Rolando Cubela, who plotted with the CIA to kill Castro of Cuba, dies at 89
Mr. Cubela, who died on August 23 in Doral, Florida, at 89, would spend the next 13 years in prison – closing one of the most intriguing footnotes to the turbulent years following the overthrow of the guerrillas of Castro. Fulgencio Batista Favorable regime in the United States in 1959.
Mr. Cubela’s path to a Havana prison cell included clandestine meetings with CIA agents in Europe, code names, ideas for killing Castro, including a poison pen and suspicions that Mr Cubela may have played both sides as a double agent, according to declassified US documents.
Mr. Cubela’s turn against Castro was a particularly hard blow for the Cuban leader. During the revolution, an alliance between Castro’s guerrillas and factions led by Mr. Cubela avoided rivalries between anti-Batista forces and proved crucial in critical battles against government troops in recent months, he said. said Arturo Lopez-Levy, a researcher at the University of Denver Korbel School‘s Latin America Center.
“It’s hard to say if Cubela was seriously plotting to kill Castro, but if anyone could have, it could have been Cubela,” he said.
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Mr. Cubela, who studied medicine in Havana, rose to prominence in an astonishing way: by participating in the murder of a senior military intelligence officer, Colonel Antonio Blanco Rico, in a Havana nightclub in October 1956.
The following year, members of Mr. Cubela’s group, known as the Student Revolutionary Direction, or DRE, attempted to storm Batista’s presidential palace, but were repelled after clashes left many casualties on both sides. DRE co-founder José Echeverría was killed in a simultaneous attack on a radio station in Havana.
Fearing arrest, Mr. Cubela smuggled himself onto a merchant ship bound for Florida. He returned to Cuba by ship in February 1958, later uniting Directorate units with Castro in a decisive victory over government troops in December. Batista fled Cuba on New Year’s Day 1959.
Mr. Cubela was firmly in Castro’s inner circle after he took power. He proudly sported a long scar, from the right shoulder to the biceps, following an injury during a fight. Yet as Castro consolidated control, Mr. Cubela was increasingly dismayed by his embrace of communism and strongman rule.
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A 1967 of the inspector general report on conspiracies to assassinate Castro, made public in 1998, outlined Mr. Cubela’s overtures to the CIA and then his growing involvement in covert planning, given the pseudonym “Amlash”.
A January 1965 CIA memo, published as part of the Inspector General’s report, called Mr. Cubela “a representative of an internal military splinter group, which was plotting to overthrow Castro.”
In July 1962 – while the Kennedy administration was still reeling from the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion – Mr. Cubela met CIA contacts at a Helsinki nightclub. Mr. Cubela agreed to stay in Cuba to “continue the fight there”, says the inspector general’s report. His demand in return: to be “given a very big role to play” if Castro was impeached. Mr. Cubela received clandestine training at a CIA refuge in France.
In the fall of 1963, Mr. Cubela was in Paris as a new CIA plot was being hatched – possibly Mr. Cubela was using a ballpoint pen filled with a poisonous alkaloid known as black sheet 40 delivered by an ultra-thin syringe, according to the report. There was an emergency in the secret teams in Washington. Earlier ideas of hitting Castro, including the use of hitmen or poison cigars, crumbled.
Shortly after Mr. Cubela examined the pen on November 22, 1963, they learned that President John F. Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. “Cubela was visibly moved” the report said, “and asked ‘Why do such things happen to the right people?’ “The pen plot has been abandoned.
Mr. Cubela wanted weapons, including a sniper rifle with a scope and a silencer, according to the report. The CIA arranged for Mr. Cubela to meet Manuel Artíme, a prominent US-based anti-Castro activist, in Madrid in 1964. Artíme agreed to supply the rifle and a handgun, which Mr. Cubela managed to smuggle into Cuba in early 1965.
Soon, however, rumors began to circulate in Cuba of plots against Castro. The CIA terminated ties with Mr. Cubela for “security reasons”, wrote Brian Latell in his book 2012“Castro’s Secrets: The CIA and Cuba’s Intelligence Machine.”
The breakup raised suspicions that Mr. Cubela may be under Cuban surveillance or working as a double agent, leaking information to people in the Castro regime to curry favor or trying to build his network for post-Castro leadership.
For years, the CIA had been suspicious of Mr Cubela after he refused to take a polygraph test, according to the inspector general’s report. Artime was also considered a wildcard, according to the Inspector General’s report. National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy “acknowledged that Artíme was a firecracker among us,” a memo read.
In a tape of Castro’s remarks played in 1978 before a House committee, the Cuban leader said Cubela had been tried and convicted “for the plots against our lives,” but said he had no had knowledge of the CIA’s support of Mr. Cubela until the Senate investigations.
On February 28, 1966, Mr. Cubela was arrested in Havana. At the same time, the Cuban secret police were rounding up others who would join Mr. Cubela in the trial, including Ramon Guin Diaz, another former commander-in-chief of Castro’s forces.
During the trial, Mr Cubela described himself as falling into personal turmoil and self-destructive indulgence. (Previously US rated. document Mr. Cubela said “would have liked to drink, likes jokes and is social, friendly and friendly”.)
“I was the bearer of a series of concerns and contradictions, the fruit of a long fight after the triumph of the revolution,” he told the court, claiming to have led “a disorderly life, a life of celebrations , cabarets, a completely crazy life. I was breaking down and deteriorating.
Rolando Cubela Secades was born in Cienfuegos, Cuba on January 19, 1933, and was active in student affairs while studying medicine in Havana. He joined the Student Revolutionary Leadership after Batista seized power in a military coup in 1952.
Mr. Cubela was released from prison in August 1979 as part of a deal with the Carter administration that freed thousands of political detainees in Cuba. Mr. Cubela moved to Madrid, where he worked as a cardiologist and took part in several rallies calling for more freedoms in Cuba. He moved to Miami after his retirement.
His death was announced on Facebook by Alfredo Fernández-Gamez, a prominent member of the Cuban-American community in South Florida and a friend of Mr. Cubela. Cubacute, a Spanish-language news site in Miami, said Mr. Cubela’s sister, Caridad Cubela Secades, told Spanish news agency EFE that Mr. Cubela died at a hospital in Doral, Florida. , respiratory problems. Complete information about the survivors was not immediately available.
The Inspector General’s report states that none of Mr. Cubela’s “dealings with the CIA from March 1961 to November 1964 were mentioned in the trial”, with the evidence focusing on Mr. Cubela’s meetings with Artíme .
“Had the full details of Cubela’s involvement with the CIA been revealed in court,” the report continues, “Castro might have had few excuses to seek clemency.”