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THE PERFECT GAME
- Exploding cigar
- Exploding seashell
- Exploding podium
- Poison capsules
- Poisoned writing pen
- Poisoned SCUBA suit
- Hiring hitmen straight off the FBI's Most Wanted list
These harebrained schemes might call to mind Wil E. Coyote's attempts to ensnare the Roadrunner, but they were in actual fact developed by the so-called intelligence officers at the CIA, with the intention to kill Fidel Castro. Strangely, given the Cuban leader's well-known love for baseball, the brain trust at Langley didn't try to sneak nerve agents into Castro's leather glove or at the very least smear icy hot inside his jock strap.
The Agency came up with a more straightforward assassination plot while concocting the Bay of Pigs invasion, which called for snipers to target the Cuban leader. Those plans collapsed along with the larger invasion after the US withdrew air support, stranding the 1500-strong insurgents it had trained and financed. Abandoned by the USA, the insurgents surrendered to Castro, which humiliated the United States and lionized Castro among Cubans and anti-imperialists worldwide.
The CIA once again tripped over its own dick when it enlisted Marita Lorenz, one of Castro's lovers. In a 1993 interview with Vanity Fair, Lorenz recounted that after being supplied with deadly pills by the CIA, she faltered when Castro suspected her plans and directly challenged her to take him out, saying:
He leaned over, pulled out his .45, and handed it to me. He didn’t even flinch. And he said, "You can’t kill me. Nobody can kill me." And he kind of smiled and chewed on his cigar ... I felt deflated. He was so sure of me. He just grabbed me. We made love.
Sound far-fetched? So does Lorenz's claim that she rode shotgun to Dallas with rifleman Lee Harvey Oswald. But it's no more ridiculous than tainting a cigar with botulinum toxin, or infecting a wetsuit with tubercle bacilli. By following grandiose planning with inept field work, the CIA gave Castro an air of invincibility, ultimately making him a living folk hero.
Aboard an airplane bound for New York City in 1979, a reporter asked Castro if he was wearing his bulletproof vest. "What vest?" Castro asked. "Everyone says you wear a bullet-proof vest," the reporter said. Castro, heading into a country that had tried to kill him hundreds of times, unbuttoned his olive-green military shirt to reveal his bare chest. He smiled at the reporter and explained, "I have a moral vest."