FABIÁN ESCALANTE ON POSADA AND OPERATION 40
By Jean-Guy Allard
May 22, 2005
“Who had the means and motives to kill Kennedy in 1963?”
“WHO in 1963 had the resources to assassinate Kennedy? Who had the means and who had the motives to kill the U.S. president?”, asks General Fabian Escalante in an exclusive interview in his Havana office. And he gives the answer: "CIA agents from Operation 40 who were rabidly anti-Kennedy. And among them were Orlando Bosch, Luis Posada Carriles, Antonio Veciana and Felix Rodriguez Mendigutia."
Luis Posada Carilles
“Who were the ones who had the training to murder Kennedy? The ones who had all of the capabilities to carry it out? Who were the expert marksmen?" continues Escalante, pointing out that the case of international terrorist Luis Posada Carriles has to be seen within the historical context of what he calls "the machinery of the Cuban American mafia."
And in the heart of that machinery is Operation 40, created by the CIA on the eve of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, says the ex-chief of Cuban intelligence, author of The Plot (Ocean Press), about
the assassination of the U.S. leader.
FIRST TESTIMONY: JOSE RAUL DE VARONA
"The first news that we have of Operation 40 is a statement made by a mercenary of the Bay of Pigs who was the chief of military intelligence of the invading brigade and whose name was Jose Raul de Varona Gonzalez," says Escalante.
"In his statement this man said the following: in the month of March, 1961, around the seventh, Mr. Vicente Leon arrived at the base in Guatemala at the head of some 53 men saying that he had been sent by the office of Mr. Joaquin Sanjenis, Chief of Civilian Intelligence, with a mission he said was called Operation 40. It was a special group that didn't have anything to do with the brigade and which would go in the rearguard occupying towns and cities. His prime mission was to take over the files of intelligence agencies, public buildings, banks, industries, and capture the heads and leaders in all of the cities and interrogate them. Interrogate them in his own way.”
The individuals who comprised Operation 40 had been selected by Sangenis in Miami and taken to a nearby farm "where they took some courses and were subjected to a lie detector."
Joaquin Sangenis was Chief of Police in the time of President Carlos Prio, recalls Escalante. "I don't know if he was Chief of the Palace Secret Service, but he was very close to Carlos Prio. And in 1973 he died under very strange circumstances. He disappears. In Miami, people learn to their surprise -- without any prior illness and without any homicidal act -- that Sangenis, who wasn't that old in 1973, had died unexpectedly. There was no wake. He was buried in a hurry."
Operation 40 had "in the year 1961, 86 employees, of which 37 had been trained as case officers...while in Cuba we probably didn't have one single case officer trained. I didn't finish the course until July of 1961 and I was in the first training group."
After the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion, the CIA organizes a Domestic Affairs Division. "For the first time, the CIA is going to work inside of the U.S. because until that moment, it wasn't doing it. It was prohibited.
"And at the head of this division they put Tracy Barnes, who was chief of the CIA operations group which operated against Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala, and he brought to the same group of officers David Atlee Phillips, David Sanchez Morales, and Howard Hunt, and two or three other Americans who just as surely worked on the Guatemala project."
The first CIA project against the Cuban revolution wasn't a landing and assault brigade, remarked the general. "The first CIA project was to create a civil war inside of Cuba. They were thinking of creating political leaders overseas, organizing a series of military cadres overseas who are the ones who will infiltrate Cuba and who will place themselves at the head of this civil war they are planning to carry out. And furthermore parallel to that, to make an intelligence network. All of this falls apart almost as soon as it is born.
"In October 1960, they realize that this project has failed, and that is when Brigade 2506 is formed, when due to the uprising of a group of patriotic military officers in Puerto Barrios in Guatemala and, this was in November, they sent the Cuban mercenaries in Brigade 2506 to put down this operation."
DAVID MORALES AND DAVID PHILLIPS
Escalante remembers that in 1959 a "very strong" CIA center existed in Cuba with several case officers based in Havana. Among them two very important figures: David Sanchez Morales, registered as a diplomat with the U.S. embassy, and David Atlee Phillips who was doing business in Cuba since 1957.
"Phillips had a press agency, David Phillips Associates, which had offices on Humbolt Street, behind the Rampa theater. We had information from a person who was his personal secretary at the time and he was using the Berlitz Academy, where he would meet with people he wanted to recruit. The Berlitz Academy was not his business, but he had recruited its director and that's why he was using it to train his agents.
