Appendix to Brothers in Arms: The Kennedys, the Castros, and the Politics of Murder
by Gus Russo and Stephen Molton
To those who labor under the misconception that Fidel Castro’s regime was incapable of maintaining a secret pipeline to a Lee Oswald, or not inclined to authorize and/or condone assassinations, an overview of Castro’s spy agencies might prove instructive. Traditionally, it has been infinitely easier to obtain operational details and internal structural layouts for the offices of America’s secret warriors than for those of its intelligence adversaries. This is especially true for Cuba’s spy apparatus. Given the relative transparency of the US government, thousands of books and monographs have been written on CIA, FBI, NSA, Military Intelligence, etc. But for those seeking to determine if Cuba’s spooks were prone to instigate (or even condone, as in the Kennedy case) foreign assassinations, it has been near impossible to get answers. However, when one pieces together testimony, CIA debriefs, and interviews from Cuba’s spy defectors, some very close to the top of its bureaucracy, a consistent and far different picture emerges of Cuba’s intel modus operandi than most would assume.
The New York Times called Cuba's intelligence apparatus the “Little Spy Engine That Could.” Indeed, far from being the undersized counterintelligence force that is commonly perceived for the diminutive nation, Cuba’s secret services are surprisingly aggressive and proactive. In fact, despite its weak economy and small size, the island nation boasts an intelligence arm that, relatively speaking, is much larger than that of the United States, with wide-ranging clandestine operations ongoing throughout the globe. The only small nation that even comes close to Cuba’s spycraft intensity is Israel.
When Juan Antonio Rodriguez Menier, one of the highest ranked Cuban intelligence officers, and a founding member of Cuba’s G2 spy agency, defected to the US in 1987, he brought with him a wealth of information on the history and deepest secrets of Cuban intelligence services. (See his bio in footnote*) Through interviews with him by the authors, as well as the procurement of his lengthy unpublished manuscripts which he also provided to the CIA, we at last have a window into the innermost workings and agendas of the Kennedy brothers’ dangerous adversaries. Other Cuban intelligence defectors, such as Ricardo Morales, Vladimir Rodriguez Lahera, Gerardo Peraza, Jesus Raúl Perez Mendez, Major Florentino Aspillaga Lombard, Domingo Amuchastegui, Manuel De Beunza, Rafael del Pino, and Jose Cohen have helped us fill in even more details. What follows is the combined knowledge gleaned from these sources, as well as scholars such as Frank O. Mora, Antonio de la Cova, William Ratliff, Brian Latell (CIA’s Cuban expert), Stuart Hoyt (FBI’s Cuban expert), Claire Sterling, Rex Hudson, and others. Fabian Escalante Font, a longtime Cuban intelligence senior officer, is perhaps the only current Cuban official to have written on the subject, and his books, although mired in propaganda, have also given up a few structural details. All told, these sources describe a complex setup, with many branches (often overlapping), mergers, and name changes over the years..