On Sunday, Cuban television broadcast the first episode of an 8-part miniseries on the various assassination attempts on Fidel Castro. Just another jolly night on Cuban prime-time!
Called He Who Must Live, the miniseries covers the "638" attempts on El Supremo's life, including some that took place even before he came to power. It is expected to do for ruthless dictators what "Roots" did for slavery.
Cubans instantly took to the streets when the state newspaper announced the show would pre-empt the newest episode of "Lost." Just kidding. Cubans don't watch "Lost." They're better than that.
Actually, though, Cuban dissidents have in fact been quietly protesting for two weeks now over the death of Zapato Tamayo, a dissident who starved himself to death to protest government repression. Earlier this week, another protester, Guillermo Fariñas, refused to accept an invitation from Spain to flee Cuba and vowed to see his own hunger strike through until some political prisoners are released.
According to Granma, the state newspaper, the mini-series is a mammoth production that cast 243 actors, some 800 extras, and has been filming for three years.
After that long in production, why unleash it now? No, the mini-series is not El Jefe's attempt to disprove our death meter. It's just the latest in a series of public relations attempts at reminding the country and the world that he's still HBIC - head bitch in charge.
Last week, Newsweek reported that Fidel took back the country's reins from his brother Raul, whom he'd personally picked to succeed him. The take-back is all very Jay Leno-Conan O'Brien. Expect Raul to join Twitter next week.
There was a time in Cuba when even talking about Fidel's mortality was sacrosanct. But now, here he is bragging about the 638 times
he's cheated death. 638! He's like the Wilt Chamberlain of
assassinations. In light of the political unrest on the island, the series'
message seems to be: if he can make it through the first 638, you can
survive some paltry hunger strike.
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Granma says the series is a "vertiginous ride" through time that will combine a hodgepodge of genres. That can only mean one thing: at some point America's Best Dance crew will perform an interpretative dance number on the Bay of Pigs. The Spanish news agency EFE also says some plots in the movie "seem to be taken from science fiction." So, we were right after all.
What kind of assassination attempts have been made on Fidel, anyway? Granma says they have included "classic ploys" with bombs and snipers, and less orthodox ones like poisoned cigars and milkshakes." The last episode of the series - spoiler alert! - will chronicle Luis Posada Carriles' failed attempt at killing Castro at a 2000 conference in Panama.
Update: The Cuban Interwebs are failing, so we can't embed the video. For now, you can watch the trailer here. I don't know about you guys, but I smell Oscar!