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638 Ways to kill Castro


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I was very surprised when I turned on my tv and saw a very elderly looking E. Howard Hunt on my screen! Turns out was a programme on Castro and the exiles who tired different ways to kill him. Looks like it was a British made film especially for Channel 4. Very interesting because it included interviews not only with Hunt but other people connected to the JFK assassination such as Antonio Veciana, Orlando Bosch, Felix Rodriguez and Fabian Escalante. Wayne Smith was also interviewed. Unfortunately I missed the first half hour and most of what Hunt said but it was fascinating to see current interviews with people such as Bosch and Veciana.

Hopefully they will repeat it again. I didn't know it was going to be on otherwise I would have alerted people to it on the forum. I can upload some stills of Hunt et al if anyone is interested.

Did anyone else see it?

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Yes, I did. It was a very important programme. I heard it was being made a year ago. One of my CIA sources in Miami told me that a British documentary maker, Dollan Cannell, was interviewing anti-Castro Cubans. This included an attempt to interview a couple of people I was very interested in, Rafael Quintero and Carl E. Jenkins. However, both of them refused to take part in the film. I was given the names of the three people making the film and I considered making contact with them but I feared they might be working on the same story and might undermine a rival project.

As it turns out, they did not have the same story and they were mainly interested in the CIA assassination attempts on Castro. The documentary received very little publicity and I was not aware it was on until a few minutes before it was broadcast.

Apparently, the film was based on a new book by Fabian Escalante on the CIA plots to kill Castro. However, I can only find evidence of a new book by Escalante on the assassination of Kennedy:

JFK - The Cuba Files: The Untold Story of the Plot to Kill Kennedy

http://www.amazon.co.uk/JFK-Files-Untold-K...TF8&s=books

The film only had a very brief reference to the JFK assassination. It came when the film was looking at the number of attempts on Castro’s life that took place under various presidents. The number under JFK was low when compared to those that took place under Johnson and Nixon. The narrator made the point that it was ironical that JFK was assassinated at the time when the CIA was trying to kill Castro.

Escalante was interviewed extensively in the film. So was Wayne Smith, who provided the political context to the assassination attempts against Castro. Ann Louise Bardach, the author of Cuba Confidential: The extraordinary tragedy of Cuba, its revolution (Penguin, 2004) was also interviewed at length.

Those who were involved in the assassination attempts that were interviewed included E. Howard Hunt, Antonio Veciana, Felix I. Rodriguez, Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada.

Hunt was asked if the CIA Castro assassination plot was linked to the Bay of Pigs operation. Hunt smiled and said that the US government did not use words like “assassination”. In other words, as has been long suspected, the intention was to assassinate Castro on the eve of the invasion. Hunt looked in poor health and I would recommend all researchers get to him very quickly.

I would also recommend that Antonio Veciana should be sought out for an interview. It seemed to me that he was willing to talk about what he knows.

Felix I. Rodriguez also seemed very talkative. He was willing to explain his close relationship with the Bush family. He showed the interviewer several photographs that showed him with family members. He also talked at length about the role he played in the capture and killing of Che Guevara. (Some very gory footage in this section of the documentary)

Luis Posada was briefly interviewed but provided little useful information. However, his close friends who were looking after him openly admitted that he had been involved in terrorist activities. In fact, they quoted him justifying his actions. The narrator also explored Posada’s relationship with the Bush family.

The most important interview was with Orlando Bosch. He was asked if he and the CIA were involved in the bombing of Cubana Flight 455. Bosch replied that he was not allowed to talk about such matters. He was therefore not able to answer “yes” or “no”. He then pointed out that he had been accused of organizing the placing of bombs on three Cuban planes. He then went onto to justify this action by claiming that as far as he was concerned he was a soldier carrying out orders in a war against Castro.

The film then showed a clip of George Bush making a speech where he says “people who harbour terrorists, are also terrorists”. This was followed by an explanation of how the Bush family had protected Bosch and Posada over the years. In case the viewer had not grasped the point, Wayne Smith appeared on camera to argue that by his own definition, George Bush was a terrorist.

Orlando Bosch looks in poor health. I would recommend that any JFK researcher based in the US should get to him as quickly as possible. Bosch is talking.

