The Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg spent some time with the Cuban leader a few years back and asked him exactly that question.
Unlike some JFK conspiracy theorists who portray Castro as a demonic puppet master who somehow manipulated Oswald, Goldberg conveys a sense of the man who bedeviled Washington with his defiance of U.S. domination but who also sensed JFK was open to the mutual respect that still eludes the two countries after fifty years.
“I then asked Castro to tell us what he believes actually happened. I brought up the name of his friend, Oliver Stone, who suggested that it was the CIA and a group of anti-Castro Cubans (I used the term “anti-you Cubans” to describe these forces aligned against Castro) that plotted the assassination.
“Quite possibly,” he said. “This is quite possibly so. There were people in the American government who thought Kennedy was a traitor because he didn’t invade Cuba when he had the chance, when they were asking him. He was never forgiven for that.”
“So that’s what you think might have happened?
“No doubt about it,” Fidel answered.
Fidel Castro: ‘Oswald Could Not Have Been the One Who Killed Kennedy’ – Jeffrey Goldberg – The Atlantic.
32 thoughts on “What did Fidel Castro think about JFK’s assassination?”
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Today at 10:43 PM
I first became aware of Fidel Casro’s comments– given the day after JFK was killed and before Oswald was shot–in the engaging 1996 book by Schotz, “History Will Not Absolve Us.” I believe it is now accessible online.
Castro’s remarkably prescient account of the killing is still stunning to read. I don’t think it was distributed by the MSM and for obvious reasons.But boy did he “get it.” No wonder he outfoxed the whole apparatus of the US Security State/gangster alliance that was trying to kill him, His text, about 35 pages long, questions the way Oswald- a traitor, was welcomed back to the USA with help from the State Department upon the recommendation of a Republican Senator from Texas(Tower). He mentions he knew all of the leading cities chapters of the Fair Play for Cuba and the one in New Orleans started by LHO – and consisting of only LHO – was constructed by the USA. He talked of the obvious foolishness of either Cuba or the Soviet Union in any attempt to kill someone who was already in a dogfight with reactionary members of his own government and military to invade Cuba or derail negotiations over continued non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. He showed ways Oswald was–during the preceding 24 hours–always associated with Cuba and Russia by the MSM.(After LHO is killed by one of the gangster particpants, Oswald becomes a loner, disassociated from the governments of Cuba or Russia).
If anyone had a feel of what happened on Elm Street that day,it was Castro- who, in the face-off with American evil, beat them and then survived for another 50 years.
I have not read Castro’s comments the day after the assassination. However, two questions: (1) if Castro was not previously knowledgable about Oswald, how could he make sure detailed statements related to him the day after the assassination; and (2) if Castro was guilty of at least prior knowledge that Oswald intended to try to kill Kennedy (based on Oswald’s visits to the Cuban embaassy in Mexico City in September) – or of participating in the assassiination through encouragement or some other way — wouldn’t his comments the next day be exactly the type of comments one would expect?
CONCERNING THE FACTS AND CONSEQUENCES OF THE TRAGIC DEATH OF PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY
November 23rd, 1963
by Fidel Castro
“…But there are new ingredients. In fact a whole series, a whole propaganda chain, distributed in doses.
First that he is a member of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee which was false. Later a man who lived in the Soviet Union. Afterwards, a whole series of insinuations in several cables. Today, he is not only all that, he is also a Communist and a very willing Communist at that, he admits it. In fact all this is really very strange.
Their description is not that of a fanatic. But that of an individual with a number of characteristics that really fit what U.S. reaction wants like a ring on a finger, that fit the worst Policy of the United States; a person who seems to have been expressly made for this purpose, expressly made for specific ends: to create hysteria, to unleash an anti-Soviet, anti-Cuban, anti Communist, anti-progressive, anti-liberal campaign in the United States; to eliminate a President whose Policy collided head on with the Policy promoted by the most Reactionary circles in the country after the nuclear test ban treaty, after several speeches which were unanimously attacked for being weak toward Cuba.
What can have been the motives for the assassination of President Kennedy? What can there be behind all this? We cannot affirm anything because we do not have other elements for judgment: both the personality of the individual and the propaganda being carried out are suspicious, everything is suspicious.
We cannot categorically affirm what is behind all this, but we do affirm that it is suspicious; that we must be careful, that we must be vigilant, that we must be alert. Because this man may be innocent, a cat’s paw, in a plan very well prepared by people who knew how to prepare these plans; or he may be a sick man and if so, the only honest thing is to hand him over for a medical examination and not to be starting a campaign extremely dangerous to world peace; or he may be an instrument very well chosen and very well trained by the Ultra-Right, by Ultraconservative reaction of the United States with the deliberate aim of eliminating a President who, according to them, did not carry out the Policy he should have – more warlike, more aggressive, more adventuresome Policy. And it is necessary for all people of the United States themselves to demand that what is behind the Kennedy assassination be clarified.
