HAVANA TIMES — A few days ago I read an article on this website that was asking “Where’s Fidel Castro and how is he doing?” At that moment I realized that I hadn’t thought about the leader in a long time. After devoting two articles to discussing him, he had simply slipped my mind.
On the way home, I made a comment on the subject to several people who only have the national media as their source of “information.” Like me, they reacted with “You know…that’s right, he hasn’t been on TV, and I haven’t seen any of his ‘Reflections’ published.”
I haven’t heard any speculation about his status – not at the bus stop, or the line at the grocery, or while at the “agro” market or in the homes of people I visit. No one is asking how he’s doing or why he hasn’t been seen.
I don’t remember the last time I saw his face on TV. I’m not sure if he appeared on the screen any time around his birthday, on August 13th. However what’s crystal clear in my mind is that day in 2006 when his illness was announced (though I’ve never known for sure what it was).
I was still working for an official newspaper at that time, and we had planned a party for the following day. It was canceled, of course, just like the annual Havana carnival celebration was canceled that year. There was fear, uncertainty, speculation.
And since these things are contagious, at that time I too wondered what would happen if he died.
Six years later, I thought I had the answer when everything indicated that he had died or was critically ill. But no. He has gradually resurrected, first through messages, then by photos. Likewise, his vote was deposited in the ballot box on Sunday by someone. Today in the morning, we had one of his usual (extensive) “reflections.”
I don’t know if we’ll see him on the TV screen holding up that day’s newspaper. However one thing rings clear from these past days. Firstly, it is not his death that will change anything for the lives of Cubans, at least not for the better.
Secondly, Cubans are too busy trying to improve their lives or simply get by, that we think about him less and less.
I have never wished or felt joy about the death of anyone. When Fidel finally does go — which will have to happen at some point — I won’t feel any sorrow or joy. Actually, I don’t know if I’ll feel anything.
I wanted to see the positive side of him staying alive to witness the changes being undergone in the country: the opening of small businesses that he closed in the Revolutionary Offensive, to eliminate the last vestiges of the bourgeoisie; the (partial) returning of Cubans right to freely travel.
I hoped that at some time he would be obliged to recognize his mistakes in leading the country, but his “reflection” this morning on the role of Cuba (and his) during the October Missile Crisis took away that hope.
Anyway, it is inevitable that the leader will abandon us at some point, despite the advances of science and the efforts of his medical team.
The news, when that occurs (and when they decide to announce it), won’t go unnoticed of course. There will be national mourning and global speculation, and programs about his life and work that will alter the monotony of television programming as well as our lives. There will be full pages in the newspapers dedicated to him.
And it will all be well deserved; he will have fulfilled his mission to the end, that of living long enough to ensure the transition (we don’t know to what), so that the Cuban people will slowly adapt to the idea of continuity of what we call the revolution but without Fidel Castro.