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Friday, March 02, 2007

Fidel Castro Talks, the Media Jumps

Cuban President Fidel Castro crashed his own media funeral and now has the corporate press at his beck and call. Recovering from intestinal surgery last July, Fidel is calling all the shots.

The mainstream media swallowed hook and sinker the first declarations of “wishful thinking” about his health from supposedly “in the know” Bush administration officials and representatives of Miami Vice [not squad].

Now they are obligated to give front page space every time he takes part in a televised or audio conversation. The Cuban leader, who is no spring chicken at 80, said months ago that he would undergo a slow recovery that would take him out of public life until further notice.

Vice President Raul Castro took over the day-to-day helm but he and other top Cuban officials have repeatedly said Fidel keeps up-to-date on all important matters and works the phones to get his concerns across.

Each time Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a close friend and intellectual counterpart of Castro, visits or speaks with Fidel it becomes a top international news story.

For the majority of Cubans who are accustomed to their president and hope he returns to public life, the emotional and informational exchanges with Chavez are a feel good pill.

In their half hour phone conversation on Tuesday, broadcast live on Venezuelan TV and radio on Chavez’ “Alo, Presidente” program, the two leaders embraced with words and discussed the major issues facing their nations and the world.

Castro sounded lively and the media contemplated a fuller comeback than expected. The two presidents spoke about the recently announced expanded Venezuelan–Cuban cooperation that in 2007 will include 1.5 billion dollars in projects.

They also discussed one of their favorite issues, energy, and Chavez spoke of his intention to set up a joint venture with Vietnam to manufacture energy-saving light bulbs and suggested that Cuba could also take part. “I think that sounds wonderful,” answered Fidel.

Cuba and Venezuela will join forces to build nearly a dozen ethanol plants to make fuel alcohol out of sugar cane. However, the two leaders were quick to state their strong opposition to the use of grains like soy or corn for that purpose because it would drive up food prices in a world where billions go hungry.

Another topic was President Bush’s upcoming trip to Mexico and several Latin American countries. Chavez told Fidel, “You know that we are a preparing a welcoming in South America.”

The two leaders spoke on the anniversary of the 1989 “Caracazo” upheaval in Caracas, and Chavez recalled the causes of that event, “the plundering of the country, capital flight, privatizations, inflation accompanied by a terrible recession, unemployment and a breakdown of even the middle class.”

Fidel said he feels more energetic and is taking advantage of his private time to do a lot of reading, a passion the Cuban leader shares with Chavez, who like Fidel, is known for burning the midnight oil.


Blogger Lynden said...

When I heard the news that Fidel had called Chavez, I laughed and said, "Ah, Fidel is up to his old mischief!" Once again he had exposed the cheap and cruel propaganda about his imminent demise. It is a propaganda that one finds difficult to understand. We see Fidel on television, visibly improved in both appearance and actions, yet the propaganda says, 'Don't believe your eyes. Don't believe your ears. Believe us instead." Unfortunately, there's a world out there willing to be led by the nose, despite what their eyes show them.
So Fidel has made a fool of them again and scored one more victory for truth and honesty. He has demonstrated once again why he has remained at the helm of his country for 48 years and given it a voice far more noble than any other. Not the voice of a brutal army; not the voice of great wealth but a voice of courage, integrity, principle and solidarity.

As I read the transcript of the conversation between "Father and Son", the thought occured to me: What if Fidel has staged his own illness to test the resilience of his People; of the Revolution; of the Cadres at all levels? What if he wanted to show the US its own impotence with regard to Cuba, when he inevitably gives way to new leadership?
This is all hypothetical of course, but the effect of Fidel's illness has shown that anyway. Cuba and its Revolution will survive Bush, and all succeeding Presidents, long after Fidel has joined Marti, Bolivar and other great leaders in the Pantheon of Latin American heroes.
I was reminded of one other thing as I "listened" to that conversation: Fidel's humbleness. His willingness to tell the world that he continues to study; to learn; to be concerned not only with his People but ALL humanity. Which other world leader - other than Chavez of course - can claim that he shares those noble habits and traits? Which other world leader can, through word or action, show such unconditional love for humanity?
Teaching someone to read and write; giving someone back her sight; treating the poor with respect, is more powerful than the ill-intentioned propaganda constantly emanating from the US and elsewhere. That is why they are again raising the spectre of vicious repression, assassination and terrorism.
Latin America and the entire world still has much to fear from a system that is eating its way to the end of the earth. We need more Fidels and Hugos from the North; not plots of mischief and domination.

4:03 PM  

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