Virtually Killing Castro

2010.12.06

I am not a “gamer”, have never been one. I have enough ways to waste my time on reading, television and the information portion of the internet, so that virtually blowing people away with a 50 caliber machine gun really does not do it for me. I was in the military during Viet Nam, and have a good idea that killing people is a lot more involved than just pressing a button on a video controller.  I realize that my friends who play these games are just utilizing the latest technology to spend some free time and I’m cool with that.  But the phone message I received a week ago from a close friend was still a bit shocking. “I shot Fidel last night”, he told me. He was referring to actions in the highly anticipated release of Call of Duty: Black Ops, a “first person shooter” game in which the players are taken back in time to Havana during the Cold War with the mission to assassinate the Cuban leader.  Naturally, the Cubans take exception to the idea of using the man who most of them consider a great leader of their country as a target for assassination, since the United States has in fact made him an assassination target for 50 years. The British documentary 638 ways to Kill Castro goes into some of those attempts.

http://www.videosurf.com/638-ways-to-kill-castro-66435

An English language summary of the Cuban media reports is here:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/black-ops-game-draws-fire-from-cuba-over-castro-target-2131502.html

At the Miami Herald, a columnist chides the Cubans for their sensitivity, arguing that the game teaches them about freedom of speech which they supposedly don’t have:

http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/11/11/1924646/video-game-teaches-cuba-about.html

What it does of course is perpetuate the idea that Castro is something of a terrorist or illegitimate leader of his country who deserves to be eliminated. This is not the first time that controversy has surrounded the release of a game in the series. Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 featured a “No Russians” level where players can kill civilians with a terrorist group. But there are, as far as I can find, no games which call for the murder of other living heads of state.

And when the incoming head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee is on record as favoring that assassination, you can see why Cubans might think that this is more than just a game.

http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/11/05/ileana_ros_lehtinen_once_called_for_the_assassination_of_fidel_castro