Analysis: After the reading the headnote, the first thing I am going to do is read the source note [read source information.] As I source this document, I notice the date. In February 1959 Castro had just come to power and was probably working to establish his rule. Eisenhower had recognized the new Cuban government, and Castro was traveling to the U.S. a few months later, in April. Neither side had taken a firm stance toward the other—the relationship was very new. Furthermore, I notice that this interview was done with U.S. newspaper editors. That makes me wonder if he is trying to get some “good press” in the United States. Now that I’ve thought about the context in which this interview was given, as I read the interview I’ll want to think about how this context might have affected what Castro said about the U.S. This process is called contextualization.
Is this a credible document to help us determine how Fidel Castro viewed the United States? Given what I know so far, it may be, but because it happened so early in Castro’s presidency, it might not give us a really good sense of Castro’s true beliefs because he’s still working to establish his power, and he may be engaged in a public relations campaign here. He’s not sure how the U.S. is going to treat Cuba, and he might want to establish a good relationship with a powerful neighbor. As you read the interview, think about how the context in which the interview was given might have influenced what Castro said.
Analysis: It is important to note is the context in which the speech from Document B was given: Much has changed in Cuba and with relations between the U.S. and Cuba since Document A. Relations between the U.S. and Cuba have soured substantially — Castro banned foreign companies and took over privately owned businesses; the U.S. began an embargo of Cuba and, just a few weeks before this speech, funded an attempt to overthrow Castro in the Bay of Pigs Invasion. Castro was speaking to a crowd of Cubans in Havana on a holiday celebrating workers.
As we might expect from the change in context, Castro’s views of the U.S. changed dramatically in this speech. Castro is clear that he does not approve of the U.S.’s government or economic system and says that the U.S. has no business interfering in Cuba’s affairs (he even compares Kennedy to Mussolini and Hitler!). He argues that Cuba’s actions are not affecting or endangering the U.S. and that Cuba’s rights are just as important as the U.S.’s, even if Cuba is a smaller country.