Félix Rodríguez (soldier)
Félix Ismael Rodríguez Mendigutia (born 31 May 1941) is a Cuban American former Central Intelligence Agency Paramilitary Operations Officer in the Special Activities Division, known for his involvement in the Bay of Pigs Invasion and the execution of communist revolutionary Che Guevara as well as his ties to George H. W. Bush during the Iran–Contra affair.
Félix Ismael Rodríguez in August 2011 in Miami.
|Nickname(s)||Lázaro, Max Gómez, Félix Ramos Medina, Félix El Gato|
|Born||31 May 1941|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/||Central Intelligence Agency|
United States Army
|Years of service||1959–present|
|Unit||Special Activities Division|
Army Special Forces
|Battles/wars||Bay of Pigs Invasion|
Crosses for Gallantry by South Vietnamese regime
He attended the Perkiomen School in Pennsylvania but dropped out to join the Anti-Communist League of the Caribbean, which had been created by Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo with the intention of ending communism in Cuba.
The invasion of Cuba was a failure, and Rodríguez went back to Perkiomen. He graduated in June 1960 and went to live with his parents in Miami, where thousands of Cuban exiles had moved.
Bay of Pigs InvasionEdit
Rodriguez participated in the Bay of Pigs invasion as a paramilitary operations officer with the CIA's Special Activities Division (renamed Special Activities Center in 2016 ). He clandestinely entered Cuba a few weeks before the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion. Using his familiarity with the country, he was able to gather critical intelligence, which was used in the planning and preparation of the invasion.
In 1967, the CIA again recruited Rodríguez to train and head a team to hunt down Che Guevara, who was attempting to overthrow the US-backed government in Bolivia and to replace it with a communist government.
He and Guevara spoke civilly on the sluggish growth of the economy of Cuba and Guevara's tactics in starting a revolution in Bolivia. Rodríguez stated that he wanted to keep Guevara alive for further interrogation but was thwarted by the order of the Bolivian president for Guevara to be summarily executed. Rodríguez, whose cover was that of a Bolivian army major, repeated those orders and later stated it was a Bolivian decision for Guevara to be killed. Rodríguez has in his possession Guevara's Rolex wristwatch.
The last photograph of Guevara alive includes Rodriguez standing by his side, but according to Dino Brugioni, a former senior official at the CIA's National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC), it is a photomontage.
He became a US citizen in 1969. During his career with the CIA, he also went by the nom de guerre "Max Gomez" after Máximo Gómez, the Dominican general who fought in the Cuban War of Independence. He was awarded the Intelligence Star for Valor by the CIA and nine Crosses for Gallantry by the South Vietnamese government. He was codenamed Lazarus after his survival of the Bay of Pigs operation.
During the Vietnam War, Rodríguez flew over 300 helicopter missions and was shot down five times. In 1971, Rodríguez trained Provincial Reconnaissance Units (PRUs). They were CIA-sponsored units that worked for the Phoenix Program. The Walsh Report states (Chapter 29): "During the Vietnam War, [Donald] Gregg supervised CIA officer Felix Rodriguez and they kept in contact following the war." Rodríguez also reported to Ted Shackley during the Phoenix Program. Shackley became Bush's top aide for operations when he directed the CIA, and Gregg later became National Security Advisor for Vice-President Bush. Rodríguez was in frequent contact with him regarding arms for the Contras.
In 1970, after the Cambodian incursion, Bien Hoa CIA Spymaster Orrin DeForrest worked with Rodríguez, whom he described as "the CIA's hotshot pilot," and his PRU in rolling up the Viet Cong stronghold of An Tinh in South Vietnam. Rodríguez flew above the village in a Loach light helicopter and marked target houses holding VC suspects with orange smoke, and the PRU then went in and emptied the houses of occupants, lined them up, and identified suspects with the assistance of a former VC leader who had been captured before he began to co-operate with the CIA; DeForrest identified him as "Ba Tung." The operation netted 28 VC cadre who had been living openly among the South Vietnamese but were working to assist the North Vietnamese overthrow their southern neighbors. The mass arrest and detention of Subregion One VC cadre was the largest operation of its type during the war and, for all intents and purposes, broke the VC hold on its stronghold of An Tinh.
