By Pilar Montes
HAVANA TIMES — The Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia recently published an anecdote involving Fidel Castro that I had heard before, but I hadn’t put much stock in the source until reading the article. The version published by the newspaper includes a date, names and context.
“Richard Nixon had been sworn in for his second term as president of the United States, the Vietnam War was coming to an end and, following his return from Southeast Asia, Fidel offered a press conference with foreign correspondents.
“The British journalist Brian Davis asked him: “When do you believe relations between Cuba and the United States, countries that are quite distant despite their geographical proximity, could be re-established?’ ”
“Castro answered in a very loud tone of voice, so that everyone could hear him: ‘The United States will sit down and talk with us when it has a black president and the world has a Latin American Pope.’ ”
“Argentinean journalist and writer Pedro Jorge Solans picked up the anecdote during a recent trip to Cuba, while doing a report about the re-established relations between the United States and Cuba. Solans’ source was taxi-driver Eduardo de la Torre, who was in university in 1973.
“De la Torre told Solas he was certain of the veracity of the anecdote. He also recalled the many times they announced the Comandante’s death, inviting Solas to count the number of times the international press reported his death and the many times he came back to life.”
Of course, it would have been impossible at the time to foresee that the humorous phrase would become reality. If such a prediction was unlikely, even less realistic were the words spoken 17 years before at Cinco Palmas, at the foot of the Sierra Maestra Mountains, when the handful of survivors of the Granma yacht landing gathered to continue the fight against Batista.
Faced with the sorry remnants of his troops, made up of a dozen inexperienced combatants and less rifles, Fidel exclaimed: “Now we can be certain we’ll win this war,” leaving the rebel’s brother [today’s president] dumbstruck.
The most recent prediction that came true is perhaps the one regarding the Cuban Five.
Shortly after the trial they were subjected to more than 15 years ago, Castro said “They will return.” It’s true that two (Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez) served out their sentences, but, back then, any kind of negotiation leading to their and the other three Cubans release seemed impossible.
The worldwide campaign calling for their release, which saw the support of personalities from the arts, sciences, parliaments, governments, political parties and religious leaders helped bring this about, but none of that existed when Fidel said: “Have no doubts, they will return.”
Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Eduardo Galeano said that Fidel travels to the future and comes back to tell us how events will unfold.
I could mention other predictions, having to do with climate change (pronounced at the Rio Summit in 1992), the aid to development that an end to the arms race would spell, and others…but those have not come true…yet.