Back in ’59


Fidel’s Visit to New York
On April 15, 1959, Fidel Castro, the new leader of Cuba, launched a whirlwind U.S. tour, enthralling millions with a spectacle unseen in their lifetimes: a revolutionary, claiming to be neither communist nor capitalist, who rose to power without the aid of Moscow or Washington and who therefore seemed like he might be the one to carve a new path, a breakout from the Cold War’s grinding duel.

In New York, he lunched with bankers on Wall Street, fed a Bengal tiger at the Bronx Zoo, and spoke to 30,000 people in Central Park. A New York Times editorial exclaimed, “The young man is larger than life.” (typical of the NYTimes).

By the time of Castro’s next trip, for a meeting at the U.N. General Assembly a year and a half later—after he nationalized U.S. companies, executed even more opponents, and purchased arms from the Soviet Union—the euphoria had died down.

While we still wait for the old b*****d to die, watch our favorite Cuban, Desi Arnaz, sing “Cuban Pete”: