In late 1995, journalist and former HSCA investigator Gaeton Fonzi traveled to Cuba and interviewed Fabian Escalante, the former head of Cuban CounterIntelligence. The interview was part of a planned article for Esquire magazine. Escalante talked with Fonzi for hours about his role protecting Castro, and together they toured a museum devoted to artifacts of assassination plots against the Cuban leader.
The article was never published by Esquire. But, through the generosity of Fonzi's widow Marie, the Mary Ferrell Foundation is now making it available for the first time. It is entitled "And Why, By the Way, is Fidel Castro Still Alive?: The Inside Story of Cuban Intelligence".
Read the essay now
Also donated to the MFF are 6 cassette sides of interviews with Escalante, along with transcripts created by Gaeton Fonzi himself.
Marie Fonzi wrote the following preface to the essay:
Preface to Gaeton Fonzi's Escalante Story
By Marie Fonzi
In April of 1995 Gaeton received a contract from Esquire Magazine to write an article about General Fabian Escalante, former head of Cuban State Security. Expected length was 8000 words with a due date of October 31, 1995. In July of 1996 Gaeton, after three revisions, wrote to the Esquire editor, "Here's the rewrite as per your suggestion. It comes pretty close to your suggested length also, in the 10-grand range. A few hundred more might come out if need be, but I think it reads pretty tight now. And I like it. So send the check. You're getting close to violating the hourly minimum-wage law now. I was a kid when I started this. Thanks."
Gaet was a master at concealing his frustration with humor. And he was annoyed. He had visited Cuba as the guest of General Escalante following their meeting at both the Rio and Nassau 1995 conferences, which brought together both Cuban officials and JFK Historians. On meeting, Escalante told Gaeton that he had The Last Investigation translated, read it, and was anxious to talk to him "on a topic of mutual interest." He also presented Gaet with a copy of his own recently published book, The Secret War; CIA covert operations against Cuba 1959-62, autographed (in Spanish) "For Gaeton Fonzi with respect and admiration for your profound investigation to solve JFK. Affectionately, Escalante 29/8/95"
Gaet returned from his Cuban trip filled with admiration for the job Escalante had done in keeping Castro alive, while chuckling that he was now able to smuggle some rum for our friend, George, through Cuban customs. Escalante and Gaeton did agree on many points, although the slant in their respective books was decidedly biased as seen by the Cuban's labeling of the anti-Castro Cubans as "bandits" while Gaet might label them as patriots. But their mutual interest lay in the final words of The Secret War: "The year 1963 brought with it new battles which constantly hardened the Cuban people in the struggle. From very early on that year, more attempts on the life of Fidel Castro were in preparation, not to mention the most surprising conspiracy of all -- the assassination of President John F. Kennedy - in which it appears that the same minds did the planning and the same hands pulled the trigger."
Gaeton later wrote that Escalante confirmed what he already knew -- that Maurice Bishop was David Atlee Phillips.
In a letter to a friend dated August 1996, Gaeton complained that he was still waiting for Esquire to return his calls three weeks after that third revision. Esquire never did publish this story. It was a good story but it was a story, Gaet felt, that may have been too honest, too sympathetic to the Cuban side of the story, a story that made the CIA look like amateurs in their botched attempts to kill Castro.
Now that our Government has decided to make peace with our former enemy, I envision JFK saying, "About time." And I hear Gaet commenting on the publication of his article with the same words.