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George and Félix: the tale of two old friends

BY JEAN-GUY ALLARD (Special for Granma International), 7/24/02

• They first met in 1960 • One was the owner of a oil prospecting company and CIA member • The other, a fugitive and former agent of dictator Fulgencio Batista’s repressive apparatus • After four decades of parallel activities, the U.S. president and his father meet up with the CIA’s most infamous Cuban-American agents

THEY say that George, a CIA agent at the time, got to know Félix, a former member of Batista’s police force, when he was recruiting Cuban immigrants to form a troop of killers and saboteurs for actions on Cuban territory at the same time as the Bay of Pigs invasion.

George denies it; Félix won’t talk about it. But various researchers firmly confirm it, backed-up by declassified documents.

Despite living in Houston, Texas, George Herbert Walker Bush traveled to Miami every week in 1960-61 to take an active part in the creation of Operation 40, the special troop conceived by CIA deputy director Charles Cabell. That was how George recruited Félix, but he also met with various people of that ilk such as Luis Posada Carriles, Frank Sturgis, E. Howard Hunt, Rafael Quintero, José Basulto, Herminio Díaz and Bernard Barker — all subsequently linked to dirty tricks attributed to members of the Miami mafia. And, most importantly, to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Nephew of José Antonio "Toto" Mendigutia Silvera, minister of public works and close collaborator of Fulgencio Batista, the young Félix Rodríguez (or more precisely Félix Ismael Fernando José Rodríguez Mendiglutia), former Havana Military Academy student and member of Batista’s repressive apparatus, had all the characteristics for success within the CIA’s elite group.

George Bush was also watching over his business interests in Houston, New Orleans and Miami: Zapata Petroleum was founded in 1953 in association with the Liedtke brothers. But he was particularly interested in Zapata Offshore, a subsidiary company later identified as a CIA front.

The newly recruited Félix Rodríguez left for the U.S. base at the Panama Canal, receiving training in sabotage and terrorism. Some months later, at the end of 1960, the CIA gave him his first mission. On February 14, 1961 he and other agents arrived in Cuba aboard a vessel that dropped them off in the vicinity of Arcos de Canasi, on the border of Habana and Matanzas provinces.

They landed with two tons of equipment and explosives, discovered a few days later by Cuban state security, thanks to an agent infiltrated in the operation.

Félix Rodríguez also came with orders for the island’s counterrevolutionaries; among other things they were to blow up the bridge at Bacunayagua at the same time as the planned invasion.


According to former CIA agent Fletcher Prouty, it was George Bush himself who handed over three boats to the intelligence agency’s agents in Guatemala who were preparing the operation. The vessels were named Barbara (his wife’s name), Houston (his city) and Zapata (his company).

The moment for the famous invasion arrived. It failed miserably in less than 72 hours. Not only did the Cuban Revolution crush the invading army but over one thousand mercenaries were captured.

Pursued by state security, Rodríguez hid in a counterrevolutionary´s house. He contacted a Spanish embassy official, a CIA collaborator, who helped him leave the country.

After the Bay of Pigs failure, the Miami extremists furiously accused the Kennedy government of having "betrayed" them. But the president was also furious. He sacked Allen Dulles, the CIA’s director, its deputy director Charles Cabell, and Dick Bissell, the head of undercover operations.

Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Some of those investigating the matter considered the possible implication of various Cuban conspirators, including Félix Rodríguez, Frank Sturgis, Herminio Díaz, Orlando Bosch and the Guillermo Brothers, plus Ignacio Novo Sampoll. However, the role of George Bush, Richard Nixon and various Texas oil barons was also brought into question.

On the day of Kennedy’s murder, George Bush was in Texas. He has always maintained that he can’t recollect his precise movements. Neither does Félix Rodríguez remember his.

Nevertheless, years later a letter written by FBI head J. Edgar Hoover — explaining that a certain Mr. George Bush of the CIA had been informed of the reaction of Miami’s Cuban-American circles after the assassination — was declassified.


On his return from Cuba and on CIA orders, Félix Rodríguez passed a course in Fort Benning alongside the most fanatical elements of Operation 40 — including Luis Posada Carriles, later called the hemisphere’s most dangerous terrorist. Also on the course was Jorge Mas Canosa, founder and leader of the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF).

