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Nathaniel Weyl

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  1. This response is my best memory of long forgotten events. I believe that the way I WAS CASTRO'S PRISONER was written was for JM to come to my house and relate what he recalled of his prison ordeal in my presence and on tape and also to send me taped or typed manuscript for editing. I didn't keep any of this material. A year or so later, Bill Pawley asked me to help him throw together material for his bio. I would come down to his office and spend mornings with him on the job with full access to his files, but have no memory of anything being taped. This project, for reasons I have forgotten, didn't fly and Pawley wisely put someone else to the task.
  2. This response is my best memory of long forgotten events. I believe that the way I WAS CASTRO'S PRISONER was written was for JM to come to my house and relate what he recalled of his prison ordeal in my presence and on tape and also to send me taped or typed manuscript for editing. I didn't keep any of this material. A year or so later, Bill Pawley asked me to help him throw together material for his bio. I would come down to his office and spend mornings with him on the job with full access to his files, but have no memory of anything being taped. This project, for reasons I have forgotten, didn't fly and Pawley wisely put someone else to the task.
  3. The Attempt to Remove Fidel Castro from Power: A Personal History One morning early in 1960, we were reading the New York Times in bed when I happened to glance through a speech by the new dictator of Cuba. I knew very little about Fidel Castro beyond the fact that he was being portrayed as a reincarnation of Robin Hood (or was it Abraham Lincoln?) in the lyrical prose of Times correspondent Herbert L. Matthews. I asked Sylvia (my wife) to read the Castro harangue. We both concluded that it seemed to be the product of an indoctrinated Communist. What if Castro was a Soviet agent? I thought that the time gap between his student days and his conquest of power was short enough so that the trail should be warning. I had a sudden urge to go to New York City, where the first wave of Cuban exiles could often be found, and try to solve the problem. Sylvia tried to dissuade me, pointing out that I was working on a book on a more important subject-the geography of intellect. Conceding her point, I promised to spend no more than 48 hours in New York on the Castro matter. Fortunately, I met two people in New York the next day who convinced me that Castro was a Communist: Ross, the editor of the NYC Spanish-language newspaper, a bitterly disillusioned early backer of Fidel, generously let me take his newspaper files on the hairy Cuban back to Washington with me even though we had just met. The second source was Lincoln Diaz Balart, the ex-brother-in-law of Castro who had also been his college room mate. Diaz Balart told me that Fidel used to pore reverentially over the Communist Party pamphlet editions of the lighter, shorter and more popular writings of Marx and Lenin. I returned to Washington on schedule. Sylvia and I researched Castro's early career, using the Latin American press and journal resources of the Library of Congress. We interviewed dozens of Cuban refugees. In a month or so, I had the first draft of an article done. We submitted it to Life and Reader's Digest. Both periodicals rejected it after angry meetings of their editorial boards, in which the editors who wanted to publish the story called their opponents appeasers of communism and in which those who wanted to kill it characterized any attack on the bearded hero of the Caribbean as part of a plot by rightwingers and fascists. What should we do? We now felt that the publication of the exposé was important. Not primarily because it revealed that Fidel was a Communist. As the year advanced, he was doing that for us. The more important message of the article was that the Latin American division of the State Department had deliberately pursued a policy designed to overthrow the government of Cuba and to bring about the triumph of Castro, despite the fact that at least one of its key people had abundant evidence that Fidel was a Communist. The draft article was circulated privately. I was reliably informed that the CIA reacted adversely, but that FBI Director Hoover approved. Former Vice President Nixon agreed with it and wrote me to that effect. I would later learn from the editor of the Saturday Evening Post, a mass circulation organ of' [lie time, that he would have accepted the piece without hesitation. However, I didn't know this at the time. Rather than bury our findings, we decided to expand the draft article into a book. We found in Devin Adair Garrity a small publisher of courage and principle. We didn't want anything to interfere with our plan to visit Spain with our children that summer, so l finished the book in a few weeks. Red Star Over Cuba, as the book would be called, would go through several American editions and at least three Spanish language ones, plus German and Portuguese translations, selling