The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) once considered assassinating Fidel Castro by giving him a wetsuit contaminated with Madura foot fungus and tuberculosis bacteria, according to new documents released by the US National Security Archive.
According to the documents, the plan to kill the former Cuban leader was to be carried out unwittingly by American lawyer, Naval officer and political negotiator James Donovan, who was recently portrayed by Tom Hanks in the Oscar-nominated movie “Bridge of Spies”.
Donovan conducted the first ever secret negotiations with Castro for the freedom of more than 1100 imprisoned members of the CIA-backed Bay of Pigs invasion force, as well as the release of some two dozen U.S. citizens imprisoned in Cuba for counterrevolutionary crimes, including three members of the CIA’s Technical Services Division who were caught installing listening devices in Havana.
Donovan, who was known as a “meta-diplomat” for his negotiation skills, was chosen by US President John F. Kennedy’s administration to work out a prisoner exchange deal with Castro.
However, a team of CIA operatives thought they could use Donovan’s access to Castro to assassinate him. The declassified CIA history states that “at some point during Donovan’s negotiations with Castro“ several officials in the covert operations division “devised a plan to have Donovan be the unwitting purveyor of a diving suit and breathing apparatus, respectively contaminated with Madura foot fungus and tuberculosis bacteria, as a gift for Castro.“ The plot collapsed after Donovan’s handler alerted him to secure the wetsuit he had already obtained for Castro to prevent any tampering and contamination.
During one of his last trips to Cuba in 1963, Donovan gave Castro the wetsuit and a diving watch, as a confidence builder.
“If relations were to commence between the U.S. and Cuba,“ Fidel asked, “how would it come about and what would be involved?“
According to a CIA transcript of his debriefing, Donovan responded:
“Now, do you know how porcupines make love? Well, the answer is, ‘very carefully,’ and that is how you and the U.S. would have to get into this. I think an accommodation of views could be worked out.“
And now, more than half a century later, President Obama and President Raul Castro have finally worked out that “accommodation of views.“