Recent “Along the Malecon” Musing is Stale, Predictable 6

By Chris Simmons

Tracey Eaton’s Thanksgiving Day post, “Alan Gross, A Soldier Left Behind” falls far short from some of his better pieces of investigative journalism – like his feature of Cuban spy Juan Pablo Roque.

For example, Eaton assigns sinister motives to a US AID program that shuttles Cuba dissidents to speaking events. Really? Havana sends diplomat-spies to speak at US-Cuba Sister City events and Eaton remains silent and yet he slanders a PUBLIC contract fostering open discussions on Cuba?

Eaton then quotes ad nauseam from expelled Cuban spy Josefina Vidal– who continues to serve under shallow cover as head of MINREX’s North America Division. One of her more laughable claims is ““The [US AID] programs…have an interventionist, hostile and destabilizing nature.” Given her own extensive credentials in interventionist, hostile and destabilizing activities, Eaton can fairly cite her as an expert source. However, an honest and objective article would have directly addressed Vidal’s career as a Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer.

Eaton then extensive cites frequent Cuba traveler Phil Peters, a senior member of the Lexington Institute. Again, he omits some significant information. Most importantly that this organization was discredited years ago for writing flattering news stories on its corporate sponsors. Coverage on their money-for-stories approach can be found here: Analyst’s switch stirs tanker talk, and “Sherritt, Cuba, and the Cubanologist.”

With its extensive use of discredited sources and recycling of tired anti-US tirades, Eaton’s article reads more like regime-written propaganda rather than legitimate journalism. We expect and, quite frankly, deserve better from an award-winning writer like Tracey Eaton.

Alan Gross Wife Plans New Freedom Push for Jew Held in Cuba 4

Rally Will Push White House for Action

(Jewish Telegraphic Agency) Alan Gross’ wife and Washington’s Jewish community will call on President Obama to make a priority of securing his release from a Cuban jail on the fourth anniversary of his imprisonment.

Judy Gross will appear with officials from the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington on Dec. 3 outside the White House in a protest. Joining them will be other faith leaders and local elected officials.

Gross, a subcontractor for the State Department on a mission to hook up Cuba’s small Jewish community to the internet, was arrested in December 2009 as he was leaving Cuba. He is serving a 15-year sentence for “crimes against the state.”

At the Dec. 3 rally, Judy Gross will read an excerpt of her most recent letter from her husband.

“It is clear that only the president of the United States has the power to bring me home,” Gross says in an excerpt of the letter the family provided to JTA. “On behalf of my family and myself, on behalf of every American who might ever find himself or herself in trouble abroad – I ask President Obama to direct his administration to take meaningful, proactive steps to secure my immediate release.”

Judy Gross told JTA in an interview that her husband, 64, is depressed and is in chronic pain from arthritis. “The best thing to do is contact the White House,” she said she would ask the American people at the rally. “Ask them to do what you need to do to get Alan home.” She would not elaborate except to say that the “president has the power to do what it takes to get him home.”

The Cuban government has indicated that it wants the United States to allow to return to Cuba five spies currently in prison or on probation in the United States.

Cuba Indefinitely Suspends Consular Services in U.S. 1

By Alfonso Chardy, Chardy@elNuevoHerald.com

In a startling move, the Cuban government’s diplomatic mission in Washington announced Tuesday that it was suspending consular services until further notice — in effect no longer issuing passports or visas for travel to Cuba.

The decision will upend the thriving travel business to Cuba that has seen hundreds of thousands of Cuban-Americans and Cubans who live in the United States taking frequent trips to the island to visit relatives. In addition, almost 100,000 other U.S. citizens have traveled to Cuba on so-called “people-to-people” trips under rules relaxed by the Obama administration.

Among the three million visitors to the island in 2012, about 476,000 were Cuban Americans and Cuban residents of the United States who said they were visiting relatives. Another 98,000 were registered as members of people-to-people programs in which travelers engage in specific educational or cultural activities that cannot involve tourism. Tourist travel to Cuba remains prohibited.

The State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

But an executive of one of the oldest Cuba travel companies in Miami, Marazul Charters, said the decision constitutes a ”crisis” in the industry because it comes as travel agencies geared up for the heavy year-end travel season.

