Orestes Peña was a Cuban exile barkeeper in the French Quarter in downtown New Orleans at the time of the JFK assassination. He ran a bar and hotel, the Havana Bar on Decatur. Harold Weisberg drew heavily on his personal relationship with Peña for his book “Oswald in New Orleans”.
Peña first contacted Weisberg via an unsolicited letter on March 26, 1967, (OINO pg 135) after reading his book “Whitewash” (1966), and maintained contact with him for some time thereafter. Peña is also the person who actually bailed out Carlos Bringuier from jail the day he and Lee Oswald were “arrested” in that fracas down on Canal Street on August 9, 1963. This might seem off topic, however, I have maintained on and off contact with Carlos since March 2013. At that time, he told me in a phone conversation that “Castro killed Kennedy” (“Rivera, a Kennedy lo mató Fidel Castro”) but refused to engage me in any debate or discussion about why he thinks that to be the case. Bringuier wrote a book on Lee Oswald, “Red Friday“, which was once reviewed by renowned OIC Senior Member, Professor and author David Wrone:
Late afternoon on Friday, November 22, 1963, Bringuier called the news media to state that he thought Lee Oswald was either FBI or CIA, and that Lee was trying to infiltrate his group, the DRE, AKA AMSPELL. This is how the newspapers in New Orleans reported it:
In November 2014, while in New Orleans, and in the company of Jim Fetzer and Gary King, I called Carlos and left voice and text messages on his phone in the hope of obtaining an interview, but was unsuccessful, and never obtained a response. He keeps me on his mailing list, however, and at times sends information on how great Cuba was before the Castro revolution, about how many T.V.’s, radios and cars existed per capita at the time, as well as other outdated nonsense. Carlos contributes to a website here with some of his writings http://amigospais-guaracabuya.org/#bringuier . The reader can plug this into translate.google.com to appreciate Carlos’s insights and how his mind works. One time, Carlos emailed that he had sued Harold Weisberg and won the lawsuit, which is doubtful. In fact, Harold went to New Orleans in the hope that Bringuier would serve him, because he was anxious to counter sue and draw him into discovery phase of whichever lawsuit Bringuier’s lawyers could bring against him. But enough about Carlos.
In the very latest ARRB/National Archives document release, a very rare and long- sought after HSCA document was quietly released – the testimony of Orestes Peña:
If you really want to know what went down in New Orleans that summer, this is the place to start. You will also understand why this document was suppressed for so long.
Orestes Peña appears to be one of the unsung heroes in the JFK assassination saga. This man was feared by those who covered up the “Crime of the Century” because Peña, as a barkeeper, knew what was really going on in New Orleans at all times. Everyone knows that when people drink, they tend to talk too much, and that is exactly what Peña was privy to. He never deviated from his story, even after receiving a beating which landed him in the hospital.
It is beyond the scope of this post to cover the vast amount of information revealed by Orestes, so I will summarize below:
- Peña was an informant for the FBI and reported directly to FBI SAIC Warren De Brueys. De Brueys insisted that Peña communicate directly with him, and nobody else, at the FBI office in New Orleans. As a barkeeper, Peña was the perfect source of information to keep De Brueys informed on what was going on in the exile and counter revolutionary community in New Orleans. Peña never received a red cent for his information.
- Peña admitted working for “another agency”.
- Orestes knew David Ferrie so well, that he called him “Captain Ferrie” and Ferrie even gave him flying lessons and taught him how to fly Cessna air planes.
- De Brueys, David Ferrie, and Sergio Arcacha Smith were very close friends.
- Peña witnessed Lee Oswald in the company of Federal agents of different branches in his bar, in the streets of New Orleans, in restaurants – way too many times to ignore.
- Peña revealed that Lee Oswald and Warren De Brueys knew each other “very, very” well:
- As first reported by Mark Lane in the mid 1960s, Peña reiterates repeatedly that De Brueys left New Orleans for Dallas with Lee Oswald before the assassination.
- Peña knew intimate details of the training camp at Lake Pontchartrain.
- Peña was even more specific about Lee’s association with Federal agents, naming the following:
- Peña affirms that Lee was an FBI informant:
- Warren Commission Assistant Counsel Wesley Leibeler suppressed his testimony:
- Peña revealed that De Brueys and other agents threatened him repeatedly about the consequences of talking about what he knew, and was ordered in no uncertain terms to keep his mouth shut.
- He saw Oswald passing out leaflets and bailed Bringuier out of jail because he had no money.
- He witnessed Lee Oswald in his bar ordering lemonade in the company of “Spanish” looking men. This also confirms the so-called “lemonade” incident mentioned by Judyth Vary Baker in her book “Me and Lee“.
Peña’s testimony reveals “another agency” which he worked for and refused to identify. Jim Garrison puzzled over Peñas exotic and frequent travels during this key period. Perhaps this document provides indirect confirmation of a connection to this “other agency”.
Which leads one to wonder what kind of falling out he might have had to provoke his ire with the FBI and De Brueys. More grist for the mill.
Finally, De Brueys bolted out of New Orleans for Washington D.C., when Jim Garrison tried to serve him with a subpoena to testify before a grand jury for the Clay Shaw trial.
De Brueys ignored the citation and later bounced around South America for some time, even serving as SAIC in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1974-75. Great places to stay out reach of those who wanted him to say what he knew about Peña, Oswald, and what happened in New Orleans that summer.