The Who2 Blog

How Old is Fidel Castro Really?

Fidel Castro, like America’s own founding father Alexander Hamilton, has always been coy about his age.

The official line from the Cuban government is clear: Castro was born on 13 August 1926.

But some scholars believe that Castro was really born in 1927. Peter G. Bourne suggests in his 1986 book Fidel, for instance, that Castro’s birth certificate was changed by Fidel’s parents when he was a child, so that the boy could be enrolled in school a year early.

Cuba scholar Dr. Brian Latell is also convinced Castro was born in 1927. He discusses his reasons at length in this 2007 edition of his newsletter The Latell Report. Latell is swayed by comments made by Castro’s family (“On different occasions in the late 1950’s Fidel’s mother Lina Ruz and three of his sisters publicly confirmed the 1927 date”) and by Castro himself (“I am the age that the documents indicate. If they say I am fifty, I am fifty.”)

However, Castro gives the year as 1926 in his 1998 autobiography Fidel: My Early Years. He adds: “I was 26 when I began the armed struggle, and I was born on the 13th, which is half of 26… Now that I think of it, there may be something mystical about the number 26.”

That sounds like it might almost be a wink at the truth. But because Castro himself gives the date as 1926, and because it is the date on his birth certificate, we’re sticking with that date in our own profile of Castro. (We gave Hamilton the benefit of the doubt, too.)

But yes, the date has its critics.

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