Armando García, president of Marazul Charters, said, however, that the crisis may be a temporary problem — but only if the issue is resolved. The Cuban Interests Section in Washington blamed the problem on a decision by the bank that managed its accounts to stop providing the service and the diplomatic mission’s inability to find a replacement bank.

Garcia also noted that travelers who already have valid passports and visas will have no trouble traveling to Cuba. But he added that he had no way of knowing how many people ultimately will be unable to secure travel documents.

A longtime Cuba expert in Miami said the suspension of consular services likely will reduce not only trips to Cuba, but also revenue the Cuban government derives from travelers.

“This will reduce travel to Cuba,” said Jaime Suchlicki, director of the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies. “It will also reduce income for the Cuban government and make some people happy and other people unhappy.”

Suchlicki was referring to the divided opinions among Cuban-Americans and others. Many Cuban-Americans favor travel to Cuba to see family members, but others oppose it. They argue that the more travel the more income the Cuban government earns, eroding the goals of the trade embargo. There are also groups that seek an end to the tourist travel prohibition.

The surprise announcement comes just weeks before travel to the island was expected to pick up for the year-end holidays and only days after two officials from the Cuban Interests Section in Washington traveled to Miami to meet quietly with companies that handle travel between the island and the United States.

In a two-page statement, the Cuban Interests Section in Washington blamed ……

Read more here: Cuba Indefinitely Suspends Consular Services in U.S.

Néstor García Iturbe: A Castroit Brian Latell 1

By Miguel Fernandez

Retired Colonel Néstor García Iturbe has launched a theory on the Kennedy assassination in the leftwing blogosphere. The hard core argument is that the assasination was a plot by the CIA and the Pentagon with some carefully selected members of the anti-Castro groups. However, García Iturbe moves away from the Castroit official line by asserting that Lee Harvey Oswald was a case of “false flag” recruitment. Oswald would have been recruited “for Cuba” by an FBI agent, who had infiltrated the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC). Oswald was actually used as decoy in the assassination, but he aimed his rifle on the belief he was working for Castro. Thus, ex-DGI spymaster García Iturbe concurs with the view of ex-CIA desk analyst Brian Latell, who wrote in Castro´s Secrets (2013) that intelligence officers were winding Oswald up at the Cuban Consulate in México City and turned him into “a fully primed soldier of Fidel” (page 227).

False Flag

García Iturbe seems to be unaware of the classic article “Leftist Lee at Work” (The Third Decade, Vol. 2, No. 5, July 1986, pp. 1-6), where Philp H. Malenson demonstrated that Oswald was working against FPCC, id est, against the very flag under which he had been recruited. For instance, Oswald engaged in a radio debate (“Conversation Carte Blanche,” WDSU, New Orleans, August 21, 1963) versus Cuban exile Carlos Bringuier and American anticommunist militant Ed Butler on the U.S. policy toward Cuba. They revealed Oswald’s defection to the Soviet Union in 1959, but Oswald replied that FPCC had absolutely nothing to do either with the URSS or the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA). This message was repeatedly delivered by Oswald, who also exaggerated his one-man FPCC chapter in New Orleans. On August 28, Oswald wrote to the CPUSA asking for advice “upon a problem of personal tactics:” whether or not to go underground. He established on paper the very linkage he had denied on the air: “Frankly, I have used my position [in the FPCC] to foster communist ideals.” He never informed the FPCC he had placed such a risky paper-trial linkage (Commission Exhibit 1145) tying the pro Castro group to the CPSUA and, through his background as re-defector, to Moscow.

Crass Ignorance

García Iturbe thinks the job Oswald got at the Texas Book School Book Depository (TSBD), facing Dealey Plaza in Dallas, “deserves an analysis.” From his very first question emerges he does not know what he is talking about: “¿Who provided this job to Oswald?” On August 25, 2013, C-SPAN3 broadcasted an interview with Buell Wesley Frazier, the co-worker who gave Oswald the last lift to the TBSD. Frazier reiterated some well-known data available in the Mary Ferrell Chronologies, apparently an alien bibliography for García Iturbe.

