British ballerina plotted with Castro to overthrow Panama govt
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Last Updated: Friday, May 28, 2010, 16:40
London: British ballerina Margot Fonteyn, widely regarded as one of the greatest classical balletdancers of all time, was involved "up to her neck" in a 1959 plot with Cuban leader Fidel Castro to overthrow Panama's government, de -classified documents have revealed.

The renowned dancer was arrested by the Panamanian authorities in April 1959 after her husband launched a failed coup attempt using 125 Cuban revolutionaries.

After returning to Britain, Fonteyn confessed to Foreign Office Minister John Profumo she had met Castro and took part in a mission to assemble rebels and weapons at sea for an invasion of Panama, the 'Daily Mail' reported.

In a note, Profumo recalled: "Dame Margot assured me that during their visit to Cuba in January, Castro had promised help to her husband in his aims to overthrow the existing regime in Panama.

"She was a bit hazy about the extent of aid offered because, she said, the talks were in Spanish, but she was certain the aid included both arms and men. She affirmed that, even up to a short while ago, Castro was behind this coup. Naturally he now had to disclaim all knowledge.

"She said that the Cuban invaders were just soldiers of fortune who were prepared to go to war anywhere they were asked. She gave me to understand that quite a large-scale operation had been planned but that it had gone wrong at the last minute."

The ballerina also told Profumo that her husband "was prepared to go to any extremes to help the ordinary common people of Panama" who were "having a very raw deal", according to the documents released by the National Archives.

However, Britain was unimpressed by her "highly reprehensible and irresponsible" behaviour and expressed hopes that she would "keep away from Panama for a very considerable time", the files have revealed.

Fonteyn, who was born Peggy Hookham in Reigate, Surrey, in May 1919, returned to Panama with her husband for the final years of her life and died there in February 1991.


First Published: Friday, May 28, 2010, 16:40

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