The endlessly fascinating machinations of Fidel Castro, Cuba and the Central Intelligence Agency have been highlighted in a comprehensive new book by an intelligence expert.
Brian Latell first tracked Cuba for the CIA in the early 1960s. Now a senior research associate at the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, he offers a strikingly original view of Fidel Castro in his role as Cuba’s supreme spymaster. Based on interviews with high level defectors from Cuba’s powerful intelligence and security services, long-buried secrets of Fidel’s nearly 50-year reign are exposed.
The research, he tells Weekender, took almost five years.
“I interviewed a number of defectors from Cuba’s security and intelligence services, some of them on numerous occasions. I read as many as 40,000 to 50,000 pages of declassified US government documents. Most were CIA records, once highly sensitive and classified.
“I also spent a week at the Hoover Archives in California, and interviewed a few dozen retired American intelligence officers. Of course, I also read dozens of books and scholarly articles,” says the author.
The relationship between the United States and Cuba has had incredible twists and turns over the years, the expert continues.
“It’s been 53 years now since the Castro brothers seized power in January 1959. The history since then of the bilateral relationship has been extraordinary: the Bay of Pigs, the Missile Crisis, Mariel and other chaotic boat lifts, not to mention the large Cuban Diaspora settled in the US.
“About 30,000 additional Cubans come every year.
Cuban Americans have gained considerable influence and political power … six are members of Congress in Washington. And, the impasse all the years has been exactly what Fidel Castro has always wanted.”
Whether the relationship will “normalise”, he says, depends on the exit of the main player in the story.
“After Fidel is gone from the scene the chances will markedly improve,” muses the ex-CIA professional.
“Once the present regime has been supplanted, normalised relations with the US ought to be inevitable.”
This will be Brian’s debut visit to Cayman, which he says he is eagerly looking forward to. He says there will be another book on the horizon but right now he’s not sure what it will be.
In the meantime, catch up with the author at a special signing and talk at Books & Books on Wednesday, 23 May at 7pm; free entry.