There is extensive documentation of Rodríguez's ties to US Vice-President George H. W. Bush during the Iran–Contra affair from 1983 to 1988. In September 1986, General John K. Singlaub wrote to Oliver North expressing concern about Rodríguez's daily contact with the Bush office and warned of damage to US President Ronald Reagan and the Republican Party. The Walsh Report (Chapter 25) stated that M. Charles Hill took notes at a meeting between George Shultz and Elliott Abrams on 16 October 1986 as follows:
Felix Rodriguez [sic] – Bush did know him from CIA days. FR [Rodriguez] is ex-CIA. In El Salv[ador] he goes around to bars saying he is buddy of Bush. A y[ea]r ago Pdx [Poindexter] & Ollie [North] told VP staff stop protecting FR as a friend – we want to get rid of him from his involvnt [sic] w[ith] private ops. Nothing was done so he still is there shooting his mouth off. (brackets are in the original)
Rodríguez met with Donald Gregg, now Bush's National Security advisor. The Walsh Report (Chapter 29) stated, "Gregg introduced Rodriguez to Vice President Bush in January 1985, and Rodriguez met with the Vice President again in Washington, D.C., in May 1986. He also met Vice President Bush briefly in Miami on May 20, 1986." Rodríguez also met and spoke with Bush's advisor Gregg and his deputy, Colonel Samuel J. Watson III.
On 5 October 1986, the Corporate Air Services C-123, carrying Eugene Hasenfus was shot down over Nicaragua, which killed two US pilots, William H. Cooper and Wallace B. Sawyer Jr., and one Latin American crewmember. "Rodriguez unsuccessfully attempted to call Gregg to inform him of the missing plane. He reached Watson, who in turn notified the White House Situation Room. The following day, Rodriguez called Watson again and told him that the airplane was one of North's." Hasenfus told reporters that he worked for "Max Gomez," an alias for Rodríguez, and "Ramon Medina," an alias for Luis Posada Carriles, of the CIA. On 10 October 1986, Clair George, the head of CIA clandestine operations, testified before Congress that he did not know of any direct connection between Hasenfus and Reagan administration officials. In the fall of 1992, George was convicted on two charges of false statements and perjury before Congress but was pardoned on Christmas Eve that year by President Bush.
Allegations regarding Kiki CamarenaEdit
In October 2013, two former DEA agents and a pilot who allegedly flew for the CIA claimed to the Mexican journal Proceso and to the US network Fox News that the CIA had been "complicit" in the murder of DEA agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena in 1985 and that Rodríguez had played a role. The alleged motive for the crime was that Camarena had supposedly discovered that the US government had collaborated with the Guadalajara Cartel in the importation and the transfer of drugs from Colombia to the United States via Mexico to use the proceeds to sponsor the Contras in Nicaragua in its war against the Sandinista government. Phil Jordan, a former director of the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC); Héctor Berrellez, a former agent of the United States anti-drug administration who directed Operation Leyenda to clarify the murder; and Tosh Plumlee, allegedly a former pilot for the CIA, claim to have the evidence that the US government itself ordered the execution of Camarena.
In July 2020, the documentary The Last Narc shows the testimonies of people like Héctor Berrellez, Phil Jordan, Mike Holm (a member of the DEA for 24 years), Manny Medrano (former assistant US Attorney and lead prosecutor in Camarena case) as well as Camarena's widow and three former police officers and former bodyguards of Ernesto Fonseca. The documentary explores the claims of the details of the torture and the interrogation, including some of the questions that Rodríguez allegedly asked Camarena in relation to the association that the CIA had allegedly reached with the Guadalajara cartel to bring cocaine into the US, the final goal being to finance the Nicaraguan Contras.
In 2013, Jack Lawn, a former head of the DEA, and retired Special Agent Jack Taylor, who investigated the murder, said the CIA had no involvement in Camarena's death. Without mentioning any agents by name, Jack Lawn also stated that "this is [a] fable not worthy of individuals who would serve in DEA." A CIA spokesperson told Fox News that "it's ridiculous to suggest that the CIA had anything to do with the murder of a U.S. federal agent or the escape of his killer."
During the 2004 US presidential election, Rodríguez was highly critical of the Democratic presidenial candidate, John Kerry, in part because of their previous meeting at a Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism and Narcotics hearing in 1987 during which Rodríguez was questioned by Kerry about allegations of soliciting a $10 million donation from a Colombian cocaine cartel. The story, which was eventually shown to be false, had come from Ramón Milian Rodríguez, a convicted money launderer from Colombia. Rodríguez referred to Kerry as "a liar and self-promoter" and said he "should not be President." During the election, Rodríguez campaigned strongly for George W. Bush, the Republican candidate. He admitted his main motivation was "to get the real word out about John Kerry." Others accused him of seeking revenge against Kerry for the Kerry Committee Report.
