[Photo: Carlos Bringuier (c. 1958) in Cuba one year before her fall to Fidel Castro. Soon Carlos would become a leader of the DRE freedom fighters and would work with the 544 Camp Street players along with their Lake Pontchartrain guerilla training camp.]
Disclaimer: The following analysis of Warren Commission testimony consists of my independent research and observations regarding the hundreds of testimonies contained in the WC Hearings and Exhibits. My observations inform my opinion.
Let’s take a deeper dive into the WC testimony of Carlos Bringuier. As orientation to this dive, we’ll quote this sharp criticism from Orest Pena’s WC testimony.
Mr. PENA: ...I tell you, Bringuier hates the United States as much as he hates Russia.
Mr. LIEBELER: Bringuier does?
Mr. PENA: The day Mr. Kennedy put a blockade on Cuba...Carlos Bringuier was telling me, excuse me – [obscenity in Spanish] – more than a dozen times, and I couldn’t stand that...
Mr. LIEBELER: Why do you say that Mr. Bringuier hates the United States more than he does Russia?
Mr. PENA: ...The way he talks, that the United States didn’t help to overthrow Castro...
Mr. LIEBELER: Is that the basis for Mr. Bringuier’s bad feeling towards the United States, that we haven’t done anything to overcome the Castro regime?
Mr. PENA: Well, the way he talks to me, he hates the United States as much as he hates Russia. That’s what...he said, more than a dozen times.
Let this orient our review of the zealous WC testimony of Carlos Bringuier. We begin in 1954, when Carlos was a 20-year-old law student in Cuba. He was also politically active in college. As a student he joined the DRE: Directorio Revolucionario Estudiantil (Directorate of Revolutionary Students), established in Cuba in 1954 in opposition to dictator Fulgencio Batista.
In 1958 and 1959, DRE supported Fidel Castro's revolution to topple Batista’s regime. Carlos Bringuier was 25 years old in 1959 when Cuba elevated Fidel Castro to power. Then, after only one year of Fidel’s dictatorship, Cuban exiles in Miami revived DRE in 1960 in opposition to Fidel Castro.
According to author Jefferson Morely, by the end of 1962, Carlos had helped transform DRE into “…the single biggest and most active organization opposing Fidel Castro’s regime” (c.f. Morely, The Man Who Did Not Talk, 2007). Also, inside Miami, CIA officer George Joannides gave DRE a monthly allowance of $25,000 ($250,000 in today’s money) for “intelligence collection” and “propaganda.”
Although the DRE and the CIA had a common goal – the overthrow of Fidel Castro’s regime – the CIA admitted that the DRE didn’t report to the CIA, and so DRE could do anything that it saw fit to do, at any time, whether CIA approved or not.
Carlos Bringuier had lots of clout among the Cuban exiles of New Orleans in 1963. He was kind, serious, and useful because he was a lawyer who spoke English fairly well and he understood the workings of a bureaucracy. As New Orleans delegate for DRE, he was highly respected among most Cuban exiles there.
In his 1964 WC testimony, he was asked directly about Lee Harvey Oswald (LHO). Carlos began with an incident that occurred three days before he first met LHO. On August 2, 1963, two Cubans visited the Casa Roca clothing store that Carlos managed. They told Carlos that they had just deserted an anti-Castro guerilla training camp in New Orleans, near Lake Pontchartrain. Carlos emphasized that he had “never heard of that training camp until that day.”
Carlos never linked this incident with LHO in any way, nor did he mention this guerilla training camp again. So, why did Carlos bother to tell us?
By stating that he “never heard of that training camp” until August 2, he avoided all further questions on the topic. Was that because he knew very well that this camp was managed by Guy Banister, David Ferrie, Gerry Patrick Hemming, Loran Hall, and many others at 544 Camp Street? Was it because Carlos himself had played a role in recruiting Cuban exiles as troops for this camp?
In 1961 JFK and RFK had ordered all such training camps in the US to be shut down (except those that RFK secretly operated). Would further testimony about this camp prove that Carlos didn’t care a fig about US Law?
SPECULATION ACCORDING TO JIM GARRISON
On this topic we thank the famous Jim Garrison, hero of Oliver Stone’s 1993 movie, JFK (which should have been named, The Jim Garrison Story) for his insights as former NOLA D.A.
The WC attorneys didn’t ask Carlos anything else about this guerilla training camp, we propose, because any further light upon this camp would have led directly to a motherlode of data about LHO accomplices – yet this was exactly what Hoover, LBJ, and Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren sought to avoid.
