The Lost/Animated Interview with Fidel Castro: If the Revolution Fails, Cuba Will be “Hell Itself” (1959)

“If this Rev­o­lu­tion falls, what we will have here in Cuba is a hell,” Fidel Cas­tro said in Havana in 1959. “Hell itself.”

Cas­tro was 32 when he made the procla­ma­tion dur­ing an inter­view record­ed just weeks after the over­throw of dic­ta­tor Ful­gen­cio Batista. The new Cuba was still tak­ing shape after the rev­o­lu­tion led by the 26th of July Move­ment. Cas­tro spoke exten­sive­ly about his vision for Cuba dur­ing a 35-minute inter­view with an Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist that has nev­er been heard pub­licly until now.

The inter­view was dis­cov­ered a few years ago when Lau­ra Gal­loway found a tape in her late grand­fa­ther’s archives that sim­ply said “Galloway/Castro.” Clark Hewitt Gal­loway was the intra-Amer­i­can affairs edi­tor for U.S. News and World Report. Gal­loway cov­ered Latin and South Amer­i­ca for the mag­a­zine after serv­ing in the same region with the U.S. Army Intel­li­gence corps dur­ing WWII. Blank on Blank’s new episode for its PBS series ani­mates the sto­ry behind the tape and a col­lec­tion of out­takes from the inter­view. Cas­tro talks about: why Che Gue­vara, Raul Cas­tro and the 26th of July Move­ment were not Com­mu­nist; and why Cuba had issues with the Amer­i­can pres­ence in the Guan­tanamo Naval Base and, specif­i­cal­ly, Amer­i­can sailors stir­ring up trou­ble while out on the town in Guan­tanamo.

Blank on Blank has also post­ed the entire 35-minute inter­view in Span­ish with the Eng­lish trans­la­tion by Sebas­t­ian Bet­ti. Dur­ing the full inter­view, Cas­tro goes into great detail about how the Cuban econ­o­my would be rebuilt and how the agrar­i­an reform plan would be put into effect. He dis­putes whether Amer­i­can inter­ests in Cuba would be nation­al­ized. And he down­plays the idea of being asked to be a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date.

The release of this unearthed inter­view comes as Cas­tro’s broth­er, Raul, just gave a lengthy speech about the demise of Cuban cul­ture and con­duct despite what the rev­o­lu­tion has brought to the coun­try.

This post was brought to you by David Ger­lach, the founder of Blank on Blank.

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