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Wayne S. Smith


John Simkin
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Wayne S. Smith was born in Texas in 1932. He obtained degrees from the La Universidad de las Americas in Mexico City (BA), Columbia University (MA) and the George Washington University (PhD).

Smith served in the United States Marine Corps from 1949 to 1953 and saw combat during the the Korean War. He joined the Department of State in 1957, and saw service in the Soviet Union, Argentina and Cuba. In 1961 he was appointed by President John F. Kennedy to serve as the Executive Secretary of his Latin American Task Force.

Smith served as Chief of the U.S. Interest Section in Cuba from 1979 to 1982 but left the Foreign Service in 1982 because of fundamental disagreements with the foreign policy of President Ronald Reagan.

In 1982 Smith was appointed as Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. He is also a visiting professor of Latin American studies at The Johns Hopkins University and a Senior Fellow at the Center for International Policy. He is the author of several books including Castro's Cuba: Soviet Partner or Nonaligned? (1985), The Closest of Enemies: Personal and Diplomatic Account of United States-Cuban Relations Since 1957 (1988), Subject to Solution: Problems in Cuban-U.S.Relations (1988), Portrait of Cuba (1991) and The Russians Aren't Coming: New Soviet Policy in Latin America (1992).

In March, 2001, Smith was a member of a United States delegation that visited the scene of the Bay of Pigs battle. The party included Arthur Schlesinger (historian), Robert Reynolds, (the CIA station chief in Miami during the invasion), Jean Kennedy Smith (sister of John F. Kennedy), Alfredo Duran (Bay of Pigs veteran) and Richard Goodwin (Kennedy political adviser and speech writer).

Wayne Smith is an interesting character and I will invite him to join the forum.

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BBC report, Cold War foes revisit battle scene (21st March, 2001). Wayne S. Smith was one of those who attended this meeting.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/1241667.stm

Former enemies who fought each other 40 years ago have together revisited the site of one of the key battles of the Cold War, the Bay of Pigs in southern Cuba.

The visit was the culmination of a three-day conference designed to investigate the causes of the conflict, what went so badly wrong for the US-backed forces and the lessons to be learnt from it.

Among those taking part were historians from both Cuba and the United States, Arthur Schlesinger and Richard Goodwin - both former advisers to the then US president, John Kennedy - soldiers from both sides and President Fidel Castro himself.

During the first two days in Havana previously classified documents were exchanged.

In the Cuban papers were transcripts of the telephone communications between President Castro and his military commanders during the battle.

They showed how closely involved he was, the tension of the moment and the joy when, after more than 60 hours of fighting, it became obvious that the invasion had been defeated.

The US documents chart in detail the humiliation felt at the nature of the defeat and the embarrassment caused to President Kennedy.

One State Department paper puts the blame for the debacle squarely on the CIA, which trained the invasion force.

It said: "The fundamental cause of the disaster was the Agency's failure to give the project, notwithstanding its importance and its immense potentiality for damage to the United States, the top-flight handling which it required."

It added: "There was failure at high levels to concentrate informed, unwavering scrutiny on the project."

In the aftermath of the failed mission, another US paper lays out the early plans to destabilise the Cuban government - a plan which became known as Operation Mongoose.

This included a number of bizarre schemes, including one to put powder in Fidel Castro's shoes to make his beard fall out and another which included exploding cigars.

The document suggested that the most effective commander of such an operation would be the then attorney general, the president's brother, Robert Kennedy.

Among those searching for answers in Cuba was the Kennedy's sister, Jean Kennedy Smith.

Walking the beaches of the Bay of Pigs, she said the conference had been a big boost in helping to bring peace between Cuba and the United States.

Another of the US delegates was Alfredo Duran, one of the invading force 40 years ago.

He faced the man he tried to overthrow, Fidel Castro, as well as other Cuban defenders.

As he stood on the beach he said: "This has been a very emotional time, especially discussing with the colonel in charge of the operation the very intense fighting that took place in this spot."

The beaches along the Bay of Pigs in southern Cuba are now littered with sunbeds and overlooked by luxury hotels.

But there is plenty to remind the visitor that this was the scene of an important battle... as the Cubans see it the victory of a small country against an imperialist oppressor.

