Congresswoman admits calling for Fidel's assassination
Campaign News | Monday, 25 December 2006
Ros-Lehtinen is forced to retract denial
MIAMI -- U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami acknowledged Saturday that she called for Fidel Castro's assassination -- after earlier claiming a video clip of her making the comments was a fake.
Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican, said she has not seen the unedited footage of her interview, which appears in a 28-second clip on the Internet by the makers of a new British documentary, 638 Ways to Kill Castro.
In it, Ros-Lehtinen says: "I welcome the opportunity of having anyone assassinate Fidel Castro and any leader who is oppressing the people."
Earlier this month, the Havana-born lawmaker said filmmakers spliced clips together to make the sound bite.
On Saturday, she backed away from that statement.
"If those words were said by me in the raw unedited version, then I said them," she said in a telephone interview.
"I don't recall those exact words," she said, "but I do a lot of interviews and a lot of documentaries on Fidel Castro. It's an everyday situation for me."
She said she was referring to the YouTube.com clip at the time, which shows her voice out of sync with her mouth movements.
Ros-Lehtinen was the city of Miami's first Republican in Congress and the nation's first Cuban-American member of the House. She was sent to Washington in 1989.
She was recently tapped to become the top Republican on the House International Relations Committee.
Ros-Lehtinen has consistently voted on measures that add pressure from the United States on the communist island's leader, such as trade restrictions.
Despite the controversy, the lawmaker said Saturday she "would welcome [Castro's] passing."
Miami Herald: Tape contradicts Congresswoman
Video: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen advocates Castro Assassination
The director of a documentary on Fidel Castro says he's awaiting an apology from Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who had accused him of distorting her comments.
WASHINGTON - An Emmy Award-winning documentarian, angered over Miami Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's charge that a video in which she appears to endorse the assassination of Fidel Castro was altered to make her look more extreme, is circulating another version of the video to make his case.
The uncut version of director Dollan Cannell's video shows Ros-Lehtinen twice welcoming an attempt on Castro's life.
"Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has made a very serious accusation against the team who made the films," Cannell said Tuesday. ``You can't get more serious than that in terms of an accusation of gross professional wrongdoing.
"Her accusation is completely, totally false," he added. ``I'd like her to retract what she said and to apologize."
Ros-Lehtinen, an ardent Castro opponent, declined to comment Tuesday on the unedited tape.
But the Republican lawmaker probably has not heard the last of her statements that on video appear to welcome the communist leader's assassination.
The British documentary 638 Ways to Kill Castro is to be released on DVD "around the New Year," Cannell told The Miami Herald by phone. A broadcast on the Sundance Channel is also planned.
The five-minute video, which has been posted on the MiamiHerald.com website, shows Ros-Lehtinen seated at her desk, listening to an off-mike question and welcoming the opportunity of being in a free Cuba ``whether that meant that somebody killed Fidel Castro or whether somebody toppled his government."
According to a transcript of the 45-minute interview released by the filmmakers, the interviewer compared an opportunity to kill Castro with one to eliminate Hitler in 1939. ``And I'm just wondering in terms of Fidel Castro, is there an argument for assassination or an argument that would have said, maybe this guy should have been killed or should be killed?"
"I would never compare any demon to Hitler," Ros-Lehtinen responded. ``He is in a special category of hell."
She then goes on to utter the words that earlier appeared on a 28-second version of the interview that made the rounds on Youtube.com, the video-sharing website, and has been repeatedly played by TV stations in Miami.
"I welcome the opportunity of having anyone assassinate Fidel Castro and any leader who is oppressing the people," Ros-Lehtinen says in the video clip.
The lawmaker, who will become the ranking Republican member of the House International Relations Committee when Congress reconvenes next month, told The Miami Herald when the earlier version of the interview appeared that it was ``twisted in a way that gives the viewer a totally wrong impression."
"I've said the community has moved on, that those strategies are not being used today," she said, ``but apparently the filmmakers think we're still in a '60s mentality."
The five-minute tape shows her qualifying her comments by saying that ``if they don't assassinate him and bring him to trial, I welcome the opportunity to have him meet a jury of his peers and answer."
The transcript then moves on to other topics.
The British 75-minute version of 638 Ways to Kill Castro is touted as a ``50-year-long detective thriller about the man who always got away."
The DVD version of the film will include 75 minutes of extra material, including the interviews with Ros-Lehtinen and former President Jimmy Carter, who, Cannell says, has an ``entirely honorable role in this story."
Those interviews were cut from the UK broadcast because of time constraints.
"So much story to tell in such a short time, we decided to focus on people who've been directly involved in assassination attempts against Castro," Cannell said.
In years past, Castro was the target of several U.S.-sponsored assassination attempts.
The Ros-Lehtinen interview was conducted in March, before the July 31 announcement by the Cuban government that Castro was sick and was temporarily transfering his powers to his brother Raúl and a group of select advisors.
