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The Stalinist Assassin


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The American Spectator

Paul Kengor

February 2013


Few knew Fidel Castro quite like the CIA’s Brian Latell.



Few know Fidel Castro quite like Brian Latell. Or, to be more precise, few know those who know Fidel Castro quite like Brian Latell. This book is as close to an insider’s account as one can get without being inside. Latell began tracking Castro for the CIA in the 1960s. The documents he has seen and contacts he has made—especially defectors who trust him—are woven together in this book. They provide some disturbing information on Castro, unknown even to those of us who have long suspected the worst.




As for Castro’s own men who naturally came to despise him, there, too, Fidel has been ruthless—actually, Stalinist. Latell recounts the late 1980s, when Cuba’s leading sponsor, the Soviet Union, was so broke that it ended the annual $6 billion subsidy that was Castro’s lifeline. With glasnost shedding a ray of hope on the Evil Empire, and with the Berlin Wall collapsing, Fidel’s boys were frustrated with the prospects of yet another decade of dark, dank, broken, oppressive Marxist orthodoxy. Castro cracked down hard. Latell remarked on Castro’s actions of 1989, which he called “an even more devastating, top-to-bottom purging of the Ministry of Interior….The Stalinist-style crackdown was preemptive, meant to snuff out every trace of support within the secret services for the liberalizing reforms that led in 1989 to the toppling of the Berlin Wall.”




Importantly, if true, this doesn’t mean that Castro sponsored or ordered or took part in Kennedy’s assassination. It suggests that Castro had prior knowledge, which would have stemmed from Lee Harvey Oswald’s continued outreach to Cuban officials, most dramatically during three extraordinary visits by Oswald to the Cuban consulate in Mexico City between September 27 and October 2, 1963. Those visits could have begun some sort of relationship between Oswald and the Cubans or, at a minimum, Cuban knowledge of Oswald, his adoration of Fidel, his earlier two-and-a-half-year defection to the Soviet Union (starting in 1959), his hatred of JFK, his Marine background, his love of weaponry and marksmanship, and perhaps his plans to kill the American president. “We never had any individual so persistent,” said the Cuban consular officer who claimed to have argued with Oswald—and allegedly denied Oswald a visa. He maintained that an angry, frustrated Oswald slammed the door in rage as he departed.





Castro’s Secrets: The CIA and Cuba’s Intelligence Machine

Brian Latell

(Palgrave Macmillan, 272 pages

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