Guillermo Novo

Guillermo Novo

Guillermo Novo was born in Cuba. An opponent of Fidel Castro, Novo moved to the United States where he associated with figures such as Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada. While living in America Novo did a variety of jobs including doorman and used car salesman.

According to Marita Lorenz, Novo became involved with Operation 40, a CIA assassination squad. One member, Frank Sturgis claimed: "this assassination group (Operation 40) would upon orders, naturally, assassinate either members of the military or the political parties of the foreign country that you were going to infiltrate, and if necessary some of your own members who were suspected of being foreign agents... We were concentrating strictly in Cuba at that particular time."

Lorenz pointed out that a few days before the assassination of John F. Kennedy, a group including Novo, Orlando Bosch, Frank Sturgis, Ignacio Novo and Pedro Diaz Lanz, travelled to Dallas. She also claimed that he was at a motel in Dallas when Kennedy's murder was planned.

In 1964 Novo bought a bazooka, a portable rocket launcher, for $35 in an Eighth Avenue shop and rebuilt it.” He planned to use it to kill Che Guevera, who was scheduled to address the UN General Assembly. He fired the shell from the East River waterfront in Long Island, facing the UN building across the river. According to the New York Times the shell “landed in the East River about 200 yards short of the 38-story United Nations Secretariat building, sending up a 15-foot geyser of water.”

FBI Agents Robert Scherrer and Carter Cornick claimed that Novo played a key role in the murder of Roland Masferrer in Miami on 31st October, 1975. Later he worked for General Augusto Pinochet of Chile. The following year Novo was suspected of being involved with Luis Posada, Orlando Bosch, Herman Ricardo and Freddy Lugo in the Cubana Airlines plane that exploded killing all 73 people aboard. This included all 24 young athletes on Cuba's gold-medal fencing team.

When Posada was arrested he was found with a map of Washington showing the daily route of to work of Orlando Letelier, the former Chilean Foreign Minister, who had been assassinated on 21st September, 1976. Novo and Alvin Ross were arrested and found guilty of conspiring to murder Letelier. In 1981 he obtained a retrial and was acquitted on a technicality. The jury had also acquitted Ignacio Novo, Guillermo’s younger brother, of aiding and abetting the conspiracy.

Saul Landau reported at the time: "As the courtroom emptied, the two Novo brothers, Ross, their families and supporters used the hallway to continue their buoyant celebration. Then Guillermo saw me staring at them - in dismay, since I could not understand how the jury could have come to such a verdict in light of the overwhelming evidence presented. Looking at me murderously, he hissed and then, as if continuing his conversation with Ignacio, said in Spanish “Now we can finish off the rest of these communist pigs.”

Novo continued to take part in terrorist attacks on Cuba. In 2000 Novo and three colleagues, Luis Posada, Gaspar Jiménez and Pedro Remón, were arrested and imprisoned after trying to assassinate Fidel Castro at the University of Panama.

In August, 2004, President Mireyas Moscoso of Panama, pardoned Novo, Posada, Jiménez and Remón for their role in attempting to assassinate Castro.

Primary Sources

(1) Granma (31st August, 2004)

Everything would seem to indicate that terrorist Luis Posada Carriles has taken refuge in Honduras, his traditional lair along with El Salvador.

However, although the national authorities have confirmed that he is being sought, there are no details on his presence and far less on his detention, as was announced ion the Cuban Television Roundtable program.

Meanwhile the United States is keeping quiet on the pardon signed by President Mireyas Moscoso, who released the notorious killer and three of his accomplices serving a prison term for an attempt to assassinate President Fidel Castro during an event at the University of Panama in 2000.

It was stated on the program that Ricardo Maduro, the Honduran president, was forced to acknowledge that Posada had entered the country and that he is a terrorist “who has the support of powerful people with international influence.”

Statements condemning the shameful pardon signed by the Panamanian president have continued.

The Panamanian people never imagined that one of their governors would bend to U.S. directives to such a degree, affirmed Panamanian lawyer Julio Berrios, repudiating the pardon allowing the release of the four anti-Cuban terrorists.

