Friday, November 22, 2019

President John F. Kennedy's assassination, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and Cuba

“We are prepared to fight them and answer in kind. U.S. leaders should think that if they are aiding terrorist plans to eliminate Cuban leaders, they themselves will not be safe.” - Fidel Castro, September 6, 1963*

President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy on November 22, 1963
Fifty six years ago on November 22, 1963 John F. Kennedy was assassinated. At 12:30pm Central Standard Time the Kennedys in their convertible limousine turned off Main Street at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. As they were passing the Texas School Book Depository, President John F. Kennedy was shot twice and slumped over toward First Lady Jackie Kennedy. The governor of Texas was also hit. At 1:00pm President Kennedy was pronounced dead.

Seven days later on November 29, 1963 President Lyndon Johnson and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover discussed the FBI investigation into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on the White House telephone. The conversation was recorded and is now part of the public record. Hoover described to Johnson the capture of Lee Harvey Oswald after the shooting. Hoover also discussed Oswald's pro-Castro and anti-American associations.

On September 15, 2015 the international media reported on a newly declassified memo from the CIA concerning presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald that reported the following:

Three days after the shooting in Dallas, Texas, on 22 November 1963, Lyndon B Johnson was informed that Oswald had visited the Cuban and former Soviet Union embassies in Mexico City on 28 September 1963 to arrange visas.
The Daily Mail reported that the memo had "remained a secret until [September 15, 2015], when the CIA released 19,000 confidential documents from the 1960s."

German documentary filmmaker Wilfried Huismann described the circumstances surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the subsequent cover up by the Johnson White House with the tacit approval of Robert Kennedy in his 2006 documentary Rendezvous with Death. At the time of the film's release he gave an interview in Deutsche Welle on January 5, 2006 titled "Castro ordered Kennedy's Assassination." Below is an excerpt from the article:
DW-WORLD: We know that Lee Harvey Oswald killed John F. Kennedy. But who ordered his assassination and why? 
Wilfried Huismann: We settled the question of why in three years of research on this documentary in Mexico, USA and Cuba. Oswald had been an agent for the Cuban intelligence services since November 1962. He was a political fanatic and allowed himself to be used by the Cuban intelligence services to kill John F. Kennedy. It was a Cuban reaction to the repeated attempts of the Kennedy brothers, above all the younger Kennedy, Robert, to get rid of Fidel Castro through political assassination -- a duel between the Kennedys and the Castros, which, like in a Greek tragedy, left one of the duelists dead.
Declassified records in recent years corroborate Huismann's argument.

CIA documents, released in October of 2017, speculate that Oswald's motive for killing Kennedy was that he was "enraged after reading a detailed article in his hometown newspaper in New Orleans in September suggesting that his hero Castro had been targeted for assassination by the Kennedy administration." Oswald sought vengeance on Castro's behalf.  This was an embarrassment for the CIA and the White House that had repeatedly tried to assassinate Castro, and that President Kennedy's murder was blowback.

Another declassified CIA document, released in October 17, 2017 cites Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs and later U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Thomas C. Mann who said "he had a 'feeling in his guts' that Castro paid Lee Harvey Oswald to assassinate the 35th president on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas." 

A pro-Castro Cuban expat, Gilberto Policarpo Lopez, was shadowing President Kennedy in the week prior to his assassination. Lopez was trying to get on the good side of the Castro regime and had applied for a visa to return to Cuba. Unlike Oswald, who was killed, Lopez made it back to Cuba and disappeared.

John Kennedy had not been a fan of Fidel Castro and his revolution.  Four months after the assassination of her husband the First Lady recorded a series of interviews in 1964 about what life was like in The White House. The tapes were kept under seal by the Kennedy Library until September 2011.  On September 11, 2011 First Lady Jackie Kennedy's tapes were featured in the book Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy.