about a third of a million copies. Yet the New York Times and the other influential review media, which had generously reviewed my previous books, all quasi-liberal in orientation, ignored its existence. Castro's triumph occurred when Eisenhower was President of the United States. The critical period was between Castro's landing in the Sierra Maestia mountains of eastern Cuba in 1957 with an insignificant force of 18 men and his triumph a few years later. During most of this period (June 1957 to August 1960), the office of Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs was held by a man called Roy Richard Rubottom and control of Cuban affairs was vested in Rubuttom's close associate, William Wieland. These two had been in Bogota in 1948 when a mass uprising by Communists and other revolutionaries, among, them Fidel Cast to, had attempted to seize power over Colombia and had caused over a thousand deaths and torched a large part of the city. The evidence that Castro was either a Communist or some associated type of revolutionary terrorist should therefore have been clear to Rubottom and Wieland. This did not deter them from a course that would destroy the Batista regime, which was friendly to the United States, and substitute a hostile one which would in 1963 drive America and the world to the brink of nuclear war. In March 1958, the State Department, on the recommendation of Wieland, imposed an arms embargo on the Cuban government, a clear signal to the Cuban army that the United States wanted him ousted or defeated. When the Cuban government staged presidential elections in November 1958, Castro called for the murder of all participating candidates and threatened voters with death. This terrorist move evidently did not persuade Rubottom and Wieland that they were supporting a mortal enemy of everything their nation stood for. In December 1958, Wieland ordered Ambassador Earl E. T. Smith, a decent man and a loyal American, to tell President Batista that he no longer had U.S. support and must leave his native country forthwith. These appalling acts told the generals commanding the armed forces of 'Cuba that they had better switch sides or perish. They surrendered without a battle or turned over to the enemy. In this sorry narrative, Wieland was in close and friendly contact with New York Times correspondent in Cuba Herbert L. Matthews, the political activist who was busy selling Fidel Castro to the American people as a Robin Hood and a man who had previously been reprimanded by his newspaper for biased reporting. Alan Courtney, a commentator on Miami radio, introduced me to John Martino and persuaded me to help him write the story of his imprisonment for several years in Castro's prisons. John told me he had helped set up gambling devices in Cuban hotels under Batista and had been arrested for returning to Cuba to get his employers' money out. I knew that the mob had largely controlled Cuban gambling and assumed John worked for them in a minor capacity. The Martino story seemed to me a fascinating account from the inside of the experiences of his fellow prisoners, mostly political dissidents, as they faced execution. John Martino turned out to be a mild, very likeable man whose ash-white pallor revealed years of deprivation and suffering. Although he was an American citizen, Martino had received no help during his ordeal from the Embassy in Havana. Considering the long history of pro-Soviet infiltration of our Latin American foreign service, this did not astonish us. He felt bitter resentment toward the State Department and attributed its abandonment of him to pro-Castro American officials. In 1963, John Martino came to me with a fascinating story. He had attended a meeting in Palm Beach at which a Cuban who used the nom de guerre of Bayo claimed that the Soviets had deceived President Kennedy and that Russian missiles were still in Cuba. Bayo said he knew tills because two of the Soviet officers guarding these clandestine missiles had defected, were being hidden and guarded by the remnants of the anti-Castro underground and were desperately anxious to tell their story. I was told that this was an emergency. The Russians could be captured by Castro's forces at any time. John Martino said that their Cuban protectors could get them safely to the northern coast of the island and thence by boat to some agreed-upon rendezvous point in the Bahamas if we acted immediately. Martino added that Bayo and the other Cuban patriots would have nothing to do with anyone from the CIA because they believed that the Agency had betrayed them at the Bay of Pigs. Could I get a yacht, designate a time and place to meet on some remote Bahamas island, get there and bring the Russian officers to the American mainland? If it was to be done, it must be done immediately. I accepted the Marino-Bayo story as true. For one thing, I couldn't see what anyone could gain by inventing it. The implications were tremendous. Presidential elections were looming. The incumbent Chief Executive would run as the young hero who had faced down Khrushchev in the Cuban missile crisis and removed a mortal threat to the nation. (The world