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Questions for Manuel Ray


John Simkin
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Q 1. Can you offer any details about the anti-Batista Civic Resistance Movement that you were involved in the late 1950s? For example, details like who planned the acts of sabotage and who were recruited to carry them out would be greatly appreciated. Was there a specific militant arm to the organization?

Q 2. Were you heavily involved in attempts to overthrow Castro in 1963? Did you have any groups or leader in Tampa, Chicago, New Orleans or Dallas? Did you work with other exile groups or exile leader?

Q 3. Do you believe that Manolo Artime or another Cuban exile leader was trying to implicate you and JURE in the Kennedy assassination by sending Lee Harvey Oswald to Sylvia Odio’s apartment?

Q4. Do you agree with the House Select Committee on Assassinations that Artime had “guilty knowledge” of the assassination?

Q 5. Former Artime confederate Angel Murgado has told several researchers that he, Artime and Bernardo de Torres were keeping an eye on suspicious anti-JFK activity among Cuban exiles in 1963 and while doing this they became aware of Oswald, whom they reported on to Bobby Kennedy. Do you believe this story?

Q 6. Murgado also says that he and De Torres paid a social visit to Sylvia Odio, and that while at her apartment they spotted Oswald there. Do you believe this story?

Q 7. Was Luis Posada a member of the crew of the M/V Venus and, if so, what was your opinion of him?

Q 8. Was Posada among those who threatened to rebel against you for lack of any action against Castro?

Q 9. Do you think Posada was a CIA informant within JURE?

Q10. Did you feel that there were any former Brigade members who hated JFK enough to be a danger to him.

Q11. When did you learn about the coup plan that Robert Kennedy, the CIA, Artime and Harry Williams were planning?

Q12. How much did they tell you about the coup plan? (When, where, who else was involved, etc.) Were you told the name of the person inside the Castro government who was going to be part of the coup.

Q13. Why did you decide not to participate?

Q14. If the coup had happened as scheduled, would you have considered joining the new Provisional government?

Q15. Did you have any contact with CIA people during the early 1960s. For example: Bernard Barker (“Macho”), E. Howard Hunt (“Eduardo”), James McCord, Carl Jenkins, David Morales (“El Indio”, “the Big Indian”, Zamka). What were your impressions of these people, and their actions.

Q16. Did you ever hear rumors or stories about Varona or Artime – or other exiles – being involved with the Mafia in 1963 or 1964?

Q17. Did you ever feel threatened by any mobsters, or did they ever approach you trying to give you support?

Q18. When Bobby Kennedy said, “one of your guys did it” to Harry Ruiz-Williams on Nov. 22, 1963, to whom do you think Bobby was referring?

Q19. Did you ever talk to Bobby Kennedy about what happened in Dallas?

Q20. Who do you think was behind the Kennedy assassination?

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Q 2. Were you heavily involved in attempts to overthrow Castro in 1963? Did you have any groups or leader in Tampa, Chicago, New Orleans or Dallas? Did you work with other exile groups or exile leader?

Yes we were very active in 1963. We had strong ties with the governments of Venezuela, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

In Chicago we had a good support group. One small in Tampa. None in New Orleans. And when Sylvia Odio moved to Dallas, she thought of organizing a support group there.

We worked with most of the Cuban exile groups that were self managed and did not have links with the Batista’s regime remains. Same with independent exile leaders, but bypassed those with corrupt past.

With Artime our relation was very cold, with few “long arm length” contacts at the rank and file level. In Howard Hunt’s book “Give me this day”, between many lies and loaded arguments, transpires how he managed Artime’s group. We fought for something better. (Artime spent his last several years as business partner of dictator Somoza; and died of cancer.)

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Q 3. Do you believe that Manolo Artime or another Cuban exile leader was trying to implicate you and JURE in the Kennedy assassination by sending Lee Harvey Oswald to Sylvia Odio’s apartment?

I think the plotters did not need the risk of that disclosure. Therefore, I don’t believe either Artime or any other Cuban exile leader was informed in anticipation of the assassination plot. If the visit happened I believe Artime, upon request of some of his friends, could had sent his associates to Sylvia as witness of Oswald being there, but probably with other visit purpose, like “tracking a dangerous person” inside JURE. The real purpose being to frame an implicating decoy (see also my answer to question 6).

Q4. Do you agree with the House Select Committee on Assassinations that Artime had “guilty knowledge” of the assassination?

After the facts, is possible he could had recognized instances like Sylvia Odio episode and inferred relationships between some of his friends and the assassination.

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Thank you for coming here, Mr. Ray. I think I found a question John didn't ask. Within the literature of the Bay of Pigs and the Kennedy assassination one will often find references to a squad of anti-Castro Cubans known as Operation 40. It's been theorized that Operation 40's original mission was to assassinate leftists who hoped to become part of the new government This was to occur when these men returned to Cuba, assuming the Bay of Pigs proved successful. Presumably, you were at the top of their list.

