Fidel Castro, Man of 634 Lives

The Cuban leader was never supposed to make it to the age of 90.

Someone had to do it. In the wake of the death of Fidel Castro, The Guardian went with the following headline for its article about the many failed CIA assassination plots against the Cuban leader.

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The “634” in our headline, per Guardian contributor Duncan Campbell, is the total amount of attempts Castro’s security forces calculated had been made over the years against their boss. And that’s likely not including other subterfuges like the one referenced in a fun Montreal Gazette piece about the time Castro visited Montreal in 1959 to participate in a Junior Chamber of Commerce toy drive on Cuba’s behalf:

At 11 p.m., Castro went to the “Cuban Toy Dance” attended by 3,000 Montrealers, despite the fact the RCMP warned him they believed gangsters from New York were on their way to Montreal to assassinate him. Two days before, police apprehended a man with a bomb at a Castro rally in New York.

As Campbell notes, when U.K.’s Channel 4 made a documentary based on the book Executive Action: 634 Ways to Kill Castro, written by former head of the Cuban Secret Service Fabian Escalante, they upped the total to 638 Ways to Kill Castro. Campbell in his article touches on a number of the many highlights including a contaminated cigar, a doctored scuba diving suit, a deadly chocolate milkshake and perhaps the closest call of all, involving a female double agent and a most generous offer of assistance from Fidel himself.