In November 1940, thirteen years before spearheading the revolution that would ultimately see him replace dictator Fulgencio Batista as leader of Cuba, a teenage Fidel Castro—aged fourteen, not twelve as he inaccurately claimed—wrote a somewhat cheeky letter to the then president of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and asked him for some money: a $10 bill, to be precise. Some time later, he received a standard reply from officials. His request for cash had fallen on deaf ears, as had his offer to reveal the wherabouts of Cuba’s largest iron mines. Young Castro’s priceless letter was rediscovered in 1977 by specialists at the National Archives and Records Administration.
(Source: National Archives; Image: Fidel Castro, via.)
Santiago de Cuba
Nov 6 1940
Mr Franklin Roosvelt, President of the United States.
My good friend Roosvelt I don’t know very English, but I know as much as write to you. I like to hear the radio, and I am very happy, because I heard in it, that you will be President for a new (periodo). I am twelve years old. I am a boy but I think very much but I do not think that I am writing to the President of the United States. If you like, give me a ten dollars bill green american, in the letter, because never, I have not seen a ten dollars bill green american and I would like to have one of them.
My address is:
Sr Fidel Castro
Colegio de Dolores
Santiago de Cuba
I don’t know very English but I know very much Spanish and I suppose you don’t know very Spanish but you know very English because you are American but I am not American.
(Thank you very much)
Good by. Your friend,
If you want iron to make your
sheapsships I will show to you the bigest (minas) of iron of the land. They are in Mayari Oriente Cuba.