Monday, September 17, 2018

Catherwood Fund and Cuban Aide Relief

Catherwood Fund

Catherwood, Cummins. 1910-. Financier, philanthropist. Formerly co-owner, Evening Public Ledger; director, Bryn Mawr Trust Co. President, Mineral Production Corp. President, Catherwood Foundation. Trustee, Academy of Music; Board of Governors, Philadelphia Museum of Art; Board of Directors, Philadelphia Orchestra Association. Residence: Gladwyne, Pa. 


From the clipping files of the now defunct Philadelphia Evening Bulletin [now located at the Urban Archives, Paley Library, Temple University in Philadelphia], it was reported on November 28, 1947 edition that, "A petition for a non-profit corporation to be known as the Catherwood Foundation was filed in common pleas court today…to establish a fund, or funds, the income from which will be used exclusively for religious, scientific, literary and educational purposes."

With an address in Bryn Marr, Pennsylvania, [14 Elliott Ave., Suite 10, Bryn Marr, 19010 / (215) 525-3720] on the Philadelphia Main Line suburban train route, the Catherwood Foundation was originally directed by Cummins Catherwood, his wife Mrs. Ellen Cowen Catherwood, his sister, Mrs. Charles G. Chaplin, Othelia Aarnolt, William Hamilton and I.F. Dixon-Wainright.

Independently wealthy from a family inheritance that was accumulated in the munitions industry during the industrial revolution, Cummins Catherwood married the former Ellen Cowen Coats and lived in an estate they called "Baja Sumantaga," an East Indian word that means, "welcome weary traveler." Along with his family, Catherwood was quoted as saying that golf, sailing, bridge, skiing and travel were his unchanging interests."

During World War II Catherwood went on a special air mission to Germany, about which he later said, "I had a feeling that much could be done by individuals towards international understanding that couldn’t be done by governments."

The main feature of the Catherwood Foundation is the Catherwood Fund, ostensibly a philanthropic fund; it also served as a conduit for the funding of covert CIA operations during the Cold War.

Catherwood’s sister, Mrs. Charles G. Chaplin, one of the Fund’s directors, knew Peter Fleming, the British MI6 agent and brother of Ian Fleming, author of the 007 James Bond novels. Peter was an amateur ornithologist and is said to have been one of the models for Fleming’s fictional hero, whose name was appropriated from James Bond, the renowned Philadelphia ornithologist and author of the classic ornithological work, "Birds of the West Indies."

Ian Fleming must have also known or knew about Catherwood, as he based one of his villains – Milton Krest of the "Hildebrand Rarity" [From: "For Your Eyes Only"] on Catherwood’s unique profile. Fleming quotes "Krest" explaining the Foundation system to James Bond while they are aboard Krest’s yacht fishing for rare species. "Ya see, fellers, it’s like this. In the states we have this foundation system for lucky guys that got plenty of dough and don’t happen to want to pay it into Uncle Sam’s Treasury. You make a Foundation – like this one, the Krest Foundation – for charitable purposes – charitable to anyone, to kids, sick folk, the cause of science – you just give the money away to anyone or anything except yourself and your dependents and you escape tax on it."

"So I put a matter of ten million dollars into the Krest Foundation, and since I happened to like yachting and seeing the world, I built this yacht with two million of the money and told the Smithsonian that I would go to any part of the world and collect specimens for them. So that makes me a scientific expedition, see?"

In 1948 Catherwood had a yacht built in New England to his personal specifications, "The Vigilant," and sailed frequently to the Caribbean with friends, associates and on occasion, with some scientists who collected specimens for the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences and the Smithsonian. On one particular Vigilant expedition in 1948, Catherwood was accompanied by ornithologist James Bond, who collected rare bird species on the various out islands they visited.

But Catherwood’s fund was not just a tax loophole, as Fleming implied, but rather, it also served as a secret conduit for funding covert CIA operations. David Wise and Thomas Ross, in their groundbreaking book "The Invisible Government," (Vintage, 1977, p. 247n), exposed the CIA’s network of Blue Blood benefactors when they reported that, "…conduits for the CIA money included the Cathewood Foundation."

