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Cuba and the Kennedy Assassination

John and Robert Kennedy in discussion outside the White House, 28 Mar 1963
John and Robert Kennedy in discussion outside the White House, 28 Mar 1963

Is there a connection between Cuba and the Kennedy assassination? Many researchers think so. A few point the finger at Fidel Castro, but many more point to the dangerous milieu of militant Cuban exiles, organized crime figures, and hardliners in the CIA frustrated over Kennedy's failure to get rid of Castro. These three groups were all involved together in plots to kill Fidel Castro. Did they turn their guns on Kennedy?

Much has been written on the climate of distrust created by Kennedy's vacillating policy on Cuba. Kennedy was bitterly blamed by many for failing to provide crucial support when the Bay of Pigs invasion turned sour. Less well known is that not everyone shared the modern-day notion that the resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis was successful. Air Force chief Curtis LeMay told Kennedy to his face that this was "worse than the appeasement at Munich," a special dig given that JFK's father had opposed entry into World War II. The military had earlier in 1962 proposed creating pretexts for an invasion of Cuba (Operation Northwoods). The missiles provided Kennedy with an actual reason to invade, and he chose not to.

There is much more to the context of bitterness over JFK's Cuba policy, and the milieu in which CIA hardliners such as William Harvey and David Morales worked with organized crime figures including Johnny Roselli and Santos Trafficante, and with embittered and violent Cuban exile groups. But did this bitterness actually turn to plotting the murder of the President? Several books explore some of the individuals and stories which point in that direction, among them The Last Investigation, Someone Would Have Talked, and Deep Politics II.

Of interest here is the apparently false information connecting Oswald and Castro held in government files prior to November 22, 1963. On the afternoon of the assassination, FBI Director Hoover told Robert Kennedy that Oswald "made several trips to Cuba," something not supported by the record. Army Intelligence cabled the US Strike Command in Florida later the same day, providing two apparently false facts: that Oswald had defected to Cuba in 1959, and was a card-carrying member of the Communist Party. And it is unknown what caused RFK himself to call Cuban exile Harry Ruiz Williams on the same day and say "one of your boys did this."

Perhaps related to these stories is Oswald's trip to Mexico City and his probable impersonation there. Accounts of Oswald's being a hired gun of Castro's flooded from that city after the assassination, most provably false. Were these stories coordinated? Information about the trip seems to have been controlled pre-assassination by the Special Affairs Staff, CIA's special Cuba unit, even though supposedly the CIA had no notion that Oswald had visited the Cuban embassy. And Staff D, the secretive group which manned the listening posts which caught Oswald or an imposter on tape, happened to be the same group in which CIA's assassination plotting was housed. Is it possible there was a plan to pin false information on a framed and dead Oswald, and use it to launch an invasion of Cuba? And did then Oswald's capture put a freeze on such plans?

This is clearly speculation. However, there has unquestionably been CIA covering up related to the Mexico City trip and to other aspects of the assassination. It has been recently revealed that George Joannides, the man the CIA pulled out of retirement to serve as liason to the HSCA for document requests, had in fact been operational in 1963, in charge of a Cuban exile group called the DRE. It was the DRE which was in contact with Oswald in the summer of 1963 - Oswald and DRE member Carlos Bringuier were involved in a famous "scuffle" in August. When former HSCA Chief Counsel Robert Blakey learned that Joannides was not who he had been represented to be, Blakey wrote a scathing letter about it. A lawsuit against the CIA demanding further records is pending.



Kennedy and the Cold Warriors: The Case for a "Big" Conspiracy, by Tim Howells.

The Plot's Vertical Convergence With U.S. Policy Divisions, by Peter Dale Scott.

William Harvey in Florida: April 1963, by Noel Twyman.



HSCA Appendix Volume X. This volume is the HSCA's writeup on Cuban exile groups and the CIA-Mafia plots to assassinate Fidel Castro.

Church Committee: Book V - The Investigation of the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy: Performance of the Intelligence Agencies. Several sections of this report touch upon Cuban matters.

Assassination Planning and the Plots: Cuba. This is section III.B of the Church Committee's Interim Report: Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders.

Inspector General's Report on Plots to Assassinate Fidel Castro. The "I.G. Report" was CIA's own reporting on the Castro plots, created in response to a request from President Lyndon Johnson.

Other Links

Interview: G. Robert Blakey. Scroll to the bottom of this Frontline interview to read Blakey's scathing 2003 addendum, after he learned of the identity of George Joannides.

The JFK Assassination and Cuba. AfroCubaWeb hosts links to a variety of essays and materials on this topic.

Cuban Information Archives. This website contains a great deal of material on Cuban exile organizations and persons.

The Cuba Hoaxes. Anthony Marsh discusses some of the Cuba "hoaxes" and includes scanned document pages.

Related Starting Points


Larry Hancock, author of Someone Would Have Talked, discusses the dangerous milieu of distrust created by Kennedy's Cuba policies.
(running time: 2:26)

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