Fidel Castro, Cuba’s revolutionary former president who famously survived over 600 assassination attempts, has died at the age of 90, as announced by his brother on national television last night.
The Communist leader ruled his country as a one-party state from 1959 to 2008, spending much of the time standing up to the US government, which got him caught in the crosshairs of the CIA.
From an exploding cigar and sea shells to a poisonous fountain pen and a mafia-style execution, the US intelligence agency made countless attempts to get rid of Castro in the 60s.
The former Cuban president famously said:
“If surviving assassination attempts were an Olympic event, I would win the gold medal.”
The man in charge of protecting Castro claims that he dodged 638 CIA plots to assasinate him.
One of the more devious plots was when they hired his ex-mistress Marita Lorenz to feed him capsules of poison.
They told Lorenz that when she suddenly fell ill whilst pregnant, it was actually the result of Castro’s secret arrangement to abort their child.
Castro found out that she was there to assassinate him, and responded by putting a gun in Lorenz’s hand, telling her to shoot him, but she could not bring herself to carry it out.
“Then he took a puff on his cigar and closed his eyes. He made himself vulnerable because he knew I couldn’t do it. He still loved me and I still loved him.”
This was only one of many assassination attempts Castro wittingly evaded.
He was one of the longest-ruling heads of state in the world, and no other has been the victim of such Machiavellian attempts as placing chemical powder in his boots meant to make his beard fall out when he was in New York to speak at the United Nations.
When that failed, the CIA planned to give him a box of cigard tainted with LSD so that the leader would laugh and embarrass himself during a television interview.
The apparently immortal leader was reported dead twice throughout his presidency, before emerging as a survivor.
The CIA developed a strange relationship with the Cuban Mafia, who agreed to assassinate Castro for free, but then the communist leader exiled mafia-run business back to the US.
By the skin of his teeth, Castro evaded the capsules, which were supposed to be emptied into his favourite chocolate milkshake, because they stuck to the freezer they were kept in, and burst when the ‘waiter’ went to get the poison…that was the closest the CIA got to assassinating Fidel.
The CIA were foiled numerous times, especially when US attorney James B Donovan, who was meant to administer the an operation to hand Castro a dive suit contaminated with deadly ‘tuberculosis bacteria’, struck up a friendship with the Cuban leader and halted the attempt.
The 2006 British documentary 638 Ways to Kill Castro cited that ‘more people have tried to murder the world’s most famous socialist than any man alive.’
When celebrating his 90th birthday, Castro described his survival to such a ripe old age as ‘the whim of fate’ and that he had ‘almost laughed at the Machiavellian plans of the US Presidents’.
With the numerous other people trying to kill him, Fidel thought it right to stop killing himself with cigars and gave them up in 1985 as well as switching to a vegetarian diet in aid of his health.
Raúl Castro, his younger brother, assumed presidency of Cuba in 2006 after Fidel survived a near-fatal intestinal ailment.
The ‘commander in chief of the Cuban revolution’, as announced by Raúl, will be cremated.
The posthumous announcement was concluded with the famous revolutionary slogan ‘Onwards to victory!’.
Whether a friend or foe of Fidel Castro, it can be agreed that he left an extraordinary mark on history.