Castro Must Go, Go, Go!

When the CIA wanted to whack Fidel, the Mob’s price was crrrrazy — they’d do it for free! Here’s the original declassified CIA memo.

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Frisky Fidel Castro, that bewhiskered communist leader of Cuba, boasted in the 1970s that he’d survived two dozen assassination attempts. Any national leader has to contend with coup plotters, backstabbers, and other overzealous countrymen, but Castro’s story was unique: He had survived two dozen CIA assassination attempts. Twenty-four might be an embellishment — the CIA admitted to only eight — but Castro has some proof. The CIA recently declassified a good portion of its past, which has been catalogued in the State Department’s forthcoming Cuba, 1961-1962.

One revealing memo describes the CIA’s vision of assassinations: outsourcing! In August 1960, Langley’s finest contacted the Chicago Mafia and offered them $150,000 to mount a “sensitive operation against Fidel.” The Mob, itching to get back their Havana casinos, not only agreed to the Castro “project” — they agreed to knock him off for free.

The agency graciously accepted the family discount, then paid the Mob about $11,000 in expenses and equipment, only to withdraw the offer entirely after the Bay of Pigs snafu. Apparently, they had domestic problems to deal with — perhaps the CIA will someday declassify memos on the “Kennedy project.”

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest