TESTIMONY OF SENOR EUSEBIO AZCUE LOPEZ, FORMER CUBAN CONSUL IN MEXICO CITY
Mr. BLAKEY. Mr. Chairman, the next witness to be called is Eusebio Azcue Lopez. Mr. Azcue was the Cuban consul in Mexico City in September 1963 who informed the individual who visited the consulate and gave his name as Lee Harvey Oswald that he would not be issued a visa to Cuba. Senor Azcue is presently living in retirement in Cuba. It would be appropriate at this time, Mr. Chairman, to call Senor Azcue.
Chairman STOKES. Prior to calling the witness, the Chair will once again advise that this particular witness, due to security reasons, we are requesting that all persons remain in their seats any time the witness comes into the hearing room or at any time that the witness is leaving the hearing room. We ask that all persons please cooperate with those arrangements with the committee. At this time the committee calls Mr. Azcue. The Chair requests first that the interpreter please stand and be sworn. Sir, do you solemnly swear that the testimony you interpret before the committee will be a truthful and accurate interpretation of the testimony of the witness to the best of your ability?
Mr. ANTHONY J. HERVAS. I do.
Chairman STOKES. Thank you. I would ask that the witness be sworn.
Mr. Azcue, please raise your right hand. Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you will give before this committee is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
SenIOR AZCUE. [through the interpreter]. Yes, sir.
Chairman STOKES. Thank you. You may be seated. Does counsel desire to be heard prior to the witness testifying?
Mr. STANDARD. Yes; with the Chairman's permission. My name is Michael Standard of the law firm of Rabinowitz, Boudin & Standard of New York.
Mr. CORNWELL. Excuse me, Mr. Standard. Would you mind moving the Microphone so we can make a record of your statement.
Mr. STANDARD. For the past 17 years the office has represented the legal interests of the Government of Cuba in the United States. To my immediate left sits Sr. Eusebio Azcue, the witness. To his left sits Sr. Ricardo Escartin, first secretary and consul of the Cuban Interest Section in Washington; and to his left, Capt. Felipe Villa, of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Cuba.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I appear here today in two capacities. One, to reflect the view of the Cuban Government that the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was an act of the vilest kind, an act unacceptable by any standards of human and political behavior. Both at the time of the convening of the Warren Commission and today, the Cuban Government has cooperated to the fullest extent in providing what information it has at its disposal to the U.S. authorities investigating the event. Second, to accompany two former consuls of the Republic of Cuba who were present in Mexico City in the period September 1963 through August 1964, both of whom appear today of their own volition, and as a result of the Cuban Government's decision to provide the Congress of the United States with the testimony of such witnesses as may aid in the process of gathering evidence regarding the assassination. On the day following the assassination, President Castro, in a speech televised to the people of Cuba, and devoted exclusively to the implications for his country, said, and I quote: It is in the interest of the American people and all the people of the world that it be known, that it be demanded what is really behind the Kennedy assassination, that all the facts be revealed. On April 3, 1978 members and staff of this committee had an extensive interview with President Fidel Castro in Havana. President Castro made it abundantly clear, and I quote from the transcript of the interview: We are very much interested in having Kennedy's assassination clarified because in one way or the other attempts have been made to try to have Cuba involved in it. We have our conscience clear. There is nothing as important as having your conscience clean--absolutely clean. That's why it is not a matter of conscience, but rather a matter of political, historical interest to have all these problems clarified. It is in that context, and with that hope, that Senors Azcue and Mirabal appear here today. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman STOKES. Thank you, counsel. The Chair at this time recognizes Mr. Gary Cornwell.
TESTIMONY OF SENOR EUSEBIO AZCUE LOPEZ, FORMER CUBAN CONSUL IN MEXICO CITY
[The examination of Senor Azcue was conducted through the interpreter.]
Mr. CORNWELL. Would you state your name for the record.
Senor AZCUE. Eusebio Azcue Lopez.
Mr. CORNWELL. Senor Azcue, you are presently a resident and a citizen of Cuba, is that correct?
Senor AZCUE. Yes, sir.
Mr. CORNWELL. What is your age?
Senor AZCUE. 67.
Mr. CORNWELL. And where were you born?
Senor AZCUE. Havana, Cuba.
Mr. CORNWELL. You are presently retired?
Senor AZCUE. Yes, sir, I am retired.
Mr. CORNWELL. In 1963, what was your occupation?
Senor AZCUE. Consul of Cuba in Mexico, Mexico City.
Mr. CORNWELL. Senor Azcue, when did you first go to live in Mexico prior to 1963?
Senor AZCUE. In 1944.
Mr. CORNWELL. What was the basic nature of your occupation between that date and 1963?
Senor AZCUE. I was an architect in Mexico before the triumph of the revolution. At the time the revolution triumphed, I was requested to take charge of the Cuban consulate in Mexico City.
Mr. CORNWELL. For how long a period of time or until what date did you hold that position?
Senor AZCUE. Until November 18, 1963, though since the month of September of 1963 I had started to turn over affairs to the new consul who was to replace me, Mr. Alfredo Mirabal.
Mr. CORNWELL. And on November 18, 1963, when you did ultiMately turn over that position to Senor Mirabal, where did you go?
Senor AZCUE. I went directly and definitively to Havana.
Mr. CORNWELL. I would like to direct your attention to an exhibit which has been marked for identification as JFK exhibit F-408. That exhibit is provided in an enlargement form, and a photograph of it in a smaller form has been handed to the witness. Can you tell us what type of document that is?
Senor AZCUE. This form is a request that was given to foreigners who approached the consulate requesting a visa to travel to Cuba.
Mr. CORNWELL. May we have that exhibit admitted into evidence, Mr. Chairman?
Chairman STOKES. Without objection, it may be entered in the record at this point. [The information follows:]
JFK EXHIBIT F-408
Mr. CORNWELL. Senor Azcue, can you tell us, do you recognize that document?
Senor AZCUE. Yes; it is a document that we used at the consulate to be completed at the request of the applicant.
Mr. CORNWELL. The document bears the date 1963. Would you tell us what function that document served during that period of time.
Senor AZCUE. This document?
Mr. CORNWELL. That is correct.
Senor AZCUE. We had large amounts of printed forms of this nature, of these applications, and they had to be completed in sextuplicate, that is to say six copies of this document, to which were attached their photographs. They had to affix their signatures, as well as provide all the detailed information that was required to accompany the request.
Mr. CORNWELL. Senor Azcue, this particular document bears the name Lee Harvey Oswald, and the date September 27, 1963. Do you recall the occasion upon which this application was filed with your consulate?
Senor AZCUE. Fine. This gentleman wants me to narrate the antecedents of the visits of this individual to the consulate. Is that the nature of the question?
Mr. CORNWELL. That is correct. If you recall the occasion on which this specific application was filed, would you describe that occasion for us.
Senor AZCUE. Certainly, with pleasure. Yes, this gentleman appeared on the date indicated at the consulate, requesting a visa to travel to Cuba. This gentleman was referred to, as was the usual practice in the consulate, to Mrs. Sylvia Duran, a Mexican citizen, who was responsible for handling these contacts with persons applying for such visas.
Mr. CORNWELL. Senor Azcue, in a previous interview with the staff you stated that the very first occasion to your memory on which you saw this individual was 1 to 2 days before the date on this application. Is that still accurate to the best of your memory?
Senor AZCUE. It is something that I cannot state categorically. I cannot state whether it was on the very same day, a day before, or several days before, and I am in a position to explain why.
Mr. CORNWELL. Please do.
Senor AZCUE. He approaches us. The secretary normally takes care of the case. There is no need for me personally to go out to see him unless he specifically requests that I do so, as a special case, that he requests either My presence or the presence of another Cuban consul responsible. He did so. He requested my presence because when he initially formulated the application with the secretary, the secretary explained to him all of the requirements that he would have to fulfill in order to obtain the visa. And as he was carrying along certain documents which he believed would be sufficient for the visa, and the secretary could not resolve the case, he then calls upon me to see whether I, upon examination of those documents, can proceed to issue the visa immediately. I answered negatively. The documents that he submits are not enough. He is exhibiting or producing documents such as, one, attesting to his membership in the U.S. Communist Party. Also another indicating that he is a member of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. Also another document indicating his residence in the Soviet Union, as well as a marriage certificate to a Soviet citizen. Upon presentation of these documents, he thinks that I will be able to solve his problem and grant him a visa. I at that time tell him that this is not sufficient; that I must request authorization from the Cuban Government. And at that point he agrees to proceed to fill the application out in order to process the visa. At that point, he leaves the consulate, conceivably to look for some photographs. One could think whether he returned on that very same date with the photographs; it is possible that he might have returned on that very same date with the photographs, or that he might have returned the following day. As far as the date that appears herein, and bearing in mind that I received him on three occasions, maybe it would be possible to determine that on this very same date, it is possible, I cannot fully guarantee this, it is possible that on that same day he might have made the first two visits to the consulate; one during the morning very early, and the second one a little later, bringing the photographs in order to complete the application. There is a sufficient time for such a thing.
