Last week was a key date in history for Cuba as it was announced that Cuban revolutionary dictator Fidel Castro succumbed to illness and passed away.
It’s quite an impressive feat that he died from these causes at the age of 90 considering the amount of assassination attempts there were against him, mostly from America. Cuban intelligence claimed that more than 600 attempts were made on his life, which ranged from poison in his milkshake to explosives in his cigar. He even said himself:
If surviving assassination attempts were an Olympic event, I would win the gold medal.
Here are just a collection of some of the weirdest and most outlandish attempts as outlined by MentalFloss, in no particular order:
Marita Lorenz, just one of many women Castro counted as a mistress, allegedly accepted a deal from the CIA in which she would feed him capsules filled with poison. She managed to get as far as smuggling the pills into his bedroom in her jar of cold cream, but the pills dissolved in the cream and she doubted her ability to force-feed Castro face lotion, and she also just chickened out.
While there’s nothing suspicious about receiving random diving gear from your enemy right in the middle of the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the CIA gave it a shot. 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 (and maybe worse). 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
An ordinary-looking pen would be rigged 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.
But this was no parlor trick – this cigar would have been packed with enough real 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.
They may have given up on the TNT stogie, but the idea of spiking his smokes was still being floated around. The CIA even 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
Knowing that Castro liked to scuba dive, the CIA made plans to plant an explosive device in a conch shell at his favourite spot. They plotted to make the shell brightly coloured 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.
Well, maybe not that brand specifically, but according to that 1975 Senate Intelligence Committee report, the U.S. believed that messing with Castro’s beard was messing with the man’s power. The CIA figured that the loss of the beard would show Cubans that Castro was weak and fallible. A half-baked scheme was hatched to use thallium salt, the chemical in depilatory products such as Nair, in Castro’s shoes or in his cigar. The chemical would be absorbed or inhaled and cause the famous facial hair to fall out.
In what was mostly an effort to discredit Fidel, not kill him, a radio station where Castro was giving a live broadcast would be bombarded with an aerosol spray containing a substance similar to LSD. When Fidel had the requisite freak out live on the air, Cubans would think he had lost his mind and stop trusting him.
Handkerchief with deadly bacteria
The CIA was seemingly obsessed with covering Fidel in harmful bacteria and toxins, because they also 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 unstick it, the capsule ripped open.
Wow – I’m surprised he even left the house. It’s impressive he managed to make it all the way to 90. I wonder if anyone’s ever tried to assassinate Kim Jong-un? Probably not – he has a hissy fit even when someone calls him fat.