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The Anti-Latell Report (III): AMMUG-1 Knowledge

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AMMUG-1 photo inserted in one piece of Lara Kozak's JFK Assassination Collage Series
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Dr. Brain Latell's assertion that "Rodriguez-Lahera's knowledge that Castro had lied apparently was not shared with the Warren Commission [WC]," entails a downright lie: there wasn't any knowledge at all to share with anybody.

Vladimir Rodriguez-Lahera defected from the General Directorate of Intelligence (DGI) in Canada around April 21, 1964. He was codenamed AMMUG-1 and his initial debriefing included "that the only possible fabrication known by the source was the specific denial by Fidel Castro, on a television program, of any Cuban knowledge of Oswald." Dr. Latell surreptitiously turns the conjecture of "possible fabrication" into knowledge worthy of being conveyed to the WC.

The day after the assassination, Castro referred to Oswald thusly: " We never in our life heard of the existence of this person ." Dr. Latell ascertains that AMMUG-1 "was convinced that Fidel had lied" and told it to "his handlers in May 1964." The reader is left in the dark because Dr. Latell omits that, on May 8, 1964, the handler himself, Harold Swenson, memoed to CIA Headquarters the information given by AMMUG-1 "paraphrasing his explanations and comments." What matters most is:

        I have no personal knowledge of Lee Harvey Oswald or his activities and I do not know that Oswald was an agent of the [DGI] or any other directorate or department of the Cuban Government

        I first heard of Oswald after the assassination (") Personnel in the DGI first commented about the case, so far as I can recall, one day after lunch when a group of officers, of whom I was one, were chatting

        Manuel Vega-Perez previously had been assigned to Mexico in the Cuban Consulate, where he was the principal intelligence officer of the DGI. Vega mentioned that Oswald had gone to the Cuban Consulate two or three times in connection with a visa application during the time that Vega was in Mexico. I gathered, although I do not know that Vega made any specific statement to this effect, that Vega personally had seen Oswald. I well could have reached this conclusion because normally Vega and his assistant in Mexico for the DGI, Rogelio Rodriguez-Lopez, would see personas applying for a visa to go to Cuba.

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        This is because DGI officers are charged with expediting the granting of visas of agents of the DGI. Such agents, on appearing at the Consulate, use a special phrase to indicate their relationship with the DGI (I do not know the particular phrase used in every case") The DGI officers at a Consulate interview visa applicants to find out if they are agents. If the visa applicant does not use one of the indicate phrases, the DGI officers, instead of granting the visa immediately, tell the applicant to return in a few days. The officer then notifies Havana and requests authority for the visa.

        I cannot recall if Vega even made the statement that he had requested permission to issue a visa to Oswald, but I feel sure that he would have done so because Vega has said that Oswald had returned several times and this would be the usual procedure.

        I believe that Rogelio Rodriguez-Lopez also would have seen Oswald because he worked with Vega and also would have screened visa applicants.

        I thought that Luis Calderon might have had contact with Oswald because I learned about 17 March 1964, shortly before I made a trip to Mexico, that she had been involved with an American in Mexico.

        The information to which I refer was told to me by a DGI case officer named Norberto Hernandez (") I had commented to Hernandez that it seemed strange that Luisa Calderon was receiving a salary from the DGI although she apparently did not do any work for the service. Hernandez told me that hers was a peculiar case and that he himself believed that she had been recruited in Mexico by the [CIA] although Manuel Piñeiro, the Head of the DGI, did not agree.

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        As I recall, Hernandez had investigated Luisa Calderon. This was because, during the time she was in Mexico, the DGI had intercepted a letter to her by an American who signed his name as Ower (phonetic) or something similar (") It could have been Howard or something different.

        As I understood the matter, the letter from the American was a love letter, but indicated that there was a clandestine-professional relationship between the writer and Luisa Calderon. I also understood from Hernandez that after the interception of the letter she had been followed and seen in the company of an American. I do not know if this could have been Oswald.

The out-of-the-dark reader could understand why Swanson concluded: AMMUG-1 did not have "any significant information." His guesswork ["I gathered, although I do not know;" "I well could have reached this conclusion," "I cannot recall ("), but I fell sure;" "I believe," "I thought""] turned significant in Dr. Latell's book only because the author is obsessed with Castro foreknowledge of Oswald.

More than four decades after being debriefed by Swanson, AMMUG-1 provided Dr. Latell with an unheard-of argument: the most routine matters at the Cuban diplomatic venue in Mexico City were reported directly to Castro. Dr. Latell and AMMUG-1 should know that neither Castro nor any other Head of Government has time for being informed about ordinary people applying for visas.

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Former Professor of Law at the University of Havana Former Instructor of Journalism at the University of Miami Contributor to CTKA on the JFK assassination Contributor to History Today and The Miami Herald


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