Fact Check

Did Fidel Castro Predict a Black U.S. President and a Latin American Pope?

Sarcasm and humor are not the same thing as prophecy.

Published July 26, 2015

Back in 1973, Fidel Castro predicted that the United States would have a black president and the world would have a Latin American pope.

In an article published by The Journal Of Carlos Paz on 10 March 2015, Argentinian writer Pedro Jorge Solans claimed to have uncovered a prophetic quote spoken by Fidel Castro in 1973:

In 1973, just returned from a visit to Vietnam, Commander Fidel Castro was (speaking to international journalists). The Cold War was cold, and the journalist Bryan Davis (from) an English agency asked:

"When do you think relations between Cuba and the United States, two countries as far away despite the geographical proximity, will be restored?"

Fidel Castro stared and replied to all who were in the room:

"United States will come to talk to us when they have a black president and the world has a Latin American pope."

Naturally, this rumor was quickly converted to meme form and shared widely via social media:

fidel castro

According to Clarin, Argentina's biggest newspaper, Solans was on assignment in Cuba to cover the country's relationship with the United States when he learned of Castro's prophecy during a conversation with his taxi driver, Eduardo de la Torre: "Eduardo de la Torre, who currently works as a taxi driver but was a university student in 1973, explained the historic episode."

We found no other record of Fidel Castro's having made any such statement, and Solans appeared to be reporting an amusing anecdote, not a news event, in order to convey how hopeless the situation between Cuba and the United States appeared to be in the 1970s. In fact, an article published in the Havana Times in December 2014 noted that this alleged Fidel Castro statement was a common joke in Cuba:

"Washington and Havana only resume relations "the day that the US president is black and the Argentine Pope" reads a common joke these days on the island, put into the mouth of a fictional Fidel Castro 60s and nicely summarizes the changes that have taken place in the world since then and the great political upheaval happened now."

Furthermore, as Clarin noted in their account of the story, this fictional quotation from Fidel Castro was meant to be sarcastic (not prophetic): "At that time it was impossible to think that Barack Obama, a black man, could become president of the world's most powerful country. [And it] did not seem very feasible that an Argentine [would be] elected Pope when over the centuries most Popes were born in Italy and, more specifically, Rome."

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.

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