and JFK HISTORIANS
TAPE 2 of 8
NASSAU BEACH HOTEL
7/9 DECEMBER 1995
NASSAU TAPE # 2
December 7, 1995 (last of morning session)
Lechuga: In the first place, it was just a few months after
the Cuban Missile Crisis. We knew about the CIA efforts to
knock off Castro and also military maneuvers going
agents--sabotage... Requests to other countries that they
unify with the United States in the blockade of Cuba. It was
a real surprise that in this atmosphere that they would be
approaching us like this. And I said the same to Attwood.
Later, there was detente with the Soviet Union around the
There was a partial trust-- the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, a
direct hot line, credits for buying American Wheat. There
was an evident change in policy
between the United States and the Soviet Union. Kennedy gave
a speech at
the American University. This did not have the hard-line
language of the
cold war, this speech. There was change. He was talking
about the Soviet
Union, not Cuba. Perhaps, we thought, maybe this general
detente with Russia,
that he was trying to extend to Cuba as well.
Attwood told him (Lechuga) that in Attwood's conversation, a
conversation Attwood had with
Kennedy, that he (Kennedy) would like to change policy
toward China, but that was impossible. The problem was
public prestige just couldn't advance in that manner. The
same case with Cuba. Kennedy said to Attwood, "How do we
change relations with Cuba?" in these conversations with
Attwood. These conversations happened in a very small
circle. I don't even think Dean Rusk, Secretary of State,
knew about it. Stevenson, the United States Ambassador to
the United Nations... Stevenson authorized Attwood to speak
Averell Harriman also told him to proceed, and Galbraith
also. Robert Kennedy
also called for a dialogue between us. I believe this was
by Attwood or somebody at his level, but was initiated much
initiative to begin this dialogue. I don't think Stevenson
would have given
this authorization with an order from higher up. Stevenson
says at that
time the CIA was in charge of the policy toward Cuba. I saw
de-classified documents. McGeorge Bundy was considering -
Newman: How did you find out that this was McGeorge Bundy?
Was it from
Lechuga: Classified documents. Evidently this new policy
that had been
formulated before he spoke
with Attwood. Bundy's proposals according to these documents
April 1963, he didn't with him until
Sept. It was probably planned that when the General Assembly
opened its session, which happened
every September, that Attwood and the United States
delegation would talk to him about normalizing
relations. The idea came from the United States, not with
Cuba. In one
of Attwood's books, "Kennedy
and Cuba", said that Castro was ready to normalize
relations. Came out
Poss Twyman?: Just to clarify, Attwood was our Ambassador?
He would...In addition, the initiative...
unknown: In addition, he would have the initiative...
Lechuga: So it was in these conditions that journalist Lisa
Howard approached me and said somebody
from the United Nations would like to speak to me. And so
she invited me to her house for cocktails.
And apparently Attwood would be leaving to go back to
Washington on September 24th. I said, "sure,
I have no problem with that". In my book I said it was
probably the initiative of Attwood's.
Nunez speaking for Lechuga: Lisa Howard told me that it was
a private initiative.
Lechuga: Apparently he spoke with Stevenson and got his
after consultation with
Abramson: Oh, okay.
Lechuga: The following day, Attwood went to Washington and
spoke with Robert Kennedy. Robert
Kennedy also authorized this conversation... Attwood said,
"it's time to break the ice between us".
Attwood said, begin a dialogue. There are no reservations
about that. We should begin an agenda for
some sort of dialogue. The idea of having an agenda was
Abramson: The president, not Bobby?
Lechuga: The president. To be presented by Attwood, not
Kennedy. Attwood spoke about the current
political situation in the United States where it looked
like Kennedy could win the next years'
elections. Civil rights were a big issue, still many
criticized that they were not doing enough. They
didn't know who would be the nominee for the Republican
it was Goldwater or
Rockefeller. Possible Goldwater because Rockefeller had
problems. It wasn't clear what Goldwater
would do to Cuba.
Nunez: It was known that Kennedy was an enemy--but it wasn't
known if Goldwater would be against
Lechuga: Attwood said it was very, very important to keep
these conversations secret because if the
Republicans found out it would be a huge scandal in
congress. Following some of the conversations
--there were three or four -- Attwood met with McGeorge
Bundy, the National Security Advisor. It
was decided that Gordon Chase would become the sort of a
go-between for Bundy and Attwood
regarding this. To add to their surprise at these initiative
of dialogue were going on, the funds, the
assets of the Cuban Mission of the United Nations were
frozen. Well of
course you can't really do this
because its the United Nations Mission not the United
came from the Secretary
General of the United Nations two or three days later. They
unfroze the funds maybe four days.
