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Pseudonym: Aretz, Wilmer

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Wilmer R. Aretz was possibly a pseudonym for Arthur Avignon, Deputy Chief of Station (DCOS), Havana, in the early 1960's.
A cable in April, 1960, stated that the Chief of Station (COS), Havana, had "tentatively approved" leave for Wilmer R. Aretz for May 19-24. Aretz was to attend to family matters in Washington, D.C. The cable also requested that, if possible, Aretz meet Choaden (David A. Phillips) in Washington on May 23, 1960.

A FBI memo in October of 1960 on CIA operations in Havana stated that "Arthur Avignon, former Bureau agent who has been on transfer to Rio de Janeiro for the past month, Assistant Chief. He has explained that his transfer has been delayed due to the fact that if he is removed, it is doubtful whether any replacement would be sent in his stead."

A memo by William J. Murray in 1975 stated that "I do not know if any other Station officers were knowledgeable of this incident although it is probable that Mr. Arthur Avignon, DCOS (now retired and living in the Washington area) may have read the pertinent cables." Therefore, both Aretz and Avignon had a connection to Washington, D.C., and both worked in the CIA Havana station in 1960.

A dispatch in August of 1960 was signed by Wilmer R. Aretz under the name of the COS, Havana. The Routing and Record Sheet for this dispatch was from WH/4C, and was read and signed by Barton (David A. Phillips). Joseph Piccolo's name also appeared in another column. There was also a comment on whether it would be useful to Sago (probably Santiago, Chile; see Number 12 on sheet)?


11/06/59: Dispatch from Chief of Station, Habana to Chief, WHD: "1. Subject is currently hiding in Habana, awaiting exfiltration. The attached letter was written by Subject for release to the public following his departure from Cuba. Since details of his planned exfiltration are not yet firm, this matter will be the subject of cable correspondence with Headquarters, which will be received there prior to the receipt of this pouch. 2. It is most important that Headquarters make no public use of the attached letter until the Station advises Headquarters that Subject is safely out of Cuba and (unintelligible) the letter has been surfaced locally. Wilmer R. Aretz."


02/27/60: Cable from Havana to Director: "1. Station casual source Enrique Carrillo informed Aretz following 25 Feb. A. Source and Jaime Gomilla meeting with Juan Antonio Rubio Padilla 26 Feb at which time Gomila will offer to Rubio cooperation and utilization of Gomila's clandestine action group which source describes as only existing organized terrorist organization in Cuba today. B. In offering assistance to Rubio, source said they were in effect throwing their support to Jose Ignacio Rivero and Silvio Cardenas who together with Rubio had good connections in Miami and with ODYOKE (U.S. Government). C. Described Rubio and Angel Fernandez Varela as his intimate friends and two most important men in Cuba's future. 2. When pressed for details on Gomila's organization Carrillo could provide no significant info other then to describe Gomila as being a professional clandestine operator, close collaborator of General Cantillo, vice president of Cuban wine merchants ASSN, and a man who never held public office. Promised provide Aretz 1 March full report Gomila's organization and results meeting with Rubio. 3. Above of operational interest due: A. Fernandez member AMPALM (described as the MDC/MRR complex circa 1960. An early effort, aided by CIA, to develop an organized anti-Castro united political front. The MDC, also known as the Christian Democrats) directorate. B. Fact AMPALM-1 (Oscar Echeverria y Salvat) mentioned Rubio as possible candidate for ZRMETAL (Washington, D.C) talks: Fact source appears witting QDDALE (William D. Pawley) operation. 4. No station record Gomila. Request HQs cable traces." (Handwritten note: "No traces (include this on card)."

John Newman, Countdown to Darkness: The Assassination of President Kennedy (Volume 2), pp. 65-66.

