ZR Rifle: The Plot to Kill Kennedy and Castro
By Claudia Furiati
Melbourne: Ocean Press, 1994. 183 pp., $22.95.
Reviewed by Allen Myers
Conspiracy is not the cause of history, but history often creates conspiracies. In the three decades since US President John Kennedy was murdered in Dallas, at least one certainty has emerged: people who believe the official Warren Commission investigation into the assassination do so because the Tooth Fairy vouched for it.
For the rest of us, there exist a confusing myriad of books, films and theories which purport to identify the real culprits. Was Lee Harvey Oswald an innocent "patsy" (a word he used at the time of his arrest), or was he part of a larger conspiracy? What was the real role of Jack Ruby, who murdered Oswald?
Rather than joining the debate over ballistic tests and what various photographs and home movies do or don't show, Brazilian journalist Claudia Furiati decided to seek out new evidence. Starting from the well-known fact that Oswald was closely acquainted with Cuban counter-revolutionary circles, she reasoned that the Cuban State Security Department might have information on Oswald and/or others associated with the assassination. She eventually persuaded the Cuban government to allow her to look into its files.
The picture that emerges is by no means conclusive proof, but it is a consistent, well-reasoned and convincing explanation. It has the advantage of explaining something that remains a mystery in other theories, namely Oswald's attempt to establish a bogus record as a supporter of Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution.
With information from Cuba's undercover agents, Furiati takes us into the murky world of counter-revolutionary politics. Here there were three main players: the CIA, Cuban counter-revolutionaries and the Mafia. Particular individuals could be part of two, or even all three, outfits.
In the view of the Cuban State Security Department, top elements in the CIA, probably without Kennedy's knowledge, were seeking to create a provocation that would serve as a pretext for a US invasion of Cuba (it is known that there were several unsuccessful plots to stage a "Cuban" attack on the Guantanamo naval base).
The Cuban counter-revolutionaries (many of whom rise to prominence again in 1972 as part of the Watergate burglary), who felt that they had been "betrayed" by Kennedy, especially after the 1962 missile crisis ended without an attack on Cuba, came up with a different provocation that would, they hoped, lead to a US invasion.
This is an intriguing account, one that can be followed without any detailed knowledge of the assassination and the controversies surrounding it. Highly recommended.