Havana had to send cash up to the mission. They couldn't get
of the bank. It seemed so
strange that in the midst of this going on that they would
come forth with this dialogue. At this time a
French reporter, Jean Daniel, was in New York. A friend of
Nunez: Jean Daniel was going to Cuba so Attwood thought it
would be good to meet Bradley. Bradley
would make the introductions.
Smith: Bradley would meet with the President. Then
Scott: I'm not quite clear. Who made, how did Attwood now of
the Daniel contact? I thought you said
Attwood was a friend of Daniel.
Lechuga: He knew Daniel was at NY at that time and he was
going to Cuba.
Smith: He asked them if Bradley would go see the President?
Lechuga: He (Daniel) spoke with Kennedy. He wanted to speak
of Vietnam. Kennedy didn't want to
talk about Vietnam. He wanted to talk about Cuba and nothing
(A discussion in Spanish)
Abramson: Okay, let me catch them up.
Lechuga: When Kennedy was (with Daniel) there, he said it
would be great if he (Daniel) could talk
about the Cuban Missile Crisis to Castro.
Nunez: If he was aware of how serious the crisis was for the
Lechuga: JFK didn't want to talk about anything besides
Cuba. He (Daniel) went and spoke with
Castro and asked him--he respected Kennedy's [request]--"How
do you feel about the Missile
Crisis?" during this conversation is when they heard on the
Kennedy was assassinated.
Fidel in talking at a 1992 conference, said that he had
was serving as a messenger of
Kennedy. And he thought that Kennedy was capable and willing
of changing his policies. He was
popular. He was in good position to make such a decision to
Lechuga: Kennedy speaking through McGeorge Bundy said there
should be an agenda for dialogue
with Cuba. Of course I sent all the information of these
with Attwood to Havana. In
Havana, the responses were delayed. According to Attwood's
the responses were very
slow. He wanted to accelerate the process somewhat. Havana
was moving too slowly. And at this
moment, without his knowledge, Lisa Howard called Cuba and
spoke with Commandante Vallejo, who
was the assistant to Fidel Castro. In order to try and
accelerate the process. She had known him in
Cuba before. To try to take advantage of her friendship with
him, in order to try to get a quicker
response from the Cubans. In November, Vallejo was contacted
Lechuga and told me they are
working on the agenda. But the agenda never really arrived
because they killed Kennedy. Attwood
said that JFK said through somebody, maybe McGeorge Bundy,
that Kennedy had left a not for
himself on his desk that upon his return from Dallas to
contact Attwood to find out how the Cuban
initiative was going.
Nunez: It was going to be a short trip to Dallas. He made a
note on his desk to remind him that as
soon as he came back from Dallas he had to talk to Attwood
to see how things were going with the
Scott: Who is the source of this?
Nunez: Attwood. Because somebody told him, probably Bundy.
Lechuga: After JFK's death, Attwood spoke with Lyndon
had spoken at the UN, as
Kennedy had spoken.
Nunez: As he was president he want to speak at the General
Assembly too. LBJ told Attwood that
he'd read Attwood's memo and was still uncertain about going
ahead with the initiative. He would give
him an answer.
Lechuga: Attwood phoned and said, I've had no news from the
Just trying to keep the
contact. Eventually Johnson did just break off the dialogue
and well, you know the rest of the story.
Smith: Could I ask you to clarify a couple of points? In
your book its
clear that Attwood himself or
perhaps some other emissary would go to Cuba?
Lechuga: Yes, Attwood spoke to me and said he was fully
disposed to go
to Cuba. He had met Castro
in 1959 as a journalist and had interviewed him then and as
a journalist was prepared to speak to him.
In 1959 it wasn't suspicious for him to go to Cuba because
of being a private journalist. He thought it
wouldn't be suspicious now because he had already been to
Smith: Attwood's idea was because he had interviewed Castro
as a journalist. Carlos said well it
wouldn't be suspicious going to Cuba, but you are an
ambassador now, not just a journalist. Attwood
was supposed to go.
