Seven Plots to Kill Castro, Part One

“A lot of documents are classified for the wrong reason – because they’re embarrassing, or perhaps because of a coverup.”

Sen. Richard Shelby (R -AL) former Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee

CastroThe United States had an obsession with Fidel Castro, up until his death on November 26, 2016.

He came to power in 1959, being supported initially by the United States, but then turning away from his former sponsors to guide Cuba according to his own initiatives. Castro was an independent, and not one to submit to the wishes of the United States. This made him dangerous in the eyes of his northern neighbor, as it was the intention of the U.s. to dominate every nation in the Western Hemisphere after World War Two.

It was this attitude of imperial control that made Casto turn to Communism. When he initially took control of Cuba, he was not a Communist leader. Because he wanted independence from the United States, he was seen as a Communist. The United States had divided the world into two camps: The U.S. and the U.S.S.R. Every country needed to determine where they were aligned. Castro was not aligned with the United States, so he was seen as aligned with the Soviet Union.

Without the ability to trade as an equal sovereign state with the U.S., Castro had little choice but to turn to the Soviet Union. In essence the U.S.  was so belligerent that they made an enemy where none existed previously, and became determined to destroy Castro when he represented no real threat. It may be hard to imagine, but this was a mountain out of a molehill, created entirely by the United States.

Castro was no angel, however. Like other dictators he was ruthless and brutal, not to be confused with a benevolent leader at all.

The New York Times described him this way:

A master of image and myth, Mr. Castro believed himself to be the messiah of his fatherland, an indispensable force with authority from on high to control Cuba and its people.

He wielded power like a tyrant, controlling every aspect of the island’s existence. He was Cuba’s “Máximo Lider.” From atop a Cuban Army tank, he directed his country’s defense at the Bay of Pigs. Countless details fell to him, from selecting the color of uniforms that Cuban soldiers wore in Angola to overseeing a program to produce a superbreed of milk cows. He personally set the goals for sugar harvests. He personally sent countless men to prison.1

His rule represented a thorn in the side of the United States. If Castro could defy the dictates of the most powerful nation in the world, he might become an example to other to follow. The U.S. became determined to make an example of Castro, so that other Latin American states would not see him as heroic in his independence.

The CIA was tasked with taking down Castro. Because of the failed invasion they had planned for 1960 at the Bay of Pigs, the CIA was intent on assassinating Castro. This would be easier, less messy and would satisfy their real goal of destabilizing Cuba.

Like many things that the CIA has done, however, it failed. They tried over six hundred times to kill Castro, in ways both creative and ridiculous.

Castro gave regular weekly speeches from a radio station in HAvana, talking for hours to his supporters across the island with polemics of his vision for Cuba and its COmmunist Revolution.

The CIA imagined that they could get someone into the radio station with a poison, converted into an aerosol gas. Releasing the poison gas into the air while Castro was in the sound booth would be like having the Cuban dictator in his own personal gas chamber.

The CIA even went one step further. They chose not to use lethal gas in this plan, instead opting to use a gas with the same elements of LSD, the hallucinogenic drug that was becoming popular in the U.S. among the Counter Culture.

The CIA felt that if Castro was giving a speech on the radio when the gas was released, he would not react immediately. When the gas made him hallucinate, he would start acting crazy, saying things nonsensical to the entire population listening on the radio.

Once thought to be insane, the CIA assumed, the Cuban people would remove him from power and fall into line behind the leadership of the United States.

Not only is this idea ludicrous, but it reveals the thinking of the intelligence community in the Cold WAr. The flights of fantasy that they saw as legitimate are only more astounding when we consider that they had the full backing of the United states government.

If this were ever attempted against the United States it would have been considered an act of war. Because the United States tried this against Cuba, however, goes without comment of concern. The hypocrisy reveals why the United States is not seen as the great liberator and defender of freedom it purports to be.

Please watch for the next installment in the Seven Plots to Kill Castro series from Historydojo.

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  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/26/world/americas/fidel-castro-dies.html

Author: historydojo

I’m a National Board Certified Teacher with nearly twenty years of experience teaching high school history. I blog about teaching, history, current events, the law and social justice.

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