The Castro-Kennedy connection

April 04, 1995|By Georgie Anne Geyer

Washington -- THE DOCUMENTS are dramatic. Just released from the National Archives are reports indicating that Cuban President Fidel Castro, after John F. Kennedy's assassination, staged an elaborate replay of the death. A sharpshooter himself, the Cuban president attempted to re-create the shooting, using a high-powered rifle with telescopic sight similar to Lee Harvey Oswald's.

A memo from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover quoted unnamed FBI informants as reporting that "conducting the tests was Castro's own personal idea to prove to himself that it could not have been the work of one man."

According to the informants, two brothers who were former leaders of the American Communist Party, Fidel Castro concluded that Oswald could not have done this job alone and could not have fired the rifle three times in succession and hit the target with that telescopic arrangement, but needed the help of at least two other men.

And that, of course, is the opposite of the conclusions of the Warren Commission, which says the shooting was the act of Oswald alone.

Well, this is interesting -- and not just interesting in the immediate way it seems.

Consider first the idea of Fidel Castro mocking up the Kennedy assassination site. You can just picture the "barbudo's" intent manner as he studied the kind of violence he himself knew so well. You can sense his concentration as he placed the rifles, somehow re-creating the conditions of Dealey Plaza in Dallas. It seems odd, but in truth it is not; for this is just the kind of thing that Fidel Castro has done all his life.

After he won the revolution in 1959, for instance, he created a huge sand mock-up of the entire Sierra Maestra mountain area from which he waged the revolution. Often he took visitors to see the mock-up where it stood on a large table outside his office in the National Palace. There he would studiously show them how he waged his classic guerrilla battles that brought him to the point where he is now -- the most longevous leader in power in the entire world.

At another time, after the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1980, when Mr. Castro was stunned by the news, he immediately ordered his men to get videos of the murder by Egyptian soldiers. He played them over and over, obsessively studying the tactics and techniques of these assassins.

What was Fidel up to? Well, whatever else he is, Mr. Castro is a cunning political sorcerer who might have stepped out of the pages of Machiavelli, brushed off the dust of history, and got to work on the 20th century. All his life, he studied not only men of leadership (at his Jesuit high school in Havana, he made special studies of Hitler, Mussolini and Primo de Rivera), but also great historical events. He said he wanted to "die in bed," like his fellow Spanish caudillo, Generalissimo Francisco Franco -- and knowing about human nature would help to make that possible.

Yes, but what does all this add -- or not add -- to our still woefully incomplete knowledge of the death of an American president and to the death of an age? Here one needs to remain very suspicious indeed; one needs to draw on the same wellsprings of cunning and contradiction that Fidel draws from.

It is just the kind of thing that he could have set up to throw suspicions off him. It's the kind of double play that many of his type of shrewd leaders excel at.

We are still faced with the fact that so much of the information on the assassination points to some kind of Castro involvement. President Johnson, who named the Warren Commission and personally released its 1964 report, told at least four people that he was convinced that Fidel Castro was behind the assassination. And Oswald's strange journey to Mexico, where he was invited to intimate little dinners with Cuban diplomats, points to a Castro involvement that is hard to deny.

So, yes, the information is very interesting. But one must remember that in the minds and souls of men such as Fidel, the events they craft are often not at all what they appear to be. These leaders spend their lives and psychic fortunes setting up deceptions.

Thus in some ways, this new information only leads us back to one truth: We still do not really know who killed John F. Kennedy.

Georgie Anne Geyer is a syndicated columnist.

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