Lechuga: Talked about going by private plane perhaps to
Varadero. Robert Kennedy thought it better
if a Cuban came to the United States, to the United Nations.
But this never resolved itself.
Smith: But in a sense, it's a substitute for that since
Attwood sees he cannot get down there and he
learns that Jean Daniel whom he knows is going to go. Maybe
Daniel is a substitute for Attwood.
Attwood didn't think he could go at that point. Not as a
substitute, but here's a chance to have the
Summers: Excuse me, Attwood told me that at the end of this
process just before the President was
killed that the arrangement was indeed that once the
President gave the go-ahead and briefed
Attwood that he would fly from Florida in private plane. And
fly to Varadero. At that stage had
reached almost a firm arrangement to go.
Lechuga: Yes, but this was never really firmed up.
Smith: But the plan was there--Kennedy perhaps... Also, I
had the impression that Daniel was asked
to say a little more than asking about the Cuban Missile
Crisis. I thought that Daniel really raised the
possibility of dialogue. To get Castro's reaction.
Lechuga: Yes, that was what Daniel thought was the message.
Newman: I want to give some clarification. First of all,
we're speaking of LBJ' s speech at the UN in
Sept? No, Nov. After the assassination. The line of
Attwood share this with you?
Lechuga: Which information?
Newman: That LBJ made this statement, "That he wasn't sure
about whether he would go through."
Attwood discussed this with you?
Lechuga: Attwood told me this. No discussed, told me the
?____________: Attwood said to me--Bobby Kennedy was the
original hardliner, but Castro was
offering an agreement that he would not try to subvert Latin
America. In return we would lift the
economic blockade. Castro would give compensation for the
companies that he had expropriated. In
return we would unblock the Cuban assets in America.
Lechuga: Not on these issues. That was never discussed.
Newman: It may have been their idea of an agenda, but it was
Lechuga: It was never discussed. For instance, compensating
for expropriated properties has always
been on the table. We've discussed it. Attwood told me about
Bobby Kennedy was of course a
hardliner but he was also a realistic politician and that he
the moment was to have the
conversation, he would support it because he was a realist.
?____________: Senior Lechuga, you talked much about the
[people?] surrounding the Kennedy
administration behind Attwood in their approach to you.
Primarily, what I do not find in your book is
what the people behind you--specifically the first time
Attwood approached you at Lisa Howard's. You
would of course had to have made a report. ...Got back to
you and what
did they say to you?
Lechuga: I transmitted it through normal channels. I was the
ambassador to the Minister of Foreign
Relations, then the Prime Minister, to the President.
?: What was the response to that?
Lechuga: that they were discussing, considering the
questions. Considering formulating agenda. Then
they killed Kennedy. During those two months of
conversation, there was never any real response at
that point. They told me they were still working on the
the assassination, not after.
Smith: The agenda for conversation?
?: One last piece. Those who authorized you to continue the
conversation with Attwood, were they
Escalante: All the communications were in Code Cables. The
only thing you can say is very little.
Never had a conversation with a Cuban in Havana. We have
change--have feelings the opinions of our
leaders in Cuba.
Lechuga: Those times in NY, he never came to Havana. The
situation as it exists at that moment. The
policy against Cuba in Havana was take your time considering
this. There were a lot of problems in
Cuba-- they did have to decide a little bit.
Escalante: We look at this in 1995. Maybe the situation in
I want to remind you that in
1963 two big attacks against us. It was not an attack by
it was a planned operation by a
special mission of the CIA. Cuban operatives were destroyed.
Those days there was lots of
aggressive action, very strong. Also, May 1963 there were
eleven bombings against Cuban industries,
oil industry. In the middle of this war, this was a big war.
Can you imagine that a message of this type
could come out?
?: What was the date of the attack?
Scott: This question is about the timing of the initiative
vs the timing of the aggressive acts against
Cuba. In the light of what seemed to be opposing efforts, I
ask a very
precise question in the timing of
the...I would only talk about AM/Lash initiative that made
the dialogue impossible. The CIA had not
spoken to AM/Lash since the middle of 1962. On Sept. 5, Lisa
Howard says to Attwood that she
thinks its a good time to develop initiative for
accommodations . Two days later the CIA makes
contact with [Rolando] Cubela [Secades]. In October, after
the President had just spoken to Daniel,
Fitzgerald authorizes representation to AM/Lash, that is a
personal representative of Robert
Kennedy. So my question is: on September 5 when Lisa Howard
told Attwood that the Cubans were
ready, had she already spoken to you? Or did she...say to
you I want to arrange the party?
