On January 17, 1964, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover wrote to J. Lee Rankin, the general counsel of the Warren Commission, on the evidence compiled as Commission Document 295: four letters postmarked in Havana that suggested or alleged that the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was a contract killing undertaken by Lee Harvey Oswald under the direction of an agent for Fidel Castro named Pedro Charles.
Hoover concluded it was “some type of hoax, possibly on the part of some anti-Castro group,” since the FBI Crime Lab found that the same Remington No. 10 typewriter had been used to prepare all four letters:
• Pedro Charles to “Friend Lee” — dated November 10, 1963, and postmarked on November 28 — addressed to “Lee Harvey Oswald, Mail Office, Dallas, Texas.”
• Mario del Rosario Molina to “Señor Kennedy” — dated November 27, 1963, and postmarked on November 28, 1963 — addressed to “Mr. Roberto Kennedy, Secretary of Justice, Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.”
• Miguel Galban Lopez to Voice of America and Diario de Nueva York — both dated November 27, 1963, and postmarked on December 3.
The first letter advises Oswald “to close the business as soon as possible” close ASAP, and abounds both in directions (“[D]o not be foolish with the money I gave you” and “[Don’t forget to do all I told you to the very letter and leave nothing that could lead to your trail”] and promises (“After the affair I am going to recommend much to the chief” and “I will send you the money and we will see each other in Miami”).
The other three letters denounce Charles as a Castro agent who had paid Oswald for killing the sitting U.S. president.
A fifth letter
The FBI wasn’t aware that Cuba’s Department of State Security (DSE) had turned up another letter related to Oswald — this one dated November 14, 1963, and found on November 23 in the Havana foreign-mail sorting office. It was typed on a Remington 16 with the salutation “My friend Lee,” signed “Jorge,” and addressed to “L.H. Oswald, Royalton Hotel, Miami, Florida.”
The most noteworthy passage: “I would like to tell you that the thing that you talked to me last time we were in Mexico, would be a perfect plan that would weak the political fanfarron [braggart] of Kennedy, even though you need a lot of prudencia (caution) because you know how are moving the counterrevolutionary friends that work for the CIA.”
The DSE maintains that the Warren Commission must have investigated the letters instead of blindly accepting the FBI’s assertion that they amounted to a hoax perpetrated by unknown anti-Castro militants inside Cuba. To the Cuban brain trust on the issue, the letters dated before the assassination show some foreknowledge of Oswald’s links to Dallas and Mexico City. Thus, Jorge and Pedro Charles hinted at a plan for implicating Castro in the assassination by tying Oswald to pro-Castro Cubans in Mexico and Miami.
According to General Fabián Escalante, the former head of the DSE, the letters were fabricated by people aware of a plot against JFK with a clandestine base in Cuba ready to ensure the letters would arrive just in time to fuel suspicions against Castro. Only the CIA had such a capability inside Cuba, he said.
At a meeting of JFK researchers and Cuban officials in the Bahamian capital of Nassau in December 1995, Escalante’s assistant, Arturo Rodriguez, said that the typewriters should be identified by comparing the letters with CIA documents typed at its Mexico City station or with “a personal letter by Howard Hunt, for example, done at home or at a friend’s house.”
It’s a major task ahead for turning an FBI-established hoax into a conspiracy fact.