- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 10, 2007

HAVANA

Cuban strongman Fidel Castro decried Washington’s “hypocrisy” and “total lack of ethics” in a rambling essay published this week that analyzes the early years of his 1959 revolution and repeated U.S. attempts to assassinate him.

The island’s recuperating 80-year-old “Maximum Leader” saluted America’s “attractive Declaration of Independence of 1776” but said it has given rise to a country bent on “world tyranny.”

Citing CIA documents, Mr. Castro described a failed plot to poison him “using an official of the Cuban government with access to my office” and discussed at length the events leading up to the disastrous CIA-sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961.

He said “luck and the habit of carefully observing every detail” allowed him and his fellow rebels to escape capture or death at the hands of the Cuban army while hiding out in the mountains before their overthrow of dictator Fulgencio Batista in January 1959.

“I have survived numerous assassination plots,” he wrote.

It was not clear whether Mr. Castro was referring to information contained in a batch of internal CIA documents released last month, known collectively as the “family jewels,” or simply relying on records that long ago came to light.

The essay broke a week’s silence from the Cuban leader and stretched well over 10 pages. Signed Saturday afternoon and published Sunday in the Communist Youth newspaper Rebel Youth, it had a stream-of-consciousness style reminiscent of the legendarily lengthy speeches he gave before falling ill last summer.

Mr. Castro said records prove that the CIA blew up a ship loaded with grenades that Cuba purchased from Belgium as it arrived in Havana’s port in March 1960.

“We know that everything was carefully planned by the Central Intelligence Agency, right from the port where the ship was loaded,” he wrote.

He said Cuba anticipated some kind of attack before the failed Bay of Pigs operation, carried out by a U.S.-backed force of 1,500 Cuban exiles.

“We were aware of an imminent attack, but didn’t know when or how it would come,” he said.

Mr. Castro has not been seen in public for nearly a year, but life on the island has changed little outwardly. On July 31, he announced that emergency intestinal surgery was forcing him to step aside in favor of a provisional government headed by his brother Raul Castro, the 75-year-old defense minister.

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