Late Cuban President Fidel Castro maintained an obsession with milk throughout his life, even creating a genetic engineering project to produce high dairy yield cows.
Castro and the communist regime sought to produce a cow as early as 1966 that could break dairy production records in the neighboring United States, to prove the agricultural superiority of the regime. Castro was particularly taken with the idea of producing a “100 liter cow,” which would contend with the single day record for milk production with a U.S. cow at the time.
Castro’s dream was realized in June, 1982, when one of his cows, Ubre Blanca, produced 109.5 liters of milk in a single day. Ubre Blanca also reportedly produced 24,268.9 liters of milk in a single 305-day lactation cycle, shattering another dairy production record. Ubre Blanca’s obituary was featured on the front page of the leading Cuban newspaper, which lamented, “She gave her all for the people.”
Castro was so distraught by the loss of his miracle cow that he had her body stuffed, tissue samples taken for geneticists, and commissioned a marble statue of her. When U.S. scientists successfully cloned Dolly the Sheep in 1996, he immediately ordered Cuban scientists to clone Ubre Blanca.
“If we discover a technique — if another Ubre Blanca is found, or a prodigious descendant of Ubre Blanca — what can prevent us from immediately applying this practice everywhere across the country, to all the cows of Cuba?” he said excitedly. As late as 2002 the Cuban director of the project said, “We’re very close … we have big things coming,” elaborating “this project is very important to Comandante Castro.”
Castro’s cow obsession, likely stems from his love of dairy products and notorious sweet tooth. Castro was so taken with ice cream, he reportedly ordered his ambassador to ship him 28 different flavors of Howard Johnson Ice Cream in the late 1960s. After he tried all of them, Castro declared publicly that the “Cuban revolution must produce a quality ice cream of its own.”
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