Deep Politics II: Oswald, Mexico, and Cuba (part one)

deep-politics-ii There are mind-bending Oswald mysteries in Mexico! Peter Dale Scott’s Deep Politics II The New Revelations in U.S. Government Files 1994-1995 Essays on Oswald, Mexico, and Cuba (1995) (3rd edn. 2003) is a short book with a narrower focus than Deep Politics and the Death of JFK (aka Deep Politics I – page references will be to Deep Politics II unless otherwise stated). It deals with my ‘favourite’ mystery of the JFK saga: Oswald in Mexico. By that I mean it’s the most likely thing to make me go ‘WHAT!?’ repeatedly.

Oswald supposedly spent 26 Sep. – 3 Oct. ’63 in Mexico City, to obtain a visa to visit Cuba (which had severed diplomatic ties with the US in ’61). Win Scott, CIA station chief in Mexico, sent a cable to CIA Director John McCone on 8 Oct. (Deep Politics I, p.39; cable reproduced in John Newman, Oswald and the CIA 2008 edn., p.509), alleging a CIA intercept on 1 Oct. of ‘a local call to the Soviet embassy in Mexico City’ by a ‘Lee Oswald’ in which he ‘talked of his contact with’ Valeriy Kostikov (p.3), supposedly a KGB assassination expert. After Dealey Plaza, this information led to the Oswald-international-communist-conspiracy story.

Peter Dale Scott’s view was that the false story of an international communist conspiracy was covered up by the authorities with the ‘phase two’ false story of the lone assassin. The Kostikov story gave the ‘misleading impression of a sinister KGB assassination plot’ either created for that reason, to blame international communism for the JFK assassination, or the impression was ‘planted on the CIA by someone else impersonating Oswald’, someone ‘whose allegiance and purposes remain unknown’, or it had been created ‘for unrelated intelligence purposes’ without any prior knowledge of the assassination, and then later ‘conspirators’ in or outside the CIA ‘took advantage’ to ‘blackmail the government into covering up’ or to provoke a war with the USSR and/or communist Cuba) (p.3).

Have you got all that?

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The Oswald impersonator at the Cuban consulate

Lee Harvey Oswald was 23 years old, 5′ 9″, and had brown hair (p.7) (see also Newman, Oswald and the CIA 2008 edition, p.399), but the ‘Oswald’ who appeared at the Cuban consulate in Mexico City on Friday 27 September ’63, to apply for a visa to Cuba, was, according to the witnesses, over 30, 5′ 6″ and blonde. These witnesses were Cuban Consul Eusebio Azcue and a Mexican woman who worked at the consulate called Silvia Durán. After the assassination, Azcue saw Oswald in a cinema newsreel, and said that the Dallas Oswald ‘in no way resembled’ the Oswald at the Cuban consulate, a man who had a ‘deeply lined face’ (Summers, The Kennedy Conspiracy 1998 edition, p.266). It appears, though, that ‘our’ Oswald did apply for a visa to Cuba, because his photo and his signature are on the application form (pictured above) (the application was denied, incidentally). A sign that Durán may have met the real Oswald is that her name and phone number were found in Oswald’s address book (Summers p.267). Also, a summary of the Mexican Security Police (DFS) interview of Durán was used in the Warren Report, and seemed to be evidence that she identified Oswald. But in the original report of her DFS interview, ‘seen in November 1963 by the Mexico CIA station’, she described a ‘blonde, short’ man. This document can be seen on p.186 of the so-called ‘Lopez Report’ (available online) of investigators Edwin Lopez and Dan Hardway, an appendix to the HSCA report, not declassified until August ’93. Lopez found and interviewed, without the CIA’s permission, two other people who worked inside the consulate, who were apparently spies for the CIA. These people told Lopez ‘it wasn’t Oswald who had been there’ (p.8).

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Silvia Durán

According to a manuscript written by Mexico CIA Station chief Win Scott, there would have been CIA photographs of anyone coming in or out of the Cuban consulate (p.9, also Lopez Report p.23), although he never produced any for us to see. When Win Scott died in April ’71, the head of CIA counterintelligence, James Jesus Angleton, raided his safe, and perhaps made off with such a photo! Later, Durán could not identify anyone from CIA photos released to the HSCA (p.9).

On 25 November, the day after Oswald was murdered by Jack Ruby, a man called Gilberto Alvarado, who worked for Nicaraguan intelligence in Mexico City, told the CIA that ‘he had seen Oswald recruited to kill Kennedy inside the Cuban Consulate’ (p.24). In spite of the fact that Alvarado claimed that this occurred on 18 September, when Oswald was still in New Orleans, the story found an ‘enthusiastic proponent’ in David Atlee Phillips (p.24), who ran ‘the CIA’s anti-Cuban operations in Mexico’ (Newman p.236) and had been involved in the CIA’s illegal counterintelligence operation against the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC), a political organization in the US which Oswald associated himself with while in New Orleans. That CIA counterintelligence operation was run by James McCord, later a Watergate burglar. The FBI, who had their own simultaneous anti-FPCC operation, weren’t told about it (Newman p.95).

