Yusimí Rodriguez

Fidel Castro. Photo: cubadebate.cu

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.

 


14 thoughts on “Living With or Without Fidel

  • Moses and Griffin are motivated by hate and nothing more. There’s no reasoning. Just acid, sarcastic comments. It’s that simple, John.

    “You might just as well condemn George Washington and all those who followed him for all the deaths of those who opposed the American revolution.”

    Exactly, and no American ‘think-tank’ will EVER condemn the genocide of the native American people that took place in order for the white man to build the great US nation.

  • “It is clear that you disagree with some if not most of the alleged abuses of power perpetrated by Fidel.”

    The keyword here is ‘alleged’. I don’t ‘disagree’ with it, I just can differentiate information from propaganda. In the (in)famous book The Black Book of Communism ‘experts’ estimate a death toll of about 17.000 (pretty round number) to be blamed upon the Cuban Revolution. Propagandists always do that. See the horrors of Mao, for example. When Deng Xiaoping first came into power, he denounced that the excess deaths during Maoism in the GLP and the Cultural Revolution to be about 16 million. Western ‘experts’ soon raised this number to 20 million. Then 50 million. Then 70 million. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone in the future says that ‘Mao killed a billion people’ and everyone will buy it.

    Remember that the winners are the ones who tell the story.

    “This alone will taint his legacy in comparison to Mandela who as far as I know has no significant negatives. Build a statue to Fidel anywhere in the world and I assure you there will be a need to guard it against vandalism.”

    Because you eat propaganda. Mandela was on the CIA’s terrorist list for years, for goodness sake! And eat this video.

    Well in all historical records I am aware of, even on the excellent John Lee Anderson’s biography, Che is always seen as a much cold and ruthless guerrilla than Fidel. Still his statue on Rosario, Argentina doesn’t need any guards.

    Heck here in São Paulo there are statues of Duque de Caxias and Borba Gato. Research about them and you’ll see what I mean.

    Alas, if you see that video you’ll come to the conclusion that if they ever build a statue of Fidel, it’ll certainly be on South Africa.

    “By the way, I still want to share a couple of lattes with you at the first Havana Starbuck´s.”

    No thank you. You have offended my people, my Latin-American brothers, far too much in your commentaries here. Sorry for being honest.

  • The only reason Fidel Castro is not presently held in the historic reverence which is his ultimate fate is that the U.S propaganda machine has done everything it could to vilify him .

    It is total bullshit to condemn either Fidel or the Revolution for the deaths of those who opposed the revolution.

    Deaths are a natural outfall of violent revolution made necessary by the evils of the old regimes.

    Revolutions do not just happen.

    You might just as well condemn George Washington and all those who followed him for all the deaths of those who opposed the American revolution.

    The reason Fidel is condemned and right-wing dictators like Somoza, Pinochet and a whole host of others supported and installed by the U.S is because Fidel introduced socialism and not because of any killing.

    Those whom the U.S (and you) support killed many tens of thousands more than died in the entire Cuban Revolution yet it is Fidel, the SOLE socialist in the bunch whom you go after.

    Your hypocrisy and the transparency of your position are plain to see.

    e, b

  • It would be a pleasure to have a coffee with youin a free Havana, but I would prefer a real Cuban coffee. I don’t care for Starbucks’ products.

    Or better yet a real Cuba Libre!

    I expect the passing of the Castro’s will initiate what sociologists call a “preference cascade” in Cuba. Finally people will be willing to speak their minds, to demand their rights and freedoms. The ever present fear of Castro was too dominating a presence for so long. When the post-Castro era begins, the Cuban people will begin to talk among themselves and then with the world about the reality of the past 54 years of Marxist dictatorship.

    I suspect they won’t have many kind words for the useful idiots in the West who aided and abetted Castro’s dictatorship for so long.

  • Hitler too will be remembered for his ¨statemanship¨ during the 20th century. It is clear that you disagree with some if not most of the alleged abuses of power perpetrated by Fidel. Still, it is undeniable that his chorus of detractors will sing loud and clear upon his passing and certainly be joined by others who heretofore have been silenced by fear of retribution. This alone will taint his legacy in comparison to Mandela who as far as I know has no significant negatives. Build a statue to Fidel anywhere in the world and I assure you there will be a need to guard it against vandalism. By the way, I still want to share a couple of lattes with you at the first Havana Starbuck´s.

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