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Silvia Duran and William Seymour in Mexico


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John, you know that I know all about those negotiations. I also know that Lisa Howard, who initiated them, concluded were nothing but a sham on the Kennedys' part. Which is why she organized Democrats for Keating to oppose RFK's bid for the U.S. Senate.

You are a clever debater, however, in attempting to shift the subject.

You did NOT state that there were talks about POSSIBLE negotiations between the Castro regime and the Kennedy administration at the time of the assassination. Again, here is EXACTLY what you posted:

Yet he had already negotiated an agreement with JFK (via the Soviets and the Cuban Missile Crisis) that his country would not be invaded as long as Cuba did not attempt to influence events in neighbouring countries. He had already got what he wanted. [Emphasis supplied.]

You spoke of negotiations that HAD been concluded, in 1962, and you also stated that Castro had been a part of those negotiations. He was NOT. The agreement was between the US and the Soviet Union. In American legal parlance, the Castro regime was a "third party beneficiary" of the agreement: it benefited from the agreement although it was not a party to it.

Moreover the history is clear that the Soviets negotiated the agreement behind Castro's back. Not only was he not a part of the negotiations of the 1962 agreement, he was not even consulted about it. He had a right to be upset with the Soviets. First he allows them to put the missiles in Cuba then they agree behind his back to pull them out.

We can debate whether the Kennedys were aware of the Cubela caper. There is NO QUESTION they were aware of both AMTRUNK (a planned internal coup against Castro) and Operation Second Naval Guerilla. Both, of course, violated the spirit, if not the letter, of the agreement that concluded the Cuban missile crisis.

The fact that there were discussions about possible future negotiations between Castro and JFK does not change the fact that Castro was not, as you stated, a party to the 1962 agreement. And the possibility of those negotiations does not change the fact that in the fall of 1963 the Kennedys were actively organizing: a) an internal coup against Castro; B) a second invasion of Cuba; and c) the CIA was organizing yet another attempt on Castro's life, which its agent told Cubela (rightly or wrongly) was enthusiastically endorsed by RFK. And that is not all that was going on in the fall of 1963. There were continued US supported sabotage missions against Cuba. I suggest the sabotage missions constituted acts of war by the US against Cuba.

Castro had no motive to kill Kennedy? One might as well argue that Joseph Ratzinger is not a Catholic!

This forum must be good history if, as a historian once stated, history is a never-ending argument!

Edited by Tim Gratz
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John, you know that I know all about those negotiations.  I also know that Lisa Howard, who initiated them, concluded were nothing but a sham on the Kennedys' part.  Which is why she organized Democrats for Keating to oppose RFK's bid for the U.S. Senate.

You are a clever debater, however, in attempting to shift the subject.

You did NOT state that there were talks about POSSIBLE negotiations between the Castro regime and the Kennedy administration at the time of the assassination. Again, here is EXACTLY what you posted:

Yet he had already negotiated an agreement with JFK (via the Soviets and the Cuban Missile Crisis) that his country would not be invaded as long as Cuba did not attempt to influence events in neighbouring countries. He had already got what he wanted. [Emphasis supplied.]

You spoke of negotiations that HAD been concluded, in 1962, and you also stated that Castro had been a part of those negotiations.  He was NOT.  The agreement was between the US and the Soviet Union.  In American legal parlance, the Castro regime was a "third party beneficiary" of the agreement: it benefited from the agreement although it was not a party to it.

I am not a clever debater. I just try to argue logically by using the information available.

You appear to be mixing up two sets of negotiations. The 1962 negotiations did not directly involve Fidel Castro. In fact, he is on record of complaining that he was not involved in these negotiations. Khrushchev negotiated on his behalf. In doing so, Khrushchev got everything he wanted. This included the promise to remove nuclear missiles from Turkey and Italy that were pointing at the Soviet Union. Kennedy also promised he would not invade Cuba. In return Khrushchev promised to remove Soviet missiles from Cuba.

The world was not informed about this deal. All we knew about was the withdrawing of the Soviet missiles from Cuba. Understandably, the world became convinced that Kennedy and the U.S. had “won” the Cuban Missile Crisis. The truth was very different.

This decision upset the hawks in the CIA who probably leaked the information to anti-Castro Cubans. It was indeed this group that was double-crossed, not Castro. It was the anti-Castro Cubans who had the motive to kill JFK, not Castro.