Escalante: That was the 22nd of September.
Scott: The cocktail party was on the 23rd but she told
Attwood as early as September five....that this
was what she wanted to do.
Lechuga: This conversation was [between] Lisa Howard and
Scott: That is in his book.
Summers: If I may jump in here, its in his book, of course,
I've talked to Attwood. Attwood's version
is the entire chain of events was started by Cubans. He was
button-holed, contacted by Jaho? Who
was at the United Nations. Jaho suggested that the
initiative came from the Cuban side. Jaho said
that Attwood should sit down--that Attwood should concoct a
formula for talking to you [Lechuga].
Lechuga: No, the initiative was from the US. The first thing
was the delegate Jaho had a word with
Summers: The ambassador -- he thought the Cubans were
passing the word
Smith: We began by saying that in talking to Attwood, he
thought the Cubans were disposed. In the
same way that Attwood was a messenger.
Lechuga: No, No, No. The initiative was with the US. The
ambassador could not be a messenger from
Newman: He probably so represented himself that, probably
talking to Attwood. Attwood said the
Cubans were disposed and it might have been suggested that
he had some
Nunez (for Lechuga): That doesn't mean that wasn't a Cuban
That's right. It might mean a
Escalante: Interesting background. The conversation with...?
Reading Russell's book I found the
name of a Cuban, Felipe Fidel Santiago.
Smith: Felipe Fidel Santiago
Escalante: It's tied to a colonel in military
worked for the CIA. So, I decided
to investigate. I found that Santiago was detained in Cuba
in March 1964. Because he'd infiltrated,
tried to do some sabotage. I looked over the declaration of
Santiago and I found some things that
were very interesting based on our conversation here. He
says that in Dec. 62, he traveled to
Washington to talk with a lobbyist who was named Cleaver or
something like that. I have the name of
the law firm he worked in. Santiago talked to this Cleaver
said, "I know that the US Govt
has a plan to dialogue with Cuba. And to resolve the
problems with Cuba and the US. I know through
Henry Cabot Lodge." According to Cabot Lodge, Walt Rostow
had said that to him. He told him that
some weeks earlier in October 62, he talked to a Cuban
official in East Germany. This person was
named Comrade Blas Roca. This was really strange. Looking at
it was clear Blas Roca says
he never had this interview.
Scott: Excuse me, he was not in Berlin? It was during the
date of the Missile Crisis.
?: Is the date of this 62? September 62?
?: December 62.
Escalante: But the meeting was supposed to be in Oct 62.
But, that couldn't be possible because the
Missile Crisis was gone. Who is this Cleaver? Cleaver was a
member of the committee Americans for
Free Cuba. The president was Admiral Burke.
Newman: Admiral Burke.
Escalante: Ambassador William Powell was also a member and
Clare Boothe Luce. As you'll
understand it, this information is very strange. It is very
think this conversation could have
taken place because this Santiago said this conversation had
already started after the Crisis with all
the differences between Cuba and the US. We ask ourselves
what 's the reason for this? Santiago
statements also make it clear. Santiago was very much
surprised with that note. And to get back to
Miami and told Bishop about it and not only Bishop he told.
And also said this to the
counter-revolutionary exiles. This was almost like a bomb in
Scott: This is what you've found through Cuban sources, not
Escalante: Yes, the Cuban sources. The only thing I found in
book was the name and then
we researched on him.
Scott: May I make a comment? I believe the committee you're
talking about, Citizens for a Free
Cuba was formed later, was in March or April. Although there
was a big
obviously in Washington
already. The first Bundy memo that talks of exploring
accommodations is dated January 62. There's
one on April 21st but there's an earlier one.
Escalante: I'm not speaking about Bundy's action, I am
speaking about the meeting held in
(?___________). I am speaking about the declarations of one
person in two parts in 1962. When he
found out this what I have told you -- Contact that I have
told. I didn't know of the committee was...
