TESTIMONY OF SENOR ALFREDO MIRABAL DIAZ, ACCOMPANIED BY MR. HERVAS, INTERPRETER FROM THE STATE DEPARTMENT
Chairman STOKES. The Chair recognizes counsel, Michael Goldsmith.
Mr. GOLDSMITH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Mirabal, when did you assume your position as Cuban consul in Mexico City?
Senor MIRABAL. September 2, 1963.
Mr. GOLDSMITH. How long had you worked in that capacity?
Senor MIRABAL. Eleven months.
Mr. GOLDSMITH. What hours of the day was the Cuban consulate open to the public?
Senor MIRABAL. Ten in the morning to two in the afternoon.
Mr. GOLDSMITH. And what days of the week were these hours observed?
Senor MIRABAL. Monday through Friday.
Mr. GOLDSMITH. Was the consulate open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays?
Senor MIRABAL. No.
Mr. GOLDSMITH. Mr. Mirabal, while you were Cuban consul in Mexico City, did you ever see Lee Harvey Oswald?
Senor MIRABAL. Twice, on two occasions, when he was at the consulate processing his visa application.
Mr. GOLDSMITH. Did anything unusual happen when Oswald was applying for his visa?
Senor MIRABAL. Yes; since he first came for the visa, I must note that I do not know English, and therefore it was my colleague Azcue who took care of him, though he had in fact concluded his responsibilities in the position. When I arrived, he stayed on to help me out and he, together with the secretary, took care of this visitor.
From inside my private office I could hear loud voices, and I came out of my office several times to see what was happening in the area where the secretary worked. I asked my colleague, Azcue, who was taking care of the visitor, I did not know who the visitor was. But my colleague Azcue told me that the visitor was in need of an urgent visa, that he was in a great hurry to travel to Cuba. However, as our own procedures dictated, and as our instructions from the Ministry of Foreign Relations provided, we were not authorized to issue a visa, and therefore the visa was not issued. He continued in this discussion.
Mr. GOLDSMITH. Did Mr. Oswald get involved in arguments with Mr. Azcue on both occasions that he, Oswald, visited the consulate?
Senor MIRABAL Yes; on both occasions there were discussions or arguments to such an extent that from the very first moment it appeared to me as if this instance could be a case of a provocation. I sensed that there was an intent to create some kind of a scandal, of a disturbance. That was my feeling.
The second time the same thing happened.
Mr. GOLDSMITH. Approximately how long did these arguments last?
Senor MIRABAL. Today I could not be exact or precise; 15 years have gone by since then. Some time, 15, 20 minutes.
Mr. GOLDSMITH. And you had occasion to see Mr. Oswald on both of these occasions?
Senor MIRABAL. Yes. I had an opportunity to see him. But it was from my private office where I stuck my head over and had a look at him from that vantage point.
Mr. GOLDSMITH. How far away from you was Mr. Oswald during these two visits?
Senor MIRABAL. About 4 meters away.
Mr. GOLDSMITH. Do you recall when Mr. Oswald made his visits to the Cuban consulate?
Senor MIRABAL. It was at the beginning or shortly after my arrival.
Mr. GOLDSMITH. At this time, Mr. Mirabal, I would like to refer your attention to what has been marked as JFK exhibit F-408. That is the second exhibit from the right. And I believe you have just been handed a copy of that exhibit.
Mr. Mirabal, does the date on that application refresh your memory as to when Oswald visited the Embassy?
Senor MIRABAL. Yes; it is close to the date of my arrival. Yes, in addition the visa applications are filled in at the very time that they are being requested, and this would be on the second occasion.
Mr. GOLDSMITH. Mr. Mirabal, please look at the picture that appears in that application. Is the person whose picture appears in this visa application the same Lee Harvey Oswald who visited the Cuban consulate requesting a visa?
Senor MIRABAL. I really did not observe him with any great deal of interest. He for me was one of many who visited the consulate. The image that I have of him, I believe that the answer is yes, that he is the same person.
