Revelation 19.63

Page 4 of 10

On July 31 Joannides was promoted to chief of psychological warfare operations at the JM/WAVE station in South Dade. Among his most notable accomplishments, his supervisor wrote, was his "excellent job in the handling of a significant student exile group, which hitherto had successfully resisted any important degree of control."

Chilo Borja has a clear recollection of the summer of 1963. Now the owner of a Miami air-conditioning business, he was 28 years old at the time. Skilled with guns and familiar with boats, he became the chief of the group's military section in Miami in 1961. In the summer of 1963, the Directorate was desperate and divided. "At this point there's a big wedge between the international faction and the military faction of the DRE," Borja remembers. "The CIA is pumping money to do anything in Latin America, but it's not giving anything for anything in Cuba. We have a lot of our good friends that are killed or in jail. Alberto [Muller] is in jail. We've got to tell these people that we are still doing something."

Along with his good friend Salvat, Borja was undeterred by the Kennedy administration's crackdown on the exiles, and their antagonism didn't go unnoticed. The Miami station chief, Ted Shackley, had long since warned CIA headquarters that the DRE's attitude toward U.S. policymakers "was one of contempt repeat contempt."

Shackley's assessment was on target. In a strategy memo to the Directorate in May 1963, Salvat proposed that the DRE continue to take CIA funding while the military section, under Borja's leadership, would act covertly to evade Washington's control. The DRE's goal, Salvat wrote in the memo (preserved in the University of Miami's Cuban Heritage Collection), was "to strike a surprise blow so strong as to bring about the fulfillment of [the military section's] plan" to overthrow Castro.

As Borja safeguarded the group's boats and guns on Catalina Island, just off the southern coast of the Dominican Republic, he heard from a close friend, Carlos Bringuier, with whom he had grown up on the beaches of Tarara, just east of Havana. "Carlitos," Borja reminisces. "We called him Vistilla [nearsighted], because he was a little bit blind, and his glasses were this thick. He was our delegate in New Orleans. He notified us that this guy was putting in propaganda all throughout New Orleans, and he wanted our directions."

The guy was Lee Harvey Oswald.

At age 23 Oswald had lived an itinerant life. He grew up in New Orleans and New York City, and enlisted in the Marines when he was seventeen years old. After a series of tours in the Far East, he asked for a discharge in 1959. Sympathetic to communism, he moved to the Soviet Union and lived for two years in Minsk. He married a Russian girl but became disillusioned with socialism and brought his wife back to the United States. They settled in New Orleans, where, by the spring of 1963, he began to call attention to himself as a supporter of Fidel Castro.

Carlos Bringuier told Borja that Oswald had tried to infiltrate the group on August 5 by walking into the local headquarters of the Directorate and offering to train commandos to fight Castro. Four days later a DRE supporter reported to Bringuier that he'd seen Oswald on a street corner handing out pamphlets for the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC), the best-known pro-Castro group in the United States. Bringuier and his friends went to find the double-dealing leftist. As they angrily denounced him, a crowd gathered and police broke up the altercation.

Bringuier called Borja to ask what he should do next. "Our answer to him was just “face him down,'" the former military-section chief recalls. "Go out there and contest him. Talk to the press, uncover this guy." And Bringuier did just that. On August 16 another friend of Bringuier in the Directorate reported that Oswald was again handing out FPCC pamphlets. Bringuier sent the friend to Oswald's house posing as a Castro supporter to find out who was backing his work.

Meanwhile Oswald's support for the Cuban revolution had caught the attention of a local radio host named Bill Stuckey, also a friend of Bringuier. Stuckey invited Oswald to speak on his weekly program and asked Bringuier to participate. Before the planned debate, Bringuier wrote to Miami, to José Antonio Lanuza, who was in charge of the DRE's North American chapters, requesting background on the FPCC. Lanuza sent back information from the Directorate's files.

On Saturday evening, August 21, 1963, Bringuier and Oswald debated the Cuban revolution over radio station WDSU. In the middle of the discussion, in which Oswald defended Castro's policies, Stuckey suddenly shifted gears. Was it true, the moderator asked, that Oswald had lived in Russia?

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jefferson Morley