For the Americans it was a humiliating defeat that helped to shape its Cold War strategy for the next generation and its policy towards Cuba until now...

There was much talk at the conference of how President Kennedy was reluctant to back the invasion.

One of his former advisers who came to Havana, Arthur Schlesinger, said the president felt obliged to go ahead since he had inherited the plan from the previous Eisenhower administration. "I advised against it," said Mr Schlesinger, "But my advice was not heeded."

In the aftermath of the failed invasion, any hopes of reconciliation with the United States died and President Castro moved closer into the Soviet camp.

The tension increased, culminating the following year in the Cuban missile crisis when the Soviet Union tried to station nuclear missiles in Cuba, pointing at the United States.

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Wayne Smith was one of the earliest members of COPA.

I met him at an early COPA conference at the Omini Hotel in DC around 1992-3.

We talked for quite awhile in the lobby lounge - I think we were also sitting with Dick Russell or Gaeton Fonzi.

Smith said he knew David Atlee Phillips from his days at the US Embassy in Havana. If I recall correctly, Smith was in the amateur acting group that got together in Havana and put on plays. A list of US Embassy staff in Havana includes Smith and David Morales.

Smith was a principle organizers of the two COPA sponsored meetings with the Cubans in Argentina and Bahamas. While I was invited, I couldn't make the meetings, but they were attended by John Judge and Tony Summers, among others.

Smith is very knowledgeable about the Cuban angles to the assassination and his participation in this forum should be informative.

BK

Edited by William Kelly
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1. In an article you wrote in 1999 you argued “The Cuban Revolution, which triumphed on January 1, 1959, promised to end discrimination and provide equal opportunities for blacks. Without question, tremendous strides were made. Blacks were indeed given equal access to education through the postgraduate level. Discrimination in the workplace was greatly reduced. However, as Tato Qui ones pointed out, official policy was one thing, what happened was another. Some managers and officials simply didn't agree that blacks should be treated equally and their personal prejudices led them to give preference to whites.”

Blacks were also underrepresented in government. I believe I am right to say that the only black person to hold a senior post in the government was Juan Almeida Bosque. Why do you think Castro has not done more to promote black people in his government?

2. In March, 2001, you were a member of a United States delegation that visited the scene of the Bay of Pigs battle. The party included Arthur Schlesinger (historian), Robert Reynolds (the CIA station chief in Miami during the invasion), Jean Kennedy Smith (sister of John F. Kennedy), Alfredo Duran (Bay of Pigs veteran) and Richard Goodwin (Kennedy political adviser and speech writer). A BBC report on 21st March claimed that during the “first two days in Havana previously classified documents were exchanged.” Did you learn anything of importance from these documents?

3. Do you know why Jean Kennedy Smith interested in visiting Cuba?

4. The evidence from some of LBJ’s released telephone tapes suggest that the intelligence agencies believed that Castro might have been behind the assassination of JFK. In fact, going by his conversations with Charles Halleck, (6.30 pm, 29th November, 1963) and Richard Russell (8.55 pm 29th November, 1963), the only reason LBJ was unwilling for this information to be disclosed was his fear that this would result in a nuclear war. What is your view of these events? Do you think it is possible that Castro was involved in the assassination of JFK?

5. In a recently published book, Ultimate Sacrifice, the authors argue that in 1963 JFK and the CIA were working with Juan Almeida Bosque and Che Guevara in a plot to overthrow Fidel Castro. Do you think this is possible? If so, why has Castro allowed Almeida to remain in office (according to the authors, Castro has known about the plot since the early 1990s)?

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKalmeida.htm

6. In an article you wrote in the Guardian (1st November, 2006) you rightly called for an end to the US embargo against Cuba. Do you think the elections today will have any impact on US policy towards Cuba?