Speaking on the Roundtable program, Berrios, a professor of Law at the University of Panama, referred to a statement left by Moscoso on the answer-phone of a former ambassador to her country and quoted on U.S. television, in which she says:

“Ambassador, good morning, this is the president to inform you that the four Cubans were pardoned last night and have already left the country. Three are headed for Miami and the other to an unknown destination. Good bye, and all the best.”

The president has acknowledged that she made that call.

Other Panamanian figures likewise condemned the pardon of the four terrorists of Cuban origin. Former president Jorge Illueca described it as a blow to Latin American integration. This act, he added, affects the deepest sentiments of Pan-Americanism which, in addition to the rupture of diplomatic relations with Cuba, has already prompted the withdrawal of the Venezuelan ambassador and Hugo Chávez’ absence from the investiture of the incoming president.

Gassán Salama, the former governor of the province of Colón, who resigned in protest over the pardon, qualified it as a world disgrace, an act that demonstrated Moscoso’s lack of interest in combating terrorism.

On the other hand, a statement signed by some 40 legislators from various tendencies comprising the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN), rejected Moscoso’s decision and calls on ”the peoples of the civilized world to condemn this decision in favor of those terrorists who are endangering stability and peace.”

In Bogotá, more than 100 participants in the Voices of the World Congress for Peace rejected the humiliating decision of the Panamanian leader, which exposes a high degree of opportunism and hypocrisy to gratify Washington’s anti-Cuba policy.

The Mexican Communist Party affirms that by releasing the four terrorists, Moscoso has become an accomplice of those who in 1976 placed the bomb aboard the Cubana passenger plane that cost the lives of 73 people, and those who made an attempt on the life of President Fidel Castro in particular at the Ibero-American Summit.

(2) The Miami Herald (4th September, 2004)

Honduran authorities said Friday they continue to believe Cuban exile Luis Posada Carriles is no longer in the country, but that, if he's captured, they would consider Cuba's extradition request.

There, the explosives expert would face a firing squad.

''We still believe that he left the country, but we can't determine how he did that,'' Armando Calidonio, Honduras' vice minister of security told The Herald. "The investigation continues.''

Leónidas Rosa Bautista, Honduras' minister of foreign relations, told reporters on Thursday that an extradition request had been submitted by Cuba and that, if Posada is apprehended, he would be "immediately deported.' Cuba, meanwhile, has said that Posada would be condemned to death.

Posada - who is wanted by Cuba on numerous terrorism and assassination charges - was among four exiles pardoned last month by Panama's former President Mireya Moscoso. They had been imprisoned four years ago on convictions tied to an assassination plot against Cuban President Fidel Castro.

Three of the exiles, Gaspar Jiménez, Pedro Remón and Guillermo Novo - all of whom are U.S. citizens - returned to their homes in Miami. Posada, 76, who is not a U.S. citizen, is believed to have fled to Honduras where he went into hiding. Authorities in that country said they have information indicating Posada fled to the Bahamas or another Caribbean country but could not be absolutely certain.

Branded by Castro as ''the worst terrorist in the hemisphere,'' Posada is wanted in connection with the 1976 midair bombing of a Cuban jetliner in which 73 people were killed. The former CIA operative also is accused of orchestrating a dozen terror bombings of Havana tourist spots in 1997, and numerous plots to assassinate Castro.

Posada and the three Miami exiles have denied any role in the alleged assassination plot in Panama during a heads-of-state summit in 2000, where Castro made the accusations.

A Panamanian court dropped initial charges of conspiracy to murder and possession of explosives, but convicted them in April of endangering public safety and sentenced them to up to eight years.

In the terror bombings in Havana, Posada first admitted, then denied, responsibility.

Responding to reports by Cuba that Posada could have gone to Costa Rica, authorities there announced they would not provide refuge to Posada.

(3) Panama Pardons Spur Cuban Outrage, CBS News (27th August, 2004)

The Chilean Supreme Court on Thursday stripped former military dictator Augusto Pinochet of his immunity. That leaves the courts free to prosecute him for the deaths or disappearances of opposition figures in the 1970s.

Just a few hours earlier, Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso was pardoning four Cuban exiles, one of whom collaborated with Pinochet’s secret police.

Guillermo Novo, along with three other Cuban exiles, were arrested in Panama in November 2000 on information provided by Cuban intelligence.