Also – since Carlos Bringuier was exceptionally active in the New Orleans anti-Castro political scene since early 1961, who can believe that by August 1963 he was simply unaware of an anti-Castro guerilla training camp near Lake Pontchartrain whose shores were just 8 miles north of New Orleans?
Cuban exiles comprised most of the paramilitary forces at the Lake Pontchartrain training camp, followed by American mercenaries like Gerry Patrick Hemming, Loran Hall, Larry Howard, Frank Sturgis, LHO and other friends of Guy Banister and David Ferrie. LHO worked directly for Guy Banister during this period (c.f., Joan Mellen, Farewell to Justice, 2005).
Jim Garrison was the first to note that: (1) Carlos Bringuier shared office space at 544 Camp St. with Guy Banister, David Ferrie, LHO, Sergio Smith and several other radicals; (2) Guy Banister was the leader of that training camp and urgently wanted to help the DRE infiltrate the FPCC; and (3) Carlos Bringuier personally screened recruits for this Lake Pontchartrain paramilitary training camp.
We presume, then, that Carlos, in cooperation with Guy Banister, David Ferrie, LHO, and others, would collaborate to destroy the FPCC by any means necessary. This would include plans for political theater enabling Carlos to spread DRE propaganda on the streets of New Orleans.
Such a plan could go like this: LHO (the wannabe double-agent) would pretend to pass out leaflets on behalf of the official FPCC – but on fake letterhead, naming a fake president (A.J. Hidell) and a fake address (P.O. Box #300016). The leaflets would proclaim A.J. Hidell (LHO’s alias) as president of its New Orleans branch – which FPCC headquarters had advised LHO to refrain from setting up.
It’s amazing to us how many readers still believe that the New Orleans FPCC was real, and that LHO was really a loyal member of the FPCC. Media newscasters still spread the rumor. Yet LHO’s New Orleans FPCC was demonstrably fake. We can infer from this that LHO was Banister’s choice to infiltrate the FPCC.
Because Carlos knew that Guy Banister was a leader in the fight against Castro, and because Carlos had his office in the same building as Banister, it is also likely that: (a) Carlos Bringuier and Guy Banister had been working together since 1962; and (b) Carlos knew LHO as an asset of Banister.
From all this we might presume that the team at 544 Camp Street, perhaps as early as July 1963, had planned as follows:
1. LHO would appear on Canal Street (where Carlos’ store was) handing out leaflets for this fake FPCC.
2. Bringuier and his pals would come to the rescue and make a big ruckus against the FPCC and attract a crowd of onlookers.
3. This would allow Bringuier to publicly oppose the FPCC and give the crowd some DRE propaganda.
As the weeks progressed, they added some fine-tuning to their plan. For example:
4. Bringuier needed a personal motive to direct his anger into the speech. So LHO had to pretend to shock him by faking an attempt to infiltrate his DRE.
5. That is, LHO had to visit Bringuier’s store a few days before the speech and offer to help DRE teach its guerillas the US Marine method of combat.
6. Four days later, LHO began this political theater of FPCC leafleting in , a friend of Bringuier’s would grab all of LHO’s yellow FPCC fliers and energetically throw them into the wind like large yellow confetti.
7. Carlos would then begin his speech by complaining that LHO tried to infiltrate DRE. This was his motivation to use emotion to polarize the DRE and the FPCC for the Americans in the crowd there.
As the weeks progressed, they added some additional fine-tuning to the plan. For example:
8. The police must be called to arrest the ruckus-makers – immediately before the ruckus became violent.
9. The whole crew must be arrested, taken to the police station, and booked. LHO would plead guilty. Bringuier and his friends would walk away with no record. All this would ensure that LHO had a police record as an FPCC secretary.
10. LHO, from jail, would also call the FBI to defend the FPCC. This would ensure that LHO also had an FBI record as an FPCC secretary.
11. In this way, too, LHO’s list of FPCC credentials would keep growing.
The script was ready. LHO first visited Carlos’ store on August 5th to offer his services. Then, on August 9th, around 2 p.m., LHO passed out some fake FPCC fliers for his fake FPCC and set the stage for Carlos’ DRE speech.
Everything went according to plan. Police arrested LHO, Carlos, and his two Cuban exile friends. All would stand in court before the judge on August 12th.
