Did Castro figure out the JFK case in just five days?

Under the suggestive title “Castro Figured Out The JFK Case in Five Days”, an English version of his speech at the University of Havana on November 27, 1963, is available from CTKA.

In due course, the Warren Commission was provided with a slightly different version, but its members feared and rejected Castro’s line of argument depicting JFK’s assassination as part of a broader “plan against peace, against Cuba, against the Soviet Union, against humanity, against progressive and even liberal sectors of the United States.”

Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro, tormenter of empire

The Warren Commission did all in their power to fulfill a prophecy brought forward by Castro in the same speech:

“Only at an extraordinary loss of prestige for the U.S. can those guilty of the assassination be concealed.”

Castro and the JFK case today

In and effort to lift the veil of concealment, the Mary Ferrell Foundation has published  a remarkable essay by Gaeton Fonzi that reinforces Castro’s hypothesis of identity between the masterminds of both the plots to kill him and the conspiracy to kill Kennedy.

According to his widow, Fonzi felt Esquire Magazine refused to publish the essay in 1996 because the CIA looked bad in the light of its botched attempts to kill Castro. The centerpiece of the article is an extended interview with former head of the Cuban State Security Department, Major General Fabian Escalante. His inside story of how Castro survived scores of CIA´s covert operations designed to take his life provides valuable insights into how Castro figured out the JFK case.

The key man: David Atlee Phillips
Former HSCA staffer Eddie Lopez told James DiEugenio, “Jim, this conspiracy was like a giant spider web, and in the middle of it was Phillips.” Likewise, Escalante told Fonzi: “Phillips was the key man. He was our major enemy [and] the mastermind of a great many Castro assassination plots.”

David Phillips

David A. Phillips: CIA man who couldn’t keep his Oswald stories straight.

There are reasonable grounds to link these plots to that conspiracy. Phillips was so inconsistent and evasive about Oswald in Mexico City that not for fun the HSCA prepared an indictment against him for two separate perjury charges.

Just remember the passage in Fonzi´s book The Last Investigation (1993) on Phillips´ interrogation by HSCA staffer Dan Hardway. Although Phillips already had a cigarette burning, hands shaking, he went ahead and lit up a second. A lesser known anecdote is perhaps more illustrative.

By the year 1966, Phillips, using the alias “Harold Benson,” and posing as an executive of a Belgian company, recruited Nicolas Sirgado, a high official of the Cuban Ministry of Construction. Sirgado was actually an intelligence officer entrusted since 1962 with the mission to penetrate the CIA.

The Agency would list Sargado among its most valuable assets in Cuba until Castro disclosed his identity at the memorial service for the victims of the 1976 Cuban passenger jet bombing in Barbados. Castro pinned the blame for the bombing on the CIA and strengthened the allegation by revealing that, only three days after this crime, Langley had asked Sirgado “to get complete itinerary” for Castro´s expected air travel on the occasion of “the first anniversary of Angola’s independence.”

After retiring in 1991 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, Sirgado appeared in the Cuban TV documentary ZR Rifle (1993) and referred —as an illustrative example of Benson-Phillips´ personality— “the anecdote he told me [that during a visit to Arlington Cemetery] he had seized the opportunity to urinate on Kennedy’s grave, since he considered Kennedy a damned Communist.”

Nevertheless, the CIA retains four files of Phillips’ operations, comprising some 600 pages of material, that are supposed to be declassified in October 2017, unless the CIA chooses to ask for —and the U.S. President grants— another delay in the release.

Phillips & Veciana 

In 1960 Phillips, stationed in Havana and using the alias “Maurice Bishop,” recruited a well-known Cuban public accountant named Antonio Veciana.

At least two major assassination plots against Castro arose from their relationship:

One envisioned firing a bazooka at the speaker’s rostrum where Castro would be delivering a speech in October 1961. The other planned to shoot Castro with a gun hidden in a TV camera during a press conference at Santiago de Chile in November 1971.

Fonzi’s 1996 essay relates how the Cuban State Security managed to frustrate these plots, even without having specific details, by simply creating an aura of intimidation around Castro.

In 2007, Veciana publicly stated that almost all the attempts against Castro have failed first and foremost because those ready to kill him also wanted to see his funeral.

Veciana went public about the conspiracy against JFK too. He recounts a meeting with “Bishop”  in downtown Dallas in September 1963, where “Bishop” was accompanied by a young man. After JFK’s  assassination, Veciana realized the young man was Oswald.

Veciana also says that “Bishop” asked him about how to get a visa at the Cuban Consulate in Mexico City, knowing that his cousin Hilda Veciana was married to Guillermo Ruiz, the Cuban commercial attaché in Mexico. In January 1964, he says  “Bishop” asked him about recruiting Ruiz in order to present him as a defector who would reveal that the Cuban Intelligence Service had given Oswald precise instructions to kill Kennedy.

Such a nonsensical Cuban connection is still running by authors who, like Philip Shennon, refused to use Hemingway´s crap detector for finding out what´s bad for you while writing about the JFK assassination. The Warren Commission didn´t use it either. That´s why David Atlee Phillips is not to be found in any of its volumes.

