Hello readers. I have good news and not-so-great-news. The not-so-great news is the fact Fidel took one of his rare moments to address the nation and managed to accomplish nothing. It has been 4 years since the ex-President actually stood at the assembly podium since he handed over power to his brother, Raul. The good news is he didn’t hog up 4 hours to avoid real topics.
This time, he avoided domestic issues and discussed world problems in just 11 minutes… a world record for the orator known for delivering 2-4 hour speeches … clearly not a President of the Internet generation. But his country does have an outstanding attention span, I must admit.
His speech was all about nuclear war, and how he hopes Obama will not get in bed with Israel to nuke Iran. It seems nuclear war was the only thing on Fidel’s mind after endless essays in his “Reflections” columns (published in the State newspaper). Fidel insists America is in cahoots with Israel for the master plan… then he writes how the US might also bomb North Korea next. Let it be known. After 4 years out of public eye, Fidel is nervous about Nuclear War. Isn’t this the same guy who was such a major player during the Cuban Missile Crisis? (See McNamara’s point of view in Fog of War).
“It was surreal to see Fidel Castro reappearing to tell us about the Iranian crisis and not the one in Cuba,” a young Cuban artist told AFP on condition of anonymity.
There was no mention of human rights. No mention of reforms. No mention of the two dozen political prisoners just released. Just alot of fear-mongering to make the people feel like daddy is protecting them. Sound familiar, Americans?
Minister of Culture, Abel Prieto, insists that Fidel is not driving the bus on national politics, nor taking the steering wheel away from Raul Castro. He tells BBC’s Michael Voss, “His big battle is international affairs.” Great. So who’s taking care of business on the island? Little brother Raul was rockin a white guayabera and never really exchanged words with him on the floor.
The one big move Raul recently made is his expansion to allow more self-employment on the island. The government had to slash 20% of the Communist work force from State payrolls — that’s 1 million jobs killed. Considering the economy is 95% in State hands, and there is no room for total entrepreneurship, this presents a bit of a conundrum for the jobless Communist workforce. At the end of the day, Cubans are entrepreneurs at heart, and judging by the Cuban-American success stories… they are also damn good survivors in a free market economy. Let’s see how these resourceful island Cubans pull of this magic trick.
But back to the speech delivered this week. “It was clearly a command performance, and nothing about it will enhance Raúl’s legitimacy as Cuba’s president,” said Brian Latell, a former Cuba analyst at the CIA to the Miami Herald. Raul’s leadership absence was also duly noted during the July 26th holiday when another elder statement took the mic and gave another exhausting speech that answered no real questions for a bright future.
Fidel’s grandad nuttiness showed a little towards the end when he spit out 1 or 2 errors during the Q&A session afterwards. Nothing major, just silly thoughts like the big bang theory happened 18,000 years ago. Whatever he says of course, is “the law” in his head. At least in his own country, where nobody questions him. Meanwhile, outside of the island, fact-checkers are whipping out their red pens… not a good look for the bearded one.
Fidel’s exit line was classic — with closing remarks where he asks parliament if they’ve bought his new book The Strategic Victory which recounts his 1959 battle into victory. As if the whole country hasn’t heard the story yet. You see? A capitalist hawking items until the end.
What have we learned from all this? Fidel is back in the saddle again. The big Leo will turn 84 years old this Friday.