Rodríguez was then dispatched to Nicaragua with a group of agents that attacked the Spanish vessel Sierra de Aranzazu in reprisal for Spain’s relations with Cuba. The terrorist attack created such a scandal that the CIA withdrew its anti-Cuban, allegedly elite, troops.

In 1964, George Bush ran for Congress as part of the team of presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, an advocate of nuclear weapons. He failed to win. In 1966 however, he was elected as a moderate.

The following year, under the name Félix Ramos Medina, Félix Rodríguez was in Bolivia acting as a CIA linkman in the company’s attempts to find Ernesto "Che" Guevara. He was assigned to the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, and later to Valle Grande. On October 9, he flew by helicopter to La Higuera to interrogate Che. After questioning the famous guerrilla — to no avail, despite applying all the brutal tactics taught by his Fort Benning instructors — Félix "Ramos" Rodríguez followed his bosses’ instructions and ordered a Bolivian soldier to kill the prisoner.

Afterwards, imitating some soldiers who were present, the CIA man let off a round over Che’s body.

These days he brags about having "killed Che." He possesses the guerrilla’s Rolex watch and a transcript of the interrogation.

Richard Nixon was in the White House from 1968-73. During that time, George Bush headed the National Republican Committee, maintaining strong contacts with the Cuban-Americans. "Eminent" Miami mafia member Bebe Rebozo was a close friend of his.

On February 24, 1969, Rodríguez obtained U.S. citizenship. The CIA then sent him to Viet Nam, where he spent his time torturing and interrogating prisoners, employing extreme violence. He was an active participant in the Phoenix Program, a severely repressive operation that, according to former CIA chief William Colby, left 26,369 dead out of the 33,350 people detained in U.S. interrogation centers.

In 1970, Bush stood as a Senate candidate. He failed to get elected.

That same year, Félix Rodríguez joined Air America, another CIA front company, trafficking heroin from Laos to the U.S. drugs network of former Havana godfather Santos Traficante. The purpose of the smuggling was to influence the Laotian conflict by winning the support of isolated communities. The operation was led by Donald Gregg, who took his orders from Theodore Shackley.

It was on this job that George’s buddy learnt the trade he was to practice years later in Central America.

In 1971, Nixon named Bush ambassador to the United Nations.

Two years later, the Watergate scandal — breaking and entering the Democratic Party’s Washington headquarters — erupted. The suspects were certain Cuban immigrants and CIA agents linked to the failed Bay of Pigs invasion: Frank Sturgis, E. Howard Hunt, Eugenio Rolando Martínez and Bernard Baker. And Félix Rodríguez.


August 1974 saw Nixon’s successor, President Gerald Ford, appoint George Bush as head of the CIA. Orlando Bosch was put in charge of gathering all the Miami terrorist groups under one single umbrella, the infamous CORU, later responsible for around 100 acts of terrorism in over 25 countries.

Félix Rodríguez collaborated with Bush, fulfilling various "missions" in Uruguay, Brazil, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

It was Bush himself who disinformed Congress on the most disastrous CORU attempt — the explosion aboard a Cubana aircraft in mid-flight, causing the death of 73 persons.

Nevertheless, the Venezuelan police identified Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles as those responsible for the attack. Both were arrested and imprisoned.

Bush also disinformed Congress over the death of Orlando Letelier, former Chilean minister and one-time ambassador to the United States, and that of his assistant, human rights activist Ms. Ronni Moffit. The two were murdered in broad daylight in Washington by Pinochet agents and Cuban-American killers, "loaned" by the Guillermo Brothers and Ignacio Novo Sampoll, more of Félix Rodríguez’s Operation 40 cronies.

It is now known that the CIA was not only aware of the assassination plot, but Bush himself was responsible for deflecting the FBI’s investigations, by laying false trails in the press.

Taking advantage of his job, Bush composed a rather strange internal memo asking for a copy of a report concerning a visit by Jack Ruby (killer of Lee Harvey Oswald — Kennedy’s alleged assassin) to infamous Havana mafia leader Santos Traficante, who had immigrated to the United States and was a CIA collaborator at the time Letelier and Moffit were killed. In 1976, Rodríguez was awarded a medal for bravery by Bush. Shortly afterwards, he received death threats, so the CIA installed a security system at his home and gave him an armored car. In 1979, he linked up with an arms dealer in South America, in association with Ted Shackley, his old boss in Saigon.