Although Veciana has converted from hater to admirer of JFK, it is quite possible that he has furnished only part of what he knows because he too was conspiring with Phillips in 1963 to kill Kennedy just as he had plotted with Phillips in 1961 to kill Castro.

Either if Oswald was directly involved in the JFK assassination or he was piggy-backed into operation against the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, jointly run by the CIA and the FBI, in which Oswald was a cog and Phillips a driver.

In his post-assassination speech Castro asserted that Oswald´s “trip to Mexico, [his] interview with the press [as] a defender of Cuba, [his] brawl with [Cuban] counterrevolutionaries, in all that, the perfectly planned gambit could be seen.”

Unfortunately, the Warren Commission became blinded by the flash of a lone gunman shooting a magic bullet.


Jefferson Morley’s new ebook, CIA and JFK: The Secret Assassination Files, available on Amazon, provides the fullest account yet of the JFK records that the CIA is still concealing.



  1. Dan Clark says:

    Antonio Veciana’s book “Trained To Kill Castro” comes out April 2017 according to Amazon. Skyhorse is publishing

    As for Mark Lane, he along with Garrison, is a hero to me. Truth to power as they say but two wrongs don’t make a right and while I despise Hoover and feel he was an accomplice due to his assisting the cover-up, I think it was childish of Mark to train his dogs to piss on hoover’s grave

    • david thurman says:

      In re: to Dan Clark 26 August ’16 “I think it was childish of Mark to train his dogs to piss on hoover’s grave”

      Ok! Thanks 4 the info on Veciana’s upcoming book. My personal feeling is Hoover was so evil, entrenched in his job and we forget how powerful he was in life … so if Mark was able to gain some relief posthumously I can forgive him.

  2. david thurman says:

    I have listened to Veciana’s revelations multiple times & he seems quite sure of what he knows. Does anyone know if the memoirs his son said were soon to be published ever were?

  3. david thurman says:

    “Although Veciana has converted from hater to admirer of JFK, it is quite possible that he has furnished only part of what he knows”

    I have wondered the same exact thing; what else does he know and will he ever spill all?

  4. Mayra Solloa says:

    Sirgado is a good example of how Castro proceeded against the U.S. Instead of planning the killing of a President, knowing that a Vice President is always available, he chose to infiltrate both the CIA and the Cuban exile, following the Marxist-Leninist approach that the cornerstone is the system, not the men at the top.
    That´s why he refused to kill Batista at Varadero Beach just on July 26, 1953, and headed to Santiago de Cuba to attack the Moncada garrison; that´s why he also warned Reagan in 1984 about a domestic plot.

  5. Dan Clark says:

    The assassinations of JFK and RFK make me sick to my stomach. The fact that members of our own intelligence community would commit treason and beyond that, subvert investigations and manhandle the media as well as essentially forcing other agencies to subscribe to the two lone nut fictions angers me to a point I cannot describe. And now to read this story of David Atlee Philips urinating on JFK’s grave it reinforces in me the notion that phillips (and really his cohorts as well, King, joaniddes, angleton, morales et al) was a psychopath or sociopath. I mean who does that? You have a man killed and that’s not good enough, you have to go back years later and piss on his grave?

    • david thurman says:

      In re:Dan Clark 22 August ’16 “And now to read this story of David Atlee Philips urinating on JFK’s grave…”

      I know the feeling, it’s way beyond repugnant. If it helps, I recall a story told by Joan Mellon upon the passing of Mark Lane, whereupon she recalled meeting w/Lane when he lived in D.C. Mark always had large dogs, at that time he would walk them by the grave of J. Edgar Hoover. Joan thought it was clever that Mark had trained his dogs to piss on Hoover’s grave.

  6. Cousin Jack says:

    This post is an extraordinary vignette on how the U.S. and Cuban intelligence services interacted during the 1960s-70s. Are you saying that Phillips thought he was using Sirgado to get information on Castro’s 1976 flight plans so the CIA could bring down his plane but Sirgado misinformed Phillips on this matter? If so, the collateral damage of the passenger jet in Barbados would seem to have been “OK’d” (as it were)by both sides just to make a political point. This is government-funded Cold War pathology at it’s worst and it went on for many years too many.

    • Arnaldo M. Fernandez says:

      I´m not saying that. Castro did it, because for him all and any operations by Cuban exiles are under CIA control.
      Personally, I think Sirgado´s mission was not related to the bombing in Barbados, which seems to be an operation of Cuban exiles without CIA control, like Veciana´s 1979 attempt against Castro in New York.

  7. Bogman says:

    “Sirgado appeared in the Cuban TV documentary ZR Rifle (1993) and referred —as an illustrative example of Benson-Phillips´ personality— “the anecdote he told me [that during a visit to Arlington Cemetery] he had seized the opportunity to urinate on Kennedy’s grave, since he considered Kennedy a damned Communist.”

    Thanks for bringing this to everyone’s attention. Had seen this anecdote years ago and forgot the origin. Speaks volumes.

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