Weird History
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10 Bizarre Plans The U.S. Government Had For Assassinating Fidel Castro

Updated October 29, 2019 7.9k views10 items

If there was one thing the United States hated during the Cold War, it was Communism, and Cuban President Fidel Castro was public enemy number one. The US government tried to assassinate him many times over the years, and the plots were as weird as they were unsuccessful. Of the more than 600 assassination attempts, the most extreme lengths the US went to kill Castro include the mob, ex-lovers, and exploding aquatic life.

The US government went to these lengths because Castro presented a major challenge to US hegemony in Latin America. The Cuban Revolution removed a strong ally from power when it overthrew US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959. US officials feared that other revolutionary groups would take power throughout the Americas, and the US would lose influence to the Soviet Union in the region. In response, the US subverted the Cuban Revolution and other political movements that did not promote American interests. And - in order to do this - they came up with some truly strange Fidel Castro assassination plots.

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  • The CIA Planned To Use Castro's Love Of Diving To Kill Him

    When the CIA learned that Castro was an avid scuba diver, it hatched a plot to turn the revolutionary’s love of exploring the underwater world against him. The spy agency discovered where the Cuban President enjoyed diving and developed a scheme to blow him up underwater. The agency planned to design an exploding conch shell that was so beautiful that Castro would be beckoned to examine it and when he did - boom! It would explode. This plan never left the aquarium, and the Cuban leader lived to be 90.

  • The Closest The CIA Came To Killing Castro Was By Poisoning His Milkshake

    When the CIA learned that Castro enjoyed milkshakes, the agency plotted to have one treated with botulin to kill him. The plan almost worked too. According to the former head of the Cuban Department of State Security, Fabian Escalante, an assassin managed to smuggle a poison capsule to a hotel the Cuban leader frequented, but it froze to the side of a freezer and could not be pried loose to taint his dessert. Of the 634 attempts on Castro, Escalante said that this was the closest he came to being assassinated. 

  • The CIA Planned To Give Castro A Contaminated Scuba Diving Suit That Would Kill Him

    Photo: Warren K. Leffler / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Castro's hobby of scuba diving was the inspiration for more than one assassination plot. This time, James B. Donovan (who was portrayed by Tom Hanks in the film Bridge of Spies) was to give the Cuban President a scuba diving suit as a gift during negotiations in return for releasing prisoners taken during the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. Unbeknownst to Castro, the suit was to be contaminated with Madura foot fungus and tuberculosis bacteria. Donovan was alerted to the plot and ensured that Castro was given an uncontaminated suit as a show of good faith during the negotiations. 

  • A Traitor Was To Inject Castro With Poison Using A Ballpoint Pen

    On November 22, 1963, the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, the CIA made contact with a Cuban operative code-named AM/LASH. The turncoat was apparently close enough to Castro that the agency gave him a ballpoint pen designed to inject the would-be target with poison. The assassin, however, was doubtful of the plan, claiming the CIA should be able to come up with something more "sophisticated," and never tried to use the device. He continued to work with the agency, though, and delivered weapons and carried out sabotage operations in Cuba.