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Cryptonym: AMWHIP-2

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AMWHIP-2 was Juan Ventura Valner, a Cuban exile who owned a jewelry shop and lived in Geneva. Made infrequent business trips to Rome.
A CIA cable on March 29, 1966, stated that AMWHIP-2 was Juan Ventura Valner. AMWHIP-2 was a friend of AMWHIP-1, Carlos Tepedino Gonzalez, and was a contact of Rolando Cubela Secades (AMLASH-1). AMWHIP-2 was born in Costa Rica in 1914, and later became a naturalized Cuban citizen. A June 1963 CIA memorandum stated that Ventura was a source of the Air Force Attaché in Havana prior to January 1961. He appears to have been referred to at least once as "Jose Ventura".

104-10183-10042: MEMO: AMWHIP/1 MEETING, NEW YORK CITY, 31 MAY 1963

06/04/63: Memo for the record from William E. Wainwright, SAS/EOB: ..."3. Operational Interest...A/1 was most generous and cooperative in his attitude towards collaboration with CIA. He offered to make available both the facilities of his new jewelry store in Rome and of the jewelry firm of Corletto, Inc., of Milan, for any reasonable use to which CIA might wish to employ them, i.e., as letter drops, cover addresses, or to provide cover for a CIA agent operating in Italy or Europe. A/1 recommended that the jewelry store be considered before Corletto, however, because he has more control over the store than the manufacturing firm. (It is noted that we adhered to this advice in cabling Rome of A/1's impending arrival...see DIR (REDACTION). A/1 also stated that his partner in the store is Juan Ventura Valner (Walner), born 10 April 1914 at San Jose, Costa Rica, and now a naturalized Cuban citizen, residing in Geneva (45 Avenue Wendt, tel. 345732). Ventura, who was formerly a source of the Air Force Attaché in Havana (note: 10/29/64 post below: it was Robert Van Horn) prior to January 1961, is highly recommended by A/1 as a man of discretion and intelligence, who is now anti-Regime and is still very interested in doing what he can outside the island to aid the USG against Castro. Ventura, who is a jeweler and gem dealer by profession, will be in Rome three weeks of every month to manage the store until a satisfactory resident manager can be found to take over. Should Rome wish to take advantage of A/1's offer, he could be readily used to provide an introduction to Ventura. Only a general discussion of the ops possibilities for A/1's store were discussed with him at the meeting. He was told that if Rome was interested in discussing the idea further wit him a representative would initiate the contact. This person will speak English initially and will identify himself as a 'friend of Bill Thompson's' and refer to this instant meeting in New York on 31 May..."


10/22/63: Cable from Rome to Director: Slugline TYPIC AMWHIP AMLASH: "1. AMWHIP-1 (Carlos Tepedino Gonzalez) called Smitham from Milan 22 October 1961 1101 hours. Said he and AMLASH (Rolando Cubela Secades) leaving for Geneva same day where AMWHIP staying home Juan Ventura tel 345732. Have met with Venegas. 2. Message from Nicholas passed AMWHIP per ref. AMWHIP will comply. C/S Comment: *Re message to pass AMWHIP-1 from Nicholas."


10/29/64: Cable from Director to JMWAVE (Info: Geneva, Bern, Rome, Paris): (Orig: W. Wainwright, Unit: WH/SA/EOB): Slugline RYBAT PBRUMEN AMWHIP: "1. FYI, jeweler described ref is AMWHIP/2, who run by Rome Station and involved Cuban Government jewelry sales with AMWHIP/1 (Carlos Tepedino Gonzalez) with HQs consent. A/1 using sales to establish good rapport with Cuban Ambassador to Paris Antonio Maria Carreras who being developed as unwitting intelligence source. 2. For Rome: Request Station contact A/2 to service ref request." Handwritten note: "*Above Subject being met by Cuban Major." - - - Also see 104-10183-10158: 10/29/64: stating that "Jose Ventura" lives in Switzerland. and that Major Juan Almeida was flying to Switzerland to meet Mrs. Ventura. Only possible trace leads back to Juan Ventura, who is associated in some way with Major Robert Van Horn, the air attaché that worked with Frank Sturgis in the past. All of this information was passed on by AMHINT-19.


11/03/64: Dispatch from COS, Rome to Chief, WE: Page 2: ..."6. AMWHIP/2 also said that the Rome store was doing very well and that he felt sure that he would be back in ten days. (Bunce Comment: In the past AMWHIP/2's visits to Rome have always been much more widely spaced than he had planned or expected."


