Félix Ismael Rodríguez Mendigutia
File:Félix Rodríguez.jpg
Félix Ismael Rodríguez, during an interview with Horacio Cambeiro in August 2011 in Miami.
Nickname Lazaro, Max Gómez, Félix Ramos Medina, Félix El Gato
Born Template:Bda[1]
Havana, Cuba
Allegiance 22x20px United States
Service/branch Central Intelligence Agency, United States Army
Years of service 1959 – Present
Rank Colonel
Unit Special Activities Division, Army Special Forces, MACV-SOG
Battles/wars Bay of Pigs Invasion, Vietnam War, Laos, Bolivia
Awards Intelligence Star (very rare CIA valor award), Silver Star, (9)
Crosses for Gallantry by government of South Vietnam

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 revolutionary Che Guevara and his ties to George H. W. Bush during the Iran–Contra affair. He is Cuban of Spanish Basque ancestry.

Biography[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

He was a recruited asset under control of the Cuban Task Force under command and control of the CIA's Latin America 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.[2]

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.

Bolivia[edit | edit source]

In 1967, the CIA recruited Rodriguez to train and head a team to hunt down Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara, who was attempting to foment a revolution 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. A well-known photography, which shows Rodríguez in victory with a beaten and humiliated Guevara should be forged, such as searches of documentary filmmaker Wilfried Huismann revealed. [3] 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.[4]

Vietnam[edit | edit source]

He became a U.S. citizen in 1969, soon enlisting in the United States Army.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] 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.[5] 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."[6] 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. Bush[edit | edit source]

There is extensive documentation of Rodriguez' ties to US vice-president George H. W. Bush during the Iran–Contra affair, from 1983-1988.[7] In September 1986 General John K. Singlaub wrote Oliver North expressing concern about Felix Rodriguez's daily contact with the Bush office and warned of damage to President Ronald Reagan and the US Republican Party. The Walsh Report (Chapter 25) states that M. Charles Hill took notes at a meeting between George Shultz and Elliott Abrams on 16 October 1986, as follows:

"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."[8]
(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."[6]

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.[6]

On 5 October 1986, the C-123 carrying Eugene Hasenfus was shot down over Nicaragua, killing two US pilots, William H. Cooper and Wallace B. Sawyer, Jr., and one Latin American crew member. "Rodriguez unsuccessfully attempted to call Gregg to inform him of the missing plane. He reached Watson, who in turn notified the White House Situation Room. The following day, Rodriguez called Watson again and told him that the airplane was one of North's."[6] Hasenfus told reporters that he worked for "Max Gomez" (an alias for Felix Rodriguez) and "Ramon Medina" (an alias for Luis Posada Carriles) of the CIA. On 10 October 1986, Clair George, head of CIA clandestine operations, testified before Congress that he did not know of any direct connection between Hasenfus and Reagan administration officials. In Fall of 1992, George was convicted on two charges of false statements and perjury before Congress; he was pardoned Christmas Eve that year by then-President Bush.[9][10]

Activism[edit | edit source]

File:Felix Rodriguez 06.jpg

Rodriguez speaking at 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.[11]

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.[12]

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.[13]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. [1]
  2. Woodward, Bob. 2002. Bush At War, Simon and Schuester, p.317
  3. "Ein Werk der Konterrevolution": Interview mit dem Dokumentarfilmer Wilfried Huismann, http://www.wdr.de/themen/kultur/film02/schnappschuss_mit_che/interview.jhtml, Access at 15. Juli 2010, Autor: Stefan Domke published by WDR, Date: 12. April 2008, Archiv-url = http://web.archive.org/web/20080412045037/http://www.wdr.de/themen/kultur/film02/schnappschuss_mit_che/interview.jhtml, Archiv-Date: 9. Oktober 2007
  4. Jean-Guy Allard, article in Granma International, 24 July 2002
  5. Douglas Brook's MA thesis, "The Phoenix Program: a Retrospective Assessment", Baylor University, 1989, pp. iv, 38-40, 50, 57, 60, 114-18, 127, 140-144, and 148-56.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Walsh Iran / Contra Report - Chapter 29 Donald P. Gregg
  7. Walsh Iran / Contra Report
  8. Walsh Iran / Contra Report - Chapter 25 United States v. Elliott Abrams
  9. Walsh Iran / Contra Report - Chapter 17 United States v. Clair E. George
  10. http://www.vheadline.com/readnews.asp?id=36375
  11. Brigada 2506
  12. Felix Rodriguez: Kerry No Foe of Castro
  13. http://www.bayofpigsmuseum.org/about_us.html

Autobiography[edit | edit source]

Cuba: Che Guevara, Bay of Pigs Invasion, Central America[edit | edit source]

Vietnam: Operation Phoenix[edit | edit source]

Iran-Contra scandal[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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