My question is if you were aware of this group, or if it is just an urban legend. My follow-up question would be about Howard Hunt. Have you had any contacts with him since the Bay of Pigs? Was he behind Operation 40 (presuming it was real)? Any thoughts about Hunt and Operation 40 appreciated...

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Pat, you raise a good question whether "Operation 40" being an assassination squad is but one of the many "urban legends" surrounding the Kennedy case.

I recently purchased a book containing memoirs and statements of BOP veterans. In it, a knowledgeable BOP veteran who was associated with Operation 40 emphatically denies it was an assassination squad. I will try to post the actual passage tomorrow.

I too join you in welcoming Mr. Rey to the Forum.

My question to him would be if he has any information (whether first-hand or otherwise) to either support or refute the premise of "Ultimate Sacrifice" that there was a coup planned for Cuba in December of 1963.

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Q 5. Former Artime confederate Angel Murgado has told several researchers that he, Artime and Bernardo de Torres were keeping an eye on suspicious anti-JFK activity among Cuban exiles in 1963 and while doing this they became aware of Oswald, whom they reported on to Bobby Kennedy. Do you believe this story?

I do not believe the story. How they related Oswald to JFK before the assassination? Assuming the visit is true, why not special precautions were taken in Dallas, where Oswald lived? Why simple interrogation or surveillance on him were not made?, etc.

If they had alerted Robert Kennedy and the CIA, how is it possible Robert Kennedy saying to Williams on November 22, 1963, “One of your guys did it”.

Q 6. Murgado also says that he and De Torres paid a social visit to Sylvia Odio, and that while at her apartment they spotted Oswald there. Do you believe this story?

Sylvia did not attributed any importance to Oswald’s visit and told me about it after JFK assassination. She never told me about the alleged visit by Murgado and De Torres while Oswald was there. I learned about that allegation from your question.

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Q 7. Was Luis Posada a member of the crew of the M/V Venus and, if so, what was your opinion of him?

He was not.

Q 8. Was Posada among those who threatened to rebel against you for lack of any action against Castro?

No.

Q 9. Do you think Posada was a CIA informant within JURE?

He was not a member of JURE.

Q10. Did you feel that there were any former Brigade members who hated JFK enough to be a danger to him.

No.

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Mr. Ray, as I said before, it is certainly a privilege to have you as a member. I hope, as I am sure you do, that democracy will soon come to Cuba.

Regarding Sylvia Opdio, you wrote:

Sylvia did not attributed any importance to Oswald’s visit and told me about it after JFK assassination. She never told me about the alleged visit by Murgado and De Torres while Oswald was there. I learned about that allegation from your question.

Can you elaborate a bit on when Ms. Odio told you about the visit and what she told you about it? Did she say that Oswald was accompanied by anyone else? Have you met either Mr. Murgado or Mr. deTorres?

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Q11. When did you learn about the coup plan that Robert Kennedy, the CIA, Artime and Harry Williams were planning?

You probably refer to the plan of Cmte. Rolando Cubela. The facts I know follows.

Cubela was to make a trip to Spain and France, and sent me a message to meet him in Madrid.

We met soon upon arrival, as scheduled. We talked about his plan and the ways we could contribute. In a second meeting while in Madrid he told me that a friend of him insisted into meeting Artime, who was also in Madrid, and wanted to meet him. He acceded and they also talked about the plan; but then he was feeling uneasy about that meeting. In Paris we met again and established a safe mail communication route. He went back to Cuba and wrote to confirm our communication route.

Short time after, Artime’s chauffer went back to Cuba and made public he was a Castro agent and implicated Cubela. He was arrested, given a 30 yr sentence, and liberated after 15 yr in jail. Now, he is working as physician in Spain.

Q12. How much did they tell you about the coup plan? (When, where, who else was involved, etc.) Were you told the name of the person inside the Castro government who was going to be part of the coup.

Rolando Cubela informed me about the plan. Names and locations were not asked nor disclosed, as it shall be. Timing was to be set. I was committed to the plan.

Q13. Why did you decide not to participate?

I would have participated in every possible way.

Q14. If the coup had happened as scheduled, would you have considered joining the new Provisional government?

Same answer as in previous question.

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Q15. Did you have any contact with CIA people during the early 1960s. For example: Bernard Barker (“Macho”), E. Howard Hunt (“Eduardo”), James McCord, Carl Jenkins, David Morales (“El Indio”, “the Big Indian”, Zamka). What were your impressions of these people, and their actions.

I did not have any contact with the CIA people in that period. I never met a person with any of the names you listed. Maybe some of them crossed my way with a different identity. I knew about Howard Hunt only by his deeds outside Cuba.

Q16. Did you ever hear rumors or stories about Varona or Artime – or other exiles – being involved with the Mafia in 1963 or 1964?

No.

Q17. Did you ever feel threatened by any mobsters, or did they ever approach you trying to give you support?

