Assasination of Patrice Lumumba?

In “The Poisonwood Bible,” Barbara Kingsolver aludes to the idea that Eisenhower ordered the assasination of Patrice Lumumba.

Is this actually true, or is it just one of things that is rumored to be true, but no one actually knows?

I tried looking up “patrice lumumba assasination” on Google, and got a few websites that said it WAS true, but there was a website who I couldnt go to because the server didnt have a DNS entry (or some such nonsense),whose Google blurb said “Top ten lies of Commercial and Political Advertising”; Previous message: Bill Falkowski: "Eisenhower ordered assasination of Patrice Lumumba,’ which makes me think maybe it is a commonly accepted falicy.

The Straight Dope, please.


Um. So there are no actual minutes saying that this actually happened? And anyway, the gist of the anecdote is not that Eisenhower ordered an assassination–the gist of it is that Dulles urged the “removal” of Lumumba, in much the same way that Dubya is urging the “removal” of the Taliban, and that the CIA decided to interpret Dulles’ suggestion as meaning “kill him”.

And it’s all from just the one guy, Johnson. And it’s just his personal “recollection”, 15 years after the fact. And nobody else has ever mentioned this.

Uh-huh. :rolleyes: Sounds like a big “nahh” to me. Can you say, “conspiracy theorist”?

Now, besides me, who ELSE is surprised that the Google-fiend answered this question??? :smiley:

I think it has been accepted for at least 19 years that the CIA’s man in Leopoldville, Larry Devlin, had a plan to kill Lumumba by putting poison on his toothpaste. This must have been at least approved, if not ordered, by the DCI. I doubt we will ever know for certain what the president knew and when he knew it.

According to “The Assassination of Lumumba” by Belgian sociologist Ludo de Witte, Sydney Gottlieb delivered the poison but it was never used. The Belgians had Lumumba transported to Katanga province and shot instead.

You can find an interesting US News and World Report article about the book’s contents at

Poison toothpaste, eh?

Thank you, Goose and Yeah, for the links!


In case you are interested…

A movie was released a month or two ago called “Lamumba” that seems to be a telling of how Patrice Lamumba came into power when the Belgian Congo gained it’s independence from France, and how a corrupt military officer and rival factions led to Lamumba’s house arrest, then to his capture while escaping that house arrest by another rival, who had Lamumba killed by the firing squad referenced in Yeah’s post.

I can’t really comment on the factuality of everything in the movie, but the implication is that America’s CIA presence there preferred working with the military guy, partly because of certain business interests and partly because Lamumba had threatened to ask the USSR for aid if he didn’t get it from the USA. It does not out and out say that America had anything to do with Lamumba’s death aside from supporting the people that toppled him from power, but that wouldn’t be inconsistent with the events portrayed in the movie either.

It was a small independent movie that played in only one theater here in LA for a couple of weeks, but it might be available on video soon.

Hell, this is a genuine surprise. I thought it was public knowledge by now that Lumumba’s death was a definite CIA hit. (I’ve known this since the late 70s; hasn’t everybody?) So much for the Washington Post…

For the record, U.S. officials regarded Lumumba as a wild card predisposed to going Castro’s leftie path. The U.S. couldn’t risk the mineral-rich, geographically central Congo falling into the growing Communist camp, inasmuch as key officials regarded it as a critical linchpin whose fall would cause the dominoes to keep tumlbing toward Southern Africa and then South Africa itself. According to very credible sources, after Lumumba was killed, he was stuffed into the trunk of an agent’s car (with protective plastic sheets), who then rode around with him in the sultry Congolese climate for two days.

The stench must have been unbearable.

[slight hijack]

I’m in the middle of an amazing book on Zaire/Congo:

I’ve been telling people some of the stories from the book, and they think I’m making the stuff up. What a messed up country.

[/slight hijack]