SPEECH BY COMMANDER FIDEL CASTRO, FIRST SECRETARY OF THE UNITED PARTY OF THE SOCIALIST REVOLUTION AND PRIMER MINISTER OF THE REVOLUTIONARY GOVERNMENT IN THE MEMORIAL CEREMONY OF NOVEMBER 27TH, HELD AT THE STAIRWAY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF HAVANA, NOVEMBER 27TH, 1963.
Translation produced by 'Our Hidden History'.
Days ago, while on an almost customary visit to the University of Havana, I thought -- as I was talking to a group of students -- that this November 27th would be a good opportunity to address, from this university grandstand, a number of issues of interest to our country, of interest to our economy, and of interest to you. But then a series of events took place. Or better said, a single international event of great importance -- and above all one very revealing of the state of decomposition of the imperialist society. An event which made our people shift their attention towards the analysis of this event and give due attention to such event.
Afterwards and due to different reasons - precisely yesterday - we had a meeting with high school students. On that occasion, some of the issues that we had planned to deal with here today were brought up before those students. With this I mean to tell you that this November 27th has come about not with the characteristics we would have liked -- meaning without other problems that were not purely technical problems, academic problems, things related to students and learning.
That is why, it seems to me, I sense that in no way I will be very satisfied, because I thought that this was going to be the day on which to address a number of issues related to the economy, to education, to a lot of things. But about this other issue we have to say something nonetheless -- I mean the topic of which we would have preferred not to talk about here.
I will refer as briefly as possible to the matter of the murder of the President of the United States. Events have been taking place which are gradually exposing the whole maneuver -- the dirty, unconscionable operation behind it. It is a plot against peace, a sinister conspiracy that is increasingly clear in the imagination, as are those responsible for that event.
Every day the public opinion around the world receives more and more evidence that lays bare -- that completely unmasks the maneuver that was woven against the world and (as part of that world) especially against our country. There are a whole series of strange things that become stranger by the day --- things that every day weaken the fabrications and insinuations that were made after Kennedy’s death. There have been a whole series of events about which the world has begun to think, about which everyone has started to think, and the more they think about them, the less they make sense.
Today, for example, a shooting champion who can be called a shooting specialist, an Olympic shooting champion (I believe his name is Hubert Hammerer) declared in Vienna that it is improbable that a shooter equipped with a repeating rifle with a telescopic sight can hit the mark three times in a row in a timespan of five seconds while shooting at a target 180 meters away that moves at a speed of 15 kilometers per hour. Quite a number of details are starting to emerge.
While we were reading this news cable, we remembered some experiences on these issues, especially on issues regarding rifles with telescopic sights. When we landed in Cuba we had half a hundred rifles with telescopic sights, and we had prepared them very well. We had practiced a lot with those rifles. We know perfectly well all the features of such a rifle, because we had rifles of different capacities. And one of the difficulties of a rifle with telescopic sight is that once you start to shoot at a target, the target gets out of focus as a result of the shot -- just as a result of the shot -- so it is necessary to find it again quickly, especially when you have to work the bolt again. At the beginning we were told that an automatic rifle had been used, then we were told that it was not automatic or a semiautomatic, but a bolt-action rifle. With that kind of weapon it is really difficult to do three consecutive shots; but above all, it is difficult to hit the target, almost impossible.
We remembered certain shooting competitions which are held in different countries. For example, in Mexico, there is an amateur shooting competition in which a lamb is set loose at a given point and it runs through the hills – I think it runs over a distance of 200 meters – and as it runs, three shots are allowed. The best shooters, with sufficient time on their hands and with total calm, very rarely hit the target twice as the animal runs the distance. And only in exceptional situations do they hit it three times – and this is with a lot of time at their disposal and absolute calm, absolute tranquility.
And in most cases this is not done with telescopic sight rifles, but with the so called "Lyman sight" rifle, which is the one used for the American Garand rifles. These are shooting rifles with a small circle in the sight, in whose center the target is located. In order to shoot quickly, it is better to use one of those rifles than to use one with a telescopic sight, because you don’t lose sight of the target. But the news cables talked about a rifle with a zoom of four times to eighteen times, meaning a rifle that gets very close to the target. And the more powerful the sight, the more sensitive it is to any movement, and the easier it is to lose the target.
There is, furthermore, the circumstance (and everything seems to indicate that the rifle could have appeared there as part of the plot) that the rifle was left there, since it is not the kind of weapon used to shoot at a target 80 meters away, nor a weapon to shoot three times in a row. The telescopic sight rifle a weapon to shoot at a target 300, 400, 500, 600 meters away and even more. Many of the fellows who came in the “Granma” practiced shooting at a dinner plate, 600 meters away, with a rifle rest, not one held by hand. That is how a sniper uses a rifle to shoot from afar. It is really weird that whoever was planning an assault at 80 meters, from a window, acquired a rifle with telescopic sight, when any other kind of weapon without a telescopic sight would have been a lot more appropriate for a shot from that distance. That is just one of the strange circumstances that are gradually arising.
