms later testified that he told FitzGerald that this representation could be made without the express approval of Robert Kennedy.
There were, however, other high-ranking CIA officials who warned against the Cubela operation, fearing Cubela might be an agent provocateur for Castro.
The first meeting with FitzGerald and Cubela took place in Paris on Oct. 29, 1963. Cubela asked for a rifle with a telescopic scope. FitzGerald promised Cubela an appropriate assassination weapon so he could kill Castro without forfeiting his own life.
FitzGerald also told Cubela the U.S. would assure him presidential approval for the plan to kill Castro by having Kennedy, in a speech planned for the Inter-American Press Association, call the Castro regime "thugs" and call for their removal.
The Kennedy speech to the IAPA occurred in Miami on a Monday later in the following month. Kennedy used the exact language FitzGerald had promised to Cubela.
Four days later, FitzGerald met for a second time with Cubela, again in Paris. At this meeting, FitzGerald gave Cubela a CIA-designed pen with a microscopic hypodermic needle designed to inject the deadliest poison into Castro without his knowledge.
The Kennedy speech to the IAPA in Miami occurred on Monday, Nov. 18, 1963. The meeting at which FitzGerald gave Cubela the poison pen occurred on Friday, Nov. 22. Before the end of the meeting, FitzGerald received news of the Kennedy assassination and he immediately called off the Cubela operation.
When news of the CIA/Mafia plots first started to surface, the CIA had its inspector general prepare a confidential internal memo on all CIA plots to kill Castro, which was only declassified in 1993. Chillingly, the Report of the Inspector General concluded that Kennedy was killed at the very moment FitzGerald was meeting with Cubelo to give him a CIA-designed weapon to kill Castro.
After President Lyndon B. Johnson reviewed the report, he told a reporter, in confidence at the time: "Kennedy was trying to kill Castro. Castro got him first."
This story published on Mon, Nov 24, 2003
The Telegraph has further details - it reports the documentary claims Oswald was pointed out to the Cuban secret service by the KGB, and quotes Oscar Marino, who claims to be a former Cuban spy, as the source:
"You ask why we took Oswald?" he said to the German film maker Wilfried Huismann. "Oswald was a dissident: he hated his country. He possessed certain characteristics.
"There wasn't anyone else. You take what you can get. . . Oswald volunteered to kill Kennedy."
Oswald had shown sympathy for Cuba in the U.S. The Fair Play For Cuba Committtee was a New York based organization devoted to the support of fidel and his revolution. Oswald, apparently without the clear support of headquarters, established his own local Fair Play For Cuba Committee in New Orleans just months before his trip to Mexico City. He appeared on a street corner handing out leaflets headed "Hands Off Cuba", got photographed by the newspaper, got into an altercation with some anti-castro Cubans, and got himself arrested. Some think he did it to establish bonafides with fidel.
Then The Telegraph goes on to report:
One of the main witnesses is a retired FBI agent, Lawrence Keenan, now in his eighties. Keenan was sent after the assassination to trace Oswald's footsteps in Mexico.
The evidence he found - linking the Cubans with the murder - prompted the FBI head, J Edgar Hoover, on the orders of President Lyndon Johnson, to withdraw Keenan after three days.
"This was perhaps the worst investigation the FBI was ever involved in," said Keenan.
"I realised that I was used. I felt ashamed. We missed a moment in history."
There's long been suspicion that Lyndon Johnson didn't care a lot about what the Warren Commission investigation found. It is well documented that Johnson pressed for a report to be completed before the election of 1964. It is also well documented that the Commission had great difficulty writing its report until a young staff attorney came up with the single-bullet theory. That young staff attorney is now a Senator from Pennsylvania, Arlen Specter.
Former Secretary of State Alexander Haig says Johnson was afraid that a thorough investigation would find the Russians and Cubans were responsible, and that we would have to go to war.
"He [Johnson] said 'we simply must not allow the American people to believe that Fidel Castro could have killed our president'.
"And the reason was that there would be a Right-wing uprising in America, which would keep the Democratic party out of power for two generations."
Mr Haig added: "He [Johnson] was convinced Castro killed Kennedy, and he took it to his grave."
The new documentary will be shown on German TV on Friday. No word on when it will be out on DVD.
Why is a 40-year old murder mystery still important? Because fidel castro still rules Cuba and still hates the United States. He's spent almost 50-years trying to colonize Latin America, and now he seems to be succeeding in Venezuela and Bolivia. He's gaining influence in Brazil and Argentina.
Back in 1962, the Russians used Cuba as a missile base. When caught, fidel castro tried to get Khrushchev to use the missiles. Khrushchev instead bowed to U.S. pressure and bribes and removed the missiles. But there's also the rumor that another motive for the removal of the missiles was Khrushchev's fear of fidel's desire to nuke the U.S. Khrushchev did not want to commit suicide - after all, one life on earth is all a Godless communist has to look forward to.
Now fidel is flirting with another potential nuclear power, Iran. The Iranians don't seem to have the fear of death that Khrushchev did - in fact, if you hold the religious belief that the mullahs claim to hold, life itself is an impediment to the attainment of a wonderful afterlife in Heaven. To that way of thinking, an nuclear holocaust is a desirable thing. fidel may well be willing to help the mullahs achieve that goal - and murder countless Americans, Cubans and Iranians in order to vent his hatred.
Update - Reuters and ABC News report the film's assertion that when Oswald visited the embassy in Mexico City, Cuban agents paid him.
The film, shown to journalists in Berlin on Wednesday, says Oswald traveled to Mexico City by bus in September 1963, seven weeks before the Kennedy shooting, and met agents at the Cuban embassy there who paid him $6,500.
Oscar Marino, a former Cuban agent and a key source for the documentary, told Huismann that Oswald himself had volunteered for the assassination mission and Havana had exploited him.
There are also more quotes from Alexander Haig on why Lyndon Johnson would not have wanted to find a conspiracy behind Oswald.
Interviewed for the film, Alexander Haig, then a U.S. military adviser and later secretary of state, quoted Johnson as saying "we simply must not allow the American people to believe that Fidel Castro could have killed our president."
"And the reason was that there would be a right-wing uprising in America, which would keep the Democratic party out of power for two generations," Haig said.
Babalublog and The Real Cuba also comment on the reports.
Further update is here.