Two Tracks on Cuba
Cuban government official Rolando Cubela, code-named AMLASH (center), recruited by the CIA in the fall of 1963 to assassinate Fidel Castro.
In 1963, after the Missile Crisis, the Kennedy administration continued to grapple with the problem of Cuba. CIA's project AMTRUNK continued to look for leaders inside Cuba to overthrow the Castro regime. Contingency plans for a military invasion of Cuba were formulated in support of a possible coup; a new theory put forth in the book Ultimate Sacrifice declares that these were more than contingency plans, and that an actual coup was planned for December 1, 1963.
At the same time as the continued planning, President Kennedy, perhaps shaken by the events of October 1962, looked for ways to defuse the situation and reach accomodation with Castro. On March 30, 1963, the State Dept. and Justice Dept. jointly announced their intent to ensure that Cuban exile groups conducting sabotage raids would no longer do so from U.S. soil. Faced with raids on training camps and loss of support, some of these groups relocated to other countries such as Nicaragua.
In September, following an interview of Castro by journalist Lisa Howard, Kennedy approved secret contacts between U.N. delegate William Atwood and Cuban Ambassador to the U.N. Carlos Lechuga. A preliminary meeting took place, and plans for more substantive talks in a neutral setting such as Mexico were proposed. Concern that such talks not leak out even to the rest of Kennedy's own government contributed to delays in organizing the secret talks.
In the midst of these events, the CIA reactivated contacts with Rolando Cubela, code-named AMLASH, an apparently disgruntled Cuban government official interesting in overthrowing Castro. High-level CIA officer Desmond Fitzgerald, at this time head of the Special Affairs Staff, took the extroardinary step of meeting with Cubela directly, and representing himself as an emissary of Robert Kennedy (there is no indication RFK was informed of this). On November 22, Cubela was being handed a poison pen by a CIA representative when news of Kennedy's death broke up the meeting.
Controversy lingers over whether the "two tracks" on Cuba were both under control of President Kennedy, or whether the CIA actively undermined Kennedy's peace initiatives by contacting Cubela.
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