BACK TO BRINGUIER’S WC TESTIMONY
Let’s return from our speculation back towards the WC testimony of Carlos Bringuier. Carlos tells about his local friend, Bill Stuckey, a talk show host for the weekly radio program, “Latin Listening Post.” Stuckey rushed his camera crew to the courthouse early in the morning to get footage and hopefully an interview.
At the end of the court hearing, LHO slipped out, but Stuckey wanted that interview, so he had to ask Carlos for LHO’s home address. Carlos hesitated, but then handed it over – 4907 Magazine St. – so that Stuckey went to LHO’s home that same evening (August 12th) and spoke with LHO for about an hour on LHO’s porch.
This was all inside the WC testimony of Carlos Bringuier.
During that hour, Stuckey grilled LHO about Fidel Castro. LHO defended Fidel fiercely. Yet LHO also wanted to keep secret all of his connections with Russia. Inadvertently, LHO’s main connection with Russia came spilling out when Marina came to the porch and spoke with LHO in Russian. Stuckey was surprised by this. He asked LHO about his Russian language, and LHO claimed that he was studying language at Tulane University. (He wasn’t).
The next day, Saturday the 17th, Stuckey visited LHO early in the morning to invite LHO to a taped radio spot, for a 5-minute radio show, Latin Listening Post, that very evening at 5 p.m. LHO agreed. He arrived at WDSU radio at 5 p.m. to pre-record the interview. Instead of 5 minutes, Stuckey recorded LHO for 37 minutes. He did make a 5-minute show of it -- but he also kept that 37-minute interview tape.
Stuckey made a transcript of that interview with LHO, and he gave Carlos two copies. Carlos sent one copy to the US Secret Service. Then Stuckey told Carlos that he had arranged a WSDU radio debate to bring Carlos and LHO together on the radio to face off on the issues. Carlos said OK, but he needed more ammunition, so to speak.
They both knew a young New Orleans native in the anti-Castro struggle, namely, Edward Butler, Executive Director of INCA (Information Council of the Americas). INCA was funded by the CIA to provide propaganda and information services that could topple Fidel. Three days later, Carlos and Stuckey met in person with Ed Butler and laid out the problem.
“Help us investigate LHO,” they exclaimed! “He lived in Russia! He started a Russian family and brought them all to Fort Worth! He is openly pro-Castro on our streets!” Ed Butler called his folks in Washington DC for more background on LHO to help Carlos. He got plenty. Carlos could now expose LHO on live radio!
August 21, 1963
Early in the morning of the TV debate, Carlos went to the WDSU TV station and found Stuckey and LHO already there. Carlos spoke with Stuckey for a few minutes, then went inside the technical room to test the setup. Ed Butler also arrived. Carlos admitted that he needed more help, so Butler and Carlos invited Butler to the show to help him debate LHO.
They had their debate. The full transcript of this TV debate is still available freely for the public to read, e.g., at this URL:
Notice in that transcript that Ed Butler replied to 14 questions, while Carlos replied to only three. Carlos had evidently agreed that Ed Butler was the better debater.
After the TV debate, Carlos took a new press release to the New Orleans Secret Service, the local papers, WSDU radio and TV stations, the UPI office. He implored the public: “Write to your Congressman asking for a full investigation of Lee H. Oswald, a confessed Marxist!”
That was the last time that Carlos Bringuier saw LHO in person. His personal involvement with LHO lasted from August 5th through August 21, 1963.
FALL INTO THE RIDICULOUS
Soon after the JFK assassination, three friends of Bringuier told him something strange and curios. Their Havana Bar was three doors away from Carlos’ Casa Roca store. Their names were Orest (bar-owner), Ruperto (his brother), and Evaristo (bar trainee).
Commercial stores were opening on Canal Street on the morning of Monday, November 25, and over coffee, the three told Carlos that LHO had been in their Havana Bar one time back in July and had ordered a lemonade; the first time for this bar. Bringuier will find political intrigue there.
Evaristo was the server. He said that LHO was with only one friend, probably Mexican. Orest said LHO was with two others, possibly a Cuban and a Mexican. Ruperto wasn’t at work that night, so he saw nothing.
Evaristo served an American and a Mexican; a tequila for the Mexican, and a lemonade for the American. “What’s a lemonade?” Evaristo asked Orest at the other side of the bar. Orest calmly looked over at the men, and he calmly gave Evaristo the recipe and charges for a lemonade. The two drinkers made lots of noise, then the American got sick on the table and floor, and Evaristo cleaned up and never saw them again.
