Fidel Castro - the man no one could kill

Fidel Castro (Reuters)
Fidel Castro (Reuters)

Fidel Castro, the man who overthrew a dictator and became one himself, lived a long life.

It wasn't plain sailing; his security chief once claimed there had been no fewer than 638 attempts on Mr Castro's life, all unsuccessful.

Documents released over the years have detailed the CIA's obsession with taking out the only Communist leader in the Americas, and the outlandish methods of execution they dreamed up.

Mr Castro lived to be 90, outliving all the US Presidents who wanted him dead. Here are some of the strangest ways they tried.

The same day US President John F Kennedy was assassinated, former Cuban revolutionary-turned-CIA-agent Rolando Cubela Secades was dispatched to kill Mr Castro, armed with a syringe loaded with poison and disguised as a ballpoint pen.

He failed and was jailed.

Documents released in the 1990s revealed the CIA once planned to kill Mr Castro by filling a large Caribbean mollusc with explosives. Mr Castro was an avid scuba diver, and the CIA hoped he'd be attracted to the deadly trap if it was painted brightly.

The plan was shelved.

Another abandoned diving-themed plan involved making the Presidente a custom diving suit that would give him a debilitating skin disease.

He was meant to be given the wetsuit as a sign of goodwill during negotiations over prisoners caught during the Bay of Pigs invasion.

It never happened.

It sounds like something James Bond would use, but the CIA once planned to literally blow Mr Castro's face off with an exploding cigar. A cigar loaded with botulism was also prepared, but didn't find its way to him.

Mr Castro - wisely - quit smoking in the mid-1980s.

Fidel Castro - the man no one could kill

Fidel Castro (Getty)

An ex-lover of Mr Castro's recruited by the CIA was meant to kill him with poison pills, but they melted in the cold cream jar she was hiding them in. According to her, Mr Castro figured out what she was meant to do and offered her a much more effective weapon - a pistol - to finish the job.

"I can't do it, Fidel," she reportedly admitted.

This probably wouldn't have been fatal, but perhaps would have made him do something crazy that would end his life. The CIA once planned to spray an LSD aerosol in his vicinity while he was giving a speech broadcast on state television.

None of Mr Castro's infamously long speeches appear to have been made under the influence of hallucinogens.

Not even the end of the Cold War could stop attempts on Castro's life. In 2000, explosives were placed under a podium where he was due to speak in Panama. His security team found them.

Four were arrested and later pardoned, one ending up living in Florida where there is a strong anti-Castro Cuban community.

That plan, too, failed.

A Senate Intelligence Committee report in 1975 revealed there was once a plot to assassinate Mr Castro's beard.

The theory went if Mr Castro lost his beard, he'd appear weak and lose support. A plan to poison his cigars or shoes with thallium salt, an ingredient used in hair-loss products, was hatched.

It was never enacted.

Fidel Castro - the man no one could kill

Fidel Castro (Getty)

In 1963, the CIA tried to kill Mr Castro with a milkshake. The plan was foiled when the pill got stuck to the freezer and ripped open when the assassin, dressed as a waiter, tried to pull it out.

The milkshake was fine.

With all their convoluted plots failing, the CIA eventually resigned itself to just blowing him up. It was meant to happen in the early 1960s at Ernest Hemingway's farm, which was being converted into a museum.

The plan was never carried out.