A Cuban-American man has said a leading anti-Castro fighter identified a mutual friend as having admitted he took part in the assassination of President Kennedy. Reinaldo Martinez, who made the allegation in this video interview with JFK author Anthony Summers, named the man who admitted involvement as Herminio Diaz.
Is the story, picked up last month in the online Daily Mail, credible?
Summers, author of “Not In Your Lifetime,” notes the story is hearsay. Martinez, now deceased, admitted he had no proof it was true, only that the anti-Castro fighter who told him the story.
JFK Facts has discovered that the CIA retains two secret files on the source of Martinez’s story. The agency says the files are “not believed relevant” to JFK’s assassination.
Reinaldo Martinez’s story
Martinez first told the story to Summers and G. Robert Blakey, former general counsel of the House Select Committee on Assassinations. He said he wanted to tell someone the story before he died.
Some details of the story are corroborated. Herminio Diaz was known as an assassin. He worked for Santos Trafficante, an organized crime boss in Havana. Diaz was killed in a raid on Cuba in 1966.
Martinez heard the story in a Cuban prison from a man named Tony Cuesta, who was badly wounded and blinded in the raid. At the time, Cuesta was the chief of a militant anti-Castro organization known as “Commandos L” (for “Libertad”) and collaborated with Diaz in fighting the Cuban government.
Cuesta had dealings with the CIA, according to agency records. The CIA has two files on Tony Cuesta, containing 48 pages of material, that have never been made public, according to the online database of the National Archives. The CIA has formally designated the Cuesta files as “Not Believed Relevant” to JFK’s assassination.
The Cuesta files are two of approximately 1,100 assassination-related records that the CIA says it will not make public until 2017.
Tony Cuesta’s story
Cuesta, who recovered from his injuries, served 12 years in prison. Before being released, Cuesta also told Cuban officials that Diaz and another Cuban man had been involved in JFK’s assassination.
Cuesta returned to Miami where he died in 1992. (Here’s his obituary from the New York Times.)
Fabian Escalante, retired chief of counterintelligence, told a conference of JFK researchers in 1995 that Cuesta had implicated Diaz in Kennedy’s assassination while under interrogation.
“He gave us this information and in 1978 we didn’t know if it was true or not,” Escalante said. Escalante said there is a written record of Cuesta’s interrogation in the files of Cuban intelligence that has a never been made public.
Whether Cuesta ever made such statements to the CIA is not known.
The Cuesta files
For confirmation of the existence of Cuesta’s secret CIA files, follow these five steps.
1) Go to the National Archives data base by clicking here.
2) On the top line of the search form, enter the term “Cuesta”
3) On the second line, enter the term “NBR” (for “Not Believed Relevant”)
4) Click the “Display Search Results” button.
5) Click the “Full” button in the “Full Results” column.
The search returns show that one of the Cuesta files contains 47 pages of material; the other contains one page. They have been “postponed in full” meaning they are not subject to declassification under the terms of the JFK Assassination Records Act until October 2017.
Watch the Reinaldo Martinez interview.