was actually saved from thermonuclear disaster, not so much by JFK, as by the man "who blinked first" - Nikita Khrushchev.) But if missiles were still in place in Cuba and pointed at American cities, Kennedy and the Democrats could lose the 1964 elections. I surmised that the Administration would take strong measures to see that the revelations, in fact even the existence, of the defecting Soviet field grade officers would probably be kept from the American people until after the elections. The obvious way to do this would he to intercept our yacht, rename the Russian rocket officers and, on grounds of national security, whisk them away to an undisclosed location. In the process. I might he arrested for attempting to smuggle illegal aliens into the U.S. After turning these possibilities over in my mind, I phoned Jay Sourwine, the general counsel of the Senate Internal Security Committee, told him the story in confidence and asked him to give us John Doe subpoenas which we could serve on the Russians at sea. He informed me that this was legally impossible. My next step was to seek advice from a journalist friend. Ralph de Toledano of' Newsweek. Ralph told Senator Barry Goldwater about the Soviet defectors. The result was an agreement that the Russians would be immediately invited to Goldwater's ranch in Arizona, that he would call a press conference, enabling them to tell their story to the world, and that he would also give them enough money so they could start a new life, in America. What had begun as a small, covert operation was now mushrooming into a fairly large enterprise. William Pawley, former US Ambassador, godfather of the World War II Flying Tigers and poker-playing crony of President Harry Truman, entered the picture. The CIA came aboard and took charge. The escorting boat would be Bill Pawley's yacht, the Flying Tiger. The Russians would be photographed on board by a Life magazine camera man. Henry Luce would see that their revelations reached the world. The Bayo operation has been covered in several article and books. It has been a hunting ground for conspiracy theorists, such as Peter Dale Scott (Deep Politics and the Death ofJFK, University of California Press), who suggest that the Bayo affair was linked to the Kennedy assassination. We know now that the defecting Soviet colonels never existed, that there were no Russian missiles left in place in Cuba, that the Bayo story was a hoax. What happened to the Cubans who were offloaded from the Flying Tiger, heavily armed with ClA-supplied weapons? We know that the Pawley yacht weighed anchor ten miles to sea from the port of Baracoa in Oriente Province on the night of June 8, 1963. Three CIA people kept machine-guns trained on Bayo and his Cuban commandos as the latter piled into the speedboat that was to take them to shore (Warren Hinckle and William W. Turner, Deadly Secrets, p. 194). Weapons were aimed at the Cubans because the CIA considered the possibility that they were Castro agents and that the operation was an ambush. The commandos vanished into the night. Pawley saw to it that a Catalina flying boat search the skies for them until a week had elapsed. The generally accepted theory is that their secret purpose had been to get modern arms with which to kill Castro, but that they had been intercepted and killed or captured in a firefight. A year or so after the tragedy, Bill Pawley told me he believed that the men never landed. When they boarded the speedboat, he warned them that it was dangerously overloaded and urged them in vain to take rubber rafts aboard. Pawley heard a large freighter pass between the Flying Tiger and the shore. He believed that the Cuban boat was swamped in the freighter's wake and that the men drowned. Was their secret purpose to get CIA arms with which to kill Fidel Castro? This is the conclusion researchers have arrived at, but it seems to me illogical. When I was approached to find a yacht and meet the defectors at sea, there was no mention of sending armed commandos ashore. Nor did I have any access to assault weapons nor did Martino have any reason to imagine I would be willing or able to supply them. The source of guns was the CIA and Bayo and his companions had made it abundantly clear that they distrusted the agency and wanted to have nothing to do with it. The conclusion I draw is that Bayo's initial plan was to land two or three mysterious people in Florida, to allege that they were Soviet colonels and spread the story of missiles still in Cuba to influence the American presidential elections. The purpose would have been to defeat Kennedy since many Cubans believed he had betrayed them and their cause. Would any such imposture have been promptly detected and exposed? Or would continuing uncertainty and suspicion have poisoned the air for the young President? When the plan mushroomed to comprise a Cuban commando force, heavily armed by the CIA with weapons, none of which was, of course, of US origin, plans may well have changed. Assassination? Mere havoc and sabotage? We will probable never know. This is an edited account from my book, Encounters With Communism (2003)
  4. Nathaniel Weyl

