The Cuban Revolution: Defying Imperialism From Its Backyard

Fidel Castro died at age 90. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States and Cuban exiles had tried for decades to kill him. In the U.S. Congress’ Church Committee Report (1975), U.S. politicians wrote: “The proposed assassination devices ran the gamut from high-powered rifles to poison pills, poison pens, deadly bacterial powders and other devices which strain the imagination.” One of these devices was an exploding cigar, which was to be given to Castro at the United Nations. None of these succeeded. In April 1959, when Castro visited New York, he marvelled at the headline of an American paper: “All Police on Alert—Plot to Kill Castro!” The Cuban leader ducked all these attempts, 634 by one count. He gave up smoking in 1985 and suffered poor health over his last decade. It was old age that took him, not the wiles of the CIA.

Cuba’s new revolutionary government in 1959 made noises that sounded awfully familiar to the elites in Washington, D.C. They did not hear echoes from the Soviet Union (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or the USSR) since Castro had not made his intentions towards communism clear. What they found objectionable was Castro’s agenda: to conduct land reforms, to expropriate the entrenched elite and to expel the American mafia. The template for the U.S.’ displeasure at the Castro government was set in Guatemala, where the CIA conducted a coup in 1954 against the democratically elected government of Jacobo Arbenz. His…

Read more