- Cupull, Adys; González, Froilán (1993). La CIA contra el Che (in Spanish). Bolivia: Editora Política. ISBN 9789590100932. Retrieved 2014-05-12.
- Woodward, Bob. 2002. Bush At War, Simon and Schuester, p. 317
- Andrea Billups and Kathleen Walter, Newsmax, 10 October 2013, On Anniversary of Che Killing, CIA's Felix Rodriguez Remembers Archived January 20, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
- Nordlinger, Jay (August 5, 2013). "The Anti-Che; Felix Rodriguez, freedom fighter and patriot". National Review. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
- Documentary alleges last photo of Che is fake
- Douglas Brook's MA thesis, "The Phoenix Program: a Retrospective Assessment", Baylor University, 1989, pp. iv, 38–40, 50, 57, 60, 114–18, 127, 140–44, and 148–56.
- Walsh Iran / Contra Report - Chapter 29 Donald P. Gregg Archived April 3, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
- Slow Burn: The Rise and Bitter Fall of American Intelligence in Vietnam by Orrin DeForrest and David Chanoff (1990) pp. 127–29
- Walsh Iran / Contra Report Archived August 8, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
- Walsh Iran / Contra Report – Chapter 25 United States v. Elliott Abrams Archived April 3, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
- Walsh Iran / Contra Report – Chapter 17 United States v. Clair E. George Archived April 3, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
- http://www.vheadline.com/readnews.asp?id=36375 Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- Schager, Nick (July 31, 2020). "Did the CIA Torture an Undercover DEA Agent for a Mexican Drug Cartel?". The Daily Beast.
- Norman, Greg (February 28, 2020). "US probing claims that CIA operative, DEA official betrayal led to murder of agent: report". Fox News.
- Villamil, Jenaro (October 15, 2013). "Camerena, operation legend continues (in Spanish)". Proceso.
- Nugent, Annabel (August 3, 2020). "Director of Amazon's 'The Last Narc' had a gun pulled on him during filming". The Independent.
- Bowden, Charles (September 12, 2013). "The Pariah". Esquire.
- "Brought to Justice: Operation Leyenda, DEA Museum Lecture Series" (PDF). October 29, 2013. p. 39-41.
- Brigada 2506 Archived May 27, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
- Felix Rodriguez: Kerry No Foe of Castro
- http://www.bayofpigsmuseum.org/about_us.html Archived October 1, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
|Booknotes Interview with Rodríguez on Shadow Warrior, November 12, 1989, C-SPAN|
- Rodriguez, Felix I. and John Weisman. Shadow Warrior/the CIA Hero of a Hundred Unknown Battles. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1989.
- Book review of Rodriguez' autobiography, online at: "Memoirs of the Man the White House Said Didn't Exist", book review of The Shadow Warrior, by Robert Parry, Washington Monthly, November 1989.
Cuba: Che Guevara, Bay of Pigs Invasion, Central AmericaEdit
- The Castro Obsession: U.S. Covert Operations Against Cuba, 1959–1965, Don Bohning, (2005)
- Bay of Pigs documents and 40th anniversary conference papers at the National Security Archive at George Washington University's Gelman Library.
- Detail Information on the Bay of Pigs Invasion — Includes maps of the Invasion and Documents.
- History of Cuba — Bay of Pigs Invasion.
- "The Panama Invasion Revisited: Lessons for the Use of Force in the Post Cold War Era", Eytan Gilboa, Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 110, No. 4 (Winter, 1995), pp. 539–62
- CIA man recounts Che Guevara's death
- Lawrence E. Walsh, "Final Report of the Independent Counsel for Iran/Contra Matters," August 4, 1993, Washington, DC, ISBN 978-0-671-66721-4.
- "Iran-Contra's Untold Story," by Robert Parry and Peter Kornbluh, Foreign Policy, No. 72 (Autumn, 1988), pp. 3–30
- Interview (Spanish) Video Archive: Horacio Cambeiro on YouTube
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- BBC News Audio Archive: Cold Warrior - A Profile of the Man Devoted to Removing Castro