The Indestructible Fidel Castro

With conservatives railing about Canadians who holiday in Cuba, calling it a dictatorship worse than Stalin's, and Fidel's recent retirement from politics, here's a look back on how Fidel Castro beat overwhelming odds to live so long...

With numerous attempts having been made on his life, Castro has proven himself to be indestructible. Now retired at 84 years of age, he has outwitted every assassination plot. One anecdote about his longevity is that he once declined a gift of tortoises, who can live for up to 200 years, because he feared that the pets would die on him.

And there's more than a few people who wanted him dead. The American government plotted against his life ever since he swung toward communism in 1960, the mafia wanted to see him finished as he had put an end to organized crime and casinos, and Cuban exiles wanted him nixed because they lost everything during the revolution.

Cuba had been a 1950's paradise. A Caribbean Las Vegas frequented by the rich and famous. But American capitalism owned everything and the leader, Fulgencio Batista, was corrupt.

It was Batista who first tried to have Castro killed. He fled to Mexico. Then, despite overwhelming military odds, Castro returned and seized power and popularity. After Batista fled, the U.S. considered eliminating Castro as he began to execute 1000s of Batista's supporters and started to collectivize agriculture. Everything from poison pills to exploding cigars was considered. The CIA even considered a powder to make his beard fall out or getting him to accidentally ingest LSD so that his supporters would think that he's crazy. Since Castro enjoyed scuba diving, a colourful sea shell full of explosives also sounded like a good idea.

After the failure of The Bay of Pigs, killing Castro became an obsession for the Kennedy's. Operation Mongoose consisted of a covert bombing campaign against the island where they blew up factories, burned crops, and armed rebels. But after the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, America agreed not to invade Cuba.

In 2000, 200Ibs of explosives were put under a podium where Castro was to speak in Panama, probably by Cuban exiles. However, the bomb was discovered by his security. He has hundreds of men guarding him and even uses look-a-likes to confuse possible attackers.

Now retired, he has outlived his contemporaries and many tortoises.


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