The Slatest

Raúl Castro Will Make First U.S. Trip in 56 Years to Address United Nations

Raú Castro, left, and Che Guevara in Havana in 1960.


Raúl Castro will speak at the United Nations on Sept. 28 in what will apparently be his first trip to the United States since a 1959 visit to Houston during which he and his brother Fidel reportedly had a screaming argument in a hotel room. From Reuters:

The latest public schedule for the General Assembly’s annual gathering of world leaders - the so-called General Debate - lists Castro as speaking on the afternoon of Sept. 28. U.S. President Barack Obama and the leaders of Russia and China and Iran’s president are also due to speak on the same day.

(Cuba, Russia, China, Iran, and the United States is quite a lineup!)

Castro assumed power in Cuba from Fidel, his older brother by 5 years, in 2008. Fidel Castro spoke to the United Nations in 1960, 1979, 1995, and 2000; in 1960, Fidel gave the longest speech in U.N. history (4 hours and 29 minutes). In 1995 and 2000, he also also spoke at churches in Harlem.

The brothers both visited Houston in late April 1959 at a time when relations between their regime and the U.S. were still friendly—Fidel had met with vice president Richard Nixon on April 19. From a 2006 Houston Chronicle piece:

The brothers reportedly yelled profanities at each other for hours while staying at Houston’s posh Shamrock Hotel.

“It was a screaming match,” said Brian Latell, a former CIA analyst and author of the 2006 book, After Fidel: The Inside Story of Castro’s Regime and Cuba’s Next Leader.

Witnesses eavesdropping outside the Castro brothers’$2 18th floor suite couldn’t make out exactly what they were saying but think they were fighting about how the revolution ought to proceed, Latell said.

Raúl Castro’s 2013 handshake with Barack Obama at Nelson Mandela’s funeral was the first public encounter between a U.S. president and Cuban leaders since relations deteriorated between the two countries shortly after the 1959 trip. (Bill Clinton also shook Fidel Castro’s hand during a brief private encounter at the U.N. in September 2000.)