By Isaac Risco (dpa)
HAVANA TIMES — Where is Fidel Castro? The total absence in public of the former Cuban president begins to generate questions days after the governments of Washington and Havana announced a landmark agreement to resume their relations.
Fidel has not published a single line since Wednesday, the day that his brother Raul Castro and US President Barack Obama made known before the cameras the most important turn in half a century in the turbulent relations between the two countries.
Neither have the Cuban authorities released any images of Fidel. It is not known, for example, if Castro has seen the “Cuban Five”, intelligence agents arrested in 1998 in the United States and now all back in Havana. The veteran revolutionary, now 88, made the cause of the Cuban Five an emblem of his feud with Washington.
The last three former spies arrived on Wednesday to Havana after being released as part of the agreement between Obama and Raul Castro, after months of secret negotiations. Since then, the Cuban Five have taken part in several public events in Havana.
Cubans are actually accustomed to the absence of Fidel Castro. The former president is long retired from public life. The last time he was seen outside his home was in January this year when he unexpectedly visited an art gallery. Photos of the Cuban leader bent by age were seen around the world.
His silence during the last five days has raised eyebrows, especially when the eyes of the world are on the island.
“He will write a ‘reflection’ soon, of course he will,” believes Rogelio Cutiño, a 52-year-old musician on the Malecon, the famous seaside promenade of the Cuban capital.
“He always comes out. He said they (the Cuban Five) would return and they did,” chimes in Mario Martin, 64, alluding to a phrase of Fidel Castro that became a slogan for the cause of the Cuban Five throughout the last decade.
The questions also revolve around the role Fidel may have played in the rapprochement with his old ideological enemy. Although out of office since 2006, on the island it seems inconceivable that Fidel Castro has not been privy to the negotiations between his brother and Obama.
“I’m sure he’s very happy and must have taken part in all these decisions,” his niece, Mariela Castro, told CNN last week.
Raul Castro’s daughter, a known activist for the rights of sexual minorities in Cuba and a member of parliament, was also convinced that her uncle “will at any time write one of his usual ‘reflections”.
Since a severe intestinal illness forced him from power in 2006, Fidel Castro lives in retirement at his home on the western side of Havana, dedicated to his studies and his avid habit of following international news, the official press has noted in the past.
The former president also occasionally writes his “reflections”, opinion pieces that are immediately published in “Granma” and the other official media.
However the ‘reflections’ have become increasingly scarce. Fidel’s latest articles, published in mid-October, praised the Cuban contribution to the fight against Ebola in Africa. A few days earlier he had also written a text on an editorial in “The New York Times”, which now seems more like a premonition.
The newspaper is a “press organ that under certain circumstances outlines patterns on the most appropriate political line for the interests of its country,” wrote Castro, on the article in the influential newspaper that called for an end to the embargo on Cuba.
So was Fidel Castro aware of the negotiations? That is a question that perhaps he himself will soon clear up. For now, he’s ceded the political leadership to his brother.