Monday, May 25, 2009

The "Dinner Party" question

The last time I was asked, "Dead or alive, who would you invite to a dinner party?" I answered, "Fidel Castro". I got a look of surprise back from the Questioner.
Me: "What's wrong with Fidel? I would love to know what he's thinking."
Mate: "Well yeah, but it's a dinner party. He's not going to be very entertaining."

Next time I'm at a dinner party at this guy's place, I'm going to pull out a cute wittle bunny wabbit and feed it an acid-laced carrot...

I've spent the last week reading Fidel's biography, My Life, by Ignacio Ramonet. It's written in a Q&A format, with Fidel answering everything from his childhood, the battle at Moncada Barracks, the day Batista was overthrown, the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, his friendship with Che, Cuba's relationship with USSR, Latin America and Africa... I can't put it down. It's been *such* a long time since I've been this engrossed with a book. I don't read non-fiction books that often either.

Fidel was only 27 when he started the revolution. At 32, he had led the revolution to victory. That's what I call a five year plan! Fidel is living history. Love him or hate him, it's really hard not to admire him for all he's lived through in the past 50 years; for his ideals as a revolutionary and for all he gave of himself for his country.

I've included excerpts from the book below. I really recommend you read it for yourself though.

(No cute wittle bunny wabbits were hurt in this blog post *grin*)

Did you and your followers use terrorism, for example, against Batista's forces? Or assassinations?
Neither terrorism or assasinations. You know, we were against Batista but we never tried to assassinate him, and we could have done it... The men who attacked the Moncada fortress could have assassinated Batista on his farm, or on the road, the way Trujillo and other tyrants were killed, but we had a very clear idea: assassination does not solve the problem. They'll put someone else in the place of the man you killed, and the man you killed becomes a martyr to his people.

They also engaged in biological warfare against Cuba, sending in unknown viruses, I believe.
In 1971, under Nixon, the swine fever virus was introduced into Cuba in a container, according to a CIA source. And we had to sacrifice more than half a million hogs. That virus, which originated in Africa, was totally unknown on the island until then. And they introduced it twice.

And there were worse things than that: the type II dengue virus, which often produces potentially fatal haemorrhagic fevers in the human being. That was in 1981, and more than 350,000 people were infected; 158 people died, 101 of them children... The virus serotype was completely unknown at the time anywhere in the world; it had been created in a laboratory.

Attempts on your life?
There were dozens of plans, some of which came very close to succeeding. In all, of plans that there are records of, there were over 600.

... Chance sometimes intervened against them. There was an agent who had a cyanide pill and was about to put it into a chocolate milkshake in this place I often went to, a coffee shop in the Hotel Havana Libre. Fortunately, the ampoule froze, and just as he was about to throw it in, he realised that it was stuck to the ice in the freezer he'd put it in.

... In another assassination attempt, they planned to use a chemical agent that produced effects similar to LSD to contaminate the air in a TV studio where I went to make speeches on the radio. Another time they sprayed lethal poison on a package of cigarettes that I was suppose to smoke.

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