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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Fidel Castro Lays a Wreath in Front of the Lincoln Memorial

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After the dictator Fidel Castro had assumed power in Cuba in 1959, he was invited to tour the U.S.A. by the American Society of Newspaper Editors. Although unofficial, the two-week long tour had a diplomatic feeling to it. Fidel would visit memorials, historical places and monuments as well as national parks and landmarks.

Yet, although the freshly established dictator would become a significant historical figure, then President Dwight Eisenhower did not seem to think so. But, Vice President Richard Nixon had a long and quite frank discussion with Fidel, lasting more than three hours. The two discussed various topics. One prominent question that came up during the discussion, was the election of Fidel to lead Cuba. Castro simply negated the need to elect leaders in Cuba, stating, “The people of Cuba have no need nor want of elections, as more important matters are needed to attend to.” This caused Nixon to accuse Castro of being naïve for believing in communism, or the communist discipline. The two-week long tour had numerous events that left an impression both on Fidel and the American people. Perhaps the one that stood out most, and left the greatest impression on Fidel, was Lincoln.

During the visit to the Lincoln Memorial, Fidel had placed a wreath in front of the statue, and  softly murmured the Gettysburg Address as he read it. “Formidable and very interesting!” he had said, as noted by his photographer Alfredo Korda, who accompanied the dictator, and had immortalized the whole tour. It seems that Abraham Lincoln had left the biggest impression on Fidel. In his office, Castro had a bust of Lincoln, had read numerous times about the exploits and deeds of the late president. The idea that all citizens are born free and equal, would be the one sentence said by Lincoln, that Castro loved the most. Sadly, for all the awe, inspiration and admiration Castro had for Lincoln, he did not have for the U.S.A. The international escalation could have plunged the world into a nuclear war, during the height of the Cold War. A war that would’ve happe,ned had the Cubans not backed down and deconstructed the then-erected ballistic missile sites provided to them by the Soviets.

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