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Cryptonym: AMTOUT-1

Definition:
Mario Lazo y Guiral. Mario Lazo was a Havana lawyer who had strong links to US interests in Cuba prior to Castro's seizure of power in January of 1959. Lazo was the author in 1968 of Dagger in the Heart: American Policy Failures in Cuba.
Status:
Probable
Discussion:
AMTOUT-1 was a SAS/EDE asset in New York City. In 1964, AMTOUT-1 was described as a "former Havana lawyer who is very knowledgeable of Cuban exile affairs and has sources of information inside Cuba." Mario Lazo was a well connected lawyer, whose law firm according to a FBI memo in January, 1966, handled the affairs of the U.S. Embassy in Havana for many years. In addition, a dispatch in April, 1962, stated that Bernard Barker (AMCLATTER-1) was introduced to the CIA COS, Havana, by Lazo, who was friends with James Noel. Note Lazo's relationship with Barker went back to 1953 or earlier - see the entry below for 1953-1961. Moreover, a CIA document in 1972 mentioned that Mario Lazo was an "unofficial contact" of the Havana Station. Also, a State Department document in 1958 stated that Lazo was an adviser to Marquez Sterling. A memo in January, 1964, mentioned that Carlos Marquez Sterling gave AMTOUT-1 a copy of a memo on Jack Ruby and "Praskin." AMTOUT-1 was in contact with Jorge Smith of JURE in 1964. A CIA report in May of 1964 stated that Mario Lazo, who now lived in Connecticut, had contributed $1,000 to the MRP-Alpha 66-SFNE alliance. The FBI memo in 1966 mentioned above stated that Lazo lived in the New York area. Mail to AMTOUT-1 appears to have gone to New York City. Therefore, it is possible Lazo obtained it there from his home in Connecticut. Also, a CIA memo in July of 1974 stated that "Mario Lazo apparently was contacted in the early 1960's but all of our old material on him was destroyed in 1970 as part of a records destruction program." HSCA reports illustrated Mario Lazo's animosity towards the U.S. Government over the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in April, 1961, and Lazo apparently described the October 1962 missile crisis deal as a "soul-shattering blow."
Sources:

124-90103-10092:

07/08/58: FBI report from Albany Office by Arthur V. Hart: Titled: Meeting of Hoodlums, Apalachin, New York, November 14, 1957: Page 144: ..."Edwin A. Leahey, a newspaperman, who was in Havana for the purpose of obtaining material for a story on American gamblers and hoodlums in Havana, advised Confidential Informant T-54 that he had heard that Joe Rivers (previously mentioned in this report), Trafficante and Sidney Orseck were able to cut in on Cliff Jones and Senator K. Johnson for the bid on the casino at the Havana Hilton through the employees' union and thereby bring pressure on John Houser of the Hilton Hotel chain. Leahey said also that he had ascertained from Mario Lazo, a well known Cuban lawyer, that arrangements had previously been worked out by the Hilton Corporation with the above mentioned individuals for the operation of the gambling casino. Lazo stated that an initial contract had been signed and had been canceled as a result of bad newspaper publicity linking with the murder of Albert Anastasia with the efforts to get the gambling casino at the Havana Hilton. Lazo informed, however, that the contract would be signed January 7, 1958..."

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958-1960, Volume VI: Cuba Current Section:

"164. Editorial Note...Also in late November (1958), Mario Lazo, a Cuban lawyer and adviser to Marquez Sterling, learned from 'a respectable and confidential source' in the United States that the U.S. Government was planning to send Pawley to negotiate with Batista. Lazo had been told that Pawley would offer Batista a chance to live with his family in Florida if he would appoint a caretaker government consisting of five of his political opponents. Lazo also learned that Ambassador Smith would be recalled to Washington, but would not be informed of the plan. On November 27, Lazo told Smith of the plan and gave the Ambassador the names of the persons to be suggested for the caretaker government. According to Lazo, Smith was surprised by this information and made no comment. (Mario Lazo, Dagger in the Heart: American Policy Failures in Cuba (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1968), pages 157-158). For Smith's recollections of the conversation and the plan to send Pawley to Cuba, see The Fourth Floor, pages 164-165."

