The JFK Files and Cuba    

On October 26, the U.S. National Archives released additional documents from the files regarding the November 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Preliminary examination by journalists revealed what are well known facts relating to Cuba and that horrible crime.[1] Here are what some journalists report.

CIA and Defense Department Schemes To Kill Fidel Castro

“Some of the papers recounted the [CIA’s] well-chronicled schemes to kill Fidel Castro. One document, a summary of the CIA’s plans to assassinate foreign leaders, recounted how the CIA tried to use James B. Donovan, the American lawyer and negotiator made famous by the movie ‘Bridge of Spies,’ for one plot. He would give Castro a contaminated skin-diving suit while the two negotiated for the release of the Bay of Pigs prisoners.”

“It was known that Fidel Castro liked to skindive. The CIA plan was to dust the inside of the suit with a fungus producing madera foot, a disabling and chronic skin disease, and also contaminating the suit with tuberculosis bacilli in the breathing apparatus,” the paper said. Donovan didn’t go through with it, instead presenting the Cuban leader with “an uncontaminated skindiving suit as a gesture of friendship.”

“Another outlandish plot described talks of prepping a ‘booby-trap spectacular seashell’ that would be submerged in an area Castro enjoyed diving. The seashell would be loaded with explosives that would go off once lifted. ‘After investigation, it was determined that there was no shell in the Caribbean area large enough to hold a sufficient amount of explosive which was spectacular enough to attract the attention of Castro.’”

“Another scheme to kill Castro involved a CIA employee fluent in Spanish based in Cuba who was recruiting a high-ranking Cuban government official in 1963. The CIA officer and the Cuban actually met in Europe on the day of Kennedy’s assassination. The Cuban wanted the CIA to supply him with ‘some type of esoteric gadget with which he would be able to defend himself’ if he got into a fight with Castro. ‘He had in mind some sort of pellet pen,’ the document read. The agency officer didn’t have a pellet pen, but he did show his asset a ballpoint pen with a hypodermic needle ‘inside that when you pushed the lever, the needle came out and poison could be injected into someone.’”

“But the Cuban declined the gadget because it would have required him to get too close to Castro. Instead, the agent asked the CIA operative for weapons. The agency complied, sending down high-powered rifles with scopes to Cuba. The asset was never used. The case officer broke off contact in 1964.”

The Pentagon proposed “a scheme called Operation BOUNTY that sought to overthrow Cuba’s government, and established a system of financial rewards for Cubans for ‘killing or delivering alive known Communists.’ A reward would be paid to an individual upon presentation of a leaflet, with ‘conclusive’ proof of death and dead person’s party/revolutionary membership card. Cubans who played along would get a certain dollar amount based on the title of the Communist they had killed. They would get up to $100,000 for government officials and $57,500 for “department heads.” Castro, perhaps for symbolic reasons, would earn a Cuban only two cents.”

Anti-Castro Groups’ Plans

“Many of the documents center on the activities of Cuban anti-Castro groups — including Orlando Bosch’s Insurrectional Movement of Revolutionary Recovery (MIRR) — as the FBI tried to dissuade or scuttle their plans for armed invasions of the island. One FBI document from June 1959 predicts an uprising against Castro that never came: ‘Conditions are getting so bad in Cuba that it can well be that a counterrevolution will occur from within Cuba, rather than waiting for any invasion force from outside…. Powerful interests, such as bankers, sugar institute, et cetera, are extremely dissatisfied.’”

“Similarly, another 1959 FBI report relays intelligence on some Cuban exiles jockeying to replace Castro if he were to be overthrown, an outcome seen as all but assured. The same document cites the prediction by an informant that Castro ‘cannot last more than two months.’”

“A 1964 FBI memo describes a meeting in which Cuban exiles tried to set a price on the heads of Fidel Castro, Raúl Castro and Ernesto “Che” Guevara. ‘It was felt that the $150,000.00 to assassinate FIDEL CASTRO plus $5,000 expense money was too high,’ the memo noted. At a subsequent meeting, they settled on more modest sums: $100,000 for Fidel, $20,000 for Raúl and $20,000 for Che.”

Cuban Plans To Assassinate JFK?

 In 1963, the Cuban ambassador to the U.S. reacted with “happy delight” to the murder, according to a CIA memo.

In 1978 Fidel told American lawmakers that his country was not involved in the plot to kill Kennedy.

