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Context of 'October 7, 1960 and February 13,1961: CIA Poisons Cigars for Castro'

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The CIA’s Technical Services Division (TSD) considers plans to undermine Fidel Castro’s charismatic appeal by sabotaging his speeches. At one point, there is discussion of spraying Castro’s broadcasting studio with a hallucinogenic chemical. The plan is taken of the shelf because the chemical is deemed unreliable. During this period, the TSD laces a box of cigars with a chemical that would produce temporary disorientation, hoping that he will smoke one of the cigars before giving a speech. In another instance, the TSD comes up with a scheme to dust Castro’s shoes with thallium salts during a trip outside of Cuba. The salts would cause his beard to fall out. The plan is abandoned when Castro cancels the trip. (US Congress 12/18/1975)

The CIA plans an operation to poison Fidel Castro, as well as his brother Raul and Che Chevarra, with pills containing botulinum toxin. The plan drags on for more than two years, but is ultimately aborted. (US Congress 12/18/1975; Central Intelligence Agency Inspector General 1/1996)

A CIA official laces a box of Fidel Castro’s favorite cigars with botulinum toxin that is “so potent… a person would die after putting in his mouth.” The box of poisoned cigars is then delivered to an unnamed person who is instructed to deliver them to Castro. It is not known what happens to the cigars or if Castro ever receives them. (US Congress 12/18/1975; Central Intelligence Agency Inspector General 1/1996)

While a US emissary is meeting with Fidel Castro to discuss the possibility of improved relations, a CIA official offers a poison pen to a Cuban, hoping that it will be used by Fidel Castro. (US Congress 12/18/1975)


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