Fidel Castro – The Last Man Standing

Courage is knowing what not to fear. – Plato

Back when the century was young, before the horror of September 11, 2001, I had the privilege of interviewing former Ambassador Raúl Castro several times at his office in

Swearing in ceremony installing Raul Castro as U.S. Ambassador to Bolivia; Secretary of State Dean Rusk Observes (UAir Raul H. Castro Collection)

Swearing in ceremony installing Raul Castro as U.S. Ambassador to Bolivia; Secretary of State Dean Rusk Observes (UAir Raul H. Castro Collection)

Nogales, Arizona.  Raúl Castro was in the thick of the Cold War (1947-1991) in the Western Hemisphere.  Born in 1916 in Cananea, Sonora, Mexico , Raúl Castro moved to Southern Arizona when he was ten years old.  Driven to succeed, he became an American citizen and a lawyer determined to rid society of the discrimination against Hispanics that he witnessed and felt.  President Lyndon Johnson appointed him the U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador (1964-68), and President Jimmy Carter used his skills as the U.S. Ambassador to Bolivia (1968-69).  Raúl Castro returned from Bolivia and made a successful entrance into politics when he was elected the first Mexican-American governor of Arizona (1975-77).   His country needed him again.  Richard Nixon asked Castro to take the U.S. ambassador post in Argentina, where he served from 1977-80.  During those interviews, Raúl Castro related many humorous stories, and some not so humorous, related to the confusion of his name with the other ‘Raúl Castro’, Fidel Castro’s brother.

A born teacher, Raúl Castro, who had met Fidel Castro in Mexico, talked at length about the

The other Raúl Castro. Fidel Castro's brother. (Courtesy of bio.true story)

The other Raúl Castro. Fidel Castro’s brother. (Courtesy of bio.true story)

Castro brothers.  The stories he told were incongruous with what I thought I knew.  The Ambassador argued that Fidel Castro was a political atheist when he finally gained control of Cuba in January 1959 and that the U.S. had made a terrible mistake by shunning him.   If Ambassador Castro is correct, and there is some indication he may be, thee pieces of the Cuba/America puzzle fall smartly into place; one corner piece, one boundary piece and one interior piece.  The corner puzzle piece that fits neatly is Fidel Castro’s sudden rush into Nikita Khrushchev’s arms in 1960.  The boundary puzzle piece that falls into place is the interval of time after the revolution it took to form a ‘Communist Party’ in Cuba.   The interior puzzle piece is the CIA’s apparently excessive energy expenditure attempting to embarrass and assassinate Fidel Castro.  But wait, there’s more!