Since then, other writers, such as Joseph B. Smith ("Portrait of a Cold Warrior"), have mentioned the CIA use of the Catherwood Foundation as a front for CIA activities as well. The activities of the Catherwood Foundation created a web of intrigue that extended behind the Iron Curtain into Russia, as well as Cuba, the Philippines and Vietnam. Although the full extent of these activities have yet to be publicly explored, and much of it is still classified and kept from the public record, the Soviets knew about the secret relationship between the CIA and the philanthropic foundations from the very beginning.

Created by the National Security Act of 1947, an outline of the charter of the CIA was written by Ian Fleming when he visited Washington with his boss, Admiral Godfey, the Chief of British Naval Intelligence.
The British MI6 liaison with the CIA and FBI in Washington after the war was Harold Adrian "Kim" Philby, the notorious KGB double-agent who wrote his memoirs from Russia, "My Silent War" (Grove Press), in which he describes the meetings he attended with Frank Wisner, the head of the CIA’s Office of Policy Coordination, responsible for Covert Operations and Dirty Tricks.

According to Philby, "Wisner expiated on one of his favorite themes – the need to camouflage the source of secret funds supplied to apparently respectable bodies in which we were interested…"

Philby quoted Wisner as saying, "…It is essential to secure the overt cooperation of people with conspicuous access to wealth in their own right."

Cummins Catherwood was one of those people, and his Catherwood Foundation was one of those respectable bodies.

In July, 1956 Catherwood, like the fictional Milton Krest, went "looking for new fish" off the Bahamian reefs. In May 1958 Catherwood announced that he had given financial aid to projects in the mental health field at the Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital. He also gave money to the Granary Fund of Boston, which was directed by George H. Kidder, who is listed in "Who’s Who" as "with General Counsel, CIA, 1952-1954," as well as being on the board of directors of Collins Radio, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

In his book, "Portrait of a Cold Warrior," Joe Smith wrote: "…former ambassador to the Philippines Myron Cowen joined Cummins Catherwood in persuading a few staunch friends of the Philippines, such as Gen. Leland S. Hobes, ex-Joint Military Advisory Group chief; Charles V. Griffiths, the publishers, and Gen. Hugh Casey of the board of Schenley Distillers, to set up the Committee for Philippine Action in Development, Reconstruction and Education. Somehow, this just happened to form the acronym COMPADRE – the one word that held more meaning than any other for a Filipino. Gabe Kaplin was resident director of COMPADRE, on the spot to carry out all sorts of good works, backed by a bankroll the size of which Filipinos could only guess."

The Catherwoods enjoyed traveling as well. In March 1957, Mrs. Catherwood toured North Africa with the former first lady, Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt as guests of the Sultan of Morocco. In June 1960, Catherwood and his wife traveled to Helsini, Finland, taking the Oswald Route on the first leg of their journey to the USSR and behind the Iron Curtain. On their return, Mrs. Catherwood was quoted as saying, "Moscow is as drab as Akron, Ohio, but Leningrad is glorious."

As Main Line Blue Blood personages, the Catherwoods frequently made the society pages. On March 27, 1970 the Catherwoods attended the wedding of the season, between Princess Jane Obolensky of Grosse Point, Michigan and Dean Rucker, with the reception being held at Great Harbor Cay, owned by Canadian Midas Lou Chesler.'

One of Catherwood’s corporations, Visions, had offices in New York, England and Central America, providing Latin American publishers with a Spanish language news and feature wire service. On December 26, 1977 the New York Times reported that, "Another major foreign news organization that CIA officials said they once subsidized was Vision, the weekly news magazine that is distributed throughout Europe and Latin America. However, none of those associated with the founding of Vision or its management over the years said they ever had any indications that the CIA had put money into the magazine." Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza bought into Visions after the CIA connections became known.