104-10163-10068: MEMO:BARKER, BERNARD L. - IN WASHINGTON, DC

1953-1961: See this 7/16/61 memo from Chief, WH/4/Security Joseph Langan to C/WH/4 R. K. Davis: "(Bernard Barker/AMCLATTER-1), an operational asset of both Havana station and JMWAVE, is currently in the Washington DC area at the suggestion of Mr. Howard Hunt, in an effort to resolve his citizenship status...in Barker's opinion, he became the object of personal spite on the part of an unnamed Embassy staff officer, who took action to revoke the citizenship based on his membership in the Cuban police. In an effort to rectify his plight, Mr. Spears, the Embassy FBI representative, sent him to Dr. Mario Lazo, a leading Havana attorney, to prepare the case for a plea to regain citizenship. According to Barker's recollection, this occurred in 1953. Dr. Lazo compiled a formidable file on (Barker) and was in communication with a Washington DC legal firm, which Barker dimly recalls as that of Edward Bennett Williams, who was to handle the case locally. A private bill was introduced in the 83rd Congress...but no action was taken on the bill...Currently, Barker is traveling on a Cuban passport and is in the US as a "SP" paroled to Bernie Reichardt." Langan recommended that Lazo be contacted to find out why the private bill failed in Congress, and that the Office of General Counsel take action to assist Barker in regaining his American citizenship.

104-10262-10440: DISPATCH: OPERATIONAL / GYROSE /KUCAGE INFORMATION ON THE MOVIMENTO REVOLUCIONARIO DEL PUEBLO (NRP) AND JOAQUIN GODOY Y SOLIS

04/20/62: Dispatch from COS, JMWAVE to Chief Task Force W: "1. The attached information on the MRP and Joaquin Godoy y Solis was provided by AMCLATTER-1. As indicated in the attachment, he was asked to assess Godoy by Dr. Mario Lazo, a Cuban lawyer. The reason for Lazo's request is not specified in this report, but considering the comments made in the seventh, and penultimate paragraphs, it would appear that there would be some connection with the reported possibility of the Godoy faction of the MRP joining the Cuban Revolutionary Council..." - - - Page 3: "April 15, 1962, Miami: Approximately a week ago I received a telephone call from Dr. Mario Lazo, prominent Cuban lawyer, head of the firm of Lazo and Cuba, one of the best law firms in Havana, Cuba, previous to the Castro regime. Dr. Lazo asked me to give an opinion on Joaquin Godoy, actual leader of the MRP...I believe that my personal relation to Dr. Lazo should be explained, in view of the above. I have known and greatly admired Dr. Lazo, since 1948. I was introduced to him by Mr. Spears, legal attache of the U.S. Embassy in Havana, a high level member of the FBI, in charge of operations in Cuba...Mr. Spears introduced me to Dr. Lazo, asking him to help me out - with my citizenship problem. Since then I became very attached to Dr. Lazo, who later called me and took me to his friend James Noel, with whom I started to work. Dr. Lazo for many years represented as a lawyer, the U.S. Department of Justice in Cuba. I ran into Dr. Lazo in this area about a month and a half ago. He apparently was aware of the nature of my work, and although I could see he was very well informed...Before leaving he invited my wife and myself out to dinner with his wife. During the conversation he offered to put in a good word for me at top levels, but nothing indicated at the time, that he was in any way involved, with any revolutionary groups..."

104-10180-10020: ROUTING SHEET AND MEMORANDUM : MEMO RECEIVED FROM AMTOUT-1

1/9/64 memo from C/SAS/EDE to James Angleton, Chief, CI Staff: "Attached is a translation of a memo sent to Carlos Marquez Sterling. Sterling gave a copy of the memo to AMTOUT-1, a SAS/EDE asset, who passed it on to us. The Brigadier of Giron, Sr. Evidio Pereira, who is in constant communication with Cuba...notify the Pentagon of this fact: Ruby the assassin of Oswald was in Havana a year ago. He is a friend and customer of a citizen named Praskin, owner or manager of a novelty shop for tourists...Pereira is probably Evidio D. Pereira Acosta, DPOB 12 March 1927...201-298242, member of Brigade 2506. There are no SAS traces on Praskin."

104-10192-10322: WITHHELD

4/16-17/64 communication from Jorge Smith of JURE to AMTOUT-1, who appears to be in New York. The source is described as "former Havana lawyer who is very knowledgeable of Cuban exile affairs and has sources of information inside Cuba." His reporting is considered very accurate.

104-10179-10260: ON 14 APRIL AMTOUT/1 RECEIVED A LETTER FROM INDENTITY

5/4/64 memo from Director to JMWAVE: "On 14 April AMTOUT-1 received a letter from (Jorge Smith, owner of a Miami electronics store - as seen in 104-10179-10261) requesting CIA or FBI information on AMFAUNA-28. (Jorge Smith) is a radio and communications advisor to the AMBANG-1 /JURE organization...HQ has instructed AMTOUT-1 to inform (Jorge Smith) that he has no way of approaching CIA or FBI." AMTOUT-1 is 201-309861.

