L'Humanité in English
Translation of selective papers from the french daily newspaper l'Humanité
decorHome > World > The Target: Fidel Castro

EditorialWorldPoliticsEconomySocietyCultureScience & TechnologySportInternational Communist and Labor Press"Tribune libre"Comment and OpinionBlogsLinks
About CIA, read also
decorVenezuela Up Against the Strategy Of a Permanent Coup decorThe Tiananmen Legacy decorInternet and the difficulty of cross-referencing reliable media sources decor Internet et le difficile croisement de sources médiatiques fiables decorImpunity for CIA Torturers: The Debate Intensifies decorThe CIA Washes its Dirty Linen decor"Extraordinary Rendition": Amnesty International Confirms US-European Complicity decorFormer CIA Officer Denounces Bush’s Underhanded Tactics decorEuropean countries aided CIA’s subcontracting of torture decorLies from the CIA
About Cuba, read also
decorTrump likely to close Cuba doors that Obama opened decorFidel Castro, thorn in the side of United States’ hegemony decorWelcome in France Comrade Raoul Castro decorReopening of the American embassy in Cuba decorWashington withdraws Havana from its blacklist of countries supporting terrorism decor“Historic” Meeting Between François Hollande and Fidel Castro decorHelp! Fidel Castro in Back! decorThe Cuban "Giselle" Spent Three Days in France decorA Page Turns in Cuba decorChe’s World Revisited decorCuba: In the Absence of Fidel decorPaying Hommage to Fidel Castro
About Fidel Castro, read also
decorLatin America Heads For Socialism

The Target: Fidel Castro

Translated Wednesday 8 August 2007, by Natasha Dowd

In 1960, the CIA contacted a former FBI agent and right hand man of billionaire Howard Hughes, who in turn conspired with the Mafia to have Fidel assassinated.

The U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations, established in September of 1975 and presided over by Idaho Democratic Senator Frank Church, was mandated to investigate the “government’s operations with respect to Intel Surveillance activities.” It had drawn up a 347-page document describing the plots to assassinate and overturn eight foreign leaders. Among those outlined, pell-mell, are Fidel Castro, Patrice Lumumba, the hero of the Congolese independence movement, Chilean President Salvador Allende and General Schneider, Sukarno (the first President of Indonesia and founder of the independence movement.) Also on the list were individuals who had become a nuisance to Washington such as the South-Vietnamese puppet “President” Ngo Dinh
Diem, the Dominican Republic dictator Trujillo and Haitian “Papa Doc” Duvalier.

Beginning in 1960, under President Dwight Eisenhower, Fidel Castro was the target of several assassination plots sanctioned by the White House. Church’s Select Committee counted eight attempts on his life with the use of poison and snipers but also with more bizarre methods such as thallium powder (designed to remove the facial hair of the “barbudos” leader), explosive cigars, scuba gear and a pen laced with poison or a seashell rigged with explosives and set near where the Cuban leader would go swimming. However, the issue that tied the links of the Gordian knot encompassing the CIA, the FBI, the Mafia and also the Kennedys with the assassination of John Kennedy on November 22, 1963, was the plot to eliminate Castro.

In Family Jewels, the CIA officially recognized for the first time their part by making the November 19, 1970 memorandum public. This document, addressed to the director of the CIA Richard Helms and signed by Security Director Howard J. Osborn, confirmed “that in August of 1960 Mr Richard Bissel” came into contact with the Colonel Sheffield Edwards in order to determine if the Security Bureau, which he directed, contained elements that could facilitate a sensitive mission necessitating gangster tactics. “The target of the mission was Fidel Castro,” regarding which “we contacted Robert A. Maheu” to see if he could organize “a meeting with the gangsters as the first step in accomplishing this objective,” what the memo does not say is that Maheu was a particularly shady character.

Maheu, a former FBI agent, did odd jobs for the paranoid, agoraphobic, billionaire Howard Hughes. Hughes was a friend of FBI head J. Edgar Hoover, and allegedly financed Joe, the chief of the Kennedy clan, the “paterfamilias,” in the 1930s. Maheu had, amongst other base acts committed for the CIA, directed a pornographic film entitled Happy Days using a Sukarno look-alike in order to convince the Indonesians that their President was a vulgar party animal!