British filmmaker wants apology from Congresswoman
She claimed the video was doctored
Raw video provided to CBS4 News & CBS4.COM by Freemantle Media Enterprises
Jim DeFede Reporting for CBS
(CBS4) MIAMI CBS4 News has exclusively obtained the raw video taken by a British filmmaker of Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen advocating the assassination of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, although when the video first appeared on the internet, slightly out of sync, she denied making the controversial comments and claimed the video was altered.
Now that British filmmaker, Dollan Cannell wants an apology from Ros-Lehtinen. Cannell vehemently denies doctoring any of the footage and says Ros-Lehtinen’s statements are accurate.
The Miami Republican, recently tapped to become the top Republican on the House International Relations Committee says on the video, “I welcome the opportunity of having anyone assassinate Fidel Castro and any leader who is oppressing the people.”
When the 28-second snippet from his film “638 Ways to Kill Castro”, first appeared on the popular website “You Tube”, the video didn’t appear to be synched and skipped a bit, leading some to believe the video was spliced and altered.
When Ros-Lehtinen was asked about her controversial comments, she denied that she made the statement, and also claimed the filmmaker must have somehow doctored the footage.
CBS4’S Jim DeFede went straight to the source and called the filmmaker who was outraged at Ros-Lehtinen’s allegations. He sent DeFede the raw footage of the interview so there wouldn’t be any question as to what she said.
CBS4 News has tried calling Ros-Lehtinen to see what she had to say for herself but her office has not returned the call.
The interview with Ros-Lehtinen took place in her D.C. office last March but that the interview does not appear in the film. It will be on the extras portion of the DVD, which is being released by FremantleMedia Enterprises, which provided the raw video to CBS4 News and CBS4.COM.
CBS4’S DeFede spoke to Dollan Cannell over the phone on Wednesday during his radio morning talk show on AM 940 and you can listen to the entire twenty minute interview on Jim DeFede’s website: Jim DeFede.com
Director denies twisting Congresswoman's comments on Castro assassination
From Fox News
WASHINGTON - The director of a documentary that highlights assassination attempts on Fidel Castro said Monday he stands 100 percent behind his film after a Florida congresswoman claimed her comments included in a video clip were fabricated.
"We have absolutely nothing to hide," Dollan Cannell, film director of the British documentary "638 Ways to Kill Castro," told FOXNews.com from London. "I was very surprised by her comments because this clip is not doctored."
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida appeared in a 28-second clip available on the film's Web site. Her comments did not make the airing of the film when it showcased on British television but might be included in a DVD version and is available on the film's Web site.
"She very clearly made the remark," Cannell said.
In the film, Ros-Lehtinen, who will be the ranking Republican on the House International Relations Committee next year, is seen responding positively to a question about assassinating Castro.
"I welcome the opportunity of having anyone assassinate Fidel Castro and any leader who is oppressing the people," the film shows her saying. A producer and crew interviewed Ros-Lehtinen in her congressional office in March 2006, Cannell said.
The Havana-born lawmaker disputed that the comments she made were uttered the way they were portrayed in the video clip, which is not from the office interview.
"It's twisted in a way that gives the viewer a totally wrong impression," Ros-Lehtinen told The Miami Herald. "I've said the community has moved on, that those strategies are not being used today, but apparently the filmmakers think we're still in a '60s mentality."
But Ros-Lehtinen, who has sponsored several pieces of legislation aimed at undermining the Cuban dictator, believed to be suffering from some sort of terminal cancer, indicated she's unlikely to mourn his death.
"If someone were to do it, I wouldn't be crying," she said of an assassination attempt.
Calls to Ros-Lehtinen's offices were not immediately returned.
To watch the clip a link is available at:
Congresswoman Denies Urging Killing of Castro
From the New York Times
MIAMI, Dec. 10: A congresswoman says a video showing her calling for Fidel Castro's assassination is fake, a charge denied Sunday by the film's director.
The congresswoman, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Republican of Florida, appears in the 28-second clip made available on the Internet by the makers of a new British documentary, "638 Ways to Kill Castro."
In it, she says: "I welcome the opportunity of having anyone assassinate Fidel Castro and any leader who is oppressing the people."
But Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, a Havana-born lawmaker recently selected to become the top Republican on the House International Relations Committee, says the filmmakers spliced clips together to make the sound bite.
"It's twisted in a way that gives the viewer a totally wrong impression," she told The Miami Herald. "I’ve said the community has moved on, that those strategies are not being used today, but apparently the filmmakers think we're still in a '60s mentality."
Still, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen said it was possible she had, at some point, mentioned Mr. Castro's potential assassination.
"If someone were to do it, I wouldn't be crying," she said.
The film's director, Dollan Cannell, stood by the authenticity of the video.
"I can assure you categorically and completely that there has been no distortion of what she said," Mr. Cannell told The Associated Press on Sunday.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen said that she had seen the documentary and that the final cut did not include that video clip. However, the documentary’s Web site has a link to the clip.
The congresswoman said she was not shy about wanting Mr. Castro dead.
"No one advocates assassination," she said. "What we are advocating for is free elections, freedom for political prisoners, free expression of ideas and respect for human rights. That's how you get change in Cuba. Not assassination."
