Fidel Castro Takes a Shot at Obama

Osmel Ramirez Alvarez

File photo: Roberto Chile,

HAVANA TIMES — If there’s something a control freak can’t stand, it’s being unable to control something. Till recently, the only voice Cubans heard was the voice of Fidel Castro. Other members of the leadership barely said anything and they appeared devoid of ideas and initiatives. Everything came from and was conceived by the great, gifted leader.

Under a full monopoly over the media, no one was able to get a different message. For the most part, no foreigners, save collaborators from the socialist bloc who had similar ideas, visited the country. People couldn’t travel abroad either, and, if they did, it was as a State employee or émigré, which was tantamount to being banished. How terrible it was for our leaders that the Soviet Union collapsed and they had to open the country’s doors in the ‘90s to tourism! Nothing has been the same since.

To make matters worse, the capitalists invented the Internet. The Cuban government must have thought it was a CIA plot! That mad, anarchic and democratizing flow of information was and continues to be a threat to its efforts to control society. That’s why it has done everything in its power to avoid the Internet and minimize its use by the public. Little by little, however, the Internet became essential and they had no choice but to let it in. Nevertheless, wherever they offer the service, they control it with atrocious forms of espionage.

Heavy criticism and questioning from abroad and constant demands at home forced them to grant people access. To restrict its use they established the prohibitive price of 4.50 Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC) the hour. This is equivalent to the wages an average worker earns a week. Recently, they lowered the price to 2 CUC the hour. It continues to be highway robbery, for it still represents 20 hours of work.

Mobile phones, smartphones, new applications, email, DVDs, satellite dishes, the weekly film and series package, all of this has sparked off a revolution among the docile flock. It is no longer so easy to keep people in the dark. It is no longer so easy to have them listen to only one message. They were left only with the threat of the empire and filtering all news broadcast over conventional media, still under their control.

“Fear of the enemy and of change,” that is the strategy left to them. But now, Obama has come and says he wants to lift the blockade, put an end to the Cold War, establish relations of every kind and even be our friend. He dared offer us advice and share his ideas about how to build a better future. He dared to do even more than that, to tell us that we, the people, are the sovereign, and that the possibility of changing and improving is in our hands.

Such affront on his hosts could not go unnoticed. That is why Fidel Castro replied. Raul Castro hasn’t even said a word yet, perhaps because he’s waiting for his bewilderment to pass (so as not to react as he did during the press conference). Perhaps he’s still disconcerted.

Fidel Castro’s article, published by Granma, would be undeserving of a reply if it wasn’t a kind of official government declaration. Castro still enjoys much moral and ideological authority within the government. His comments are out of place and demented, but we are talking about a piece by the great leader. Perhaps it was written by a collective, and not even Raul Castro’s advisors dared polish it or reject its publication.

It includes a long, historical account that has nothing to do with the issues in question. He makes incoherent claims when he says that, in Obama’s mind, there are no indigenous populations, only because he failed to mention an aboriginal element that does not exist in Cuba. In Mexico or Peru, he would probably mention these populations. The article shows a marked reluctance to open up a new chapter between the two countries and an insistence on clinging to the past, spurring hatred and contempt for what happened.

In the end, he suggests the United States wants to help and hand out our future. This is equally out of place. We’re not asking for this and they’re not offering it. It is a question of trading and doing business to create the wealth we need, of putting an end to the blockade that has caused so much damage and constitutes an insurmountable obstacle for us.

Lastly, it is a question of what Obama suggests and all of us want (with the exception of the handful of Cubans who benefit from our poverty), to have Cuba change and eliminate all the internal obstacles that hold back and stifle the full development of our people.

Now, Fidel Castro, after five decades of failures, says we don’t need any advice or help from the United States, because we can produce it all ourselves. Why haven’t they done so to date, then?

I agree that our people and our country have more than the skills needed for this. I am also aware that the reason we haven’t achieved this to date is the dysfunctional system Fidel created and still defends, despite the fact it clearly does not work.