Since September 23, 1963, Oswald´s wife had moved with her friend Ruth Paine to Irving, around 21 kilometers of Dallas, for the birth of her second baby. On October 14, Marina and Ruth went to a neighbor´s house (Mrs. Roberts) for coffee. Another neighbor, Linnie Randle, was there. When Paine mentioned that Oswald was looking for work, Randle said there might be a job opening at TBSD, because her brother Frazier had been hired a month ago. Pain called the TBSD and talked with Superintendent Roy Truly, who told her to have Oswald make an application. Paine immediately called Oswald. The next day he went to the TBSD and got a job for $10 daily, from 8 AM a 4:45 PM, with 12 to 12:45 PM for lunch.

García Iturbe confirms his lack of knowledge with this tirade: “What a coincidence that the TBSD was located precisely at a street on the route of the presidential motorcade! Who knew it would go along this street by that time? Usually this is a ‘Top Secret’ in order to protect the President; however, Oswald had foreknowledge and could get his rifle inside the bulding.” García Iturbe has not got even a clue about the fact that all the people in Dallas must know in advance the route of the motorcade for greeting the President on the streets. Both The Dallas Morning News and The Dallas Times Herald described it in detail on November 19, 1963. The latter even ran a large map of the motorcade route in the evening edition of November 21.

Coda

As Dr. Latell, García Iturbe tries to connect the dots for making theories, but the crux of the matter is finding facts instead of bringing more factoids, like Oswald being recruited under a “false flag” by the FBI or having not a single unforeseen incident during the days prior to the assassination.

Cuba’s Propaganda Program Showing Signs of Stress 3

By Chris Simmons

Havana seems hyper-sensitive to criticism of its 24/7 propaganda machine. On November 17th, Cuba Confidential posted the story, Cuba’s Ninth Annual “Free the 5″ Meeting Ends With Minimal Fanfare. The feature focused on the absence of crowd size in reporting by Havana on the attendees to said meeting.

Now, the missing numbers have been provided by “The Militant,” a newsweekly associated with the Socialist Workers Party and the leftist publisher, Pathfinder Press. That said, the Militant simply acknowledged “270 delegates from 52 countries” with not so much as a mention of the most notable attendees or a chart of nations represented. The Havana mouthpiece also published a picture of released spy Rene Gonzalez addressing a crowd it claimed was 10,000 strong, although only a hundred or so can be seen in the picture.

The quality of Havana’s propaganda efforts is increasingly less consistent and thorough than its glory days. Decreased resourcing does not account for fundamental “media marketing” failures like poor photo choices and failing to spin numbers to support a storyline. Another recent example includes its error-filled “Free the 5” march on Washington last summer, which Havana has already announced it will repeat in June 2014. The “Free the 5” campaign has been a central theme for well over a decade. Why is it now making amateurish mistakes on a regular basis? Its efforts are clearly in turmoil — the question is why?

Castro-Oswald-Kennedy: Conundrum or Nonsense? Reply

By Miguel Fernandez

Last Monday, ex-CIA analyst Dr. Brian Latell and Miami Herald journalist Glen Garvin addressed it at the University of Miami. The thesis statement, “Castro and the Kennedy Assassination,” became ironical.

After clumsily manipulating the reports of both FBI super spy Jack Childs and Cuban Consul Alfredo Mirabal, recycling the fairy tales of foreknowledge with Luisa Calderon and Vladimir Rodriguez-Lahera (AMMUG-1) in the leading roles, and re-telling “the Jaimanitas story” by Florentino Aspillada (TOUCHDOWN), Dr. Latell added a “new discovery” for proving a connection between Lee Harvey Oswald and the Castro’s intelligence machine: Oswald stayed for six days at the center of the pro-Castro activities in Mexico City.

That’s an old story from U.S. Ambassador Thomas Mann. Dr. Latell used it for the same original purpose of pushing “the Cuban conspiracy.” However, the more dots are connecting to work against the lack of conclusive evidence for accusing Castro, the lesser options are left for a rational explanation of Oswald’s actions. Actually Dr. Latell’s approach leads to the crossroad of a conspiracy between Castro and the CIA, or a despicable mishandling by the CIA. Since the former is preposterous, as Dr. Latell rightly said, the latter is the point d´honeur.

