Cuban said his friend was a Dealey Plaza gunman; CIA has files on source of the story

Reinaldo Martinez
Reinaldo Martinez’s JFK story

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.

Herminio Diaz, Dealey Plaza gunman?
Herminio Diaz, Dealey Plaza gunman?

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

Tony Cuesta
Tony Cuesta, anti-Castro fighter

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. 



15 thoughts on “Cuban said his friend was a Dealey Plaza gunman; CIA has files on source of the story”

  1. Richard Turnbull

    See also the version of events from Marita Lorenz, one of Castro’s mistresses in the early 1960s, which is similar and mentions assassins with the last name Lanz.


    Jeff, the photo is not Harminio’s, but Tony Cuesta. Herminio was a mulatto or mestizo. and he is on the left of Cuesta in the original frame.

  3. A conspiracy involving anti-castro cubans seems a plausible explanation to me.

    When you look at the suspicious activities of senior CIA operatives before and after the assassination, it all centres around Oswalds links with anti castro cubans in New Orleans.

    The CIA possibly gave assistance to those involved in the assassination. Maybe the biggest assistance the CIA gave to them was to turn a blind eye and allow them to proceed.

  4. Tony Cuesta has credibility. Herminio Diaz was a proven assassin with connections to David Morales. This story should be pursued vigorously.

  5. Unless there’s proof that Diaz was in Dallas on 11/22/63, there’s not much to this story. For now, it’s just another uncorroborated story to add to the pile with the French assassins and others…

  6. Jeff, you should link to Jeff Goldberg’s story on Bloomberg. During a long interview with Castro that took place over several days, Castro said to Goldberg that he tried to replicate the assassination with teams of experienced snipers but were unable to do so with a single gunman. He also hypothesized that the killing was instigated by the CIA and anti-Castro rebels, which I think is the most likely explanation. His take on Ruby is amusing.

  7. S.R."Dusty" Rohde

    Diaz and “another Cuban” were probably the two Cubans that threw Rose Cheramie out of the car. Just hunch…..

  8. This is more support for the need to immediately process for release all of the withheld JFK assassination records. President Obama should order such action this week. Reporters need to ask about this at White House press conferences, or press briefings.

  9. There is not a shred of physical evidence to support this story. It has been reported before here; perhaps the more often that it is told the more likely that people will accept it as true despite the absence of any real evidence.

    1. So what? Crimes are often solved (or at least people declared to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt) in whole or mostly through testimony that amounts to one person’s say so, i.e., with little or no physical evidence. It all depends on whether the jury believes the witness(es) to be credible.

      Just as a side note, given the nature of your most recent posts, I’d say it’s time for you to either take a lot of deep breaths or switch to decaf.

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