The committee investigated other aspects of Oswald's trip to Mexico City in September 1963 to see if it could develop information that bore on the question of a Cuban conspiracy. It considered the claim by the Cuban consul in Mexico City in 1963, Eusebio Azcue, that a man posing as Oswald applied for a Cuban visa. 14 It also investigated two plausible, though unsubstantiated, allegations of activities that had not previously been publicly revealed:
That of a Mexican author, Elena Garro de Paz, who claimed that Oswald and two companions had attended a "twist" party at the home of Ruben Duran, brother-in-law of Silvia Duran, the secretary of Cuban consul Azcue who dealt with Oswald when he applied at the consulate for a Cuban visa.(164)
That of a Mexican named Oscar Contreras who, in 1967, claimed he had met Oswald on the campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. (165)
The committee conducted extensive interviews with respect to these allegations. (166)
The significance of the Elena Garro allegation, aside from its pointing to Oswald associations in Mexico City that the Warren Commis-
13In addition to a tape-recorded interview with President Castro in Havana, the committee heard testimony in public hearing from two former Cuban counsuls in Mexico City, Eusebio Azcue and Alfredo Mirabel, and it tape-recorded an interview with Silvia Duran, a secretary at the Cuban Consulate in Mexico City in 1963 who had had one or more encounters with Oswald.
14Details of the issue of an alleged Oswald imposter are presented in section I D 4.
sion did not investigate, lay in her description of one of the companions as gaunt and blond-haired. (167) These are characteristics that both Azcue and Silvia Duran attributed to the visitor to the Cuban consulate who identified himself as Lee Harvey Oswald. (168) Even though "gaunt and blond-haired" did not describe Oswald, Duran said that the American visitor was the man later arrested in the assassination of the President. (169) Azcue, on the other hand, insisted that the visitor was not the individual whose published photograph was that of Oswald. (170)
The committee was unable to obtain corroboration for the Elena Garro allegation, although Silvia Duran did confirm that there was a "twist" party at her brother-in-law's home in the fall of 1963 and that Elena Garro was there. (171) She denied, however, that Oswald was there, insisting that she never saw Oswald outside of the Cuban consulate.(172) The committee was unable to check the story with official U.S. investigative agencies because they failed to pursue it, even though they were aware of it in 1964.15
The committee's investigation was sufficient, however, to develop a conclusion that the Elena Garro allegation had warranted investigation when it was first received by the CIA in October 1964. Even in the late 1960's, at a time when Garro and others were available for questioning, there was still the potential for sufficient corroboration 16 to make the allegation worth pursuing. Further, while the allegation did not specifically show a Cuban conspiracy, it did indicate significant Oswald associations that were not known to the Warren Commission.
The other Oswald association in Mexico City that might have proven significant, had it been pursued, was the one alleged by Oscar Contreras, a student at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. The committee made an effort to investigate this allegation. Silvia Duran, for example, admitted to the committee. that she had advised Oswald he might obtain a Cuban visa if he could get a letter of recommendation from a Mexican in good standing with the Cuban revolutionary hierarchy. (175) The committee also learned that the chairman of the philosophy department at the National Autonomous University, Ricardo Guerra, held seminars from time to time at the Duran home on Kant, Hegel, and Marx. (176) The committee speculated that these circumstances might explain why Oswald contacted Contreras, who reported to Mexican authorities that Oswald approached him in Sept-
15The committee's investigation in Mexico City was further inhibited by the refusal of the CIA to make available its sources on the Elena Garro allegation, and, as a committee of the U.S. Congress in a foreign country, it was bound by a decision of the Mexican Government to permit its citizens to decide individually if they wished to meet with committee representatives (173)
The CIA, moreover, had failed to pursue the Elena Garro allegation adequately in 1964. A review of the CIA file indicated that the allegation was treated skeptically because Agency officials apparently considered Elena Garro to be other than totally rational. Inquiries of sources were ordered, but the files do not indicate that any responses were actively solicited or, in fact, received. The Agency files on this aspect of the case are devoid of any substance that would suggest an active CIA investigation.