01/27/65: Dispatch from COS, Rome to Chief, WE (Attention: C/WE/4); Info: Chief, KUDESK; COS, Madrid, and COS, JMWAVE. Subject: MEETING WITH IDENTITY ON 25 JANUARY 1965: Page 2: ..."7. Identity next provided information about AMWHIP/2. He said that the fnu Iglesias who deals with AMWHIP/2 (see OIRA-37855, 7 August 1964, not to Madrid or JMWAVE has now become a Communist. He said that 'not too long ago' Iglesias invited AMWHIP/2 at his home. (Bunce Comment: AMWHIP/2 has not told Bunce about such a visit). Identity was well aware of the jewelry transactions in which AMWHIP/1 and AMWHIP/2 are engaged (see DIR-60438, 30 October 1964, not to Madrid and showed his annoyance. He said that AMWHIP/2 is not really a Cuban. He also said that in the summer of 1964 AMWHIP/2 and wife were visited at their home by Osmani Cienfuegos, Minister of Public Works. (Bunce Comment: No record here). Asked if he suspected AMWHIP/2 of being pro-Communist or pro-Castro, Identity said no, that he considered him only pro-profit. 'He is a business man,' said Identity, 'and because he is not really a Cuban, he cannot be expected to feel as we do about these matters.' Despite this tolerant statement, however, Identity said that he now limits his verbal exchanges with AMWHIP/2 to good morning and good evening. He said that AMWHIP/2's wife seems pro-U.S. but talks too much. He added that when Chief of Staff Juan Almeida Bosque became friendly with AMWHIP/2 and wife, the latter learned of underground construction going on near their home (they lived out of Havana) and now brags that she reported this to ODYOKE intelligence. (Bunce Comment: A recent letter to Bunce from AMWHIP/2 says that he expected to be in Rome before 25 January 1965. When he arrives Bunce intends to ask him for a full run-down on any and all Cubans now living in Cuba who have visited him in Switzerland."


03/03/65: Memo for the record from William E. Wainwright, WH/C/FI/TC: Page 4: "j. AMLASH-1's Accommodation Address Arrangements: AMWHIP-1 stated that he had reviewed accommodation addresses with AMLASH-1 and had given appropriate instructions to AMWHIP-2 in the event of the receipt of letters from Havana signed by AMLASH-1 or signed by a 'Cuban' whom AMWHIP-2 did not know. (Comment: It was a a good thing we reviewed accommodation addresses with AMWHIP-1, see below). For the record AMLASH-1 will address his letters to AMWHIP-2 either in care of his business address in Rome which is: Cavaliere Hilton, Jewelry Shop, Monte Mario, Roma, or to AMWHIP-2's business address in Geneva (which incidentally is identical with his home address, as AMWHIP-2 operates in Geneva from his apartment): Rue Crespin, Geneva, Switzerland. (It should be noted that AMWHIP-2 intends to open a proper office in Geneva in the near future. However, this is no particular reason for changing the accommodation address in Geneva). AMWHIP-1 stated that he had given the undersigned's post office box in Washington (William A. Thompson, P.O. Box 7224 Apex Station, Washington, D.C. to AMWHIP-2, believing that this would expedite our receipt of letters from AMLASH-1...AMWHIP was also told to remind AMWHIP-2 that he should handle the letters he received from Havana as little as possible and put them in cover envelopes and send them as quickly as possible to AMWHIP-1 in New York City. In this connection it remains the problem of obtaining these letters on a expeditious basis when AMWHIP-1 is, for example, out of town for a prolonged absence. It is suggested that William Thompson's accommodation business in Washington be given to AMWHIP's father so that he may forward AMWHIP-2's letters to Washington without undue delay. (This is an excellent example of a breakdown in compartmentation in Cuban operations)..."


06/14/65: Dispatch from COS, Madrid, to Chief, WE (Info: COS, Paris; Deputy Chief, WH/C; COS, Rome): Subject: KEYWAY PBRUMEN AMWHIP: "1. On 7 June, QUGROWL/2 said he was visited at the QUWEB shop by two inspectors from the foreign control section of QUOTA. The inspectors questioned QUGROWL/2 about AMWHIP/1, AMWHIP/2 and one Domenico Romano (no Station traces) an Italian national married to a Cuban. The inspectors said they were looking for all three individuals who are suspected jewel smugglers and reportedly are also engaged in the buying and selling of jewelry and precious stones seized by the Castro Government and being disposed of in Europe. QUGROWL/2 had no current knowledge of any of these persons and was honestly unable to help the inspectors. 2. In late May the Station received from QUOTA/71, a bootleg copy of a report prepared in QUOTA/48's section (distinct from the section handling foreign control) on the activities of Cubans involved in the sale of jewelry and precious stones confiscated by the Castro Government. This report which purports to originate with a reliable source named AMWHIP/1, AMWHIP/2 and Domenico Romano, Italian citizen and proprietor of a jewelry store in Rome, as being a ring of individuals involved in the disposal in Europe of the confiscated jewelry. The report also states that AMLASH/1 has been involved with the ring and that AMLASH/1 delivered jewels to AMWHIP/2 in Geneva during his last trip to Europe and later was in contact with Romano in Rome... 4. It is interesting to speculate the extent to which AMWHIP/1 and AMWHIP/2 may actually be involved in illicit business in Europe and to what extent AMWHIP/1 may use the the cover of his activities for CIA to further these transactions."


