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13 Mar, 2009 04:31

US takes a step towards Cuba, foregoing plots to kill Fidel

Barack Obama has signed new laws easing some of the less significant measures and allowing exiled Cuban-Americans to visit the island more frequently as well as making it easier to send food and medicine to Cuba.

The move is seen as a step towards improving relations with Cuba that have been in a turbulent state since the Cuban revolution in 1959 which brought Fidel Castro to power.

Since then, U.S. security services allegedly planned hundreds of assassination attempts of Fidel, who, despite that, managed to outlive nine American presidents.

Today, much of the Castro file is declassified.

There is evidence the CIA had been trying to kill Castro even before he got to power. The most famous plot involved a cigar meant to blow up in his face.

Castro gave up smoking in 1985, but then couldn’t get enough of his favourite strawberry milk shakes.

A poison plot fell through a lobby of the Havana Libre Hotel, the former Hilton, when a young and nervous barman dropped a capsule with poison into Castro’s cocktail before opening it. The attempt, like hundreds of others though, failed.

Cubans like to say the barman was paralysed by Castro’s charisma – even the most beautiful women couldn’t resist his charms.

Dr. Wayne Smith, former head of the US interests section in Cuba, recalls:

“A woman walked in the room and Castro asked her, have you come back to kill me? And she said, yes, Fidel, I have. And then he took out his pistol and gave it to her, saying ‘Then do it! Of course you can't. No one can’.”

Knowing Castro’s fascination with scuba diving, the CIA reportedly invested in a number of scuba-related items. The idea was to find a shell big enough to catch his attention and to fit enough explosives to serve as a booby trap. Another scheme involved a wetsuit infected with poisonous fungus, however, it turned out Castro already had a wetsuit of his own.

The last attempt surfaced in 2000 when Miami exiles planned to blow up an auditorium in Panama where Castro was scheduled to give a speech. Even though the anti-Castro sentiment is dying out in Miami along with aging exiles, there are groups still training and plotting to kill him.

The hunt has inevitably changed Castro’s life. He moved from one house to another so he couldn’t get caught, but it was here in a house hidden in a forest behind me where he is believed to be spending his final days.

The CIA has officially abandoned their mission. Love him or hate him, he is one of the greatest survivors of our time.