Was Eladio del Valle David Ferrie's Paymaster?
Updated: Oct 9, 2021
Many conspiracy theorists believe that Eladio del Valle, a former Cuban Congressman who was murdered in Miami in February 1967, was involved in the JFK assassination. Was he friends with David Ferrie? Was he David Ferrie's paymaster? Conspiracy theorists love to tell stories about del Valle - but what is the truth?
Miami Herald, February 24, 1967
James DiEugenio writes in his book, Destiny Betrayed: (page 85)
"Ferrie developed an obsession for the regime of Fidel Castro. This led him to become more intertwined with the Agency and its underground Cuban exile community in New Orleans. He bombed targets inside of Cuba at the request of former Cuban Congressman Eladio del Valle. Del Valle was linked to the CIA, Santo Trafficante, and Senator George Smathers."
DiEugenio's source is the book Deadly Secrets by Warren Hinckle and William Turner, page 233., and Probe Magazine. Here is an excerpt from page 233 of Deadly Secrets:
There are no footnotes for this paragraph.
James DiEugenio also writes in Destiny Betrayed: (page 226)
"Once Castro took over, Del Valle joined the violent opposition to him. One of the things he did was hire David Ferrie to run fire bomb missions over Cuba. Since Del Valle had run up a small fortune in smuggling contraband with mobster Santo Trafficante, he could afford to pay Ferrie well, 1,500 dollars per mission."
DiEugenio's source is once again Deadly Secrets, page 270 and page 321. Here is page 270:
There are no footnotes in this paragraph and thus no sourcing.
Here is page 321 from Deadly Secrets:
There are no footnotes in this paragraph and thus no sourcing.
While the pages on del Valle in Deadly Secrets have no sourcing, we can still figure out where Turner got his information. His book, Rearview Mirror, has a few pages on del Valle, and his source is journalist Diego Gonzalez Tendedera: (page 142)
And Tendedera did write about Eladio del Valle - in the Spanish-language newspaper El Tiempo which was then reprinted in English in the April 30 1967 edition of the National Enquirer. Here are two articles from the same issue: the first by Charles Golden, and the second by Diego Gonzalez Tendedera.
The key points of the above article:
- A "highly placed source" close to Garrison claimed that del Valle was a "close pal" of David Ferrie.
- Ferrie's death was "apparently suicide."
- Del Valle was located "in a Miami bar" three days before his murder by a Garrison investigator. He convinced del Valle to "help round up several persons believed to have conspired in the President's murder."
- Del Valle identified Manuel Garcia Gonzalez from a photograph with Lee Harvey Oswald. He believed it would take several days to find Gonzalez.
- Del Valle was a bisexual and "sexual deviance is taking on special importance as new evidence comes to light in the assassination probe."
- "There already have been definite signs that a number of people linked to the assassination probe were tied to Cuban politics, to organized crime and to sexual perversion."
- "Ruby has become a prime suspect in the New Orleans-based assassination probe."
- "Torture victim del Valle fits the overall pattern of sexual deviancy and international intrigue."
"del Valle teamed up with Ferrie as early as 1960 for "fire-bomb" raids in Cuba."
"Some of the truth is coming from the homosexual world, where talk is now rife about the obviously "gay" twists within the assassination conspiracy."
"Some key investigators feel Castro's "higher-ups" used homosexuals for the assassination."
The Tendedera article makes the following claims:
- Ferrie flew "scores of missions" with del Valle to drop bombs on Cuba.
- Tendedera "saw Ferrie and del Valle together almost every day" for six months.
- del Valle would pay Ferrie $1,000 to $1,500 per flight depending on whether they were going to bomb or pick up refugees which was "a far more dangerous mission."
- U.S. government agents put a stop to the raids.
- Tendedera has moved his family to a Manhattan hotel.
- "I personally believe del Valle and David Ferrie knew too much about the circumstances surrounding JFK's assassination."
Tendedera was wrong about the murder - del Valle was not hit with a machete and his skull was not split from ear to ear - the coroner said his death was due to blunt force trauma and the gunshot.