Obama set the stakes very high for Raul Castro and Fidel is the bulldog they let loose to fight for him. He’s old but he’s got poison in its spears. I say this because we haven’t heard Obama’s words again – they haven’t been rebroadcasted or published. We’ve only seen excerpts followed by strong criticisms. What Fidel Castro said, what he wrote today and what he is likely to write from now on, will, however, be published everywhere and repeated ad nauseum.

As Obama addressed mainly the young, the Party has already announced the holding of an event named Fidel and Youth. Many more initiatives of this nature are likely to come. Next month, we’ll see how the mysterious Congress of the Cuban Communist Party unfolds.

Fidel Castro’s article was a gross act of aggression against Obama. He will never forgive the US president for rousing his flock. Perhaps what the world believes is true, that he feels offended that Obama didn’t include him in his agenda. I feel there’s something bigger behind the curtains, however. I believe in the metaphor of the cockfight: Obama came for a fight and the great leader is the only contender in Cuba who can offer that fight.

He is likely to persuade many, but not everyone. Obama’s words reflected our reality and needs so well that not even a thousand articles can discredit him. They reached our hearts.

36 thoughts on “Fidel Castro Takes a Shot at Obama

  • And he never will

  • “By the 1950s, the U.S. controlled 80 percent of Cuban utilities, 90 percent of Cuban mines, close to 100 percent of the country’s oil refineries, 90 percent of its cattle ranches, and 40 percent of the sugar industry.”

    I’d be upset, and I’d understand the Cuban’s revolting against it.

    Times have changed. It’s not 1959 anymore. Whatever benefits the Castro’s gave the Cubans (in which there are) were fine, but it hasn’t been without issues.

    The current regime has been fine at “staying the course”, but way too cautious. Too many reports of simple businesses being shut down by the government even in today’s world.

    Without incentivizing socialism, I don’t think Cubans can move forward with the current model.

    I think it would be a mistake to move to a completely free market now. If you want to talk about mass corruption, that kind of move is going to move into the hands of it.

    If socialism is to work, complete transparency needs to be provided by the state as well, otherwise there is no money trail which I imagine is very frustrating to Cubans. I can’t imagine a free market being better in that sense.

    Reform socialism, incentivize it, allow some sort of “intrapreneurship” within the socialist model to really move Cuba ahead. I think Cuba has a solid foundation as shown in their education, health, and innovation in the health sector. Incentivize technology, and see what these cuban companies can do.

  • I think the governments of South America are right to continue trading with the US despite disagreements. That is the adult thing to do.

    But take the last OAS. A lot of countries threatened to boycott unless Cuba was admitted. That would have been embarrassing for the US. And in the long run losing moral influence does affect trade. All things being equal the US might lose out on contracts to other countries. The US also want to develop trade with Brazil and Brazil has invested heavily in the Mariel project. The truth is there are all kinds of pressures at home and abroad that have had an affect. To say it is all personal vanity is too simplistic in my mind.

  • Politicians will often make anti-American comments as a populist posture which always gets support at home. Nothing like blaming a foreign enemy for your own self-inflicted problems.

    But the reality of their actions, as distinct from their rhetoric, is quite different. The governments of South America, left or right, have continued to engage with the US in all the diplomatic forums and they continue to trade with US, which you will agree, is the one thing that matters most to US foreign policy.

    I know that Ben Rhodes claims that the US was being isolated diplomatically, but that opinion does not align with facts. What he really means is Obama & his progressive voter base feel sad that their heroes down south, Hugo Chavez, Raul Castro & etc, all say mean things about the USA. They want to be loved by the corrupt socialist caudillos and will eagerly abase themselves to achieve that vain goal.

    Obama’s Cuban vacation is fundamentally about his legacy at home. He will always be lauded by the progressive left in the USA for his opening to Raul Castro. it doesn’t matter if no good for the Cuban people comes of it, as they’ve never really cared about the Cuban people.