Mr. CORNWELL. Was the first visit of this man that you have just described to us during the normal working hours at the consulate?
Senor AZCUE. Yes, without a doubt. The consulate opened at 10 in the Morning and closed at 2.
Mr. CORNWELL. Directing your attention, then, to the second occasion on which, as you have just described, the individual returned with photographs which could be attached to the visa application, what occurred on that second occasion?
Senor AZCUE. I did not assist. I was not present at the very time when the secretary receives the photograph and fills the documents. That is a function that pertains properly to her. He very probably insisted once again on the need to proceed urgently to Cuba or to transit Cuba. As the amount of time required to process this document by our own Government was one that I could not predetermine, it could be a matter of 15 days, 20 days, or the response could be negative, during this second visit that he makes to me I bring up or note that if he already had a visa to go to the Soviet Union, I would be in a position to grant him a visa to Cuba without the need to consult my Government, in terms of a transit to the Soviet Union. This should have been clearly stated or established during the course of the second visit that he made. Whether it might have been on the same day or 2 days thereafter, I tend to believe that it will have been on the date that appears on the application, that is to say on the 27th.
Mr. CORNWELL. So the second occasion that you have just described would have been the date on the visa application, September 27, is that correct?
Senor AZCUE. That is very correct.
Mr. CORNWELL. At the termination of the conversation on this occasion, what if anything did the individual do?
Senor AZCUE. I believe, and this is something I think, that he left or withdrew from the consulate, and we can imagine or conclude that he attempted to obtain a visa from the Soviet Union, because he was a resident of the Soviet Union and he was married to a Soviet citizen, according to what he stated.
Mr. CORNWELL. After he left on this second occasion, did you have any conversations with the Soviet Embassy about this routine, in other words, about the possibility of him obtaining a visa from the Soviet Embassy?
Senor AZCUE. I don't know whether it was that very same day or on the following day. A few years have gone by since, and it is very difficult to determine or recall exactly the manner in which the events occurred exactly. It is possible to reconstruct a sequence. It could have been that very same day or the following day. But obviously if the first two visits took place on the 27th, the third visit would have had to take place on the following day, because in and during the same day it is not possible to complete three visits that are separated by time, and at the same time to undertake the necessary actions to obtain the photographs we needed. In fact, after he left the consulate, I received a telephone call from the consulate of the Soviet Union. I cannot guarantee whether it was on that very same day or on the following day. But whatever day it might have been, the consulate of the Soviet Union gets in touch with me over the phone. And the consul tells me that apparently the documents that he is exhibiting or producing attesting to his residence in the Soviet Union and his marriage certificate with the Soviet citizen are apparently legal, are correct, and he believes that they are correct. But without a doubt he cannot issue the visa without consulting Moscow. Consequently, I cannot, in turn, grant him a visa to transit Cuba without consulting the Government. That was the content of my telephone conversation with the Soviet consulate.
Mr. CORNWELL. After that conversation, did you again see the individual, did he return to the consulate?
Senor AZCUE. Yes, sir. That was the third and last time I saw him. He possibly thinking that his documents had been legalized orally, verbally, that I would consequently change my attitude and in view of the legality of the document would grant him the visa; these were his hopes. And in addition one noticed that he was very anxious that we grant him the visa, because we never had any individual that was so insistent or persistent, in spite of our refusals which were logical and legal.
Mr. CORNWELL. Did all three of these visits occur during normal working hours at the consulate?
Senor AZCUE. We never received anybody, any individual, outside these regular office hours.
Mr. CORNWELL. As I understood your testimony, the first visit may or May not have been on September 27. The second visit was most probably on September 27. And the third visit would have been most probably on a day afterward, is that correct?
Senor AZCUE. That is correct. I believe that on the 27th, that was the day that the application was completed. I have no doubt about it. The first visit, however, could have been that very same day, earlier in the day. And the third visit could have taken place the following day or could have been on the same 27th if the first visit had taken place on the 26th. But my private opinion, the first two visits took place on the 27th and the last one, after my conversation with the Soviet consul, was on the following day, that is to say September 28. I believe this would be the most reasonable thing if one were to analyze it.
Mr. CORNWELL. September 27, 1963, was a Friday. Does that mean that the third visit could have occurred on the following Saturday?
Senor AZCUE. On Saturday, exactly.
Mr. CORNWELL. The consulate was open on Saturday.
Senor AZCUE. Saturday morning--not open to the public.
Mr. CORNWELL. Would you tell us how the conversation on the third visit ended.
Senor AZCUE. He had great hopes that I would grant him the visa in transit. When I told him no, that if the Soviet Union does not grant him the visa as destination of his trip, I cannot grant him an in-transit visa to Cuba without consulting my government. He always had a face which reflected unhappiness. He was never friendly. He was persistent. And he was not pleasant. So on the last visit, when he loses the opportunity to obtain the visa, he gets very worked up. And then in English, which is a language that I have not full command, and all our conversations took place in English, and with great effort on my part because it is a language that I do not have full command of, but I do hear him make statements that are directed against us, and he accuses us of being bureaucrats, and in a very discourteous manner. At that point I also become upset and I tell him to leave the consulate, maybe somewhat violently or emotionally. Then he leaves the consulate, and he seems to be mumbling to himself, and he slams the door, also in a very discourteous manner. That was the last time we saw him around.
Mr. CORNWELL. Was he with anyone on any of these occasions?
Senor AZCUE. With my colleague, Mirabal, who probably was always with Me, because I was together with him. I was the exiting consul and he was the new consul. I am handling this case because I had a better knowledge of the English language than he did. But we were both handling the case, he in order to become more familiar with the situation and I also in order to train him. So this was a colleague of mine who saw him, how many times I don't know, whether on one or two or all three occasions; he was a colleague who was present there, and I know that he also saw him. And in addition to Consul Mirabal, he was also seen by the secretary, because she was the one who took care of his application. The three of us were the only ones who were able to see Oswald, nobody else. He could not have seen anybody else, because the business that brought him to us was one that was of the exclusive responsibility of the consulate. And therein the only ones present were the three of us.
Mr. CORNWELL. Was the individual who came to your consulate on these three occasions accompanied by any other persons? Did anyone come with him?
Senor AZCUE. I never saw. The private area of the consulate, from this private area it is difficult to observe who comes in from the street. My secretary from the chancery, maybe she was able to see. But whenever I emerged from that area, and to the chancery, I always saw him alone.
Mr. CORNWELL. Did he say anything in any of the conversations with you which would have indicated that he either had a companion with him in Mexico City or that he knew any persons who lived in Mexico City?
Senor AZCUE. No, never. We did not hold any conversations other than those directly related to the visa.
Mr. CORNWELL. If I could direct your attention again to the JFK exhibit F-408, I would like to ask you first, was the document signed in your presence?
Senor AZCUE. No. It is not necessary. It is never necessary. This is a document that is provided to him by the secretary. It is filled in by the secretary. She affixes the photograph, turns it over to him, and right there he signs, until it is sent, forwarded to Cuba, through the pouch.
Mr. CORNWELL. Would it have been necessary, under the usual custom and practice of your office at that time, for the document to have been signed on the premises of the consulate?
Senor AZCUE. This document or this application does not leave the desk of the secretary. She types it out and places the photograph, places the seal, and hands it over for the individual's signature.
Mr. CORNWELL. You told us earlier that the normal procedure for the preparation of such applications was that more than one copy of the document was Made, is that correct?
Senor AZCUE. Yes, six. Six photographs, six signatures, and six copies of the application is complete.
Mr. CORNWELL. Do you feel certain about your memory today as to the number of copies that are made or were made in 1963?
Senor AZCUE. Yes, absolutely. There was never an exception made. They come already together in a bunch.
Mr. CORNWELL. The copies as opposed to the original, the carbon copies, were they signed separately or was the carbon paper used to transfer a signature from one to the other?
Senor AZCUE. No, one by one, because the paper is very thick. This is Mimeograph-type paper.
