Past US 'plots' against communist Cuba

Cuban counter-revolutionaries after their capture in the Bay of Pigs, Cuba. April 1961 The 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion was a fiasco, with many counter-revolutionaries killed or captured

Related Stories

Reports that the US created a text-message social network designed to foment unrest in Cuba are only the latest in a string of alleged attempts by Washington to bring regime change to its unwanted communist neighbour.

The earliest moves took the form of plots to kill or remove the island's revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro.

And they began almost immediately after the 1959 revolution that brought him to power.

In 1961, Cuban exile groups trained and backed by the American CIA came ashore at the Bay of Pigs, 100 miles (160km) south-east of Havana.

In response, Fidel Castro rallied tens of thousands of troops and citizens to repel them, and two days later he declared victory.

Fidel Castro watches a gymnastics display in Havana in 1962 Fidel Castro enjoyed a cigar, something the CIA is said to have tried to capitalise on

After that fiasco, the CIA hatched various plots to kill the Cuban leader and, under the codename of Operation Mongoose, several assassination ideas are said to have been floated.

Historians are still debating whether some of the reported plots were serious or just myths.

Perhaps the most famous was the idea that Fidel Castro would be slipped an exploding cigar that had been laced with a toxin.

Another is reported to have been a plan to place an explosive seashell close to where the Cuban leader was diving.

Yet another allegedly involved coating the inside of Fidel Castro's diving suit with a fungus that would cause a chronic skin disease.

A 2006 documentary called 638 Ways to Kill Castro, also claimed that a lover of the Cuban leader agreed to a CIA plot to smuggle a jar of cold cream containing poison pills into his room.

It is said that when he learned of her intentions, he gave her a gun and told her to kill him but instead she broke down, saying: "I can't do it, Fidel."

Children hold a banner 'Down with the blockade' in Havana in 2000 The trade embargo by the US has caused economic hardship in Cuba. This banner says "down with the blockade"

US policy towards Cuba eventually focused on its trade embargo against the island.

Cuba is still designated a "state sponsor of terrorism" by Washington, which complicates financial transactions with Havana and makes it difficult for it to raise capital.

Restrictions imposed by the US trade embargo bar Americans and any firms with US interests from doing business there.

Fidel Castro in March 2014 Fidel Castro, now 87, once said: "If surviving assassination attempts was an Olympic event, I would win the gold medal"

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More US & Canada stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • Cartoon of women chatting on the metroChat wagon

    The interesting things you hear in a women-only carriage


  • Replica of a cargo boxSpecial delivery

    The man who posted himself to the other side of the world


  • Music scoreFinal score Watch

    Goodbye to NYC's last classical sheet music shop


  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton checks her Blackberry from a desk inside a C-17 military plane upon her departure from Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, bound for Tripoli, Libya'Emailgate'

    Hillary gets a taste of scrutiny that lies ahead


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Audi R8Best in show

    BBC Autos takes a look at 10 of the most eye-catching new cars at the 2015 Geneva motor show

Programmes

  • A robotClick Watch

    The latest in robotics including software that can design electronics to solve problems

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.