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Oswald's Visits to the Cuban and Soviet Embassies


Portion of Warren Commission Exhibit 2564, a copy of the visa application submitted at the Cuban Embassy, featuring a photo of Oswald.
Photo from Warren Commission Exhibits, Volume XXV.

On September 27 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald apparently visited the Cuban and Soviet embassies in an attempt to obtain a visa for travel through Cuba to the Soviet Union (travel to Cuba as a final destination was not permitted by the U.S.). The Soviets told Oswald that he would have to wait months to obtain a visa, and the Cubans told him that without a Soviet visa he could not obtain an "in-transit" visa through Cuba. After a heated argument with a Cuban Consulate official, Oswald departed without succeeding and proceeded to Dallas on October 3.

The simple story told above, largely parroting the Warren Report, is layered with mysteries. While there is some powerful evidence that it was indeed Oswald who appeared at the embassies, most notably the photo shown on the right side of this page which was attached to the visa application, Cuban Consul Azcue told the HSCA that the person he argued with was not Lee Harvey Oswald. Apparently some other consular employees believed the same. While Sylvia Duran, with whom Oswald dealt most directly, believed it was Oswald, even she had described him to interrogators as "short" and "blond."

If it was Oswald, why did the photo surveillance of the Cuban and Soviet Embassies fail to pick up a single picture of him? And why did FBI agents in Dallas, in the wee hours of the morning of November 23, determine that an imposter was using Oswald's name in a taped phone call to the Soviet Embassy at the time of this visit?

The CIA's Mexico City Station sent cables to headquarters in early October, reporting on the Oswald visit. But these cables described a person who is clearly not Oswald, and instead matches a different person picked up on photo surveillance cameras. In response, officers at CIA headquarters in Washington sent a cable back to Mexico City correcting the description, while within hours these same officers passed on the incorrect description to the FBI, State Department, and Navy. When questioned about this in 1994, CIA officer Jane Roman said "I'm signing off on something I know isn't true." Additionally, senior CIA officers, including the Mexico City Station Chief and the Chief of Research and Analysis in CounterIntelligence, have disputed the completeness of the record of cables we now have.

RESOURCES:

Essays


CIA Files and the Pre-Assassination Framing of Lee Harvey Oswald, by Peter Dale Scott.

Lee Harvey Oswald in Mexico City, by Michael Swanson.

Oswald in Mexico, by Arturo Rodriguez.

Philadelpha Quakers with Oswald in Mexico City, by Bill Kelly.

What Jane Roman Said, by Jefferson Morley.


Other Links

1994 Interview with Jane Roman, one of the drafters of the two Oct 10 cables. Interview conducted by Jefferson Morley and John Newman. Hosted on History Matters.

 
Documents


Warren Report: Mexico City in Appendix XIII: Biography of Lee Harvey Oswald.

Commission Exhibit 2564, containing a copy of the visa application provided by the Cuban government.

HSCA Report, Appendix III:

MEXI 6543. This cable of Oct 8 from Mexico City CIA Station to Headquarters reported on the Oswald visit.

DIR 74673. This reply cable of Oct 10 corrected the description of "Lee Henry Oswald," but falsely noted that "latest info" was from May 1962, when in fact two FBI reports on Oswald's US activities had been received in recent weeks.

DIR 74830. A second cable of Oct 10 disseminated the incorrect description of "Lee Henry Oswald" to the FBI, State Department, and Navy.

CD 1359. Warren Commission Document 1359 is based on the report of an informant code-named SOLO (Jack Childs, a high-level mole in the CPUSA). The informant reports Fidel Castro as having told him that when Oswald was refused a visa, he stormed out saying "I'm going to kill Kennedy for this."

HSCA Testimony of Raymond Rocca. Mr. Rocca was Chief of Research and Analysis in CounterIntelligence, and had operated in a liaison capacity to the Warren and Rockefeller Commissions. See particularly p.81-91 where the October 1963 cable traffic is discussed.

It Came to Little. Mexico City CIA Station Chief left a manuscript entitled "It Came to Little," one chapter of which focuses on the Oswald trip. Scott's account is at great variance with the official record. On one page he recorded: "persons watching these embassies photographed Oswald as he entered and left each one; and clocked the time he spent on each visit."

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    Multimedia

    John Newman, author of JFK and Vietnam and Oswald and the CIA, discusses the cable sent by the Mexico City CIA station after Oswald's visit, and the response at headquarters (running time: 2:53).
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    John Newman talks about the cable sent out from headquarters to other agencies regarding Oswald's Mexico City visit, and the curious action taken by the FBI to remove the "stop" on Oswald's name hours before CIA reported on it (running time: 4:56).
    high-resolution    low-resolution

    John Newman speculates on the integrity of the cable record now in existence, and tells the story of Warren Commissioner David Slawson's initial refusal to discuss the Mexico City tapes with the ARRB (running time: 1:56).
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    (Video clip source: Into Evidence DVD)


    Books of Interest

        The Last Investigation
    Gaeton Fonzi
    Thunder's Mouth Press, 1993
     
        Deep Politics II: Essays on Oswald, Mexico, and Cuba
    Peter Dale Scott
    Mary Ferrell Foundation Press, 1996, 2007
     
        Oswald, the CIA, and Mexico City
    Dan Hardway and Edwin Lopez
    Mary Ferrell Foundation Press, 2006
     
        Live by the Sword: The Secret War Against Castro and the Death of JFK
    Gus Russo
    Bancroft Press, 1998
     
        Passport to Assassination
    Oleg Nechiporenko
    Birch Lane Press, 1993
     
        The Night Watch
    David Phillips
    Atheneum, 1977
     
        Oswald and the CIA
    John Newman
    Carroll & Graf, 1995

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