When a person enters a position of power, they put themselves at risk for assassination. They could anger the wrong person, cause someone to develop an unnatural obsession or just be in the wrong place at the wrong time – namely in power. However, for these political leaders they were able to dodge the bullet, avoid the poison and live to see another day. This is by no means a comprehensive list as many political leaders have had more than one attempt on their life, but these list includes some of the most memorable.
1. Fidel Castro
The number of attempts on Fidel Castro is unknown. Fabian Escalante, a retired Chief of Cuba’s counterintelligence estimated 638 assassination attempts on Castro, which he blames on the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). 8 attempts by the CIA have been substantiated by Senate Committees. It is widely believed that the number is closer to 600 than 8 because of the CIA’s desire to get rid of Castro and put a new government in place in Cuba. Castro himself once said that “If surviving assassination attempts were an Olympic event, I would win the gold medal.”
It is not just the number of assassination attempts but the assassination plots themselves that makes Castro stand out. One assassination plot involved a bacteria infested scuba diving suit that was paired with a booby trapped conch shell placed on the bottom of the sea. Another of the stranger plots included a ballpoint pen with a hidden hypodermic syringe loaded with Blackleaf 40, which can stop the heart and cause the respiratory system to shut down. The CIA was also not above involving Castro’s lovers in order to get close enough to kill the dictator. There was even an attempt to destroy Castro’s beard as a method of character assassination.
While the entirety of the assassination plots against Castro is unknown there is plenty of evidence to suggest numerous assassination attempts were made by the CIA, the Department of Defense and the State Department. During the early 1960s the Kennedy Administration was determined to get rid of Castro and pushed the CIA to get the job done. The CIA became so desperate that they were willing to call upon the expertise of the mafia. The CIA reached out to Momo Dalvatore Giancana and Santo Trafficante two men on the FBI’s most wanted list and offered the men $150,000 for the death of Castro. They failed, just like every other assassination attempt on Castro.