Another fact that got my attention is that the rifle was bought by mail for $12.28 or $12.78, or something like that -- meaning 12 dollars. And a good sight like that one, on its own, costs 12 dollars and more. Where in the world are high power rifles with telescopic sights sold through a catalog at $12.28 or $12.78? We bought a few of those rifles and we know how much they are worth, we had the need to buy several sights and we know how much they cost. That was another strange fact. A number of really weird things are piling up. Supposedly, the individual acquired a telescopic sight rifle to shoot from a safe distance and to shoot at a stationary target, not at a moving one. When shooting at a moving target, the telescopic sight is more of an obstruction. Such a weapon is used to shoot from a distance at a clear target, which means that the individual who had tried to use a telescopic sight would have done so looking for both a clear shot and for safety for himself. But in this case, against a moving target 80 meters away, he was not getting a clear shot, nor, funnily enough, a shot far enough away to make himself safe.
It is very strange. And what is really clear out of all of this is that he was not a fanatic, in my opinion. In these situations you always have to rely on opinions, on assumptions; but it is undeniable, in the first place, that a fanatic… Probably it would be the first time in history in which a fanatic used a telescopic sight. The first time in history. Fanatics have used handguns, pistols and bombs, but never a telescopic sight. Furthermore, fanatics in general do not operate from a window in a fifth floor. In general, a fanatic confesses his crime immediately and explains why he committed it. That is the normal psychology of a fanatic.
But here we have the strange case in which the suspect, the alleged murderer, took the shot from his own workplace. No one who had a plan to escape – I mean, not a fanatic, but someone who was hired to do the shooting – would execute the attack from his own workplace in which, in five minutes, he will be identified and where in five minutes he will be ferociously pursued everywhere. He would have looked for a roof in another building; he would have rented an apartment along the route; he would have positioned himself, with a telescopic rifle, at such a distance that would have allowed him to escape. But it is very strange that an individual would shoot from where he works, a place where he will be identified in five minutes. Who would carry out an act with such huge implications and from such an obvious location but at the same time try to escape? It is not logical, it makes no sense. There are a number of strange circumstances like that one.
Someone using that kind of rifle from that place and trying to escape knowing that he would have been identified right away? All those things are contradictory, illogical and inexplicable, and they prove that either the culprit was framed or that the author of the crime… let me say this: here there are two possibilities: either this individual is innocent and he was framed by the police, or he is the one who shot the President -- but in that case his actions are very difficult to logically explain. This is an individual who commits murder, thinks of escaping, but at the same time knows that he’ll unquestionably be identified as the author of the crime? That could only have one explanation: this is an individual who has been perfectly prepared to commit the crime, who has been given the promise of an escape. Someone who was assigned a number of activities which were meant to compromise him. Someone upon whom the real authors of the crime are very interested in seeing that all of the blame for the act is dropped upon him.
Now we have obtained new data: information from the Mexican newspaper, Excelsior, stating that this man had visited the Consulates of Cuba and of the Soviet Union to obtain a transit visa through Cuba toward the Soviet Union. We immediately inquired with our consular officers. The newspaper’s version, very objective, explained how the individual had left the Consulate upset, slamming the door, because he had not been given the visa.
We requested information and we verified that on September 27 he had indeed visited our Consulate in Mexico, he had requested a visa, it had been explained to him that such a visa could not be granted by the Consul without express authorization from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who, in turn, did not grant transit visas without the country of destination issuing a visa first. Besides, our consular offices received a lot of transit visa requests from a lot of people, and our officers are usually very cautious, very conservative because we have to presume that the enemy is constantly trying to send his agents in here, and that is why a lot of safety measures are implemented. A visa is not granted to just anyone who requests it, we need to know their background very well. That is why our officer rejected his application.
Now, the following day, Saturday evening, only 24 hours after Kennedy’s death, agents of the Mexican Federal Police arrested an employee of our Consulate – she has Mexican citizenship – and her husband as well. Why and what did they arrest her for? They arrested her to interrogate her. They interrogated her brutally, they mistreated her, suggesting alleged connections with the individual accused of murdering Kennedy. The Police were trying to obtain, by means of coercion, some information. We did not know about that -- I ignored the fact when I last spoke – I understand it happened on Saturday evening. But this is proof of how everything is surfacing.
