The CIA's Operation BOUNTY Plan To Take Out Fidel Castro Explained

It's no secret that the CIA on multiple occasions tried to kill Fidel Castro, the leader of communist Cuba. At one time or another, the CIA had enlisted the help of mafia leaders, attempted to poison Castro with a cigar, intended to plant a colorful seashell that had explosives in it, and there were even plans to lace one of Castro's cigars with a chemical compound that would disorient him right before he gave a speech, to make him entirely incoherent (via NBC). Obviously, the CIA spent a lot of their days masterminding and scheming on how to take out this pesky leader of a foreign nation about 100 miles away from the coast of the United States.

There was one plan to assassinate Castro that seemed relatively normal at first glance, and that was to offer Cubans a bounty for his head. Besides the questionable ethics of assassinating other world leaders, it seems relatively normal, right? That is, until you look at the bounty price. The CIA was willing to pay Cubans a hefty coin for their service in what at best was a matter of risky foreign policy. That outstanding price was two cents.

Operation BOUNTY

Did the CIA really think that the Cuban people hated Castro so much that they would be willing to jeopardize their lives to kill their leader for practically free? No, as it turns out. There was more of a psychological element behind the plan, which was dubbed Operation BOUNTY. The CIA didn't actually expect people to assassinate their leader for a meager price, but they did believe that exposing Cubans to these bounty offers would "denigrate ... Castro in the eyes of the Cuban population" (via Insider).

After the CIA released the bounty prices in Cuba, they planned on having covert agents who would "kidnap known [Communist] party members thereby instilling confidence in the operation among the Cuban populace and apprehension among the Cuban hierarchy" (via Insider). Basically, the CIA was hoping that if leaders in their nation started to be killed, the Cuban people would believe it was due to the low bounty prices and start an anti-government movement.

Foiled over and over again

However, Operation BOUNTY never went into action, and the reasons why are unclear. Edward Lansdale, who worked for the CIA, testified to the Senate in 1975 that they never went through with the plan because "it was [not] something that should be seriously undertaken or supported further" (via Insider). This didn't mean that the CIA was completely done attempting to kill Castro, as there were 638 known assassination attempts on the Cuban leader, according to Australian Broadcasting Corporation News.

The CIA didn't just use psychological tactics in their attempts to eliminate Castro from his position; they also enlisted the help of American mobsters back at home. CIA director Allen Dulles (above) approved the plan. Sam Giancana and Johnny Roselli, two notorious mobsters in the Chicago and Las Vegas regions, were offered a bounty of $150,000 to kill Castro, according to Politico. The two declined, though ironically did offer to do it for free, due to their disdain for Castro after he shut down the casinos when taking power. Though none of the plans worked, one thing was clear: The CIA was willing to take out Castro by any means necessary, including the usage of seashell bombs, employing American crime leaders, and even psychological methods on the Cuban people themselves.