The following year, Ronald Reagan backed Bush as candidate for vice president.


In 1982, CIA director William Casey launched Operation Black Eagle to expand the U.S. role in Central America. Mercenaries were recruited to form the Nicaraguan Contras; Casey was under orders from George Bush.

In Florida, George’s son Jeb was entwined with the Cuban-American mafia, the Contras and Nicaraguan immigrants. Jeb fraternized with ultra-right Cuban-American mafioso Leonel Martínez, the drug trafficker connected to Nicaraguan dissidents and CIA agent Eden Pastora.

That August, George Bush appointed Donald Gregg (from the Laos says) as National Security Advisor. Gregg sent Félix Rodríguez on support missions to the Nicaraguan Contras.

Along with José Basulto, current head of Brothers to the Rescue, Rodríguez organized what was later to be called the largest rerouting of social security funds in U.S. history. With the complicity of Jeb Bush’s pal Cuban-American Miguel Recarey, he used a large portion of federal subsidies earmarked for Miami’s public health services in order to illegally organize hospital care for Nicaraguan Contra mercenaries.

October 1984: Gerald Latchinian, deputy director of Giro Aviation — a CIA airline company run by Félix Rodríguez — was arrested and detained for importing a consignment of cocaine worth $10 million dollars, supposedly to finance the assassination of the Honduran president Roberto Suazo Cordova. Latchinian later confirmed that the operation was the work of the CIA.


At the end of 1984 Donald Gregg introduced Colonel Oliver North, chief of U.S. operations in Central America, to Félix Rodríguez. It is said that Gregg had an autographed photo of Rodríguez on his desk.

Bush and Rodríguez met in January 1985. In June, the latter met with Gregg and Colonel Steele, the man responsible for the Contras’ supplies. Rodríguez then resurfaced in El Salvador to take charge of aerial operations at the Ilopango base. At that time he was using the name Max Gómez.

From that moment on, the former Operation 40 member was chief coordinator for transporting massive amounts of cocaine from Colombia to the United States.

As Rodriguez was their main aide, the CIA offered him his old pal arch-terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, who masterminded the Cubana aircraft sabotage. With CIA and CANF help, Posada Carriles had just escaped from a Venezuelan jail dressed as a priest and was now using the name Ramón Medina.


Sometime later, former DEA (Drugs Enforcement Agency) agent Celerino Castillo III told the House of Representative’s intelligence committee how his informers discovered warehouses of drugs, weapons and money at the Ilopango Base. He added that it was noted that many Contra pilots were listed as drug traffickers in DEA dossiers.

"I discovered that other agencies were sleeping with the enemy," stated Castillo in an interview with the Dallas Morning News.

On January 18, 1985, Rodríguez met with Roberto Milán-Rodríguez, the Medellín cartel’s money-laundering specialist, who boasted of already having laundered over 1.5 billion dollars for that organization. Milán-Rodríguez handed over $10 million USD, destined for the Nicaraguan Contras.

On May 8, 1985, Bush’s office received a warning from Rodríguez that a C-123 aircraft had been brought down by the Nicaraguan Armed Forces. The pilot, Eugene Hassenfus, confessed to working for the CIA and taking his orders from Max Gómez (Félix Rodríguez) and Ramón Medina (Luis Posada Carriles).

In December 1985, George Bush openly and unashamedly received his friend Félix Rodríguez — torturer, murderer, thief and drug trafficker — at the White House. With official photographs and full protocol. Rodríguez participated in the Christmas festivities held there. Bush introduced him as an old friend of his and Gregg’s.

A few days later in Bush’s office, Rodríguez met with Colonel Sam Watson, Gregg’s personal representative in El Salvador, plus Colonel Steele, to discuss strategy in the Contras’ fight.

During 1986, Vice president Bush officially toured Honduras, offering support to the Contras.

In May, Rodríguez met with Bush, Gregg and Oliver North in Washington.

In September he visited Bush and Donald Gregg to complain about the quality of weapons sent by one Richard Secord. Gregg ordered that the weapons should be bought directly from one of Rodríguez’ own sources.

