How The History Channel is Tracking Oswald Twistedly
Written by Frank Cassano and Arnaldo M. Fernandez
The History Channel series JFK Declassified: Tracking Oswald has been curtailed in the U.S. Maybe the ratings were too low, but History Canada continues airing it on Sundays at 10 p.m. (East). Maybe it had to take a break in the U.S. after two self-contradictory episodes: “The Iron Meeting” inside a bullring in Mexico City should have never happened since “The Russian Network” didn´t care about recruiting Oswald.1 The third part, “Oswald Goes Dark,” starts following in the footsteps of the CIA by trying to link the Mexican consular clerk Silvia Duran and the American visa applicant Lee Harvey Oswald outside the Cuban Consulate.2
The Twist Party
For this purpose, host Bob Baer recycled as “new memo”: the entirely discredited “Thomas Report”3 about Duran and Oswald at a twist party, and this was then exploited by the replacement of the Russian Network—the Cuban Intelligence Service (CuIS)—to put Oswald up to killing JFK. Using a mobile lab, Baer and his team also tracked down a witness, Francisco Guerrero Garro, who had kept his silence for more than half century, but now swears having seen Oswald and even a Cuban consul at a twist party. Oswald could have been invited by his “friend” Duran. However, a false testimony does not become a fact by repetition.
Such a twist party4 was the ludicrous brainchild of Francisco’s aunt, the late Mexican writer Elena Garro de Paz. After having exhaustively interviewed her and her daughter twice in November 1964, the Legal Attaché (FBI) at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City put the case at rest, simply because they “failed to substantiate the allegations.”5
CIA Station Chief Win Scott passed along the info to CIA headquarters at Langley. On the memo, Scott’s deputy Allen White wrote down: "I don’t know what FBI did in November 64, but the Garros have been talking about this for a long time and she is said to be extremely bright." Scott dismissed White’s remark with a lapidary handwritten comment: "She is also nuts."6
Garro de Paz drove others nuts as well. The late Charles W. Thomas, a political officer at the U.S. Embassy, talked with her in 1965 and raised her false story with the Secretary of State William Rogers in 1969. Baer has just joined this fruity party. It includes sound effects from the Cold War: “If we can prove that the Cubans were involved, that’s an act of war against the United States.” Thusly he is definitively “scaling the walls of high camp”, like Philip Shenon with A Cruel and Shocking Act (Henry Holt and Co., 2013).7
A Motive to Kill?
Baer applied another nutty scheme to put Oswald up to killing Kennedy. FBI spy Jack Childs (SOLO) managed to talk with Castro and reported to his boss J. Edgar Hoover, who summed up to Warren Commission General Counsel, J. Lee Rankin, that “no further action is contemplated by this Bureau”8 about SOLO’s report. Baer attempts to twist the intel furnished by SOLO into smoking gun evidence of Oswald’s criminal intent.
On May 20, 1964, Jack Childs flew from Moscow to “THE BEACH” [Cuba] in the SOLO Mission 15. He spent ten days there. The gist of his report reads thus:
“Castro said ‘I was told this by my people in the Embassy exactly how he (Oswald) stalked in and walked in and ran out. That in itself was a suspicious movement, because nobody comes to an Embassy for a visa (they go to a Consulate). [Castro] stated that when Oswald was refused his visa at the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City, he acted like a madman and started yelling and shouting on his way out, ‘I’m going to kill this bastard. I’m going to kill Kennedy’”9
The HSCA nipped the problem in the bud: “Nothing in the evidence indicated that the threat should have been taken seriously, if it had occurred, since Oswald had behaved in an argumentative and obnoxious fashion.”10 By insisting in muddying the waters, Baer misses a proper research problem that John Newman has formulated as a mystery.11
Both Duran and the incoming (Alfredo Mirabal) and outcoming (Eusebio Azcue) Cuban consuls were adamant before HSCA that Oswald didn’t vow such a threat at the Cuban Consulate.12 Two Cuban officials—Guillermo Ruiz and Antonio García—from the Commercial Office, located upstairs, were also eyewitnesses of Oswald’s making a scene at the Consulate and claimed they didn’t hear a threat against Kennedy.
The Lopez Report deciphered the apparent mystery. The Consulate "was in a separate building from the Embassy."13 In 1963, the Cuban diplomatic compound in Mexico City was at Francisco Marquez Street (Colonia Condesa) with two main entrances: One to the Embassy, on the corner of Tacubaya Alley, and the other to the Consulate, on the corner of Zamora Street. No wonder the CIA surveillance post (LIONION) in a third-floor apartment across Francisco Marquez Street employed an agent—Cesar Rodriguez Gallegos—at one window for photographing the Embassy, while a pulse camera covered the Consulate from another window.
SOLO himself reasonably commented to Hoover that "the Cuban Embassy people must have told Oswald something to the effect that they were sorry that they did not let Americans into Cuba because the U.S. government stopped Cubans from letting them in, and that is when Oswald shouted out the statement about killing President Kennedy." It goes without saying that Oswald was told to apply anyway for a visa at the Consulate.