1994.05.10.08:49:15:600007: Reel 27, Folder B - JURE (FOLDER 4).

05/12/64: Field Information Report: Subject: Financial Backing and Agreements of the MRP-Alpha 66-SFNE Alliance..."2. Mario Lazo, former prominent lawyer in Habana who now resides in Connecticut, has contributed $1,000 to the Alliance..."

104-10185-10248: MEMORANDUM:REJECTION OF AN APARTMENT FOR AMMUG-1

5/20/64 memo from C/WH/SA/CI Harold F. Swenson discusses how AMMUG-1 cannot be settled in an apartment in Alexandria, VA because it has been exposed to "the following (CIA) staffers and agent assets". The list includes "Mr. REDACTED with AMTOUT a principal agent in New York."

124-10286-10456:

01/11/66: Memorandum from SAC, Miami to Director: Subject: Anti-Fidel Castro Activities (Alleged Plans to Assassinate Fidel Castro) IS - Cuba: Pages 17-18: ..."Godoy advised he had received contributions of approximately $100.00 every three or four months from Mario Lazo, Cuban lawyer residing in the New York City area, who has written articles concerning the invasion of Playa Giron in the 'Readers' Digest,' monthly publication published at Pleasantville, New York. He also advised James K. Cogswell, former businessman in Cuba now residing at 14 E. 60th Street, New York City, had collected money from various friends of Cogswell in the New York City area, for the purpose of assisting in anti-Fidel Castro activities. He advised that neither Lazo or Cogswell were aware of any details concerning the aforementioned plan to possibly attempt to assassinate Fidel Castro..." - - - In an interview with the FBI in November, 1965, James Cogswell stated that Mario Lazo had one of the most prosperous law firms in Cuba, and that this law firm handled the affairs of the American Embassy in Havana for many years. https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=84490&search=124-10286-10461#relPageId=12&tab=page

104-10256-10269: WATERGATE INCIDENT REPORT

07/13/72: CIA document: Page 8: ..."L. Mario Lazo is identified in the press as a lawyer now living in Norfolk, Connecticut, who represented Americans in Cuba, and who asked Edward Bennett Williams help some years ago to get Bernard L. Barker's citizenship back. This individual is Mario Lazo y Guiral, a 77 year old lawyer and writer who represented American interests in Cuba for many years. He is an American citizen, and was an 'unofficial' contact of the Havana Station. He has been in frequent contact with the Agency over the years, and was considered for use as a Spotter in 1962. As recently as November 1971, Lazo was of interest to the Boston Office of the Domestic Contacts Service. He has had no official relationship with the Agency." - - - 07/12/74: Memo from Jackson R. Horton, Chief, Domestic Collection Division to Chief, OSC/OC: Subject: Your Speed Letter of 2 July 1974 Regarding Possible Witnesses in the Case of United States v. John D. Ehrlichman, et al..."e. Mario Lazo apparently was contacted in the early 1960's but all of our old material on him was destroyed in 1970 as part of a records destruction program. He was contacted a few times between March and August of 1971 for information on prominent Cubans who were known to him personally." https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=55202&search=1994.05.06.09-24-20-780005#relPageId=9&tab=page

HSCA Report, Volume X Current Section: I. The Ingredients of an Anti-Castro Cuban Conspiracy

Page 9: ..."(30) Prominent Cuban attorney Mario Lazo wrote a book caustically titled Dagger in the Heart. (38) Lazo wrote: The Bay of Pigs defeat was wholly self-inflicted in Washington. Kennedy told the truth when he publicly accepted responsibility...The heroism of the beleaguered Cuban Brigade had been rewarded by betrayal, defeat, death for many of them, long and cruel imprisonment for the rest. The Cuban people and the Latin American nations, bound to Cuba by thousands of subtle ties of race and culture, were left with feelings of astonishment and disillusionment, and in many cases despair. They had always admired the United States as strong, rich, generous-but where was its sense of honor and the capacity of its leaders? The mistake of the Cuban fighters for liberation was that they thought too highly of the United States. They believed to the end that it would not let them down. But it did...(39)..." - - - According to this HSCA document (09/26/78) Mario Lazo called the October 1962 missile crisis deal a "soul-shattering blow." https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=145118&search=#relPageId=11&tab=page

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Contributors:
Bill Simpich • Gavin McDonald

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