The Grenada Revolution Online

Julián Enrique Torres Rizo [1944-    ]

Julián [or Julién] Enrique Torres-Rizo was born in Cuba in 1944. He received an economics degree from the University of Oriente, Santiago de Cuba, with post-graduate studies also in economics.

Rizo entered the foreign relations department of the Communist Party of Cuba in 1967. He worked in Prensa Latina when recruited for the Cuban intelligence service. At some point in his career he became a Senior Cuban DA [Departmento América; America/s Department] intelligence officer and a member of the DGI [Dirección General de Inteligencia or General Directorate of Intelligence] station in New York. He was appointed a member of Cuba's delegation to the General Assembly of the United Nations for the 1968, 1970, 1973 and 1974 sessions. He was in a group of Cuban delegates to the World Youth Congress at the UN during the period of 8-18 July 1970.

In late November 1969, Rizo was director of the Cuban delegation to the Venceremos Brigade Camp. His intelligence job was to recruit members for the Venceremos Brigade. He remained attached with the Venceremos Brigadistas from the first group through to the third contingent in August 1970. Not only did the total of over 1300 American radicals work for two months cutting cane, picking citrus and other tasks, but the intent was the growth of their political consciousness. Most likely it was at a Venceremos Brigade Camp that Rizo met his future wife Chicago-born Gail Reed.

The principle function of the Directorate of Intelligence, according to Geraldo Peraza at a 26 February 1982 U.S. Senate, Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism, "was epentration and recruitment in the United States of America." One of three sections of concentration was New York. A major turn-around occurred in the DGI between the years 1968-1971 with Soviet/KGB backing. It became mandatory for members of the DGI to belong to the Communist Party of Cuba and to go through intelligence schools in Moscow and Cuba. Piñeiro, in 1968, was moved to the Department of Liberation of Latin America and Africa. The intelligence service was under the orders of Colonel Simonov. In 1975 Julián Rizo was designated First Secretary of the Cuban Mission to the United Nations, a position held through 1977. He was Director of Prices for Cuba's Ministry of Construction.

©Sandy Gove

There is uncorroborated talk that Rizo first surfaced on Grenadian soil on 14 March 1979. The arrival of Rizo on Grenadian soil on 14 April 1979 found him as the Cuba to Grenada-chargé d'affaires. He signed the first technical agreement between the governments of Cuba-Grenada soon after. He was promoted to Grenadian Ambassador in October, 1979 and presented his credentials to Governor-General Sir Paul Scoon. The Cuban Embassy was located in Morne Rouge.

By December 1979 Prime Minister Maurice Bishop was presented with Press Analysis reports compiled by Rizo and Cuban Embassy Staff. These analyses continued through most of 1983.

Julián Rizo was seated with other dignataries on a raised platform at a Butler-Strachan Heroes Day rally in Queen's Park. An explosion went off under the platform area. Two schoolgirls died (a third, injured, died later). In that Queen's Park Bomb Blast approximately 100 people were injured on Thursday afternoon 19 June 1980.

Rizo accompanied Maurice Bishop, Hudson Austin, Kendrick Radix, George Louison and Unison Whiteman on a trip to Cuba, East Germany, Bulgaria and Libya in June 1982.

Hearsay has Ashby claiming that by September 1982 Rizo was prohibited from attending NJM Politburo and Central Committee meetings. Paterson says Rizo attempted to influence the PRA, that there were resentments. Paterson was reflecting John Ventour's "Letter to Wendy." In March 1983, Rizo feted at his home the PRG Government guest Arnoldo Tamayo Mendez, the first Cuban cosmonaut in space.

On Bishop's return from Eastern Europe on 08 October 1983, one account has him met by Gaston Diaz and Gail Reed. Multiple accounts report Julián Rizo arrived with Bishop on the flight leg from Cuba to Grenada.

Relations became intense during the last days of October 1983.

Paterson claims that "special combat troops had not stayed at the airport with the other Cubans, but had moved into the Cuban Embassy where Rizo had encamped himself ever since he and Maurice had come in on October 8th." Early on 12 October 1983, the morning of the day before his house arrest, Maurice Bishop went to the Cuban Embassy to talk with Cuban Ambassador Rizo. Rizo was briefed of the Central Committee's decision on Thursday, 13 October 1983. It is reported he was quite upset.

There are conflicting reports of whether or not Rizo met with Selwyn Strachan and Bernard Coard on 14 October 1983. Cotman writes that on 15-16 October 1983 " . . . Cuban internationalists (with the probable exception of embassy staff) were ordered by Rizo to move to the PSIA work site." Rizo was supposed to have delivered a letter from Fidel Castro to members of the Central Committee on 15 October. Pryor claims " . . . at a famous cocktail party hosted by Royston Hopkin on October 15, 1983 (when Bishop was under house arrest), the normally outgoing but abstemious Cuban ambassador was in the kitchen wolfing drink after drink and avoiding company, while the Soviet ambassador appeared convivial and contented in the main room of the party."

On 19 October before Bishop emerged from Mt. Wheldale surrounded by the crowd of his supporters, Rizo, it is written, had a previously scheduled meeting with the Prime Minister. The meeting was important to Bishop, it is reported, because he wanted Rizo's opinion before he made a decision on the joint leadership question.

The next day, 20 October, Rizo, his wife and embassy personnel were distributing copies of Cuba's position in the crisis, including the announcement of official mourning on the death of Bishop. On Friday, 21 October 1983, the Central Committee tasked Selwyn Strachan to phone Rizo to get him to stop the distribution of Cuba's statement. Saturday found Rizo trying to coordinate Cuban defense with the RMC. It was on this day that Rizo told Austin and Layne that Fidel was not going to send reinforcements - 'impossible and unthinkable.'

Adkin and Thorndyke both report Rizo was disciplined upon his return to Cuba. Rizo, his wife Gail Reed and family returned to Cuba. The status of the Rizo family as of 2020 is unknown. The status of Julian Rizo's political activity is unknown as of 2019. Rizo's location is unknown.

Julián Enrique Torres-Rizo is not to be confused with fellow Cuban Julian Rizo Alvarez.


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