Elena Garro de Paz Allegation

Elena Garro de Paz
Elena Garro de Paz, a Mexican novelist and playwright, alleged that Lee Harvey Oswald had attended a party at the home of Sylvia Duran, the woman who handled Oswald's visa request at the Cuban Consulate.

One of the stories of Communist conspiracy emanating from Mexico City came from Mexican poet and writer Elena Garro de Paz and her daughter Elenita. The origins of this story are murky - the first available documentation dates from after the publication of the Warren Report, but there are indications that it actually originated in the immediate aftermath of the Kennedy assassination.

In October 1964, informant June Cobb told CIA officers that Elena Garro de Paz and her daughter and sister had, in reaction to coverage of the publication of the Warren Report, talked about the party they had attended in the fall of 1963 at the home of cousin Ruben Duran. At that party, Sylvia Duran had supposedly spoken to three American guests who were otherwise standoffish. One of these guests turned out to be Lee Harvey Oswald. Sylvia Duran was the woman who worked in the Cuban Consulate and had handled Oswald's visa request.

Ms. Garro was subsequently interviewed by the FBI, who had trouble corroborating some aspects of the story, and subsequently lost interest. Then, in late 1965, a State Department officer named Charles Thomas heard the story, and became deeply interested in it. His attempts to have the allegations pursued fell on deaf ears. Meanwhile, the story developed a few embellishments not present in writeups of the original version, in particular the presence of a red-haired Negro at the party (reminiscent of the Alvarado allegation).

From the late-arriving and evolving nature of the allegation, and its lack of significant corroboration, it would be easy to dismiss Elena Garro and her daughter as having made the whole thing up. Indeed, Ms. Garro was known for having a gifted imagination. A handwritten note by CIA station chief Win Scott appended to one of the Elena Garro reports made this observation: "She is also nuts."

But there are troubling indications that Elena was telling this story from the time of the assassination, and had been secreted away at an obscure hotel at that time by Mexican authorities. Later investigations indeed found the Garros as having stayed at the Hotel Vermont for several days in the immediate aftermath of the investigation. Furthermore, the exact reasons for the arrest of her cousin Sylvia Duran, whom she "detested," has never been adequately explained. One mystery is why Sylvia Duran's family was picked up by the police as well as Sylvia herself - was this because of a tip-off about the Duran party featuring Oswald as a guest?

The Garro allegation is easy to dismiss - perhaps too easy.



Overview: The CIA, The Drug Traffic, and Oswald in Mexico, by Peter Dale Scott.

Lee Harvey Oswald in Mexico City, by Michael Swanson.

Oswald in Mexico, by Arturo Rodriguez.

JFK Documents Could Show the Truth About a Diplomat's Death 47 Years Ago, by Philip Shenon.


Mexican Communists Who Had Contact With Oswald.... This CIA document of 5 Oct 1964 describes Elena Garro de Paz and her daughters' discussions in the wake of the Warren Report's publication. The source of this memo was identified in the Lopez Report as June Cobb.

24 Nov 1964 FBI Interview of Elena Garro de Paz and Her Daughter. The FBI subsequently intervewed Elena Garro and her daughter (also named Elena), and obtained a fuller account. This interview includes the allegation that Sylvia Duran hosting a party at which Oswald appeared, though the red-haired Negro who would later appear is not mentioned.

Lee Harvey Oswald and the Kennedy Assassination. This memo of 10 Dec 1965 was written by Charles Thomas of the State Dept., who became deeply interested in Elena Garros' story in late 1965. This account mentions the Garros having been secreted in an obscure hotel immediately after the assassination.

MEXI 5621. This cable of 17 Dec 1965 reported State Dept. officer Charles Thomas' interest in Elena Garro's story. In this version, the red-haired Negro appears.

Memo from Nathan Ferris to the Ambassador of 27 Dec 1965. This memo the Legal Attache, Nathan Ferris, referenced Charles Thomas' memo of 10 Dec 1965 but noted that interviews on 17 Nov and 24 Nov 1964 had "failed to failed to substantiate the allegations..."

MEXI 5741. This cable of 29 Dec 1965 passed along the information in the Legal Attache memo of two days earlier. It also includes one handwritten comment by CIA's Allen White saying "I don't know what FBI did in Nov 64, but the Garro's have been talking about this for a long time & she is said to be extremely bright" and another handwritten comment by CIA Station Chief Win Scott which quipped "She is also nuts."


Documents (Continued)

Letter from Charles Thomas to Secretary of State William Rogers. In this letter of 26 Jul 1969, Thomas raised the Garro issue with the Secretary of State. The letter and enclosure is reproduced in 3HSCA290-315 - the enclosure contains several documents which detail Thomas' handling of this matter in 1965 and 1966.

Review of Selected Items in the Lee Harvey Oswald File Regarding Allegations of the Castro Cuban Involvement in the John F. Kennedy Assassination, p.24-28. This May 1975 30-page document includes a recounting of the Garro allegations.

Lopez Report, Section III.C: Elena Garro de Paz, p.206-235. The House Select Committee on Assassinations studied all the documentation on this matter and attempted to locate and interview most of the participants, and wrote 16 pages in its unpublished report "Oswald, the CIA, and Mexico City" (aka "Lopez Report"). In the end, the result was that the Committee "has not been able to confirm the evidence that would indicate that Lee Harvey Oswald, on one night while he was in Mexico, attended a "twist party" at the home of Ruben Duran Navarro, the brother-in-law of Sylvia Duran. More disturbingly, the Committee complained about lack of help it received and stated "The Committee believes that there is a possibility that a U.S. Government agency requested the Mexican government to refrain from aiding the Committee with this aspect of its work."

HSCA Report, Volume III, p.285-306. The HSCA discussed the Elena Garro allegations in its public hearings, and included several relevant documents along with the transcript in its printed volumes.

HSCA Final Report, p.123-124. The Committee's Final Report paid some attention to the Elena Garro allegation.

Related Starting Points

Books of Interest

    Oswald and the CIA (1995 Edition)
John Newman
Carroll and Graf Publishers, Inc., 1995
    Oswald, the CIA, and Mexico City (aka "Lopez Report")
HSCA (Edwin Lopez and Dan Hardway)
Mary Ferrell Foundation Press, 10/7/96
    Oswald. Mexico, and Deep Politics: Revelations from CIA Records on the Assassination of JFK
Peter Dale Scott
Skyhorse Publishing, 2013
    Live By the Sword: The Secret War Against Castro and the Death of JFK
Gus Russo
Bancroft Press, 1998
Anthony Summers
Paragon House, 1980

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