The committee did ultimately locate Elena Garro in Europe, but attempts by telephone to persuade her to come to the United States to testify did not succeed (174).
16Elena Garro maintained that after the assassination she wanted to report her story to authorities but that she was warned of possible danger by a man named Manuel Calvillo. Elena Garro, alleged that Calvillo placed her in the Hotel Vermont in Mexico City where she remained for several days. In 1967, the CIA did in fact receive confirmation of Elena Garro's stay at the Hotel Vermont immediately after the assassination.
tember 1963 following a roundtable discussion at the school of philosophy. 17
The committee's attempts to contact Contreras were frustrated. On two occasions, the Mexican Government said he would be available for an interview, but neither materialized. The committee also was unable to contract Guerra. who in 1978 was Mexico's Ambassador to East Germany. (177) The significance of the Contreras allegation, therefore, remains largely indeterminate.
The committee also pondered what deductions might be drawn from Azcue's conviction that the man who applied for a Cuban visa was not Oswald. One possibility considered, although ultimately rejected by the committee, was that there was a sinister association between Oswald and the Castro regime that Azcue was attempting to conceal.
The committee weighed the evidence on both sides of the Oswald-at-the-Cuban-consulate issue:
That it was Oswald was indicated by the testimony of Silvia Duran and Alfredo Mirabal, who was in the process of succeeding Azcue as Cuban consul when the visit occurred in late September 1963. They both identified Oswald from post-assassination photographs as the man who applied for a Cuban visa.
That it was not Oswald was a possibility raised by the committee's inability to secure a photograph of him entering or leaving the Soviet Embassy or the Cuban consulate. The committee obtained evidence from the Cuban Government that such photographs were being taken routinely in 1963. Further, the committee found that Oswald paid at least five visits to the Soviet Embassy or the Cuban consulate. 18 (178)
The committee also sought to understand the significance of a Secret Service investigation of threats against President Kennedy by pro-Castro Cubans. In April 1961, for example, when the President and Mrs. Kennedy were scheduled to address a special meeting of the Council of the Organization of American States, the State Department reported that Cuba would be represented by one Quentin Pino Machado. Machado, a Cuban diplomat, described as a character of ill repute, armed and dangerous, ultimately did not attend the meeting. (179)
On November 27, 1963, a Miami Secret Service informant told Special Agent Ernest Aragon that if the assassination involved an international plot in which Castro had participated, then Castro's agent in the plot would have been Machado, a well-known terrorist. There were
17The Contreras story, as in the case of the Elena Garro allegation, was not adequately pursued when it first came to the attention of the CIA in 1967. At that time, the Agency was informed by the U.S. Consul in Tampico, Mexico, that Contreras had passed the information to him. An Agency employee later discussed the matter in more detail with the Consul and then met with Contreras himself. The CIA confirmed that Contreras had been a student in 1963 and was politically a strong supporter of Fidel Castro. The Contreras story was considered, according to Agency files, to be the first significant development in the investigation of the Kennedy assassination after 1965. Nevertheless, no attempt was made to determine who Contreras' associates were or how Oswald might have contacted him. Instead, the case was simply reported to the FBI. According to FBI files, no follow-up investigation was conducted.
18The committee believed that photographs of Oswald might have been taken and subsequently lost or destroyed. The committee did obtain a photograph of a man whose description seemed to match that given by Azcue and Duran of the "gaunt and blond-haired" visitor to the Cuban consulate. They each stated, however, that he was not the man they had described as the one who, in the name of Lee Harvey Oswald, had applied for a visa to Cuba.
rumors in the Miami Cuban community at the time that Machado had been assigned to escort Oswald from Texas to Cuhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifba after the assassination. The plan went awry, the report continued, because Oswald had not been wearing clothing of a prearranged color and because of the shooting of Dallas Patrolman J.D. Tippit.(180)
The reports on Machado, along with other suspicions of Castro complicity in the assassination, were forwarded only in brief summary form by the Secret Service to the Warren Commission. The committee could find no record of follow-up action. (181) The committee's investigation of actions by the Secret Service subsequent to the assassination, however, revealed the most extensive work of the Agency to have been in response to reports of pro-Castro Cuban involvement. (182)