The police officers claimed that she had been interrogated as a result of the visit of this man, Oswald, to the Cuban Consulate. How did they know? Who told them? Where did the information come from? Because we didn’t know, it was an everyday thing. No one in the Consulate, not one officer, had identified the individual as the suspect out of all the individuals – the hundreds of individuals – who had filed a request for a visa. But the American police knew. The Dallas police reported it. How did they know? Why did they report it? When that had not been reported by the media yet -- when it only appeared in a Mexican newspaper two or three days later?
The thread can be seen clearly. What was this man doing at the Cuban Consulate in Mexico? What was his excuse? To request a transit visa in order to travel to the Soviet Union. He could have gone through England, which was closer and would have been easier. He could have gone through France, through many European countries. Why did he go to Mexico to make a longer trip requesting a transit visa to the Soviet Union through Cuba?
Hypothetically -- if this man is the true murderer -- it would be clear that the intellectual authors of the murder had been preparing his alibi carefully. They sent this individual to request a Cuban visa. Just imagine! Just imagine that Mr. Kennedy had been murdered by an individual, whose identity and workplace were perfectly known, who had been in the Soviet Union! And that the President of the United States had been murdered by that individual who had just come back from the Soviet Union travelling through Cuba! It was the ideal alibi. The ideal circumstance to cause American public opinion to suspect that he was a communist or an agent – as they would actually say – of Cuba and the Soviet Union.
It is very strange that someone who had already been to the Soviet Union (and when he was there for the first time, he didn’t travel through Cuba) and had been given a U.S. passport easily -- if he had the resources to go to Mexico -- why did he have to come to Cuba if not for the sole purpose of leaving a trail, of developing the plot? Why did he get upset when he did not get the visa? Why did he slam the door, why did he leave? No friend of Cuba, no communist does that when they visit our consular offices. No one behaves in such a rude way.
Of course we do not have this individual’s full records. We do not have any detail other than the ones published by the media. We will never state categorically that someone is guilty of a crime if we do not have irrefutable evidence of it. But as a hypothesis: if this man is the one who shot the President, then his trip to Mexico, his alleged interview with reporters presenting himself as a defender of Cuba just a short time before the event, his alleged fist-fight with counter-revolutionary elements -- all of that would be part of a perfectly crafted alibi.
Once this is seen the plan becomes perfectly explainable. This is someone who was offered an escape plan and agreed to do the shooting. He would leave a trail, he would be identified, then he would disappear. They would say he came to Cuba, and that Cuba sheltered him. Maybe his accomplices would make him disappear later; but they would make people believe he had come to Cuba, that he had been in Cuba before the murder took place. It looks as if he was guilty and he tried to escape but when he ends up arrested he smiles to the TV cameras, he doesn’t confess anything, he doesn’t deny anything, he does not agree to go through a lie detector. And then, gentlemen, the most extraordinary, the most unbelievable thing occurs – the thing that strengthens the suspicion that everybody has today: barely 36 hours later, 48 hours later, in the basement of the jail, surrounded by police officers, he is murdered. He would never say another word.
Who? Why? A gangster, a gambler, the owner of a night club, with nudity and all, known to be a playboy, a goon. He manages to position himself in front of the suspected murderer. An individual known to the whole police department for what he was: as a gambler, as the owner of immoral night clubs, as someone who was arrested by those same police. How then can that same police force then mistake him for a news reporter, given that all those officers knew him perfectly well? How can he be there, impersonating a journalist, and shoot the suspect just like that?
And what does he claim afterwards? The most ridiculous, the most absurd thing. This gambler, this vicious man, this gangster with a criminal record, he declares that he did what he did to prevent the President’s widow from having to go back to Dallas for the trial.
It was very difficult to make anyone believe that an act of such a nature would be carried out in vengeance, as revenge against the criminal – if he were indeed the criminal – when the electric chair was already waiting for him? How are we to believe that in these circumstances, someone would have wanted to take justice into their own hands? These cases occur only when there is no justice, when the criminal is not punished. But in this case, he killed a man for whom the electric chair was waiting. In fact, he killed a dead man. That’s what this gangster did.
How could they ask anyone to believe that he was acting out of emotional reasons? There might have never been a bigger scandal! Possibly not even the worst gangster ever acted as vulgarly, as sloppily, as outrageously!
This demonstrates that those responsible for Kennedy’s death desperately needed to eliminate the suspect at all costs. They were extremely pressed for some reason -- possibly for him not to talk; they were in a hurry to eliminate him, and they eliminated him just like that.
Once the suspected murderer had been removed, police and judicial authorities in Dallas declared the case closed, as if it had been not the murder of the President of the United States, but a dog killed on the road. They declared the case closed 48 hours later. The case was closed when it was becoming less closable, when it was becoming more mysterious, becoming more suspicious, becoming more investigable from a judicial and criminal standpoint. I am sure that no objective judge closes a case under circumstances like these, in a case in which the main suspect is murdered.