As I have pointed out, Castro was unhappy that he was not involved in the original negotiations. However, it was wrong that he was angry about the outcome. He got what he wanted – a promise that the U.S. would not remove him from power.

The fact that there were discussions about possible future negotiations between Castro and JFK does not change the fact that Castro was not, as you stated, a party to the 1962 agreement.  And the possibility of those negotiations does not change the fact that in the fall of 1963 the Kennedys were actively organizing: a) an internal coup against Castro; B) a second invasion of Cuba; and c) the CIA was organizing yet another attempt on Castro's life, which its agent told Cubela (rightly or wrongly) was enthusiastically endorsed by RFK.  And that is not all that was going on in the fall of 1963.  There were continued US supported sabotage missions against Cuba.  I suggest the sabotage missions constituted acts of war by the US against Cuba.

Castro had no motive to kill Kennedy?  One might as well argue that Joseph Ratzinger is not a Catholic!

You have had long debates about whether JFK knew about the plots to kill Castro between 1960-2. I suspect he did, especially the plot to kill Castro before the Bay of Pigs invasion. However, we will never be able to prove that because of the policy of “plausible deniability”.

What we do know is that JFK officially called off Operation Mongoose after the Cuban Missile Crisis. We now know that elements inside the CIA did not follow these instructions and continued to plot against Castro. It is impossible to know if JFK was aware of these plots. Even if he was, he would have found it difficult to get them stopped.

One of the important features of JFK’s negotiations with Castro via Attwood and Lechuga was his attempts to keep them secret from the CIA. He knew by 1963 that CIA had its own foreign policy agenda that was different from his own. This has been confirmed by his adviser, Arthur Schlesinger.

Your claim that JFK was attempting to double-cross Castro is pure speculation. It also goes against the documents we have available for this period. There is considerable evidence to suggest that JFK becomes a changed character after the Cuban Missile Crisis. He, more than anyone else, knew how close he came to destroying the world. I believe he became convinced that it was his duty to the human race to bring an end to the Cold War. The only way he could achieve this was to carry out these negotiations in secret. Cuba was only the start of this process. After being elected in 1964 as a successful Cold War warrior, he would have withdrawn troops from Vietnam. Then he would have turned to Europe and would have negotiated the withdrawal of US troops from Western Europe (in exchange for the removal of Soviet troops from countries it had occupied at the end of the Second World War).

The problem for JFK is that his plans became known to the CIA (they were bugging people like William Attwood at the UN building). This information was then past onto those who would not allow this to happen. It was these people who organized the assassination of JFK. They were able to keep their Cold War and all the financial benefits that went with it.

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John wrote:

As I have pointed out, Castro was unhappy that he was not involved in the original negotiations. However, it was wrong that he was angry about the outcome. He got what he wanted – a promise that the U.S. would not remove him from power.

John you keep ignoring AMTRUNK and Second Naval Guerilla.

I do not suspect Castro wanted meaningless promises.

In AMTRUNK (first suggested, as I am sure you know, by JFK's friend Tad Szulc) the objective was to "remove him from power" by an internal coup. AMTRUNK was an ongoing operation on November 22, 1963.

Second Naval Guerilla was an operation to "remove him from power" through a second invasion.

And then, of course, there was AMLASH. The objective of AMLASH was to "remove him from power" by murder most foul.

So on November 22, 1963 there were three separate and independent U.S. operations to remove Castro from power, in clear violation of the agreement that ended the Cuban missile crisus. You cannot deny that these operations were ongoing. And Castro was aware of them.

While historians can debate whether JFK and/or RFK were aware of the AMLASH caper, there is no question that RFK, at least, was aware of, and was actively supporting, both AMTRUNK and Second Naval Guerilla.

But it really matters not the extent of JFK's knowledge. The point is that Castro was aware of the three separate operations to "remove him".

This clearly--clearly--gave Castro incentive to effectuate regime change in Washington (through the only means available to him) and no reason not to. His back was to the wall. What did he have to lose? He had reason to believe that the Kennedys were behind the latest effort to kill him. And the US had been trying to kill him for years. Unless he acted, he had every reason to suspect thaty one day his intelligence forces would fail him and he would feel "the bullet hit the bone" [sorry, I know you do not like quotes from popular songs] or feel the naseau and start to understand that he had been posoned and would die a slow painful death.