06/23/65: Cable from Director to multiple addresses (Orig: John Sherwood, C/WH/C/FI): ..."5. Following persons though not CIA assets, have intimate knowledge AMLASH affairs and some have had ad hoc contact with CIA staffers. There is to be no contact with them in the future. They are cited because they either live in Europe or have the means to travel to Europe. A). Victor (Espinosa), U.S. B). Rafael (Garcia-Bango), U.S. C). Juan (Ventura) Valner, Rome. (Separate cable follows). D). Jose Luis (Llgvio) Y Menendez, Paris. E). Luciano (Nieves) Mestre, Madrid. F). Hernan (Henriquez) Lora, Spain. G). America (Cisneros), Paris."


03/19/66: Cable from Director to Rome, JMWAVE, Geneva, and Bern (Orig: Patricia L. Johnson, Unit: WH/C/CA/PA): Slugline TYPIC AMFALL AMWHIP: "REF: ROME 8994 (IN 52091)* According Ref, AMWHIP-2 wife is close friend Juan (Almeida) Bosque, First Vice Minister, Cuban Armed Forces. HQs most interested ascertaining Almeida's current status view AMLASH-1 (Rolando Cubela Secades) and other arrests. Request AMWHIP-2's wife be asked if feasible to write innocuous friendly letter to Almeida in hopes eliciting interesting response. WH/C Comment: A-2 knows only one military contact of his wife, Juan Almeida."


03/29/66: Cable from Director to Rome, Bonn (Orig: Withheld, WH/C/PI/TC): Slugline TYPIC KAPOK MHAPRON AMWHIP AMWEST: ..."3. For Bonn, Attention Manganello: AMWHIP-2 (IDEN Bonn only) is Rome asset. His wife of current ops interest due her proposed summer trip to visit sick mother in Cuba, where she may possibly contact high level Cuban military friend on our behalf. Briefly refs surface possibility of danger to AMWHIP/2's wife during trip due probability Cuban authorities and Antonio Carrillo knowledgeable of AMWHIP/2's past business association with AMLASH/1 (Rolando Cubela Secades). During 22 and 23 March phone conversation between AMWHIPS and Carrillo, latter guaranteed AMWHIP/2's wife's safety while Cuba. However Carrillo's curious referral of AMWHIPS to AMWEST/1 as contact during his (Carrillo's) absence has raised the question of a possible provocation attempt. This particularly valid since all parties contaminated by past AMLASH/1 association, and due AMWEST/2's statements re current AMWEST/1 - Carrillo relationship. 4. View above situation, suggest no contact between AMWESTS and AMWHIPS. Request report details AMWEST/1 - Carrillo meeting as soon as they can be obtained from AMWEST/2. Meeting outcome should establish AMWEST/1's future status and also resolve provocation question." - - - Page 4: "REF: DIR 92482. IDEN REF: Juan Ventura Valner, Cuban exile who owns jewelry shop and resides Geneva. Makes infrequent business trips to Rome."


04/10/68: Memo from Deputy Director for Plans to the Director of the FBI: "1. A source whose reporting in the past has been reliable has furnished us with the following information: According to source, the following is a center for Cuban conspirators with contacts in the Cuban delegation to the United States: Sr. Leon, owner Muebleria San Juan (or San Juan Furniture), 160 East 116 Street, New York, New York, Telephone: SA 2-0579. 2. Due to the lack of identifying data, the Leon referred to above was not traced through our files. CSCI 316/01337-68. DDP/WH/COG/OPS: L. Carberry. SOURCE: AMWHIP-2. BASED ON: LX-3284. FILE: 201-267956."


Undated CIA document: Titled: "Rolando Cubela Secades (AMLASH) contacts in Europe: Carlos Jose Robreno Mariequez, Jr. (AMLASH-2), Alberto Blanco Romariz (AMLASH-3), Carlos Tepedino (AMWHIP-1), Juan Ventura Valner - Tepedino's jeweler friend in Rome and Geneva..."

Gavin McDonald

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