On August 20 1940, Leon Trotsky was assassinated in Mexico City. His murderwas planned by a special Soviet intelligence unit created to eliminate Stalin’s enemies abroad.
The Mexican secret service, aware of what was transpiring, didn’t merely complicate the operation; it caused the Russian agents to modify their plans. The Soviet operation had to call on new allies to help carry out its mission. Russian agents approached both the Gestapo [Nazi secret police] and theAbwehr [the German intelligence agency between 1921-1944], whose operatives circulated freely in Mexico City, cloaked by associations forged in corridors of power and money. Nazi agents were key to the Russian revolutionary’s murder.
One year before Trotsky’s death, on August 23, 1939, German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and his Soviet counterpart, Vyacheslav Molotov, signed theGerman-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact. The pact brought both countries’ overseas agents closer together and allowed for the exchange of classified dispatches. By April 1940, the American embassy in Mexico had confirmed the existence of this undesirable alliance to Washington.
The principal source for information sent to Washington was world-renowned muralist Diego Rivera, who with a team of thirtyagents, gathered information for US intelligence officials.
The artist collaborated with Washington diplomats for nearly six months, during which he delivered information about former Communist comrades and the alliance they forged with Nazi agents.
For Rivera, links between Stalin’s and Hitler’s agents constituted a worse threat than the United States, motivating him to collaborate with“imperialism’s representatives.”
Rivera’s connection with the Americans began at the end of 1939, after he convened a press conference in which he denounced various Mexican politicians, accusing them of collaboration with Soviet agents that had entered Mexico at the end of the Spanish Civil War.
Soon afterward, Rivera met with an American operative and delivered a list naming fifty Mexican CommunistParty (PCM) members firmly installed in President Lázaro Cárdenas’s government.
The US diplomat who established contact with Rivera was Robert McGregor. In their interviews, the artist insisted Mexican Communist Party leaders and Nazi agents were collaborating, statements that the American intelligence community accepted with skepticism.
Time would pass before the information Rivera haddelivered would be confirmed. His accusations regarding the arrival in Mexico of “Stalin’s thugs”, there to assassinate Trotsky, were not verified until 1994, when Pavel Sudoplatov, director of the KGB’s Foreign Intelligence service, published his memoirs. In them, he confesses that “[he] was the author of Trotsky’s murder,” and recounts the moment Stalin ordered “Operation Pato” (“Operation Duck”),the name Moscow used to identify the crime that ended the exiled leader’s life.
Towards the end of 1938, Stalin called Sudoplatov and Laurentis Beria, Interior Minister and head of the Soviet security apparatus, and informed them that “without Trotsky’s elimination […]we won’t be able to trust our allies in the international Communist movement when the Imperialists attack the Soviet Union. If...