In October of the same year, General Singlaub complained of Rodríguez’ "daily contacts" with Bush’s office, citing his fears that such contact could endanger President Reagan and the Republican Party.

And of course, behind the operational team lurked the shadow of Otto Reich, head of the public diplomacy office and the man in charge of disinforming the U.S. people. When the Iran-Contra scandal broke, Reich was immediately dispatched as ambassador to Venezuela, where he orchestrated the release and "rehabilitation" of Posada’s accomplice, killer doctor Orlando Bosch.

In 1988, a Senate commission headed by Senator John Kerry investigated the scandalous drugs and weapons trafficking operation involving Oliver North, Donald Gregg, John Poindexter, Elliott Abrams, Otto Reich, Richard

Armitage, John Negroponte, Mitch Daniels and other George Bush accomplices in the empire’s war in Nicaragua.

And we mustn’t forget the secret accomplice — Félix Rodríguez. He will also have to stand up and be counted, although he’s apparently well sorted out: on Christmas Eve, Bush wrote him a personal greeting enigmatically informing him that he’d earned a lot of respect in the process.


In 1989, George Bush finally became president. Félix Rodríguez was present at the new president’s investiture, alongside his great friend General Rafael Bustillos, head of...the El Salvadoran airforce.

Despite Rodríguez’ statement that he was no longer with the CIA, Rolling Stone weekly revealed that he continued visiting the Agency once a month to receive instructions, and that he’d taken his bullet-proof Cadillac there to be serviced.

In that same year, Bush released Orlando Bosch from the cells of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, where he’d been imprisoned since he was sprung from Venezuela — thanks to Otto Reich who, at that time, was U.S. ambassador to Caracas and likewise a CIA agent.

In 1994, George W. Bush was elected governor of Texas. And was already dreaming of becoming president.

In 1998, Jeb Bush was given the job of Florida governor. He had the full backing of his "partners" in Miami; "He’s one of us," crowed CANF leader Jorge Mas Canosa.

In 2000, George W. Bush was named president of the United States, thanks to a five to four Supreme Court vote and after an intensive campaign by the Miami mafia.

They say that George is still active behind the scenes. Every week he requests a tailor-made report from the CIA. He assesses his son. Nominations to posts alone reveal to what extent… And dozens of members of the Miami Connection can be found at all levels of the new administration.

Félix meanwhile strolls around Miami, meeting with his network of former agents, killers, conspirators… in the full light of day. After all, he’s a "close friend" of George’s.

He lives in Miami-Dade county. His trophies are displayed in his living room: firearms, grenades, bayonets, photos with George, the belongings of prisoners tortured in Viet Nam and South America. Even some jewelry from a murdered Salvadoran guerrilla; plus innumerable medals and decorations.

They say that he was there on May 20 listening to George Jr. announcing his plans for a "new democratic Cuba" to an audience of former Batista torturers, mafiosi and other varieties of extremists. A plan designed to match the profiles of his audience.


During the trial of the Miami Five, it was revealed that one of the Cuban patriots had a chance weekend sighting of Félix Rodríguez, waiting in line behind him at a Costco supermarket checkout in Miami. He was able to observe the blasé way this torturer, murderer, thief and drug trafficker left the store and got in his luxury vehicle at the shopping mall parking lot.

Félix Rodríguez — associate of arch-terrorists Posada and Bosch, Saigon torturer, Watergate thief, killer in Bolivia, drug trafficker in Laos and El Salvador, is free to walk the streets of Miami and continue committing crimes.

Meanwhile, the Five patriots, victims of CIA and FBI conspiracies, are cruelly isolated in five different jails located in the vast territory of the United States.

Those five patriots risked their lives to counteract the plans of individuals who, from the sidewalks of Miami to the corridors of the White House, continue conspiring to commit new crimes against the Cuban Revolution.

A Christmas 1988 greeting from President George Bush to his torturer, killer, thief and drug trafficking friend Félix Rodríguez. The tone is revealing: "Dear Félix, Thank you for your note of December 18. Yes, the truth is powerful. You have told the truth faithfully and have won a lot of respect in the process. Good luck. May 1989 be calmer than 1988 and may it be full of great happiness for you. With admiration and respect, George Bush."






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