The exploding cigar attempt is under much debate as to whether or not it really happened. The attempt, if it happened, was during Castro’s visit to the United Nations in 1960. It was reported by the Saturday Evening Post that a CIA agent approached Michael J. Murphy, the New York City police chief inspector, to let him know about a plan to kill Castro with an exploding cigar.
There are several sources that cite the exploding cigar as truth, and the attempt became part of popular discourse and something of a running joke. It was even featured on the cover of Mad Magazine with Castro smoking a cigar that was about to blow up. Despite the popularity and the reporting of the plan, there are many who believe there never was such a plot.
One source says that it is simply a myth, another that it was just something for the tabloids. One source even says that while it was an idea that was floated by the CIA, it was never one that they took seriously or acted upon. The source claimed that it became something to tell anyone that questioned them about whether or not they were plotting to kill Castro. It was supposed to be a funny way to deflect the questioning.
There are some who claim that it was a real plot but if it was, there were some problems with implementation. A cigar is relatively small and therefore it would be hard to fit enough explosives into it that would be certain to kill Castro. The timed fuse and knowing when and where Castro would light up the cigar would also have been problematic to the plot. Despite this, Fabian Escalante, Castro’s head of intelligence, has stated that the exploding cigar was one of hundreds of attempts on the communist leader’s life.