Home/ Resources / Projects / CIA Pseudonyms / pseudonym: MIZONES_BENTON

Pseudonym: Mizones, Benton

Return to Main Pseudos Page

Definition:
Benton H. Mizones was probably a pseudonym for Felix Rodriguez.
Category:
pseudonym
Status:
Probable
Discussion:
Mizones was a CIA Cuban case officer in Miami in 1967 who was involved in the operation that eventually lead to Ernesto "Che" Guevara's capture and execution in Bolivia (ordered by the Bolivian president).

Felix Rodriguez was assigned the cryptonym AMJOKE-1 in the early 1960's.

A memo from Charles Dickins, LA/EICO, in June of 1975 stated Mizones was chosen for the Bolivian mission because of his paramilitary experience and worked with Gustavo Villolbo, a fellow Cuban. The memo also stated that "prior to their departure, both Mizones and Villolbo were issued false U.S. re-entry permits in the names of Felix Ramos and (REDACTION) respectively."

Warren Hinckle and William Turner, in their book Deadly Secrets: The CIA-Mafia War Against Castro and the Assassination of JFK (1992), stated that Felix Rodriguez used the alias of Felix Ramos during the mission to capture Ernesto Guevara in Bolivia in 1967. In addition, the National Security Archive website also stated that Rodriguez used this alias.
Sources:

104-10102-10005: STATEMENT CONCERNING ASSIGNMENT BOLIVIA IN 1967 AND ROLE IN THE CAPTURE OF ERNESTO "CHE" GUEVARA DE LA SERNA.

06/03/75: Memo from Charles B. Dickens, LA/EICO to Deputy Inspector General: "1. The undersigned met with Benton H. Mizones, contract employee, on 2 and 3 June to obtain his story about his assignment to Bolivia in 1967. This query is based upon ref interview, during which Mizones mentioned that he had re-transmitted an order from Colonel Joaquin Zenteno Anaya, Commander of the 8th Division of the Bolivian Army, to a Bolivian sergeant, which resulted in the execution of Ernesto 'Che' Guevara de la Serna, Cuban leader of the guerrillas then operating in Bolivia. 2. Mizones said that his assignment came about after an interview held in Miami in June or July of 1967, at which time he was a case officer working for the Miami office. He had been selected for the job interview because of his paramilitary training and experience. He was asked if he would agree to serve with Gustavo Villolbo, a fellow Cuban. He accepted. He was told that he was to go to Bolivia with Villolbo where they would be engaged in training intelligence teams for the 2nd Ranger Battalion of the Eighth Division of the Bolivian Army...Among the instructions given them was a clear one that in the event that the Bolivian Army captured Guevara, they should do everything possible 'to keep him alive'...4. Prior to their departure, both Mizones and Villolbo were issued false U.S. re-entry permits in the names of Felix Ramos and (REDACTION) respectively...5. The case officer and another American took them to meet President (REDACTION) to whom they were introduced as experts on guerrilla warfare..."7. Despite their apparent status as Bolivian officers, Mizones said that they never were given orders by higher-ranking Bolivian officers (one exception to this rule was the order which Colonel Zenteno issued to Mizones on the day of Guevara's execution, if Mizones story is to be believed)." (CONTINUED BELOW)

104-10102-10005: STATEMENT CONCERNING ASSIGNMENT BOLIVIA IN 1967 AND ROLE IN THE CAPTURE OF ERNESTO "CHE" GUEVARA DE LA SERNA.

"8. Mizones was assigned to Santa Cruz and Villolbo was assigned to La Esperanza...Mizones said that he saved the life of Jose Castillo Chavez, traveling for that purpose to Vallegrande from Santa Cruz...13. While Zenteno and all the other Bolivian officers...Mizones remained in Higueras as the highest ranking 'Bolivian officer'. In this capacity he answered a call received on the military field telephone and answered as Captain Ramos...14...Mizones asked if Guevara's life could be preserved since he had these instructions. Zenteno replied that his own position would be placed in jeopardy if he did not comply...15...After Zenteno left, Mizones was able to talk to Guevara, who identified Mizones either as a Puerto Rican or a Cuban working for U.S. intelligence...16...The order was given to the sergeant at 1:00 p.m. and Mizones heard the shots fired at Guevara at 1:20 p.m. At 2:00 p.m., the helicopter returned to Higueras...17. Mizones said he reported the executions to Major Saucedo and the Chief of Operations, a Major Gutierrez, and then was taken back to identify the bodies of the three executed guerrillas...After 2 weeks in Panama, Mizones and Villolbo were documented as GS-16's so that they could board a over-booked military flight to Charlotte, South Carolina. After their arrival there, they journeyed to Miami, where Mizones briefed General Cushman. (Mizones believes that in both high-level briefings he mentioned his own personal role in the execution of Guevara.)"