No.

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Q18. When Bobby Kennedy said, “one of your guys did it” to Harry Ruiz-Williams on Nov. 22, 1963, to whom do you think Bobby was referring?

I do not know Harry Ruiz-Williams, nor his affiliation.

In Cuba I knew a guy with a latin name, that I do not remember, but don’t sound as Harry Ruiz, who’s war name was “Captain Willams”. Since then I lost his whereabouts. I doubt he is the person you refer to.

But as curiosity this is the background about the person I know:

i) Before 1959, he was a “26th July” member. His participation in the kidnapping of Fangio was very remarkable, he was the driver of the jeep used for the abduction.

ii) In 1960, he enrolled in MRP and then worked directly with me. He was dependable and very skilled in explosives and detonation devices.

Q19. Did you ever talk to Bobby Kennedy about what happened in Dallas?

No.

Q20. Who do you think was behind the Kennedy assassination?

I think this was not an “Oswald alone” event, because of the following improbabilities:

1. Oswald being hired to work in that building, two or three months before the event. Knowing the Presidential caravan trajectory and the location from where to have very good aim to the President.

2. Once in the scene he felt could had consecutive shots, sharp on target, therefore no urgency, and be able to escape from the scene as he did back to home.

3. Ruby, a Cabaret Operator, affronting the consequences of killing Oswald moved by the possible grief of Jacqueline at the courts. Not withstanding that Oswald testimony was the best hope to unwrap the truth. Ruby knew that this action may cost him his live, but certainly his lifetime liberty.

4. Ruby going inside the police station, and reaching so close to Oswald to give him “one professional shot”, that he could not pronounce a word forever.

Anyone of these four improbabilities alone could have happened; but all four is impossible without enormous resources, skilled plotters and extensive contacts in Texas.

I believe, as most probable: A very few disgruntled political power-losers and/or racist conceived the idea; and engaged skilled plotters from one of the existing gangs within the intelligence agencies. Those to plan and execute the assassination. Then the plan included disaffected Mafia to act independently to eliminate Oswald. This could explain why Oswald returns home, and when arrested he did not talk; still expecting some help from his recruiters. Also Ruby did not know other participants, except his boss.

I think when Kennedy was elected the US Government had a change of brain and heart, but some of its hands became wild and reluctant to the changes.

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Mr. Ray

Sergio Arcacha Smith was Varona's choice for New Orleans delegate of the Frente Revolucionario Democratico and later the Cuban Revolutionary Council. Did you ever hear of him or know how he was regarded among the exile community?

Arcacha worked with a man named David Ferrie. Are you aware of Ferrie or any of his activities in the movement?

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Mr. Ray could you tell us more about the early days of 1959, your experiences with the 26 July and the SNF Escambray factions? As a young man, how did you view groups other than Castro's did you see any division or conflict?

Had you met any Americans like Wm Morgan, GP Hemming or Paul Hughes or Alex Rorke who were aiding the revolution, later against, inside Cuba? These were men who came out of Korean conflict and joined the Cuban students studying in US or arrived in Cuba as tourists, journalists, trainers of rev. military, etc.

Had you any contact in those days with Americans, students in the US or the US embassy in Cuba?

Do you feel history needs any correction regarding the revolution, later efforts against Castro? What misconceptions are there? Why do you think or how does this history in Cuba connect to JFK's death? How can it be separately considered?

Is it possible in your view to re-examine the history with Castro still alive? I'm a family member with a parent dead, the body still missing, as a result of involvement in this secret war. For many of us out there we have questions for Cuba that the US also refuses to fully answer. We aren't clear why this is after many years of waiting, even with relations being what they are. It's been so long and many are dead now.

Is dialogue possible to give us our answers? Would you be a part of such a mission? Have you been to Cuba since the 60s or would you like to return one day?

Thank you for your replies

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Q18. When Bobby Kennedy said, “one of your guys did it” to Harry Ruiz-Williams on Nov. 22, 1963, to whom do you think Bobby was referring?

I do not know Harry Ruiz-Williams, nor his affiliation.

In Cuba I knew a guy with a latin name, that I do not remember, but don’t sound as Harry Ruiz, who’s war name was “Captain Willams”. Since then I lost his whereabouts. I doubt he is the person you refer to.

But as curiosity this is the background about the person I know:

i) Before 1959, he was a “26th July” member. His participation in the kidnapping of Fangio was very remarkable, he was the driver of the jeep used for the abduction.

ii) In 1960, he enrolled in MRP and then worked directly with me. He was dependable and very skilled in explosives and detonation devices.

As I quote several times in my book, in his most detailed account of the incident (Washington Post 11-20-83), Haynes Johnson himself wrote that Bobby Kennedy said that to him (Haynes) NOT to Harry.

That's extremely important, because the way the question is worded, it makes it sound like Bobby suspected Harry - a key Cuban exile coordinator - was involved in the assassination, which was simply not the case.

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