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Democracy lessons for Fidel Castro


(Image from the Wolfsonian-FIU)

The following is an excerpt from my latest article for Al Jazeera:
In the 1950s, my father’s uncle Benito was summoned to Havana by Santo Trafficante Jr, Mafia boss for the southeastern United States and Cuba and a childhood friend of Benito’s from the Ybor City neighbourhood in Tampa, Florida.

In Havana, Benito was tasked with surveillance duties at the Sans Souci night club and casino run by Trafficante, a close friend of pro-US Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. Trafficante had inherited the position from his father, the Sicilian-born Santo Trafficante Sr, who had been appointed by organised crime icons, Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano, to oversee gambling and drug operations in the Cuban capital, which served as a storage facility for heroin en route from Europe to the US.

Benito’s responsibilities at the Sans Souci included sounding an alert if the wife of a casino patron or other relevant figure arrived at an inopportune moment. Prospects for job security were slashed with the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, however, and Benito returned to Florida to sell furniture while Trafficante enhanced his CV by becoming an accomplice of the CIA in the mission to assassinate Fidel Castro.

As journalists Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St Clair note in their book Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs and the Press, anti-Castro plots concocted by the Agency ranged from “tr[ying] to devise a way to saturate the radio studio where Castro broadcast his speeches with an aerosol form of LSD and other ‘psychic energisers'” to sabotaging his appearance before the United Nations in New York in 1960 by “plac[ing] thallium salts in Castro’s shoes and on his night table in the hope that the poisons would make the leader’s beard fall off”.

According to Cockburn and St Clair, US Attorney General Robert Kennedy, “who was obsessed with the elimination of Castro, told [CIA director] Allen Dulles that he didn’t care if the Agency employed the Mob for the hit as long as they kept him fully briefed”.As for Trafficante’s contributions to the effort, he delivered six lethal CIA-manufactured botulinum pills as well as a box of toxic cigars to an ally within the Cuban government in 1961. The plan fell through.

Lest US taxpayers worry that government expenditures over the years have been wasted on projects that do not reinforce national security, a 2006 article in the Guardian entitled “638 ways to kill Castro” outlines additional CIA assassination schemes:

Knowing [Castro’s] 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”.

Click here to read the rest of the article at Al Jazeera.



  1. frank scott says:

    the title scared the crap out of me…

    thought maybe you’d had too much holiday cheer or it had been spiked by members of the obama squad…

    i began reading…what a relief!

    in future, spare the weak of heart by using a question mark in such a title…

    just kidding…happy 2012…


  2. Mike Craft Sr. says:

    Ms. Fernandez, this was a well written article. Read my comments on your article printed on http://www.aljezeera.com ! My name is Mike Craft Sr. (bigmikecraft) and I was a full national member of the NCS, (national crime syndicate) via the Lansky Group (my father was close to Meyer, as his New York State Supreme Court Fixer, and Nelson Rockefellers bag man! I was an associate starting in 1968 and became a national member (due to Tony Acardo) in 1973. I was the assigned hitter on Pierre Trudeau in 1974, in order to get his best friend to an English speaking nation for his funeral! His best friend was Fidel Castro! The FBI is keeping me out of major print! This story appeared very badly in the ‘Toronto Star” on Jan 3rd. 2008. They came to New York for the interview which lasted 6 hours and them the reporter was ordered to dumb down the story by the RCMP!

  3. I was cut off yesterday at my computer. This is Big Mike Craft Sr. continued! I led my life and have had to endure 40 years of garbage about Fidel! I am the only actual living man ever to have a personal shoot to kill contract on Castro! All the rest of you are just conjecture about a business that is mine alone to discuss! The stupid CIA could have done what Meyer sent me to do in Canasda, anytime they wished but had to many college boys employed! The killing of Pierre trudeau, Fidel Castro’s best friend and benefactor, would have brought Fidel to Canada for the ‘Canadian State Funeral”, period! I lucked out by being called back by Tony Acardo, Meyer’s protector! I would have killed Trudeau easily but to try to infiltrate a nations ‘State Funeral” for it’s leader would have been my last job! There would have been 25000 troops and another 5000 police, plus Castro’s own 500 man secret police and the other nations security details! I would never have gotten a clear shot, after hitting Trudeau 2 weeks earlier. I lucked out. I am sick and tired of amatuers, and nopn pro writers discussing the rackets. The fact is that none of you understand the rackets or who was in charge 51 years ago! Meyer Lansky was nobodies accountant. He ran his own show and managed the Casino’s in Vegas, Cuba, and the Islands for everyone, while taking his cut! The bad fact in Cuba was that Meyer had all his own money in those 3 carpet joints. He made his money back, all 20 million but that was the seed money and his profits were cut off by Castro! The story is available to Ms. Fernandez if she wants it. The Toronto Star was ordered by the RCMP (The FBI’s partners) to dumb me down for national security on Jan. 3rd. 2008! The trudeau hit was going to be a duck walk and I was a sharpshooter 40 years ago! You can listen to me at http://www.youtube.com/bigmikecraft Thank you, Dr. Mike Craft Sr. D.D. (bigmikecraft)

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