The F.B.I. Is Quietly Contacting Cubans in Florida, Raising Old Alarm Bells 2

 

Demonstrations in Miami in 2015 against the opening of the U.S. embassy in Havana.
(Michele Eve Sandberg/Corbis, via Getty Images)

By Frances Robles, New York Times

Julio V. Ruiz, a 71-year-old retired psychiatrist with a long history of participating in talks with the Cuban government, tried to ignore the persistent knocking at his door by two strangers when they showed up uninvited one afternoon last week.

The rapping on the door went on for 15 minutes. It was the F.B.I.

“Everyone tells you not to speak to them and to call your lawyer,” Dr. Ruiz said. “But you get scared. I was measured in what I said, and gave them a brief history of Cuba going back to the 19th century.”

At least five Cuban-Americans in Miami, including Dr. Ruiz, who have opposed a trade embargo with Cuba and promoted better relations with the communist government in Havana, said they received surprise visits in the past week from federal agents.

The law enforcement representatives were vague about their intentions, gave only their first names, and asked questions that seemed intended to learn about contacts with Cuban diplomats, Dr. Ruiz said.

For many, the questions triggered decades-old concerns dating back to a time when ideological divisions in the Cuban exile community were more pronounced, and sometimes were coupled with law enforcement scrutiny.

Those contacted were among a large group of exiles who came to the United States as children in the early 1960s, fleeing the Castro dictatorship. As adults, they supported engaging with the Cuban government, even when doing so was deeply unpopular in South Florida and often caused them to be ostracized.

Some of those contacted said they feared that they were being targeted as part of President Trump’s moves to curtail travel to Cuba and roll back new openings with Havana that had been enacted by the Obama administration.

The meetings come in the wake of a series of bizarre ailments, which some suggested could be linked to possible sonic or microwave attacks, that afflicted more than three dozen American diplomats and family members in Cuba and China. The incidents in Cuba resulted in a diplomatic rupture between Havana and Washington, and the U.S. embassy in Havana is down to a skeleton staff.

But there was no sign that the recent meetings were connected to any investigation of those reports. A brochure the agents left with one of the men suggested that the agents were trying to alert him to the possibility that he was being targeted by spies.

Article Continues Here:  FBI Warns Activists

 

 

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What Could a Mysterious U.S. Spy Know About the JFK Assassination? 2

A photograph of June Cobb from an August 1962 profile in Parade magazine. | Parade Magazine

John F. Kennedy buffs are awaiting the release of documents about June Cobb, a little-known CIA operative working in Cuba and Mexico around the time of the president’s assassination.

By Philip Shenon May 20, 2017

She may have been one of the bravest and best-placed American spies in the history of the Cold War, but few people outside the CIA know the mysterious story of June Cobb.

The existing information in the spy agency’s declassified files depicts Cobb as an American Mata Hari—an adventure-loving, death-defying globetrotter who moved to Cuba to work for Fidel Castro, the country’s newly installed strongman, then found herself recruited to spy for the CIA after growing disenchanted with Castro’s revolution. The era’s rampant sexism is obvious in her job evaluation reports: Cobb’s CIA handlers wrote down speculation about her sex life and her failed romance in the 1950s with an opium farmer in the jungles of South America. And the reports are filled with appraisals of Cobb’s looks, noting especially her fetching blue eyes. “Miss Cobb is not unattractive,” her CIA recruiter wrote in 1960. “She is blonde, has a slender figure, although she has a somewhat hard look, making her appear somewhat older than her 33 years.”

According to another, undated evaluation, she had a “wiry” figure but had been attractive enough to catch the Cuban dictator’s eye. Cobb, the report said, was reputedly “a former girlfriend of Castro’s.” True or not, she was close enough to get a job on the Cuban dictator’s senior staff in Havana in 1960, the perfect perch to spy for the CIA. Cobb’s agency work in Havana and later in Mexico leads us to the most puzzling aspect of her life—that she later found herself drawn deeply into the mysteries of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. After the murder, she reported to her CIA bosses that she had identified a trio of witnesses who could tie Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, to Cuban diplomats and spies in Mexico City, where Oswald had traveled just weeks before the assassination.

What did June Cobb know at the time? Historians of the Cold War—and anyone with an interest in JFK’s 1963 assassination and the possibility of Cuban involvement—are on the verge of learning much more about the extraordinary, often bizarre, sometimes tragic life of the American spy who was born Viola June Cobb, the full name that appeared on her birth certificate back home in Ponca City, Oklahoma, in 1927. The National Archives has recently acknowledged that it is preparing to release a 221-page file of long-secret CIA documents about Cobb that—for reasons the Archives says it cannot yet divulge—are somehow linked to JFK’s murder.

Feature continues here:  CIA’s Spy Tied Cubans to JFK Assassination