According to the memo, Maheu contacted “a certain Johnny Roselli, a high standing member of the criminal association who controlled “all the ice cream machines on the main avenue in Las Vegas, (the strip), and who had “without a doubt connections interested in the gaming industry in Cuba.” Hughes’ right hand man was supposed to tell Roselli that he had recently been hired by a client that represented “several international firms that were incurring heavy financial losses because of Castro’s actions” and who were ready to pay “the price of 150,000 dollars for a satisfactory result,” in other words, the assassination of Fidel.

Roselli in turn lead him to Sam and Joe, with whom Maheu met on September 25, 1960. The memorandum affirms with false candour that it was only “several weeks later” that Maheu discovered the portrait of these two individuals, featured on the list of the FBI’s top ten most wanted in the United States, in the pages of Challenge magazine . It respectively turned out to be, Momo Salvator Giancana, head of the Cosa Nostra in Chicago and heir to Al Capone’s empire, and Santos Trafficante, the godfather of a Cuban branch of the Mafia. It is common knowledge that before the fall of the dictator Batista, Cuba was essentially a playground for the United States and a major hub for drug trafficking into North America.

The CIA document details how the assassination attempt was organized but was, however, never fully put into action. Moreover, the most interesting part of the memorandum consists of an incident drawn up as follows “at the height of the project Sam (Giancana), shared his anxiety regarding his girlfriend Phyllis McGuire, who he had learned had been the object of Dan Rowan’s attention on several occasions while the two were working on contract in a Las Vegas night club. Sam asked Maheu to place a microphone in Rowan’s apartment in order to determine the scope of his relationship with Miss McGuire. The technician in charge of the mission was caught in the act and brought to the Sheriff’s office for interrogation. Rowan telephoned Maheu to let him know about his arrest. The call was made in the presence of the Sheriff’s staff.

Subsequently, the Justice Department announced their intention to charge Maheu along with the technician. On February 7, 1962 the security director of the CIA, let the attorney general Robert Kennedy know about the circumstances leading up to Maheu’s implication in the affair and at their request the charges were dismissed. In fact, according to Church’s Select Committee the CIA’s actions started on May 7, 1962, while the head of the FBI Hoover had revealed to Bob Kennedy that as early as August of 1961 the CIA was using Giancana in an “operation” to take down Castro. Apart from his rivalry with the CIA, Hoover hated the Kennedys, particularly Bob, who was trying to expose Jimmy Hoffa, the Godfather of the truck driver’s union and a friend and client of the FBI. On February 9, 1962 Hoover informed Bob Kennedy in passing about the “rumours” that Giancana had escaped criminal charges “because of the close relationship” the godfather Giancana had “with Frank Sinatra, who also claimed to be a close family friend of the Kennedys.”

But the worst was yet to come, on March 22, 1962 Hoover had breakfast with President John F. Kennedy and presented him with a memoir detailing the relationship between Judith Campbell and the thugs Roselli and Giancana, to whom she had been introduced by Frank Sinatra. On the same occasion, Hoover declared to the President that by putting Miss Campbell under surveillance “ he had discovered telephone conversations with the White House,” in other words, with John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Judith Campbell later claimed to have been one of his many mistresses. Thus, a disorganized attempt on the part of the CIA to assassinate Castro prompted “collateral damage” affecting Kennedy who had wanted to terminate the Cuban revolution with an attempt organized with a group of mercenaries to invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in April of 1961 which ultimately failed.

At the time Bissel was the CIA Director of Operations. He had helped to design a high altitude surveillance mission over the former Soviet Union with the use of a U2 plane, which was subsequently shot down by the Soviets in May of 1960. He later orchestrated the invasion of the Bay of Pigs. Maheu is represented as one of the main characters, Pete Bondurant, in the nonfiction novel by James Ellroy American Tabloid, a fascinating piece of work full of fervour and which causes quite the stir, while looking at the period of 1958-1963 .

Follow site activity RSS 2.0 | Site Map | Translators’ zone | SPIP