HAVANA, Sept. 4 Mistress of Fidel Castro at age 19, Marita Lorenz was “returned” by the CIA for the murder. Deceased at the age of 80, she told us about this extravagant adventure.
How did a young German girl born in 1939 meet Fidel Castro in 1959?
Marita Lorenz. My father was a captain of cruise ships. He commanded the “Berlin” which, in early 1959, docked at the port of Havana.
The day after our arrival, I saw small stars approaching us, filled with bearded, armed, and khaki uniformed types. I noticed the tallest man, who smoked a cigar, and asked him what he wanted. “Get on the boat, to watch,” he replied. I said, “OK, get on.”
What happens then?
I show him the boat, from the engine room to the first class. He asks me where is my cabin. And once the door is open, he pushes me inside, hugs me and kisses me. My first kiss with a man …
Not at all. I was subjugated. Fidel gave off such a force! We did not make love, but almost. I immediately wanted to see him again.
How did you find yourself?
I had returned to New York, where I lived with my brother Joe. One day, the phone rings. Fidel is inviting me to Havana. I answer immediately yes! The next day, I was on a Cubana Airlines plane. At the time, it was possible: Fidel had not yet moved closer to the USSR and bridges with the United States were not cut.
Were you scared?
I was terrified but exalted too.
What did your parents say?
I did not tell them anything.
How did Fidel receive you?
He greeted me with my arms twirling. I stayed for eight and a half months, from March to November 1959.
Where did you live?
In the Hilton Suite 2408, where he stayed. His brother Raul and Che Guevara occupied the rooms next door. As soon as I arrived, we made love.
Fidel was not a very good lover. He loved to watch himself in the mirror caressing his beard
What kind of lover was he?
He was not a very good lover. He was more interested in caresses than in the actual sexual act. But they are all like that, these dictators.
What do you mean?
I had an affair with Marcos Perez Jimenez, the former strongman of Venezuela. It was the same. Fidel was a narcissist. He loved to look at himself in the mirror, caressing his beard. He lacked self-confidence or, rather, he needed to be reassured, cajoled. A little boy.
Is it resentment that makes you talk?
No, because I do not blame him absolutely, on the contrary! Beside him, I felt like a queen. He said to me, “You are the First Lady of Cuba.” Fidel remains the great love of my life.
How was he on a daily basis?
He did not have a routine. He left without warning or saying why. He was also very funny. We loved to make fun of the tourists we watched from our window on the 24th floor.
I knew he had adventures, but he always came back
Have you spoken about marriage?
No. He warned me right away that we should not think of marrying him. “I’m married to Cuba,” he told me. He made me crazy with jealousy. I knew he had adventures, but he always came back. I was not going to play the capricious, put pressure on him. With Fidel, it did not work, it was he who decided.
You become pregnant very quickly. How does he react?
He seems completely lost, then he tells me, “It’s going to be okay.” He’s trying to calm my excitement.
In May 1959, pregnant, you meet a man: a certain Frank Sturgis. Tell us…
It’s happening at the Riviera Hotel. This man, whom I do not know, approaches me and tells me that he can bring me out of the island. I declined. He introduces himself as an American ally of Fidel. What I did not know at the time was that he was close to the Mafia, whose interests – and casinos – he defended on the island.
He played double, triple, quadruple play. He also had links with Batista, the former dictator whom Castro had overthrown, and with the CIA, who regarded Cuba as a colony of America. Later, in 1972, Sturgis was part of the plumber gang that laid microphones in Washington’s Democratic HQ and triggered the Watergate affair. When I told Fidel that I had met him, he ordered me, furiously, never to see him again.
It’s this Frank Sturgis that makes you discover the world of counterintelligence and the CIA.
Yes, without me realizing it. He told me he could help me and he asked me for lots of services in return. To get rid of him, I ended up giving him letters that Fidel threw in the trash and, in my opinion, had no interest. It seemed to satisfy him.