  • US interests did not own 80% of Cuba prior to the Revolution, it was much less than half of the economy. Still, Americans did own a lot, and many Cubans resented it, even as they benefited from the investment. The US signed commitments to by the bulk of the Cuban sugar crop each year at guaranteed prices. This arrangement sent a lot of money to Cuba, but it also re-inforced the single-crop economy which was distorting Cuba’s economic development.

    I agree with you that the economic changes happening in Cuba could go well or they could go badly. I fear the latter. The Castro regime has arranged for all foreign investment to go to partnerships with the military owned conglomerate, GAESA. The Cuban people will be cut out of the new growth opportunities. Cuba wont become another Haiti, as the Castro regime is planning on transforming the system along the China or Vietnam model. The elite will stay in power, exploiting the Cuban people.

    Ken Giebelt: Yes, following the American Revolution the Loyalists fled from the lower 13 colonies and settled in Canada. British officers who lost their property back in New York or Massachusetts were rewarded with generous estates in Upper Canada, Nova Scotia & etc.

  • It is worth remembering that at the time of the American Revolution many people moved to Canada.
    Years ago, in the city of Hamilton, Ontario I saw a statue to remember them and their suffering.

  • US imperialists moved to Cuba to own factories, farms, casinos, plantains, etc while using a largely uneducated Cuban workforce to work in terrible conditions. Prior to the revolution, 80% of Cuba was “owned” by US interests. Yes it was legal, except for the fact that the government that allowed this to happen was funded and backed by the US for their own interests. The US backed dictatorship helped make this all happen. So, yes – Cuba was “americas playground” back then, and so lots of people happened to want to go to this playground.

    So, that being said, I’m very objective and I’ve done a lot of research. I won’t stick to one hard line and defend it to the end. I try to understand both sides. I’ve been in the streets of Havana talking to the people as well – I’m not talking about walking around Old Havana.

    It’s 2016, times have changed. I understand the revolution, and I understand the people it helped. Elitists hate the revolution, and with good cause. But, it’s time to move forward. The revolution has created an opportunity for Cuba to move forward and thrive with advancements in healthcare, an educated workforce,low crime, and almost 100% literacy. The existing reolutionaries are too old. They need to go. More transparency in government is needed. I believe Cuba can thrive, maintain Socialism, but still operate under “Capitalist like” incentives to encourage growth and innovation.

    Played right, I see really good things for Cuba. Played wrongly, I see another Haiti on our hands, and I’m partly sure that the Castro’s want to avoid that.

    I’m open to discussion about this, but I’m not open to anyone who just takes a hard stance without considering all the factors on both sides good and bad. We all know the USA is not completely innocent in this situation, and neither is Cuba, and neither are the Castros.

  • Absolutely. I agree. The USA is a rich country, while Cuba is considered a “poor” country, so many people want to play for the “better team”. There are also some Cubans who choose to live in Cuba – I’ve met them. I also believe that Cuba is on the verge of something great, as long as they can change and adapt – but that has to come from within Cuba. Given all of it’s faults, I can’t help but believe that the ‘revolution’ had some hand in that – minimal crime, almost 100% literacy, and an educated population. I also believe the revolutionaries have played the game far too long, and they are too old, and too stuck in an old world mindset. Times have to change. Played right, Cuba could will evolve into something great. Played wrongly… well, we don’t need another Dominican Republic or Haiti on our hands….

  • Several founding members of Code Pink are also directors of Global Exchange, a business which sells packaged Potemkin tours to Cuba, North Korea, Iran & Venezuela. They make good money selling postcard socialist utopias to gullible leftists like lynn.

    In her excellent book, “Out of Cuba: a memoir of a journey” the Cuban-American author Regina Anavy describes the disgust with which Cubans regard these pro-Castro Yuma fanatics from Code Pink.

  • People started leaving Cuba in droves long before WF/DF became law.

    On the other hand, WF/DF has had no effect on immigration to Cuba. Cuba used to receive tens of thousands of immigrants every year, up until, oh… 1959. Then suddenly, the immigrants stopped coming. Something must have happened to change that, don’t you think?