"And at that time he recruits Antonio Veciana, Juan Manuel Salvat, Ricardo Morales Navarrete, Isidro Borjas, a person of Mexican origin, to carry out the internal counterrevolution."
Phillips will train illegal cadres while Morales, on his part, directs a group of North Americans who are infiltrated in the Rebel Army: Frank Sturgis, Gerry Hemming, William Morgan.
"When the revolution triumphs these people were officers in the Rebel Army, many of them in the air force because the chief there is Pedro Luis Diaz Lanz, who was the first chief of the rebel air force and who later leaves the country when an assassination attempt against Fidel fails. He will also direct Howard Hunt, who is visiting Cuba in 1959 and1960 and who will write a far-fetched chronicle about Havana which is a series of lies. Hunt is a professional liar.
"There was information that at the end of 1958, when CIA Inspector General Lyman Kirkpatrick came to tell Batista to leave power, he had an interview with a group of figures. And since this Phillips was passing himself off as a respectable North American businessman, Kirkpatrick had an interview with him. And Phillips explained to him that the situation is very difficult."
In this context, now in the middle of 1958, the CIA plans an assassination attempt on Fidel with a North American citizen, Alan Robert Nye, an ex-marine recruited in Fort Lauderdale by agents of the FBI and by the Cuban military intelligence service.
"He was received here in Havana, they put him up at the Comodoro hotel, fortunately they paid his bill and that was how he was later discovered. They sent him to a zone near Bayamo where Fidel was, in a zone called Santa Rita and he was arrested there by the Rebel Army. He had instructions to introduce himself to Fidel as a sympathizer of the Cuban cause and to assassinate him at the first opportunity," recalls Escalante.
The man is arrested on December 12, 1958, by rebel forces and remained in custody until the beginning of 1959. "An officer of the Rebel Army is in charge of the investigation. Knight says that he was lodged at the Comodoro hotel and it turns out that the ones who had paid this gentleman's expenses were none other than Col. Orlando Piedra, the chief of the investigation bureau of the police, and Col. Tabernilla II, the son of the head of the army."
"THE PRINCIPAL ARTISTS"
"These are the principal artists," says the ex-chief of Cuban intelligence. "David Phillips; David
Morales; Howard Hunt; a figure who disappeared later and who was head of the CIA until diplomatic relations were broken, James Noel; and several more who were working actively."
When the Domestic Affairs Division was created, the large CIA operations base in Miami was subordinate to the central division of the CIA; "that is to say that the JM/WAVE station, which had 400 officers plus 4,000 Cuban agents, was directed by the main center in Langley.
Fabian Escalante in Havana
Fabian Escalante was chief of Cuban Security and the Cuban counterespionage services for many years. He loves baseball, painting and is a voracious reader. He retired in the mid 1990s and has authored 4 books.
"Who are they going to use? Operation 40. That is to say all of the specialists who are already trained, have gone through the school, have already participated in operations against Cuba...I refer to the group of Felix Rodriguez Mendigutia, Luis Posada Carriles, Orlando Bosch, Virgilio Paz, Alvin Ross, Jose Dionisio Suarez, Antonio Veciana, Ricardo Morales Navarrete, Felipe Rivero, who recently died, the Novo Sampoll brothers, Gaspar "Gasparito" Jimenez Escobedo,
Juan Manuel Salvat, Nazario Sargent, Carlos Bringuier, Antonio Cuesta, Eladio del Valle, Herminio Diaz, Pedro Luis Diaz Lanz, Rafael "Chichi" Quintero, Jose Basulto, Paulino Sierra, Bernard Baker, who was a Cuban with a North American name -- he was a guard at the U.S. embassy -- and Eugenio Martinez, alias 'Musculito.'
"And there was the team that brought together all of the North Americans: David Morales; David Phillips; Howard Hunt; Willian Harvey; Frank Sturgis; Gerry Hemming; John Rosselli, who was second head of the Chicago mafia and at that time in 1962; Porter Goss, the current head of the CIA, who is in the JM/WAVE as a subordinate of Phillips and Morales."
THE "GRANDMOTHER" OF ALL OPERATIONS
"Operation 40 is the grandmother and great-grandmother of all of the operations that were formed later," continues Escalante.
