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Fri Nov 22, 2013, 03:13 PM

Kennedy’s Last Act: Reaching Out to Cuba

* Please keep in mind that the enemies of Cuba are the enemies of Democracy, and many of them and their descendants are still manipulating our political system


by Peter Kornbluh

The 50th anniversary of the violent death of U.S. president, John F. Kennedy has yielded a long kept secret: in the aftermath of the assassination in Dallas, Fidel Castro sent a back-channel message to Washington that he wanted to meet with the official commission investigating Kennedy’s murder, to dispel the swirling allegations that Cuba was responsible. The Commission, headed by Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Earl Warren, sent a young African-American staff lawyer, William Coleman, on a clandestine mission to rendezvous with the Cuban leader on a boat in the Caribbean.

They talked for three hours, Coleman recalled in the first interview he ever gave on the Top Secret meeting to investigative reporter Philip Shenon. Despite pressing the Cuban leader on Cuba’s ties to Lee Harvey Oswald and his mysterious visit to the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City before the assassination, Coleman reported back to Warren that he “hadn’t found out anything to cause me to think there is proof [Castro] did it.” Indeed, despite Playa Giron, the missile crisis, assassination plots and the trade embargo, Castro insisted that “he admired President Kennedy.”

Secrets and Conspiracy Theories

In the United States, the anniversary of the young president’s death has generated massive media coverage—special television documentaries; a slew of new books and articles, a new Hollywood movie. Inevitably, the many conspiracy theories as to who killed Kennedy and why are once again being debated. The Warren Commission concluded that Oswald, a deranged loner and self-declared Marxist, acted alone when he shot the president. But U.S. government secrecy, particularly the fact that the CIA withheld information on its Top Secret efforts to kill Castro, and on its surveillance of Oswald when he visited Mexico City—protecting its extensive intelligence gathering operations in Mexico—fueled suspicions of a cover up. Nor did the White House share the extraordinary details of significant developments in Kennedy’s attitude toward Cuba—a country central to any historical discussion of the president’s shocking murder in Dallas fifty years ago.

Almost immediately following the assassination on November 22, 1963, enemies of the Cuban revolution began planting accusations that the pro-Castro Oswald had conspired with Cuba to kill the president. In New Orleans, where Oswald had created a one-man “Fair Play for Cuba” committee, a CIA-backed exile group, the Revolutionary Student Directorate (DRE), published its newsletter on November 23 with a picture of Castro next to a picture of Oswald. Six days after the assassination, CIA director John McCone reported to the new president, Lyndon Johnson, that a Nicaraguan intelligence agent in Mexico City named Gilberto Alvarado had “advised our [Mexico] station in great detail on his alleged knowledge that he actually saw Oswald given $6500 in the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City on September 18th.” Alvarado claimed the money was payment to kill the president.

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