    People from around the world are free to move to Cuba if they want to. And yet so curious to note, so very, very few have done so. In fact, the only people who do move to Cuba are those few benighted souls so desperate to flee from criminal justice in the West. They’re willing to live in decrepit poverty in Cuba rather than return to jail in the US or Canada or Europe.

    So there is that: Castro’s prison island: It’s better that jail in the US!

  • Politicians will often make anti-American comments as a populist posture which always gets support at home. Nothing like blaming a foreign enemy for your own self-inflicted problems.

    But the reality of their actions, as distinct from their rhetoric, is quite different. The governments of South America, left or right, have continued to engage with the US in all the diplomatic forums and they continue to trade with US, which you will agree, is the one thing that matters most to US foreign policy.

    I know that Ben Rhodes claims that the US was being isolated diplomatically, but that opinion does not align with facts. What he really means is Obama & his progressive voter base feel sad that their heroes down south, Hugo Chavez, Raul Castro & etc, all say mean things about the USA. They want to be loved by the corrupt socialist caudillos and will eagerly abase themselves to achieve that vain goal.

    Obama’s Cuban vacation is fundamentally about his legacy at home. He will always be lauded by the progressive left in the USA for his opening to Raul Castro. it doesn’t matter if any good for the Cuban people comes of it, as they’ve never really cared about the Cuban people.

  • There is a shift to the right but what has that got to do with my comments. View the clip – doesn’t the person interviewed say that the reason for the change in policy was due to isolation by Latin America. Yes/No. Hasn’t Obama stated the same in interviews Yes/No.

    As I state in my last sentence which you seemed to have skipped it isn’t an issue of right/left. It’s in issue of whether these countries have an independent foreign policy or not.

  • Code Pink, Tea Party…..opposite sides of the same coin. Bernie Sanders can’t win. You are betting on the wrong horse.

  • You have no idea what 11 million Cubans want.

  • I think you have it backwards my friend. South America is turning its back on socialism. Merco Sur is falling apart, Venezuela is on the brink of collapse? Argentina has move to the right and Brazil is experiencing riots against the socialist government

  • I would think that as a Cuban, Osmel knows s bit more about Cuba and its reality than you, who doesn’t even speak the language.

  • Code pink huh? A fringe Neo-Marxist group who supports this countries enemies. Although, please know that I have served this country in order to protect your right to freely express your opinion, something denied to my Cuban family on the island. And your comments still have nothing to do with this story.

    ….by the way Bernie Sanders, like Donald Trump, stands no chance in a general election. Even now he lacks the needed delegates to win the democratic nomination.

  • Once again Anna, the overwhelming response to Obama’s visit to Cuba is one of enthusiasm and excitement, an overwhelming positive experience. …..and then you get the governments perspective. I think they were caught flat footed. They simply don’t know how to respond and are deathly afraid of loosing control!

  • Being the bastion of socialism and a beacon to the rest of the world one would think that people would be knocking down the door to get in. That was the comment I was responding to.

    I have to say that when comparing my life in Cuba to my current life in the USA, the obvious, tge only preference is to live here, my adopted home.

  • Question John. Of Cuba were to have an “American” Adjustment Act, how many would go there? In fact it is a curiosity that prior to 1959 Cuba had a positive net immigration rate. After the revolution quite the opposite happened. Very telling don’t you think?

  • The New York Times written at a [comprehension level] of a 12 year old? ….and this coming from a man who has read over a thousand science fiction books. Oh you do make me laugh John!

  • The reason Cubans take to unsafe rafts etc is because of the “wet foot, dry foot” clause of the Cuban Adjustment Act .
    You know this which makes your statement a lie of omission. .
    You’re a liar.