Cliff Kincaid from Accuracy in Media reported on what the former First Lady had to say about Cuba, the Castro revolution and how President Kennedy had viewed it.
"Jackie indicates that the Kennedys accepted the view of one of their family friends, Ambassador Earl E.T. Smith, that The New York Times and the State Department were largely responsible for Castro’s rise to power and the fall of Fulgencio Batista. 
Smith said that the U.S. government facilitated Batista’s downfall by withdrawing support for his government. But Smith also said that “Until certain portions of the American press began to write derogatory articles against the Batista government, the Castro revolution never got off first base.” 
Smith said that Matthews’ columns “eulogized Fidel Castro, portrayed him as a political Robin Hood, and compared him to Abraham Lincoln.” 
While JFK had no sympathy for Batista, he thought it was “awful” that President Eisenhower, a Republican, had permitted Castro to visit the U.S. after his seizure of power in Havana, said Jackie, going on to cite Smith’s book, The Fourth Floor, on how the U.S. State Department had paved the way for Castro’s takeover. The title is a reference to the officials responsible for Cuba policy who were on the fourth floor of the State Department."
This blog has been critical of The New York Times and its historic bias favoring Fidel Castro and the communist regime in Cuba. It was surprising to find that Jackie Kennedy was also critical of how The New York Times covered Cuba, and the role it played in Fidel Castro's rise to power. Kincaid from Accuracy in Media cites additional excerpts related to Cuba.
“We knew Earl Smith then, who’d been Eisenhower’s ambassador at the time,” said Jackie in the tapes featured in the book Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy. “When we were in Florida—that’s all Earl could talk about. Yeah, then Jack was really sort of sick that the Eisenhower administration had let him [Castro] come in and then The New York Times—what was his name, Herbert Matthews?” Jackie adds, “I can remember a lot of talk about it and wasn’t—didn’t even Norman Mailer write something?” 
Arthur Schlesinger Jr., who was interviewing Jackie, interjects, “Norman Mailer was very pro-Castro, yeah.” 
When Schlesinger noted that Smith had written a book about Castro being a communist and working with the communists, Jackie replied, “Yeah—The Fourth Floor? Well, he was always saying his troubles with the State Department—I remember there was a man named Mr. Rubottom he kept talking about. And how hard it was—warning against Castro and how just it was like, I don’t know, dropping pennies down an endless well. He just never could get through to the State Department. So, I suppose he thought he was a Communist, yeah.” 
Roy Rubottom was the Assistant Secretary of State at the time of Castro’s seizure of power. 
President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy addressed Brigade 2506 at the Orange Bowl in Miami on December 29, 1962 where he was given a flag of the Brigade and President Kennedy pledged that their flag would be returned to them in a free Havana.

Ten days prior to President Kennedy's assassination on November 12, 1963, in a White House memorandum, the continued commitment of the Kennedy Administration to pursue an aggressive policy to overthrow the Castro regime is clear:
(f) Support of Autonomous Anti-Castro Groups. The question was asked from where would the autonomous groups operate. Mr. FitzGerald replied that they would operate from outside U.S. territory. He mentioned two bases of the Artime group, one in Costa Rica and the other in Nicaragua. Also it was hoped that the autonomous group under Manolo Ray would soon get itself established in a working base, possibly Costa Rica. Mr. FitzGerald said that much could be accomplished by these autonomous groups once they become operational. A question was asked as to what decisions remain to be made. Mr. FitzGerald replied that we were looking for a reaffirmation of the program as presented, including sabotage and harassment. When asked what was planned in sabotage for the immediate future, he said that destruction operations should be carried out against a large oil refinery and storage facilities, a large electric plant, sugar refineries, railroad bridges, harbor facilities, and underwater demolition of docks and ships. The question was also raised as to whether an air strike would be effective on some of these principal targets. The consensus was that CIA should proceed with its planning for this type of activity looking toward January.
Following the President's assassination within a year these operations were mothballed and Fidel Castro would remain in power for the next half century, then replaced by his brother in a dynastic succession.


In the recordings, Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid also reported that "although JFK authorized an invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961, Jackie alludes to the failure to follow through with adequate military force. 'I mean,' she said, 'the invasion in the beginning and then no air strike—half doing it and not doing it all the way…' The result was a slaughter of anti-communist Cubans in the invasion force and a victory for the Castro regime."

*"Los líderes norteamericanos deben pensar que si están cooperando con los planes terroristas para eliminar a líderes cubanos, ellos mismos no estarán seguros" -Fidel Castro

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