By Jose Bodes Gomez*
The story “Gabo” revealed to his readers begins one night, or rather one early morning, in the office of Jorge Ricardo Masetti, the founding general director of the Latin American news agency Prensa Latina, in the heart of Havana’s Vedado district.
Masetti was with Guatemalan writer Miguel Angel Asturias and Argentinean journalist Rodolfo Walsh, head of the Feature Stories Desk at Prensa Latina.
A special teletype room was installed there, just to receive and then analyze in editorial board the daily material of the wire services from all over the world.
In one of those sessions of journalistic “espionage”, let’s call it like that, a text message drew the attention of Walsh. It came from the commercial traffic of the Tropical Cable Company, a subsidiary of the All-American Cable in Guatemala, and it was written in a secret code.
That discovery was a real challenge for Rodolfo Walsh – founder of Prensa Latina, like Garcia Marquez and Asturias. He did not miss the opportunity to put his incipient knowledge of text deciphering to the test.
With the help of a manual on the subject, he had recently bought at an old bookstore in Havana, he worked for several days until he discovered the secret the message was carrying. To the astonishment of all those present, the cable had been sent by an official of the US Embassy in Guatemala to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the state of Virginia.
It was a detailed report on the military preparations to attack Cuba by means of an invasion of “anti-Castro” exiles, and with this discovery it became the most compromising document for the United States regarding the fact that the mercenary force that landed at the Bay of Pigs on April 17, 1961, was carrying out an interventionist plan of Washington.
The secret deciphered by Walsh was handled with absolute discretion during those years and even those of us who worked at Prensa Latina learned of its existence only years later, when Garcia Marquez made it public in a chronicle entitled “The journalist who got ahead of the CIA”, which was published in August 1977, in the Colombian Alternativa magazine.
The date chosen for the publication also represented a singular tribute to the memory of Walsh, who in March of that year had perished in unequal combat with the armed forces of the Argentine military dictatorship.
* Journalist and writer, he was among the founders of Prensa Latina.