Alvarado provided details that have some ‘corroboration’, but that came later on (pp.104, 106 and Lopez Report pp.213, 217). These details involved ‘Oswald’ talking to ‘a tall thin Negro with reddish hair’ and ‘a blonde-haired hippie with a Canadian passport, a girl called “Maria Luisa”… who gave Oswald an embrace’ (p.104).

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Gilberto Alvarado

The Alvarado story was used to push the international communist conspiracy theory, and no doubt worried President Lyndon Johnson when it came to his ‘personal attention… at least three times’ (Summers p.321). While Johnson may even have believed that Castro and the Cubans arranged the JFK assassination (Hurt, Reasonable Doubt, p.31), he pushed against the conspiracy theory for fear of war (pp.21,23 and Summers p.377) and anyway, the absurdity of the 18 September date led to Alvarado retracting the story on 30 November. He retracted it to the FBI, ‘who by then were firmly committed to the phase-two theory of Oswald as a lone assassin’ (p.104). But once the FBI were out of his hair, Alvarado un-recanted his story on 3 December to the Gobernación Ministry of Mexico, who controlled the DFS (p.21) and the Minister of which was close to Win Scott and ‘may have been on the CIA payroll’ (p.8). Then on 5 December he was ‘re-interviewed’ by someone sent from CIA headquarters ‘over-riding the local CIA station’, accompanied by the FBI legal attaché (p.104). This seems to be phase-two imposed on the phase-one gang from on high, with the result that Alvarado agreed with them sagely that he ‘must be’ lying! (p.104).

Blather update: the following paragraph was expanded slightly, to make it clearer who Luisa Calderon was.

The first sort-of corroboration of Alvarado’s story came on 2 December when Pedro Gutierrez, a credit investigator and ‘a politically active anticommunist’ (Benson, Who’s Who in the JFK Assassination, p.164) said he saw ‘Oswald receive money at the Cuban Consulate from someone “almost of ‘negroid’ type kinky hair”‘ (p.106). In April ’64 a defector from the Cuban DGI, code-named AMMUG-1 (a mug won?), said Oswald might have been involved with Cuban consulate official Luisa Calderon, who was ‘Maria Luisa… Oswald’s familiar and possible sexual companion’ in the Alvarado story (p.106), and Alvarado had earlier identified Calderon as ‘Maria Luisa’ from a photo (p.105).

Elena Garro doing the twist (photo: Lajornada Semanal)

Then in ’65, author Elena Garro de Paz linked the Cuban consulate with ‘a Latin American negro man with red hair’ (Lopez Report, p.213) and Oswald with ‘someone with “long blond hair”‘ (p.106). She told of how she attended a ‘twist’ party held by Ruben Durán, Silvia’s brother-in-law (Benson p.148), on 2 or 3 September ’63 (Lopez Report, p.216), the kind of party where one did the twist, or twisted again like one did last summer. Looking at her story in the Lopez Report (p.217), the blond is a man this time (‘very tall and slender and had long blond hair and a rather long protruding chin’), one of three American men together, the other two being ‘Oswald’, who ‘wore a black sweater’ and ‘was quiet “and stared a lot at the floor”‘; and a man who was tall like the blond, ‘with short, light brown hair and no distinguishing characteristics’. This trio of Americans ‘did not dance or mix with the other guests’.

There is a separate story in which ‘Oswald’, angry that the Cuban consulate would not issue him a visa, declared as he was leaving, ‘I’m going to kill Kennedy for this!’ FBI informant ‘Solo’, who was Jack Childs of the Communist Party, told both the Party and the FBI in June ’64 that he heard this story from Fidel Castro himself. The story was also related the same month in a top secret letter from J. Edgar Hoover to the Warren Commission (p.93). Although the documents from ’64 were released 30 years later, forms of the story emerged in the intervening years, but distorted to seem like ‘Oswald’ had ‘a “plan,” or an “offer,” or “intentions,”‘ to kill Kennedy (p.98). Or perhaps there were other sources than Childs: Hoover’s successor Clarence Kelley alleged the ‘offer’ really was made by ‘Oswald’ (p.101). Meanwhile, Castro denied telling the story, telling the HSCA, ‘I didn’t say that,’ but he was asked about distorted versions of the story, not about the ‘meta-allegation’ that he said it to ‘Solo’ (p.100).

That’s all for today, but we can’t put down Deep Politics II yet! There are other Mexican mysteries to (un)cover, which means an extra edition of this blog. We have been publishing an entry each Friday, but this time there will be one inbetween. The subheadings to come are:
-Silvia Durán and the 28 September transcription from the Soviet embassy
-28 September, Nechiporenko and Nosenko
-The phone call to the Soviet embassy on 1 October
-The ‘Kostikov’ cable, 8 October
-The memo of 16 October

Barry Kavanagh writes fiction, and has made music, formerly with Dacianos.

Contact him here.