“John and Robert Kennedy knew what they were doing. They waged a vicious war against Fidel Castro–a war someone had to lose.”
So writes Gus Russo in Live By the Sword: The Secret War Against Castro and the Death of JFK, published in 1998.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Robert Kennedy–referring to the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor–had resisted demands for a “sneak attack” on Cuba by saying: “I don’t want my brother to be the Tojo of the 1960s.”
But in the fall of 1963, the Kennedys planned just such an attack on Cuba only one month before the November, 1964 Presidential election.
In what is almost certainly the definitive account of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Russo reaches some startling–but highly documented–conclusions:
- Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated Kennedy.
- He did it alone.
- Oswald, a former Marine, was a committed Marxist–whose hero was Castro.
- The CIA’s ongoing campaign to overthrow and/or assassinate Castro was an open secret throughout the Gulf.
- Oswald visited New Orleans in the spring of 1963.
- There he learned that Castro was in the crosshairs of the CIA.
- Oswald told his Russian-born wife, Marina: “Fidel Castro needs defenders. I’m going to join his army of volunteers.”
- Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner, murdered Oswald because he was distraught over Kennedy’s death.
- Ruby was not part of a Mafia conspiracy to silence Oswald.
- Skeptics of the Warren Commission–which concluded that Oswald had acted alone–asked the wrong question: “Who killed Kennedy?”
- They should have asked: “Why was he killed?”
- The answer–according to Russo: “The Kennedys’ relentless pursuit of Castro and Cuba backfired in tragedy on that terrible day in November, 1963.”
Lee Harvey Oswald
Another book well worth reading about America’s Cuban obsession during the early 1960s is American Tabloid, by James Ellroy.
Although a novel, it vividly captures the atmosphere of intrigue, danger and sleaziness that permeated America’s Cuba obsession in a way that dry, historical documents never can.
“The 50s are finished,” reads its paperback dust jacket. “Zealous young lawyer Robert Kennedy has a red-hot jones to nail Jimmy Hoffa. JFK has his eyes on the Oval Office.
“J. Edgar Hoover is swooping down on the Red Menace. Howard Hughes is dodging subpoenas and digging up Kennedy dirt. And Castro is mopping up the bloody aftermath of his new Communist nation….
“Mob bosses, politicos, snitches, psychos, fall guys and femmes fatale. They’re mixing up a Molotov cocktail guaranteed to end the country’s innocence with a bang.”
Among the legacies of America’s twisted romance with anti-Castro Cubans:
- Following the JFK assassination, there was a coverup–to safeguard the reputation of the United States government and that of its newly-martyred President.
- Thus, the CIA and FBI concealed the anti-Castro murder plots from the Warren Commission investigating Kennedy’s assassination.
- Other participating officials in the cover-up included Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and President Lyndon B. Johnson.
- This secrecy ignited the widespread–and false–belief that the President had died at the hands of a government conspiracy.
- Robert Kennedy feared that his relentless pursuit of Castro might have backfired against JFK, leading Castro to “take out” the President first.
- Fearing his own assassination if he continued Kennedy’s efforts to murder Castro, President Johnson ordered the CIA to halt its campaign to overthrow and/or assassinate the Cuban leader.
- The huge Cuban community throughout Florida–and especially Miami–continues to exert a blackmail influence on American politics.
- Right-wing politicians from Richard Nixon to Newt Gingrich have reaped electoral rewards by catering to the demands of this hate-obsessed voting block.
- As a result, the United States still refuses to open diplomatic relations with Cuba–even though it has done so with such former enemies as the Soviet Union, China and Vietnam.
- Cuban ex-patriots still hope that the United States will launch a full-scale military invasion of the island to remove Castro.
- These alleged Cuban patriots fear to risk their own lives by returning to Cuba and launching an uprising against him.
That crisis stemmed from our twisted obsession with Cuba, an obsession that continues today.
Texas Congressman Ron Paul is correct:
“But I think it’s time…to quit this isolation business of not talking to people. We talked to the Soviets. We talk to the Chinese. And we opened up trade, and we’re not killing each other now.
“We fought with the Vietnamese for a long time. We finally gave up, started talking to them, now we trade with them. I don’t know why…the Cuban people should be so intimidating.”
It’s time to end the half-century contamination of American politics by those Cubans who live for their hatred of Fidel Castro and those political candidates who live to exploit it.
It’s long past time to end this wag-the-dog relationship. A population of about 1,700,000 Cuban exiles should not be allowed to shape the domestic and foreign policy of a nation of 300 million.
Those who continue to hate–or love–Castro should be left to their own private feud. But that is a feud they should settle on their own island, and not from the shores of the United States.