  • I have read that the New York Times is written at the 12-year old level . Certainly the corporate media treats the news as entertainment and is intended to entertain first in order to get better ratings which gets more money for ad-time . Creating a well-informed electorate is not in their interest or the interests of the imperial government or the .01% who own it.
    ( Bernie excepted)

  • The U.S.A. has been involved in some 70 interventions just since the end of WWII.
    Cuba is among the very few to have survived imperialism’s attack.
    The United States policy is a continuous one since 1918 and is centered on eliminating all alternatives to totalitarian free-enterprise capitalism.
    Some people , like you , wish to bring back what the revolution got rid of and help the U.S. imperialists who spend over a trillion U.S. dollars per year doing so , force free-enterprise capitalism down the throats of 11 million Cubans who do not want it.
    Fidel’s reaction to Obamas visit and remarks were far milder than they could have been given that Obama is no more and no less connected to that nefarious imperialist U.S. foreign policy .
    Your lack of a historical perspective makes your critical remarks of Fidel look foolish.
    Obama is just as murderous as all his predecessors under whose administrations Cuba has been under existential attack for over 54 years.
    You should try to understand that and quite a bit more of imperialist policies before you praise him.

  • If you watch the clip on The Scoop on Obama’s Cuba policy it will show that the main reason that the US is dropping hostilities is because it was getting isolated by Latin America. Obama has also confirmed the same in several interviews and speeches. Finally its not a right/left issue when right wing governments have come to power they have also criticized American policy towards Cuba.

  • In 2015 there was $153 billion in exports from the US to Latin America and $115 in imports from the region to the US. That does not sound to me like Latin America has isolated the US.

    Moreover, among US’s harshest critics in the region, Argentina has voted out their leftist president and elected a centre-right government, Brazil is set to impeach their corrupt socialist president, Bolivian voters just turned down Evo’s request to be made el presidente for life and Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution is circling the drain.

    None of these changes are the result of US bullying. The people of these countries are fed up with the corrupt populist socialists who have ruined their nations. One day the people of Cuba will be rid of the corrupt Castro dictatorship.

  • More Mexicans and Haitians leave Mexico and Haitis’ shining beacon of Capitalism for the USA too. So, your comment doesn’t come close to saying anything relevant at all. The difference is that the Mexicans and Haitians who go are much less educated and much more poor in terms of quality of life than Cubans. You could actually thank Socialism for that. It’s nor fair to compare US capitalism to Cuban Socialism. How about comparing Mexican and Haitian Capitalism to Cuban Socialism, or Haitian Capitalism to US Capitalism and say they are both successful? Corruption indexes for both Haiti and Mexico are also much higher than Cuba.

  • What I posted reflects a pro-American reality. It is the essence of pro-American where we are free to oppose hypocrisy and manipulation by leaders controlled by corporate/ globalist/regime change forces. Fortunately we are now supporting a leader who could take us out from under the warmongering elite that seek to dominate the planet. His name is Bernie Sanders. Peace to you and all Cuban people! We are excited to be with you and not apart. Please beware of Corporate Greed! Peace and plenty…

  • I have read that the mental age of a American voter was only 14 years. Watching American elections and the arguments presented confirms this. You do not need to include Donald Trump to prove this.

    Your authors has a metal age of 12.

    America has no choice but to change its policies of bullying its neighbours. Just about the whole of Latin America had isolated America overs its policies.

