Former Cuban President Fidel Castro’s death at 90 must be bittersweet to many, because it means they didn’t get to assassinate him. (At least, we think they didn’t.) There were literally hundreds of attempts on the dictator’s life, enough to fill a book called 634 Ways to Kill Fidel and a slightly more thorough documentary entitled 638 Ways to Kill Castro.
Indeed, during the Nixon administration alone there were reportedly 184such efforts. In general, the plans involved Cuban exiles, usually with CIA help.
Of course, not all assassination attempts are created equal. Here are the most audacious—if ultimately unsuccessful—approaches, helpfully listed in semi-alphabetical order.
A top priority was making the seashell so aesthetically alluring Castro would be unable to resist swimming up to it… meaning there was a gathering of hardened killers going, “This shell is pretty, but is it pretty enough?”
1. Cigar (exploding version). Supposed to have been given to him when he visited the UN.
2. Cigar (poison version). It was to have been contaminated with a botulinum toxin, but it never reached him.
3. Cigar (cancer). This technically wasn’t an official attempt, but even it ended when Castro quit smoking in 1985. It should be noted that by this point Castro had been in power since 1959 and had already outlasted Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter—Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush Junior would later join the list.
4. Chocolate milkshake. Like the cigar, it was to have been poisoned. Sadly, there does not seem to have been an exploding milkshake plot.
5. Grenade attack. One was planned for a baseball game but foiled.
6. Lady. A mistress was supposed to poison Castro but claimed the pills dissolved in her face cream.
7. Podium. An alleged 200 pounds of explosives were placed under it during an appearance in Panama, only to be discovered by his security team. Maybe if the assassins had only used 100 pounds of explosives, no one would have noticed.
8. Sniper. Yes, some of the ideas were downright conventional.
9. Seashell. Castro loved to scuba dive, so why not get him Little Mermaidstyle with a killing under the sea? Reportedly a top priority was making the shell so aesthetically alluring Castro would be unable to resist swimming up to it… meaning there was a gathering of hardened killers going, “This shell is pretty, but is it pretty enough?”
10. Wetsuit. What better way to kill a man than a wetsuit filled with deadly bacteria? There is no evidence anyone ever got this item into Castro’s wardrobe, much less convinced him to wear it, much less suggested he use it to swim up to an exploding seashell right after a big glass of poison chocolate milk. But the CIA still can dream…