What in the world good would direct negotiations with JFK or his representative do? Did he want a second promise from JFK not to "remove him from office" but with the added provision "this time I really mean it"?

Lisa Howard, who started the peace negotiations, found out they were insincere when she found out about AMTRUNK and AMLASH. Castro knew it all along.

Castro had motive to kill JFK as sure as Joseph Ratzinger is a devout Catholic.

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John, you wrote:

Your claim that JFK was attempting to double-cross Castro is pure speculation. It also goes against the documents we have available for this period.

John, there are three old American (I think) sayings that relate to your assertion above. I suspect there are English equivalents.

#1. Actions speak louder than words.

#2. Talk is cheap.

#3. Watch what I do; not what I say.

It is not speculation that AMTRUNK, Second Naval Guerilla and AMLASH were going on in November of 1963. JFK MAY not have known about AMLASH but he assuredly knew about AMTRUNK and Second Naval Guerilla. And clearly both violated the spirit if not the letter of the agreement made, as you put it, "not to remove Castro from power."

So your argument that JFK was not attempting to doublecross Castro comes down to this scenario: In the fall of 1963 JFK was actively violating the intent of the 1962 agreement that the US would not "attempt to remove Castro from power". But even while he was violating THAT agreement, he was ready to negotiate, in good faith this time, a second agreement with Castro, an agreement that he would then keep. So a contract-breaker, you assert, was this time operating in good faith.

You cannot argue that AMTRUNK and Second Naval Guerillas were ongoing operations. Nor can you dispute that JFK knew of both. The only way you can get around the fact that JFK was violating the previous US agreement with Castro while claiming to be negotiating in good faith is to argue that AMTRUNK and Second Naval Guerilla did not violate the agreement made to end the Cuban missile crisis.

So is that your position?

Or is it your position that JFK was NOT attempting to doublecross Castro even while he was breaking the 1962 agreement?

Either position, it strikes me, is untenable.

Edited by Tim Gratz
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John wrote:

As I have pointed out, Castro was unhappy that he was not involved in the original negotiations. However, it was wrong that he was angry about the outcome. He got what he wanted – a promise that the U.S. would not remove him from power.

John you keep ignoring AMTRUNK and Second Naval Guerilla.

I do not suspect Castro wanted meaningless promises.

In AMTRUNK (first suggested, as I am sure you know, by JFK's friend Tad Szulc) the objective was to "remove him from power" by an internal coup.  AMTRUNK was an ongoing operation on November 22, 1963.

Second Naval Guerilla was an operation to "remove him from power" through a second invasion.

And then, of course, there was AMLASH.  The objective of AMLASH was to "remove him from power" by murder most foul.

So on November 22, 1963 there were three separate and independent U.S. operations to remove Castro from power, in clear violation of the agreement that ended the Cuban missile crisus.  You cannot deny that these operations were ongoing.  And Castro was aware of them.

While historians can debate whether JFK and/or RFK were aware of the AMLASH caper, there is no question that RFK, at least, was aware of, and was actively supporting, both AMTRUNK and Second Naval Guerilla.

But it really matters not the extent of JFK's knowledge.  The point is that Castro was aware of the three separate operations to "remove him".

This clearly--clearly--gave Castro incentive to effectuate regime change in Washington (through the only means available to him) and no reason not to. His back was to the wall.  What did he have to lose?  He had reason to believe that the Kennedys were behind the latest effort to kill him.  And the US had been trying to kill him for years. Unless he acted, he had every reason to suspect thaty one day his intelligence forces would fail him and he would feel "the bullet hit the bone" [sorry, I know you do not like quotes from popular songs] or feel the naseau and start to understand that he had been posoned and would die a slow painful death.

What in the world good would direct negotiations with JFK or his representative do?  Did he want a second promise from JFK not to "remove him from office" but with the added provision "this time I really mean it"?

Lisa Howard, who started the peace negotiations, found out they were insincere when she found out about AMTRUNK and AMLASH.  Castro knew it all along.

Castro had motive to kill JFK as sure as Joseph Ratzinger is a devout Catholic.

Hi Tim,

Can you give me some sources for Second Naval Guerilla? This area has always confused me. How many people were there? I had a figure of around 250. Not really enough for an invasion. And what role was Charles DeGaul playing? And Somoza...why was he in Miami trying to recruit members of Batista-Falla's group? Was he acting on behalf of the US gov't? And Paulino Sierra. Did he really try and join forces with Artime? Very confusing area...

