“John and Robert Kennedy knew what they were doing. They waged a vicious war against Fidel Castro–a war someone had to lose.”
And the loser turned out to be John F. Kennedy.
So writes investigative reporter Gus Russo in Live By the Sword: The Secret War Against Castro and the Death of JFK, published in 1998.
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.”
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novel, it vividly captures the atmosphere of intrigue, danger and sleaziness that permeated that era in a way that dry, historical documents never can.
“The 50′s 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.
- Its purposes: To protect the reputation of the United States government–and that of its newly-martyred President.
- Thus, the CIA and FBI concealed the CIA-Mafia assassination plots from the Warren Commission assigned to investigate Kennedy’s murder.
- Other government officials participating in the coverup included Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and President Lyndon B. Johnson.
- Ironically, 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 led Castro to “take out” JFK 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 blackmailing 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.
- These Cuban ex-patriots hope that the United States will launch a full-scale military invasion of the island to remove Castro.
- Having grown rich and soft in the United States, they fear to risk their own lives by returning to Cuba to loverthrow Castro–as he did against Fulgencio Batista.
The United States is fast approaching the 50th anniversay of the most dangerous moment of the Cold War: The Cuban Missile Crisis, when the world stood only minutes away from nuclear Armageddon.
That crisis stemmed from our twisted obsession with Cuba, an obsession that continues today.
So what are the lessons to be learned from that obsession?
- It is long past time to demand major changes in our foreign policy toward Cuba.
- It’s time to end the half-century contamination of American politics by those Cubans who live only for their hatred of Castro–and those political candidates who live to exploit it.
- (For example: Marco Rubio got elected U.S. Senator from Florida in 2010 by claiming that his parents had been forced to leave Cuba in 1959, after Fidel Castro took power. In fact, they had left Cuba in 1956–during the Batista dictatorship.)
- It’s time to end this wag-the-dog relationship. A population of about 1,700,000 Cubans 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.