Invulnerable Comandante: 10 most unusual assassination attempts on Cuban leader Fidel CastroBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/invulnerable-comandante-10-most-unusual-assassination-attempts-on-cuban-leader-fidel-castro
If you believe the biographers of Fidel Castro, then the Cuban leader, for his long and eventful life, was attacked 637 times. It is known that all these attempts failed and the comandante died in bed of old age, surrounded by family and friends. At the same time, Fidel has outlived several American presidents and countless other serious enemies. Let's remember the strangest ways that the enemy intelligence services resorted to to deprive the Cuban people of their permanent leader.
Before delving into the history of the assassination attempts, it is worth mentioning the person who owns the most unusual ideas of eliminating Castro. Edward Lansdale, an officer of the US Office of Strategic Services, led Operation Mongoose, whose goal was to change the state system in Cuba in any possible way, starting from the economic blockade and ending with the physical elimination of the country's leader and his inner circle.
Lansdale was an extraordinary man —extremely purposeful and possessing an incredible imagination. It is to him that we owe the fact that we can enjoy a real bond around the Cuban leader. Some methods of murder, invented by an American intelligence officer, cause laughter today, but do not forget that they were actually behind the serious work of dozens or even hundreds of professionals, a solid expenditure of money, time and effort.
The Americans, who have not yet learned from bitter experience, organized the first attempt using the classic method — the femme fatale. To do this, CIA agents recruited in 1960 a lovely brunette Marita Lorenz, who had a fleeting but passionate affair with a Cuban revolutionary a year before.
The plan was simple — Marita, who was given a strong tasteless poison in pills, had to go to Havana, seduce Castro again and put poison in the food during a romantic dinner. Initially, everything went like clockwork — Lorenz managed to arrange a meeting with Fidel and he was glad to have the opportunity to remember the past over dinner with his former mistress.
But already in the comandante's bedroom, Marita saw with horror that the poisonous pills hidden in a jar of face cream had become unusable, having lost their gelatin shell. This so unsettled the fatal beauty that she did not notice how Castro approached.
This was followed by a female hysteria, during which the potential victim of the assassination attempt even gave the hapless killer a gun so that she would fulfill her mission or finally calm down. As a result, Lorenz confessed her love to the comandante, was mercifully forgiven and immediately expelled from Liberty Island. That was the end of it — without casualties and tragedies.
In the same 1960, another attempt was made to assassinate Castro, which only by a lucky chance did not end successfully. In 1975, in one of the official memos of the CIA Medical Unit, information appeared that in February 1960, a box of poisoned cigars of Fidel's favorite Cohiba variety was made for the assassination of the commander.
The cigars were treated with botulinum and it was enough to take one of them in your mouth to get a lethal dose of the toxin. The fate of this product is unknown, but there are memories of Fabian Escalante, who headed the Cuban special services. The officer wrote in his memoirs that one poisoned Cohiba cigar was found on Castro's desk during his speech at the UN Assembly. It was not possible to find out who planted her policy, despite all efforts.
Realizing that Castro was protecting not only his entourage, but also fate itself, Edward Lansdale decided to switch to more extravagant methods of murder. He developed a unique plan to blow up the comandante in the sea while scuba diving. It is known that the Cuban leader was an avid diver and the CIA decided to use this passion to the maximum.
Fidel Castro loved to dive in the same picturesque bay, enthusiastically exploring the bottom and its bright inhabitants. Lansdale decided to stuff one of the shells with powerful explosives and provide a remote-controlled detonator. It was decided to use a bright and unusual shell, which the diver will probably want to take a closer look at. The explosion was to be carried out by CIA agents stationed on board a submarine lurking nearby.
This idea failed at the project stage. Lansdale, choosing a shell typical of the Caribbean, realized with chagrin that the mollusks common in the area were too tiny to fit enough explosives into their shell for sabotage.
The charismatic and principled Cuban leader simply generated enemies and detractors. One of such dangerous enemies was Felix Rodriguez, whose father held a high state post under the deposed Castro dictator Batista. After fleeing Cuba at the age of 17, the guy came to the attention of CIA agents and did not have to be persuaded to take part in the assassination attempt on Fidel.
In 1961, before the Bay of Pigs invasion, Felix arrived in Cuba as part of a secret mission aimed at preparing a counter-revolutionary uprising. On one of the difficult days for the squad, tired of hiding in the wooded mountains, Rodriguez picked up a sniper rifle and told his colleagues that he would go to Fidel right now and finish him off, completing the operation.
It will sound strange, but the attempt failed because of the vanity of Felix's associates, who said they wanted to take part in the coup and personally avenge the commander for numerous insults. The assassination attempt did not take place, the uprising failed, and most of its participants died. Rodriguez miraculously turned out to be among the few survivors and received the nickname "Lazarus" for his miraculous rescue.
Fidel's passion for diving clearly haunted Lansdale and he made another "sea" attempt to fulfill his deadly mission. In 1962, American lawyers, headed by James Donovan, managed to achieve some success in negotiations with the Cuban authorities.