However, Santiago was the one who said this person, this
Cleaver, was a member of this committee
that didn't have the least intention of solving the problem
between Cuba and the US. That I'm thinking
this was an intentional measure in covert operation --
trying to find conflict among the Cuban exiles
and I think the events Kennedy started back before he was
killed, way back. That's what I'd like to
Scott: I think we can assume Rostow, (a hawk) would have
been opposed to any such initiative. He
would not have supported it. So my question is to come back,
there's so much we say. In April when
Lisa Howard raised this whole question for the first time...
?: not in April, McGeorge Bundy was in memo..
Scott: No, just April -- her show was aired on (NBC?)
?: She had talked to Castro. Her show aired in May 10th?
April or May?
Scott: My question is, this was a time of great turbulence
in the Soviet Union. Kostof was deposed
and Harriman made a trip to the Soviet Union. Harriman was
involved with the September initiative.
My question is: did you have any knowledge of what Lisa
Howard was doing in April at all?
Lechuga: Never, Harriman never mentioned this to me.
Smith: Before we do, let me just make certain. Santiago
arrested in a sabotage raid in March 1964
and he is interrogated by Cuban security. That's when his
name comes up. Looking at an interrogation
report of March 1964, and Filipe Fidel tells Cuban
interrogators of a trip he made to Washington and
he talks to Cleaver in December 1962.
Escalante: Quote, "Henry Cabot Lodge told me in private
conversation that he had heard Dr. Rostow
and some others were plotting a specific solution to the
Cuban problem." One of the smallest advance
steps even by Rostow was an interview on October 25, 1962
with Blas Roca in East Germany. This
Cleaver used to work in the law firm Marshall-Dex.
?: That's the law firm of Gabrielle, Garcini, Coley.
Escalante: The committee American Citizens for Free Cuba
headed by Burke. Members were Paul
Bethel, William Pawley, and a person named Marie with a
Polish last name, I can't remember her last
name. Polish Summers?: Her name was Irish.
Smith: He is talking, this guy Cleaver. He knows this in
1964, the American Citizens for Free Cuba
committee may have been formed.
Summers: We don't get it in East Germany.
Smith: There isn't any. Cleaver is talking to Santiago, says
that there is going to be this initiative and
how does he know because he has talked to Henry Cabot Lodge.
Rostow has talked to Blas Roca in
East Germany in October. Which isn't true--there was no such
Fonzi: In the beginning, Lechuga says he was surprised at
the initiative because of the raids and
continued attempts to assassinate Castro still going on. Was
he aware of what was going on and did he
raise that with Attwood and if so what was the response?
Lechuga: Yes, I did talk to him. It was true. In spite of
this, some efforts should be made to break the
Rogers: I've got some questions on the security of those
meetings in this process. Initially Attwood
expressed concerns about the Republicans:
1. Did Attwood express concern about other domestic American
groups? CIA, Cuban exiles, LBJ,
even in the administration, State Department?
Lechuga: No the only thing Stevenson told me was about the
in Congress. The CIA was
running Cuban policy.
?: That's in Attwood's book.
Newman: Right, that would pertain then. From the Cuban side
was there not any concern about the
security of such discussions as you say were surprising and
given the provocative actions
that were occurring?
Lechuga: at that point our worries were not keeping them
secret because all our diplomatic
conversations were in secret.
Newman: But, these were not happening in secret. They were
going over from
apartments in New York.
Lechuga: Only once did Attwood call and make...
Newman: What about the Lisa Howard call to the Cuban in
Summers: One phone call could do it.
Newman: The reason I'm asking the question is that in the
new files that have been released, I can't
remember at this point if they are in JM/Wave or the CIA in
Mexico -- there are definite reflections
in the exile community that in the fall of '63 there are
definite reflections in the exile community that
this process is under way. They were very concerned--very
negative comments. One final question I
wanted to ask, Obviously Cuba had very good contacts that
was ongoing? I'll direct it to
Fabian Escalante. Did you get anything from your contacts,
about a different track from the White
House is pursuing?
Escalante: Not that I know of. Not from my knowledge. In
1963 I was only 22 years old. Only a young
official. I did not have access.
Smith: To reformulate the question, you haven't seen
anything in your files that indicate the exiles
organizations were aware of this?
Scott: Did you assume that--
Escalante: We are going to answer the other question.