I never knew by whom or why I had been poisoned
In October 1959, you drink a glass of milk and you collapse. Have you been poisoned?
Yes, but I never knew by whom or why. Fidel was absent. One of his relatives takes me to the emergency room and then organizes my repatriation by plane to New York. I do not remember anything. All I know is that I woke up in a room at Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan, in a daze.
And your child?
It was stolen from me. It was said that I had an abortion because the New York gynecologist believed in forced labor. It was wrong. I was almost at term and my child was born when I was in a coma in Cuba. It’s a boy. He grew up there and his name is Andres Vazquez.
How can you be sure since there is no picture of him?
Because I saw it in 1981 when I went to see Fidel for the last time, after twenty years of absence. And the only picture of him I had, I lost it.
Tell these reunions …
He agreed to receive me but he did not look happy. I begged him to introduce my child. So he opened the door and Andres appeared. He looked like Fidel. His hands, his face was identical. I gave him the gifts I had brought, he told me he was studying medicine. I kept crying.
Have you kept in touch with your son?
At first yes. I sent him letters. I think he read them. For my part, I received an envelope from the address he had given me. When I opened it, it was empty.
I joined the anti-Castro ranks despite myself
Let’s go back to your return from Cuba at the end of 1959. You write in your book that you have joined the ranks of anti-Castro. Why?
During my convalescence, I received visits from FBI guys who told me about horrors about Fidel. They gradually gained my trust. My mother was on their side. She was an actress, but she also worked for them. During the Second World War, she had started collaborating with US counterintelligence and she never dropped out.
She accused Fidel of raping me. I was naive, in love, but demolished. I joined the anti-Castro ranks, in spite of myself, and found Frank Sturgis, who had meanwhile returned to the United States. He greeted me saying, “Welcome aboard.”
And he sent you to murder Fidel, early 1961.
Exactly. I went on a plane. I still had the key to suite 2408, where he continued to live. I went in and Fidel arrived shortly thereafter. He said, “Oh, my little German!”
Did you tell him you came to kill him?
Yes. But he already knew it. He handed me his pistol, which I grabbed. Right in the eye, he told me, “No one can kill me.” He was right. I dropped the weapon and felt liberated from a weight.
Your sponsors should not be thrilled!
They were furious. They explained to me that if I had succeeded, they would not have had to launch the operation of the Bay of Pigs [an attempt to invade Cuba which turned into a fiasco in April 1961].
But you have nevertheless remained linked to the anticastrist circles.
Yes. I had become a spy. When we start, we do not stop. I lived in Miami, like Lee Harvey Oswald, the man accused of murdering John F. Kennedy.
I was suspicious of Oswald, he did not love me either
When did you meet Oswald?
At a party at the Anti-Castro. They spoke openly about their hatred towards Kennedy. They accused him of failing the Bay of Pigs operation by failing to provide the promised air support. Oswald was there. He was pretentious, lonely. I was suspicious of him. He did not love me either.
Is he the murderer of JFK?
He was involved, but he was not the only shooter. I think there was another one.
Because I took part in a convoy of arms, from Miami to Dallas. When we arrived, I saw Jack Ruby [the man who murdered Lee Harvey Oswald] waiting for us. I was asked to leave, and I learned about the assassination of the president on the plane. For me, there was a plot.
The Special Committee of the House of Representatives, which reopened the investigation into the assassination of Kennedy, heard you in 1978. However, it decided not to accept your testimony.
I know. But I stand. These rifles were meant to kill the president. That’s what I heard during the trip.
What are you living today?
You’re welcome. All my life has been mixed, directly or indirectly, in the service of counterintelligence, either through my mafia friends or through security companies and private detectives like Wackenhut, close to the CIA. Today, I live in a rat hole in Queens, a half basement, with my cat, my dog, my turtle, and my orange fish. I can not wait to leave.
At 76, what can you expect?
I want to go back to Germany with my son Mark, who is 46 years old. He has a job waiting for him there. He will run a museum devoted to counterintelligence.
(Translated from Paris Match)