Paul Coates -- Confidential File, January 12, 1959
January 12, 2009 | 2:00 pm
Batista Death Plot Laid Here
When Fulgencio Batista fled Cuba last week, a fantastic plot by an American war hero to assassinate the dictator died in the planning.
The initial secret meeting between the much-decorated World War II Marine and agents of rebel chieftain Fidel Castro was held here in Los Angeles 14 months ago.
And the reason the scheme was never enacted was because of the indecision of the rebels themselves.
Details of the plan were revealed to me today.
The ex-Marine "soldier of fortune" who contacted Castro's 26th of July movement here and proposed to shoot Batista personally is Guy Louis Gabaldon, a Silver Star winner for valor on the Island of Saipan.
According to his award citation, Gabaldon, 32, captured more than 1,000 Japanese in the fighting. Then, still in his teens, he conducted a series of lone-wolf forays into enemy territory to bring back prisoners before he eventually was wounded and evacuated.
In 1957, a network television show was devoted to his exploits and currently a motion picture is being planned on his life.
The assassination plot which Gabaldon presented to the Castro agents was basically this:
He would go to Cuba as a "tourist." Capitalizing on his "war hero" reputation, he would attempt to get "in" with military and civil officials in Batista's government and, finally, to reach the well-guarded dictator himself.
Maps and diagrams of Batista's offices and his residence were reportedly brought from Havana to Los Angeles by rebel couriers and studied in great detail at meetings between Gabaldon and Castro agents.
Additional plans which laid out the route by which Gabaldon would reach Havana, the hotel where he would register, and methods of his keeping contact with the underground were also reportedly ready to be put into effect.
For a period last year, there was almost daily contact between movement leaders in Cuba, Miami and Los Angeles.
Why the rebels never gave the scheme the "go" signal still isn't known.
One problem, supposedly, was money. It's possible that Gabaldon wanted more than the rebels felt they could afford.
Then there's the question of what effect Batista's assassination by a foreigner would have on the Cuban people. And would the dictator's death automatically assure Castro's rise to power?
At one point, an alternative plan, to be masterminded by Gabaldon and carried out by two fanatics willing to sacrifice their lives for the rebel cause was also allegedly discussed.
Gabaldon, one of seven children, was brought up in East Los Angeles. At the age of 11, he left home. He was raised by the parents of a Japanese-American school friend of his until, in 1942, they were herded into an internment camp.
Then, barely tall enough to meet the height requirement, he enlisted in the Marines. The knowledge of Japanese which he had picked up from his "foster parents" aided him immeasurably in his one-man raids on the enemy.
After receiving the Silver Star for his "impossible" achievements, he was quoted:
"I will keep going out and hoping I'd get killed and get a medal, so they could send it home to show people I did something good."
Following his discharge, he worked variously as a fisherman, truck driver, pilot, TV repairman, farmer and interpreter. In addition to English, he speaks Japanese, Russian and Spanish.
Married, with three children, he is self-employed in television repair work and charter flying.