Uncommon Nonsense

To a certain extent, Dr. Latell exemplifies the analytical shortcomings of the CIA facing Castro. Any conspiracy theory on Castro not only presumes he took the greatest risk for winning nothing with Lyndon B. Johnson as President. It also assumes that an ex-Marine re-defector from the Soviet Union was not an intelligence bonanza in 1963.

Dr. Latell’s legend affirms that a true believer of Communism and Cuban Revolution, connected to several leftwing newspaper and organizations, after leafleting for Castro and clashing with anti-Castro exiles in New Orleans, got a brand new passport, traveled to Mexico City, stayed at the Castroit Hotel El Comercio, visited several times the Cuban and Soviet diplomatic compounds, asked to illegally travel to Cuba with the Soviet Union as final destination, was encouraged by Castro intelligence offices to kill Kennedy, and returned to Dallas for accomplishing the mission.

Oswald had pre-assassination files in both the FBI (105-82555) and the CIA (201-289248). The routing slips of the latter show that he was under close scrutiny by three teams inside the company: the Counterintelligence Special Investigation Group (CI-SIG), the Counterintelligence Operation Group (CI-OPS) and the Counter-Espionage Unit of the Soviet Russia Division (CE-SR/6).

However, the CIA Inspector General flatly stated: “It was not until 22 November 1963 [that the CIA] Station learned (…) Oswald had also visited the Cuban Embassy.” Thus, Oswald would have passed unnoticed by the CIA surveillance teams in Mexico City despite his three visits to the Cuban Consulate on September 27, 1963, and a call about his immigration proceedings from a Cuban employee to a phone taped by the CIA at the Soviet Consulate.

The Cables of October

Moreover, the CIA revealed a keen interest in Oswald on the “need to know” basis during his stay in Mexico City.
• October 8, 1963. The cable 6453 from Mexico City CIA Station to Langley reported wit delay that “an American male who spoke broken Russian” had said by phone his name was “Lee Oswald.” He had visited the Soviet Embassy on September 28 and spoke with Consul Vareliy V. Kostikov. It was also provided a description of a presumed American male entering the Soviet Embassy on October 1st.
• October 10. The cable 74830 from Langley replied that Lee Oswald “probably” was Lee Henry Oswald and specified that latest info was an ODACID [State Department] report from May 1962. Langley gave a description of Oswald and concealed two FBI reports recently added to his file: from Dallas (September 24, 1963) on his leftist political activities and form New Orleans (October 4) on his clashes with Cuban exiles.
• October 10. The cable 74673, drafted by the same CIA officers at Langley on the same day for ODACID, ODENVY (FBI), and ODOATH (Navy), gave as Oswald’s the description of the “presumed American male” from the cable 6453 and left out the most important hint from Mexico: that Oswald had spoken with the well-known KGB officer Kostikov.

To cap it all, the CIA Station never produced a photo or an audio tape from Oswald. One of each item was immediately sent to the FBI in Dallas, but Director J. Edgar Hoover had to call the already sitting President LBJ for advising that “the picture and the tape do not correspond to this man’s voice, nor to his appearance.” At least, Oswald was telephonically impersonated in Mexico City.

Coda

Even if nobody aided and abetted Oswald, the crucial problem is how the CIA failed to prevent him from killing the U.S. President in broad daylight at Dealey Plaza. The conspiracy debate turns a blind eye to it.

By pure chance, Oswald got a job at the Texas School Books Depository on October 16, 1963. A week before, FBI supervisor Marvin Gheesling had cancelled the FLASH card issued on Oswald when he defected to the USSR. The day after the cancellation, the CIA sent DIR 74673 to FBI with phony items about Oswald, but enough information for putting him again in the watch list. Since the FLASH was off, Oswald would come back under the spotlight too late.

Nobody from the CIA or the FBI took responsibility, and the CIA still retains about 1,100 secret documents related to the assassination. Thus, the debate should not be about conspiracies, but rather about transparency and justice.

JFK assassination: What Did Castro Know? 3

By Brian Latell, CTP.ICCAS@Miami.edu

Fidel Castro knew that the CIA was trying to kill him. There was no doubt; his sources were reliable. “For three years,” he told congressional investigators in 1978, “we had known there were plots against us.”

