Killing Castro: Time Won, America Failed

Killing Castro: Time Won, America Failed

Our podcast will tell you the story of some of the numerous attempts to kill Cuba's iconic former president Fidel Castro.


Voiced by Vivica Williams

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On November 25, 2016, Cuba's iconic former president Fidel Castro died at the age of 90. He was a revolutionist and politician who lead Cuba as prime minister or president for 47 years. In 1959, he drove into Havana, the capital city, after overthrowing the elected president. He brought communism to the country and a long dictatorship. Only Queen Elizabeth II has been in power longer than Castro was.

But this story isn't about Castro and his life. This story is about killing Castro. Or rather, all the times the US tried to kill Castro but failed. Cuba's secret service says there were at least 634 attempts to kill Castro over his lifetime (not all by the US). Between 1959 and 1965, the US Central Intelligence Agency, or CIA, tried to kill the leader at least eight times and maybe more.

The CIA tried to poison Castro many times. They tried poison pens, poison scuba suits, poison milkshakes and other crazy methods. The most famous attempt was the box of poisoned cigars. Castro loved to smoke cigars. In the most well-known photos, he is usually pictured with one in the corner of his mouth. The CIA made a box of poisoned cigars and had them delivered to Cuba. The box got to Cuba, but didn't get to Castro.

Of course, the CIA also tried to kill Castro with assassins. Marita Lopenz claims that the CIA asked her to kill the leader in 1959. She was his former lover. Marita says Castro's men found the poison pills. Castro asked if she was there to kill him. When she said yes, he gave her his gun. But she couldn't kill him. He said ‘You can't kill me. Nobody can kill me'. Then, as if in a James Bond movie, he grabbed her, and they made love.

Despite all the attempts, Castro lived until a ripe old age. Time succeeded where the US failed.