Dave

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John wrote:

QUOTE(Tim Gratz @ Jun 24 2005, 09:12 AM)

Castro had no motive to kill Kennedy? One might as well argue that Joseph Ratzinger is not a Catholic!

Do you really believe these two statements are equivalent to each other? If so, we clearly cannot take part in a meaningful debate.

John, there is an American statement "Is the Pope Catholic" that means that a thing is a certainty, in other words, that a given proposition is as certain as the Catholicity of the Pope. I was trying to be "cute" by exchanging the actual name of the Pope. So what I was saying is that it is as certain that Castro had a motive as it is that the current Pope (and any other) is a Catholic.

Let me just re-emphasize that what is most important is not what Kennedy knew but what Castro thought Kennedy was doing. You argued that the CIA was aware of Kennedy's peace initiatives and was trying to subvert them (through, for instance, the Cubela operation). Now the way the CIA was trying to subvert them, of course, was to convince Castro that the peace initiatives were insincere. So let us assume you are right. Does that not in fact prove my point, that Castro had a motive, since the CIA's continued efforts against Castro had proved to Castro that the peace initiatives were insincere? (This could include Desmond Fitzgerald's statement to Cubela that Cubela's intention to murder Castro had the enthusiastic endorsement of RFK.)

It is possible that JFK was pursuing a "two track" policy: one track would be the AMTRUNK plan for an internal coup and the Second Naval Guerilla second invasion, both designed to topple Castro. The second track would be to reach an accomodation with Castro that would be politically acceptable in the US (certainly to include Castro kicking the Soviet Union forces out of Cuba for good). If the first track toppled Castro first, so be it. If he could reach an acceptable accomodation with Castro before he was forcibly removed by the first track, that would be acceptable as well.

The problem is the first track could not be hidden from Castro and Castro had every right to assume from the ongoing first track operations that the second track was nothing but a ruse (as his friend Lisa Howard so concluded).

I happen to agree with Howard. If JFK sincerely wanted an accomodation, he could have put a temporary freeze on the "first track" while the negotiations ensued.

There is a reason why the people who push the scenario of the "peace initiative" never mention AMTRUNK and Second Naval Guerilla. AMTRUNK and Second Naval Guerilla were ongoing ACTIONS. The peace initiatives were WORDS only. Which was Castro to believe, the nice words coming from JFK, or the bellicose actions, which he had every right to assume were authorized by JFK?

Edited by Tim Gratz
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Let me just re-emphasize that what is most important is not what Kennedy knew but what Castro thought Kennedy was doing.  You argued that the CIA was aware of Kennedy's peace initiatives and was trying to subvert them (through, for instance, the Cubela operation).  Now the way the CIA was trying to subvert them, of course, was to convince Castro that the peace initiatives were insincere.  So let us assume you are right.  Does that not in fact prove my point, that Castro had a motive, since the CIA's continued efforts against Castro had proved to Castro that the peace initiatives were insincere?  (This could include Desmond Fitzgerald's statement to Cubela that Cubela's intention to murder Castro had the enthusiastic endorsement of RFK.)

The Cubela farce was designed, not to kill Castro, but precisely to achieve what you suggest: the sabotage of back-channel peace feelers between Washington and Havana.  The Agency was stung by the way Kennedy mounted AM/TRUNK, which kept CIA at arm's length and excluded it, a precedent it would not allow to stand.  It is for this reason alone that Fitzgerald and Helms continued the dog-and-pony show [despite the protests of others within CIA that the Cubela operation had been compromised], to impress upon Castro that Kennedy couldn't be trusted.  It wasn't important to either man that Cubela actually do anything; only that Castro be kept informed that there were plans afoot to have him killed.

It is possible that JFK was pursuing a "two track" policy: one track would be the AMTRUNK plan for an internal coup and the Second Naval Guerilla second invasion, both designed to topple Castro.  The second track would be to reach an accomodation with Castro that would be politically acceptable in the US (certainly to include Castro kicking the Soviet Union forces out of Cuba for good).  If the first track toppled Castro first, so be it.  If he could reach an acceptable accomodation with Castro before he was forcibly removed by the first track, that would be acceptable as well.