"On 29 February (1960), (Jake) Esterline and a Havana Station officer, Wilmer Aretz, met with Oscar Echevarria Salvat (AMPALM-1), Angel Fernandez Varela (AMPALM-4) and AMCRACKLE (probably James Joseph O'Mailia), a station cutout for contact with the AMPALMS. AMCRACKLE'S pseudonym may have been Gordon Biniaris. The CIA station in Havana had begun recruiting members of the AMPALM (described as the MDC/MRR complex circa 1960) group in November 1959...William Aretz was the CIA case officer for AMCRACKLE. In mid-January 1960, AMCRACKLE had reported that the AMPALM organization was 'strikingly similar' to a miniature CIA. Headed by a five-man directorate that met twice a week, the AMPALM group included five divisions. The propaganda and student action division was managed by Oscar Echevarria; the political action division was managed by Laureano Batista (AMPALM-2) and Jose Ignacio Augusto Rasco Bermudez (AMPALM-5) and their Christian Democratic Movement (MDC); the resistance, intelligence and communication division was managed by Roberto Ortiz (AMPALM-3); the paramilitary division was managed by Angel Fernandez (AMPALM-4), a leader of the...MRR; and Melchor Gaston handled finance and support.


03/04/60: Dispatch from COS, Habana to Chief, WHD (Attn: Anthony R. Ponchay): Subject: Operational/KUCAGE AMPALM Organization: "1. Attached are two copies of a working chart prepared by the undersigned on the structure and operations of the AMPALM (described as the MDC/MRR complex circa 1960) organization. It is provided in response to Anthony R. Ponchay's (Jacob/Jake Esterline) request during his recent visit to the Station...Wilmer R. Aretz." - - - This HSCA document (180-10145-10358) stated that Aretz was the case officer of Angel Fernandez: https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=220407#relPageId=7


04/28/60: Cable from Havana to Director: DIR CITE HAVA 4393: "1. COS has tentatively approved 19-24 May leave for Aretz order he attend family business ZRMETAL (Washington, D.C.). 2. If possible suggest Aretz-Choaden (David Phillips) meeting ZRMETAL 23 May. (Handwritten note: (Unintelligible) file Choaden)."


08/17/60: Dispatch from COS, Habana to Chief, WHD: "Attention is invited to paragraph 2A of Reference. Attached is the translation of V.I. Lenin on Religion, together with the English version originally provided by Headquarters via KMFORGET. AMPALM-1 (Oscar Echeverria y Salvat) states that the translation was made by a priest, but did not reveal his name. Once the Spanish edition is published, the Station will obtain a number of copies which may be of use to other Stations. In view of the limited number which can be sent by pouch, Headquarters may wish to make the attached translation available to some other publications facility. Wilmer R. Aretz. (Handwritten note: KMFORGET is releasable, BU 8/3/98)." - - - KMFORGET was "a program where stories planted by the agency in one country would be clipped and mailed to media in other countries, and such efforts enhanced the likelihood that the stories would be seen by an American correspondent and transmitted home." https://www.maryferrell.org/php/cryptdb.php?id=KMFORGET


08/17/60: Routing and Record Sheet for the above dispatch: "FROM: WH/4C, 20113N. TO: 3. WH 046 Barton (David A. Phillips)..." The other signatories are mostly from WH/4, including C/WH/4/PROP (Number 5), C/WH/CA (Number 10). Number 12 was signed by WH/1/Chile. In the "To All Addressees" column, Joseph Piccolo name is at the top, with the unit: WH/4C. Comment "10-12: Would this be useful to Sago?" Possibly a reference to Santiago, Chile.


10/21/60: Cable from Havana to Director: REF HAVA 6517 (IN 26654): "1. Local planning committee for Marian Congress met 19 Oct and were advised that Lasaga would not accept invitation due fact he feels he might not be able return Cuba after congress and considers continued work here overriding importance. Committee request that AMPALM-1 (Oscar Echeverria y Salvat) be invited. This poss discussed with Wiesinger (Rene Dubois, also known as Ray Dubois) by Aretz on 10 Oct and agreed A-1 should attend. 2. AMPALM-4 (Angel Fernandez Varela) and AMPAD-1 (handwritten: Rodriguez) recommends that AMPALM-1 also attend the fifth InterAmerican week of Catholic action to be held Mexico 22 Nov to 2 Dec. Station concurs and suggests A-1's projected trip MEXI be postponed until after BUEN congress. 3. For BUEN: A-1 valuable station asset who now in PBPRIME (U.S.) due pose he may have been blown. Pouching bio summary. 4. For MASH: Pls advise A-1 and station if AMBIDDY-1 (Manuel Artime Buesa), Salvat, Dr. Muller will attend. Doubtful if A-1 would cooperate fully with AMBIDDY-1 view past frictions. Also cable BUEN AMPALM-1 address. C/S Comment: *Dissemination applicable to JMNET cables. **Gave recommendation re invitees to Marian Congress."


