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Time Traveller: Fidel Castro, 1959

Time Traveller: Fidel Castro, 1959
Fidel Castro eating hot dog,

Scenes from Fidel Castro's iconic visit to New York in 1959

Sharmistha Chaudhuri
March 10 , 2019
01 Min Read

Fidel Castro was no stranger to controversies. However, the reception of the former Cuban leader on his first trip to New York in 1959 and his second visit a year later, was drastically different. While the media went ga-ga on his first trip, almost following him around like he was a rock star, Castro was at his cheery best. He had just toppled Fulgencio Batista’s dictatorship back home, hired a publicist and provided enough photo-ops to keep the media happy. Castro was seen enjoying a hotdog (when in New York, eh?), tossing peanuts to elephants at the Bronx Zoo, hitting and pitching in a charity game of baseball (there was once a rumour that he was good enough to go pro), posing with schoolchildren wearing fake beards, even taking pictures with his numerous female admirers. But when he returned a year later for the United Nations General Assembly, the atmosphere was different. By then there were enough examples for the American government to believe that Cuba was heading towards communism. But no matter the antics—storming out of the Shelburne Hotel in Midtown to checking into Hotel Theresa in Harlem, meeting then-Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, to hosting his own banquet and inviting ‘the poor humble people of Harlem’ after US President Eisenhower excluded him for a luncheon with other South American leaders—Castro visited New York three more times, the last in 2000.

Fidel Castro tries his hand at baseball


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