Mr. GOLDSMITH. Mr. Mirabal, after the assassination of President Kennedy, was there ever any discussion at the Cuban consulate or Embassy concerning whether the Oswald arrested in Dallas was actually the same person identified as Oswald who visited your consulate requesting a visa in September 1963?
Senor MIRABAL. Yes; on the day following the assassination it is my own secretary that communicates this information to me in the morning when I arrive at the consulate. At that point, she advises me of the fact that the assassination has occurred. Later, and I cannot recall exactly how late or how soon thereafter, she communicates to me the fact that the alleged assassin is the same person that came to the consulate.
Mr. GOLDSMITH. Mr. Mirabal, at this time I would like to read to you a quotation from Comer Clark's article. He attributes the quotation to President Castro. I believe that Mr. Hervas has been given a copy of that. "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.'
Mr. Mirabal, do you recall Mr. Oswald making the remarks that are allegedly attributed to him?
Senor MIRABAL. I feel that what has just been read is totally absurd, it is incredible. In addition, it is completely false, it is a lie, and it is impossible to imagine that that has been stated.
Mr. GOLDSMITH. Thank you very much, Mr. Mirabal. I have no further questions at this time.
Chairman STOKES. Does any member seek recognition?
Mr. DODD. Mr. Chairman.
Chairman STOKES. The gentleman from Connecticut, Mr. Dodd.
Mr. DODD. Mr. Mirabal, let me just follow up the one line of questioning I had for Mr. Azcue, and that is with regard to how the photo on the visa application got there.
Can you enlighten us at all as to how that photograph got on the application, what either the normal operating procedures were or if there were any unique operating procedures in this case which would explain how that photograph ended up on that visa application?
Senor MIRABAL. The entire matter of the processing of the paper work relating to the application was entrusted to the secretary. I did not participate in any manner. She was most efficient, and we trusted her in this task.
Mr. DODD. In other words, you never saw the visa application when it was in the consulate in Mexico.
Senor MIRABAL. Yes, I did. In fact, there is a footnote with a series of remarks or a remark or observation that I included or I made.
Mr. DODD. Do you recall that photograph as the photograph of the man that you saw, granted not all that clearly, during the 30 minutes or so, the total period of time that he was in your office back in September of 1963?
Senor MIRABAL. I know that this was the photograph that was affixed to the request of the application, but at no point did I verify whether this photograph was in fact that of the person who submitted the application, because this was not a matter that I took care of. It was the secretary who was responsible for this, and when she brought these documents to me, I assumed that everything was in order.
Mr. DODD. Fine. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman STOKES. The gentleman from Michigan, Mr. Sawyer.
Mr. SAWYER. Yes, I just have one question.
You stated that the statement attributed to President Castro as to the statements made in the consulate by Lee Harvey Oswald were not correct and were a lie or something to that effect.
At that time, I understood you could not speak English and did not understand English; is that correct?
Senor MIRABAL. Yes, it is true. I did not speak English at that time. However, my colleague, Senor Azcue, and the secretary would, without any doubt, have informed me if he had stated anything of such a nature. I have complete trust in my colleague, Azcue, and in the secretary, and obviously because of the unusual and extremely alarming nature of any observations or statements of that kind, I feel sure that they would have advised me had they heard them.
Mr. SAWYER. I just wanted the record to be clear that you are repeating what the other two told you rather than stating an observation as to what he said yourself. You are nodding your head yes.
Senor MIRABAL. Yes; I don't understand English. Even if I heard it in English, I wouldn't have understood it--yes, it was my colleague, Azcue, and the secretary who took care of the application submitted by Lee Harvey Oswald. It was also them who provided me with all of the information that enabled me to add the observation contained in that footnote to the effect that he was requesting at the same time a visa to go to the Soviet Union.
In fact, I noticed that he presented a card or credentials as belonging to the Communist Party of the United States. I understand, or it is also my understanding, that the Communist Party of the United States stated that he never belonged to the party. I was surprised by the fact that the card seemed to be a new card.
I must say that I also have been a Communist for a number of years and that generally we do not use credentials or a card to identify ourselves as members of the party. Rather, we are identified to ourselves as Communists by our own behavior and by our own ideas. I was surprised by his unusual interest in using identification as a Communist.