The problem is the first track could not be hidden from Castro

If keeping Castro in the dark was important, nobody at CIA would have entrusted Cubela to play any part in its plans.  The Agency already knew that he was leaking everything back to Castro, which is precisely why it continued to use him.

and Castro had every right to assume from the ongoing first track operations that the second track was nothing but a ruse (as his friend Lisa Howard so concluded).

I happen to agree with Howard.  If JFK sincerely wanted an accomodation, he could have put a temporary freeze on the "first track" while the negotiations ensued.

He may well have done so, had Kennedy known about the Cubela operation.  However, since CIA personnel insisted it wasn't necessary to seek authorization from the Kennedys, and was permissible to pretend they had that authority when dealing with Cubela, this crude end-run around the White House was designed to sabotage AM/TRUNK and other operations that didn't involve CIA, and to neutralize the peace feelers. 

There is a reason why the people who push the scenario of the "peace initiative" never mention AMTRUNK and Second Naval Guerilla.  AMTRUNK and Second Naval Guerilla were ongoing ACTIONS.  The peace initiatives were WORDS only.  Which was Castro to believe, the nice words coming from JFK, or the bellicose actions, which he had every right to assume were authorized by JFK?

If you were to give Castro the slightest credit for intelligence, you could answer your own question. 

Over a year prior to the invasion, Eisenhower was already expressing concern that the Bay of Pigs plans were being compromised by too wide-spread a knowledge within a leaky Cuban exile community. 

Eisenhower was right to be worried.  At the same time he expressed these fears, Castro was already in the loop: MAR 27-28, 1960: Fidel Castro speaks to a gathering of militia in Ciudad Libertad: "We also are organizing ourselves... In the first place so that they do not carry out aggression against us, and in second place, if they do, they will have to pay very dearly for their impudence and audacity in finding themselves on the soil of our country."

The following day, Castro warns, "if there is an invasion, the war, they can be sure, will be to the death." (Informe Especial: 1960)

This concern only grew over time, as various contemporaneous memoranda divulge.  For example, your favoured patriot CD Dillon in November 1960 "voices the [state] department's concern that the operation is no longer secret but is known all over Latin America and has been discussed in U.N. circles."  A week prior to the invasion, Kennedy himself expressed similar fears:

The New York Times runs a story by Tad Szulc entitled "Anti-Castro Units Trained to Fight at Florida Bases." The article overestimates the Brigade to number five to six thousand men but discloses that training has been discontinued because the forces have reached the stage of adequate preparation. Near the end of the story, Szulc cites CBS as reporting unmistakable signs that invasion plans are in their final stages. Following discussions between President Kennedy and Times publisher Orvil E. Dryfoos, editors shrink the story from a four-column lead article on the front page to a one-column headline near the middle of page one. Even so, when Kennedy reads the story he exclaims that Castro doesn't need spies in the United States; all he has to do is read the newspaper. (NYT, 4/7/61; Wyden, pp.153?154)

Clearly, Castro knew from the outset that Kennedy hadn't planned the invasion, but inherited it, along with an extreme right-wing element that fomented against Castro, as it still does today.  In the interim, however, in resolving the thorny October Missile Crisis, Kennedy had also reached a compromise that included his promise to Moscow, not Havana, that the US wouldn't support further military actions against Cuba.  Breaking that promise risked military retaliation from Moscow, a significantly greater disincentive than Havana could muster.  It was a moderate response by a President beset on all sides by lunatics urging nuclear strikes, Operation Northwoods-style provocations, etc.  Don't think Castro was so unaware or obtuse not to know these things.

Moreover, by initiating these [Howard/Daniel/Attwood] back-channel feelers with Castro, Havana had reason to believe that the President was pursuing a path in secret that US reactionaries would despise.  It was not Castro in 1963 who failed to distinguish between what Kennedy wanted and what CIA wanted.  It is you, today, who cannot see what was being done, or why.  Or the deadly repercussions this led to for the President.

Also, while I have your attention, I would certainly appreciate a response to my prior post in the "Familiar Faces" thread, in which I asked you for any direct testimony from Veciana in which he states personal knowledge that Diaz or any other Cuban operative was in Dealey Plaza.  You've made that assertion.  Can we please see some actual evidence for this contention?  Or do you intend to, once again, ignore and gloss over the hard questions for which you seem to have no ready answer? 

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