Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hollow rocks, CIA plots, blood, murder and escape tunnels

A stuffed German Shepherd and a rock once used to hide spy gear are among the curiosities at Havana's little-known Museum of the Ministry of the Interior.
The museum is hidden in plain sight along Quinta Avenida in Miramar. A TripAdvisor traveler calls it "a true hidden gem."
The museum is "dedicated to the CIA's inept efforts to dethrone Fidel," says Moon's Cuba guide by Christopher Baker.
Museum displays include black-and-white photos of purported CIA agents sneaking around in Cuba as they try to drop off money and supplies for dissidents in the 1980s. Cuban agents caught the CIA on film and video and blew the agents' cover. I understand that the CIA had to change its tactics in Cuba after that, relying more on electronic surveillance than fieldwork.
When Baker visited, the well-preserved German Shepherd - evidently a former Cuban police dog - was among the exhibits.
The museum also showed videos of Fidel Castro's security plans, including information on tunnels leading from one of Castro's homes to the Ciudad Libertad military airstrip. I don't remember seeing that, so perhaps that's been taken down.
During my last visit to the museum, a woman was leading schoolchildren on a tour that included a stop at an exhibit dedicated to five Cuban agents now serving time in American prisons.
Another exhibit showed photos of the damage after a string of bombings at Havana hotels in 1997. One photo, above, shows the blood pool left by Fabio Di Celmo, an Italian man killed by a blast at the Hotel Copacabana. I believe that an ash tray blew apart, severing a vein in the man's neck. Here is a Web site dedicated to the victim (in Spanish) and an interesting interview with the Salvadorean convicted in the bombing.

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