It is clear from the above articles that somebody in Garrison's office was talking to Tendedera and Golden - the comments about homosexuality certainly indicate the thinking inside the D.A. office in early March 1967.
There is only one reference to Eladio del Valle in Garrison documents:
Bernardo Torres, a Bay of Pigs veteran, was helping the Garrison investigation in Miami. It appears he talked to del Valle and asked him about photographs. Given the information from the Golden article, he must have been asking him about this picture of Lee Harvey Oswald - taken in New Orleans when he was handing out his Fair Play for Cuba pamphlets:
After Garrison figured out that Clay Shaw was the elusive Clay Bertrand, he invited Dean Andrews to dinner to corroborate his thesis. But Andrews refused to play, and when Garrison wouldn't let up, Andrews decided to test him. He invented a fictitious Cuban acquaintance of Oswald's, Manuel Garcia Gonzalez, and this piqued Garrison's interest. He then convinced himself that the man on the left, who has always been unidentified and who was helping Oswald that day, was Manuel Garcia Gonzalez. He then sent his investigators to Miami to find him.
Garrison couldn't help but shoot off his mouth about Manuel Garcia Gonzalez, and the press reported that Gonzalez was "one of a group of Cubans who reportedly hid behind a billboard in the parade route in Dallas.".
I don't know if del Valle actually saw any photographs - certainly if he was shown the Oswald photograph and did identify Manuel Garcia Gonzalez, then he was certainly playing along. In any case, the first time Garrison ever heard of del Valle was from that memo from Ivon about the Fowler telephone call.
The truth is that Garrison never really checked out del Valle for anything. Here is an excerpt from Garrison's interview with Playboy Magazine from October 1967:
Thus, the only source for the del Valle-Ferrie relationship was Tendedera. So, could there have been any truth to his allegations?
First, what about the claim that Ferrie and del Valle were together every day for almost six months? Stephen Roy, aka Blackburst, posted this on a bulletin board:
"The relationship as reported probably took place in late 1960-early 1961, but the claim that Ferrie and del Valle were together every day for a sixth month period seems to conflict with Ferrie's work record with Eastern Air Lines. None of the thousands of documents I have found relating to Ferrie mention del Valle, and none of his friends seem to remember him. I would be much more comfortable with Tendedera's story of a Ferrie/del Valle relationship if it were confirmed by some other credible first-hand source."
Did David Ferrie fly to Cuba? Once again, here is Stephen Roy:
Having looked very closely into the career of David Ferrie, while I cannot rule out the possibility that he may have made such flights at some juncture, I make the following observations: 1) Prior to September 1961, Ferrie was flying for Eastern Air Lines three times a week from New Orleans to Houston and other Texas cities, including two overnighters. There would not have been a great deal of opportunity for him to have made such flights from Florida. (And the flight log on his Stinson contains no indication of any such flights.) 2) Prior to April 1961, Ferrie was not fully accepted as an active participant by the anti-Castro Cubans. 3) After his August 1961 morals arrests, Ferrie was soon ostracized by the Cubans. Further, his Stinson soon entered a long period of inactivity. Ferrie denied ever going to Cuba. However, he did tell a friend about one sojourn into Cuba in August 1960, which he said was for the CIA. He said he was wounded in the process, but his friends doubted this. So the assertion that Ferrie made "flights" or extensive flights into Cuba is not strongly supported by the evidence.
Fowler has new information from Bernardo [de] Torres which proves unlikely . . . Torres has reidentified stocky guy in leaflet photograph, already positively identified as a Lebanese businessman . . . Torres claims his name is Verdaguer, a pilot, and his informant, Yito del Valle, was murdered the past Wednesday night . . . Del Valle turns out to be tied up with Santo Trafficante . . . Giant cuts Torres off as source . . .
We discuss Yito del Valle briefly . . . Garrison interested in fact he knew Ferrie, but this aspect has not been developed by New Orleans . . .
Garrison considers del Valle murder in Miami a side alley not worth pursuing at present . . .
Garrison didn't consider the del Valle murder worthy of investigation. It's interesting that the man in the photo was not identified as Manuel Garcia Gonzalez.