"The Domestic Affairs Division will have its missions...You have to remember the scandal of the
Pentagon papers; a long time later, the Watergate scandal...which are the things that were found out. These people were the plumbers of the division, the men that carried it out."
In 1966 and 1967, Felix Rodriguez was in charge of the task force the CIA sent to Bolivia against Ernesto 'Che' Guevara. "He used several names. He is there and he ends up participating directly in the murder of Che. Also there, in another position, is Antonio Veciana. He is there as a bank consultant in La Paz but he ran the center which coordinated intelligence gathering in the rear guard, working with the Bolivian intelligence services.
"This is very interesting because we are then going to see this whole group in the second large operation they organize, which advised the secret police of Latin America. We saw Felix Rodriguez in 1980 in Argentina, we saw Posada in Venezuela...."
POSADA, TORTURER IN CARACAS
Luis Posada Carriles next appears in Venezuela.
"Posada says he arrived in Caracas in 1969, which is not true, he arrived in 1967. What is happening is that he is a CIA advisor and it doesn't suit him in his book to talk about that; he says he was recruited in Miami by a chief of DIGEPOL. He's a tremendous storyteller. In reality, Posada was already there in 1967 helping DIGEPOL as a CIA advisor.
"After that we are going to see Orlando Bosch's group: Virgilio Paz, Alvin Ross, Dionisio Suarez in Chile after 1973. We found 'Mono' Morales Navarrete in Venezuela and Felipe Rivero in Chile...That is to say that this group is going to be spread out in Latin America with actions everywhere."
All of them have devoted themselves, besides the subversive activities, "to drug smuggling, which began when they were training for the Bay of Pigs," says the general.
"The planes came from Miami to Guatemala loaded with weapons, ammunition, personnel, and they returned...even with blood plasma. They were even smuggling blood plasma which Manuel Artime commercialized with the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza. Drugs started to be included, cocaine."
Phillips was head of Operation 40 from 1960 to 1973..."It is assumed that in 1973 Operation 40 was 'discontinued,' as the North Americans say, but that is absolutely not true.
"You have to remember that in 1973, the Watergate scandal broke out. Who were the ones who broke into the offices of the Democratic Party? This same group. We are talking about Bernard Baker, Eugenio Martinez, Frank Sturgis, Gerry Hemming, and we learned this from the documents from the Church Commission.
"And after he got out of prison, Eugenio Martinez came to Cuba. Martinez, alias 'Musculito,' was penalized for the Watergate scandal and was in prison for a time. And after he got out of prison -- it's the Carter period, the period of dialogue, in 1978, there is a different international climate -- Eugenio Martinez asks for a contract and one fine day he appeared on a boat here...and, of course, he didn't make any big statements, he didn't say much that we didn't know but he talked about those things, about this Operation 40 group, about what they had done at the Democratic
And who were directing the operation against Allende, asks Escalante. "In the first and second part, David Phillips, first as chief of the operations group, and afterwards he moved up to Western Hemisphere division chief of the CIA until 1975. He participates in that and participates in the formation of Operation Condor, which was formed in 1974 when the first meeting of intelligence chiefs of the Southern Cone is held in Santiago, Chile." The veterans of Operation 40 will also participate in Operation Hoja de Parra, which Argentinean intelligence organizes to spy on political emigres throughout Latin America.
Then they appeared in Operation Calypso, part of the Nicaraguan contras: "That is to say, when the Argentinean army sends Col. Osvaldo Rivero, first to Miami and then to Honduras, with a group of Argentinean specialists, they fail and the Cubans from Operation 40 have to come; Felix Rodriguez and Luis Posada who in 1985 replace the Argentineans and transfered the general headquarters from Tegucigalpa to San Salvador. And the El Aguacate air base which
belonged to the Hondurans stops being the main base of air supplies..."
All of the operations carried out, after a certain time, by members of Operation 40 are operations called "autonomous" where the CIA officer who directs the terrorist group -- we're talking about terrorist "action" groups, as they call them -- discusses the objectives of that group, approves it, facilitates all necessary resources "and afterwards reads about the results in the newspaper."
APFN-JFK MURDER SOLVED + OPERATION 40
Who financed Operation 40? A group of Texan businessmen, headed by Mr. George Bush senior, the former president. What they did not tell you in school, is that Mr. Bush was closely associated with Dulles and Nixon. In fact, Nixon was the protegé of his father, senator Prescott Bush.
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