638 Ways to Kill Castro

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638 Ways to Kill Castro is a Channel 4 documentary film, broadcast in the United Kingdom on 28 November 2006, which tells the story of some of the numerous attempts to kill Cuba’s leader Fidel Castro.

The film reveals multiple methods of assassination, from exploding cigars to femmes fatales; a radio station rigged with noxious gas to a poison syringe posing as an innocuous ballpoint pen. Fabian Escalante, the former head of Cuban Intelligence, the man who has had the job of protecting Castro for many of the 49 years he’s been in power, alleges that there were over 600 plots and conspiracies known to Cuban agents, all dreamt up to end the life of the “red menace”. Some were perpetrated by the CIA, especially during the first half of the 1960s. From the seventies onwards, the attempts were most often made by Cuban exiles who had been trained by the CIA shortly after Castro took power in 1959.

On the trail of Castro’s would-be killers, the filmmakers meet a series of would-be assassins – several are also accused terrorists, still living in America. Orlando Bosch, accused by many of being the greatest terrorist in the hemisphere, is found living peacefully in his Miami home, surrounded by an adoring family. Curiously, both Bosch and his companion in arms and fellow accused terrorist Luis Posada Carriles turn out to be keen amateur landscape painters.

The film also contains extensive material shot with Antonio Veciana, the Cuban exile who got close to killing Castro on three occasions, spanning 17 years. He is found running a marine supplies store in Miami. All these men, the film reveals, were supported and funded by the United States. At one point, staggeringly, the CIA even sought the help of the Mafia in the hope they would be able to succeed where so many others had failed. Other characters are Félix Rodríguez, the CIA operative who took part in three planned assassination attempts against Castro, and gave the order for Che Guevara’s execution in 1967 in Bolivia, and Enrique Ovares, possibly the first man to make an attempt on Castro’s life after he took power. Robert Maheu is interviewed, the Hughes associate who served as liaison between the CIA and mobsters “Johnny” Roselli and Sam “Momo” Giancana, in another plot to kill Castro, this time using poison pills.

In 2006, the documentary was the centre of a controversy surrounding US Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. In it the Miami Republican, who had been recently tapped to become the top Republican on the House International Relations Committee, states “I welcome the opportunity of having anyone assassinate Fidel Castro and any leader who is oppressing the people.” A clip of her statement made its way to the popular website YouTube where the newsmedia quickly picked up the story. There was a subsequent public questioning of Ros-Lehtinen’s morals and suitability for her job. She responded by asserting that the clip was spliced together and that it was taken out of context; but after her account was contested by the film’s director, she eventually released a statement, on Christmas Eve, accepting that she had made the remark.


638 Ways to Kill Castro, 7.0 out of 10 based on 5 ratings

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  • denbenenki

    IS THE WORLD BETTER OFF WITH FIDEL CASTRO ALIVE OR DEAD?

    Given the enormous number of attempts on Mr. Castro’s life, this is the question.
    The answer is found in the apparent differences of the two Cuban societies: those of the island and those who separated to Miami. Throughout the Americas, as well as Africa and Indonesia, Mr. Castro and the island Cubans are irrefutably heroes and model world citizens.
    In contrast, the Cubans of Miami have only portrayed a vengeful, traitorous and selfishness–who are accused, and some convicted– of senseless murder and other notable high-crimes, including the bombing of a passenger airliner, the assassination of a beloved president, politically-motivated burglaries and a widely reported kidnapping of a 6 year-old child—all of which the Miami community seems to show no shame nor apologize for.
    One can only conclude, had the people of the USA had the benefit of the role model-example of Mr. Castro, it too might be today known for being a nation of people who export life rather than for what most the world tragically knows is the USA exports death.
    For years, I have envied the island Cubans and wonder to this day if at least one generation from the USA could be introduced to Mr. Castro in the same positive role he is seen by other nations, what a better people the USA-ers could be for the planet. ********* Any psychologist can explain what to expect from people who are conditioned to be good based on what they later discover was never an actual living human, it was only a comic book, that the closes physical human that might be a hero is in professional sports—for some—that it is to be expected such a people would champion causes such as war as the sportsperson lives only to win, that is their fundamental purpose in life.
    War provides a method to achieve a win over another and War is what the USA is best known for.