The Americans have returned 1,113 hostages who were taken to Cuban prisons after the failure of the operation in the Bay of Pigs. To thank the Cubans for such an act of loyalty, the US government sent a shipment of humanitarian aid to the Island of Freedom, for a huge sum of $53 million at that time.
Donovan himself planned to present Fidel Castro with a diving suit of a new model, knowing for sure that the comandante would like the gift. The CIA treated the gift with strains of two deadly bacteria at once — a tubercle bacillus was placed in the respiratory filters, and the lower part of the suit was treated with a drug of a rare disease called "Madura foot".
And this time Lansdale and his team were in for a setback. The specialists of the Medical Unit were busy for too long and did not have time to hand over the deadly gift in a timely manner. When the "H" hour came, Donovan, in order not to arouse suspicion, was forced to present Castro with an ordinary diving suit, which Fidel was delighted with like a child.
In 1963, one of the close associates in the guerrilla war of Raul Castro, the brother of the Cuban leader, came out to CIA agents. This man's name was Rolando Cubela and he claimed to have a personal score with the Comandante. According to the traitor, it will not be difficult for him to kill Fidel, since he is part of the Cuban leader's inner circle and even owns a beach house next to Castro by the sea.
For the assassination attempt, Lansdale's team designed and manufactured a syringe disguised as a fountain pen. A capsule with the strongest poison was hidden inside the product, and the retractable needle was so thin that its prick could not be felt. And again, providence took care of saving Castro — at the moment when a CIA agent was instructing Kubela how to use spy weapons, his phone rang.
The call brought bad news — US President John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas and all special operations were temporarily suspended. Therefore, the deadly pen never fell into the hands of patrizan, a traitor who had a good potential.
In 2007, documents were declassified, which contained information that not only the fantasist Lansdale, but also more respectable people were engaged in organizing attempts on Fidel Castro. One of the organizers was the notorious Allen Dulles, the sworn enemy of all communist regimes on the planet.
Dulles decided that if the CIA's agents were not up to the task, it was better to involve people who had made death their profession. At the end of 1960, through agent Robert Mayhew, contact was established with the Chicago mafia. On behalf of some "international companies" Robert offered gangsters 150 thousand dollars for the murder of the Cuban leader in any way convenient for them.
The mafia also had its own interest in this enterprise — with the coming to power of the Communists, numerous casinos, clubs and brothels, owned by bosses of mafia families, disappeared from the island of Freedom. To implement the plan, the mafia attracted a retired Cuban official who was supposed to put one of 6 poison pills in Castro's food.
This plan failed because the performer unexpectedly refused to perform the task, citing the fact that Castro was too well guarded. The mafia did not have a second chance, since the fighting began in the Bay of Pigs. After a while, already in 1963, Dulles returned to the plan with the involvement of criminal elements.
Another former Cuban official dissatisfied with Fidel was found, who was given poison pills through Chicago mafiosi. At the last moment, the performer also demanded small arms with a solid ammunition. Having received what he wanted, this man disappeared without a trace, leaving American intelligence "with a nose", and the mafia in perplexity.
American special services also attempted to discredit Castro in front of his people. In 1961, a CIA technical unit was seriously developing a plan to spray a drug similar in effect to LSD in a radio studio, from where Castro liked to address Cubans.
The Comandante was a natural speaker and could speak passionately for several hours. At the Third Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba in 1986, Fidel Castro "pushed" a speech for 7 hours and 10 minutes, and his speech at the UN, lasting more than 4 hours, remained in the history of the organization as the longest.
The CIA hoped that after inhaling narcotic fumes, Castro would start to lose his way or talk nonsense. According to the Americans, this should have caused irreparable damage to the image of the head of Cuba. The LSD project remained on paper, as the technical specialists of the intelligence agency were unable to create an effective narcotic aerosol.
It just so happened that 1960 was the most fruitful year for Castro for assassination attempts. Another secret development designed to bring the invulnerable Fidel to the grave was a handkerchief infected with deadly bacteria. The accessory was planned to be thrown to the Cuban leader in the office or on the podium, and the result would not take long to wait.
It is not known for sure whether there was an attempt to slip a handkerchief to the commander, but it is obvious that if there was, it was unsuccessful. As well as the second attempt to eliminate the objectionable politician — the same handkerchief decorated with spectacular embroidery was sent as a gift to Iraqi Prime Minister Abdel Kerim Qasem. Oddly enough, at that time the parcel simply did not reach the addressee.
A tobacco product filled with explosives was another invention of the CIA, which then everyone categorically disavowed. A cigar was planned to be planted by Castro during his speech at the UN in 1962, but no one did it.
The details of the preparation for the assassination attempt became known to sensationalist journalists and already in 1963 the whole world knew about the stupid idea. The cover of MAD magazine is well known, where Castro was depicted lighting up a cigar with a sticker hinting at its filling. Later, the CIA disavowed this assassination attempt, saying that it was invented specifically to distract attention from the preparation of real special operations.
In addition to these cases, there were many other attempts to eliminate Castro, for example, toxic thallium in shoes, a milkshake with botulin and a booby-trapped podium for speeches. As you can see, luck did not accompany the CIA and the comandante did not become a victim of political murder.