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Tonight, Wayne S. Smith is in Toronto as part of a panel discussing the impact on Cuba of US-Cuban relations, 47 years after the revolution's triumph:

On Friday, November 10, 2006, John Kirk of Dalhousie University moderates a panel discussion entitled Myth & Reality in Cuba – The Revolution at 47. The evening will explore the impact of U.S.-Cuban relations on life in Cuba, social conditions in contemporary Cuba, the challenges of providing balanced reporting on Cuba, as well as the evolution of cultural expression in Cuba. Panelists include Wayne S. Smith (Center for International Policy), Hal Klepak (Royal Military College and special adviser to the Departments of National Defence and Foreign Affairs), Jeffrey Koffman (ABC News correspondent on Latin American matters) and Mirén Uriarte (University of Massachussetts, Boston).

From:

http://www.torontoplus.ca/arts_entertainme...a_today/1058917

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1. In an article you wrote in 1999 you argued “The Cuban Revolution, which triumphed on January 1, 1959, promised to end discrimination and provide equal opportunities for blacks. Without question, tremendous strides were made. Blacks were indeed given equal access to education through the postgraduate level. Discrimination in the workplace was greatly reduced. However, as Tato Qui ones pointed out, official policy was one thing, what happened was another. Some managers and officials simply didn't agree that blacks should be treated equally and their personal prejudices led them to give preference to whites.”

Blacks were also underrepresented in government. I believe I am right to say that the only black person to hold a senior post in the government was Juan Almeida Bosque. Why do you think Castro has not done more to promote black people in his government?

I have no answer to the first question. I find it puzzling that Castro has not done more to bring blacks into high positions in the government. Is it that he thinks it’s up to each one to win his own way? I don’t know.

2. In March, 2001, you were a member of a United States delegation that visited the scene of the Bay of Pigs battle. The party included Arthur Schlesinger (historian), Robert Reynolds (the CIA station chief in Miami during the invasion), Jean Kennedy Smith (sister of John F. Kennedy), Alfredo Duran (Bay of Pigs veteran) and Richard Goodwin (Kennedy political adviser and speech writer). A BBC report on 21st March claimed that during the “first two days in Havana previously classified documents were exchanged.” Did you learn anything of importance from these documents?

I was not the specialist on documents. I don’t remember anything startlingly new that we learned from them, however.

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3. Do you know why Jean Kennedy Smith interested in visiting Cuba?

I don’t know why Jean Kennedy Smith was interested in visiting Cuba.

4. The evidence from some of LBJ’s released telephone tapes suggest that the intelligence agencies believed that Castro might have been behind the assassination of JFK. In fact, going by his conversations with Charles Halleck, (6.30 pm, 29th November, 1963) and Richard Russell (8.55 pm 29th November, 1963), the only reason LBJ was unwilling for this information to be disclosed was his fear that this would result in a nuclear war. What is your view of these events? Do you think it is possible that Castro was involved in the assassination of JFK?

LBJ was totally out of the loop on the Kennedy assassination. All the evidence rules out any involvement of Castro. On the contrary, it points toward rogue elements of the CIA, the MAFIA and perhaps a number of Cuban exiles acting as hit men.

5. In a recently published book, Ultimate Sacrifice, the authors argue that in 1963 JFK and the CIA were working with Juan Almeida Bosque and Che Guevara in a plot to overthrow Fidel Castro. Do you think this is possible? If so, why has Castro allowed Almeida to remain in office (according to the authors, Castro has known about the plot since the early 1990s)?

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKalmeida.htm

No, I do not think it is possible that JFK and the CIA were working with Che and Juan Almeida against Castro. The authors must have been smoking something!

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No, I do not think it is possible that JFK and the CIA were working with Che and Juan Almeida against Castro. The authors must have been smoking something!

Maybe, they are just guilty of believing CIA declassified documents.

If You believe declassified CIA documents, then Lee Harvey Oswald and Cuban UN Ambassador were both sleeping with Sylvia Duran in Mexico City.

I'd like to ask Wayne Smith if he can recall some of his interactions with David A. Phillips in Havana. I believe that you were part of the same amateur acting troup? Was he a good actor? What was your impression of him? Thanks.

BK

Edited by William Kelly
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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...
I wonder if Wayne Smith, as a member of this forum, would make an appearance and discuss his role in the recent identification of the CIA officers at the Ambassador Hotel at the time of the assassination of RFK?

Bill Kelly

bkjfk3@yahoo.com

I'd like to know if we could get Wayne on line sometime?

BK

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