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The Anti-Latell Report (IV): Mirabal Self-Incrimination

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Dr. Brian Latell shamelessly claims that an "incriminating error went unnoticed" when the Cuban consul and Center chief of the General Directorate of Intelligence (DGI) in Mexico City, Alfredo Mirabal-Diaz, "inadvertently revealed in 1978 that in September 1963 he had informed headquarters about Oswald."

Which headquarters? The June 2012 issue of The Latell Report --an e-newsletter published by the Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies (ICCAS) at the University of Miami (UM)-- clarifies the point: "In an oddly unguarded moment, he admitted that he had prepared a report on Oswald for DGI headquarters." The latter is a prosthesis implanted by Dr. Latell. In his testimony before the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), on September 18, 1978, Mirabal-Diaz alluded to "report" only once:

"It was my colleague, [Eusebio Azcue-Lopez], who brought all these documents and all this information to my desk for my report (sic). It is then that I talked with the Soviet consul, and when I mentioned this to him, he told me that Oswald had in fact requested a visa for the Soviet Union but that he had been told that it would take about 4 months to obtain a response, and that is the reason that I included that information in the footnote that was to be sent to Havana."

Mirabal-Diaz was obviously testifying about his mandatory report as consul to the Cuban Foreign Ministry [known by its acronym in Spanish: MINREX] regarding the in-transit visa application filed by Oswald on September 27, 1963. Both the applicant and the consul signed it and it appears as Warren Commission Exhibit No. 2564 together with the 15 October 1963 official response to Mirabal-Diaz by the concerned director at MINREX, Juan Milo-Otero. His decision was more than obvious: the in-transit visa to Cuba could not be granted without the entry visa for the country of destination [URSS].

In the notes for briefing of HSCA Chief Counsel Richard Sprague on November 24, 1976, the CIA itself admitted there wasn't "any evidence that Oswald's contacts with personnel of the Cuban Consulate had any other motive than to obtain a transit visa for Cuba." Dr. Latell tries to fill the gap with imagination.

Just as he made-up a DGI file on Oswald, opened in 1959 at the Cuban Consulate in Los Angeles, he invented that "an intelligence officer under consular cover prepared a report on Oswald" in 1963 at the Cuban Consulate in Mexico City and it was "cabled" to DGI Chief Manuel "Red Beard" Piñeiro. However, the CIA itself furnished direct evidence of Oswald's consular process: the transcripts of two calls tapped by its intercept center LIENVOY on September 27, 1963.

At around 4:05 pm, a female caller from the Cuban Consulate said that a present American citizen had asked for an in-transit visa en route to the URSS. She wanted to know whom the American had spoken to at the Soviet Consulate, because he returned telling her that Soviet official had said there was no problem at all, but he couldn't identify that official. She explained having sent the American with the notice that if he gets the entry visa in the Soviet Union, the Cuban visa will be immediately granted.

Her Soviet interlocutor passed the call to another one. The female caller introduced herself as Sylvia Duran, from the Cuban Consulate, and retold the story. The new Soviet official asked for her telephone number and promised to call back.

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At 4:26 pm, a caller from the Soviet Consulate asked Sylvia Duran if an American had been there. She replied that he was still on the spot, and the Soviet official told her that he wanted to go to the URSS for staying long time with his Russian wife, but the requested answer from the Soviet Embassy in Washington had not come yet. The process would last 4 or 5 months.

The caller added the American had showed him a membership letter of a pro Cuba organization and advised him that the Cuban visa couldn't be granted without the Russian one, but the Soviet Consulate will proceed in accordance with the rules and wait for Washington. Duran said that she will make this remark in the Cuban form for the visa application and that she can't give any letter of recommendation to the American because he is not known.

On the transcript of this call, the CIA station chief Win Scott wrote down: "It's possible to identify? No, it wasn't. According to the 1977 CIA Inspector General's Report, "it was not until 22 November 1963, when the station initiated a review of all transcripts of telephone calls to the Soviet Embassy, that the station learned that Oswald's call to the Soviet Embassy on 1 October 1963 was in connection with his request for a visa to the USSR. Because he wanted to travel to the USSR by way of Cuba, Oswald had also visited the Cuban Embassy" ( Tab G-2, pages 2-3 ).

The CIA Inspector General, John H. Waller, was lying to the HSCA even more blatantly than Dr. Latell to the reader. Waller got involved in the conspiracy of silence inside the Company, since Scott himself, despite his aforementioned handwritten question, included in his September 1963 report on LIENVOY only a contact of "operational interest" with the Soviet Embassy: "a Russian speaking female" who identified herself as "a professor from New Orleans" (page 4). The two September 27 calls weren't reported, although an American in contact with both the Soviet and the Cuban Embassies was ipso facto of operational interest.

In his September 1963 report, Scott did mention Orville Horsfall [Boris Tarasoff] as "staff agent working on LIENVOY transcripts" (page 3). He transcribed the October 1 call and wrote down that the caller "Lee Oswald" was "the same person who phoned a day or so ago and spoke in broken Russian." Tarasoff realized that "Lee Oswald" was the same caller who in "terrible, hardly recognizable Russian" had encouraged an unknown Soviet official to "speak Russian" on September 28.

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What's going on here? Oswald was reportedly in Mexico City from September 27 to October 2, but he spoke fluent Russian. He spent more than two and a half years in the URSS, where he married Marina Pusakova in April 1961. At their first encounter, she thought Oswald came from the Baltic States because his accent was good. After returning to the States in June 1962, Oswald passed a test given by Peter Gregory, a Siberia-born Russian teacher at Fort Worth, who found him "capable of being an interpreter or a translator."

To make matters worse, Oswald's impersonator in Mexico City wasn't even a native English speaker. Just after the JFK assassination, the October 1 LIENVOY tape and a photograph were sent from the CIA station in Mexico City to the FBI in Dallas, where chief Gordon Shanklin must be obliged to report:

"From an initial examination of the photograph of the individual who visited the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City on October 1963, this individual does not appear to be Oswald, as he looks to be older, heavier, and with more hair. Also the Agents who have talked to Oswald have listened to the tape provided by CIA of the call allegedly made by Oswald to the Soviet Embassy, and they do not think the individual is Oswald, as his voice is different, and he spoke in broken English."

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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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