Oswald must have entered the Cuban diplomatic compound at the corner of Tacubaya Alley shortly after arriving in Mexico City on September 27, 1963. In fact, there is a clue about it besides Castro’s statement. On January 1964, FBI Special Agent Nathan L. Ferris was advised by Mexican informants that Elizabeth Mora [American-born Mexican artist Elizabeth Catlett-Mora] had spilled the beans about a conversation with Cuban Cultural Attaché Teresa Proenza. The latter confided to Mora "that Oswald walked in ‘cold’ to the Cuban Embassy. [She] was the first person he talked to [and] turned him over to the nearest person higher in rank and who spoke English." Proenza added that Oswald had come to the Embassy for "a visa to go to Russia."14
Newman told Jim DiEugenio that the threat “is almost surely a forgery.” The Childs report to Hoover is part of a letter to Gus Hall, leader of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), and “this kind of information would not be part of that letter [since] SOLO was too experienced to do that.” Notwithstanding, SOLO also reported “that he later discussed CASTRO’s statements with BEATRICE JOHNSON, the CPUSA representative in Cuba.” A forged report wouldn’t ever include a third party for running the risk of denial.
Rocking the Refugee Boat
From Mexico City, Baer and his well-equipped team switched their focus to Louisiana, where they pretended having uncovered certain gaps in Oswald’s timeline between August and October 1963. During his period, specifically from late August to early September, two key incidents occurred and were finally reported to HSCA.
- Antonio Veciana met David Philips in downtown Dallas earlier than originally planned and Antonio had a brief sighting of a young man who said nothing and left. He turned out to be Oswald.15
- Oswald was spotted in Clinton16, about 130 miles from New Orleans, during a CORE voter registration drive. He was accompanied by the rabidly anti-Communist and partner of hard line anti-Castro exile Sergio Arcacha Smith, David Ferrie, and the New Orleans businessman Clay Shaw, a part-time contract agent of the CIA with a security clearance since 1949.
With regard to HSCA, Baer limited himself to telling his partner, former police detective Adam Bercovici, it was “the follow-up investigation to the Warren Commission.” He did not refer to Ferrie or Shaw, much less to Oswald´s close contact with Guy Bannister, head of the Anti-Communist League of the Caribbean. He was just content to assert that Oswald went off the grid so that it became easier for Baer to detonate an explosive device: The Cuban radical exiles were Oswald´s “accomplices.”
The team drove out of New Orleans to the nearby town of Belle Chasse and reached a remote area, surrounded by swamps and thick vegetation, with some decrepit buildings still standing. They found evidence of it being a training facility and weapon arsenal. A “military-grade operation,” surmised Baer, as if nobody knew the Bay-of-Pigs-related CIA operation JM/MOVE was headquartered there in 196117, while Oswald was working at a factory in Minsk (Belarus).
But let’s give the duo some credit. They raised the issue that Oswald was working with intelligence agencies in a secret government operation and left us with one final, juicy morsel. According to Baer, “the more we get into this the more it appears this guy was not a lone wolf. There’s overwhelming evidence to assume he had accomplices.”
No doubt the fourth part, “The Cuban Connection”, will be breathtaking. Baer surely will twist the facts again. Oswald will appear linked to a belligerent anti-Castro group, organized and backed by the CIA, but Baer will try to perform the analytical piroutte that Castro, not the CIA, learned about Oswald’s intention to kill Kennedy, since the anti-Castro group had been infiltrated by CuIS agents who were reporting everything back to Castro.
1 See the previous reviews “How The History Channel is Tracking Oswald Non-Historically” and “How The History Channel is Tracking Oswald Pathetically”.
2 At the request of the CIA Station Chief, Duran was arrested by the Mexican Federal Security Directorate (FDS) the day after the assassination. The line of questioning sought her confession of having entrapped and lured Oswald with sexual favors into a conspiracy to kill Kennedy. See McKnight, Gerald: Breach of Trust, University Press of Kansas, 2005, 78.
3 NARA Record Number: 104-10404-10325
4 In 1963, the twist dance craze was sweeping Mexico thanks to Bill Haley and His Comets with Twist Español, Florida Twist and other hits under the record label Orfeon. As cousin of Silvia Duran’s husband, Elena Garro de Paz would have attended such parties within the family circle. She claimed having seen Oswald at the home of her cousin Ruben Duran. Silvia never denied the possibility of being at a twist party in the house of her brother-in-law with Elena present, but always denied having met Oswald after September 27, 1963, much less outside the Cuban Consulate. Silvia agreed to be interviewed by HSCA, while Elena refused.
5 Memo of 27 December 1965 from LEGAT (Nathan Ferris) to the Ambassador (NARA Record Number: 104-10007-10043).
6 NARA Record Number: 104-10404-10320
10 The Final Report of HSCA, Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1979, 122.
11 Oswald and the CIA, Skyhorse Publishing, 2008, p. 428.
12 See JFK Exhibit F-440 A (Duran) and HSCA Report, Vol. III, pp. 173-78 (Mirabal) and 127-58 (Azcue).
13 Lopez Report, pp. 26 f. [http://history-matters.com/archive/jfk/hsca/lopezrpt_2003/html/LopezRpt_0025a.htm]
14 NARA Record Number: 124-10003-10386 [http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=61273]
15 Veciana, Antonio and Carlos Harrison: Trained to Kill, Skyhorse Publishing, 2017, 122.
16 Fonzi, Gaeton: The Last Investigation, Skyhorse Publishing, 2013, 140.
17 A diversionary force commanded by Nino Díaz (AMNORM-1) was organized, equipped and trained in great haste at Belle Chasse. After all, the mother ship couldn’t reach the intended beach 30 miles east of Guantanamo (Eastern Cuba). Cf. CIA Clandestine Service Historical Paper No. 105 (1961), 22 f.