Félix Rodríguez (soldier) : biography
Félix Ismael Rodríguez Mendigutia (born 31 May 1941) is a former Central Intelligence Agency officer known for his involvement in the Bay of Pigs Invasion, in the interrogation and execution of Marxist guerilla Che Guevara and his ties to George H. W. Bush during the Iran–Contra affair. He is Cuban of Spanish Basque ancestry.
His uncle was minister of Public Works during the Fulgencio Batista government, in Cuba. After the Cuban Revolution he and his family became exiles in the United States.
He attended The Perkiomen School, in Pennsylvania, but dropped out to join the Caribbean Anti-communist Legion, created by Dominican president Rafael Trujillo, with the intention of overthrowing Fidel Castro in Cuba.
The invasion of Cuba was a failure, and Rodriguez went back to Perkiomen. He graduated in June, 1960, and went to live with his parents in Miami, where thousands of Cuban exiles lived.
In September, 1960 he joined a group of Cuban exiles in Guatemala, supported by the CIA, to receive military training. They were called Brigade 2506.
Bay of Pigs Invasion
He was a Paramilitary Operations Officer from Special Activities Division. He joined and became a leader in the CIA-backed Operation 40 and Brigade 2506, and clandestinely entered Cuba a few weeks before the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion. Utilizing his familiarity with the country, he was able to gather critical intelligence to be used in the planning and preparation for the invasion.Woodward, Bob. 2002. Bush At War, Simon and Schuester, p.317
His colleagues in Operation 40 included David Atlee Phillips, David Morales, Ted Shackley, E. Howard Hunt, Frank Sturgis, Barry Seal, and Porter Goss among others.
In 1967, the CIA recruited Rodriguez to train and head a team to hunt down Marxist guerilla Che Guevara, who was attempting to overthrow the government in Bolivia. After Guevara was wounded and captured by Bolivian special forces trained and supported by the CIA, Rodriguez interrogated him. According to the Bolivian military Jaime Niño de Guzmán Guevara refused to speak with Rodriguez.
CIA authenticated the picture of Che Guevara and Felix Rodriguez and recognizes it as original.
Rodríguez stated that he wanted to keep Guevara alive for further interrogation, but was thwarted by the order of the Bolivian President that Guevara be summarily executed. Rodríguez, whose cover was that of a Bolivian army major, repeated those orders, later stating that it was a Bolivian decision, and Guevara was killed. Rodriguez has in his possession Guevara's Rolex wristwatch.Jean-Guy Allard, article in Granma International, 24 July 2002
He became a U.S. citizen in 1969, soon enlisting in the United States Army. During his career with the CIA he also went by the name Máximo Gómez. He was awarded the Intelligence Star for Valor by the CIA and nine Crosses for Gallantry by the South Vietnamese government. He was codenamed Lazarus after his survival of the Bay of Pigs invasion operation.
In the Vietnam War, Rodríguez flew over 300 helicopter missions, and was shot down five times. In 1971, Rodriguez trained Provincial Reconnaissance Units (PRUs). PRUs were CIA-sponsored units that worked for the Phoenix Program.Douglas Brook's MA thesis, , Baylor University, 1989, pp. iv, 38-40, 50, 57, 60, 114-18, 127, 140-144, and 148-56. The Walsh Report states (Chapter 29): "During the Vietnam War, [Donald] Gregg supervised CIA officer Felix Rodriguez and they kept in contact following the war." Rodriguez also reported to Ted Shackley during the Phoenix Program - Shackley became Bush's top aide for operations when he directed the CIA; Gregg later became National Security Advisor for Vice President Bush. Rodriguez was in frequent contact with him regarding arms for the Contras.
Iran-Contra and ties to George H.W. BushWalsh Report
- "Felix Rodriguez [sic] – Bush did know him from CIA days. FR [Rodriguez] is ex-CIA. In El Salv[ador] he goes around to bars saying he is buddy of Bush. A y[ea]r ago Pdx [Poindexter] & Ollie [North] told VP staff stop protecting FR as a friend – we want to get rid of him from his involvnt [sic] w[ith] private ops. Nothing was done so he still is there shooting his mouth off."
- (brackets are in the original)
Rodriguez met with Donald Gregg, who by then was Bush's National Security advisor. The Walsh Report (Chapter 29) states: "Gregg introduced Rodriguez to Vice President Bush in January 1985, and Rodriguez met with the Vice President again in Washington, D.C., in May 1986. He also met Vice President Bush briefly in Miami on May 20, 1986."
Rodriguez also met and spoke repeatedly with Bush's advisor Gregg and his deputy (Col. Samuel J. Watson III). As one indicator of this connection, a single chapter in the Walsh Report titled "Donald P. Gregg" (Chapter 29) contains 329 references to Rodriguez.
Christopher Columbus High School in Miami.]] In 2004 Rodriguez became President of the Brigade 2506 Veterans Association, a group for Bay of Pigs Invasion survivors.
During the 2004 US Presidential election, Rodriguez was highly critical of Democratic candidate John Kerry, due in part to their previous meeting at a Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism and Narcotics hearing in 1987. During one session Kerry accused him of soliciting a $10 million donation from the Colombian cocaine cartel. The story had originally come from Ramon Milian Rodriguez, a convicted money launderer from Colombia. Rodriguez referred to Kerry as "a liar and self-promoter" and said he "should not be President." During the 2004 presidential election Rodriguez campaigned strongly for George W. Bush. He admitted his main motivation was “to get the real word out about John Kerry.” Others accused him of seeking revenge against Kerry for the Kerry Committee report.
In 2005, Rodriguez oversaw the opening of the Bay of Pigs Museum and Library in Little Havana, Florida, and also became Chairman of the Board of Directors.http://www.bayofpigsmuseum.org/about_us.html
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