Frisky Fidel Castro, that bewhiskered communist leader of Cuba, boasted in the 1970s that he’d survived two dozen assassination attempts. Any national leader has to contend with coup plotters, backstabbers, and other overzealous countrymen, but Castro’s story was unique: He had survived two dozen CIA assassination attempts. Twenty-four might be an embellishment — the CIA admitted to only eight — but Castro has some proof. The CIA recently declassified a good portion of its past, which has been catalogued in the State Department’s forthcoming Cuba, 1961-1962.
One revealing memo describes the CIA’s vision of assassinations: outsourcing! In August 1960, Langley’s finest contacted the Chicago Mafia and offered them $150,000 to mount a “sensitive operation against Fidel.” The Mob, itching to get back their Havana casinos, not only agreed to the Castro “project” — they agreed to knock him off for free.
The agency graciously accepted the family discount, then paid the Mob about $11,000 in expenses and equipment, only to withdraw the offer entirely after the Bay of Pigs snafu. Apparently, they had domestic problems to deal with — perhaps the CIA will someday declassify memos on the “Kennedy project.”