    JFK Online Seminars

    The Attempt to Remove Fidel Castro from Power: A Personal History
  5. I have had nothing to do with the Latin American political scene, Cuba or rehashing of my aborted partipation in Operation Bayo for several decades. Hence, my replies to member queries are almost always negative. The first query was whether I had any dealings with any of 10 people, beginning with George Smathers. I met Smathers once; went to his office, as I recollect at his request. and had a talk about the collapse of the Bay of Pigs invasion and what action we thought JFK should take. Smathers said he had pressed JFK to read my book Red Star, but the President was apparently too busy. Said he would try to have me meet the President, as I remember, to urge him to take decisive action against the Castro regime.Nothing came of any such attempt. I had no dealings with any of the other 9 people named. The only names that I recognize are Claire Luce, Artime and Varona. (Of course, I may have met some of the nine, but have forgotten the occasion.) Greg Parker: A strange phone intercept. Who made this crazy remark: Portuondo or his Mexican friend? No sane person would have suggested atom bombing Cuba. I knew nothing about this. Pat Speer: I am so much out of touch that I didn't know Ted Draper had made charges against me. I would appreciate the citation since I probably should find out what they were. Ditto re my defender Bethel. The name Paul Bethel rings some distant bell of memory, but I don't know who he is or was or whether I ever knew him. Re his book, The Losers? Should I read it? Does it contain important info or just opinion? Ted Draper and I were fellow Communists in 1932 and were both editors of the magazine of the CPUSA-run college student org. Never met him again. When he tried to present the Castro movement as a rebirth of (was it Robespierre?), I believe I made some critical comment, but don't recall where.
  6. I have had nothing to do with the Latin American political scene, Cuba or rehashing of my aborted partipation in Operation Bayo for several decades. Hence, my replies to member queries are almost always negative. The first query was whether I had any dealings with any of 10 people, beginning with George Smathers. I met Smathers once; went to his office, as I recollect at his request. and had a talk about the collapse of the Bay of Pigs invasion and what action we thought JFK should take. Smathers said he had pressed JFK to read my book Red Star, but the President was apparently too busy. Said he would try to have me meet the President, as I remember, to urge him to take decisive action against the Castro regime.Nothing came of any such attempt. I had no dealings with any of the other 9 people named. The only names that I recognize are Claire Luce, Artime and Varona. (Of course, I may have met some of the nine, but have forgotten the occasion.) Greg Parker: A strange phone intercept. Who made this crazy remark: Portuondo or his Mexican friend? No sane person would have suggested atom bombing Cuba. I knew nothing about this. Pat Speer: I am so much out of touch that I didn't know Ted Draper had made charges against me. I would appreciate the citation since I probably should find out what they were. Ditto re my defender Bethel. The name Paul Bethel rings some distant bell of memory, but I don't know who he is or was or whether I ever knew him. Re his book, The Losers? Should I read it? Does it contain important info or just opinion? Ted Draper and I were fellow Communists in 1932 and were both editors of the magazine of the CPUSA-run college student org. Never met him again. When he tried to present the Castro movement as a rebirth of (was it Robespierre?), I believe I made some critical comment, but don't recall where.
  7. I have had nothing to do with the Latin American political scene, Cuba or rehashing of my aborted partipation in Operation Bayo for several decades. Hence, my replies to member queries are almost always negative. The first query was whether I had any dealings with any of 10 people, beginning with George Smathers. I met Smathers once; went to his office, as I recollect at his request. and had a talk about the collapse of the Bay of Pigs invasion and what action we thought JFK should take. Smathers said he had pressed JFK to read my book Red Star, but the President was apparently too busy. Said he would try to have me meet the President, as I remember, to urge him to take decisive action against the Castro regime.Nothing came of any such attempt. I had no dealings with any of the other 9 people named. The only names that I recognize are Claire Luce, Artime and Varona. (Of course, I may have met some of the nine, but have forgotten the occasion.) Greg Parker: A strange phone intercept. Who made this crazy remark: Portuondo or his Mexican friend? No sane person would have suggested atom bombing Cuba. I knew nothing about this. Pat Speer: I am so much out of touch that I didn't know Ted Draper had made charges against me. I would appreciate the citation since I probably should find out what they were. Ditto re my defender Bethel. The name Paul Bethel rings some distant bell of memory, but I don't know who he is or was or whether I ever knew him. Re his book, The Losers? Should I read it? Does it contain important info or just opinion? Ted Draper and I were fellow Communists in 1932 and were both editors of the magazine of the CPUSA-run college student org. Never met him again. When he tried to present the Castro movement as a rebirth of (was it Robespierre?), I believe I made some critical comment, but don't recall where.
  8. Nathaniel Weyl

    Student Question: Living in a communist country

    Say it's post-Stalin, hence no Gulag or other abomination. WORST: No freedom to say and write what one believes; a warped world view from politicalization of the media; intellectuals must be dishonest or silent to survive; economic stagnation (the more modern the tech basis, the lower GDP and the more stagnation), corruption of the intelligentsia if its members want to prosper. BEST THINGS: Sense of community; idealism within communist cadres; concern with exploited and abandoned underclass.
  9. Here are answers to your queries. (1) BAYO AFFAIR AND JFK ASSASSINATION. No linkage at all. Why should any sane man who planned a presidential assassination start with a high-risk attempt to kill the Cuban dictator? The theory seems to me nonsense. (2) FREE CUBA COMMITTEE. Never a member, had nothing to do with them. Had never heard of Bethal, Bishop or Veciana prior to this correspondence. The anti-Castro people I dealt with were Hector de Lara, Emilion Nunez Portuondo, Carlos Marques Sterling, John Martino and Bill Pawley.
  10. Nathaniel Weyl

