Fidel Castro, Like Steven Seagal, Was Hard to Kill

Fidel Castro finally died. He turned ninety-years-old in August, and stepped down as Cuba’s leader eight years ago. News reports use these two pieces of information—his advanced age and his absence of power—to conclude that he died a natural death.

And they’re probably right. Photos from his 90th birthday celebration show an old guy who looks more like a retired insurance salesmen whose best shuffleboard days are behind him, than a hardcore communist who spent most of his life wearing military fatigues.

However, that doesn’t prove anything to me. I believe that Castro died a natural death for one reason, and one reason only: that dude wasn’t going to die before he was ready to die.

I’ve long joked about Castro employing a food taster since there had been so many attempts on his life, but I had no idea the extent to which this guy avoided pushing up daisies.

Castro’s old counterintelligence expert, whose main job was protecting Castro, estimated that the CIA devised 638 assassination schemes and attempts. 638! That works out to one attempt to kill him every 28 days for the entire 49 years of his time in power. And yet he survived!

The CIA tried to kill him by poisoning his cigars, his milkshakes, and his food. They planned to somehow infect his wet suit, give him an exploding cigar, and blow him up while he visited Hemingway’s museum in Cuba.

I don’t care what Steven Seagal thinks, Fidel Castro should have been the star of Hard to Kill.

I’m not sure what it says about the competence of the CIA that they had so many opportunities and couldn’t pull it off, but it ascribes an air of invincibility to Castro that only helped to fuel his legend. The imperialistic Americans tried to bring him down, but they couldn’t.

Quite coincidental that just before I read of Castro’s death I read that Steven Seagal had become a citizen of Russia. Vladimir Putin signed Seagal’s passport and handed it to him.

Seagal no longer looks like the pony-tailed badass (wait, that’s an oxymoron) he was in those early nineties films. Instead, he’s sort of a caricature of an action hero.

But it makes sense that he’d be buddy-buddy with Putin, who’s sort of a caricature of a president. Seagal is the type of guy who looks at that picture of Putin riding a horse shirtless, and thinks, “Wow, that guy’s awesome.” Putin and Seagal both represent the type of super-macho men who struggle with mental health, as reported by the American Psychological Association.

Putin’s remarks after signing Seagal’s passport makes me wonder if delusion is one of the effects of this phenomenon. Putin said that he wanted to “express hope that this (granting Seagal’s Russian citizenship) is another small gesture of gradual normalization of the relations between” Russia and the United States.

What?

Putin thinks that granting some former B-list Hollywood star Russian citizenship is going to ingratiate his country with the U.S.? Does he think our president is some celebrity-obsessed, entertainment-focused, trigger happy, intellectual lightweight cowboy? Oh, wait, that’s exactly who it's going to be, isn’t it?

Maybe Putin’s on to something.

But still, I hope Putin doesn’t think that Hollywood Hard to Kill is the same as Havana Hard to Kill. Castro’s close relations with the Soviet Union angered the United States and caused all sorts of problems. Seagal’s close relations with Russia will probably be embraced all around the U.S. Take him, please. And if you can find Jean-Claude Van Damme, you can have him, too!

Come to think of it, the U.S. should have employed Seagal to assassinate Castro. I found no fewer than 38 films in which Seagal is carrying a gun in the film’s poster. That seems like a lot of firepower for someone who’s supposedly a martial arts expert, but maybe he picked up some sniper skills to employ on Fidel.

Whatever. It’s all a moot point now. Castro’s dead, and Seagal’s a Russian citizen. One of them starred in a film called Hard to Kill. One of them lived it.

But perhaps more of Seagal’s film titles will become relevant in the coming years. We have a president who thinks he’s Above the Law. He’s appointing a cabinet that makes us feel like we’re Under Siege. And the concept of a progressive America seems Marked for Death.

But at least we don’t have to worry about exploding cigars.

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