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JFK’s conspiracy theory debunked in Mexico

MMost of the conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy have been refuted. Kennedy was not killed by a gasoline powered device triggered by aliens or by actor Woody Harrelson’s father.

But speculation about Kennedy’s Nov. 22, 1963 murder in Dallas continues, fueled by unpublished classified documents, bizarre ballistics and the assertion of assassin Lee Harvey Oswald – who was later killed on live television then. that he was in custody – that he was “ just a buddy. “

Several JFK assassination experts, like the first New York Times Phillip Shenon, an investigative journalist, sees Mexico as the best place to find answers regarding a possible conspiracy and who was behind it.

Just over a month before Kennedy’s assassination, Oswald took a bus from Texas to Mexico City. He arrived Friday morning September 27, 1963 and left very early Wednesday October 2, according to American and Mexican intelligence.

Was Oswald some sort of rogue James Bond who went south of the border to marry Communists, Cuban revolutionaries and spies – or just a deranged killer?

I dug this question while researching my book on Conspiracy Tales in Mexico, and I think I found something that everyone missed: a hole in the history of the very man who started a conspiracy theory. tenacious about Oswald’s trip to Mexico.

Mexico was a Cold War hotspot in the mid-20th century, a haven for Soviet exiles, American leftists fleeing the anticommunist persecution of McCarthyism, and sympathizers of Castro’s Cuban regime. Every communist and democratic country had an embassy in Mexico City – the only place in the Western Hemisphere where these enemies more or less openly coexisted.

According to witnesses from Cuban and Soviet diplomatic missions, Oswald made several visits to their embassies on Friday and Saturday. He was desperately looking for visas for those countries, which Americans were not allowed to visit at the time.

Said that such documents would take months to process, Oswald had a heated argument with Cuban consul, Emilio Azcué. Oswald also forced a KGB volleyball match on Saturday morning to be called off when he brandished a gun at the Soviet consulate, before bursting into tears and leaving.

These events are well documented by the CIA, which in the 1960s had stepped up operations in Mexico to monitor Communist activity, even hiring 200 Mexican agents to help it. The Mexican Secret Service, whose records from the 1960s that Mexico recently began to declassify, also followed Oswald on September 27 and 28, 1963.

Oswald’s whereabouts for the next three and a half days, however, remain unknown.

A major conspiracy over Oswald’s undocumented time in Mexico City puts him in contact with dangerous Mexicans on the left side of the Cold War.

This story originated in March 1967, when the US Consul in the Mexican coastal city of Tampico, Benjamin Ruyle, was buying drinks for local journalists.

One of them – Óscar Contreras Lartigue, 28-year-old journalist for El Sol de Tampico– told Ruyle that he met Oswald in 1963, when he was a law student at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

Contreras said he was part of a pro-Castro campus group and that Oswald begged that group to help him get a Cuban visa. According to Contreras, Oswald spent two days with these students from the National Autonomous University, then met them a few days later at the Cuban embassy.

Obviously scared for his life, Contreras wouldn’t say more to Ruyle. He said he visited Cuba himself, knew people under the Castro regime, and blew up the statue of a former Mexican president on the Mexico City campus. Contreras feared persecution for his political activities.

Contreras said it wasn’t the first time he shared his story. After JFK was shot, Contreras told Ruyle, he commented to his editor that he had recently met Oswald.

Contreras’s account hinted at suspicious, hitherto unknown links between Oswald and Communist Cuba, established shortly before JFK’s assassination.

His story was, according to a note later sent from CIA headquarters, “the first solid lead of investigation we have into Oswald’s activities in Mexico.” U.S. government officials needed to know if Contreras was a trustworthy source.

Three months after Ruyle’s happy hour, a Mexico City CIA official traveled to Tampico to interview Contreras. During the six-hour interrogation, Contreras always declined to go into details, but said Oswald never mentioned the assassination – only that he repeatedly said he ” had to go to Cuba ”.

In 1978, a US House Select Commission on Assassinations researcher named Dan Hardway traveled to Mexico to investigate the JFK assassination. He was unable to question Contreras despite several attempts, but in an influential report he warned his account should not be rejected.

the New York Times Journalist Shenon, who interviewed Oscar Contreras for a 2013 book on the JFK assassination, also found Contreras credible. Shenon wrote that Contreras – whom he calls a “prominent journalist” – “went much further” in their interview than with the CIA, alleging “much more extensive contact between Oswald and Cuban agents in Mexico.”

Dan Hardway, who is now a lawyer in West Virginia, still believes Contreras. After reading Shenon’s book, he reiterated in 2015 that Lee Harvey Oswald could have been part of a larger Cuban intelligence network.

Óscar Contreras passed away in 2016, so I couldn’t interview him myself.

But in my investigation, a small detail from her biography caught my eye – a seemingly overlooked contradiction that could undermine her entire story.

In Contreras’ account, he fled the National Autonomous University campus and moved to Tampico around 1964. Yet Contreras also reportedly told his “editor” about his meeting with Oswald after Kennedy’s assassination in 1963.

University journals are not common in Mexico and Contreras was a law student. So how could he have had an editor in 1963?

I thought of his city newspaper El Sol de Tampico, might contain the answer. While digging through its archives, I discovered that the newspaper published a Sunday gossip column in the early 1960s called “Crisol” or “melting pot”.

Óscar Contreras became the reporter for “Crisol” on June 6, 1963 and continued to write the gossip column in September and October of that year.

While Lee Harvey Oswald was in Mexico City, Contreras was 500 miles in Tampico. In flamboyant prose, from past issues of the local newspaper, he recounts the lavish wedding receptions, quinceañeras and yacht tours of Tampico’s high society.

I believe that Tampico soil the archives discredit the Contereras account.

A political correspondent may live far from where his newspaper is published. But for a gossip columnist, that would be a dereliction of duty.

This revelation plunges Oswald’s trip to Mexico in the fall of 1963 into obscurity.

There are other conspiracy theories, including the fact that Oswald had a Mexican mistress who took him to a party of Communists and spies.

But it is more likely that Mexico has no hidden clues to the JFK assassination.

Conspiracy theories offer assurances of depth and closure, a promise that the 20th century’s greatest conundrum is solvable. But from what we know of what Oswald did and didn’t do in Mexico City, he was an unstable and disorganized loner who couldn’t even handle the logistics of travel.

The assassination of JFK is a cold case. And in Mexico, only exhausted leads remain.

Gonzalo Soltero is professor of narrative analysis at the School of Advanced Studies, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

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