Fidel Castro, The Invincible

A ti Fidel, tributo del pueblo de Santiago en nombre de toda Cuba. Portada: Santiago Romero Chang
Fidel Castro, The Invincible.

There were 638 attempts to assassinate him, without any modesty or decency, 102 of them were successfully exposed and confronted thanks to the professionalism, personal decision and courage of the men of the escort, as well as the system in charge of preserving him at all costs.

But really the greatest architect was always the heroic people, to whom he was always at their service. On the other hand it cannot be disregarded something of which little was spoken and less written, the high sense and intuition of the historical leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, about danger, as well as the self-responsibility to face it at all cost.

64 years ago there was a plot organized by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista (1952-1958) to assassinate him in his General Headquarters in the mountains of the Sierra Maestra.

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The American Alan Robert Nye, captured on December 25, 1958 by rebel fighters, confessed his intentions and pointed out the instigators. The plan was to infiltrate the guerrillas under the cover of a sympathizer and experienced fighter and, once there, to ambush the leader.

He was carrying a Remington 30.06 caliber rifle with telescopic sight and a 38 revolver, with which he planned to commit the crime. During the first quarter of 1959, Nye was tried and punished by the Cuban courts.

Twenty two years have passed since the last detected attempt, the one that would turn into the greatest assassination ever planned, on November 16, 2000, during the 10th Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Government, at the Auditorium of the University of Panama.

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The Commander-in-Chief, who had recently arrived in Panama, denounced to the world that Franco Rodriguez Mena, who was staying in room 310 of the Coral Suites Hotel in Panama City, was none other than the Cuban-born terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, who was planning to assassinate him during the event.

I have decided, with modest experiences treasured with great pride and without declassifying anything that does not belong to me, to partially unveil, how and why Fidel Castro remained alive and undefeated, despite being the Head of State persecuted with the most vicious and sickening rancor by the enemy in the history of mankind.


A ti Fidel, tributo del pueblo de Santiago en nombre de toda Cuba. Portada: Santiago Romero Chang
Fidel Castro, The Invincible. Image: Santiago Romero Chang

It was just another day of his intense struggle, in the house of Celia Sanchez Manduley -then his personal secretary- on 11th Street in Vedado, and his most direct escorts were routinely engaged in the usual and always hurried work of cleaning and greasing the sawed-off AK-47s.

Some of these had adapted PPSH magazines that allowed each one to be loaded with almost 100 rounds with the consequent greater firepower, even though they increased their weight considerably.

They took advantage of the uninterrupted meetings that passed from one to the other, despite the fact that in the residence of spacious corridors only the most intimate ones and with acute topics were summoned for dispatch.

Let’s go,» they suddenly only managed to hear, coming from the energetic, commanding and well-known voice, which almost never gave them advance plans of routes designated by himself, the one most responsible for his personal protection.

A total commotion that, although routine, never ceased to surprise, given the fact that everyone used to sleep or just fall asleep with their boots well shod, as he preached by personal example. The Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro Ruz always lived in campaign and with surprises, aware of the enemy that lurked and he faced it safely and even at ease…

Everyone gathered their personal belongings as best they could, but above all the valuable weapons that were the main shield to guarantee the life of their chief, that of all of us; the running, not for being accustomed, was immense and with giant steps they got into the three olive green Soviet Zil jeeps, with four doors that were already waiting with drivers and engines running, for the order of the march.

Not more than 15 minutes had passed since the deployment along 12th Street towards the cemetery and from there to the Council of State in the Plaza of the Revolution, when without any gesture, just supposedly abstractedly reading some documents, not even without turning to his interlocutor, the Commander in Chief said slowly:

«Marinerito, where is my AK?», while he turned over one of the pages of the document he was reading and continued to do so, glasses on his head, because as a myopic man he did not need them to get a close look.

He was addressing the then first lieutenant Luis Ignacio Rivero, one of his escort men at that time, who used to accompany him also in his underwater practices and in the yacht when the displacements were amphibious, and to whom he professed a close friendship, as to all the members of the escort, who constituted his other family.

«I’ll put it here, Commander, we were disarming them for cleaning and I didn’t have time», and saying that, he proceeded to introduce a still greasy rifle under the right front seat of the jeep, a place always reserved for the Chief of the Revolution. This was the routine he used to do.

«Hey, but this is not mine», Fidel replied without flinching or making any movement, while he continued apparently concentrating on his reading.

Disconcerted and beginning to sweat, Riverito stuttered: «Forgive me, my commander, but to tell the truth, I didn’t have time to put yours together and I just passed you mine under your seat».

«Ahhhhhh, and then which one do you have, none?” Fidel’s tone was already imperious, recriminatory.

Without waiting for any answer, he ordered the jeep to stop at the intersection of Colon Street, in Nuevo Vedado, and abruptly turned full torso towards the incriminated, dropping the papers on the floor of the vehicle and imputing with the index finger of his right hand he lashed out:

«I want you to know and so do all of you who are with me, you made two mistakes, one being left without your weapon for personal use, and the other, the most regrettable and one that you know I will never forgive, that of lying, however well-intentioned that action might be. Don’t let me have to tell you again! Let’s get moving!

Many years later, already in 1979, while both of us were on an internationalist mission in Nicaragua, we commented that with Tomás Borge, Nicaraguan Minister of the Interior, Walter Ferreti (Chombito), head of the incipient organ of the Counter Intelligence and the Indian Juan Jose, of Personal Security, who listened in amazement and inquired how that was possible.

We answered that it was only thanks to the high responsibility that the Commander in Chief attributed to his own self-defense, not even as a personal safeguard, but conscious of how he had to endure in order to guarantee the work of his people.

The historic leader of our Revolution evidently used to check, without anyone noticing, with his footwear, almost always high boots, the presence of the rifle under his seat.

But it was not just any rifle, given that when it was returned to him and exchanged for another he detected it, therefore, there was some peculiarity in the touch with his own, which he alone knew and made it unmistakable, which was one of his constant measures of self-protection.

That is why, among other things, he was able to survive so many attempts to eliminate him, despite the fact that as early as December 1959 Colonel J.C. King, head of the Western Hemisphere Division of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), proposed to his boss, Allen Dulles, the assassination of Fidel Castro as the most expeditious means to overthrow the Cuban Revolution.

A few weeks later his proposal was authorized by the CIA high command, however, all the plans to eliminate him, absolutely all of them, crashed against the decision of a people to protect him and his own decision to accept it with discipline, which made him forever The Invincible.

Fidel Castro, The Invincible

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