Chairman STOKES. Will counsel suspend for a moment? I think this would be an appropriate place for us to take a 5-minute recess at this time. The Chair requests that as the witness departs from the room, that all persons remain in their seats please until the witness has left the room after which we will have a 5-minute recess. [A brief recess was taken.]
Chairman STOKES. The committee will come to order. All persons in the hearing room are requested to remain in their seats while the witness is being brought in to the witness table. The Chair recognizes counsel for the committee, Mr. Cornwell.
Mr. CORNWELL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Before we begin again, I believe that we neglected to have the interpreter identify himself for the record. Would you do so?
Mr. HERVAS. My name is Anthony J. H-e-r-v-a-s.
Mr. CORNWELL. Thank you.
Senor Azcue, I would like at this time to show you JFK exhibit F-407. For the record, that would appear to be a carbon copy of the previous JFK exhibit F-408. The previous JFK exhibit, F-408, is a photograph of a visa application which the staff of this committee took while they were in Cuba this year. It was taken of a document which was provided to us by the Cuban Government in an original form. We were allowed to inspect the original and to photograph it. The exhibit which we just placed on the easel, JFK F-407, is a photograph of a visa application which was provided to the Warren Commission in 1964 by the Cuban Government. As you can tell, the writing on JFK F-407 appears to be somewhat displaced on the lines; part of it sitting directly on top of lines instead of resting over them as you would expect, and otherwise its content appears to be virtually identical to 408. Would the two documents in that form have been expected, based upon the usual procedures in effect at the consulate in 1963?
Mr. HERVAS. May I ask a question? Did you say would the two documents have been expected or inspected?
Mr. CORNWELL. Expected to be in that form with those type of variations based upon the procedures in effect at the consulate in 1963?
Senor AZCUE. Do you have some other copy of the actual size that I could be able to look at or analyze because from this distance it is for me very difficult to see the exhibit on the easel.
Mr. CORNWELL. Senor Azcue, would you like to go to the easel to get a better picture of the blowups? Do the representatives from the National Archives have a small photograph of that document with them here today? OK, we do have a smaller photograph we will show the witness. It is also marked for identification as JFK F-407.
Senor AZCUE. As I stated before, the paper on which the application is printed is a very thick or heavy paper. So it is not possible to prepare six copies at one time, not even three in an ordinary typewriter such as the one Sylvia Duran had in the consulate. Conceivably, she prepared them two at a time, an original and one copy, an original and one copy, an original and one copy. So conceivably it is possible that there be some differences between some of them, between three, for instance.
Mr. CORNWELL. But at any rate your examination of the two documents would indicate that JFK F-407 is a carbon copy of the original JFK-408; is that correct?
Senor AZCUE. I am not an expert on these matters, but any one of you could--and I cannot see very well either and the quality of the copy is not very clear. However, in looking at these two documents I note that the words appear exactly one on top of the other in both documents in the same places. So, consequently, it seems reasonable to conclude that the copy, that the second exhibit constitutes a copy of the first one. It would be very difficult to place them in separate. In spite of my limitations, I believe I can affirm that this one is the original and this other one is the copy. One does notice, if one analyzes the Margin on the right side, that the text on both copies coincides perfectly one with the other. That is very difficult to do otherwise.
Mr. CORNWELL. Senor Azcue, the pictures on the upper lefthand portion of each document would appear to be of the same individual; is that correct?
Senor AZCUE. Yes, sir.
Mr. CORNWELL. Do those pictures of that individual appear to you to be the same individual who visited the consulate in Mexico City on the occasions you have previously described to us?
Senor AZCUE. Truly, this photograph is one that I saw for the first time when the honorable U.S. committee members came to Cuba in April of this year, and I was surprised that I believe that it was not the same person. Fifteen years had gone by so it is very difficult for me to be in a position to guarantee it in a categorical form. But my belief is that this gentleman was not, is not, the person or the individual who went to the consulate.
Mr. CORNWELL. Directing your attention to the period of time immediately after the assassination, the day of the assassination or the day after the assassination, did you during that period of time have an occasion to see pictures of the alleged assassin in the newspapers or to observe on television the man identified at that time as Lee Harvey Oswald?
Senor AZCUE. Yes, sir, not so close to the date, not in the first few days, not immediately thereafter. Some time I calculate approximately-and I say this because I am not a great movie fan, but it was in mid-December approximately--I saw at that time the film in which Ruby appears assassinating the Oswald who was there, and I was not able to identify him and only 2 months had gone by since I had seen the Oswald who appeared at the consulate. And I had a clear mental picture because we had had an unpleasant discussion and he had not been very pleasant to me and I did not recognize when I first saw him. I did not recognize Oswald. The man who went to the consulate was a man over 30 years of age and very thin, very thin faced. And the individual I saw in the movie was a young Man, considerably younger, and a fuller face.
Mr. CORNWELL. What color hair did the individual have to the best of your memory who visited the consulate?
Senor AZCUE. He was blond, dark blond.
Mr. CORNWELL. Did the individual you saw in the movie, the person who was killed by Jack Ruby, resemble more closely the individual in these photographs to your memory than the individual who visited the consulate?
Senor AZCUE. I believe so.
Mr. CORNWELL. I would like to show you JFK exhibit F-434. Do the representatives from the National Archives have the original or a small photograph of that exhibit? While they are looking, Mr. Chairman, I believe we neglected to ask that JFK exhibit F-407 be admitted into evidence.
Chairman STOKES. Without objection it may be entered into evidence. [The information follows:]
JFK EXHIBIT F-407
Mr. CORNWELL. That is a passport. May we have that exhibit admitted into evidence, Mr. Chairman, JFK F-434?
Chairman STOKES. Without objection it may be entered into evidence. [The information follows:]
JFK EXHIBIT F-434
Mr. CORNWELL. Did the individual who visited the consulate look like that individual?
Senor AZCUE. No.
Mr. CORNWELL. What differences were there?
Senor AZCUE. Many differences. The individual who visited the consulate is one whose physiognomy or whose face I recall very clearly. He had a hard face. He had very straight eyebrows, cold, hard, and straight eyes. His cheeks were thin. His nose was very straight and pointed. This gentleman looks like he is somewhat heavier, more filled, his eyes are at an angle with the outside of his eye, at an angle with his face. I would have never identified him or recognized him. I believe I can recall with fairly good accuracy the individual in such a way that I could recognize him now in a group of 100, that is better than a photograph of him because obviously during a period of 15 years he might change. I think I could recognize him, and this is not him.
Mr. CORNWELL. We would like to show you what has been previously admitted into evidence in this case as Exhibit 194. As you can see, Senor Azcue, the pictures on the right are simply blowups of the same visa application, but I would like to direct your attention to the two pictures on the left which come from photographs taken by the Dallas Police Department. I ask you if that individual looks like the man who visited the consulate?
Senor AZCUE. I would have never recognized him as I did not recognize him in the movie where he dies, and I can, however, identify him as or think of him as the person who was killed or assassinated by Ruby. It is a question of personal evaluation on my part. But it is very clearly imprinted.
Mr. CORNWELL. The staff of the committee has had an opportunity to speak to Mrs. Sylvia Duran, and during the interview with her she expressed no doubt about the fact that the person who was killed in Dallas by Jack Ruby was the individual who visited the consulate. Do you have any reason to question her memory or the reason that her Memory might differ from yours?
Senor AZCUE. Categorically, I could not affirm it without any doubt. However, it is possible that she might be more susceptible to impression or more impressionable than I. I remember what I saw on the film and also what I saw on TV later or maybe before. I remember that moment when he was killed and I remember I did not recognize him. I did not have any prejudices or preconceptions. I wanted to recognize, however, only 2 months had gone by. It was between September and November. At that time I was much younger. That was 15 years ago, and I think that because of my own profession I probably had better eyes. And because of the impression that was made by this person who visited the consulate, for these reasons, maybe my version is correct or more correct.
Mr. CORNWELL. Thank you. I have no further questions.
Chairman STOKES. At this point the procedure will be as follows: The Chair will recognize the gentleman from North Carolina, chairman of the Kennedy subcommittee, Mr. Preyer, for such time as he may consume, after which the committee will operate under the 5-minute rule. The Chair recognizes Mr. Preyer.
Mr. PREYER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Azcue, it is good to see you again. As I understand it, at the time Lee Harvey Oswald visited the consul in Mexico there were three people who could have seen him: yourself, Sylvia Duran and Mr. Mirabal. Is that correct?
Senor AZCUE. That is correct.
Mr. PREYER. And you were the consul at that time and Mr. Mirabal was in training to replace you as consul?