Scottish Daily Herald: An unfunny killing joke
638 Ways to Kill Castro tells story of Posada and Bosch
Campaign is an unfunny killing joke
638 Ways to Kill Castro, Channel 4, 10pm
Last night's TV: If 638 assassination attempts have truly been made on Cuban President Fidel Castro's life during his 47 years in power, that means they've averaged out at more than one deadly plot against the world's most prominent socialist per month, every month, since 1959.
As 638 Ways to Kill Castro began by showing us, this sustained level of mortal intrigue and death-defiance - Fidel was 80 not out in August - seems unlikely enough to be preposterous. Indeed, there was something distinctly comical about the sight of two retired Cuban security officials employing a calculator and notepad to arrive at the regime's official tally of thwarted killings. "We've counted four attempts twice," one wearily noted, before returning to the start of his laborious tallying-up.
638 Ways to Kill Castro was at first happy enough to collude in giving Fidel's premature dispatch a blackly comic air. But to recap: why did Castro become a target? A month after Castro seized power of the island of Cuba, 90 miles from America's coastline, the US government was encouraging his
media portrayal as "the danger on the doorstep ? the bearded opportunist - defiant, meddlesome, jeering".
The CIA began ham-fisted covert ops. Monochrome vintage spy-movie footage of lurking secret agents in trenchcoats underlined the ridiculousness of the CIA's initial plans for Castro's removal. Their far-fetched plots included poisoning his boots to make his talismanic beard fall out, and enveloping him in a cloud of LSD on live TV, thereby occasioning a gibbering freak-out which would dismay the Cuban people. Later, the American spooks pondered a variety of poisoned artefacts - diver's suit, sub-sea mollusc shell, fountain pen, milkshake - before opting for two quicker-acting varities of deadly cigar: one poisoned, one explosive.
Things began looking more seriously murderous, however, when the CIA hired an accountant to bump Castro off. A death-dealing accountant? I kid you not. We saw him: Antonio Veciana. An elderly Cuban exile resident in Florida, Antonio now owns four marine supply shops. A proud grandfather, he is equally proud of having commissioned three attempts on Castro's life, the most recent in 1979 when the Cuban leader visited America as a guest of President Carter.
It was here that 638 Ways to Kill Castro oddly changed gear from comedy to outrage and horror, with the silver-haired, deceptively genial-looking old Antonio leading the show's sickening parade of CIA-backed, US-funded terrorists. Next up were Felix Rodrigues and his collection of signed Bush family photographs (the two Georges, plus Jeb). Felix it was who captured Castro's right-hand man, Che Guevera, and gave the order that he be shot "below the neck ? he's supposed to die from combat wounds".
Worse still was Cuban exile Dr Orlando Bosch, a one-time paediatrician whom Florida governor Jeb Bush helped free from a jail term (for Miami bombing offences and bazooka'ing a ship for the "crime" of being Havana-bound). Dr Bosch appeared on camera justifying his role in planning a mid-air explosion which blew apart Cubana de Aviacion Flight 455 near Barbados on October 6, 1976. Dr Bosch's "act of war" killed 73 people, including six teenage Guyanese students and all 18 members of Cuba's fencing team, average age 22. In this, Dr Bosch was complicit with another American-backed terror advocate, Luis Posada Carriles.
Posada also devised a hotel bombing campaign in Havana that killed a young Italian tourist in 1997, thereby showing pesky European tourists that Cuba isn't safe. To Cuban officialdom's anger, Posada is currently imprisoned for "visa irregularities", not in Guantanamo Bay but in Texas.
As former American diplomat Wayne Smith put it: "Castro plays David to our Goliath beautifully, and we give him an opportunity almost on a weekly basis. We are unable to deal rationally with Cuba."
UK TV to screen documentary on the assassination attempts against Fidel Castro
Documentary to be screened: Tuesday 28 November 2006, 10pm Channel 4
There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but how many ways are there to bump off a political enemy? Apparently not enough to bring down revolutionary Cuban leader Fidel Castro, whose official 80th birthday occurs this December. Is it possible that old age and ill health may soon succeed where the assassination campaigns have failed?
638 Ways to Kill Castro reveals every conceivable method tried by a succession of assassins over the years, from exploding cigars to femmes fatale. On the trail of Castro's failed killers, the filmmakers meet a number of extraordinary characters, two of whom are also accused of being terrorists, yet are still living in George W Bush's America. Yet it is not just a film about Castro, nor is it just a lesson from Cold War history. It is a thought-provoking and serious essay that says as much about America's foreign policy today as it does about the past.
But in the end, this is a story of smoking guns and smoking cigars: a remarkable 50-year-long detective thriller in which the target always got away.
Channel 4 History will support 638 Ways to Kill Castro with a biography of the Caribbean Communist leader, which will give context to the investigation into his enemies and unsuccessful killers.
The director of this film, Dollan Cannell, is an invited guest speaker at the Latin America 2006 conference in London on Saturday 2nd December.
Details on this webpage under the events section.