    Student Question: JFK's Greatest Achievement

    His greatest achievement? First, not to yield to the advice of ideologues and to pull us off the train to nuclear war. Second, the Peace Corps.
  11. Nathaniel Weyl

    Student Question: JFK and 1964 Election

    Would he have been re-elected? I think so by a substantial majority. He had won worldwide stature and was admired at home as a strong leader who also believed in world peace. The Republican Party was badly split. Yet there was a great deal of opposition, and, yes, hatred, of the young President. This vanished like mist after his assassination. I recall we heard the first radio reports driving to the Boca Raton public school to pick up our twins. As I opened the car door, I heard the anouncement that the President is dead and a second or two later a voice from another car, "well, somebody had the gumption to do
  12. Nathaniel Weyl

    Student Question: Berlin

    That was on Harry Truman's watch, not JFK's. HST was determined to do all that he could to prevent cold war crises from escalating into a global war. The only thing I know about this crisis that isn't public knowledge is something Bill Pawley told me. Because of his strong opposition to Fidel Castro, Pawley is portrayed by the left as some sort of arch reactionary, which is, of course, a misepresentation of the facts. Pawley was close enough to FDR to be given covert presidential authority to go to US air bases shortly before Pearl Harbor and recruit young American flight officers to serve as volunteers in the Chinese (Nationalist) air force and thus created the Flying Tigers. He became a US Ambassador. Upon FDR's death, he became a crony of HST, had unlimited access to the White House and was one of HST's small clique of poker players. When the Berlin crisis erupted, Pauley urged FDR to use the occasion to "liberate" the USSR by an invasion which he believed would have overwhelming Russian support and at minimal cost change the world for the better. Truman replied, he told me, that he wouldn't do it because he wasn't going to start World War Three, suggesting that HST had more common sense than GWB.
  13. Nathaniel Weyl

    Student Question: JFK and Marilyn Monroe

    I am not able to give you more than personal impressions. Personally, I assumed that he was promiscuous based on a great deal of informed gossip. I assume that journalists assigned to Washington must have know a lot more than I did about the matter since I was not much interested in knowing whom he slept with and tended to feel that this was a private matter. I don't think that I heard the name MM at the time but am not sure. I believe the press left this area alone for several reasons: they liked JFK; there was more respect for privacy in sex lives, if they were heterosexual, then than now; a journalist would not help his reputation by publishing dirt of this sort. Let me add that a strong case can be made for saying that the sex life of JFK, when President, was a matter of legitimate public concern. (1) It was infra dig for him to bed the same woman as a key mafia boss and that exposed him and his office to blackmail. (2) According to published reports in respected media, he or his cronies orderered that women be admitted to his living quarters in the WH without identification or vetting by the Secret Service. What if some Soviet or Cosa Nostra agent had photographed him having sex with her and applied pressure? How could the Secret Service protect him from a female assassin? Had he lived to run for a 2nd term would the American people have been informed of his alleged affair with the sexy and promiscuous German woman who was an agent of the East German intelligence service? Finally, in a democracy if a majority of the voting public believes adultery to be a crime, shouldn't it be entitled to know whether a presidential candidate is unfaithful to his wife?
  14. Nathaniel Weyl

    Student Question: JFK's Reputation

    He is, I believe, regarded by the public as our greatest President. This judgment is partly based on the tragic circumstances of his assassination, on the glamor he and his family exuded and on the fact that he inspired the youth of the world in sharp contrast to the impact of George W. Bush. Many historians, I believe most, feel that his public reputation is not validated by the facts and that his durable achievements are few. His reputation was on the rise when I last looked at opinion polls 2 or 3 years back. I don't know whether this trend has continued or not.
  15. Nathaniel Weyl

    Student Question: JFK's Reputation

    He is, I believe, regarded by the public as our greatest President. This judgment is partly based on the tragic circumstances of his assassination, on the glamor he and his family exuded and on the fact that he inspired the youth of the world in sharp contrast to the impact of George W. Bush. Many historians, I believe most, feel that his public reputation is not validated by the facts and that his durable achievements are few. His reputation was on the rise when I last looked at opinion polls 2 or 3 years back. I don't know whether this trend has continued or not.
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