https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB5/docs/doc15.pdf

This is an earlier, redacted version of the document above on the National Security Archive website: The text on it reads: "When Che Guevara was executed in La Higuera, one CIA official was present - a Cuban-American operative named Félix Rodríguez. Rodríguez, who used the codename 'Félix Ramos' in Bolivia and posed as a Bolivian military officer, was secretly debriefed on his role by the CIA's office of the Inspector General in June, 1975. (At the time the CIA was the focus of a major Congressional investigation into its assassination operations against foreign leaders.) In this debriefing - discovered in a declassified file marked 'Félix Rodríguez' by journalist David Corn - Rodríguez recounts the details of his mission to Bolivia where the CIA sent him, and another Cuban-American agent, Gustavo Villoldo, to assist the capture of Guevara and destruction of his guerrilla band. Rodríguez and Villoldo became part of a CIA task force in Bolivia that included the case officer for the operation, 'Jim', another Cuban American, Mario Osiris Riveron, and two agents in charge of communications in Santa Clara. Rodríguez emerged as the most important member of the group; after a lengthy interrogation of one captured guerrilla, he was instrumental in focusing the efforts to the 2nd Ranger Battalion focus on the Villagrande region where he believed Guevara's rebels were operating. Although he apparently was under CIA instructions to 'do everything possible to keep him alive,' Rodríguez transmitted the order to execute Guevara from the Bolivian High Command to the soldiers at La Higueras - he also directed them not to shoot Guevara in the face so that his wounds would appear to be combat-related - and personally informed Che that he would be killed. After the execution, Rodríguez took Che's Rolex watch, often proudly showing it to reporters during the ensuing years." https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB5/

Deadly Secrets: The CIA-Mafia War Against Castro and the Assassination of JFK (1992) by William Turner & Warren Hinckle, pp. 113-115

Page 370: ..."In the diary he kept of his doomed Bolivian campaign, Che noted in an entry dated September 10, 1967, that airplanes had been 'flying all over the Zone.' He didn't know what was hunting him. The Operation 40 team from Miami entered Bolivia under the names Felix Ramos and Eduardo Gonzalez. The rites of passage were simple for they had a sponsor in a high place - Antonio Arguedas Mendietta, the Bolivian Minister of the Interior and chief of intelligence who was also working for the CIA..." - - - Page 410: ..." On April 20, 1976, the CIA agent who had orchestrated the hunt for Che Guevara in Bolivia, retired. The brief ceremony, during which he was awarded the Intelligence Star for Valor, was held in his Miami home...Upon retiring Ramos resumed using his true name. Felix I. Rodriguez, which had been mothballed during his years of agency service. Rodriguez, who resembles Desi Arnaz, had belonged to the landed gentry in pre-revolutionary Cuba, and he carried a personal grudge against Castro. In 1961 while training with Brigade 2506 before the Bay of Pigs invasion, he volunteered to assassinate Fidel. He said that the CIA presented him with 'a beautiful German bolt action rifle with a powerful telescopic sight, all neatly packaged in a custom-made carrying case.' The weapon had been presighted for a location where Castro made frequent appearances. But after several abortive attempts to infiltrate Cuba, the mission was abandoned..." - - - Page 444: The authors in the bibliographic notes stated again that Felix Rodriguez used the nom de guerre Felix Ramos.

https://www.air-america.org/files/documents/revietnam_5.pdf

08/25/2010: Article by Rudy Enders: Titled: With the CIA in Vietnam Part 5: Page 13: ..."Our good fortune with Don was followed by another great addition to our staff, Felix Rodrigues a former Cuban national who had been a CIA agent in Havana during the Bay of Pigs. He would be my PRU assistant. Felix was a legend. When Cuban DGI intelligence began arresting Agency spies after the ill fated invasion, he escaped by entering the Venezuelan Embassy where he stayed until the staff managed to smuggle him out. Subsequently, the Agency assigned him to Bolivia where he worked as a communications advisor to the Bolivian Rangers involved in tracking down communist insurgents headed by the notorious Che Guevera. When Che was captured in 1967, Felix was instructed by CIA to 'do everything possible to keep him alive.' However, the Bolivian Government would have no part of it, ordering the Ranger commander to execute the prisoner. Before Che was shot by a firing squad, Felix looked him in the eye and told him of his fate. His account of the incident is detailed in Felix’s book 'Shadow Warrior,' which he wrote with the help of author John Weisman. Castro wasn’t about to allow his communist friend to die without retaliating, so he sent Cuban hit teams throughout Latin America to kill all those responsible, including Felix. Knowing this, the Agency assigned Felix to Vietnam. Whereas Jack Harrell avoided combat, Felix relished it. In fact, he was fearless to the point of almost having a death wish. What compelled him was having experienced the loss of his country to communist tyranny. From that day forward, he dedicated his life to fight communism no matter where its ugly head emerged... From my prospective, he was perfect for the job. His energy level, courage, commitment, aggressiveness and competence quickly proved him to be a genuine dedicated warrior..." https://www.air-america.org/files/documents/revietnam_5.pdf

See Also:
Contributors:
Gavin McDonald • Bill Simpich • Warren Hinckle • William Turner

© Mary Ferrell Foundation. All Rights Reserved. |Site Map |MFF Policies |Contact Us