Jerry P. Shinley Archive:Subject: Maurice Gatlin and Cuba
Maurice Gatlin and Cuba
Date: Wed, 30 June 1999 06:46 PM EDT
Note: References to FBI documents are from the FBI files on Maurice Brooks Gatlin, Sr., #64-29230
In April of 1958, the FBI was provided with a copy of a telegram sent to Havana, Cuba on April 2 in the name of Bernadette O'Dowd, Gatlin's wife. The name of the addressee has been withheld, but he was apparently accociated with "Brac," the Bureau for the Repression of Communist Activities. This telegram reads as follows: -We are seriously concerned with situation facing you. Twice before we have successfully extricated neighboring nations from similar Communist assaults. Rebels will not dare proceed against solid opposition of this nation which we can unofficially obtain. Urge immediate conference there with three of my operators, no other cost involved if not successful. Wire plane tickets for three immediately, positively will not deal with consular personnel but with you alone.
In March of 1959, Times-Picayune columnist Howard Jacobs revealed a dated, yet still interesting, story given to him by Maurice Gatlin:
-A very hush-hush wedding took place here on Jan. 6 in the cloistered precincts of the Claiborne towers, and except for the prominence of one of the principals, it would no longer be news.
-The story was told ... by attorney Maurice B. Gatlin, who acted as intermediary in a ceremony in which two Cuban refugees were spliced.
-The bride was Elisa Alieda Batista, daughter of deposed dictator Fulgenio Batista, and her groom was Dr. Raoul Garcia Cantero Jr., an attorney who subsequently set up practice in Barcelona, Spain. Both were, in the vernacular, on the lam from the upheaval in Cuba which had unseated her father and jeopardized the safety of his family and associates.
(New Orleans Times-Picayune (NOTP); March 12, 1959; P21; Remoulade by Howard Jacobs; Romance Flourished Despite Revolution)
Press reports from January of 1959 confirm the presence in New Orleans of Batista's wife and children.
(NOTP; Jan 2, 1959l P1; Batista Children are Flown Here;
Two Planes Land with 66 Cuban Refugees;
Jan 3, 1959; P3; Son of Deposed Dictator Hopes for Peace in Cuba;
Says Father May Come to US to Live;
Jan 6, 1959; p11; Batista Infant Now in Florida;
Flies with 14 Others from New Orleans)
In February, Gatlin had provided Jacobs with another scoop:
-A later visitor to Havana was attorney Maurice B. Gatlin, a guest at the Havana-Hilton. "I was on the 19th floor Fidel Castro on the 23rd, and Errol Flynn in between [sic] on the 14th," said he. "There was a lot of excitement in the hotel when Flynn set his room on fire."
-Posing as a reporter "since lawyers weren't very welcome," Gatlin gained entrance into Cabana prison to visit Dr. Ernesto de la Fe, Cuban newspaperman once on the Batista cabinet but who broke with him five years ago, said Gatlin. Indignant at Dr. de la Fe's detention allegedly without charge, Gatlin expressed astonishment that the newspaper fraternity throughout the world had not risen in wrath to protest "this outrageous miscarriage of justice." Gatlin added that not 200 or 300 Batista sympathizers were, executed, but closer to 15,000.
(NOTP; Feb 21, 1959; P11; Remoulade by Howard Jacobs;
Cuba was Nightmare for New Orleansians)
In a letter to the FBI dated March 30, Gatlin described his visit to La Cabana as "a successful attempt to save the life" of de la Fe. He also claimed that Cuba's true ruler, Communist Che Guevara planned to "'liquidate' ... front-man, Fidel Castro, around June or July, arranging his death so it will be attributed, of course, to a 'gringo' for propaganda purposes."
In March, the following report from Havana concerning de la Fe appeared in the New York Times:
-Ernesto de la Fe, a leading Cuban anti-Communist who has been in jail since January, has been accused of involvement in an alleged plot to kill Premier Fidel Castro.
-Senor de la Fe was originally jailed on charges of offering to the former government ... to kill Dr. Castro.
-"I have no resentment or motive to wish to harm Dr. Castro, and only a crazy man or an imbecile would conspire or prepare an assassination attempt while in prison," Senor de la Fe said in a statement issued today from La Cabana fortress where he is held.-"I denounce a plan to present me to public opinion as a criminal in order to bring about my physical elimination."-
Earlier, four former members of the private army of Rolando Masferrer and the owner of a cafe in the suburb of Mariano had been arrested and charged with plotting to kill Castro. (New York Times; Mar 29, 1959; p32) Later, de la Fe and 35 others were given long sentences for their roles in Batista's 1952 military coup. (New York Times; June 2, 1969; p9)
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