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I am in contact with Duncan Campbell, an investigative journalist looking into Posada and Bosch. Please let me have any information you have on these two people and I will pass it on to Duncan. This is an article he wrote that was published in the Guardian (3rd August, 2006):

http://www.guardian.co.uk/cuba/story/0,,1835930,00.html

For nearly half a century, the CIA and Cuban exiles have been trying to devise ways to assassinate Fidel Castro, who is currently laid low in Cuba following an operation for intestinal bleeding. None of the plots, of course, succeeded, but, then, many of them would probably be rejected as too fanciful for a James Bond novel.

Fabian Escalante, who, for a time, had the job of keeping El Commandante alive, has calculated that there have been a total of 638 attempts on Castro's life. That may sound like a staggeringly high figure, but then the CIA were pretty keen on killing him. As Wayne Smith, former head of the US interests section in Havana, pointed out recently, Cuba had the effect on the US that a full moon has on a werewolf. It seems highly likely that if the CIA had had access to a werewolf, it would have tried smuggling it into the Sierra Maestra at some point over the past 40-odd years.

The most spectacular of the plots against Castro will be examined in a Channel 4 documentary entitled 638 Ways to Kill Castro, as well as in a companion book of the same name written by the now-retired Escalante - a man who, while in his post as head of the Cuban secret service, played a personal part in heading off a number of the plots. While the exploding cigar that was intended to blow up in Castro's face is perhaps the best-known of the attempts on his life, others have been equally bizarre.

Knowing his fascination for scuba-diving off the coast of Cuba, the CIA at one time invested in a large volume of Caribbean molluscs. The idea was to find a shell big enough to contain a lethal quantity of explosives, which would then be painted in colours lurid and bright enough to attract Castro's attention when he was underwater. Documents released under the Clinton administration confirm that this plan was considered but, like many others, did not make it far from the drawing-board. Another aborted plot related to Castro's underwater activities was for a diving-suit to be prepared for him that would be infected with a fungus that would cause a chronic and debilitating skin disease.

One of the reasons there have been so many attempts on his life is that he has been in power for so long. Attempts to kill Castro began almost immediately after the 1959 revolution, which brought him to power. In 1961, when Cuban exiles with the backing of the US government tried to overthrow him in the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the aim was to assassinate Fidel and Raul Castro and Che Guevara. Two years later, on the day that President Kennedy was assassinated, an agent who had been given a pen-syringe in Paris was sent to kill Castro, but failed.

On one occasion, a former lover was recruited to kill him, according to Peter Moore, producer of the new film. The woman was given poison pills by the CIA, and she hid them in her cold cream jar. But the pills melted and she decided that, all things considered, putting cold cream in Castro's mouth while he slept was a bad idea. According to this woman, Castro had already guessed that she was aiming to kill him and he duly offered her his own pistol. "I can't do it, Fidel," she told him.

No one apparently could. This former lover is far from the only person to have failed to poison Castro: at one point the CIA prepared bacterial poisons to be placed in Castro's hand-kerchief or in his tea and coffee, but nothing came of it. A CIA poison pill had to be abandoned when it failed to disintegrate in water during tests.

The most recent serious assassination attempt that we know of came in 2000 when Castro was due to visit Panama. A plot was hatched to put 200lb (90kg) of high explosives under the podium where he was due to speak. That time, Castro's personal security team carried out their own checks on the scene, and helped to abort the plot. Four men, including Luis Posada, a veteran Cuban exile and former CIA operative, were jailed as a result, but they were later given a pardon and released from jail.

As it happens, Posada is the most dedicated of those who have tried and failed to get rid of the Cuban president. He is currently in jail in El Paso, Texas, in connection with extradition attempts by Venezuela and Cuba to get him to stand trial for allegedly blowing up a Cuban airliner in 1976. His case is due to come back before the courts later this month but few imagine that he will be sent to stand trial, and he appears confident that he will be allowed to resume his retirement in Florida, a place where many of the unsuccessful would-be assassins have made their homes.

Not all the attempts on Castro's life have been fancifully complicated: many have been far simpler and owe more to the methods of the mafia who used to hang out in the casinos and hotels of Havana in the 40s and 50s, than they do to James Bond. At one time the CIA even approached underworld figures to try to carry out the killing. One of Castro's old classmates planned to shoot him dead in the street in broad daylight much in the manner of a mafia hit. One would-be sniper at the University of Havana was caught by security men. But the shooters were no more successful than the poisoners and bombers.