It is in the interest of the U.S. people and of the people of the world, that this be made known, that they demand to know what is really behind the assassination of Kennedy, that the facts be made clear: whether the man involved is innocent, sick or an instrument of the reactionaries, an agent of a macabre plan to carry forward a Policy of war and aggression, to place the Government of the United States at the mercy of the most aggressive circles of monopoly, of militarism and of the worst agencies of the United States. It is in our interest, in the interest of all people and of the U.S. people that we demand this.”
I meant there is “now” information that Cuban intelligence moved their listening device towards Texas on the morning of the assassination. Sorry. See new book, Castro’s Secrets, by Brian Latell.
Castro had spies and informants in the Cuban Exile community. If there was a right-wing plot against Kennedy, perhaps the Cuban government was aware of the chatter. The same kind of chatter that the FBI got from Joseph Milteer.
Except that is not what Castro has said. He claims he was surprised.
And, you think he would have better information than the U.S. on that morning? If true, and the defector seems credible, it more likely suggests Castro had at least had knowledge of the possible assassination attempt by the left wing Oswald.
“…by the left wing Oswald.”
More accurately, “by the ostensibly left-wing Oswald.”
True, Oswald admired Kennedy according to Marina. Maybe that makes him “left wing.”
Spending 90 minutes in a New Orleans jail cell with the top N.O. FBI agent in the summer of 1963 suggests his true colors were hidden from view.
You should stick to facts and avoid characterizations, Brian.
I think a fair examination of the evidence makes it highly likely that Oswald was far left wing, evidence from his teenage years fascination with communism through his trip to Mexico City, he consistently demonstrated far left wing/communist sympathies. There is a very small chance it was all a legend/cover for some U.S. intelligence role (or what became a cover/legend for such a role), but much more likey he was a true far left guy. If you are putting stock in what Marina reported Oswald said, it was almost all far left wing crap, with a single purported expression of admiration for Kennedy (who was no left winger). The CIA of the early 1960’s had a gang that could not shoot straight quality to some extent. The CIA/FBI hiding of evdience was much more likely motivated by their desire to cover up their incompetence than to cover up that Oswald was their agent.
What he mostly did in New Orleans was the Fair Play for Cuba stuff and a clumsy attempt to inflitrate an CIA connected anti Castro group. In theory, that could have been activity to create a legend as a pro-Castro guy for some future role for the CIA, but not much more than guesswork supports that at this point.
I’m not familiar with the evidence of him being in jail with “top NO FBI agent.” Agree it could mean something, not sure what.
George DeMordenshildt and the police officer who interrogated Oswald when he was arrested in New Orleans also claimed Oswald liked Kennedy.
Also, Robert Oswald claims his brother was not very political and when he returned from Russia he made fun of how backwards the Russians were and “wanted to be American”.
There’s also a speech Oswald wrote in 1963 where he criticized Communism and said that by choosing to live in the US he chose “the lesser of two evils”.
The full speech can be read at this link
Perhaps, Oswald’s views of the Soviets and Communism changed after his experiences of living there or maybe his public persona as a Marxist was a ruse?
“you think he would have better information than the U.S. on that morning? If true, and the defector seems credible, it more likely suggests Castro had at least had knowledge of the possible assassination attempt by the left wing Oswald.”
Between the foiled plot against Kennedy in Chicago 2 weeks before Dallas, the Joseph Milteer predictions days before the assassination, and the chatter among Cuban Exile groups, one could argue that the US government had the same level of information as Cuba(if not more) that Kennedy’s life was in danger.
While there’s a fair amount of evidence that Oswald was in contact with Cuban Exile groups weeks before the assassination(the DRE, JURE, etc), there’s no credible evidence for an Oswald-Castro link…
Why on earth will Castro resort to intelligence resources for listening at something that was widely covered by the media? What did Aspillaga hear after moving his antennas to Texas? Some radioamateurs chating? Come on!
I agree he did not ask the important questions to Castro, but understand he was hardly in control. But my principal observation is that Castro is a liar and a murderer, so why would anyone credit what he says?
There is no information that Cuban intelligence turned their listening device toward Texas the morning of the assassination. The Cubans obviously had significant knowledge about Oswald from his mulitple visits to the Cuban embassy in Mexico City in September. Cuba even granted him a conditional entry visa in October. It is impossible so far to determine if Cuba was involved, had knowledge, had suspicions or was surprised by the assassination. I would give no credit to Castro’s claims on innocence. My guess is that they at least had knowledge of Oswald’s intenet to try to kill Kennedy.