Fidel Castro’s personal security detail had swept the Panamanian capital in advance of the Cuban president’s arrival for an Ibero-American Summit. They provided Panamanian authorities with a surveillance video of four known anti-Castro extremists believed to be plotting to assassinate Castro. The plan, said Cuban security, was to plant explosives at a scheduled meeting between Castro and university students.

Panamanian courts, however, determined there was not enough evidence to sentence the men for attempted murder and instead sentenced Novo and Pedro Remón to seven years each for endangering public safety and Luis Posada Carriles and Gaspar Jiménez to eight years for endangering public safety and falsifying documents.

Cuba protested the court ruling, charging the men had gotten off too easy. Posada Carriles, the most notorious of the four, topped Cuba’s most wanted list.

Peter Kornbluh, a specialist on U.S.–Cuban relations, agrees with Havana. This was not the first time Novo dabbled in violence, said Kornbluh. In 1978, he recalls, Novo was tried and convicted for his role in the assassination of former Chilean Foreign Minister, Orlando Letelier, and his American secretary Ronnie Moffitt. The men were killed in a car bombing in Washington D.C.

A U.S. Federal appeals court overturned the conviction on a technicality in 1981.

Kornbluh, author of "The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability," considers Novo “one of the leading Cuban exiles who collaborated with the Chilean secret police, DINA, in the mid-1970s to conduct terrorist operations outside of Chile’s borders.

"At a time when civilized nations are fighting a war against terrorism, Panama's release of recognized purveyors of violence such as Guillermo Novo and Luis Posada is not only a travesty of justice, it is a danger to future victims," Kornbluh stressed.

Not surprisingly, Letelier’s son, Juan Pablo Letelier, today a deputy in the Chilean Congress, also reacted sharply to Moscoso’s action. Letelier called the pardons “an imprudent decision” with “international repercussions” in Chile’s “La Tercera”.

The Cuban government broke relations with Panama just eight hours after the president pardoned “the Hemisphere’s top terrorist”, Posada Carriles, and the other three.

(4) Saul Landau, Anti-Terrorism Update (20th September, 2003)

In the 1960s, Guillermo and his brother had linked their political fortunes with an overtly fascist anti-Castro group called the Cuban Nationalist Movement. According to FBI Agents Carter Cornick and Scherrer, whose police work helped crack the Letelier Moffitt assassination case and point the finger at the highest levels of the Pinochet government, Novo pursued his violent anti-Castro activities throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. Scherrer claimed that “he tried to finance through drug dealing. But we could never make a charge stick.” Guillermo’s reputation as a tough guy included an incident where, to show his courage and machismo, drove his car into a brick wall at high speed.

In 1975 Guillermo and Ignacio had already forged links with General Pinochet’s secret police. Indeed, FBI Agents Scherrer and Carter Cornick, who was the point man on the Letelier case, were convinced that the Novo brothers had played key roles in the assassination of anti-Castro exile Rolando Masferrer whose death directly benefited Jorge Mas Canosa, the man who went on to lead the Cuban American National Foundation, the most powerful anti-Castro pressure group in the nation.

Masferrer, a Senator in Batista’s Cuba, won his notoriety for leading a small army known as "Masferrer's Tigers." Prior to Castro’s assumption of power in January 1959, these thugs attacked violently factions that opposed the Batista regime. In exile in Miami, he bought and published a Spanish language newspaper named Libertad. But he also continued his better-paying occupation: the extortion of small and easily intimidated business people in south Florida.

Masferrer, a master of anti-Castro slogans, supported violence against the Cuban revolution. But his efforts had brought no results and the more ambitious exiled Cubans began to think of his rhetoric and his purported militant actions as a front for his “business” activities. Masferrer stood as an obstacle to Mas Canosa’s plans to forge an effective and unified counter revolution, which would include meaningful violence and political pressure.

In the early fall of 1975, Masferrer’s bodyguards discovered Ignacio Novo stooping under Masferrer’s auto. According to Agent Scherrer, “the heavies dragged Iggy into the office and stuck his head in the toilet. Then they stripped him and threw him into the street. I guess they figured they had scared him.”

Shortly afterwards, on October 31, 1975, Masferrer started his car and died as a bomb planted under the car exploded. The bomb went off under his car – a bomb very similar to the one that killed Letelier. “So I always figured the Novos had done that job and maybe gotten Townley.” Scherrer referred to Michael Townley, the Chilean DINA agent who later recruited the Novos into the Letelier plot. “I thought Townley did them a favor (making the Masferrer bomb). Then, about a year later, he asked them for a favor (helping him assassinate Letelier).”

(5) Albor Ruiz, New York Daily News (30th September, 2004)

Let's see if we can make sense out of this: On Tuesday, Washington denied visas to a number of Cuban scholars - I repeat, scholars - who had been invited to participate in an academic conference in Las Vegas.

Yet, in what amounted to a suspension of the war on terror, a few weeks ago, Pedro Remn, Guillermo Novo Sampol and Gaspar Jimeniz - three Cuban-Americans with long and proven ties to terrorist activities in this country and abroad - were given a celebrity welcome to the U.S.

Terrorists yes, scholars no? It doesn't make any sense.

On Sept. 28, the U.S. Interests Section in Havana informed the Cuban authorities that they had turned down the requested visas of every single one of 61 Cuban scholars who were supposed to take part in the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) convention in Las Vegas Oct 7-10.

Such action was based on Section 212, an executive order issued during the Reagan administration that allows denial of visas on the grounds that it is not in the interests of the U.S. to grant visas to persons who are employees of the Cuban government and/or members of the Cuban Communist Party.

"In short," said Michael Erisman, a political science professor at Indiana State University and a member of LASA, "it is a blanket authorization to deny visas, since practically all Cubans, and certainly all Cuban academics, are government employees, just as those of us in the U.S. who work at public institutions are government employees."

Yet Remn, Novo and Jimeniz, who along with former CIA operative Luis Posada Carriles had been in a Panamanian prison, accused of plotting to assassinate Fidel Castro at a summit of Latin American leaders in 2000, had no problems with federal authorities.

The fact that, according to the charges, they were planning to use 33 pounds of explosives to assassinate Castro at the University of Panama did not raise any red flags with immigration authorities. Those authorities happily looked the other way when the three men returned to the U.S. through the Opa-Locka airport in Florida.

Officials in Washington did not seem to mind that the explosives the men intended to use were enough to destroy an armored car, damage everything within 220 yards and kill not only Castro but dozens of Panamanian university students as well. Recently, the men had been sentenced to seven to eight years in prison for endangering public safety.

But on Aug. 28, they were pardoned by outgoing Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso, who many believe was pressured to do so by Washington. And, outrageously enough, the trio arrived in Florida to great fanfare just in time to commemorate the third anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on American soil. It seems that for all its rhetoric about democracy, what really scares this administration the most is a free exchange of ideas.

"We expected some casualties, but never a blanket denial of visas," said Erisman. "This case is, at least to the best of my knowledge, the most extreme application - and abuse - of the Section 212 provisions in terms of the size of the group that has been denied visas."

Terrorists yes, scholars no. Whatever happened to the war on terror? Call it opportunism or call it hypocrisy - it doesn't make much difference. The fact is that this is an election year and Florida must be won. And candidate Bush seems willing to go very far to woo the ultraconservative Cuban-American vote. Last time I looked, this was called hypocrisy.

Forty years after John Kennedy's murder in Dallas, the event remains a part of the American conscious. Polls show the majority of the public still believes there was some sort of conspiracy involved in his assassination and the average person thinks it just might be exposed once the government releases all the confidential documents some day. Those that deny the conspiracy question scoff at all this, stating that no conspiracy could have been good enough that somebody would not have talked after all this time. After all we all know even successful criminals feel compelled to tell someone, sometime. Someone Would Have Talked tackles that objection head on, examining a number of examples of individuals who talked when they shouldn't have. Some talked before the assassination and some afterwards. These are not the people who sold their stories or whose names you would see in the tabloids. These are real people, many of them involved in the secret war against Castro and the U.S. Government project intended to assassinate him. You find their remarks in reports made to Police, the FBI and Secret Service. Reports which were never addressed in any coordinated or proactive criminal investigation. The records have been released, people have talked, witnesses have finally revealed the elements of both the conspiracy and the cover-up, the real history is here in Someone Would Have Talked and the 1,400 pages of reference exhibits that come on this CD with it. (Larry Hancock, JFK Lancer Publications)