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Memoirs of a CIA Mercenary

In recent days, a book written by a Cuban who has been a mercenary in the service of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been published in the United States and has played dissimilar roles in that criminal organization’s actions not only in the Washington battle against his home country, but also to other infamous plans of the agency in other parts of the world and in the United States, including the latter, to the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

The American magazine Newsweek, in its May 28, 2017 issue, published a review by journalist Jefferson Morley on the book Trained to Kill: The Inside Story of CIA Plots Against Castro, Kennedy and Che written by ex-CIA pperative agent Antonio Veciana.

The terrorist “exploits” of this mercenary were widely known in Cuba and recognized by the American press, but the value of the infamies confessed by Veciana is that he adds elements to the multiple versions of the CIA’s leading role in the assassination of Kennedy .

According to Veciana, in 1960, he worked as an official of the Cuban government when, having already tried to subvert it from within, he stole official funds and used the money to finance attacks against government offices, factories and warehouses.

Two years later, he used his position in the government to distribute propaganda falsely announcing that the government planned to take custody of school-age children with the purpose of provoking panic in Cuban families and having some send their children to the United States, where they would be welcomed by the Catholic Church in South Florida. The operation, known as Peter Pan, separated 14,000 Cuban children from their families and was described in the press as “a disinterested effort to rescue the victims of communist oppression.”

The controller of Veciana for the operation was “Maurice Bishop” whose real name was David Atlee Phillips, who would become Head of the CIA’s Western Hemisphere Division until his retirement in 1975.

After the failure of Bay of Pigs invasion, Phillips expressed his contempt for Kennedy, explains Veciana. After JFK’s peaceful conclusion to the missile crisis, Phillips created Alpha-66, a terrorist organization to attack Cuban targets that became a CIA instrument to pressure Kennedy.

In March 1963, Veciana and his group attacked a Russian merchant ship headed for Cuba, generating headlines around the world. Phillips sought to humiliate the Russians and embarrass JFK into taking more aggressive action against Cuba. But Kennedy downplayed the issue and “Castro’s enemies, including Phillips, became even more furious,” Veciana says.

Veciana confirms how he met Kennedy’s alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, in the lobby of the Southland Center, the tallest building in Dallas, where he was introduced by Bishop.

“That was full of people, but Bishop, standing in a corner, was talking to a young man, pale, insubstantial. When he introduced me, I do not remember if he did it by his name (he might have said, ‘Tony, this is Lee. Lee, this is Tony.) But what I’m sure of is that Lee did not say anything. “

Following the assassination in Dallas on November 22, 1963, Oswald was arrested, and his face was broadcast on television. “I recognized him immediately,” writes Veciana. “He was, without a doubt, the same pale, insignificant young man he had seen eleven weeks before in the company of Maurice Bishop. “

Veciana recalls that early in 1964, the agency man asked if a cousin of his who was a Cuban intelligence officer would be willing to state that he had conspired with Oswald before JFK was killed. Phillips offered to pay for such testimony, but Veciana replied that his cousin was a communist and could not be bought.

A decade later in 1975, when the JFK investigation was reopened, a congressional investigator, knowing that Veciana had worked for the CIA, approached him to learn more about how the agency collaborated with Cuban exiles. Veciana told her the story of her work with Bishop, including meeting with Oswald. Arrangements were made for an artist to draw a picture of Bishop based on Veciana’s description and the result was a portrait that closely resembled Phillips. Veciana was then taken to Washington for a meeting with Phillips, but he pretended not to know Veciana who, out of fear of reprisals from the CIA ,denied that Bishop and Phillips were the same person. “A lie that I have maintained until today,” emphasizes Veciana.

Certainly, in the confessions of this bloodthirsty terrorist there are elements that contribute data to the clarification of some half truths and manipulations in the criminal history of the USA.

A CubaNews translation by Walter Lippmann.

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Manuel E. Yepe is a lawyer, economist and journalist. He is a professor at the Higher Institute of International Relations in Havana.

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