Thursday, October 30, 2014

Death Merchant #7: The Castro File

In Death Merchant #7, Richard Camellion - supreme master of disguise, deception, and death - is sent to Cuba to prevent the assassination of Fidel Castro. The Russians want Castro to assist them in overthrowing existing governments in South America, but Castro, feeling the need to throw off Soviet influence, is unwilling. So the Russians plan to assassinate him and substitute a lookalike in his place, and gain complete control of Cuba.

Camellion travels to Cuba with a Canadian passport in the name of Milton F. Sessions, a left-wing sympathizer who works for The Voice of the People, a radical newspaper operated by the CIA in Toronto (!). We learn a bit more about the mysterious man known as the Death Merchant. He is described as "ruggedly handsome" and is an "agnostic". He hates bugs and has an "absolute horror" about rats. His love of raisins is mentioned twice.

Rosenbegrer describes Camellion as "a man with a computer for a mind .. a man with nerves of pure ice who killed more efficiently than most men could spit on the sidewalk." He is a "dealer in instant oblivion", a "one-man circus of Death and Destruction", and a "vendor of mayhem and violence".

Camellion is ambushed on his fourth day in Havana, and realizes there is probably a spy within the Cuban Revolutionary Council who outed him to the government. He kills all eight of the Army intelligence agents sent to capture him and escapes to a safe house. But the spy has also tipped off the DIER agents about the safe house and so there is a big shootout, with Camellion escaping through a tunnel in the floor of a back room.

He ends up high in the Sancti Spiritus Mountains, where the CRC has its headquarters. A plan is hatched to kidnap two Russian officers who frequent a Havana whorehouse. Under threat of torture, the officers reveal that the Castro double is due to arrive by ship in a few days. The Death Merchant and CIA agent Vallie West attack the cargo ship - Camellion disguises himself as a Russian military officer to gain access to the ship - and grab the double, thus foiling the Russians' plan. They end up hijacking an armoured car outside of an arena where Castro is speaking, then drive straight into the arena and dump the drugged double's body near Castro's box.

At one point, Rosenberger has Castro reflect on the differences between Cuba and the U.S.:
He was very proud of what he had accomplished. Unemployment was nonexistent in Cuba. Illiteracy had practically vanished. Schools and medical care were free, and rents were fixed at no more than a tenth of one's income. Hunger had been vanquished, and children with bloated bellies were now impossible to find.

Castro's jaw knotted in determination. Let the Yankee imperialists call him a brute! Let the wealthy pigs call him a communist! The world still defined his achievements by the schools, roads, housing projects and hospitals that had already established Cuba's preeminence in Latin America for mass delivery of social services. That's more than the Yankee imperialists could say for the United States, where five million were unemployed, eighteen million were on welfare, and the average worker couldn't afford to be sick!
When the mission has been completed, someone thanks Camellion and the U.S. government for its help. This gives the Death Merchant a chance to rant about
the idiots who occupy very high places in Washington ... peanut-minded men who should be running filling stations. Instead, they're governing the United States. This explains why Billy Graham leads the White House in prayer to a 'God' who applauds napalm, and why Washington leads us in worship of a corporate self whose body we do not perceive!"
When told he sounds bitter and is asked "don't you love your country?", he replies:
If I didn't, I wouldn't give a damn! I wouldn't criticize Washington's crazy politics! But I don't like living in a blind tribe led by Lilliputians who stupidly mistake power for greatness and mechanical aptitude for holiness!

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