Félix Rodríguez (soldier)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Félix Rodríguez
Félix Ismael Rodríguez Mendigutia.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 79)[1]
Havana, Cuba
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchCentral Intelligence Agency, United States Army
Years of service1959–present
UnitSpecial Activities Division, Army Special Forces, MACV-SOG
Battles/warsBay of Pigs Invasion
Operation Mongoose
Ñancahuazú Guerrilla
Vietnam War
Contra War
AwardsIntelligence Star, Silver Star, (9)
Crosses for Gallantry by South Vietnamese regime

Félix Ismael Rodríguez Mendigutia (born 31 May 1941) is a 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. He is a Cuban American.


Rodriguez came from a wealthy family of land owners in his native Cuba. His uncle was minister of Public Works in the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship.

He attended the Perkiomen School in Pennsylvania, but dropped out to join the Anti-Communist League of the Caribbean, 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.

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

Bay of Pigs Invasion[edit]

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 [2]). He 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 that was used in the planning and preparation of the invasion.[3]

His colleagues in the CIA included David Atlee Phillips, David Morales, Ted Shackley, E. Howard Hunt, Frank Sturgis, and Porter Goss among others.


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 replace it with a socialist government.

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

He and Guevara spoke civilly regarding 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 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.[4]

The last photograph of Guevara alive includes Rodriguez standing by his side, but according to Dino Brugioni, former senior official at the CIA's National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC), it is a photomontage.[5][6]


He became a U.S. citizen in 1969. During his career with the CIA, he also went by a nom-de-guerre after a Dominican general who fought in the Cuban War of Independence Máximo Gómez. He was awarded the Intelligence Star for Valor by the CIA and nine Crosses for Gallantry by the South Vietnamese government.[5] He was codenamed Lazarus after his survival of the Bay of Pigs invasion operation.[citation needed]

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.[7] 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."[8] 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.

In 1970 after the Cambodian Incursion, Bien Hoa CIA Spymaster Orrin DeForrest worked with Rodriguez (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. Rodriguez flew above the village in a Loach light helicopter and marked target houses holding VC suspects with orange smoke, after which the PRU went in and emptied the houses of occupants, lined them up, whereupon they identified suspects with the assistance of a former VC leader who had been previously captured and was now cooperating with the CIA whom DeForrest identified as "Ba Tung." The operation netted twenty-eight VC cadre who had been living openly among the South Vietnamese people but 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 their stronghold of An Tinh.[9]


There is extensive documentation of Rodriguez' ties to US vice-president George H. W. Bush during the Iran–Contra affair, from 1983–88.[10] 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.[11] (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."[8] Rodríguez also met and spoke with Bush's advisor Gregg and his deputy (Col. Samuel J. Watson III).

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."[8] 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.[12][13]


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.[14]‹See TfM›[failed verification]

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 a Colombian cocaine cartel. Kerry later apologized to Rodríguez. The story, eventually shown to be false, had come from Ramón Milian Rodríguez, a convicted money launderer from Colombia.[5] 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.[15]

In 2005, Rodríguez oversaw the opening of the Bay of Pigs Museum and Library in Little Havana, Florida, and became chairman of the board of directors.[16]


  1. ^ Cupull, Adys; González, Froilán (1993). La CIA contra el Che (in Spanish). Bolivia: Editora Política. ISBN 9789590100932. Retrieved 2014-05-12.
  2. ^ https://foreignpolicy.com/2016/05/04/measuring-change-at-the-cia/
  3. ^ Woodward, Bob. 2002. Bush At War, Simon and Schuester, p. 317
  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. ^ a b c Nordlinger, Jay (August 5, 2013). "The Anti-Che; Felix Rodriguez, freedom fighter and patriot". National Review. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  6. ^ Documentary alleges last photo of Che is fake
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ a b c Walsh Iran / Contra Report - Chapter 29 Donald P. Gregg Archived April 3, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Slow Burn: The Rise and Bitter Fall of American Intelligence in Vietnam by Orrin DeForrest and David Chanoff (1990) pp. 127–29
  10. ^ Walsh Iran / Contra Report Archived August 8, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Walsh Iran / Contra Report – Chapter 25 United States v. Elliott Abrams Archived April 3, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Walsh Iran / Contra Report – Chapter 17 United States v. Clair E. George Archived April 3, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ http://www.vheadline.com/readnews.asp?id=36375 Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Brigada 2506 Archived May 27, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Felix Rodriguez: Kerry No Foe of Castro
  16. ^ http://www.bayofpigsmuseum.org/about_us.html Archived October 1, 2011, at the Wayback Machine


External video
Booknotes Interview with Rodríguez on Shadow Warrior, November 12, 1989, C-SPAN

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

Vietnam: Operation Phoenix[edit]

Iran-Contra scandal[edit]

External links[edit]