The American CIA Attempted to Assassinate Cuban Leader Fidel Castro Using a Scuba-Diving Suit

Fidel Castro speaking in Havana, 1978. <a href=Photo Credit." title="Fidel Castro speaking in Havana, 1978. Photo Credit." width="800" height="419" />
Fidel Castro speaking in Havana, 1978. Photo Credit.

The U.S. National Security Archive has published information that the CIA tried to assassinate Fidel Castro using a diving suit contaminated with Madura foot fungus and tuberculosis bacteria.

The idea behind this assassination was ridiculous, this Hollywood-type plot was that the CIA would get lawyer James Donovan, who had links to Castro, to unwittingly present the suit along with a watch as a gift. The diving suit was to be contaminated with tuberculosis prior to it being handed over to the Cuban leader. Both Donovan and Castro shared a passion for diving, so that was why the suit was chosen as the gift by the CIA.

Madura Foot X-Ray. Photo Credit.
Madura Foot X-Ray. Photo Credit.

The report alleges that the plot failed when a CIA lawyer Milan Miskovsky, who was also James Donovan’s handler for the meeting with Castro in 1963, warned Donovan to check that the suit had not been in any way tampered with by the CIA. Following this warning made by Miskovsky to Donovan, the CIA changed its mind about contaminating the suit and the plan was shelved.

The CIA were very eager to kill the Cuban leader, because, after his seized power in a revolution, he became an ally of the Soviet Union. Castro, even allowed nuclear weapons to be based on his island, that was aimed at Americans cities and military targets. To many in America, Castro was enemy number one.

Fidel Castro in 1959.
Fidel Castro in 1959.

This was not the first time the CIA had tried and failed to assassinate Castro, using its wide knowledge of his personal interests and pastimes for plot ideas. It’s alleged that the CIA once bought some scuba gear with the intention of planting explosives sea-deep in larger-than-usual shells, so that when Castro went diving and came across these unique shells, he would fall into their booby trap.

There have been other well-known attempts, such as the exploding cigar, which, when lit, was supposed to explode in Castro’s face. One of the last known attempts was made in 2000 by Miami exiles who plotted to blow up a hall where the Cuban leader was due to give a speech.

According to Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara, "A smoke in times of rest is a great companion to the solitary soldier."
According to Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara, “A smoke in times of rest is a great companion to the solitary soldier.”

Then there was the notorious and well-known claims that the American Mafia were enlisted by the CIA, to kill Castro. The Mafia hated Castro because he had seized all their gambling interests in Havana and ended their influence on the island.

The plotting against Castro ended when President Carter forbade any government agency to kill any political leaders anywhere in the world, in the 1970s.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE