Gilberto Alvarado Allegation

MEXI 7267, one of the many CIA cables reporting on the allegations of Gilberto Alvarado Ugarte.

On 25 November 1963, three days after Kennedy's assassination, a man named Gilberto Alvarado Ugarte contacted the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. The story he told was that he had been in the Cuban Consulate earlier, in September, and witnessed Oswald take money from a red-haired Negro to kill JFK. He provided additional details, including a description of Oswald which included glasses. Alvarado added that he had tried to tell U.S. officials of his observations earlier, but had been rebuffed.

After initial reports from CIA questioners that Alvarado was a "young, quiet, very serious person, who speaks with conviction," his story began to unravel. Rather than being a Nicaraguan Communist, it turned out that he was a penetration agent working on behalf of the Nicaraguan secret service. Handed over to the Mexican authorities for questioning, Alvarado retracted his story, saying that he had invented it in order to ingratiate himself with the Americans.

After being released, Alvarado retracted his retraction, saying the Mexican authorities had threatened him if he stuck to his story. The CIA then sent a polygraph operator to Mexico to give a lie-detector test to Alvarado, which he subsequently failed. Faced with evidence he was lying, Alvarado again retracted his story.

An additional reason for disbelieving Alvarado was the date he gave for this event - September 18. The evidence is strong that the actual Lee Oswald was in New Orleans on this day. Interestingly, however, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover told President Johnson on November 29 that the September 18 date had been changed: "Now then they've changed the dates..the story came in changing the dates to the 28th of September, and he was in Mexico City on the 28th." Strangely, none of the documents we have of the Alvarado affair mention Alvarado having changed his mind about the date.

The Alvarado story resurfaced in 2006 in the German documentary Rendevous with Death, by Wilfried Huismann and Gus Russo. The added twist here is the claim of the filmmakers having seen a photograph of a red-haired negro among documents in the Mexican Archives. The red-haired negro is also part of the story told by Elena Garro de Paz, though it only appeared in later versions of that story.



CIA Files and the Pre-Assassination Framing of Lee Harvey Oswald, by Peter Dale Scott.

Overview: The CIA, the Drug Traffic, and Oswald in Mexico, by Peter Dale Scott.

The Three Oswald Deceptions: The Operation, the Cover-Up and the Conspiracy, by Peter Dale Scott.

Oswald in Mexico, by Arturo Rodriguez.


Statement of Gilberto Alvarado Ugarte in Coleman-Slawson foreign conspiracy report, reprinted in HSCA Report, Volume XI, p.162.

Interview of Gilberto Alvarado. This statement of 25 Nov 1963 records Alvarado's first contact with the U.S. Embassy.

DIR 85196. This cable from CIA HQ to the FBI, White House and State Department from 25 Nov 1963 shows how fast this story moved. It refers to "today's reports from Mexico City" and noted that Alvarado had been a Nicaraguan intelligence source until August 1963 when he had been exposed as an agent.

MEXI 7069. This cable of 26 Nov 1963 reported on an interview with Alvarado conducted by CIA officers that morning. Alvarado was described as a "young, quiet, very serious person, who speaks with conviction..."

DIR 85258. In this cable of 27 Nov 1963, CIA HQ noted that the FBI believed Oswald to have been in New Orleans on September 18, and suggested that Alvarado was "fabricating."

MEXI 7120. This cable of 28 Nov 1963 conveys Mexico City's request for a Spanish-speaking polygraph ("LCFLUTTER") operator.

DIR 85744. This cable of 29 Nov 1963 gave an initial report of the Mexican authorities' interrogation of Alvarado, and noted: "The Mexican official doing the interrogation of Alvarado says he 'doubts' Alvarado's story and will begin work to 'break' him." See also MEXI 7156 of the same day, reporting the Mexican interrogator (LITEMPO-4) as saying: "either Alvarado is telling the truth essentially or he is the best liar I have talked to in my many years and I have talked to some of the biggest."


Documents (Continued)

DIR 86063. This cable of 30 Nov 1963 from CIA HQ to FBI, White House, and State, reported Alvarado's retraction of his story to the Mexican authorities.

Transcript of Phone Call between President Johnson and CIA Director McCone of 30 Nov 1963. McCone informed LBJ of Alvarado's retraction.

MEXI 7203. This cable of 2 Dec 1963 reported Alvarado's retraction of his retraction. Alvarado said he did so because of a "threat he would be hung by testicles."

DIR 86563. In this cable of 3 Dec 1963, CIA headquarters said that despite its confidence that "Alvarado is a fabricator," a polygraph operator would be dispatched to Mexico. See also a memo for the record of the same day by CIA's Birch O'Neal.

MEXI 7267. Mexico City reported on 6 Dec 1963 that Alvarado was resentful of the Embassy and of Mexicans for treating him "like a dog."

MEXI 7324. Six tapes of interrogation of Alvarado were pouched to Washington on 12 Dec 1963. Where are these tapes now?

Report of Polygraph Interrogation. This memo of 12 Dec 1963 summarizes the results of the polygraph interrogation conducted on 5 and 6 December 1963. A minor discrepancy here concerns the cable of 6 Dec 1963, which reported that the issue of a polygraph had not yet been broached with Alvarado.

Info Developed by CIA on the Activity of Lee Harvey Oswald in Mexico City 28 Sep - 3 Oct 1963. This report from CIA went to the Warren Commission on 31 Jan 1964, and included an account of the Alvarado allegations.

Letter from Rankin to Helms. In the wake of the Warren Commission staffers' trip to Mexico City, Counsel J. Lee Rankin requested more details on 21 Apr 1964.

Transmission of Material on Gilberto Alvarado Ugarte. It wasn't until 1 June 1964 that the CIA sent detailed reports on the Alvarado matter to the Warren Commission.

Related Starting Points


29 Nov, 1:40 PM - LBJ & Hoover

audio   transcript
In this call, Hoover tells Johnson that "This angle in Mexico is giving us a great deal of trouble" and mentions that otherwise-undocumented date change in the Alvarado story.

Books of Interest

    Breach of Trust
Gerald D. McKnight
University Press of Kansas, 2005
    Someone Would Have Talked
Larry Hancock
JFK Lancer Productions and Publications, 2003
    Oswald. Mexico, and Deep Politics: Revelations from CIA Records on the Assassination of JFK
Peter Dale Scott
Skyhorse Publishing, 2013
Anthony Summers
Paragon House, 1980
    The Kennedy Assassination Tapes
Max Holland
Alfred A. Knopf, 2004
    Live By the Sword: The Secret War Against Castro and the Death of JFK
Gus Russo
Bancroft Press, 1998

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