The most promising of them ripened in a Paris safe house 50 years ago. Rolando Cubela, known in CIA by the cryptonym AMLASH, had the starring role. A veteran of the Castro brothers’ guerrilla war, he was already an accomplished assassin. He held high military rank, knew the Castros, and frequented a beach house next to one that Fidel used. Cubela was recruited by the CIA, trained in secret communications and demolitions techniques. He insisted he wanted to kill Fidel. That was music to the ears of top CIA officials.

On Oct. 5, 1963 he met with his agency handler in a CIA safe house in a Paris suburb near Versailles. Nestor Sanchez had a stellar career in covert operations, spoke fluent Spanish, and had taken over the AMLASH case a month earlier. The Cuban told Sanchez he was not interested in “unimportant tasks;” he wanted “to undertake the big job.”

But first he needed assurances. He demanded a meeting with a senior Kennedy administration official — but not just anyone. He wanted face time with the president’s brother, attorney general Robert Kennedy. Sanchez cabled CIA headquarters that Cubela wanted to be sure of American support “for any activity he undertakes” against Castro.

“We must be prepared to face the request,” he wrote. He knew he was urging something extremely dangerous. Cubela was proposing to entangle both Kennedy brothers in a murder conspiracy targeting Castro. If the demand were rejected, Sanchez warned, Cubela might bolt.

Caution should have overwhelmed at that juncture. There were already many reasons to doubt Cubela’s bona fides. Nevertheless, it was decided at CIA headquarters, probably in consultation with Robert Kennedy, that a senior agency official would meet Cubela as the attorney general’s representative.

Desmond FitzGerald delighted in the task. A CIA nobleman, East Coast socialite, and friend of the attorney general, he would go to Paris and provide the needed assurances. He intended to impress the Cuban, cabling Paris that the rendezvous should be staged as impressively “as possible.”

Sanchez reported back to FitzGerald that the meeting with Cubela was scheduled for Oct. 29. This unlikely pair — the moody Cuban spy and the elegant FitzGerald, Bobby Kennedy’s understudy — sat side by side and talked in the safe house. Sanchez translated.

Cubela was satisfied that the man who called himself James Clark was indeed a top American official close to Robert Kennedy. Almost no record of their meeting has survived, but it is known that Cubela spoke repeatedly of his need for an assassination weapon.

CIA made good on its commitment. Sanchez returned to Paris, and on November 22, 1963 met again secretly with Cubela. He brought with him a preposterous murder weapon: a pen fitted within a syringe that could be filled with poison and used to inoculate Castro.

In one of the strangest twists of modern history, Sanchez was explaining the device as the sun was setting in Paris. He took a call from FitzGerald in Washington: President Kennedy had just been shot in Dallas.

Read more here: JFK assassination: What did Castro know?

14 Years After Elian Gonzalez Landed in FL and was Returned to Cuba, he Trashes ‘Imperialist’ US 1

Miami Herald staff and wire services

On the 14th anniversary of his rescue from a raft in waters off Fort Lauderdale, Elián González said he blames the Cuban Adjustment Act for his mother’s death and the international custody battle it sparked on his behalf.

In an interview with the Cuban weekly Girón published on the cubadebate.cu website, Elian, now 19, said his experience in Miami when he was 6 “marked me for life.”

Clearly echoing the wishes of the Cuban government, González used his interview to ask President Barack Obama to free the five Cuban spies convicted of espionage in Miami, denounced historic Cuban exile groups like the Cuban American National Foundation and Alpha 66 and called Operation Pedro Pan, which allowed thousands of Cuban children to escape indoctrination by Fidel Castro’s regime, “an imperialist hoax based on deceptions and used to cause pain.”

In the interview in Spanish, he said his basic rights as a child — “the right to be with my father, the right to maintain my nationality and remain in my cultural context” — were violated in the United States.

On Thanksgiving weekend 1999, the little boy was rescued by two Broward County fisherman. He was the youngest survivor after an overcrowded boat capsized en route from Cuba to Miami. His mother and 10 others seeking to enter the U. S. drowned at sea.

His Miami relatives fought to keep him in the U.S., saying that had been his mother’s wish. But his father in Cuba — and Fidel Castro — demanded he be returned. The Elián González saga culminated in a pre-dawn raid on April 22, 2000, when heavily-armed U.S. agents broke into the Miami home of González’s uncle on orders of then-Attorney-General Janet Reno with the ultimate goal of returning the boy to Cuba.

