Claim:   Fidel Castro predicted in 1973 that the United States would have a black president and the world would have a Latin pope.


Example:     [Collected via e-mail, July 2015]

There is a meme currently circulating on Facebook quoting Fidel Castro as saying in 1973, “The US will come to talk to us when they have a black president and the world has a Latin American Pope.”

fidel castro

Is this an accurate quote?

Origins:    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.”

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 uncovered the above-displayed quote 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.”

While it’s possible that the above-displayed quote is authentic, we are skeptical since there is no official record of this statement. Solans appears 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 quote is 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 its 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. Did not seem very feasible that an Argentine was elected Pope when over the centuries most Popes were born in Italy and, more specifically, Rome.