Castro planned his Manhattan holocaust short weeks after Nikita Khrushchevfoiled his plans for an even bigger one. "Say hello to my little friends!" Castro dreamt of yelling at the hated Yankees in October 1962, right before the mushroom clouds. But for the prudence of the Butcher of Budapest, Castro might have pulled it off. "If the missiles had remained," Fidel's sidekick Che Guevara confided to the London Daily Worker in November 1962 regarding the Cuban missile crisis, "We would have fired them against the very heart of the U.S., including New York."
Castro's Manhattan bomb plot was far from "irrational." He's no suicide bomber -- not by a long shot. Some Cuba-watchers speculate that Castro wanted to blast Manhattan to heat things up again, to rekindle all those thrills he’d experienced the previous weeks during the missile crisis. Given the temper of the times, he knew his Soviet sugar daddies would be implicated too. Then the U.S. might retaliate. Then Castro might get what he'd dreamed about and tried to provoke a few weeks earlier: an intercontinental nuclear exchange.
Millions dead in the United States. Millions dead in the Soviet Union. And almost certainly, millions dead in his own Cuba. But Castro himself would be nowhere near harms way. Soviet ambassador to Cuba during the missile crisis, Alexander Alexeyev, reports a fascinating -- if unsurprising -- datum about those days. While Castro was begging, threatening, even trying to trick Khrushchev into launching a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the U.S. -- while he was ranting and yelling and waving his arms about grabbing his Czech machine gun and "fighting the Yankee invaders to the last man!" -- while frantically involved in all this, a "fearful" (Alexeyev's term) Castro was also making reservations with Alexeyev for a first-class seat in the Soviet Embassy's bomb shelter. Thus he'd emerge into the smoldering rubble and millions of incinerated bodies and realize his lifelong dream: his name stamped in history as the gallant David against the Yankee Goliath.
Castro's agents for his Manhattan Thanksgiving bomb plot were members of the Cuban mission to the United Nations working in concert with members of the Fair Play For Cuba Committee, an outfit that became much better known a year later when member Lee Harvey Oswaldreally racked up some headlines.
Incidentally, at the time of the Manhattan terror plot, the Fair Play For Cuba Committee also included among its members, CBS correspondent Robert Taber (an early version of Dan Rather, who conducted Castro's first network television soft-soaping on Aug. 30, 1957), along with The Nation magazine co-owner Alan Sagner. In 1996 President Clinton appointed the Alan Sagner head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Humberto Fontova holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and is the author of four books including his latest, The Longest Romance; The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro. For more information and for video clips of his Television and college speaking appearances please visit www.hfontova.com.