“A draft report by the House Select Committee on Assassinations found it unlikely that Cuba would kill Kennedy as retaliation for the CIA’s attempts on Fidel Castro’s life. ‘The Committee does not believe Castro would have assassinated President Kennedy, because such an act, if discovered, would have afforded the United States the excuse to destroy Cuba,’ the draft states. ‘The risk would not have been worth it.’”


[1] Miller, Strippers, surveillance and assassination plots” The wildest JFK Files, Wash. Post (Oct. 27, 2017); Yuhas & Dart, JFK files reveal FBI warning on Oswald and Soviets’ missile fears, Guardian (Oct. 27, 2017). Some of these U.S. plots against Fidel and Cuba were discussed in a prior post about then U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy’s obsession with Cuba.


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As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

3 thoughts on “The JFK Files and Cuba    ”

  1. Additional Anti-Cuba Details in JFK Files

    In May 1962, the CIA told then Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy about a $150,000 offer to a Chicago criminal mob for assassinating Fidel Castro, but the mob officials said they would do it for free.

    Another idea was placing botulism pills in Castro’s food, with the CIA’s director of security at one point testing the pills on some guinea pigs “because I wanted to be sure they worked.” Pills then were sent to “assets” in Cuba who tried to poison Castro at a restaurant but failed.

    The FBI In July 1964 “outlined a proposal to cause food shortages in Cuba . . . . [by] introducing untraceable biological agents to destroy crops in Cuba, leading to widespread hunger that could set off a revolt against Castro.” This was part of Operation Mongoose, the previously described Kennedy administration project to remove Castro from power.


    Baker, In J.F.K. Files, a Peek Back at an Era of Secrets and Intrigue, N.Y. Times (Oct. 27, 2017),

    Assoc. Press, JFK Files Release Does Little to Quell Conspiracy Theories, N.Y. Times (Oct. 28, 2017),

    Pearce, JFK files detail plots to kill Castro using poisoned swimsuits, exploding seashells, StarTribune (Oct. 28, 2017),

  2. Did Fidel Castro Order Killing of President Kennedy?

    The latest released JFK documents contain an April 11, 1964 memo about a visit to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) by three staff members of the Warren Commission, which was set up to investigate the assassination.

    “The memo said the staff members indicated that Thomas Mann, former ambassador to Mexico and then-assistant secretary for inter-American affairs, “still has the ‘feeling in his guts’ that (Cuban leader Fidel) Castro hired Oswald to kill Kennedy. They said, however, that the commission has not been able to get any proof of that.”
    Assoc. Press, Latest JFK Files Say No Evidence Found of CIA Link to Oswald, N.Y. Times (Nov. 4, 2017)

  3. New Details About U.S. Plots To Kill Fidel Castro

    New information about U.S. plots to kill Fidel Castro comes in newly released documents from the U.S. government files about the assassination of President Kennedy.

    After noting that these files “contain little evidence that anyone besides gunman Lee Harvey Oswald was responsible for the” JFK assassination, author Thomas Maier states these files reveal “fascinating new insights about . . . a top-secret killing plan centered on the CIA’s recruitment of gangsters Sam Giancana and Johnny Roselli to murder Cuba’s young communist leader, Fidel Castro.” These new details include the following:

    “Giancana’s and Roselli’s world of co-conspirators, . . . [included] CIA spies and handlers, a fellow Mafioso (and former cop) in Chicago, Castro’s double agents in Miami, beautiful Hollywood women, “Rat Pack” entertainers likeFrank Sinatra, a snooping J. Edgar Hoover and zealously anti-communist White House officials.“

    The “mobsters’ violent schemes to kill Castro . . . included everything from explosions and gunfire during midnight boat raids to hidden poisons prepared by the agency’s lab.”

    Giancana and Roselli had their own motivations for eliminating the bearded dictator. . . . They still hoped to revive the swank San Souci resort that they had run in Cuba with Spanish-speaking Mafia boss Santos Trafficante. . . . Giancana and Roselli also believed that cooperating with the government in such a high-risk venture as Castro’s assassination would earn them a kind of ‘get out of jail free’ card that would keep the feds off their backs as they pursued their criminal activity at home.”


    Maier, Inside the CIA’s Plot to Kill Fidel Castro—With Mafia Help, Politico (Feb. 24, 2018)

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