Senor AZCUE. I would say it was the opposite. The consul who was already functioning as such was Mirabal. From the very time he arrived as a designated consul. When the consul arrives--of course, there could be two or three consuls--but when the consul arrives, he takes over the functions, the responsibilities, and I was turning over the official business of the consulate to him.
Mr. PREYER. What I was getting at was, you had been the consul before Mr. Mirabal arrived?
Senor AZCUE. Yes.
Mr. PREYER. Mr. Mirabal came to replace you as consul?
Senor AZCUE. Yes.
Mr. PREYER. At the time of the assassination on November 22, you were no longer in Mexico and Mr. Mirabal remained as the consul at that time; is that correct?
Senor AZCUE. I had already returned to Cuba and Mirabal had assumed the position of consul there alone.
Mr. PREYER. You returned to Cuba, as I understand it, on November 18, which was, of course, after your encounters with Oswald and before the assassination; is that correct?
Senor AZCUE. That was the case. I returned on November 18.
Mr. PREYER. Did your return to Cuba have anything to do with your encounters with Oswald or did it have anything to do with the assassination of President Kennedy?
Senor AZCUE. It was not related to any of those things. I returned to Cuba because all of my family was already there. As of June of that year I had been awaiting a consul to replace me because I already had a son studying in Havana and a son working there and already in June they had given me permission to return permanently to Cuba. I was not able to return before because they were not sending me a consul to replace me, and the reason I did not leave immediately upon Mr. Mirabal's arrival was, first, because I had to train him. He did not have any experience in the handling of consular affairs there, and, second, because there was a meeting or congress of consuls being held at that time and I was asked to stay. This was because of my connections developed over the 5 years that I had spent there.
Mr. PREYER. So that it is fair to sum up your answer by saying you were not recalled by the Cuban Government, but, you, at your request, returned to Cuba?
Mr. HERVAS. Excuse me, sir, did you say at your wish?
Mr. PREYER. Yes, at his wish.
Senor AZCUE. I cannot say it was at my wish exclusively. I need the permission of the Government of Cuba, but I had requested my return in June because, as I noted previously, my sons were back in Havana. One was already working. One was studying there. I was then alone in Mexico with my smaller daughter, and I also wanted her to study in Cuba. I wanted to return there.
Mr. PREYER. I would like to turn to the visa application, the JFK exhibit F-408, for a moment. In the middle of that document, over on the right-hand side, there is a printed date that says October 10, 1963. I don't believe there has been any discussion about that as yet. Could you tell us what that date is?
Senor AZCUE. I will relate the manner in which I believe that appeared. We sent, of the six copies of the application with photographs, five to Havana. Those are distributed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to different organizations in government, different entities, and these receive different copies of the document. Immigration possibly receives two copies. The Interior Ministry receives a copy. Each organization receiving a copy might possibly stamp the date of receipt of the document on such a document. One organization in this case must have stamped that date on the document. On the other document, the organization probably did not have its routine practice to date such document because it was not a rigid requirement.
Mr. PREYER. So that this was a date stamped on the document in Cuba.
Senor AZCUE. I believe that that is so, because if we received the reapplication on 27th, we never hold on to or retain, in order to protect the interest of the applicant, the document for such a long period of time before forwarding it to Cuba. We will be mailing it in the next mail departure, 2 or 3 days at most, and this date, October 10, corresponds more closely to what I had just indicated, that is, to the distribution of the correspondence to the different entities, where they are supposed to receive copies of this document, that is, 13 days thereafter.
Mr. PREYER. So it does not indicate that Lee Harvey Oswald was in Mexico on October 10.
Senor AZCUE. No; in no manner. He never returned to the consulate. We never saw him again. This date is completely independent of Mr. Oswald. This is an internal matter.
Mr. PREYER. Looking again at this document, the visa application form, doesn't it indicate on this form how long Oswald wanted to stay in Cuba?
Senor AZCUE. Here it should be stated. Sometimes we included it, 2 weeks, and, if possible, a longer period of time.
Mr. PREYER. Does it also indicate when Oswald wanted to leave for Cuba?
Senor AZCUE. Proposed date of arrival in Cuba, September 30, 1963.
Mr. PREYER. That was just 3 days after he applied for the visa, and I believe you have testified earlier today that you had never seen anyone so persistent in seeking a visa. Did Oswald tell you why he was in such a hurry to get to Cuba?
Senor AZCUE. None whatsoever. He arrived there convinced that with the documents that he exhibited at the time, I would issue the visa immediately, and one can analyze the fact that if he had a great need to go to the Soviet Union, he would have chosen the shortest route, and that was not through Cuba.
Mr. PREYER. But he gave you no explanation of why he was in such a hurry, why he was so anxious to go to Cuba?
Senor AZCUE. I do not recall it, and it is hard to find a reasonable explanation, because if he is in a hurry, he can go through any other country.
Mr. PREYER. Down in the right-hand corner of the visa application there is a signature. Is that your signature?
Senor AZCUE. No.
Mr. PREYER. Is it Sylvia Duran's signature?
Senor AZCUE. It is a signature, and we have been able to check it thereafter, of Alfredo Mirabal, who, as I have already mentioned earlier, he already was empowered as a consul. He had already been named or appointed consul.
Mr. PREYER. So it is Mr. Mirabal's signature. Just above that signature there is a section, a printed section, that has the title "Observations." Now you have testified, in general, as to what those observations were, but I wonder if you could read out loud for us, for the sake of the record, what that section says.
Senor AZCUE. The applicant states that he is a member of the U.S. Communist Party and also the secretary of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee in New Orleans, and that he lived in the Soviet Union from October 1959, that he is Married to a Soviet citizen. He showed documents certifying that he was a member of the organizations mentioned, as well as a marriage certificate. He went to the Soviet Embassy in this city requesting that his visa be forwarded to their embassy in Cuba. We called the Soviet consulate, and they responded that they had to obtain, they have to await authorization from Moscow to issue the visa, and that it would take approximately 4 months. This is the very same thing I told the members of your committee in Havana in April without having seen this document before.
Mr. PREYER. This section of the application was not filled in by you?
Senor AZCUE. No, no, I had never seen it. This was made or prepared by Sylvia Duran, and it was signed by Mirabal, as it appears here. I repeat once again that the first time I saw this document was when the committee showed it to me in April.
Mr. PREYER. Is there anything in those observations that would make you think that the person who wrote them believed that Oswald would be given a visa?
Senor AZCUE. Probably no, this is something that is written or addressed to Cuba, all of the information that we can provide Cuba, but we do not prejudge what Cuba is going to determine, even if we may have an interest in seeing something resolved.
Mr. PREYER. Incidentally, to clear up one point on that, I believe you testified this morning that you initiated the call to the Soviet Embassy. No, I'm afraid I have that just reversed. I believe this morning you testified that it was the Soviet Embassy that called you, but in the observations it states you initiated the call to the Soviet Embassy. Would you like to clarify that point?
Senor AZCUE. It is relatively easy, I believe, if one analyzes it. Conceivably, I was under the impression that the Soviet Embassy had called me because I was told to pick up the telephone. I did not call. It is possible, however, that at Oswald's request, Sylvia might have called the Embassy and then would have transferred the call to me, and thereafter I was under the impression that it was the Soviet Embassy that had called me, and I was always under that impression. But it is possible that she might have initiated the call and thereafter transferred the call to me.
Mr. PREYER. One final question. Going back to the observations written on the bottom of the application, written by Sylvia Duran, in your opinion, did Sylvia Duran ever pressure you to grant the visa or encourage you to grant the visa to Oswald?
Senor AZCUE. She, the poor woman, was in no position to pressure me. She might have been in a position to make a personal recommendation, and the recommendation was not a personal matter. Yet she might have believed that because of the fact that he was a resident in the Soviet Union and he was a member of the North American Communist Party, she might have believed that we might have been in a position to make an exception, but this is simply as a comment, a possible comment. She did not exert pressure or any such thing.
Mr. PREYER. Did she make any personal recommendation or did she evidence any unusual interest in Oswald's case?
Senor AZCUE. No; she might have thought that we might be in a position to grant him a visa because of his personal conditions or circumstances, not for any reason of friendship. It wasn't any such thing. She never spoke again about him, nor did we ever speak about him. As in the case of many of the hundreds of applicants who come through a consulate, we see them at that time, and thereafter we never remember them again or discuss them again. And if it hadn't been for the unfortunate incident, I would have by now completely forgotten about this gentleman.
