Since the premiere of the Cuban-Brazilian TV documentary, ZR Rifle, on November 27, 1993, the former head and current historian of Cuban State Security General Fabian Escalante has said that Cuban exiles Herminio Diaz and Eladio del Valle, along with three American mobsters: Richard Gaines [Cain], Lenny Patrick, and Dave Yara were the shooters at Dealey Plaza.
What’s the basis for Escalante’s story?
General Escalante gave a detailed account in his book JFK: The Cuban Files.
In 2007 the Cuban exile Reinaldo Martínez, who worked as inmate at a prison infirmary and treated the anti-Castro fighter Antonio “Tony” Cuesta, told a congruent story to George Robert Blakey and Anthony Summers: Cuesta confided to Martinez that Herminio Diaz had confessed on the way to Monte Barreto of having taken part in the JFK assassination.
[Watch the Reinaldo Martinez interview]
Origins of the Story
On May 29, 1966, six Cuban exiles got on board in Marathon Key, Florida, and headed toward Monte Barreto, a bare rocky spot near the former Comodoro Yacht Club in the fancy Havana residential suburb of Miramar. They went ashore shortly before dawn. The sharpshooters Herminio Diaz and Armando Romero ran to nearby Fifth Avenue in order to take position for killing Castro on his usual route.
However, the former club was housing a deep-sea fishing school full of militiamen. They killed Diaz and Romero. The mission commander, Tony Cuesta, fled with the rest of his men. Their 23-foot boat was intercepted 10 miles off the coast by a Cuban Navy patrol. Guillermo Alvarez and Roberto Cintas were killed; Cuesta and Eugenio Zaldivar were captured badly wounded.
The skirmish cost Cuesta a hand and his eyesight. During his long recovery, he was debriefed several times by Escalante, who became head of the State Security Department [known as G-2] in 1976.
Thanks to Jimmy Carter’s arrangement, Cuesta was released on October 21, 1978. After he died in Miami on December 2, 1992, General Escalante disclosed Cuesta had told him that Diaz and Del Valle were in Dallas on November 22, 1963. Cuesta had refused to elaborate.
For General Escalante, the raid on Monte Barreto was the way to send Herminio to death, since the Cuban army and militias were in combat readiness after the killing of a border guard by U.S. marines at Guantánamo on May 21, 1966. Otherwise, Cuesta, Herminio, and the other four would have been mad as hell.
Nine months later, on February 22, 1967, Eladio del Valle was found in his 1966 Fleetwood Cadillac on a parking lot at 37th Avenue and N.W. 7th Street, Miami, with multiple blunt impacts of head and gunshot wound of chest.
Since 1962, Escalante had a report by a G-2 mole about Del Valle saying, “on many occasions, that Kennedy must be killed to solve the Cuban problem.”