Following the Bay of Pigs developed a hostile
attitude in the exile community. They were convinced that
Kennedy was responsible for the failure of
the Bay of Pigs and that he was even a communist. In the
middle of 1963 they had infiltrated a special
group within the CIA. And one day an official of the CIA
came to the safe house, a Cuban house.
Around that time Kennedy had made a public statement.
Officials were bothered by this. It was said,
"the Cubans must eliminate the pinko in the White House."
That's the type of info I have.
Russell?: Question for Lechuga. When the assassination of
President Kennedy happened, when you
were in the midst of the negotiations, did you believe in
any way that
the assassination was linked to
the negotiations? And done to stop the negotiations?
Escalante: Not immediately. Maybe one month later.
Russell: So at first you just accepted the official version
Escalante: Not the official version, but not link the
Russell: Was there something that changed your mind?
Escalante: We had some information.
Russell: Was there some discussion of this within the Cuban
Govt at this time?
Escalante: We're brought it here one of Castro's speeches.
On Nov. 24,
63 Castro after the
assassination visited as official statement of the Cuban
Govt about the assassination. We have a copy
here if you want it.
Summers: A question on security of your conversation with
Attwood and Lisa Howard. You said there
was one phone call between you and Attwood? The others were
all in the
flat? And the phone call was
between your apartment in New York and Attwood?
Lechuga: No, in the office.
Russell: Do you feel looking back that the office you used
in the UN was
Russell: How much substance of the discussion about the
have been in a telephone
Lechuga: That was just a lunch invitation. I'm calling to
invite you to lunch.
Summers: When you had a in-the-flesh conversation where did
they take place?
Lechuga: At Lisa Howard's house first, then in the delegate
lounge at the UN.
Summers: No other ones? You think the actual human contacts
Lechuga: We weren't as worried because Attwood invited me.
It was Attwood who should be
worried-concerned. We should have been concerned about
security. We were just going to talk and
that was that.
Scott: In Attwood's book he says if the CIA might have you
under personal surveillance. I wonder if
that came up? Did he say, "We have to be careful."
Lechuga: I knew the CIA was watching us as they did any
other Cubans in the US. But I wasn't too
worried about it. We were not concerned, Attwood is the one
?: Chances that the CIA would have intercepted Lisa Howard
Newman: Perhaps there's another dimension. When he was at
Lisa Howard's party, there were many
journalists and other people there. You mention in your
book, were your talks with Attwood out in the
open? You went off to the side and talked quietly. Is this
Lechuga: At Lisa Howard's this is true. Yes, in the corner,
I was invited to go. Maybe Lisa
Howard and Attwood knew who was there, but I didn't. I was
?: I ask further about he delegates lounge at the UN. Were
you around other people there?
Lechuga: No, No, No. A lot of people there. Groups talking
amongst each other.
Smith?: If I could add, even at these times the mere fact
that a representative of the Cuban Embassy
was talking to an American was not all that incredible. As
there is some business within the UN to
transact--talking about resolutions that are coming up and
Newman: Another question, indirect, but important concerns
me explain why. If there is
an ongoing dialog between the Cubans and Americans and the
CIA is taking whatever activity to
circumvent or sabotage--there is an associated question of
AM/Lash -- there is a channel going back
to the Cubans relative to his CIA connection. So the
question is: Was there knowledge in Cuba about
the Cubela connection with the CIA at this time?
Escalante: No, not at this time. Not until the end of 1964
that they found out as to his connection to
Scott: Supplement to that, Pepanino, none of them were
Escalante: Pepanino was a CIA agent--not ours.
Scott: Nobody is a double agent?
Escalante: No, no, no.
Smith: Too bad.
Escalante? Maybe Lechuga: That's something that's an
invention of Angleton, but nothing to so with the truth.
It's not true. Something has been forgotten in this going.
That's going through all this conversation. I'd like to
it back. In September, let's put things in order. Cubela
left Cuba at the
end of August, going to Brazil. Maybe today or tomorrow we
can talk about
that. On Sept. 8, there was a reception at the embassy in
Harker, an American journalist interviewed Fidel. It was not
a formal interview,
just some questions as he arrived to the reception. He asked
One was related to the CIA attempts to assassinate him.
