The Invasion of the Cuba “Experts”–Then and Now (the case of Pedro Diaz-Lanz)

Top: An exasperated Pedro Diaz-Lanz testifying to a U.S Senate Committee, July 1959.


Imagine if you will…trying to alert the leaders of the world’s most powerful nation boasting the most lavishly-funded intelligence agency in human history employing the most highly-educated officials and analysts–imagine trying to convince such people that their most resolute and powerful enemies have secretly set up a base right under their nose, only 90 miles away. You were Fidel Castro’s personal pilot and head of his Revolutionary Air Force so you saw the evidence with your own eyes. Alas media “experts” on the matter who wield enormous influence over the diplomatic and intelligence services of the world’s most powerful nation quickly mobilize. Soon your condition differs little from that of Kevin Mc Carthy in the Invasion of the Body Snatchers…

In June 1959 Pedro Diaz-Lanz resigned his post as Castro’s Air-Force chief and declared publicly that Castro’s civilian government was a hollow sham, nothing but a front for Soviet-trained communists who were running the show behind the scenes, especially in the crucial functions of the military and police. Diaz-Lanz then bundled his wife and kids onto a small boat and escaped to Miami, probably just ahead of a date with a firing-squad.

After weeks of frantically knocking on doors and hoarse from phone calls, Diaz-Lanz finally appeared at a public hearing before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee. The date was July 14, 1959.

Mr. SOURWINE (Chief Counsel). Is Castro friendly to the United States?

Major DIAZ. No.

Mr. SOURWINE. But Fidel Castro has said on many occasions [as dutifully transcribed and transmitted by the New York Times] that he is friendly to the United States. You are saying that this is not true?

Major DIAZ. He is lying.

Mr. SOURWINE. You know there are many who say that Fidel Castro is not himself a Communist.

Major DIAZ. I am completely sure that Fidel is a Communist.

Mr. SOURWINE. You are completely sure that Fidel Castro is what?

Major DIAZ. “That Fidel Castro is a communist. Also, I’m prepared because the communists have a well-known system of trying to destroy the reputations of anyone who disagrees with them.”

The New York Times was quick out of the gate. “In Cuba there are no communists in positions of control,” stressed Herbert Matthews in a fresh article. “The accusations of Major Pedro Diaz-Lanz are rejected by everybody.”

But as Diaz-Lanz warned, when outing communists, their denial is only half the story. The truth-teller must also be defamed. Not to worry! The New York Times was eminently worthy of the task.

“Sources (Castro or his henchmen) tell me that Major Diaz-Lanz was removed from his office for incompetence, extravagance and nepotism,” continued Herbert Matthews’ front-page article in the New York Times on July, 16 1959 (the very day following Diaz-Lanz’ testimony!)

And Castro’s U.S. propaganda minions were just warming up. The New York Times had sounded her bugle. Now the rest of the media pack rushed in behind her (remember, this was 1959) yapping and howling and wagging their tails, panting to join the hunt. They were all too eager for a chance to mob and maul a man who risked his life and went stone-broke to warn America about what turned out to be the gravest threat in her history.

“It’s an outrage that Congress should give a platform for a disaffected Cuban adventurer (Pedro Diaz-Lanz) to denounce the Cuban revolution as Communist!” barked Walter Lippmann a few days later in the New York Herald Tribune. “It would be an even greater mistake even to intimate that Castro’s Cuba has any real prospect of becoming a Soviet satellite,” (italics mine) Lippmann stressed a week later in a Washington Post.

Lippmann’s Pulitzer Prize the year before, by the way, noted “his distinction as a farsighted and incisive analyst of foreign policy.”

Our friends at Townhall help disseminate historical items that still resonate regarding U.S. Cuba relations…

So who did the officials entrusted with America’s defense believe?

“Now such charges are made (by Pedro Diaz-Lanz.) But they are not easy to prove. The U.S. Government has made no such charges.” (U.S. Pres.Eisenhower July 1959)

“Don’t worry, be happy!”



7 thoughts on “The Invasion of the Cuba “Experts”–Then and Now (the case of Pedro Diaz-Lanz)

  1. Read Whittaker Chambers’ Witness to learn about all of this. That book was the seminal book of the 20th century.

  2. Díaz Lanz was a Cuban Cassandra and similarly tragic. He was subjected to the obscene perversity of an arrogantly useless media (though highly useful to Castro), and the fact that time proved him right didn’t help, because he had still failed to avert the disaster he tried so desperately to warn against. He even tried, at considerable risk, to alert Cubans themselves by flying over the island and dropping leaflets about the planned communist state (something then vehemently denied by Fidel). He wound up a poor and depressed old man, who committed suicide at 81. May he rest in peace, which I definitely cannot say for the execrable Herbert Matthews–an absolute abomination, even in purely journalistic terms. He was never a real journalist anyway, but a propagandist for his pet causes, though certainly a dedicated one–he never stopped shilling for Fidel, even after he was discredited and forgotten. Alas, we can’t forget, because the consequences of his outrageously false “reporting” have been so grave and protracted, and most of the damage cannot be undone–including the damage to a FAR better man like Díaz Lanz.

    Words simply cannot fully convey the depth of my contempt, not to say revulsion, for the likes of Matthews, Lippmann and the rest of that crowd, including their respective backers like the New York Times. Despite their massive and very serious blundering (assuming it wasn’t something even worse), there has never been anything even close to due atonement. It’s like, “Oh, well, we were dead wrong, but shit happens. No biggie. It’s just Cuba, after all.” Miserable, despicable bastards.

  3. So is that Ike in that photo or Mamie in drag? Hard to tell. As for Nixon, he looks like a young Dennis Miller.

  4. Humberto,
    Did you ever read the Weinstein book?
    Do you know the story about Bennett Cerf and why Knopf published Witness?

Comments are closed.