Catherwood also sponsored the International Division of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. In December 1960, Nicolas Chatelain, the U.S. correspondent for the Paris daily Fiagaro, became the first recipient of the Columbia/Catherwood Award for journalists. The second recipient, John Bertram Oaks of the New York Times, used the occasion to urge support for French President Charles deGaul against the revolt of the French generals in Algeria.

Among those aspiring foreign student journalists to receive grants from the Catherwood Foundation was Leona Shluder, then 23 years old, of Rio de Janerro, Brazil, who was quoted as saying she, "was impressed especially with the news coverage given President Kennedy’s assassination." Indeed.

The Catherwood Foundation also financially supported the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, including the Dallas parish to which Marina Oswald had her children baptized, possibly without the knowledge of her husband, Lee Harvey, the accused assassin of President Kennedy.

Another organization of interest that was funded in its entity by the Catherwood Fund is the Cuban Aid Relif, established to assist Cuban refugees, specifically professionals who had previously supported the Castro revolution against Batista.


Cuban Aid Relief

Of all the activities financially supported by the CIA conduit Catherwood Foundation, the Cuban Aid Relief (CAR) is one of the most interesting.

In the waning days of the Batista administration in Cuba, American diplomatic support shifted away from Batista to Fidel Castro. Once in power however, some of those who fought with Castro were disenchanted with his regime and left Cuba. Some of the Cuban refugees were professional businessmen whose holdings were nationalized, others were gangsters and prostitutes. Some had fought with Castro or supported him in various ways.

They created refugee problems in some cities, particularly Miami, Florida, but they also settled in Tampa, New Orleans, Dallas, Chicago, New York, North Jersey and Philadelphia.

In Philadelphia the Cathewood Foundation established the CAR "to provide assistance to Cuban exiles with no connection with the deposed Batista regime, …and to make as wide use as possible for the professional men, artists and businessmen who fled the Castro forces."

In 1961 the directors of the CAR were Cummins Catherwood, former U.S. Ambassador to Cuba Arthur Gardner, E. Wharton Shober of ATEC corporation, Harrison Wood and Enrique Menocal, the only Cuban national among the directors.

With a sense of history, they officially named the organization "The General Leonard Wood Fund for Cuban Aid Relief," in honor of the U.S. Army surgeon who was the first American governor of Cuba.

Lt. Leonard Wood had organized the 1st Volunteer Cavalry with Teddy Roosevelt. After the battleship Maine mysteriously blew up in Havana harbor – The Tonkin Gulf of the Spanish-American war, the 1st Volunteers saw action. Wood received a promotion after the first engagement and Roosevelt succeeded him as the leader of the regiment. Under Roosevelt’s command the 1st Volunteers achieved notoriety for its famous charge up San Juan Hill, which was led by both Roosevelt and Wood, effectively destroying the moral of the Spanish and making Roosevelt and Wood American heroes.

After spending two years as Governor of New York, Roosevelt’s political opponents had his name placed in nomination for Vice President under William McKinley, a ploy to get Roosevelt out of the limelight of power. The plan worked when McKinley won the election, but then backfired when he was shot and killed by a "glassy-eyed" anarchist while attending the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. Although anarchist publications printed a warning about the assassin, Leon F. Czolgosz five days before he shot McKinley, Czolgosz claimed he acted alone. He was convicted and executed in the electric chair within a month of the murder.

One of the first things Roosevelt did as President was to name General Leonard Wood the first American Governor of Cuba. Besides Wood’s grandson, Harrison Wood, the Cuban Aid Relief also enjoyed the support of Theodore Roosevelt III and Samuel P. Wise, who was writing a book on the career of General Wood.

Other members of the CAR included Roland Taylor Ely of Princeton, N.J., Reeves Wetherall, an executive of Wanamakers Department store, Richard P. Sellder, Ivan Oblinsky and CAR co-directors E. Wharton Shober and Enrique Menocal.

