50. 4/19/1959

“APR 19, 1959: During Fidel Castro’s first post revolution trip to Washington, he meets with Vice President Richard Nixon for three and a half hours. ‘I spent as much time as I could trying to emphasize that he had the great gift of leadership, but that it was the responsibility of a leader not always to follow public opinion but to help to direct it in proper channels, not to give the people what they think they want at a time of emotional stress but to make them want what they ought to have,’ the Vice President reports in a four-page secret memo to Eisenhower, Secretary of State Christian A. Herter, and [CIA Director] Allen Dulles. ‘It was apparent that while he paid lip service to such institutions as freedom of speech, press and religion that his primary concern was with developing programs for economic progress.’ Nixon concludes that Castro is ‘either incredibly naive about Communism or is under Communist discipline.’ But he also expresses his own ‘appraisal’ of Castro as a man. ‘The one fact we can be sure of, is that he has those indefinable qualities which make him a leader of men. Whatever we may think of him, he is going to be a great factor in the development of Cuba and very possibly in the development of Latin American affairs generally.’”

“The Bay of Pigs Invasion/Playa Giron: A Chronology of Events,” The National Security Archive, NSArchive2.gwu.edu

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