When you read that David Sanchez Morales and John Martino admitted some degree of involvement in the assassination, you have to ask yourself who they were working with and who they were working against.
Secondly, you think that Oswald had decided to kill Kennedy in late summer/early fall and then had a job fall into his lap that would put him in the perfect position to kill the President within just a month or two?
You can’t believe that. Nobody could believe that.
Even Castro has a wild imagination. Oswald was set up to look like a Castro sympathizer ? Why not just set up a Cuban ? Why go through all the trouble with years of Oswald’s misfit loser life…he couldn’t even get an honorable discharge from the service. I suppose that was part of the conspiracy too and getting him the job at the book depository that was part of the plot too ? 50 years and you still only have theories.
There is a ton of information that lends credence to this theory that would take whole books to go into in detail. The CIA and mafia worked with the anti-Castro Cubans to murder Castro and retake control of Cuba. They had experience in assassinations, political and otherwise, and collaborated together in the years leading up to the assassination.
Oswald was being impersonated to burnish his Communist credentials and he set up a fake anti-Castro chapter of FPCC run out of the office of anti-Communist Guy Bannister. Clearly, he was working both sides, no matter which side his heart was on.
The anti-Castro crowd had connections up and down the case, documented in many, many books. They hated the Kennedys and had no compunction about murder. At the least, their aim was to punish the kennedy brothers for not following through on the Bay of Pigs and at the most they wanted to provoke a war with Cuba.
When you write that “you only have theories”, what precisely do you think a “theory” is? Because it is generally considered a conceptual framework of mutually reinforcing and well tested hypotheses. A successful “theory” of the assassination would explain the facts and would require a reasonable and informed individual’s approval. The “Lone Nut” hypothesis falls short in at least a half a dozen areas. Whereas, the genus of hypotheses that a few high level intelligence officers planned the assassination to be carried off by their Anti Castro operatives, agents of the CIA and Mafioso (who were already working together to kill Castro) looks pretty strong.
Also, the use of Oswald had plenty of advantages. His stay in the USSR and Russian wife could’ve kept the Soviets mouths shut after the assassination (you can imagine their horror after hearing the news). Oswald’s ‘support’ of the Cuban Revolution could be minimized in the CIA-friendly news if tempers got to hot. Whereas, there’s not much turning back with an actual Cuban, let alone one that may not be so easily painted as loony. I think there’s also evidence to indicate the American intelligence community did not want an honest investigation into Oswald’s background – that may be the key. A few plotters within the Intelligence community (Angleton & Dulles, for example) could use the rest of the agencies to cover up their handiwork. I don’t think an actual Cuban Agent of Castro’s would cause these same agencies to cover anything up, unless directed by the new President in order to stop a war. The Oswald scenario triggers a cover up at the agencies and also at the level of the President. Neat and tidy.
“Why go through all the trouble with years of Oswald’s misfit loser life . . .”
In the autumn of 1963, Oswald was still a very young man who nonetheless had lead what can only be described as a remarkable life. Just to take one example, in the summer of 1963, how many 23 year-old high schools dropouts were appearing on popular radio programs in major media markets debating the ins and out of US foreign policy with members of a lavishly funded CIA front group? How many had mastered a foreign language well enough to be mistaken for a native speaker? How many had spent more than half of their adult lives living abroad? I could go on but I really don’t think I need to. Only a hopeless Warren Commission Fundamentalist (like John McAdams) can make a case that Oswald was a hopeless loser who didn’t fit anywhere or with anybody. One final question: where is the proof that Oswald was so frustrated and bitter about his life that he’d resort to murder, and why would be attempt to kill the President instead of much easier, accessible targets (wife, mother, kids, brothers, boss, coworkers) that such bitter people almost invariably kill?
Castro´s point of view dated from his speech-commentary on Cuban radio and TV the day after the assassination. It´s a rational position taken in advance against WC uncommon nonsense. However, Goldberg didn´t take advantage of his conversations with Castro for clarifying some long standing issues, like the information furnished by Jack Childs —as provided by Castro— that Oswald made a threat against Kennedy´s life at the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City.
Castro was confronted with Childs’ story by the HSCA, and he flatly denied it in a jovial exchange with the HSCA members who came to Cuba. So it’s problematic. Maybe Castro told Childs about the sept 27 events with some exaggeration. More likely is that there’s something wrong with the FBI version. Several versions of this story were passed on to the warren commission by the FBI and the wc members said they never got them – but there the documents are in their files. For more see my book State Secret, chapter 5 endnotes, at Mary Ferrell foundation.
“No doubt about it,” Fidel answered.
This is an incredibly important statement. It lends strong support to the proposition Oswald was set up to be viewed as a Castro agent. In order to serve as a pretext to invading Cuba and overthrowing Castro.
