August 18, 1939|
Bremen, Nazi Germany
Ilona Marita Lorenz (born August 18, 1939) is a German-born American woman who had an affair with Fidel Castro in 1959 and in January 1960 was involved in an assassination attempt by the CIA on Castro's life.
In the 1970s and 1980s, she testified about the John F. Kennedy assassination, stating that she was involved with a group of anti-Cuban militants, Frank Sturgis of the CIA, and E. Howard Hunt of CIA and Watergate infamy shortly before the assassination.
She was born Ilona Marita Lorenz in Bremen, the daughter of Alice June (née Lofland) and Heinrich Lorenz. She has a sister, Valerie, and two brothers, Joachim and Manfred "Philip". Her father was a German maritime commercial ship captain; and her mother, who was born in Delaware, was an actress and dancer who performed under the stage name June Paget. Her mother was accused of helping forced laborers in Bremen escape, and Marita and her mother were incarcerated in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
Freed after the war, she spent some time traveling with her father on his passenger liner.
Castro and Pérez Jiménez
In February 1959, weeks after the conclusion of the Cuban Revolution, Lorenz arrived in Havana with her father on board of the MS Berlin. Fidel Castro and his men visited the ship and the Máximo Líder took a liking to the nineteen-year-old girl. After dinner, the Berlin set sail for New York. Marita disembarked in Manhattan, where she would be living with her brother Joachim, a student at Columbia University. A few days after she arrived, Castro called Marita—she had given him Joachim’s home number on a matchbox before parting ways—and said he was sending a plane to fly her back to Cuba. A jeep picked Marita up at the other end and drove her to the Havana Hilton, which Castro had repurposed as his base of operations. She lived with Castro for several months and became pregnant. When Marita discovered she was pregnant, there was little doubt who the father was. In October 1959, at seven months along, Marita says she was given a glass of drugged milk and blacked out. When she woke up in a local doctor’s office, the baby was nowhere to be found. Various stories have been floated over the years about what happened next, but none have been definitively confirmed: Either the fetus was aborted, Marita suffered a miscarriage, or she gave birth to a healthy baby boy named Andre.
She left the island and joined anti-Castro activists in Florida. Her later testimony named Francisco Fiorini as the CIA agent who recruited her to assassinate Castro, and that this was an alias for Frank Fiorini Sturgis. She received poison pills that she was to put in Castro's food. Back in Cuba in 1960, she did not deliver the pills but told Castro about the plot, claiming that she still loved him. She left the island and visited Castro one last time in 1981.
According to Lorenz, in March 1961 she met deposed Venezuelan dictator Marcos Pérez Jiménez, introduced to her as "General Diaz", at a residence in Miami Beach, Florida while working as a courier for the International Anti-Communist Brigade. She said she was to collect a $200,000 contribution from Pérez Jiménez for her group. Lorenz said: "He chased me around for six weeks."
Lorenz claimed that Castro and Pérez Jiménez each fathered a child with her.
JFK conspiracy allegations
In 1977, Lorenz told Paul Meskil of the New York Daily News that she met Oswald in the fall of 1963 at an Operation 40 safe house in the Little Havana section of Miami. According to Lorenz, she met him again before the Kennedy assassination in 1963 in the house of Orlando Bosch, with Frank Sturgis, Pedro Luis Díaz Lanz, and two other Cubans present. She said the men studied Dallas street maps and that she suspected that they were planning on raiding an arsenal. Lorenz stated that she joined the men traveling to Dallas in two cars and carrying "rifles and scopes", but flew back to Miami the day after they arrived. In response to her allegations, Sturgis said he did not recall ever meeting Oswald and reiterated his previous denials of being involved in a conspiracy to kill Kennedy. In an interview with Steve Dunleavy of the New York Post, he said that he believed communist agents had pressured Lorenz into making the accusations against him.
Lorenz testified about this Kennedy assassination plot before the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA). Her testimony was investigated by the political committee and said to be unreliable.
In February 1985, attorney Mark Lane read a deposition that Lorenz provided in E. Howard Hunt's libel suit against the Liberty Lobby's tabloid, The Spotlight. Lorenz lived in New York City at the time, however, Lane read the deposition in court stating that Lorenz was "afraid to come to Miami". The deposition reiterated allegations similar to those she provided to the HSCA. Lorenz said she met Oswald in Miami in the early 1960s, and that in November 1963 Sturgis asked her to come to Dallas with him and Oswald to act as a decoy. Her statement said that she, Oswald, and seven anti-Castro Cubans transported weapons to Dallas in two cars shortly before November 22, 1963. Lorenz claimed that Hunt came to their Dallas motel room and provided Sturgis with an envelope filled with cash. According to one account, this testimony became the "centerpiece" for Lane's 1991 book Plausible Denial.
In 1993, Lorenz was interviewed by Vanity Fair writer Ann Louise Bardach who described her as "a patron saint of conspiracy buffs". Bardach wrote "at least half of her story is readily documented by the accounts of others and FBI memorandum, the other half lacks any corroboration, at times, flies in the face of existing evidence."
Work for the FBI
Books and films
With Ted Schwarz, Lorenz's first autobiography, Marita: One Woman's Extraordinary Tale of Love and Espionage from Castro to Kennedy, was published in 1993 by Thunder's Mouth Press. Kirkus Reviews described the book as "the wild—if nearly incredible—adventures of a new Jane Bond". Publishers Weekly wrote: "Like other sensational conspiracy stories, this one presses the limits of credibility, but its very outrageousness gives it weight." Her second autobiography Lieber Fidel – Mein Leben, meine Liebe, mein Verrat (ISBN 3471780793) appeared in 2001.
Lorenz's story was the inspiration for the Jack Bender's 1999 TV film My Little Assassin. Gabrielle Anwar portrayed Lorenz in the film and her mother Alice was portrayed by Jill Clayburgh. She is also the subject of a 2000 German documentary film Lieber Fidel - Maritas Geschichte ("Dear Fidel - Marita's Story").
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- McNary, Dave (January 20, 2016). "Jennifer Lawrence to Play Fidel Castro's Lover for Sony".
- "Costa Rica 'spy kid': Mom was sent to kill Castro; dad was president of Venezuela". October 27, 2015.