Tendedera's report would seem to have little credibility. And, here is a JMWAVE document from 1963 that also raises some questions.
And, what about the claim that del Valle was a smuggling partner with Santos Trafficante?
Now, to be sure, that is not conclusive that del Valle was not working with Trafficante, but before I conclude that del Valle was his smuggling partner, I'd need some evidence.
Rolando Masferrer was on trial for an attempted invasion of Haiti. As you can see from page 3, del Valle might have been murdered because of a trip he made to Haiti.
To sum up - the ONLY source for the del Valle-David Ferrie connection was the article by Tendedera. And, there is no corroborating evidence for its claims. You would think that conspiracy theorists might be a little more circumspect in circulating the del Valle rumors, but there are many books with the allegations.
And, of course, Oliver Stone couldn't help but put Eladio del Valle into three scenes in his film JFK. The first scene is with Jim Garrison and David Ferrie in a hotel room:
Garrison: Who are you scared of?
Ferrie: Everybody. The Agency, mob, Cubans. Follow the Cubans. Check out Eladio del Valle. He was my paymaster when I flew missions into Cuba.
The official screenplay says the source for this scene is Paris Flammonde's book, The Kennedy Conspiracy, page 119. The actual source is page 19 which states "Garrison believes that he was on occasion paid $1,500 per mission by a former Batista man, one Eladio del Valle."
Another scene is with Jim Garrison and his chief investigator Lou Ivon:
Garrison: I know what you're going through with Ferrie. We'll talk tomorrow. I have to catch a plane to Washington. A lead says he's closely connected to these events . . . but he won't come here.
Ivon: I'm onto Ferrie's Cuban paymaster, Eladio del Valle. I need more men. I need to get him in.
The next scene is in Ferrie's apartment after his death:
Garrison: Ferrie was the only one to express any kind of remorse about the whole thing. I think it got him killed.
Susie: More bad news from Miami. Ferrie's friend, Eladio del Valle, was found . . . hacked to death with a machete in his car. He was tortured, shot point-blank in the heart, his skull split open with an ax.
Ivon: Ain't that the devil's piss!
The source for this scene is Turner & Hinckle's book The Fish is Red [which was subsequently republished as Deadly Secrets] and Paris Flammonde's book The Kennedy Conspiracy - the screenplay admits that "they cite as their source Diego Gonzalez Tendedera, the Miami correspondent for El Tiempo."
There's not much left to say. Except that the del Valle story is still being used to bolster claims of conspiracy. Fabian Escalante, a former Cuban intelligence chief, told a conference of assassination researchers in the Bahamas in 1995 that del Valle and Tony Cuesta (one of the founders of Alpha 66) were involved with the JFK assassination.
Very little was said about del Valle at this conference. At one point. Escalante talks about Tony Cuesta:
Escalante was asked about del Valle's murder:
And, finally let's go back full circle to James DiEugenio. In his review of my book, On The Trail of Delusion, he brings up Eladio del Valle:
"For example, Litwin does not mention the infamous CIA agent Bernardo DeTorres as an early infiltrator into Garrison’s office. DeTorres was later called as a witness before the HSCA. One reason being that he reportedly had pictures of Dealey Plaza in a safe deposit box. A second being he was in communication with people who talked about the assassination before it occurred. (DiEugenio, Destiny Betrayed, Second Edition, pp. 227–28) Further, David Ferrie’s colleague for raids into Cuba—and a suspect in the JFK case—Eladio Del Valle, was found killed, within 24 hours of Ferrie’s death. The report written up for Garrison read, “He was shot in the chest and it appears ‘gangland style’ and his body was left in the vicinity of BERNARDO TORRES’ apartment." (ibid) If those two deaths, along with DeTorres’ infiltration, do not at least suggest attempts to cripple Garrison’s inquiry, then what does?"
I have written a previous blog post about DiEugenio's missing evidence. Now, del Valle's death helps to prove an attempt to "cripple Garrison's inquiry."
I wonder if Diego Gonzalez Tendedera ever thought that his El Tiempo article would help make Eladio de Valle a legend in the conspiracy world.