Fidel Castro: “The Day I Really Die, Nobody Will Believe Them”

By Fernando Ravsberg

HAVANA TIMES – Fidel Castro, leader of the Cuban Revolution, died Friday at 10:29 pm, according to his brother, President Raul Castro. He was 90 years old, 70 of which he lived as a political activist, including presiding over his nation for a half century.

Fidel was perhaps the only enemy of Washington in Latin America that they could never defeat, even though a dozen presidents proposed it, with hundreds of assassination attempts, an invasion, creating armed groups and blocking the economy of the island for over 50 years.

At the end of July 2006, Fidel Castro, was forced to leave his political positions due to a life-threatening operation. “I provisionally delegate my functions as the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba to the second secretary, Raul Castro Ruz,” he wrote then, but finally his health forced him to a permanent retreat.

In the 2008 elections he did not run for office: “I tell you that I will not aspire or accept – I repeat – I will not aspire or accept, the position of President of the Council of State and Commander-in-Chief.”

During the first moments of the reforms carried out by Raul Castro there was much speculation about the possible opposition of Fidel Castro, but in 2010 he gave his definite support to the changes undertaken by his brother. “The Cuban model no longer works even for us,” he told Jeffrey Goldberg in an interview with The Atlantic magazine. This cleared the way for the transformations that have changed the economic reality of Cuba. He also stopped writing about national politics and reminded several international personalities that the president is now Raul.

That closed his life cycle as a militant that began very young. People say that the first demonstration in which he participated was the protest against the United States because one of its marines urinated on top of the statue of the national hero, José Martí. He belonged to a generation that was very wary of the USA. In 1958, from the Sierra Maestra mountains, he wrote a letter to his companion, Celia Sánchez, stating that “When this war is over, a much longer and bigger war will begin for me: the war that I will undertake against them. I realize that this is going to be my true destiny. ”

Fidel Castro. Photo: Raquel Perez Diaz
Fidel Castro. Photo: Raquel Perez Diaz

While a student of the university of Havana, Fidel traveled with his friend Alfredo Guevara to Colombia at the same time in which exploded the “Bogotazo”, a popular revolt that erupted over the murder of a progressive politician, in which he participated actively. Guevara, then a member of the Communist Party, said in an interview that on the cattle transport plane in which they returned to Cuba, Fidel told him that he wanted to read books on Marxism. Colombia marked his life in two senses: It showed him the possibility of conquering power by armed struggle and the approach to socialist ideas.

Like all foreign journalists, on my arrival in Cuba in 1990 I requested an interview with Fidel Castro. I never had an answer but I was able to “catch” him at an embassy and have a face-to-face with him for half an hour. No doubt he was a very charismatic and skillful person, who created empathy constantly touching his interlocutor and often answered questions with questions. When he launched to speak it was difficult to stop him but it was not impossible since I asked eight questions in that space of time.

I was close to him again on August 5, 1994, while covering the violent protests on Havana’s Malecon seawall during the worst of the economic crisis. Thousands of people threw themselves into the street throwing stones while construction workers repressed them with iron bars. In the midst of this chaos Fidel Castro appeared without escort, accompanied only by his chief of staff, Felipe Perez Roque. When people saw him, the image froze, the rebels stopped throwing stones and their supporters began to chant his name. That day we were half a meter from him, until the escort arrived and virtually forced him into an open jeep.

In the late 1990s he invited a group of 14 journalists to a dinner at the Palace of the Revolution. The food was very well prepared but austere; the starter was grapefruit, a fruit that he apparently ate a lot. He met us at 8 in the evening and we left there at 4 in the morning; it is certainly true that he liked to work until dawn.

Fidel Castro. Photo: Raquel Perez Diaz
Fidel Castro. Photo: Raquel Perez Diaz

Paradoxically he spoke very little, he simply asked questions and listened to us. I had him sitting in front of me at the table and at 2 o’clock in the morning I saw his tired eyes close. I thought we were going to have to leave the dining room without making any noise and without saying goodbye to the host, but he opened his eyes, asked something and he continued the meeting for another two hours, as if that brief nap of 3 or 4 minutes was enough for him to recharge the batteries.

When we arrived at the Palace of the Revolution he welcomed us with a glass of mojito served to the edge, which he held with only two fingers. He denied, without saying a word, the information that said he suffered from Parkinson’s disease. It was that after hundreds of assassination attempts frustrated by the Cuban security services, the USA and anti-Castro militants were satisfied with inventing illnesses and even his death. Every time he disappeared for a few weeks there was a rumor that he had died. At the end of that dinner he told us laughing: “The day I die, no one will believe them.”

21 thoughts on “Fidel Castro: “The Day I Really Die, Nobody Will Believe Them”

  • Priorities! You better get back there to walk the dog.

    I love the image of the funeral truck breaking down and the soldiers had to get out and push it. That’s the perfect metaphor for the moribund Castro regime.


  • I made a factual statement – do your research!

  • Leonard was a much better poet!

  • You need to take a few history lessons. Cuba NEVER participated in any attack on Israel.

  • Thank you. The range of reactions is interesting, to say the least.

    The most important reaction will be the cumulative effect of the tyrant’s death on the hearts & minds of all Cubans. What they do, or don’t do, will be crucial for the future of Cuba.

