A woman who was recruited by the CIA to murder late Cuban leader Fidel Castro in 1960 using poison recounted to History Channel documentary – CIA Declassified how Castro made her fall in love with him and ditch her plans.
Marita Lorenz, now 76, told the outlet that he became Fidel Castro’s mistress in 1959 (when she was 20) – and the CIA noticed her presence in Castro’s life; and recruited her to kill the former Cuban President using poison pills concealed in her face cream.
So how did Lorenz, the daughter of a German American cruise liner captain, go to from lover to would-be killer in such a short space of time?
Her story began on the February 28, 1959 when her father’s cruise ship, the MS Berlin, on which she also worked, dropped anchor in Havana harbour.
As liner dropped anchor, a launch crammed with uniformed men hurtled towards them, among them, Fidel Castro.
“He was 33, with sparkling eyes,” she told CIA Declassified in a past interview.
“And that was it. I was lost in love,” she added.
On Lorenz’s return to New York a few days later, Fidel Castro phoned her incessantly asking her to return to Cuba.
She obliged and, within days, was installed in Castro’s penthouse apartment on the 74th floor of the Havana Hilton.
Two months later, she discovered that she was pregnant, and she was excited. But her happiness wasn’t to last.
Drinking a glass of milk one day while heavily pregnant, she suddenly blacked out and came to a few hours later to find herself seriously ill – and without her baby.
She was flown to New York for treatment. Once there, she was visited by the CIA who revealed that Castro had arranged for her to be given a late term abortion.
“I didn’t believe it,” she told the Radio Times. “But they did a good job of brainwashing me, telling me that he did this to me. It left me heartbroken.”
So heartbroken was Lorenz that when the CIA informed her that Castro was a threat to America and intimidatingly dangerous as well, she believed.
Lorenz remembered: “They said, ‘we want you to take him out’.”
She agreed and in January 1960, she travelled to Miami to meet Frank Sturgis; a CIA double-agent who handed her a pot of poison pills, says the Dailymail.
Her role was simple: drop one in Castro’s drink and escape unscathed. Frightened she would be discovered by Cuban customs, Lorenz resorted to one more trick and hid the pills inside her pot of cold cream.
Back once more in Castro’s Havana penthouse, she attempted to slip the pills into a glass of water but was foiled by the clinging cream.
“I tried to wipe it off, but I couldn’t,” she said. “I panicked and tried to flush them down the loo but they wouldn’t go down. Then Fidel walked in.”
The dictator had got wind of the murder plan and Lorenz was terrified. “He took his gun out of its holster,” she said.
“I thought he was going to shoot me, but he gave me the gun and asked, “Did you come to kill me?”
“Then he took a puff on his cigar and closed his eyes. He made himself vulnerable because he knew I couldn’t do it. He still loved me and I still loved him.”
And he was right. Lorenz ejected the bullets and fell into his arms. But her incredible story still wasn’t over.
Fearing the CIA would kill her if she attempted to remain with Castro, she returned to Miami and never saw Castro again.
Although she would later have an affair with Venezuela’s Marcos Pérez Jiménez with whom she had a daughter, and another relationship that resulted in a son, Lorenz’ affection for the late Castro remains undiminished.
“The moment I saw the outline of the island from the plane, I knew I couldn’t do it,’ she said. “I have a reputation as an assassin but wouldn’t kill a bug.”