Most conspiracy theories surrounding President John F. Kennedy’s assassination have been disproven. Kennedy was not killed by a gas-powered machine triggered by aliens or by actor Woody Harrelson’s dad.
However hypothesis about Kennedy’s Nov. 22, 1963 homicide in Dallas continues, fueled by unreleased categorised paperwork, weird ballistics and the declare of murderer Lee Harvey Oswald – who was later killed on dwell TV whereas in police custody – that he was “only a patsy.”
A number of JFK assassination consultants, like the previous New York Instances investigative reporter Phillip Shenon, see Mexico as the very best place to seek out solutions concerning a attainable conspiracy and who was behind it.
Simply over a month earlier than Kennedy’s killing, Oswald took a bus from Texas to Mexico Metropolis. He arrived Friday morning, Sept. 27, 1963 and left very early on Wednesday, Oct. 2, in accordance with American and Mexican intelligence.
Was Oswald a form of rogue James Bond who went south of the border to consort with communists, Cuban revolutionaries and spies – or only a deranged killer?
I dug into that query whereas researching my guide on conspiracy narratives in Mexico, and I feel I discovered one thing all people else missed: a gap within the story of the very man who began a tenacious conspiracy concept about Oswald’s Mexico journey.
Communist Mexico Metropolis
Mexico was a Chilly Conflict scorching spot within the mid-Twentieth century, a haven for Soviet exiles, American leftists fleeing the anti-communist persecution of McCarthyism and sympathizers with Cuba’s Castro regime. Each communist and democratic nation had an embassy in Mexico Metropolis – the one place within the Western Hemisphere the place these enemies coexisted roughly overtly.
In line with witnesses from the Cuban and Soviet diplomatic missions, Oswald visited their embassies repeatedly on Friday and Saturday. He was desperately searching for visas to these nations, which People have been then prohibited from visiting.
Instructed such paperwork would take months to course of, Oswald obtained in a heated argument with the Cuban consul, Emilio Azcué. Oswald additionally compelled a KGB volleyball match on Saturday morning to be canceled when he brandished a weapon on the Soviet consulate, earlier than bursting into tears and leaving.
These occasions are effectively documented by the CIA, which within the Nineteen Sixties had ramped up its Mexico operations to monitor communist exercise, even hiring 200 Mexican brokers to assist. The Mexican Secret Service, whose Nineteen Sixties-era recordsdata Mexico has lately begun to declassify, additionally tracked Oswald on Sept. 27 and Sept. 28, 1963.
Oswald’s whereabouts for the subsequent three-and-a-half days, nevertheless, stay unknown.
A conspiracy concept is born
A essential conspiracy about Oswald’s undocumented time in Mexico Metropolis places him involved with harmful Mexicans on the left facet of the Chilly Conflict.
This story originated in March 1967, when the American consul within the Mexican coastal metropolis of Tampico, Benjamin Ruyle, was shopping for drinks for native journalists.
Certainly one of them – Óscar Contreras Lartigue, a 28-year-old reporter for El Sol de Tampico – instructed Ruyle he’d met Oswald in 1963 when he was a legislation pupil at Mexico’s Nationwide Autonomous College.
Contreras stated he’d been in a pro-Castro campus group and that Oswald had begged this group for assist getting a Cuban visa. In line with Contreras, Oswald spent two days with these Nationwide Autonomous College college students, then met up with them once more a number of days later on the Cuban Embassy.
Evidently afraid for his life, Contreras wouldn’t inform Ruyle far more. He stated he himself had traveled to Cuba, knew folks within the Castro regime and had blown up the statue of a former Mexican president on campus in Mexico Metropolis. Contreras feared persecution for his political actions.
Contreras did say this wasn’t the primary time he was sharing his story, although. After JFK was shot, Contreras instructed Ruyle, he’d commented to his editor that he’d lately met Oswald.
The Contreras query
Contreras’ account hinted at suspicious, beforehand unknown connections between Oswald and communist Cuba made shortly earlier than JFK’s assassination.
His story was, in accordance with a memo later despatched from CIA headquarters, “the primary strong investigative lead we now have on Oswald’s actions in Mexico.” U.S. authorities officers wanted to seek out out if Contreras was a reliable supply.
Three months after Ruyle’s glad hour, a CIA official from Mexico Metropolis went to Tampico to query Contreras. Throughout the six-hour interrogation, Contreras nonetheless refused to enter particulars, however he did say Oswald by no means talked about assassination – solely that he stated repeatedly he “needed to get to Cuba.”
In 1978, a researcher from the U.S. Home Choose Fee on Assassinations named Dan Hardway went to Mexico to analyze the JFK assassination. He was unable to interview Contreras regardless of a number of makes an attempt, however in an influential report warned his account shouldn’t be dismissed.
The New York Instances reporter Shenon, who interviewed Oscar Contreras for a 2013 guide on the JFK assassination, additionally discovered Contreras credible. Shenon wrote that Contreras – whom he calls a “outstanding journalist” – “went a lot additional” of their interview than he had with the CIA, alleging “way more in depth contacts between Oswald and Cuban brokers in Mexico.”
Dan Hardway, who’s now a lawyer in West Virginia, nonetheless believes Contreras. After studying Shenon’s guide, he reiterated in 2015 that Lee Harvey Oswald might need been a part of a wider Cuban intelligence net.
Gap within the net
Óscar Contreras died in 2016, so I couldn’t interview him myself.
However in my investigation, a minute element of his biography grabbed my consideration – an apparently neglected contradiction that would undermine his whole story.
In Contreras’ telling, he fled the Nationwide Autonomous College campus and moved to Tampico round 1964. But Contreras additionally allegedly instructed his “editor” about his encounter with Oswald after the 1963 Kennedy assassination.
Faculty newspapers aren’t widespread in Mexico, and Contreras was a legislation pupil. So how may he have had an editor in 1963?
I assumed his hometown paper, El Sol de Tampico, would possibly maintain the reply. Digging by means of its archives, I discovered that the newspaper ran a Sunday gossip column within the early Nineteen Sixties referred to as “Crisol,” or “melting pot.”
Óscar Contreras grew to become the reporter for “Crisol” on June 6, 1963, and continued writing the gossip column in September and October that yr.
Whereas Lee Harvey Oswald was in Mexico Metropolis, Contreras was 300 miles away in Tampico. In flamboyant prose, pale again problems with the native paper present, he chronicled the luxurious wedding ceremony receptions, quinceañeras and yacht excursions of Tampico’s excessive society.
Three darkish days
I imagine the Sol de Tampico archives discredit Contereras’ account.
A political correspondent might dwell removed from the place his newspaper is revealed. However for a gossip columnist, that might be dereliction of obligation.
This revelation plunges Oswald’s fall 1963 journey to Mexico again into the darkish.
There are different conspiracy theories, together with that Oswald had a Mexican mistress who took him to a celebration of communists and spies.
But it surely’s extra doubtless Mexico holds no hidden clues to JFK’s assassination.
Conspiracy theories supply assurances of depth and closure, a promise that the most important enigma of the Twentieth century is solvable. However from what we learn about what Oswald did and didn’t do in Mexico Metropolis, he was a unstable, disorganized loner who couldn’t even deal with journey logistics.
JFK’s assassination is a chilly case. And in Mexico, solely exhausted leads stay.
Editor’s be aware: The lead photograph caption has been modified for readability.