“I came to be dead, but now I have risen” (P12)

Fidel Castro, now an old convalescent man who boasts about walking 600 steps without a cane or help, speaks about everything and nothing to a sympathetic reporter. Does he think himself a Christ-figure, now that he has died and risen? No one asks: that’s an ideological thicket out of which no good can come.

The Castro of this “exclusive,” and a tad hagiographic, interview — has the real one, whoever he is, ever been known?— is a man of powered rendered grandfatherly by illness and age. He insists he read more than 200 cables everyday, devours Wikileaks and wants to (re?) launch an anti-nuclear war movement. All he needs to do is “convince Obama”.

The interview reminds me of nothing so closely as Gabriel García Márquez’ novel The General in His Labyrinth, a punctiliously researched piece of historical fiction about the last days of Simón Bolívar, the Big Man from another era whom I was told to regard as the “bad guy” of South American history.

Many have been told to revile Castro.

I shook his hand as a child when he came to Washington in 1959, with prompting from parents to congratulate him. The story changed. Much as Argentina’s Juan Domingo Perón, he is a figure about whom so much ill and good has been written and said, that it is hard to regard him with equanimity.

Celso Furtado’s classic work on development in Latin America shows Cuba’s socioeconomic indicators—literacy, survival past infancy and so forth— shooting upward past even Brazil’s in the 1960s. On the other hand, various human rights reports raise some questions about civil rights in Cuba.

The Cuban exiles spoil the broth. Having turned Miami into the same bordello Havana was before Castro, the “gusanos” now rant about their sainted “martyrs” — I can’t wait until they all go back to their forsaken little island.

(Original headline: “Llegué a estar muerto, pero resucité”; click here for the entire story.)

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