Mr. PREYER. After Oswald visited you the first time, that visit ended when you sent him out to have a photograph taken, as I understand it. Was there a place nearby where he could have had the photograph taken?
Senor AZCUE. Yes, yes, about four or five blocks away in a street known as Calzada de Tacubaya. There are photographic studios. Possibly Sylvia might have pointed out to him where he could obtain the photographs, or maybe he already had the photos.
Mr. PREYER. Well, in the photographs on the application, and also in the passport, Oswald appears to have on a tie and a sweater. How was he dressed when he came to the Embassy, to the consulate?
Senor AZCUE. I always imagine him or visualize him as wearing a suit, coat and pants, trousers, with a pattern of crossed lines, not very clear design. Blue, some reddish. I never conceived of him or visualized him wearing a light sweater. When I saw this photograph in April of this year, I also noticed that the clothing he was wearing was not the same.
Mr. PREYER. So that the clothing he was wearing in the photographs was not similar to that which he was wearing when he actually visited you in the Embassy.
Senor AZCUE. I am almost in a position to assure that.
Mr. PREYER. When he returned with the photographs and with his application, visa application form, and his passport pictures, would you have looked at the pictures on the visa application and on the passport?
Senor AZCUE. No, I did not see the photograph, nor did I witness the preparation of the form. I did not see the photograph at that time. I only saw this photograph last April, when they came to Cuba.
Mr. PREYER. So that at the time of processing his visa and the passport, you never looked at the photographs, you never compared them with the Man standing before you.
Senor AZCUE. No, I was never present during the preparation of this form nor of the affixing of the photograph. And it is also signed by Mirabal. And in the normal course of business this is a matter that goes to Cuba. It is generally kept until it is prepared for shipment in the next plane, outgoing plane, and there was no reason for me to go back searching for this form.
Mr. PREYER. You have indicated to us that you don't believe the man whose photograph appears on the visa application and the passport was the same Man who appeared before you in the consulate. Have you ever seen a photograph of the man you believed to have appeared before you in the consulate?
Senor AZCUE. Never. I shall explain. The committee brought to me an album with many photographs. I shall try to explain. It is very possible that amongst all of those photographs which were made available to us by those persons who took pictures of every person that went near the consulate or the Embassy and that were contained in those that I was shown, it is very difficult when I consider all of the photos that I saw, that anyone could escape being photographed if he approached the consulate during working hours, that is, escape without having his photograph taken. It would be easy for them, having at hand the photographs and the dates, to facilitate or make available the photograph of the person who went to the consulate, be it the decedent or the dead man or the other person that I think I saw went to the consulate. It is indeed curious that they did not provide that photograph, because if it were the same man, you would have recognized him in that photograph. And if I remembered the face, I would have recognized it amongst those photos. And there was no photo of either. This is very curious, that something like that should happen, especially among individuals or men who are so efficient and who spied on our consulate and our Embassy.
Mr. PREYER. I would like to ask if we could have exhibit 437 displayed. Mr. Azcue, I will ask if that is a picture of you in Cuba looking through the album of photographs which the committee made available to you.
Senor AZCUE. Right. That is a photograph of myself with the photo album that you provided me.
Mr. PREYER. And I believe you recognized none of the photographs in that album as being the man whom you feel you saw in the Embassy. Have you ever seen that man again, the man who you believe you saw in the consulate?
Senor AZCUE. No, never. This is what I stated before.
Mr. PREYER. I believe you said that the man who signed the visa application did not sign it in your presence, as far as you recall.
Senor AZCUE. No; the secretary is the one who takes care of all of this. And we are normally in our private office while she is having the applicant provide the information and fill the forms and attaching the photograph. During all of that time we are in our offices working.
Mr. PREYER. If analysis of that handwriting, of that signature on the visa application showed it to be Lee Harvey Oswald's signature, would you still believe that the man who visited you in the consulate was not Oswald?
Senor AZCUE. Under such circumstances I would have to accept that I was being influenced or that I was seeing visions.
Mr. PREYER. Mr. Chairman, I am at a point now at which there are two other areas that I wanted to ask Mr. Azcue some questions. It will probably take about 15 minutes. Would you prefer to go forward or to recess until after lunch at this time? First, Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask that JFK exhibit F-437 be admitted into evidence at this point.
Chairman STOKES. Without objection, it may be entered into the record at this point. [The information follows:]
JFK EXHIBIT F-437
Chairman STOKES. The Chair thinks this is a good time for us to take a recess. Accordingly, the committee will recess until 2 p.m. this afternoon. I request at this time that all persons remain in their seats until the witness has been escorted from the hearing room, after which we will declare a recess. [Whereupon, at 12:45 p.m., a recess was taken until 2 p.m.]
Chairman STOKES. The committee will come to order. All persons in the hearing room are requested to take their seats and to remain seated while the witness is being brought into the room and to the witness table. Thereafter you may move about if you please, but then once again, whenever the witness departs the room, you are also further requested to remain in your seats for security purposes. You may bring the witness in. The Chair at this time recognizes the gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Preyer, for such time as he may further consume.
TESTIMONY OF EUSEBIO AZCUE--(Resumed)
Mr. PREYER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to ask that JFK exhibit F-428 be placed on the easel, please. Do we have JFK exhibit F-428? In the earlier testimony that was read to the committee today from Sylvia Duran, mention was made of a newspaper article by a reporter named Comer Clark which appeared in an american paper. This is a copy of that article. I would like to read you about the first five or six paragraphs of that article, Mr. Azcue, and get your comments upon it. I would suggest to the translator that I might read by sections of it and give you a copy of the article and you can translate it directly, in the interest of time. The article reads in the first paragraph, it begins in quotation marks: "Yes, I heard of Lee Harvey Oswald's plan to kill President Kennedy. It's possible that I could have saved him. "I might have been able to--but I didn't. I never believed the plan would be put into effect." These were the dramatic words spoken to me by Cuba's Prime Minister Fidel Castro in Havana on July 15. "Lee Oswald came to the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City twice," Castro went on. The first time--I was told--he wanted to work for us. "He was asked to explain, but he wouldn't. "He wouldn't go into details. "The second time he said he wanted to 'free Cuba from American imperialism.' "Then he said something like: 'Someone ought to shoot that President Kennedy.' "Then Oswald said--and this was exactly how it was reported to Me--'Maybe I'll try to do it.' "This was less than 2 months before the U.S President was assassinated."
Mr. Azcue, would you comment on that statement?
Senor AZCUE. I have already commented to you, in the course of previous conversations, that Mr. Oswald did not see nor could he have seen, either at the consulate or the Embassy, any persons or individuals other than we. He did not have any contact other than contact with us, consul Mirabal, I as consul, and Sylvia Duran as a secretary. He did not mention any such thing to any of us, and much less would we have passed this information on to Fidel. So I see no way in which our Commander in Chief could have been aware of a conversation that Oswald says he held with one of our agents. The only agents present were those three I have mentioned-the two consuls and the secretary. First of all, I would have never tolerated a conversation of that nature because, without any doubt, that would have constituted a provocation, and we do not allow ourselves to be provoked, and our revolution never dealt with anything related to terrorism, much less so the death of President Kennedy. What would become of us should we have intervened? This is ridiculous that we should attempt to walk into the mouth of the lion, and this has been repeatedly asserted by our Commander in Chief. We have never used terrorism. We have never supported terrorism, and we have never even supported terrorism even in those cases in which we sympathize with the views of those who did practice it.
Mr. PREYER. So that the man who appeared before you in the consulate did not say these words as set out in the article, nor anything that sounded like those words.
Senor AZCUE. I repeat once again that I would not have tolerated it because I would have taken this as a provocation, and our behavior in this context is extraordinarily clear and clean.
Mr. PREYER. Moving to another area, Mr. Azcue, Sylvia Duran and her husband often entertained, I believe, in Mexico City. Did you socialize with the Durans from time to time? Did you attend their parties?
Senor AZCUE. Yes; in Mexico naturally it is a custom to have social gatherings in the home of one or another friend. They did host them, not as frequently as the question you have formulated would imply, but they did, and I in turn have attended some of those gatherings, and I believe that whenever they did have a party, they always invited me because I was very friendly to both.
Mr. PREYER. Do you know if they had any parties in September of 1963; that is, the time when Lee Harvey Oswald was in Mexico?
Senor AZCUE. It is possible, but it is difficult that they would have held such a party without inviting me, a person that was so close to them. And I recall that the last gathering that I attended at the Duran home was one that was carried out in order to bid me farewell in preparation for my return to Cuba, and it was during the month of November, a few days before my departure from Mexico.