Fidel said something
such as, "The American leaders should be careful. This is
something the government
could control." Or this type of--somebody organized it to
assassination, this could become anything, however Daniel
Harker didn't say
that in his report. Daniel Harker in his report suggested
that Fidel Castro
was making a threat against Kennedy. And that is very
interesting. That news
was published in New Orleans precisely during the days when
all of us are
trying to travel to Cuba. These acts can not be isolated, in
all this that
started at the end of April 1963. In April 1963 the Cuban
that was an organization that was CIA in the back of,
accuses Kennedy of
abandoning the Cuban cause. President resigned in April
Orlando Bosch prints a pamphlet
that was called the "Cuban Tragedy" that accused Kennedy of
being a traitor to the Cuban cause. This was sent to the
White House in May. Immediately after , Oswald brought
activism in New Orleans. Here Oswald's history starts. And
it's going to have it's high point when he is arrested by
police in a public discussion with some Cuban exiles.
Afterwards this makes the discussion of Daniel Harker with
very famous. Historic.
Cubela comes out to Brazil. Later the conversation was that
this meeting in Paris as being held with somebody who says
he's with the Central (?)
to plan Fidel Castro's assassination. Too many things are
strange and contradictory in a few months. It's a chronology
of events that
are happening. I cannot be ?
Newman: May I add one piece of the in April and May. It's
clear from the documents that we now have in the US that the
FBI falsely states that they have lost track of Oswald at
this very time. In other words, they are watching him up
until this point then beginning in late April and continuing
through June, they claimed and they told the Warren
Commission, that in that period they did not
know where he was or what he was doing. We know that this is
Scott: If I could add--because I agree to the importance of
this chronology. We are looking closely at the Cuban side,
we must remember there were dramatic developments with
respect to JFK and the Soviet Union. In particular, April 3
and April 11 there was an exchange of secret letters between
Khrushchev and Kennedy, to my knowledge we have still have
not seen, but they were
attacked as early as July, 63 by "hawks" who said,
that they envisioned accommodations in the area of Cuba. I
should just say
that they concerned Cuba. I cannot...
Escalante: On April 23, National Security Council discussed
from Bundy. A different track to make this conversation
Smith?: The CIA was opposed and the Americans unlikely that
knowledge would remain simply with (?) It became knowledge
at other levels. A very strong campaign against Cuba. By a
group that was under the care of JM/Wave station in Miami.
...Remember that name--Cuban exile group. (?) Orlando
Bosch--all terrorist groups --extreme groups. (?) organize
11 air raids against Cuba that they had these and also one
to sabotage this policy that was to begin by the government
and also one to sabotage ?
Scott: Will we have a chance--I would like to a long
session, discussion, maybe not right now.
Scott: I want to report a rumor. Kennedy came under attack
for being too much of a "dove" as we say. Too willing to
accommodate primarily to Khrushchev. There were two
right-wing reporters called Allen and Scott, not a relation
of mine, that they got their sources from the military
intelligence. They ask a question whether in Averill
Harriman was in Russia and Castro was
also in Russia. Harriman might have met Castro? Do you think
that is ridiculous?
Summers: One short one and then a longer one. The short one:
You have suggested, as far as I know
for the first time, a version of what Castro said to Daniel
know the version that Harker
published. I think I know that in discussion with the
Assassinations Committee, Castro said he doesn't
remember talking to Harker. You now seem to have a Cuban
version of what he actually said?
Escalante: I don't think Castro ever said that.
Scott: But did he talk to him at all?
Escalante: This was not an organized interview. It was not a
long interview. Most probably when
asked if this journalist, he did not remember him. Thousands
of journalist interview him in this short
Scott: What was Lechuga's source for his version of what
Escalante: The interview he had with the House Select
Committee. He explained it to the Committee.
Summers: I meant that to be short, but my second one is:
There is quite a lot of work being done in
the last year or two that whatever the Kennedy
administration was doing in conversations through
Attwood and Col. Lechuga, at the same time Robert Kennedy
--and presumably the President
too--was personally behind a major effort that envisioned
the overthrow of Castro in the fall of 1963.
Which would involve an internal coup with the death of
Castro. After that, massive American backing
for which Kennedy's perceived as being [Cuban] democrats as
being right-wing extremists.
I asked Dean Rusk about this, shortly before his death a
year or so before. And he told me, yes he
learned about the plans for such a coup. They were indeed
backed by JFK and understood by his
brother and were in charge of it. That he learned of this in
1964 during meetings of the National
Security Council. And what can one make of this? One is
talking about not a double track, but a
double cross? If the Kennedy's were talking peace on the one
hand and a full 1963 coup on the other?
