During his long life, the deceased Cuban revolutionary leader was subject to countless assassination plots led by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Here are some of the most bizarre ways in which they tried to bring Castro down.
Castro was known for keeping multiple mistresses, and one of them was allegedly convinced by the CIA to poison him. Marita Lorenz later recounted how poison pills were smuggled into Castro’s quarters in her cosmetic cream, but they had dissolved by the time she tried to get them out.
Castro was also known to enjoy an ice cream, and the sweet treat came close to becoming his downfall after the CIA used its Mafia contacts to pass a poison vial to a worker at a restaurant in Havana. The plan was to put it in Castro’s ice cream when he came in, and although it ultimately failed, it has been said that the ice cream plot was one of the attempts on Castro’s life that came closest to succeeding.
The Cuban leader was keen on scuba diving, so research was made into an exploding seashell that would kill him underwater. It might sound unlikely, but CIA records show that it was definitely considered as an option.
The CIA also came up with a cunning plan to infect a wetsuit with bacteria and spores before passing it to Castro as a gift. Given that the plot came about during the historic Bay of Pigs invasion by US-backed dissidents, it’s probably fair to say that Castro would have been suspicious, but top marks for trying.
A known dissident was given a ballpoint pen that hid a needle so fine it could inject Castro with poison with him noticing. The CIA might have thought it was a good plan, but the dissident reportedly complained about the device and wondered why the Americans couldn’t ‘come up with something more sophisticated than that’.
There are so many photos of Castro with a cigar that it can seem as if he chain-smoked them, and his tastes likely inspired this plot. Pack a cigar with explosives, switch it with a normal one during his visit to the United Nations in 1960 and stand back as he sparked it up and blew his own head off. Needless to say, that one didn’t work, either.
Another cigar-based plot involved impregnating Castro’s smokes with a powerful toxin known as botulin. A few goes on this CIA cigar and Castro wouldn’t have been long for this world, but the double agent earmarked for the job got cold feet, so it seems that the Cuban leader had yet another in a long line of lucky escapes.