“Those days were very sad for me, which marked me for life,” González said Monday. “It never gave me the chance to think of my mother, who died at sea as a result of the Cuban Adjustment Act,” he said, referring to the 1966 U.S. law that allows any Cuban who reaches the U. S. by any means to be paroled and given residency.

Havana has called the law “murderous” and blamed it for encouraging Cubans to board rickety boats to cross the Florida Straits in the hopes of reaching the U.S. González said he “suffered the consequences of the act.”

But he emphasized that “our struggle is not against the American people; it is against their government.” He said. “From the moment Americans knew of my case, they took to the streets to call for me to be sent back to my country.”

The boy’s return to Cuba was a huge boon to then-leader Fidel Castro and a bitter letdown for many in Miami’s Cuban exile community.

Editor’s Note: The Elian case is a textbook example showcasing the different worldviews from Havana and Washington. The US saw this situation as a legal issue, while the Castro regime exploited it as a propaganda operation run by its world-famous Directorate of Intelligence (DI). During the months that this scenario dragged on, over 12 Cuban Intelligence Officers were identified as operatives in the propaganda mission. In sum, most of the major Cuban media spokesmen handling the event, as well as almost every chaperone for Elian, his father, and his visiting grandmothers were DI spies.

Cuba Believed to Have Intercepted Details of U.S. Aid to Dissidents 2

By Juan O. Tamayo, JTamayo@elNuevoHerald.com

The documents were definitely not classified as secret. But they contained detailed information about U.S. government programs to help Cuban dissidents that Havana has outlawed as a semi-clandestine campaign to topple the communist system.

So when the U.S. Agency for International Development mistakenly used an unencrypted line to send the documents to U.S. diplomats in Havana, USAID officials were chagrined and some of the authors of the document were incredulous.

“An amazingly stupid thing to do,” said an official of one of the groups that generated the documents — minutely detailed applications for a $6 million USAID program to train emerging leaders of Cuba’s non-government sectors.

His application of more than 200 pages contained a complete history of his past work with USAID’s pro-democracy programs in Cuba, the official said, some names of possible trainees and venues where they might be trained.

USAID has played down the impact of the mistake, arguing that the U.S. government never classified the pro-democracy programs as secret or even confidential.

“Nothing about USAID’s Cuba program is classified. We simply carry out programs in a discreet manner to help ensure the safety of all those involved,” said USAID spokesman Karl Duckworth.

But the agency’s own documents highlight the security concerns surrounding the program.

“Given the nature of the Cuban regime and the political sensitivity of the USAID Program, USAID cannot be held responsible for any injury or inconvenience suffered by individuals traveling to the island under USAID . . . funding,” one agency contract states.

A slide presentation for non-government organizations (NGOs) that have been awarded USAID grants advises them to report any “Security Concerns, including Government of Cuba harassment and detention.”

Alan P. Gross, a USAID subcontractor from Maryland, is serving a 15-year prison term in Havana for delivering to Cuban Jews three satellite telephones, paid for by the U.S. government, so they could have direct and uncensored access to the Internet.

It was therefore shocking when USAID officials told applicants for the $6 million in grants in September that their applications had been sent to U.S. diplomats in Havana for their review on an unsecure line instead of the usual encrypted line.

Read more here: Cuba Believed to Have Intercepted Details of U.S. Aid to Dissidents

Cuba’s Ninth Annual “Free the 5” Meeting Ends With Minimal Fanfare Reply

The Cuban News Agency (ACN) reported Saturday’s conclusion of the 9th International Colloquium for the release of the Cuban Five and against Terrorism. Held in the eastern Holguin city, ACN claimed delegates from five continents attended. However, attendance was likely negligible as the news agency omitted attendee numbers, names, photos, or even a roster of represented nations. Havana would have strongly highlighted its success, as it has done so often in the past, if attendance been noteworthy.

Predictably, forum delegates provided volunteer work throughout the province and visited “several municipalities in Holguin province to meet the people and learn about social, political and economic programs in those territories.” The gathered activists also reportedly briefed other forum guests on the “Free the 5” efforts within their nations.

Read the original feature here: World Activists Keep on with Activities at Colloquium for the Five