Revelation 19.63

For nearly four decades the CIA has kept secret the identity of a Miami agent who may have known too much too early about Lee Harvey Oswald

The CIA wanted the DRE "for one simple reason," recalls Luis Fernandez-Rocha, the Directorate's secretary-general at the time and a 23-year-old who had been expelled from medical school at the University of Havana. "We had the best organization in Latin America they had ever seen."

Fernandez-Rocha's boast is not idle. In the early Sixties, the DRE was at the cutting edge of the Cuban resistance movement. Founded by Alberto Muller, Ernesto Travieso, and Juan Manuel Salvat, the Directorate was born during a march protesting the visit to Havana of Soviet envoy Anastas Mikoyan in February 1960. When pro-Castro forces greeted the young Cuban democrats with lead pipes and flying fists, Muller and Co. decided to take up arms against Castro's proletarian dictatorship. They went to Miami, where it was safer to plan their activities and stockpile the equipment necessary for military action. In the fall of 1960 the group returned to the island and organized boycotts at colleges and high schools in the capital. When Castro spoke at the University of Havana, DRE members set off more than 100 bombs at the fringes of the crowd.

While the CIA trained an exile army in Guatemala for an island invasion in the spring of 1961, agency officials informed the DRE and other groups inside Cuba that something big would soon take place, but, citing security concerns, the officials refused to announce when and where the attack would occur. Salvat organized a network of active supporters among Catholic and middle-class students throughout Cuba. Muller built a nucleus of guajiro allies in the Escambray Mountains. Then without warning came the April 17 invasion at the Bay of Pigs. Before the DRE could mobilize, the invaders were trounced and Castro cracked down on his foes. Salvat eluded capture, but scores of DRE sympathizers wound up in prison. In a blow to the DRE, cofounder Muller was among those caught and imprisoned. Others took refuge in the packed embassies of sympathetic Latin-American nations.

For nearly four decades CIA director Richard Helms managed to hide his ties to Oswald's antagonists in Miami
AP/Wide World Photo
For nearly four decades CIA director Richard Helms managed to hide his ties to Oswald's antagonists in Miami
The DRE plus 40 (clockwise from bottom): Organizational mastermind Juan Manuel
Salvat flanked by businessman José Antonio Lanuza, Brothers to the Rescue leader José Basulto, and spiritual founder Alberto Muller
Steve Satterwhite
The DRE plus 40 (clockwise from bottom): Organizational mastermind Juan Manuel Salvat flanked by businessman José Antonio Lanuza, Brothers to the Rescue leader José Basulto, and spiritual founder Alberto Muller


Related Links:
Based on documents found in Foreign Relations of the United States of America, Vol. XI, "Cuban Missile Crisis and Aftermath." President Kennedy comments on the DRE's story about Soviet missiles in cave in Documents 154 and 170.

The best online chat group on the JFK assassination is alt.assassination.jfk

The JFK Collection and database at the National Archives

John F Kennedy Library and archives

The National Security Archive Cuba Documentation Project

OMB Watch report "A Presumption of Disclosure: Lessons from the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Review Board"

As the Directorate's leaders straggled back to Miami, they embodied the bitter mood that enveloped the city in 1961. But with assistance from David Atlee Phillips and the CIA, Salvat, Fernandez-Rocha, and engineer Isidro "Chilo" Borja revived the DRE.

In the summer of 1962, Fernandez-Rocha sneaked back into Cuba and spent several dangerous months trying to shore up the group's clandestine network. With continuous funding from the U.S. government, the DRE headquarters in Miami was able to send delegates to international conferences in Vienna and Helsinki. The group published a newspaper, Trinchera (Trenches), and an English-language newsletter, the Cuban Report, which often was cited by New York Sen. Kenneth Keating, a leading Republican critic of JFK's Cuba policy. Additional DRE chapters sprang up in cities throughout North and South America.

To announce the revival of the Directorate, the group's military section launched its most spectacular deed on the evening of August 24, 1962. Under the leadership of Salvat and Borja, two boats of DRE militants carried out a midnight fusillade attack on the Rosita Hornedo hotel in suburban Miramar, where Castro's Soviet-bloc advisors were gathering. (The man who fired the 20mm cannon was José Basulto, now famous as founder of Brothers to the Rescue.)

Meanwhile the Cuban Report was publishing information provided by Luis Fernandez-Rocha from inside Cuba that the Soviet Union was installing large ballistic missiles on the island. The Kennedy White House dismissed such claims as exile exaggeration, but within weeks aerial-reconnaissance photos confirmed the reports. The missile crisis ensued.

When that confrontation ended peacefully that fall -- but with Castro still in power -- the DRE again sought to force the United States to confront Cuba. On November 12, just six days after the Star story broke, Fernandez-Rocha appeared on The Today Show and repeated the details, claiming that nuclear missiles had been stashed in caves in the Yumuri valley in Matanzas, in the hills of Camagüey, and in Hershey in Havana province -- and that he had seen the sites with his own eyes.

Kennedy was incensed at Fernandez-Rocha's brashness so soon after the near-nuclear confrontation with the Soviet Union had been defused. "The refugees," the president told his advisors, "are naturally trying to build up the story in an effort to get us to invade [Cuba]." He ordered the CIA to rein in the young exiles, and within 24 hours Richard Helms summoned Fernandez-Rocha to Washington.

The 49-year-old deputy director spent the better part of a day grilling Fernandez-Rocha and, according to the CIA's minutes of that meeting, concluded that the new missile allegations were not altogether reliable. Helms rebuked the Directorate for going public -- on national television no less -- but softened the reprimand by adding that he wanted to forge a "reasonable collaboration" with the DRE. He understood their disappointment with U.S. policy, he said. He confided that he was promoting a new agent in Miami who would be "personally responsible to me" for the success of the relationship.

For this sensitive task Helms selected an up-and-coming political-action officer, George Efythron Joannides, who had been transferred to Miami earlier that year and was working as deputy chief of psychological warfare operations against the Castro government. With a staff of 24 and a budget of $2.4 million, he ran his clandestine activities out of a ramshackle office building in then-rural South Dade that was known to CIA hands by its aquatic code name: JM/WAVE station. Joannides reported to station chief Theodore G. Shackley, who was overseeing one of the CIA's largest operations in the world, with an annual budget of more than $50 million, more than 100 leased vehicles, several thousand Cuban agents, and 300-plus American employees.

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What I do not, and cannot understand is how, after all these years, We The People, the soveriegn owners of these government records, cannot wrest control of them from our paid employees. Why he have to continually deal with redacted information, and how we are FORCED to allow all of the responsible actors to die off, with impugnity, after the greatest crime this country has ever known. Even now, as we watch actors of that time period waltz across the stage of the history of our nation.

Damnit, I want clear, concise, and unequivocal information.

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