Officially, the US has abandoned its attempt to kill its arch-enemy, but Cuban security are not taking any chances. Any gifts sent to the ailing leader as he lies ill this week will be carefully scrutinised, just as they were when those famous exploding cigars were being constructed by the CIA's technical services department in the early 60s. (They never got to him, by the way, those cigars contaminated with botulinum toxin, but they are understood to have been made using his favourite brand. Castro gave up smoking in 1985.)

All these plots inevitably changed the way Castro lived his life. While in his early years in office, he often walked alone in the street, but that practice had to change. Since then doubles have been used, and over the decades Castro has moved between around 20 different addresses in Cuba to make it harder for any potential hitmen to reach him.

Meanwhile, jokes about Castro's apparent indestructibility have become commonplace in Cuba. One, recounted in the New Yorker this week, tells of him being given a present of a Galapagos turtle. Castro declines it after he learns that it is likely to live only 100 years. "That's the problem with pets," he says. "You get attached to them and then they die on you".

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I was very surprised when I turned on my tv and saw a very elderly looking E. Howard Hunt on my screen! Turns out was a programme on Castro and the exiles who tired different ways to kill him. Looks like it was a British made film especially for Channel 4. Very interesting because it included interviews not only with Hunt but other people connected to the JFK assassination such as Antonio Veciana, Orlando Bosch, Felix Rodriguez and Fabian Escalante. Wayne Smith was also interviewed. Unfortunately I missed the first half hour and most of what Hunt said but it was fascinating to see current interviews with people such as Bosch and Veciana.

Hopefully they will repeat it again. I didn't know it was going to be on otherwise I would have alerted people to it on the forum. I can upload some stills of Hunt et al if anyone is interested.

Did anyone else see it?

Yes Francesca

I also was surprised to find this program (I was channel hoping at the time)

I caught it about 10 minutes into the broadcast, as the program continued I became more and more intrigued. The following thoughts came to my mind: -

Political assassination is extremely difficult (Even when using experienced assassins) if,

(i) The target is well protected.

(ii) The Intelligence backup is world class

(iii) The Personal bodyguard is loyal.

It also crossed my mind that the planning team behind the numerous failed attempts had made a gross error when choosing their experienced assassins. In that a study of recent American history would determine the ideal assassin ‘The lonely troubled un-achiever’

Could any of the ‘Freedom for Cuba’ protagonists have pulled off the Kennedy assassination (given that this act was in my opinion a conspiracy): - Well YES!

What would be the consequences for the ‘Free Cuba’ community in Southern Florida if they had been successful in one of the numerous attempts: -

Well I suppose they may be welcomed back to a free Cuba with open arms.

However my view would be that there would be a lot of very well trained personnel looking to retaliate against – well not so much old age ‘freedom fighters’ but quite possibly their grandchildren who seem to be enjoying life in a liberal community.

Regards

Chris Brown

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This is what the Times said about the film:

638 Ways to Kill Castro (Channel 4) was an eye-opener. Some of it was rather funny, such as the enumerated totals of assassination attempts authorised by a succession of US presidents (38 plots under Ike, 72 under LBJ, 184 under Nixon, 197 under Reagan etc) — a fantastic accumulation of failure and incompetence. It leaves Fidel, if he isn’t already dead, laughing all the way to the grave, as natural causes succeed where hundreds of snipers, bombers, exploding molluscs and seductive ladies with poison powders in their handbags have failed.

Through archive footage we saw how popular, even likeable, Castro has always appeared (even the New York police found him charismatic) and how accessible he was at first, interviewed by Ed Morrow in his 23rd-floor suite in the Havana Hilton. Of course Castro’s dictatorship has an appalling record of crushing dissenters — we even saw a death by firing squad, in 1960 — but the film’s most revealing asset was Peter Moore’s assiduous rounding up of the would-be assassins: octogenarian Cuban exiles living comfortably in Miami with their porcine children, all still burning with what now looks like irrational hate and vengeance, protected and encouraged by the entire Bush family.

Dubya, attempting a few words of Spanish — “Y por fin! Viva Cuba Libre!” — gurned as always like Mad magazine’s Alfred E. Newman.

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Top exiles in fight over anti-Castro plot funds

BY ALFONSO CHARDY AND JAY WEAVER

MiamiHerald November 26, 2006

José Antonio Llama spends much of his retirement stewing in his art-filled Miami home about one incomplete mission: the death of Fidel Castro.

But the 75-year-old Cuban exile is haunted by another obsession: Recovering nearly $1.5 million that he says his former allies owe him for his purchase of planes, boats, a helicopter and explosives.

Full story: http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/16103909.htm

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