JFK assassination: Did Castro know before it happened?

In 'Castro's Secrets,' a former CIA analyst claims that Fidel Castro was aware that the Kennedy assassination would be attempted before it happened.

Antonio Milena
In his book, Latell says that early on Nov. 22, 1963, Castro told a Cuban intelligence officer to listen to any radio communications coming from Texas.

A new book by a former CIA analyst is claiming that Fidel Castro knew that the assassination of John F. Kennedy would take place.

“Castro’s Secrets: The CIA and Cuba’s Intelligence Machine” by Brian Latell, who was formerly the national intelligence officer for Latin America for the CIA and who currently serves as the senior research associate at the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies, uses formerly classified documents from the Pentagon, FBI and CIA. “Secrets” also includes interviews from former Cuban spies.

“Everything I write is backed up by documents and on-the-record sources,” Latell said in an interview with The Miami Herald. “There’s virtually no speculation. I don’t say Fidel Castro ordered the assassination, I don’t say Oswald was under his control. He might have been, but I don’t argue that, because I was unable to find any evidence for that.”

In his book, Latell makes the claim that Castro knew of the assassination beforehand with evidence from Florentino Aspillaga, a former member of Cuba’s intelligence service. According to Latell’s book, Aspillaga, who usually did surveillance of the radio communications of the CIA, was told on Nov. 22, 1963 to instead listen to any radio communications coming from Texas. Aspillaga said he was confused but did so, and was flabbergasted to hear the news of Kennedy’s assassination hours later.

“Castro knew,” Aspillaga told a CIA debriefer, according to Latell’s book. “They knew Kennedy would be killed.”

In his book, Latell discusses recordings taken by the CIA inside the Cuban embassy that showed Cuban intelligence officers talking about Oswald with details about him that were relatively unknown at the time and had not yet been given to any newspapers.

Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was known to sympathize with Cuba and held public demonstrations in support of Castro. At several points, he applied for a visa to travel to Cuba, but was refused the documents. After the assassination, Castro said, “We never in our life heard of him” in a speech, but according to Latell’s book, Oswald visiting the Cuban embassy was big news in Cuba, and Castro would certainly have heard about it.

In Latell’s book, an FBI spy named Jack Childs told the FBI that after being refused a visa to travel to Cuba by workers at the Cuban embassy, Oswald left angrily, saying, “I’m going to kill Kennedy for this.”

“Secrets” also claims that Cuban Rolando Cubela, who worked with the CIA, was actually a double agent.

Latell’s book will be released April 24.

Molly Driscoll is a Monitor contributor.

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