“Castro’s Secrets- Cuban Intelligence, the CIA and the Assassination of John F Kennedy” by Brian Latell

Castro's Secrets

Did Fidel Castro mastermind the assassination of John F Kennedy? This book by a CIA veteran throws new light on the mystery. The author gives details about the assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, his adoration of Castro, his failed attempt to migrate to Cuba, his brief sojourn in the Soviet Union, and a host of other clues that serve to deepen the mystery rather than provide open-and-shut answers.

In June 1987 when Florentino Aspillaga Lombard sought asylum at the American embassy in Vienna, his spectacular revelations about Cuba’s clandestine operations sent shock waves through American intelligence circles. How terribly the CIA had underestimated this impoverished Caribbean island! Lombard was no ordinary spy. He had in July 1979 played a crucial role in ensuring of the victory of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. He had been in Angola where Castro had engineered a Marxist revolutionary takeover. He provided the CIA with a goldmine of information. Cuban intelligence had knowledge about the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. No wonder it turned out to be such a disaster! It comes as no surprise that the head of Cuban intelligence was Fidel himself.

Through the book, we get a rare glimpse of Castro’s spectacular intelligence network. We also glean interesting details of the now well-known Armageddon Letter of 1963 where Castro urged Nikita Khrushchev to launch a nuclear attack on the USA, the role played by Cubans in fomenting revolution elsewhere in the Americas, and the impressive scale of training and indoctrination provided to wannabe revolutionaries. Latell opines that Che Guevara’s Bolivian venture was a suicidal mission. As he puts it, “Fidel always thought strategically, many moves ahead, like a grand master moving pieces on a giant chess board. Venezuela was an opponent’s queen, Bolivia a pawn. …..If by some fluke, Guevara were to win, he, Fidel, could take credit for sponsoring and masterminding the victory. And if the roving Argentine incendiary were to die in the quest, that would reverberate even more enduringly. Cuba would have a martyred patron saint.”

Latell also suggests the possibility that Hugo Chavez or his elder brother, Adan, could have been spotted and recruited by Cuban intelligence long before the former won power in Venezuela. How else could a career military officer become an adoring disciple of the leader of another country?

Overall Assessment: Must read! History, politics and intrigue make a deadly cocktail!

TITLE: Castro’s Secrets- Cuban Intelligence, the CIA and the Assassination of John F Kennedy
AUTHOR: Brian Latell
PUBLISHER: PALGRAVE MACMILLAN
DATE OF PUBLICATION: 2012

Reviewer: Pushpa Kurup lives in Trivandrum, India and works in the IT sector.

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