It also leads to a revelation for me. I’ve always thought that if JFK was killed by conspirators who set up Oswald, the conspirators failed at everything except the assassination and the cover up. Now it’s easy to see. They were good at these two things. But lacked the power and skill to drag the country into war against Castro-led Cuba.
Another revelation: Hoover was set up as well as Oswald, but he refused to play the Cuba card, commie-persecuter that he was. Hoover didn’t like being boxed into a corner.
LBJ, I’m now more convinced than ever, being the supreme politician, traded Cuba (meaning possible war with the Soviet Union) for Viet Nam (which meant lots of military promotions and fat defense contracts).
BTW, for those who may not know, the CIA ran its own completely independent war in Viet Nam. It had its own airforce — Air America. Whenever it wanted military muscle, no problem. It was able to borrow army Special Forces, Navy Seals, and army intelligence personnel upon request; as to this, I have first-hand knowledge.
And BTW, the CIA lived very comfortably in the Nam, and had lots of round-eyes (American women who worked with CIA officers in French Villas in and outside of Saigon).
But if I am an anti-Castro Cuban ex-patriot wishing to provoke an invasion of Cuba, why would a “trade” of military contracts spent for Vietnam mean a damn thing to me?
I am obsessed with Castro. Backing off of a commitment my buddies and I had in return for killing JFK is essentially the same betrayal as Kennedy did to us at the Bay of Pigs.
Then why didn’t we invade Cuba?
Because the evidence did not come close to indicating that Oswald (or whoever else you believe was behind the “conspiracy”) was acting on behalf of the Cuban or Soviet governments.
That’s a far different nexus than a trade. Certainly LBJ did not want to go to war with the Soviet Union. Fortunately for all of us, the facts as they unfolded were such that he was not forced to seriously consider that option.
The real and only Question is why, after someone spent a good six months using imposters to create a ham handed trail linking LHO to Cuba and another one linking LHO to the killing by field work in Mexico City, at a Dallas Car Dealership, a Rifle Range, buying a Mail order gun, ETC WHY was all of that hard work compromised by allowing the Patsy to walk around the DSBD before and after the execution of the president- Was that the Plot: Get anti Castro zealots to slaughter JFK and make LHO disappear so that a Cuban Invasion follows. But the folks who recruited the Killers just wanted JFK dead and were less concerned with Cuba and rather than liquidate LHO they left him alive which would negate the Cuba charade? This question is the crux of the entire matter and one that no one seems to want to go near. If you believe there was a conspiracy, SOMETHING went incredibly wrong that day. Why was the Patsy alive at 12.30?
One possible explanation: a rendezvous was missed, and Oswald ended up being picked up by the police. Maybe someone’s car broke down/got a flat tire. Maybe they got stuck in traffic, or something trivial detained them.
Oswald was obviously mixed up in whatever happened that day, that’s why he went back to Oak Cliff to get his revolver. The question is, what was his role, and how much did he know about what was going to happen, particularly what was going to happen to him?
LHO was one of the following:
1- 100% un-Involved Patsy-
2- Non Shooter Conspirator and Patsy-
3- Shooter Conspirator and Patsy-
4- Lone Nut Assassin-
When Oswald became aware that JFK had been killed, he needs to get away fast and get his hands on a handgun that he would have otherwise brought with him- If he was Option one or two he would have been dead before 12.30 as anyone seeing him would have blown the Cuba connection Plot to Hades. If he is Option 3, yes he sure travelled those 4 floors fast and very covertly. And yes he could have missed a pickup ride in the chaos but his handlers had to plan for extreme chaos- It is hard to imagine the intelligence people who had do be engaged in this plot were undone by a blown tire or a traffic jam-
Yes, your question is mine and is the key to unravelling this ball of a million threads. What did LHO know and why does JFK being executed turn him inside out. Since we know JFK was shot in the adams apple and above his right ear/ temple by a high tech bullet we know LHO did not fire fatal shots that day- There has to be a plausable theory that ties all of the peices together and 40 years of study hasnt got me any closer- PS-
Because LBJ and many others in Washington didn’t want to start out his presidency with World War III.
Oswald fired the shots which were easy when he was a marksman in the Marines.
He was probably tricked by Castro double agents who purported to be against Castro and against Kennedy for the Bay of Pigs Fiasco.
I don’t think we’ll ever know but The mob had good reasons to kill him and Bobby for their betrayals.
Another reason: the failure of the plan to grab Oswald and make him disappear after the shooting (perhaps flying him out of Redbird airport and dumping him in a swamp in Louisiana), and then put out stories that he had fled to Cuba via Mexico. With the assassin “hiding” in Cuba, LBJ would probably have had no choice but to invade.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard the assassin hiding in Cuba concept. Well played. How would one then stop an invasion from occurring?