Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro died yesterday.
In February of 1959 Fidel Castro became the Prime Minister of Cuba. Since then, according to the man who was charged with protecting him for most of his regime, he’s survived over 600 assassination attempts. Fabian Escalante, the former head of the Cuban Secret Service, claims that the assassination endeavors break down like this: the Eisenhower administration tried to kill Castro 38 times; Kennedy, 42; Johnson, 72; Nixon, 184; Carter, 64; Reagan, 197; Bush Sr, 16; Clinton, 21. There are only so many different ways you can ambush someone with a sharpshooter, so some of the ways the CIA plotted to kill Castro were pretty wild. Here are just a few of the unorthodox methods considered to oust the Beard.
Marita Lorenz, one of many women Castro was involved with had allegedly accepted a deal from the CIA in which she would feed him capsules filled with poison. Though she managed to smuggle the capsules in his bedroom in her jar of cold cream, but failed to feed him. According to Lorenz, Castro somehow figured out her plan and offered her his gun. “I can’t do it, Fidel,” she told him.
In 1975, the Senate Intelligence Committee claimed it had “concrete evidence” of a plan to offer Castro a wetsuit lined with spores and bacteria that would give him a skin disease. The plan supposedly involved American lawyer James B Donovan, who would present Castro with the suit when he went to negotiate the release of the Bay of Pigs prisoners. A 1975, AP report said the plan was abandoned, “Because Donovan gave Castro a different diving suit on his own initiative.”
Ballpoint hypodermic syringe
A pen with a hypodermic needle so fine that Castro wouldn’t notice when someone bumped into him with the pen and injected him with an extremely potent poison. This plan, however, never got materialised.
Cigar was one thing which remained closer to Castro than anybody else. CIA reportedly had planned to pack a Cigar with explosives to take Fidel’s head off. In 1967, the Saturday Evening Post reported that a New York City police officer had been propositioned with the idea and hoped to carry it out during Castro’s United Nations visit in September 1960.
Another method involving Cigar was involved in February 1961 when CIA went as far as to recruit a double agent who would slip Castro a cigar filled with botulin, a toxin that would kill the leader in short order. The double agent was allegedly given the cigars in February of 1961, but he apparently got cold feet.
Exploding conch shell
Castro was fond of scuba diving and knowing it, CIA planned to plant an explosive device in a conch shell at his favourite spot. They plotted to make the shell brightly colored and unusual looking so it would be sure to attract Castro’s attention, drawing him close enough to kill him when the bomb inside went off.
The CIA had once reportedly though of this idea to cover Fidel in harmful bacteria and toxins. They considered giving him a germ-covered hankie that would make him very ill.
According to Escalante, the closest the CIA ever came to killing Castro was a deadly dessert drink in 1963. The attempt went awry when the pill stuck to the freezer where the waiter-assassin at the Havana Hilton was supposed to retrieve it. When he tried to remove it, the capsule ripped open.