I would think it would be interesting to know how he obtained the card. It did have his name, and it did coincide with the same name that appeared in the other document. And, as I indicated, it was my colleague, Azcue, who brought all these documents and all this information to my desk for my report. It is then that I talked with the Soviet consul, and when I mentioned this to him, he told me that Oswald had in fact requested a visa for the Soviet Union but that he had been told that it would take about 4 months to obtain a response, and that is the reason that I included that information in the footnote that was to be sent to Havana.
Mr. SAWYER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman STOKES. The time of the gentleman has expired.
Mr. Mirabal, was it standard operating procedure for an applicant to affix his signature to the application in the presence of a consulate official?
Senor MIRABAL. That was normal. And it was always applied in that manner.
Chairman STOKES. Were there ever any occasions when an application form would be signed in blank?
Senor MIRABAL. During the 11 months that I was there, that was never done.
Chairman STOKES. And under the procedure as you knew it, were applicants ever permitted to take the application forms out of the consular office?
Senor MIRABAL. To my knowledge, no. The ministry did not allow that to be done. I could not authorize it, and as far as I know, it was never done.
Chairman STOKES. Thank you, Mr. Mirabal. Is there anything further? The gentleman from Tennessee, Mr. Ford.
Mr. FORD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Could I get Mr. Mirabal to describe Mr. Oswald's demeanor, please?
Senor MIRABAL. What I recall, and this, of course, is not only an image that time has eroded, but also I looked at him without concentrating great attention on him. At that time his appearance was not a cause of concern, but rather the events that were taking place at that time, the loud conversation, et cetera.
As I recall him, he was a rather small man, medium height or somewhat less, narrow shoulders. I believe he was wearing a coat, short hair. I do not recall him having a moustache. He did have a serious expression on his face. He appeared hard or tough, someone who is upset or unhappy. That is the image that I retain of him.
Chairman STOKES. The time of the gentleman has expired. Is there anyone else seeking recognition?
Mr. Mirabal, at the conclusion of a witness' testimony before our committee, he is entitled under the rules of this committee and of the House to address the committee for a period of 5 minutes in the event he desires to in any way clarify his testimony or expand upon it or explain it. I would at this time extend to you 5 minutes for that purpose if you so desire.
Senor MIRABAL. Thank you. I would like to state to the members of the committee that in connection with this entire process of the two visits that he made to the consulate, my impression from the very first moment was that it was in fact a provocation. He insisted on the urgency of his need for a visa. He indicated that he was being persecuted. He indicated that he could not stay long in Mexico, that he had an urgent need to travel to Cuba and therefrom to go to the Soviet Union.
On the first day he was not given the visa because he did not fulfill the necessary requirements, requirements that are asked of all individuals who are visa applicants.
On the second time he came to file the application, and yet he insisted that he needed to have it processed rapidly with great urgency. It was because of these demands of his that the argument with Mr. Azcue and with the secretary followed, and in fact during the argument he accused us all of not being true revolutionaries, of not being sensitive to the fact that he was being persecuted.
I must say that from the very beginning I considered this a provocation, and I assured that in the manner in which we handled the case we followed the directives of the Foreign Ministry in the sense that all individuals have to follow certain procedures in order to obtain a visa.
I would also like to say personally that as far as I am concerned, it is a source of great satisfaction to be present here before the committee because in the first place I consider this a very important investigation in itself and also because we are very interested in its successful outcome.
I am individually--and my government wants to insure--that things will be perfectly cleared up as a result. We feel that there have been efforts at making propaganda, at conducting campaigns, and Cuba has been, attempts have been made to link Cuba to this horrendous assassination.
From the reports that have been read here, apparently even I had been linked to this event, and I can assure that neither Cuba nor I in any manner whatsoever participated in something that we very strongly repudiate, as was clearly stated by Prime Minister Fidel Castro.
Chairman STOKES. Thank you very much, Mr. Mirabal.
We also want to thank you for having volunteered to be here today and to testify before this committee, and we are deeply appreciative for your appearance.