Fidel Castro at the Lincoln Memorial, 1959

Soon after Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba in 1959, he visited the United States for two weeks, invited by the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

The trip had all the features of a diplomatic tour—he met with American officials, appeared on Meet the Press, and visited national sites such as Mount Vernon and the Lincoln Memorial.

Eisenhower left Washington to play golf instead of meeting Castro. Vice President Nixon met with Castro in a 3-hour long meeting. Nixon asked about the elections, and Castro told him that the Cuban people did not want elections.

Nixon complained that Castro was "either incredibly gullible about communism or under communist discipline". Castro took full advantage of his 11-day stay. He hired a public relations firm, ate hot dogs, kissed women like rock stars, and had kids like a politician.

During his visit, Castro laid a wreath at the Lincoln Memorial and stood in front of the statue for a few minutes in silent contemplation. This moment was immortalized by his photographer Alfredo Corda.

The New York Times described Castro's visit to the memorial: At the Lincoln Memorial, Dr. Castro walked up to a crowd of several hundred people, shook hands and talked. Then he went up the stairs of the monument and slowly, in a low voice, read the Gettysburg Address inscribed on the wall. "Formidable and very interesting!" he muttered.

Fidel Castro remained an admirer of Abraham Lincoln for the next half century. There was a statue of Lincoln in his office, and he wrote that Lincoln was "dedicated to the just idea that all citizens are born free and equal", and once even "Long Live Lincoln!" were saying too.

Shortly after his visit, the U.S. Will impose trade embargo on Cuba. And just three years later, the world will nearly go to war against Soviet ballistic missiles stationed over the island nation.

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