638 ways to kill Castro: CIA’s bizarre attempts to kill Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro led Cuba for nearly five decades. Despite the  U.S.-backed exile invasion at the Bay of Pigs and five decades of economic sanctions, Castro outlasted nine U.S. presidents and survived US attempts to kill him.

Fabian Escalante, who protected Castro for 49 years, claimed that Castro survived 638 attempts to assassinate him, ranging from a toxic cigar to a poisonous fountain pen, mostly during the 1960s.

The attempts were part of Operation Mongoose- a CIA program to take down the Cuban government.

The 1975 Church Committee, who examined the CIA’s development of “executive action” capability, found that US initiated several plots to kill world leaders including Fidel Castro. The committee substantiated eight attempts by the CIA to assassinate Castro.

A documentary film entitled ‘638 Ways to Kill Castro’ depicted some of the failed assassination plots.

Here are some of the bizarre plots:

  1. Exploding Cigar: The bizarre plot was suggested by a New York police officer. The cigar would have contained explosives strong enough to blow Castro’s head clean off.
  2. Hair removal: Americans thought Castro’s popularity will be undermined if his facial hairs were to fall out!. So, US thought about trying to slip chemicals in his shoes and cigar.
  3. LSD: The plan was to spray LSD-like substance into a radio station where Castro was giving a live radio broadcast. When Castro freaked out live on the air, Cubans would think he had gone insane and eventually would stop trusting him.
  4. Poisoned milkshake: According to Escalante, this was the closest attempt by CIA ever came to killing Fidel, but the attempt failed when the poisoned pill destined for the drink stuck to the freezer and ripped open when the waiter-assassin tried to retrieve it.
  5. Femme Fatale: Marita Lorenz, Castro’s lover, allegedly accepted a deal from the CIA to feed him poisonous capsules. She hid them in her face cream, but it got dissolved.
  6. Poisoned wetsuit: During the Bay of Pigs Invasion, there was a plan by CIA to offer Castro a wetsuit lined with spores and bacteria that would give him a skin disease. But the plan failed when American lawyer James B Donovan, who was assigned to gift the suit to Fidel, backed out and gifted another wetsuit.
  7. Deadly pen: The plan was to rig an ordinary pen with a hypodermic needle so fine that someone could injected him with the potent poison and Castro would never notice until he died.

Regarding the numerous assassination, Castro once said “”If surviving assassination attempts were an Olympic event, I would win the gold medal.”

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