Secret papers show ballerina’s role in Panama coup
2010-05-28 0:00

By Sylvia Hui | Guardian.co.uk


Previously secret papers declassified Friday revealed that British ballerina Margot Fonteyn was heavily involved in plotting a coup to overthrow Panama’s government, detailing how her clandestine political activities both exasperated and amused officials on both sides of the Atlantic.

The confidential telegrams and correspondence released by Britain’s national archives pieced together a bizarre and sometimes comic account of the attempted coup in the late 1950s, during which the celebrated dancer and her diplomat husband, Roberto Arias, sought Fidel Castro’s help in a revolution that failed because of a last-minute blunder.

Fonteyn was 39 and an internationally renowned ballerina when she was arrested and briefly detained in a Panama prison on April 20, 1959. A few days earlier she and Arias had set out in a yacht on an apparent fishing holiday, but aiming to gather men and arms for the coup.

The papers showed that British officials in London, as well as diplomats in Panama and New York, scrambled to contain the incident, fearing the plot would threaten British relations with the central American country. But they also documented how the officials thought the events were a kind of "slapdash comedy."

"I had to pinch myself several times during her visit to be sure I wasn’t dreaming the comic opera story which she unfolded," wrote Foreign Office Minister John Profumo in one of the papers as he described a private meeting with Fonteyn shortly after she was released.

Profumo wrote that Fonteyn admitted to him how she and her husband had visited Castro in Cuba and received a pledge of some weapons and men from the leader. "She affirmed that ... Castro was behind this coup. Naturally he now had to disclaim all knowledge," Profumo wrote.

He himself later courted controversy. As a Cabinet minister in 1963, he had a liaison with a prostitute who was disclosed to be linked to a Soviet spy.

British ambassador to Panama Ian Henderson was not impressed by Fonteyn’s behavior and wrote that he hoped she would "keep away from Panama for a very considerable time."

"I do not regard her conduct as fitting in any British subject. ... Her conduct has been highly reprehensible and irresponsible," Henderson wrote in a telegram.

The officials believed that although Fonteyn was "involved in the plot up to her neck," she was an amateur revolutionary who viewed the whole situation in a "charmingly lighthearted way."

Profumo wrote that Fonteyn described how, as the coup unraveled, she mistakenly dumped some incriminating documents into the sea. Officials later retrieved the items, including Arias’ address book, which contained the addresses of actors John Wayne and Errol Flynn. The celebrities apparently had business dealings with Arias.

Mark Dunton, a historian at the archives, said the files gave an unusual glimpse into a previously little known chapter of Fonteyn’s life.

"The extent of Dame Margot’s personal involvement has not been in the public domain before," said Dunton. "It adds to the slightly bizarre nature of this attempted revolution."

Fonteyn, who was born Peggy Hookham in 1919, went on to reach even greater creative heights through her acclaimed partnership with Russian dancer Rudolf Nureyev. She returned to Panama with her husband years later and died there in 1991.


Article from: Guardian.co.uk

Image: In this Sept. 18, 1968 file photo, British ballerina Margot Fonteyn in London. British ballerina Margot Fonteyn was heavily involved in a plot with Fidel Castro to overthrow Panama’s government, previously secret files revealed. (AP Photo/PA, File)



Related Articles
Cointelpro, Provacateurs and Disinfo Agents
UK has 5,700 "secret agents"
The Enemy Agent & You - 1960’s Counter-Espionage (Video) :)
British Secret Agent Chief’s Wife Outs Him As Speedo-Wearing Nazi Homie On Facebook
Martin Bormann was Rothschild Agent -- Damning Evidence
G. Edward Griffin Interviews former KGB Agent Yuri Bezmenov - Soviet Subversion of the Free World Press (Video)
Laurence Olivier was Churchill’s secret agent
RedIceRadio: Greg Hallett - Hitler Was a British Agent & New Zealand Corruption
US book accuses Ernest Hemingway of spying for KGB
Hemingway the spy, Hemingway the spied upon


Latest News from our Front Page

The Truth About Starbucks New Coconut Milk: It Isn’t Really Coconut Milk
2015-03-03 22:14
In an attempt to appeal to the non-dairy crowd, Starbucks is bringing “coconut milk” to the masses. After a successful trial run in select cities at the behest of their customers, Starbucks has decided to push forward with their dairy alternative. Providing a non-dairy alternative to dairy and soy is the second most requested customer idea of all time from MyStarbucksIdea.com, ...
USDA on board with shipping U.S. chickens to China for processing, then re-entry to States for human consumption
2015-03-03 21:32
“Chinese chicken” will soon have a whole new meaning, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently gave the green-light to four chicken processing plants in China, allowing chicken raised and slaughtered in the U.S. to be exported to China for processing, and then shipped back to the U.S. and sold on grocery shelves here. Furthermore, the imported processed ...
Feinstein: Netanyahu does not speak for all Jews
2015-03-03 21:52
US Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has denounced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as an “arrogant” man who does not speak for all Jews. The Jewish lawmaker made the remarks in an interview with CNN on Sunday ahead of Netanyahu's controversial visit to the United States. The Israeli premier arrived in Washington, DC, on Sunday night ...
Netanyahu to US: Don’t negotiate ‘bad deal’ with Iran
2015-03-03 21:12
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called on the United States not to negotiate “a very bad deal” with Iran over its nuclear energy program. Speaking at a joint session of the US Congress in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, Netanyahu said, “We’ve been told for over a year that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well this is a ...
School Textbook: “There’s No Such Thing as Reverse Racism” Only White People can be Racist
2015-03-03 2:14
Only white people can be racist. A school textbook teaches students that “there is no such thing as reverse racism” and that women can never be as sexist as men. The passage, which appears to be taken from a “multicultural education series” book entitled Is Everyone Equal, states, “STOP: There is no such thing as reverse racism or reverse sexism (or the ...
More News »