Orest agreed with everything that Evaristo said, except that Orest saw LHO enter with two companions – a Cuban and a Mexican.
Ruperto had a completely separate story. Sometime in September 1963, perhaps, Ruperto had a loud argument that became unruly involving two Mexicans with regard to Cuba, so that Ruperto had to chase them out. He went next door to ask Carlos to call the FBI for him (as Ruperto was English challenged). The FBI replied, “If you see them again, call us again. Goodbye.” A few days later Ruperto saw those two Mexicans again in a car driving past. Ruperto copied down their license number and gave it to Carlos to call the FBI again. Carlos did so. The FBI never called back. Ruperto forgot about it.
Orest had a completely separate story. Perhaps in September Orest had a loud argument with two Mexicans simply because he had bolted his bar bongos to a long cord connected to his wall. The Mexicans mocked US Democracy because of these bolted bongos, so Orest decided that they were communists and chased them out. Then Orest called the FBI about these two Mexicans. The FBI replied, “If you see them again, call us again. Goodbye.” He never saw them again so he forgot about it.
Even though Carlos was present during Ruperto’s problem, Carlos gave the WC a mashup of these three accounts.
a. Carlos incorrectly testified that the FBI formerly identified two Mexicans to Ruperto as communists (presumably by photograph) and asked Ruperto to keep an eye out for them. That wasn’t what Ruperto said.
b. Carlos incorrectly testified that Ruperto told him, “You remember those two Mexicans who argued with me about Cuba? One of them was with LHO in the bar!” That wasn’t what Ruperto said.
c. Carlos incorrectly testified that one of the Mexicans who hassled Orest about the bongos, “was the one who had been with LHO” when Evaristo served them. That wasn’t what Orest said.
Here’s what Orest Pena said:
Mr. LIEBELER. Now, these two Mexicans that came into your bar and with whom you had the discussion about the bongo drums, were they the same men or the same man that was with Oswald when he was in the bar?
Mr. PENA: No. I don't believe so.
As a parting shot in his WC testimony, Carlos Bringuier told the WC attorney that Bill Stuckey had a hidden tape interview of LHO dated August 17, 1963, in which LHO admitted that he had been to Mexico previously. Carlos would seek to twist this in order to portray LHO as a long-time collaborator with Communists in Mexico City.
LHO’S SECRET TRIPS TO MEXICO?
Actually – LHO had been to Mexico only one other time, namely, to Tijuana with some of his Marine buddies on liberty from the El Toro Marine Base in Southern California. All Marines who testified to the WC agreed on this – LHO didn’t like it so he never went back.
Nor did the WC attorneys have any incentive to clear this up on the witness stand, because if these Cuban exiles in New Orleans were right, then LHO had at least one Mexican accomplice (and perhaps a Cuban accomplice, too, as Orest Pena and Harry Dean told it).
The stage was set by the US Justice Department with the memo written by Associate Attorney General Nick Katzenbach on Monday, November 25. He wrote, “The public must be satisfied that Oswald was the assassin; and that he did not have confederates who are still at large...”
Carlos had tried to insert into the record the Dallas doctrine that LHO was part of a Communist conspiracy stretching from the USSR to Cuba, to Mexico City, and to the FPCC and US Communist Party in NYC. Yet the WC testimony of these three Havana Bar bartenders contradicted the WC testimony of Carlos Bringuier.
Having canceled each other out, the WC was safe to conclude that these poor Cuban exiles were hopelessly confused and thus unreliable witnesses – and thus LHO “did not have confederates who are still at large!”
We have lots more detail to discuss about Carlos Bringuier in coming weeks – especially his close interactions with Bill Stuckey (WDSU) and Edward Butler (INCA).
© Copyright 2021 by Paul Edward Trejo. All Rights Reserved.
Warren Commission Testimony of Carlos Bringuier (April 7, 1964)
Warren Commission Testimony of William Stuckey (July 21, 1964)
WDSU radio interview of LHO by William Stuckey (August 17, 1963)
WDSU TV debate of Carlos Bringuier, LHO, and Ed Butler, by William Stuckey (August 21, 1963)
Warren Commission Testimony of Evaristo Rodriguez (July 21, 1964)
Warren Commission Testimony of Orest Pena (July 21, 1964)
Warren Commission Testimony of Ruperto Pena (July 21, 1964)