The Cuban Connection: Nixon, Castro, and the Mob

Image of The Cuban Connection: Nixon, Castro, and the Mob
Release Date: 
May 12, 2013
Prometheus Books
Reviewed by: 

Conspiracies, intrigue, key political figures, CIA miscalculations, assassination failures, and the top Capos of the National Crime Syndicate—what a story that would make. If all are found in the plot of one book it’s even better. If all are true (or as close to true as possible), you get The Cuban Connection: Nixon, Castro, and the Mob.

Like Mr. Turner’s other books, The Cuban Connection is for the political and history buffs and those who still believe the conspiracies of the Cold War, including the contention that the CIA and Cuban exiles were responsible for President John Kennedy’s death.

Mr. Turner’s writings are based on personal knowledge and his own interviews with many of the characters, as well as his inside knowledge as an FBI agent, opening some interesting and “secret” doors.

If you believe that you knew most of the history concerning the conflict between the United States and Cuba, think again.

You may understand that a good deal of the “war” against Castro was initiated and/or financed by the National Crime Syndicate (NCS)—Mafia—and the multitude of anti-Castro militias in the US. This unholy alliance worked closely with the CIA planning ill-conceived assassination attempts on Fidel Castro before and after the Cuban Missile Crisis.

But what about the close relationship of the NCS with Richard Millhouse Nixon, covering his markers, rooms, and meals at mob owned casinos in Havana before his ascendancy to the vice presidency? That Pat Nixon rarely joined her husband?

Were there ties between the CIA and the mob and the assassination of Kennedy? The conspiracy theorist will delight in reading that Lee Harvey Oswald may have also been a CIA operative, and the “hit” may have been financed in part by the Cuban exile community? The key words here are “may have.”

Castro was aligned with the USSR, but did you know that the reason for turning to the Soviets was the purposeful snubbing of Castro by President Eisenhower and the extreme anti-Communist Vice President Nixon? Castro did not start his revolution as a communist but as a social reformer, initially seeking an alliance with the US. Nixon seemed to miss those signals—maybe purposefully.

There is so much more, replete with names and places we know from the McCarthy Anti-American Activities Committee through Watergate, between 1946 and 1976, showing up again and again. The most infamous of all, E. Howard Hunt, seems to be everywhere.

The number of characters, friends and foe, and the relationships some had with the author make this book intriguing. Mr. Turner’s connections, interviews, and perceptions of their tales tie together the plethora of individual stories—many more stories than the individual short chapters would indicate.

Confusion may come from the number of people introduced (and reintroduced) and their roles as politicians, dictators, agents, spies, revolutionaries, antirevolutionaries, and turncoats, or all of the above. Like entering a baseball stadium before the game begins, the barker tells you you need a score card to know the players.

That same scorecard may also assist in keeping the timeline straight. But as with most history, one must move forward and back in order to understand what happened in the past; that some information may be hidden for decades; and that seemingly unrelated events clarify the stories which one may otherwise question as true or false.

Among the puzzle(s) pieces of great interest are Turner’s depictions of the fantastic and failed attempts on Castro’s life, with its own chapter and documented in the appendix, appropriately titled “Document: The Plots to Kill Castro.”

Then there is the Richard Nixon we thought we knew. My students are given what I thought was a good short history of Nixon during his 1950 vice presidential campaign. Not even close. I will now watch his now infamous Checkers speech, complete with Pat Nixon’s “Republican cloth coat,” with a new appreciation for the lies within. Nixon truly earned his moniker as “Tricky Dick” beginning in his senatorial days.

The Appendix also gives an insight as to the severe American anti-Communist psyche at the height of the Cold War, providing the proofs one would expect from such a well-documented volume.

For those not all that familiar with that era, think of the anti-Islamic fervor we have seen after the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center. Now double it, double it again, and focus only on those “godless Commies.”

The seemingly unconnected stories piece together like a jigsaw puzzle, then multiple jigsaw puzzles that must then be pieced together to create the big picture. It is a delightful exercise in investigative reporting.

Mr. Turner answers a lot of questions concerning American, NCS, and Cuban connections, stirring the pot for the conspiracy theorists, and adding new questions into the boiling mix of The Cuban Connection: Nixon, Castro, and the Mob.