Dockworker set ship blast in Havana, American claims
The munitions ship which blew up in Havana harbor with a loss of between
75 and 100 lives was sabotaged by anti-Communist Cuban dockworker, a frigthened
Oklahoma cowboy declare here. Jack Lee Evans, 23 fled to Miami after the
explosion, declaring he was fearful that his knowledge of the plot might
put him in a Cuban prison or before a firing squad. The unidentified dockworker,
said Evans carried a package containing six sticks of dynamite aboard the
French freighter Le Coubre. He was to ligth the fuse so the the explosion
would occur at 5 p.m. Friday, after dockworkers had quit for the day. Something
went wrong, and the explosion came an hour and 21 minutes early, causing
heavy loss of life, he said. Evans declared he learned of the plot Wednesday
afternoon two days before the explosion, and actually saw the dockworker
bum a three-inch length of fuse to time it. It burned for 15 minutes. He
claimed he also saw the package of dynamite.
The Oklahoman said a group opposed to the Fidel Castro government's Communist trend was behind the sabotage plot.
Evans told his story to The Miami Herald Saturday, but publication was delayed a day while some of his statements about himself were investigated.
He said he went to Havana Jan. 5 after an exchange of correspondence with William A. Morgan, an American adventurer now in the Cuban army. Morgan commanded rebel firing squad which executed many former government officials, and hatched an "invasion" plot which led a planeload of anti-Castro men into a Cuban army trap.
Evans, a Navy veteran of the Korean War, said he did odd jobs and was a bodyguard for Morgan until March 1, when he was given an assignment to buy cotton seed and machinery for beginning cotton cultivation on 100,000 acres n Cuba.
He displayed splayed a letter of introduction signed "Dr. Fidel Castro" which told of his assignment. He reported that he was to leave Havana this weekend for Chicago to begin his buying expedition. Meanwhile, said Evans he lived, in Morgan's house on 16th St. n the Vedado section.
Last Wednesday, said Evans, while visiting at an oceanfront home in Havana, he learned of the plot to blow up the munitions ship. I could show you the bum mark on the floor where the piece of fuse was time, " he said.
"But I won't. I'm never going back to Cuba. I'm headed west and they'll never find me on the Oklahoma or Texas ranches". Evans claimed he went to the ship with Morgan and several others before the explosion and helped load machine guns and ammunitions on a truck to 'take to the INRA (National Institute of the Agrarian Reform) Building where he showed other how to assemble them.
He said, he locked over the munitions cargo and saw many cases of rifles and machine guns of Czechoslovakian make; hand grenades, ammunition, flame trowers and the highly inflamable liquid used in them, and a large supply of napalm (jelled gasoline) stamped "Made in USA" but imported from Europe. That's the stuff that made the two big explosions," he declared. Evans said he made no effort to tell anyone that the ship was to be sabotaged, Asked why he didn't tell Morgan, he said "Morgan never tells you anything, and you never tell Morgan anything."' The Oklahoman said he was on the 18 floor of the INRA building with Capt. Antonio Nunez Jimenez, INRA director when the explosion occurred.
"It hit with an awful blast," he said. "Everybody ran to the window and looke across town to where the smoke arose. The secretaries office thought the power plant had exploded, and one got a little hysterical because the husband worked there. "Ernesto "Che" Guevara was on the floor below us, and Morgan was downstairs somewhere. They all hopped into their cars and headed for the explosion scene.
"As soon as they were gone, I went down and hurried to Morgan's home
where I picked up my clothes, then went to the airport. I got aboard the
next plane for Miami. * Ask if he thought Morgan was in on the sabotage
plot. Evans replied: "No, I don't think so. He probably knew nothing about
it." Fidel has charged that
the United States was responsible for the ship explosion.
In Havana, Morgan denied that he had been aboard the ship with Evans commenting: "The kid has to be out of his mind to say a thing like that. It's crassy." (Morgan said Evans came to Cuba two weeks ago looking for a job "to help the revolution." He said Evans stayed at his home and he helped him get a job with the National Institute of Agrarian Reform-Which administers Castro's land redistribution program - but the young Oklahoman was in no way connected with his own staff.
(Morgan said he last saw Evans at a government office Friday morning the day of the explosion. He said his wife told. him Evans returned to the Morgan home before noon, stayed until after the explosion and left shortly after for the airport. Morgan added that Evans left him a note saying he was going home to sell his horses and cows and would return to Cuba in a week. (Morgan said he himself did not go to the dock area until after the explosion.
("He appeared to be a nice boy and he made a good impression." said
Morgan. "But he's off his rocker somewhere in say I was on the boat with
him") (E.V. W. Jones, staff writer, The Miami Herald, 3-7-60, p. I and