10/21/60: FBI memo from SAC, Miami to Director: Titled: CIA OPERATIONS - HAVANA, CUBA: "The operations of the CIA station in Havana, Cuba, received a crippling blow in September, 1960, when Cuban G-2 authorities discovered that CIA operatives had established a technical surveillance on the Overseas China News Agency which had offices located in the Centro Medico Building in Havana, Cuba...In connection with this operation, various other CIA operatives in Havana were compromised. Included among these were the following who were assigned as officers at the U.S. Embassy, Havana, Cuba: Robert D. Wiecha, David Beck, (FNU) De Castro, and another female employee of the U.S. Embassy...Carolyn O. Stacy. It appears...she was the one who was working in an undercover capacity for CIA and not Marjorie A. Lennox...Another CIA representative, David Morales, has also been recalled to the United States as it has been feared that his contact with counterrevolutionary groups in Havana, Cuba, might be known to Cuban G-2...The present set-up of the CIA station in Havana is as follows: James Noel, Chief. Arthur Avignon, former Bureau agent who has been on transfer to Rio de Janeiro for the past month, Assistant Chief. He has explained that his transfer has been delayed due to the fact that if he is removed, it is doubtful whether any replacement would be sent in his stead. Anthony L. Sileo. William J. Murray. Benjamin C. Evans, Jr., is presently in the United States and it is not known whether there are plans for him to return to Cuba. The office has a complement of five girls."


11/23/60: Cable from Havana to Director: JMNET: "1. Julio Mestre, member MDC directorate here, contacted STA 22 Nov and related FOLL...2. Mestre requested visa assit Hernandez Cata and her mother and said ops contingent upon his guaranteeing (Jesus) Fernandez (Hernandez) that boat he fleeing in would be met. Aretz told Mestre that it impossible guarantee boat would be met and effort would be made look into visa assist. Mestre aware of Hernandez past cooperation with commies but trusts her thoroughly, saying that she has been most helpful to MDC from her current position in Min of Foreign Relations. Aretz noted that plan appeared poorly coordinated assure follow up to event if it does take place and it may precipitate complete destruction opposition by a desperate Castro. Mestre stated plan had not been coordinated FRD Miami and AMPALM-5 (Jose Ignacio Agusto Rasco Bermudez) intentionally left out but ops fully coordinated here among FRD sabotage chiefs by AMPAN-1 (Jose Orta)..."

104-10193-10319: AMCALL OPERATIONS

12/14/60: Dispatch from Acting COS, Habana to Chief, WHD (Info: Chief of Base, JMWAVE): "1. Following the receipt of the information cabled to Headquarters in Reference, AMCALL-1 (Reinol Gonzalez Gonzalez) in three separate utilizations of his live-drop between himself and Station cutout Gordon M. Biniaris (probably James Joseph O'Mailia) passed separate cover attachments A through D to the Station. It is hoped that Headquarters will give careful attention to these four separate cover attachments because they fully report on the following: a. The internal organization of the MRP labor organization. b. The names and biographic information on the MRP labor leadership. c. The scope of their current propaganda effort...4. As Headquarters is aware, Biniaris has had a great deal of difficulty in dealing with AMCALL-2 and AMOURETTE-11. Both have been reluctant to provide detailed reporting and it may be that they feel close inspection by JMCLIPPER (the National Catholic Welfare Conference) of the extent their respective organizations are using funds for clandestine activity might result in some security breach or reduction in funding. While we are not sure, there is a good chance that the 'Pepe Alegria' referred to in AMCALL-1's letter to AMOURETTE-9 (probably Padre Enrique Osler) is actually AMCALL-2...Wilmer R. Aretz."


01/17/75: Memo from William J. Murray, C/LA/Narcotics to the Inspector General (via: Deputy Director for Operations): ..."6. Mr. Martinez defected in early December 1960. I saw him once in early 1961 in Miami, Florida where he had taken up residence. I do not know if any other Station officers were knowledgeable of this incident although it is probable that Mr. Arthur Avignon, DCOS (now retired and living in the Washington area) may have read the pertinent cables."

Gavin McDonald • John Newman

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