A bizarre conspiracy theory claims that Justin Trudeau is the son of Fidel Castro
Politics isn't exactly a career where people end up being loved and in fact, it often feels like anyone who works for the government or civil service is condemning themselves to the ire and scorn of the public. Yet one statesman who's managed to avoid this unfortunate fate is Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, who has accrued a fair number of fans, in stark contrast to his American counterpart Donald Trump who has divided the American public along increasingly partisan lines.
It's not difficult to understand why Trudeau became popular with his constituents, and later with Canadians at large. In many ways he resembles a latter-day John F. Kennedy: he's relatively young, liberal-minded and open about his support for civil rights and social justice. He comes from a politically active family (his own father twice served as prime minister himself) and he's well-known for his good looks and charm. Apart from one pretty glaring faux pas, it's been relatively plain sailing for the Liberal Party leader. But who could forget the controversy he provoked back in 2016, shortly after the death of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro?
For those who've forgotten all about the incident in question, allow me to provide a quick recap. On November 29, shortly after Castro's death at the age of 90, Justin Trudeau released a statement saying: "While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro’s supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for ‘el Comandante.’ I know my father was very proud to call him a friend and I had the opportunity to meet Fidel when my father passed away. It was also a real honour to meet his three sons and his brother President Raúl Castro during my recent visit to Cuba."
As a result of this praise, Trudeau was heavily criticised by political commenters and by the media for seemingly condoning a number of atrocities and human rights abuses committed by Castro's regime. For example, US Senator Marco Rubio said that he found Trudeau's statement to be "shameful and embarrassing," while Canadian MP Maxime Bernier stated that she found Trudeau's compliments "repugnant."
Trudeau later apologised for his comments: but is there another reason why he made them? They seemed incongruous coming from such a liberal man, but now a number of conspiracy theorists claim that Trudeau's statements may have had a personal element to them, and come not from one world leader to another, but from a heartbroken son mourning his father. Yes, it sounds ridiculous, but it seems that many now believe that Justin Trudeau is actually the secret lovechild of Fidel Castro. What's more, these conspiracy theorists apparently have evidence to back up this crazy idea.
The theory first surfaced on the Donald Trump subreddit r/The_Donald shortly after Castro's death, when a Redditor hypothesised that Justin's mother Margaret Trudeau had a clandestine affair with Castro. The theory relies upon three assertions: firstly that Margaret Trudeau and Fidel Castro met in 1971 and remained close friends afterwards, secondly that Margaret Trudeau was promiscuous, and lastly that Fidel Castro and Justin Trudeau share similar facial features. Let's see how well these assertions hold up under scrutiny.
It is true that the Trudeau family did have a personal relationship with Castro and that the Cuban leader once described Pierre Trudeau as “a close friend and an extraordinary figure.” Furthermore, it is true that Margaret Trudeau was also open about her various past affairs. But figuring out an accurate timeline of events is essential to unravelling this theory. As the original theorist states: "We need to figure out if it’s even possible that Fidel met with Margaret before Justin’s conception. Turns out he did — in fact, Pierre and Fidel met for the first time one year before Justin was born."
Many proponents cite passages from the book Three Nights in Havana, which claims that Margaret Trudeau was indeed attracted to Castro, as evidence that an affair took place, despite the fact that the meeting detailed in this text deals with events during 1976: years after Trudeau's birth. Since Trudeau was born on Christmas Day 1971, he would have had to have been conceived between March 16th and April 22nd, due to the fact that he was neither a late birth nor premature. Castro was in Cuba during this period and did not leave the country during these dates. If the couple had conceived more than twelve months before, then it would have been too long ago for Margaret to carry Justin to term.
Furthermore, the marriage between Pierre Trudeau and Margaret Sinclair (conducted in secret that March) was already something of a scandal due to the age difference between them, and the couple were under intense media scrutiny already. Margaret would have sorely lacked the privacy required to carry out an affair with Fidel Castro with any level of discretion.
However, in another twist, the suicide of Fidel Castro Diaz-Balar, Fidel Castro senior's oldest son, added yet more fuel to the Trudeau-Castro lovechild rumours. Diaz-Balart, who took his own life at the age of 68 on February 1, 2018, after a long struggle with severe clinical depression, left a biting suicide note in which he revealed that extreme personal and ideological tension had driven the Castro family apart behind closed doors.
In particular, he claimed that his father was abusive to him and not afraid to pull punches with blood relations. In fact, despite the fact that Diaz-Balar was one of the most respected Cuban nuclear physicists, he was removed from his post as executive secretary of the country's Atomic Energy Commission after a falling-out with his father.
The suicide note alleged that Castro was continually comparing his eldest son unfavourably to Justin Trudeau, and seemed to out him as a half-sibling. "But what was I to do?," Diaz-Balar stated. "I am Cuban. My brother is Canadian. If he was born and raised in Cuba, he would have lived in our father’s shadow forever just like me." However, the statement reads as little more than a metaphor, with the use of the word "brother" as an affectionate diminutive.
Admittedly, there is a resemblance between Trudeau and Castro; that much is clear from photographs alone. But the evidence linking Margaret to Castro is spurious at best and seems to rely on her reputation for dalliances and circumstantial evidence far more than fact. When other incidences of her sexual indiscretions (including an apparent 1974 affair with Ted Kennedy) are apparently well-documented, it seems strange that Margaret would have been coy about an encounter with Castro. I think it's safe to say that we can debunk this story. Sorry conspiracy theorists, but as Freud would say, sometimes a (Cuban) cigar is just a cigar.
Featured illustration by Egarcigu