Even before the dramatic failure of the military offensive at the Bay of Pigs, the US had been planning less overt methods for removing Fidel Castro from power. Fabián Escalante, the former head of Cuban State Security, claims that between 1959 and 1963 over six hundred plots were hatched to kill the Cuban president, which became more devious and ludicrous as the US grew increasingly desperate to take out the communist leader. In 1960, during a visit which Castro was making to the UN, it was planned that he be given a cigar which would explode in his face, while back in Cuba, in 1963, Rolando Cubela, who had been a commander in the rebel army, was given a syringe disguised as a pen to be used in an assassination attempt. The Mafia also took a stab at killing Castro with their poison pill plot, but got no further than their CIA counterparts. Some of the more outlandish schemes included poisoning a diving suit, poisoning a cigar, leaving an explosive shell on a beach frequented by Castro and spraying LSD in a television studio in the hope of inducing an attack of uncontrollable – and presumably fatal – laughter.

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