New Yorkers in 1959 sound off on new Cuban leader Fidel Castro during NYC visit

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NEW YORK CITY (PIX11) -- Fidel Castro's visit to the United States in April 1959 sparked a lot of conversation about the new Cuban leader, with New Yorkers whom WPIX interviewed split on whether he would be a force for liberty or nothing but trouble for the U.S.

During his visit, Castro, who died Friday at the age of 90, spoke to the Council of Foreign Affairs, a New York-based group that focuses on international relations, according to His speech hinted that Cuba would not ask the United States for economic assistance.

The meeting ended early after Castro became angered by some of the questions asked by audience members, the website reported.

After speaking with the Council of Foreign Affairs, Castro met with then Vice President Richard Nixon, who later said the Cuban leader is "either incredibly naive about communism or under communist discipline -- my guess is the former," according to Politico.

Several New Yorkers whom PIX11 reporter and anchor John Tillman spoke to had strong opinions about Castro and some disagreed with his visit to the United States.

"I don't like the man. I don't like his attitude towards the American government," a woman from Flushing, Queens said. "He's a man that I don't approve of his being here."

Others were hopeful Castro would be a step up from his predecessor Fulgencio Batista, who fled to the Dominican Republic in January 1959 after the collapse of his government. Castro was sworn in as prime minister the next month.

"After seven years of dictatorship and murder and economic  ruin, I think he can come in there with the leaders behind him and bring the people up with their own talents to liberty and economic progress," a man from Levittown, Long Island said.

"I think potentially he is a very important South American leader. I feel our government should give him every possible encouragement," a Manhattan woman said.