Fidel Castro’s Visit to Texas

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In 1959, after the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro visited Texas. Houston residents gave him a standing ovation, the mayor gave him a handshake and ranchers, who had dressed their children in revolutionary garb, gave him a horse. Business leaders were so enthusiastic about Castro that they talked about making a movie of the Cuban revolution starring Marlon Brando. “Fidel Castro swept through Houston in glory bordering on pandemonium, with sirens failing to drown out the cheers of his admirers,” the Houston Chronicle wrote at the time. Today, a Chronicle article looks back on the event. It quotes a Houston business leader who visited Castro in Cuba and recalled what must have been an especially Texan fascination with the revolution at the time: “It was almost like walking into the wild, wild West with a Spanish flavor.”

The visit, in which Castro was accompanied by his brother Raul, had been orchestrated by then-Texan Senator and future President Lyndon Baines Johnson. At the time Castro was still viewed as a likely force for democracy. Still, the invitation to Texas would seem no less plausible today if it came from President George W. Bush, who has so much in common with the dictator. At Bush’s Crawford ranch, the two revolucionarios could talk about limiting civil liberties, detaining and torturing people, usurping executive power and beating up on the media—and maybe adjourn for a bit of target practice. Who knows, maybe Bush will hit it off with Raul. The two men are, after all, both the inheritors of a dynasty.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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