    If you can’t beat him join him, appears to be be the new US policy

  • Excellent comment, Dan. Cuba, since 1959, has needed a chance to breathe and, if so, it would have been democratic long ago. I am not a pro-Castro zealot but I am a firm supporter of the greatest Cuban, Celia Sanchez, who took Fidel to the U. S. for 12 days in April of 1959, a mere three months after the triumph of the revolution, for the purpose of having Fidel tell President Eisenhower that Cuba planned a democracy that the U. S. could closely monitor for its honesty. She well knew it was not in Cuba’s interest to fight the nearby world superpower. The State Department and the U. S. Society of Newspaper Editors had promised her that Ike would meet Fidel for that very purpose. Historians who desire the truth are well aware of that scenario, including the historic fact that the crooked VP Nixon arranged for him, not the malleable and old Ike, to meet Fidel. Nixon famously told Fidel that the U. S. and the Batista exiles would regain control of Cuba within a matter of “weeks.” From that day in April of 1959 till tomorrow’s first day of April in 2016, right-wing thugs like Nixon — along with Miami hardliners that are remnants of the sanitized Batista-Mafia dictatorship — have dictated U. S. Cuban policy…and that includes CIA Director Allen Dulles and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles who, in the Eisenhower administration, helped devise such schemes as Operation Mongoose (which Bobby Kennedy followed up on) that called for Fidel’s murder, the Bay of Pigs attack in April of 1961, and other dastardly right-wing decisions that the U. S. democracy has proven incapable of correcting or admitting. Decades later, of course, declassified U. S. documents revealed that the Dulles brothers and other decision-makers had financial interests in such things as the United Fruit Company, which they used to rape and rob Cuba as well as many other Latin American and Caribbean nations while being backed by U.S. and CIA military power. Denying such facts to support the vast Castro Cottage Industry in the U. S. demeans the U. S. and democracy far more than it demeans Castro and Cuba. Cuba, after all, is an island and the the U. S. is the world superpower. But, on the international stage, Cuba punches far above its weight for the reasons stated, along with the fact that — despite imperialist powers coveting it so dearly — it has remained sovereign since January 1, 1959. The most fascinating aspect of that phenomenon, of course, is that Cuban women like Celia Sanchez, Vilma Espin, Haydee Santamaria, etc., had far more to do with winning the revolution and establishing Revolutionary Cuba than the Castro brothers, Che, Camilo, etc. Today on the island Celia Sanchez-disciples like Josefina Vidal and Cristina Escobar will have more influence on shaping post-Castro Cuba than the Castro brothers. Of course, to sate the revenge, economic and political appetites of the Castro Cottage Industry in the U. S., admitting or acknowledging such facts go against the propaganda and machismo that fuels the Castro Cottage Industry, such as having control of the incoherent U. S. Congress on Cuban issues.

  • Huh? I’m not sure what Cubans you talked to but that was certainly not the reaction to Obama’s visit or his speech. And it’s so curious that so many thousands upon thousands risk there lives fleeing your shining beacon of Socialism. I think that pretty much says it all.

  • Ummm ….and what does your anti American diatribe have to do with Cuba and this article? As a Cuban all I can say is hahahaha

  • All those who write about Cuba being such a closed system never recognize or acknowledge the fact that Obama was invited to address the nation by the Cubans. He was invited to ham it up and humanize himself with Panfleto. Raul stood there and fielded unfair, decontextualized questions from hostile, Capitalist reporters. That’s not an indicator of an insecure regime fighting to maintain informational control.

  • Hi, I was in Cuba when Obama visited La Habana and I talked to many Cubans before and after his visit. Most of them were very aware about what President Obama and the USA have in mind about Cuba: get rid of a political system that has made Cuba an example for all poor an unequal countries in the world. It makes me very sad to read your article. How can a educated, intelligent person like you swallow the words of hypocrisy from a president of the greatest imperalist country in the world?

  • Lynn, I believe the author was referring to Fidel as “the great leader”… and perhaps with more than a touch of sarcasm intended as well.

  • Hello. You may think of him as a “great leader”, but many of us do not. Campaigning he promised to close Guantanamo Prison eight years ago…He promised to bring our troops home from Afghanistan immediately… 29,000,000 people are too poor to sign up for his health insurance and if they do not they must pay a fine. He allowed the Middle East tragedy engineered by corporate funded globalist Hillary Clinton presently under criminal investigation for using her private email server for government business. Under his guidance the United States plundered Ukraine with the installation of new now hated leader. All along in different ways he has worked to create Russia as a deadly threat. We call this warmongering and corporate wealth kowtowing. Do you really see greatness here? Many of us do not. We support Bernie Sanders, Socialist Democrat, for POTUS as a true and humble servant of the people and the world. “World Peace”. Peace to you. See you in June – May with Code Pink, Lynn Delaney

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