Thallium is a heavy metal that was once used as a therapeutic agent to treat syphilis, gonorrhea, tuberculosis, and ringworm, and was also used as a depilatory for excess hair. Marketed under the name Koremlu, when applied to the upper lip to remove an incipient moustache, it instead produced alarming effects such as baldness, foot pain, nausea, vomiting, cramps, dizziness and numbness of the lower extremities.
It was also proposed for one of the many assassination attempts on Fidel Castro.
The CIA planned to embarrass Fidel by sneaking thallium salts into Castro’s shoes; thallium salts are a “potent depilatory that would cause his beard, eyebrows, and pubic hair to fall out… like a follicle deprived Samson.”
Upon learning that Castro enjoyed scuba diving, the CIA purchased a diving suit and contaminated the regulator with tuberculosis bacilli. They also treated the suit itself with fungus spores that would cause the rare skin disease, madura foot.
this attempt failed, but undaunted and still intrigued with the scuba diving idea, another plan was hatched to place an exploding conch shell at one of Castro’s favorite diving spots. This was scrapped as being too unwieldy and impractical, as even the most casual observer might have suspected foul play.
“Perhaps the most visionary proposal came from the fertile mind of General Edward Lansdale, who supervised the Kennedy administration’s covert war on Castro. The general hoped to spark a counterrevolution by spreading the word to devout Cuban Catholics that the Second Coming was imminent and that Castro was none other than the anti-Christ. At the appointed hour, Christ Himself would surface off the shores of Cuba aboard an American submarine as star shell flares illuminated the heavens. In a pique of Cold War rapture, it was hoped, the Cubans would rise up and spontaneously overthrow their satanic leader.”