Mr. PREYER. Do you know Elena Garro de Paz?
Senor AZCUE. Yes. I have seen her on some occasions in the home of one of her sisters, whose husband is a Mexican painter, Horacio, whose name is Guerrero Galvan, and who was a friend of mine.
Mr. PREYER. I believe her husband is Octavio Paz, the Mexican poet?
Senor AZCUE. Yes, Octavio Paz, who was also Mexican Ambassador to Paris and a distinguished poet, was her husband at the time I met her.
Mr. PREYER. Elena Garro de Paz was a friend of the Durans and also a friend of yours, I believe; is that correct?
Senor Azcue. That is correct; yes. She was related to Horacio Duran.
Mr. PREYER. And did I understand you to say that the painter, Guerrero Galvan--is that the way you pronounce that?--was a friend of yours and was married to the sister of Elena Garro de Paz?
Senor AZCUE. Exactly.
Mr. PREYER. Perhaps I should get the blackboard out and draw some lines to spell out the family tree there. But let me just sum up by asking: You knew Elena Garro de Paz fairly well?
Senor AZCUE. Not very well. I have met her on two, maybe three opportunities because she was living at that time in her sister's home, the home of Mrs. Guerrero Galvan, the home that I used to visit with a certain frequency, but we were not intimate friends. It was simply a social acquaintance.
Mr. PREYER. Would you describe her as an emotionally stable person?
Senor AZCUE. She appeared to me to be a delicate person, a refined person, a cultured writer.
Mr. PREYER. Did she have what we might call a vivid imagination about things other than her writing?
Senor AZCUE. I believe it is very difficult in the course of two or three visits to be able to fully understand the character of a lady without being a close or intimate friend, and her writings I have only read from the standpoint of literary criticism or review. I would not attempt to make a critical evaluation of her personality or character because I am not a psychologist.
Mr. PREYER. Let me put it this way. If she told you a story about something that had happened, would you be apt to believe her?
Senor AZCUE. It would depend on the kind of story she would be telling Me.
Mr. PREYER. If she told you something of a serious nature, would you be apt, likely to believe that she would be telling the truth about it?
Senor AZCUE. I repeat once again that it will depend on the subject Matter. It depends on the issue itself, not who is telling the story. If it has some viability or credibility, I would accept it. If not, I would not.
Mr. PREYER. Did you ever hear that Lee Harvey Oswald had attended one of the Durans' parties when he was in Mexico?
Senor AZCUE. No, never, and that is one of the things I would not believe, no matter who would tell me, because I knew the Durans well, and I knew that this gentleman, I know that this gentleman who turned up at the consulate to request a visa had no other activities or purpose while there. He came to the consulate and thereafter we never talked about him or saw him any other time. And I repeat once again that I wouldn't believe that either Sylvia or Horacio would host a gathering during those days without inviting me.
Mr. PREYER. Did you know a man named Emilio Carbellido, a Mexican writer, I believe?
Senor AZCUE. Yes, of course, very well known in Mexico. He is a well-known writer, and well known in Cuba also, because he has visited there repeatedly.
Mr. PREYER. Did you ever discuss President Kennedy with Mr. Carbellido?
Senor AZCUE. It is my prior practice not to discuss with anyone outside of my own group, members of my own Embassy, or of our own group, any of these issues of foreign policy or policy of other nations. We are very careful regarding our own views, especially in the presence of a gentleman who was not such a great friend of mine.
Mr. PREYER. Would Mr. Carbellido have been at the parties or some of the parties that the Durans gave from time to time?
Senor AZCUE. It is possible. I do not recall his presence at any specific one, but it is possible that he might have attended.
Mr. PREYER. I have asked you some questions earlier, Mr. Azcue, about Miss Elena Garro de Paz, and as to whether you would be likely to believe a story if she told it to you. Miss Garro has told us that on one occasion she was at a party at one of the Durans' houses, and that you and Oswald were both at the party. She has told us that at another party at one of the Durans' homes she overheard a conversation in which you and Emilio Carbellido were discussing President Kennedy. She says that at the conclusion of that conversation, you stated that there was no alternative than to kill President Kennedy. Would you care to comment on her allegations?
Senor AZCUE. Yes; first, because it is not possible or conceivable in My own mind to kill anyone, much less so the President of the United States, and Much more so because of the possible implications or effects upon our own revolution, which I would defend with every effort that I could muster. It would be necessary to ask this lady why she makes such statements; it is incredible. Because, I repeat, I have seen her only two or three times in my whole life, and Much earlier than the time when this gentleman showed up at our consulate. With some analysis, I could probably even determine the date of these meetings with her. And I know that the last time I saw her was much before Mirabal arrived at the consulate, and Mirabal arrived on September 2. I can almost fix the date. The previous secretary, the one who preceded Sylvia Duran, was a relative of mine who died on July 19. And I clearly recall that the son of Guerrero Galvan, the painter, who was a student of medicine, was discussing with Me the unfortunate death of my secretary, who was, in turn, my relative, as a result of a car accident in a Volkswagen, and he was explaining to me how dangerous it was to be in an accident in a Volkswagen because of the shortness of the car and the proximity of the riders to the windshield, and it was a date so close to July 19 that he was telling me that, during that same period, those same days, there had been three fatal accidents similar to the one in which my secretary had died, and that was the last opportunity on which I saw Elena Garro. What did they offer Elena Garro to make such absurd statements or declarations?
Mr. PREYER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have no further questions at this time.
Chairman STOKES. The time of the gentleman has expired. The Chair now recognizes the gentleman from Connecticut, Mr. Dodd.
Mr. DODD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. How are you again?
Senor AZCUE. Glad to meet you, sir.
Mr. DODD. I am not going to speak in Spanish. My Spanish isn't that good. Could you please tell me, Mr. Azcue, how long you had been the consul in Mexico prior to your departure in November of 1963?
Senor Azcue. When the revolution achieved its victory, I was appointed consulate the beginning of January 1959. Thereafter they called upon me, thereafter the Government of Cuba recalled me to put me in charge of the reconstruction of housing for peasants in our country, and who were members of the rebel army, and housing that had been destroyed during the course of the war. So at that point I returned to Cuba in June of 1959 and was working in the Sierras, in the mountains, in charge of construction, work, probably until 1960. I do not recall the exact date. Then I returned to Mexico as an attache, a diplomatic attache, to the Embassy, and shortly thereafter I had to take over or take charge of the consulate, and on this occasion until November of 1963.
Mr. DODD. Am I to understand, then, that you assumed the duties of consul in 1960, some time early in 1960, the end of 1960? What period of time did you assume those responsibilities?
Senor AZCUE. Yes, it was in April of 1961, after the Bay of Pigs.
Mr. DODD. Now, did I understand your testimony correctly, that you were not aware of how the photograph on the exhibit, the visa application, you are not aware of how that photo got on that application? In fact, you had not seen the photograph on the application?
Senor AZCUE. That is the case. Sylvia Duran was handling that area. She typed in the form, affixed the photo, had the applicant sign the forms. In the Meantime there was no reason for us consuls to be present there observing the procedure. We were simply in our private offices. We had a lot of work.
Mr. DODD. The reason I asked you that question, is that when several of us had the opportunity to interview you in Cuba a few short months ago, on page 14 of our interview, which I hope you have a copy of, I was questioning you and I asked you: Going back to the physical appearance of Lee Harvey Oswald, apart from having a receding hairline, was there any gray in Lee Harvey Oswald's hair? You responded: You know he had blond hair. It is all very interesting. You see this picture, I really did not study carefully. The picture was taken by the secretary and she applied it to the application. It would seem from your response to my question then that, one, you did see the picture on the application or that you did not see the picture on the application then, but were merely looking at it when it was in front of you, and that you had very specific knowledge as to how the picture got on the application, that in fact Sylvia Duran stapled it to the application.
Chairman STOKES. The time of the gentleman has expired. The Chair will permit the witness to respond to the question.
Senor AZCUE. Yes; it is a matter of routine. She is the one who handles all of these detailed operations. I could assure that she was the one who did it without having seen her do it. There was no one, no other person there, that would do that work for her, and neither Mirabal nor I did that work.
Mr. DODD. All right, then. May I ask unanimous consent, Mr. Chairman, just to proceed and finish this line of questioning, which should take just a couple of minutes? I will try to make my questions brief for the translations.
Chairman STOKES. Without objection, the gentleman may proceed.
Mr. DODD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Based on the testimony you have given, if we are to believe your testimony with regard to the description of the individual that you said you saw that day, it would vary quite significantly, or significantly from the actual photographs of Lee Harvey Oswald, the one on the visa application and the photograph that you see to your left over here. They would be different than the person that you saw in the Cuban Consulate, isn't that correct?
Senor AZCUE. For me, yes. When I saw in April the photograph placed on the application, I was surprised by his looks or similarity with the Lee Harvey Oswald who had been killed. This was my reaction in front of you. You were the ones who showed me that picture. That was the first time that I saw that application completed with the photos and all of the other information.
Mr. DODD. But what you saw was someone that was very different looking from the person that you met in the Cuban Consulate in September of 1963?
Senor AZCUE. Yes, as different as I found him when I saw him in film. The image I had of the individual who showed up at the consulate was the man in his thirties, maybe 35 years old, and with the very thin face. You will recall that he had very natural lines, very thin straight nose, except for all of the items I mentioned, and this gentleman appeared to me to be much younger and with a much fuller face. That is the evaluation I have with absolute certainty. It is My truth.
Mr. DODD. My question is this, after having gone through that, I am left with two choices that I perceive that caused this to occur, since according to your testimony and the testimony of others, there were three people who were working in the consul's section. There was Mr. Mirabal, there was yourself and there was Sylvia Duran. It was either a terrible mistake on the part of Sylvia Duran, who also saw this individual come into the office and who stapled this on here, or there was complicity in placing the photograph on the application at the time. If the two people were that different, then the only people who could have been involved would have been people at the consulate. Would you please help me out with that possible contradiction?
Senor AZCUE. Well, I am sure that it was not a case of complicity. It is possibly a matter of what I see as the truth and what she sees as the truth, my image of the individual present there, her image of the individual there, and whether she carefully studied the photo. These types of photographs are not necessarily that precise. They are not as regular passport pictures which have to be very clear. And there is, of course, one other possibility, and I cannot guarantee that this is the case, but it is conceivable that while writing down all the information on the application, that she might not have checked exactly the picture against the individual who was applying, that, occupied as she was, she most probably proceeded to place the photograph on the application without this check.
Mr. DODD. In effect suggesting that there was an enormous error.
Senor AZCUE. It is a mistake that results very often in the case of the course of one's work, in the normal or ordinary case.
Mr. DODD. And that also, if I understood you, the third option being is that you could be mistaken as to separating the identity of the two people.
Senor AZCUE. It is possible. We are all exposed to error or mistake. It is not, however, my view. My view is that I am right. Now I have to say I am not infallible.
Mr. DODD. I wasn't suggesting that. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the additional amount of time.
Chairman STOKES. The time of the gentleman has expired. The gentleman from Michigan, Mr. Sawyer.
Mr. SAWYER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am just curious. You had been in Mexico from 1943; am I correct in that?
Senor AZCUE. 1944.
Mr. SAWYER. You were a Cuban by birth and had lived in Cuba before that time, I understand.
Senor AZCUE. Yes, many years.
Mr. SAWYER. Why had you spent so long a time in Mexico as opposed to being in Cuba?
Senor AZCUE. I first left Cuba during the time of the government of Machado in 1931. I lived for about 10 years almost in Europe. At that time I wanted to return to Mexico, to conclude my studies. Because I did not agree or follow the politics in Cuba during the time, I never felt at home with Batista, I never felt well. I preferred to live in a country that offered me opportunities to study and to work, and I built my life there. It was my second homeland, as is the case with so many other Cubans who at that time had to be bouncing around from one place to another.
Mr. SAWYER. So then since about 1931, up until about 1959, you were what you might say a political refugee, or political exile, in effect, from Cuba.
Senor AZCUE. A voluntary exile. Nobody forced me not to live in my country. I did not find it pleasant because of the political climate in my country to live there.
Mr. SAWYER. Thank you. That is all I have, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. THONE. Mr. Chairman, I wonder if I could ask just one question in line with the gentleman from Connecticut, Mr. Dodd, on which I am a little confused.
Chairman STOKES. Certainly. The gentleman is recognized.
Mr. THONE. Consul Azcue, did I understand, and I may not have gotten it right this morning, that when you went back to Cuba you saw a film which depicted the shooting by a Mr. Ruby of Lee Harvey Oswald, and at the time you were concerned that this wasn't the same person at all that was at the consul applying for a visa?
Senor AZCUE. Exactly. Only 2 months back I had seen the individual who appeared at the consulate. So I had his image clearly engraved in my mind, and I did not recognize him in the movie.
Mr. THONE. Exactly. Now my question. Did you report this to the Cuban Government, and if so to whom and what happened on your report in this regard?
Senor AZCUE. I reported this to some of my friends in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But in fact, in truth I was aware of the fact that it was testimony of my own, it was of my own imagination. And that the conditions under which I had seen him in the film at the time he was killed, with distorted features as a result of pain, it is conceivable that I might be mistaken. I reaffirmed my view when Attorney Garrison of New Orleans stated that the Oswald who visited or was at the consulate was not the one who allegedly killed Kennedy, because of the date he departed New Orleans and the date he had visited the consulate in Cuba. So that confirmed my own view, and at that point I believed that as being the truth. And then I communicated this. And that was probably filed, recorded. I did not write a report. I made an oral report. But it would be necessary to investigate whether such a report in writing exists or does not. But that was the time when I saw my own views confirmed in my opinion that there were two Oswalds. Garrison shares the same opinion.
Mr. THONE. Senor Azcue, I don't want to be too repetitious. But just a quick followup question. Again, to whom in the Foreign Division, or Service, down in Havana, did you report this after you had seen the Ruby film, and at what time?
Senor AZCUE. These were colleagues of mine in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But at that time all three of us were working in the National Council for Culture. And it was Mr. Lechuga and Mr. Otero.
Mr. THONE. And when did you make that report?
Senor AZCUE. Immediately after reading Garrison's statements in the newspaper. Possibly at the end of 1964. That would be something very easy to check out. Or maybe beginning of 1965.
Mr. THONE. Last this, and it is probably a question you cannot answer. Do you know what action at all was taken within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on your report in this regard?
Senor AZCUE. Honestly, I do not know that.
Mr. THONE. Because this is quite a startling development here. You would have thought that your government would have done something with the report from the consul who supposedly had three confrontations with the man reported to be Lee Harvey Oswald. And when you came up with this information that this was not the same person that was down there, you would have thought something would have happened. Just a comment. I don't know that it needs a response, Mr. Consul, unless you would have a thought on it.
Senor AZCUE. Yes. It is very possible, it is a possibility that they did not believe me at all, that they might have thought that this was simply my own impression or evaluation. And moreover, that it might be with reference to a matter that was not one of immediate concern in terms of current events at that time for us.
Chairman STOKES. The time of the gentleman has expired. The gentleman from Tennessee, Mr. Ford.
Mr. FORD. Mr. Chairman, I yield back my time to the Chair.
Chairman STOKES. The time of the gentleman has expired. The gentleman from Indiana, Mr. Fithian.
Mr. FITHIAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Azcue, you testified that Oswald produced a document showing his Membership in the U.S. Communist Party. To your knowledge was that document valid?
Senor AZCUE. I did not concentrate much of my attention on the documents themselves. And I could not see whether they were authentic or not. The person who saw them, or the person who made the notations might have been Sylvia. But she had no way of telling whether they were authentic or not, any of the documents. That is the reason that he addresses himself to the Soviet Embassy, so that they in turn could tell us whether the Soviet documents are or are not valid.
Mr. FITHIAN. Thank you. At your consulate, whose responsibility was it to compare the applicant in person with the picture on the application, or the picture offered to be put on the application, to assure that the photo was indeed the photo of the person applying for a visa?
Senor AZCUE. The first one that should have checked that out was Sylvia. And I feel that we also should have checked. But fatally I did not make the comparison or that check. I had not seen that photograph until April of the present year.
Mr. FITHIAN. May I direct a question to counsel, Mr. Cornwell. Would the passport, the application that we have on the display board, would we have gotten that from Havana, or the consulate in Mexico City?
Mr. CORNWELL. The passport and the passport application came from New Orleans. Are you talking about the visa application?
Mr. FITHIAN. I am talking about the visa application that was submitted to the Cuban consulate in Mexico City, the large display on the board.
Mr. CORNWELL. Two visa applications; No. 408 is the one on the right, that is a photograph of an original visa application which was provided to us for inspection during our trip to Cuba by the Cuban Government. The one on the left, No. 407, is a photograph of a visa application provided by the Cuban Government to the Warren Commission, and would appear to be a carbon copy.