A boyhood friend of Fidel Castro, Menocal had a unique position in the Cuban revolution. Menocal’s family, like Castro’s, was well off. They owned huge sugar plantations in the Cuban countryside. As successful businessmen, their parents were wealthy aristocrats and part of Cuba’s elite society. Fidel and Enrique attended the best schools, and were trained with refine tastes, but came to despise the Batista regime and became revolutionaries.

Both Castro and Menocal attended the University of Havana, where Castro studied law and Menocal economics. Menocal eventually became a professor of economics at the University, which became a center of anti-Batista activity in Havana. When Batista left Cuba on January 1, 1959, Castro was still eight days away, so the leaders of the Student Revolutionary Directorate (DRE), including Dr. Rolando Cubella, took over Batista’s offices and smoked his cigars until Castro arrived.

One of the first things Castro did when he assumed power was to name Enrique Menocal the director of the Cuban Sugar Institute. On October 17, 1960 however, Menocal, his wife and four children sought refuge at the Brazilian embassy in Havana. Once safe in the United States, in January, 1961, Menocal held a press conference in Philadelphia where he said, "…the bearded dictator will be ousted within three or four months." Exactly four months later, the exiled Cuban brigade stormed ashore at the Bay of Pigs.

Menocal said the last time he saw Castro at a dinner party in Havana, "The man looked strong and healthy, but was neurotic, schizophrenic and had the glassy-eyed stair of a madman."

Newspaper articles indicate that the CAR also ran outreach programs in Florida, providing medical care to exiled Cubans at a Miami field office staffed by five doctors, which worked closely with the Catholic Welfare Services charity.

Also in Florida, the CAR worked with the Pan-Am Society of America, which also received money from the Catherwood Foundation. Before the Guatemalan Coup of 1954, the director of the Pan-Am Society, Curtis Wilgus, organized a conference at the University of Florida’s School for Latin American Studies that was funded by the United Fruit Company.

The Pan Am Society’s liaison with the CAR, Miss Carmelita Manning, met often with CAR other co-director E. Wharton Shober, and the two organizations co-sponsored a seminar for exiled Cuban journalists at the University of Miami (See: JMWAVE) in July, 1963.

At the time E. Wharton Shober was director of the ATEK corporation, which sold printing machinery and provided financial services to anti-communist publishers in Latin and Central America. For his work with ATEK in 1963 Shober received the President’s "E" Award from Asst. Sec. of Commerce Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., for excellence in Export, though it more likely was for Espionage.

Shober, a nephew of former Pennsylvania Governor George H. Earl, attended Princeton before service in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II.

Before Shober, the director of ATEK was Dr. Ralph Deshan, who left Philadelphia and ATEK with his wife to raise beef cattle in Nicaragua with Manuel Artime.

When Shober left ATEK he became president of Hahneman Hospital in Philadelphia, replacing Dr. Charles Cameron, a cancer specialists, who had received a $400,000 research grant from U.S. Army Intelligence.
At Hahneman Shober worked with New York psychiatrist Dr. Albert A. Laverne, establishing a controversial drug treatment program that experimented with giving pure carbon dioxide to junkies, which led to the death of Robert Brown, a black man married to a Main Line heiress.

Philadelphia Magazine described Shober as, "…the polo playing, perennially controversial president of Hahneman Hospital, another fixture at the Main Line balls and debuts, and good friends with Nicaraguan dictator Gen. Anastasio Somoza, one of the godfathers of the Bay of Pigs invasion." In June 1972 Shober arranged for Somoza to receive an honorary degree from Hahneman medical college, over the objections of faculty and students. Shober left Philadelphia in 1978 to work in Saudi Arabia in the hospital administration field.

Besides Enrique Menocal, another Cuban exile who was assisted by the Cuban Aid Relief was Dr. Julio Fernandez, who was relocated to rural Martinsburg, Pa., where he taught Spanish at the local high school until he was implicated in the assassination of President Kennedy and became the subject of the subsequent investigation.

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