Of course we carefully read the news cables where this second murder was reported, and especially those of the UPI. Immediately afterwards, UPI used the same emphasis it had used while presenting Oswald as a filo-communist, as a Castro-communist, as an admirer of Castro. They used the same emphasis when presenting this man, Jack Ruby, as a great admirer of Kennedy.
The first thing the UPI does is to present the version it was interested in: to present this as a case of a murder of passion, of sentimentalism, as a murder of patriotism. What a disservice would the UPI do to whoever was President of its country -- presenting this gangster, this gambler, this immoral and vicious man as an admirer of Kennedy. And as such and extraordinary admirer that he would be willing to face the electric chair in order to avenge his death! An individual that throughout all his life did nothing but profit from vice, gambling and immorality?
What’s the purpose of such incredible moral flattery for a depraved, degenerated individual? What’s the purpose of such altruistic sentiments? The UPI in its first cables tried to give the impression of Ruby as an admirer of Kennedy. They interrogated the sister, and she said he could not sleep since the President had been murdered. They interrogated the sister of this Mr. Ruby to further elaborate the theory that he had acted out of emotional and sentimental reasons. The UPI didn’t hesitate to foist such an admirer to the assassinated President of the United States.
What a lack of scruples, what dishonesty, what a scandal! With the same emphasis they put in presenting Oswald as an admirer of Castro, they put immediately into presenting Ruby as an admirer of Kennedy. That is how imperialism works; that is how reaction works; and that is how they fabricate their campaigns and their lies. But everything seems to indicate that this second shooting came with some blowback. [APPLAUSE]
And thus later news came by: “The doctors who treated the assassinated American leader report now that they cannot assure wether it was one or two bullets that ended the President's life, and that they cannot establish which were the entrances and which were the exits of the projectile or projectiles.”
Governor Connally, in an interview he gave to news reporters from his bed in the hospital among other things said, “What happened in Dallas was the manifestation of the hatred that prevails in our society, the same hatred that was manifested when a bomb was placed in the Birmingham church that lead to the death of five kids.” This was said by the other man who was shot while riding next to Kennedy.
And so it will be very difficult to continue dressing this doll up, it will be very difficult to maintain the story they have been telling. We even think that it is difficult to imagine that there will not be enough reaction within the United States for the incident to go by without further investigation. It is difficult to believe that there are not many Americans, regardless of their political affiliation, their ideology, who driven by an elementary sense of propriety, of shame and prestige, who will not demand that all the facts are clarified, and that all these strange circumstances are explained. It will be very difficult -- and only at an extraordinary cost of prestige for the United States -- to cover up for the individuals responsible for the murder. It will be very difficult to keep hidden all of the motives and the true purposes -- as well as the intellectual authors, the organizers -- of this crime.
But they themselves, the same who forged this plan against peace, against Cuba, against the Soviet Union, against humanity, against progressive and even liberal sectors of the United States, are to blame. It is unlikely that they will be able to keep the secret and the mystery to the end. Let us wait calmly, but not with confidence. We are not confident because we see what kind of dangers threaten humanity, what dangers threaten all people! We see the lack of scruples, we see what kind of evil and cynicism are present in the imperialist society, among the most reactionary elements of that society! How many dangers they cause, how many sinister plans! That is why I say we should wait calmly, but not with confidence, because this is a lesson. In the meantime, let’s see how those who organized the plot stew in their own juice, because now even Olympic shooting champions are giving their opinion anywhere in the world.
Anyway, our motherland, who was again threatened, who saw again how the weapons of aggression were pointed at her in an attempt to throw at her and at her Revolution a storm of infamies -- she has witnessed once again how it is evident, how the behavior of each one has been unveiled. In this test, as in every test she is submitted to, our Revolution will be triumphant with more reason, with more morals, because in the eyes of the world it is clear – and it will continue to be even more so -- how those reactionaries in the United States wanted to turn our country and the world into victims of their criminal plans, even at the price of murdering their own President.
All these events resemble more and more an FBI novel, they look more like an incident between gangsters than a political act. All the circumstances, including the scandalous way in which the two murders were committed, remind us of the gangster movies we have watched so many times -- filmed precisely in Hollywood. And in case one might miss all the similarities, the one in charge of lynching the first suspect was nothing less than a gambler from Chicago.
How will they explain all those things to the world? How will they defend this kind of impudence to humanity, those who have acted with such a lack of respect towards the world’s opinion, those who have shown such a lack of human sensitivity?
This concludes the reference that we were obliged to make in order to clarify aspects related to the facts.
(DEPARTMENT OF STENOGRAPHIC VERSIONS OF THE REVOLUTIONARY GOVERNMENT)