Mr. FITHIAN. My question, Mr. Cornwell, goes to the stamping of October 10 on it. Obviously if it were from the Cuban consulate at Mexico City, and it had a date of October 10 on it, that is one thing. It is quite another, obviously, if it is a photo of a copy that has been sent on down to Havana to one of the other bureaus.
Mr. CORNWELL. I don't believe there is testimony solving that issue yet. The only testimony I believe we have had is with respect to the exhibit 408, and as I recall, Senor Azcue provided information about his understanding of the date October 10 on that document. He was not asked why there was no similar date on document 407, to my memory.
Mr. FITHIAN. Thank you. Mr. Azcue, Lee Harvey Oswald was a radar operator in the Marines and was familiar with the U.S. spy plane, the U-2. Did Oswald ever mention to you his service in the Marines or in the military in the United States during your conversation with him as he was trying to get a passport to Cuba?
Senor AZCUE. He did not provide any information on his own background other than the presentation of the documentation that he had brought forth in connection with his application. It was clear, and I was able to check out from the first time, that his only intent was to obtain a visa immediately. Therefore his background, especially his nonrevolutionary background, was of a nature that he had no interest at all in communicating to us. He was interested in telling me that he was a member of the Communist Party, that he was a resident of the Soviet Union. In other words, that which he believed would be sufficient to obtain the visa. And our conversations were always extremely brief, because I used to put an end to these conversations, referring to the instructions I had from my government of a need to obtain their prior authorization before issuing any visa, either the final destination visa to the Soviet Union, so that I may be in a position to provide him, without prior consultation to Cuba, with a transit visa, but with the visa of the Soviet Union already affixed to his passport. Everything went around that very issue. He did not speak a single word outside of that issue.
Chairman STOKES. The time of the gentleman has expired. Does counsel have anything further? Excuse me. The gentleman from Connecticut, Mr. Dodd.
Mr. DODD. Mr. Chairman, I would just like to pursue one other line of questioning, if I may, and I will try and be brief on it. Could you tell me, Mr. Azcue, what the Cuban surveillance of the Cuban consulate in Mexico might have shown during those days in September 1963? Did you conduct or have photographic surveillance of people who came into your Embassy, or did you keep any sort of surveillance mechanism by which you could keep a record of those people who came to your Embassy or stopped in for whatever business?
Senor AZCUE. We were very young, maybe trusting. We did not have great experience. And we had great trust in our neighbors. At first we did not Mistrust anyone. Intuitively we might have had certain reasons to be concerned or to fear certain individuals, but we did not take any photographs, nor did we have any mechanisms or systems. We simply took measures to protect ourselves from some possible aggression or aggressive act. But it was a result of our own action. And with some small security protection or guard that the Mexican Government provided outside the premises, and our own colleagues within the Embassy, who might be able to react to outside aggression, but with nothing much other than their own physical ability to do so, with their bodies.
Mr. DODD. As I understood your testimony, you were in Cuba on November 22, 1963. You had returned from Mexico.
Senor AZCUE. I left on the 18th.
Mr. DODD. I presume Once it became--once the knowledge was acquired in Cuba that the alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, had applied for a visa in your consulate in Mexico, that there was then an investigation in Cuba, that it was then a concern, I presume, of Premier Castro and his government to inquire as to those people who had knowledge of that particular circumstance as to actually what in fact happened in Mexico in September of that year. Is that a fact?
Chairman STOKES. The time of the gentleman has again expired. The Chair will permit the witness to answer the question.
Senor AZCUE. Immediately, as soon as I saw the name, I communicated it, or got in touch myself with the Foreign Ministry, and after a quick interview with the Minister and with the Chief of the Bureau, I was immediately sent to the person responsible for such matters in the Interior Ministry, and that was Commandante Pineiro. Naturally this event constituted a great commotion for us because we feared that we might be involved in that dirty business. At that time the Commander in Chief, in his speech of November 27, he is already informed in advance of all those points on which I had personally reported, reported to Commander Pineiro of the Ministry of the Interior. Therefore it is in that speech that Fidel comments or reflects and states what 1 have always stated.
Mr. DODD. Did you make any effort or are you aware of any effort that was made to also talk to either Sylvia Duran, Mr. Mirabal, anyone else that could possibly shed any light as to what actually happened in the consulate in Mexico, other than talking to yourself?
Senor AZCUE. Our colleague, Sylvia Duran, was arrested by the Mexican Government in order to obtain from her clarification or other types of statements from her. Regarding other possible investigations on the part of the Cuban Government, I am not aware of them, because I am not an intelligence agent of the Cuban Government. I provide the information I hold so that it might be processed or acted on.
Mr. DODD. So am I to understand that you gave oral testimony, there was no written statement, there was no tape recording or any stenographer that took your statement at the time?
Senor AZCUE. No. Commander Pineiro and I were alone in his office. But a few days thereafter I heard the speech of Fidel and I realized that the Commander in Chief was fully informed of all points. So the precise report summarized in brief form is incorporated in the speech of Prime Minister Castro. All of the information is contained therein, and consequently printed in the press and televised and transmitted through radio.
Mr. DODD. Mr. Chairman, I just want to ask whether or not we as a committee have asked the Cuban Government for any and all documentation which they may have prepared or have at their disposal as a result of their investigation of this particular aspect of the case at the time that they became aware of Lee Harvey Oswald's visa application in Mexico. Have we made that request, and, if so, have we had a response?
Mr. BLAKEY. Mr. Dodd, we have indeed asked the Cuban Government to provide us with any written reports filed at that time by either Mr. Azcue or any of the people with whom he dealt. And they have informed us that this was handled orally; that no written reports were made at that time.
Mr. DODD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have no further questions.
Chairman STOKES. The time of the gentleman has expired.
Mr. Azcue, at the conclusion of a witness' testimony before this committee, the witness is entitled, under the rules of this committee, and of the House, to have extended to him 5 minutes in which he may comment upon the testimony he has given before our committee, and I would extend to you 5 minutes for that purpose at this time, if you so desire.
Senor AZCUE. Thank you very much. I will use the 5 minutes or possibly less. First, I want to thank you for the good reception that we have had in this visit here during our trip, for all attentions extended. It has been more than we could have expected. And at the same time I want to state or express that it is in our greatest interest that this entire issue be clarified to the utmost, and that we have always cooperated, and that you must have been able to note it as a result of statements made by our own Prime Minister reflecting our sincere cooperation, without holding back any information, an attitude which we have consistently maintained. We have the greatest interest in seeing that the issue is clarified, possibly an interest equaling your own interest in having it clarified. At any and all times we are available to you and at your disposition within the context of our possibilities. We have always played with clean decks, with clean cards, as has always been our custom. Once again, thank you very much.
Chairman STOKES. Mr. Azcue, I want to also say to you it is nice to see you again. We enjoyed the visit we had with you in Cuba, the testimony we took from you at that time. And on behalf of the committee, we want to also thank you for the cooperation you have given this committee and for you voluntarily appearing here today as a witness. So on behalf of the committee and the House of Representatives, we thank you for the cooperation you have given this committee. You are now excused.
Senor AZCUE. [in English]. You are welcome, Mr. Stokes. Can I go?
Chairman STOKES. Yes, you may go. All persons are requested to remain in their seats until the witness has departed from the hearing room.
Mr. STANDARD. Mr. Chairman, if I may, for a moment.
Chairman STOKES. Yes, counsel.
Mr. STANDARD. The witness has made reference today to two speeches of Prime Minister Fidel Castro of November 23 and November 27, 1963, and I ask they be incorporated as part of this record.
Chairman STOKES. Without objection, your request is granted. JFK exhibit F-684 may be entered into the record at this point. [The exhibit follows:]
JFK EXHIBIT F-684
Mr. STANDARD. Thank you. Mr. Chairman, I have one other request, if I May.
Chairman STOKES. You may proceed.
Mr. STANDARD. Congressman Thone addressed himself to what in fact happened to the discussion which Senior Azcue had, and I would refer him to what I believe is part of the interviews of your committee and your staff with Mr. Otero, which is not yet part of this record as far as I know; and second to the transcription of the 4-hour interview with President Castro, which I understand will be made part of this record by reference when the witnesses have completed their testimony.
Chairman STOKES. That is correct. The full transcript of the statement with President Castro will be made and incorporated into the entire record.
Mr. STANDARD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman STOKES. Thank you, counsel. At this time, Mr. Azcue, you are excused. All persons are requested to remain in their seats while the witness leaves the room.