  • It’s like when someone talks bad about your drunk uncle. You can say what you want but you feel weird hearing other people criticize him. The same goes for Fidel. Other Cubans can say what they please but if you are not Cuban, shut up. That goes for those who would criticize AND those lefties who sing his praises. Just depends on the mindset of the Cuban. My family is generally sad. My Fidelista grandfather-in-law more so than my wife. They are also anxious for the future. I had everyone convinced Clinton would win. Oooops!

  • But Rona Ambrose got it right Griffin!

  • Romanticizing a tyrant is not uncommon. His charismatic style left many not subject to his oppression impressed by his anti-US rhetoric. But if you had lived under his tyranny, you would feel differently.

  • There is no problem finding medicine or food in Saudi Arabia. There is no valid comparison between the failed socialism of Castro’s Venezuela and the economy of Saudi Arabia.

  • To be precise, Fidel Castro in his cable to Nikita Khrushchev proposed a pre-emptive nuclear strike. You suggest incorrectly that he proposed that a nuclear strike should only be made following US attack.

  • Actually he said if Cuba was attacked by the U.S. [27 OCTOBER 1962] but the world knows well which is the only country to have ever nuked another and it wasnt Cuba or Russia.

    Poverty,illiteracy & child prostitution were ripe in the U.S. sponsored Batista regime and however much you and his supporters in exile in Miami might not like it, the fact is that millions of Cubans and people throughout the world today mourn the passing of Fidel.

    He left us as he choose, retired for years, in his 90s and in his sleep. Defeated decades of US embargoes, gave his people education and health surpassing anywhere else in the Carribean and even the USA.
    He also freed the Cuban people from Catholic bigotry and indoctrination.

    But there’s still one place in Cuba where there is torture and years of detention without charge or trial……its called Guantanamo Bay!!

  • About as well as every other country who’s economy is based on oil, even the Saudi’s are borrowing money now. So put blame where it’s due.

  • Hard basket,he was hidden in the mountains, they barely saw him coming.

  • Yeah, they are trying to repeat in Venezuela what he did in Cuba. How is that working out so far?

  • And so the mightiest of the mighty
    has now departed this mortal coyle
    forever embraced
    the hero of revolutionists,
    freedom fighters,
    and (surprisingly) ecologists

    when we write the history
    of our planet
    our inspirations and dreams
    there will always be Fidel
    there will always be Che
    there will always be Celia
    and there will always be Cuba
    standing up for the poor
    the workers
    against imperialism
    its hundreds of assassination plots
    the blockader to the North

    how different
    how much poorer
    how much less possibility
    less imagination
    our lives
    would have held
    without you
    now but dust
    yet still towering

    – Mitchel Cohen

  • Whilst those sympathetic to the oppression of the Cuban people and denial of Human Rights as defined by the UN by a communist dictatorship are busy moping up their crocodile tears perhaps with some of that perilously narrow Vietnamese toilet paper currently available in the TRD, Cimex and Pan-Americana subsidiary shops of GAESA because the ‘socialismo’ economy is unable after 57 years to produce such luxurious product, let us remember that Fidel Castro Ruz was the man who in writing urged Nikita Khrushchev to make a first nuclear strike upon the US (27 October 1962), a recommendation which fortunately Khrushchev rejected by pointing out that doing so would undoubtedly initiate a “Third World War”.
    For the record:
    “Although the current Argentinian Pope a fellow Jesuit (Fidel was one) bravely chose to make a personal visit to the ex-communicated Fidel in 2015 and be filmed holding hands, even he cannot erase the realities of history. The defined purpose in Pope Francis having 2016 declared as a Holy Year was to promote pardon and forgiveness with priests especially tasked with hearing confessions and giving absolution. In searching for a way to try to save the soul of Fidel Castro Ruz the Pope as a priest has much to overcome to provide absolution. For the undeniable full legacy is there of multiple affairs, of executions, of persecutions, of hatred, of the insatiable thirst for power and control, of pursuit of nuclear conflict and of that over-whelming arrogance that brought about the boasted conviction that: “HIstory will absolve me.” The Pope has spoken of: “The balm of mercy.” but in considering Fidel Castro he is examining a man who has never shown any. When eventually able to access all the facts currently hidden behind the veil, freed Cubans will undoubtedly fail to share Fidel’s self-satisfied egotistical opinion or indeed the Pope’s enthusiasm for forgiveness.”
    Excerpt from: Cuba Lifting the Veil

  • Fidel Castro has died. Some are mourning some are in celebration. I love Cuba and its people, The revolution led by Fidel Castro was absolutely justified and he was a great leader and statesman admired throughout the world. Somewhere between the Revolution and now the Government and Bureaucracy have lost their way, freedom of life, speech and travel and free access to your constitutional rights without fear or favour is something the Cuban citizen has not got. For a 3rd world country the Cuban Citizen is unique, everybody has somewhere to live, has food on their table, Health care is free, education is not only free but compulsory however limited that these resources are. There is no one living in the gutter, homeless, starving and dying from lack of resources. Show me another 3rd world country than does not have this, in fact any country in the world!!! The USA, Canada, even the ever so disciplined and orderly society of England and every other country in the world, has people dying from the lack of resources.

  • Rest in peace..a great socialist hero!

  • Fidel has been a great example for the world. What he has done in Cuba can be done in other countries too. The victory of Fidel could only be sustained by the will of the people. Long Live the Cuban People!

  • If the Mob knew Castro was gonna throw them out of Cuba, why didn’t they try & stop him?

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