He said, yes but they did this all the time. And he found
that not surprising. He said the Kennedy's
work that way. And he said rather cynically, do governments
everywhere. In your research in Cuba,
have Mr. Escalante and Lechuga gotten a similar picture of
Escalante: Look, I'm going to answer very briefly. In 1963
McGeorge Bundy designed this new
approach towards Cuba. It involved a double track or
multiple track. This appeared in documents in
the Church Committee. One of the tracks was to strengthen
against Cuba, political
pressure, the isolation of Cuba from the continent and also
from Western Europe. To destroy through
sabotage and external operations all the energy and
industrial infrastructure in the country. In 1963
there were two major plans of sabotage proved against Cuba.
with one objective. To force
Cuba to sit down at the negotiating table, but under very
disadvantaged circumstances. That's why we
never really heard what the possible American agenda would
be. We never heard anything... That's
why the Cuban government took its time to deeply study the
proposal put forth by Attwood.
Escalante: in the middle of the war that was being fought
between the Kennedy government. What
could they possible been trying to do by trying to start a
dialogue. So they took their time. Here's
what happened according to our judgement. The hawks never
supported, they didn't understand this
strategy, didn't agree. Anything that didn't agree with a
of Cuba, they didn't agree with.
We think the hawks felt themselves betrayed. According to
our judgement there were two strategies
to be followed by the U.S.
1) from the administration
2) and one from the CIA, the Cuban exiles, and the
mafia--and even they had their own independent
objectives. Around that on the part of this latter group,
there developed this need to assassinate
Kennedy. It seemed to them that Kennedy was not in agreement
to the new invasion. That's our
?: If that's the hypothesis, then how do you explain that no
serious attempt was made to invade after
Escalante: Are you sure about that. We'd like to talk about
we finish with conversation.
Smith: I'd like to add when a new invasion attempt was? This
new dialogue track--they did effectively
close that off with Kennedy out of the way. Also, there's
ways to look
at the multi track of the
Kennedy's. You don't have to see them as talking peace while
getting the punch ready. They have
possibilities--attack outright or make peace. We're moving
tracks to see which one would
Summers: Perhaps I didn't make myself clear. The information
that's been coming out, new
scholarship that Robert Kennedy personally in those weeks
heading up to November 22, in the weeks
leading up, was behind a detailed plan for the killing,
overthrow of Castro, the killing of Raul, key
leaders of the revolution. To be followed by massive
American support for take over in Cuba by the
so-called Cuban democrats. This was a real plan in the
works. This is different from, maybe connected
with but very specific and different from conversation.
?: But also the part that you're leaving...
Summers: Are they aware of all of this specific theme for
the government of Cuba that
was to take place in late Nov.?
Escalante: yes, we do know of such a plan exists.
Scott: We should be clear. The plan...there is some
The plan was not for an
invasion, but some, really, some kind of overthrow from
Summers: and followed by American support.
Scott: A pretext for recognizing this new government.
Escalante: I would add that there would be an invasion, a
?: Can you tell us the basis or source for that?
Escalante: would you like to talk about the AM/Lash case
Smith: No, we're going to talk about that later.
Scott: The reaction to Kennedy's speech of November 18th?
Some people talk of extending the
possibility of reapproachment(?) and some people see the
same speech as a green light for the people
in Cuba to overthrow Castro.
Escalante: In the Orange Bowl? In Miami?
Winslow: No, no. The airport...November 18th.
Discussion: He wouldn't permit it...anymore Cubans...Is that
Scott: It's a speech that was made on November 18th and
widely reported the next day but also on
Escalante: Kennedy said there'd be no more Cubas in Latin
America. He would not allow it. Who
could be worried about that speech? Us in Cuba or the people
who were planning to liquidate Cuba? I
mean, a speech like that gives passive recognition. "We will
allow Cuba, but not anymore Cubas."
Imagine how that was received by the people who were trying
to overthrow the Cuban government. It
seemed JFK was backing down.
Smith: But it was interpreted, and I think it could be. This
we are going to talk about David
Atlee Phillips and other CIA figures. If you have other
questions on the initiative, there is no reason
we cannot continue then.
END TAPE 2
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