When VP Nixon met Fidel Castro
This week in 1959, Fidel Castro visited the U.S. a few months after taking power.
Castro's visit was rather controversial because he faced skepticism from many in the U.S. He was asked about the promised elections that were delayed and delayed. He also heard over and over about communists in the background.
Castro was also beginning to hear a lot of criticism from fellow Cubans, who kept asking about the surplus of communists and deficits of reforms.
Finally, President Dwight D. Eisenhower did not meet with him but V.P. Richard Nixon did. After the meeting, V.P. Nixon said his bearded visitor was "either incredibly naive about communism or under communist discipline — my guess is the former."
Castro also appeared on Meet the Press and denied that he was a communist. He even joked about it, saying some people thought Adam and Eve were communists.
Furthermore, Castro benefited from a lot of people in the U.S. who were caught up in the cult of personality and did not know the truth of pre-Castro Cuba. As my late father said, we had a lot more home-grown prosperity than casinos!
Down on the island, Castro continued to deny that he was a communist and put people in jail for accusing him of that.
In December 1961, eight months after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, he declared his allegiance to Marxism-Leninism, and our worst fears were realized.
By the way, none of the people jailed for calling him a communist was released when Castro confirmed that he was indeed a communist. Anyone surprised about that?
I think a lot about my parents and my dad's cousin, who spent 14 years in a political prison for publicly opposing the growing presence of communists in Castro's inner circle.