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Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

In 634 Ways to Kill Fidel, Fabián Escalante, the founder of the Cuban intelligence services, and head of the Cuban State Security Department, provides a sprawling account of the various creative, often cartoonish, yet obviously disturbing attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro. We’ve compiled a few of the most, at the least on their face, Looney Tunes-esque assassination attempts to share with you today. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll find yourself pleasantly tickled by their bumbling buffoonery. 

The Milkshake—

In March of 1963, a counterrevolutionary working with the CIA was stationed at the Havana Libre café in Cuba. He was instructed to poison Fidel Castro's dessert, a chocolate milkshake. He failed, spilling the toxin in the kitchen of a café.

Adding insult to injury, the agent had to watch in despair as Castro enjoyed the regular milkshake that the would-be assassin had prepared himself.

The Seashell—

Castro loved the beach, and thought seashells were great, so the CIA planned to fill a beautiful seashell with explosives. The idea was this: when Castro felt compelled to pick up the shell, the seashell would detonate. Unfortunately for them, they failed to find an appropriately enticing location to place the shell, and thus Castro's life was spared.

The Shoes—

In September of 1960, Fidel Castro was in New York City. While in New York, his shoes were sprinkled with thallium salts, which were designed to make his beard fall out. It was assumed that Castro would be so upset by this, that he would reach for a nearby cigar, which, coincidentally, had been laced with chemicals.

The Softball—

It was simply, really. They would paint a bomb to resemble a softball, and then they would throw it at Castro.

They missed.

The Vat of Molten Metal—

Fidel Castro frequently toured the various working facilities of Cuba—farms, factories, etc.—and in October of 1971, several people were arrested at a steel mill where they had been planning to simply push Castro into a giant vat of molten metal.

The Video Camera— 

Two assassins, posing as journalists, were to attend a press conference given by Castro. They had brought with them a video camera, which had been secretly hollowed out to contain a .357 revolver. The idea was to point the camera at Castro and fire the gun out through the lens. The assassins backed out because even they knew this was a bad idea.


These stories, and 628 others, can be found in 634 WAYS TO KILL FIDEL — a vital history of all the different ways that US agents, counterrevolutionaries, mobsters, and vigilantes attempted to silence Castro and what he stood for.

Fabián Escalante, the founder of the Cuban intelligence services, and head of the Cuban State Security Department, provides a clear-eyed first-person account of his experiences defending Castro from the extraordinary attempts to take his life. Written in the style of a political thriller, but filled with historical details on Fidel, Cuba, the communist movement, and US attempts to silence rebellion, this book clarifies the inherent danger that comes with fighting for a better world.

634 Ways to Kill Fidel illuminates the threat Castro and the Cuban revolutionary movement posed to US hegemony. The result is a disturbing portrait of how US tax dollars fund campaigns to stifle dissent and attempt to rupture movements in the Global South fighting for sovereignty, justice, self-determination, and ultimately a better world.

"Assassination plans devised against Fidel Castro over many years involved weapons such as lethal poisons, powerful plastic explosives, cigars containing dangerous substances, grenades to be launched in public areas, guns with sophisticated telescopic sights, poison-filled syringes so fine that contact with the skin would be unnoticed, rocket launchers and bazookas, and explosive charges concealed in underground drains with a timer ticking down the minutes and seconds."

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