CASTRO, FIDEL Khaki beret, inscribed on the sweatband in a dark blue ballpoint pen a Roa de Fidel Castro Junio 12 1959. I...
, inscribed on the sweatband in a dark blue ballpoint pen "a Roa de Fidel Castro Junio 12 1959." The beret, Castro's standard issue (maker not indicated) is slightly time-faded; the inscription, though with some minor wear, is generally strong and fully legible, accompanied by a 2014 Certificate of Authenticity from James Spence Authentication; Together with two photographs of Castro and Roa at an event, the names of the protagonists in ink on the verso, one photograph with a Ministry of Foreign Affairs stamp. Light creasing, traces of old mounting on the reverse.
An extraordinarily iconic piece of clothing; berets of this kind are essentially part of Castro's trademark garb. Raul Roa Garcia (April 18, 1907--July 6, 1982) was Foreign Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976. In the two photographs that accompany this piece (which likely date from the occasion of Castro's gift to Roa) Castro can be seen dangling the beret in his right hand below his cigarette. Not only is the inscription on the beret early (from the year that Castro's rebels finally achieved victory, with Batista fleeing the country on January 1 of 1959), but it is a gift, probably given as a jeu d'esprit, to the man who would become one of his most trusted and loyal ministers, who charted an increasingly pro-Soviet course in the years after the revolution, thereby shaping much of what Cuba became.
Not himself one of the revolutionaries whose campaign overthrew Batista, Roa had been both the dean of social sciences at the University of Havana and a government minister (Director of Culture) under President Carlos Prio Socarras, before the latter was deposed by Batista in 1952. He was briefly imprisoned in the aftermath, and then exiled. In the two photographs, he is seen dressed formally in a well-tailored and expensive-looking suit, very much the diplomat in contrast to Castro's military uniform. In all, this is an extraordinary artifact, evocative of the early days of the Cuban revolution.
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