Félix Rodríguez (soldier)

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Félix Rodríguez
Félix Rodríguez.jpg
Félix Ismael Rodríguez in August 2011 in Miami.
Nickname(s) Lázaro, Max Gómez, Félix Ramos Medina, Félix El Gato
Born (1941-05-31) 31 May 1941 (age 73)[1]
Havana, Cuba
Allegiance United States United States
Service/branch Central Intelligence Agency, United States Army
Years of service 1959 – Present
Rank Colonel
Unit Special Activities Division, Army Special Forces, MACV-SOG
Battles/wars Bay of Pigs Invasion, Vietnam War, Laos, Bolivia
Awards Intelligence Star (very rare CIA valor award), Silver Star, (9)
Crosses for Gallantry by government of South Vietnam

Félix Ismael Rodríguez Mendigutia (born 31 May 1941) is a former Central Intelligence Agency officer known for his involvement in the Bay of Pigs Invasion, in the interrogation and execution of Marxist guerilla Che Guevara and his ties to George H. W. Bush during the Iran–Contra affair. He is Cuban of Spanish Basque ancestry.

Biography[edit]

His uncle was minister of Public Works during the Fulgencio Batista government, in Cuba. After the Cuban Revolution he and his family became exiles in the United States.

He attended The Perkiomen School, in Pennsylvania, but dropped out to join the Caribbean Anti-communist Legion, created by Dominican president Rafael Trujillo, with the intention of overthrowing Fidel Castro 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 lived.

In September, 1960 he joined a group of Cuban exiles in Guatemala, supported by the CIA, to receive military training. They were called Brigade 2506.

Bay of Pigs Invasion[edit]

He was a Paramilitary Operations Officer from Special Activities Division. He joined and became a leader in the CIA-backed Operation 40[citation needed] and Brigade 2506, and clandestinely entered Cuba a few weeks before the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion. Utilizing his familiarity with the country, he was able to gather critical intelligence to be used in the planning and preparation for the invasion.[2]

His colleagues in Operation 40 included David Atlee Phillips, David Morales, Ted Shackley, E. Howard Hunt, Frank Sturgis, Barry Seal, and Porter Goss among others.

Bolivia[edit]

In 1967, the CIA recruited Rodríguez to train and head a team to hunt down Marxist guerilla Che Guevara, who was attempting to overthrow the government in Bolivia. After Guevara was wounded and captured by Bolivian special forces trained and supported by the CIA, Rodríguez interrogated him.

CIA authenticated the picture of Che Guevara and Félix Rodríguez and recognizes it as original.

Rodríguez stated that he wanted to keep Guevara alive for further interrogation, but was thwarted by the order of the Bolivian president that Guevara be summarily executed. Rodríguez, whose cover was that of a Bolivian army major, repeated those orders, later stating that it was a Bolivian decision, and Guevara was killed. Rodríguez has in his possession Guevara's Rolex wristwatch.[3][4]

Vietnam[edit]

He became a U.S. citizen in 1969, soon enlisting in the United States Army.[citation needed] During his career with the CIA he also went by the name Máximo Gómez. He was awarded the Intelligence Star for Valor by the CIA and nine Crosses for Gallantry by the South Vietnamese government.[citation needed] He was codenamed Lazarus after his survival of the Bay of Pigs invasion operation.

In the Vietnam War, Rodríguez flew over 300 helicopter missions, and was shot down five times. In 1971, Rodríguez trained Provincial Reconnaissance Units (PRUs). PRUs were CIA-sponsored units that worked for the Phoenix Program.[5] 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."[6] Rodríguez also reported to Ted Shackley during the Phoenix Program - Shackley became Bush's top aide for operations when he directed the CIA; Gregg later became National Security Advisor for Vice President Bush. Rodríguez was in frequent contact with him regarding arms for the Contras.

Iran-Contra and ties to George H.W. Bush[edit]

There is extensive documentation of Rodriguez' ties to US vice-president George H. W. Bush during the Iran–Contra affair, from 1983-1988.[7] In September 1986 General John K. Singlaub wrote Oliver North expressing concern about Félix Rodríguez's daily contact with the Bush office and warned of damage to President Ronald Reagan and the US Republican Party. The Walsh Report (Chapter 25) states 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."[8]
(brackets are in the original)

Rodríguez met with Donald Gregg, who by then was Bush's National Security advisor. The Walsh Report (Chapter 29) states: "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."[6]

Rodríguez also met and spoke repeatedly with Bush's advisor Gregg and his deputy (Col. Samuel J. Watson III). As one indicator of this connection, a single chapter in the Walsh Report titled "Donald P. Gregg" (Chapter 29) contains 329 references to Rodríguez.[6]

On 5 October 1986, the Corporate Air Services C-123 carrying Eugene Hasenfus was shot down over Nicaragua, killing two US pilots, William H. Cooper and Wallace B. Sawyer, Jr., and one Latin American crew member. "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."[6] Hasenfus told reporters that he worked for "Max Gomez" (an alias for Felix Rodriguez) and "Ramon Medina" (an alias for Luis Posada Carriles) of the CIA. On 10 October 1986, Clair George, head of CIA clandestine operations, testified before Congress that he did not know of any direct connection between Hasenfus and Reagan administration officials. In Fall of 1992, George was convicted on two charges of false statements and perjury before Congress; he was pardoned Christmas Eve that year by then-President Bush.[9][10]

Activism[edit]

Rodríguez speaking at Christopher Columbus High School in Miami.

In 2004 Rodríguez became President of the Brigade 2506 Veterans Association, a group for Bay of Pigs Invasion survivors.[11]

During the 2004 US Presidential election, Rodríguez was highly critical of Democratic candidate John Kerry, due in part to their previous meeting at a Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism and Narcotics hearing in 1987. During one session Kerry accused him of soliciting a $10 million donation from the Colombian cocaine cartel. The story had originally 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 2004 presidential election Rodríguez campaigned strongly for George W. Bush. 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.[12]

In 2005, Rodríguez oversaw the opening of the Bay of Pigs Museum and Library in Little Havana, Florida, and also became Chairman of the Board of Directors.[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cupull, Adys; González, Froilán (1993). La CIA contra el Che (in Spanish). Bolivia: Editora Política. Retrieved 2014-05-12. 
  2. ^ Woodward, Bob. 2002. Bush At War, Simon and Schuester, p.317
  3. ^ Jean-Guy Allard, article in Granma International, 24 July 2002
  4. ^ 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
  5. ^ Douglas Brook's MA thesis, "The Phoenix Program: a Retrospective Assessment", Baylor University, 1989, pp. iv, 38-40, 50, 57, 60, 114-18, 127, 140-144, and 148-56.
  6. ^ a b c d Walsh Iran / Contra Report - Chapter 29 Donald P. Gregg Archived April 3, 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Walsh Iran / Contra Report Archived August 8, 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Walsh Iran / Contra Report - Chapter 25 United States v. Elliott Abrams Archived April 3, 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Walsh Iran / Contra Report - Chapter 17 United States v. Clair E. George Archived April 3, 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ http://www.vheadline.com/readnews.asp?id=36375 Archived September 27, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Brigada 2506 Archived May 27, 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Felix Rodriguez: Kerry No Foe of Castro
  13. ^ http://www.bayofpigsmuseum.org/about_us.html Archived October 1, 2011 at the Wayback Machine

Autobiography[edit]

Cuba: Che Guevara, Bay of Pigs Invasion, Central America[edit]

Vietnam: Operation Phoenix[edit]

Iran-Contra scandal[edit]

External links[edit]