In retirement, Fidel Castro is little seen but often heard
No sooner did Cuban American relations hit their warmest notes in half a century than former President Fidel Castro stirred from retirement to say: Not so fast.
The 82-year-old Castro tossed cold water on U.S. interpretations of his brother Raul’s overture to President Obama last week. His successor as Cuban president had offered to discuss “everything, everything, everything” -- from human rights to political prisoners -- with his U.S. counterpart.
Obama “misinterpreted” Raul Castro’s remarks, Fidel wrote in his blog Tuesday, declaring that his brother meant only that “he was not afraid of addressing any issue.”
“That shows his courage and confidence on the principles of the revolution,” the elder Castro wrote.
The intervention shows Fidel’s determination to ensure that there is no deviation from the principles of that revolution. Since being forced by illness to transfer power to Raul in 2006 -- a move ratified by the parliament in 2008 -- Fidel has rarely been seen in public.
But he has been heard. Castro blogs with the frequency and energy he once devoted to his exhaustive and exhausting speeches. His Reflections by Comrade Fidel is translated into seven languages, and remains a fascination for Cuba watchers trying to measure the island’s political mood -- though the extent of his remaining influence is unclear.
Here, a collection of his blog musings on Obama and U.S. policies:
May 25, 2008
On candidate Obama:
I feel no resentment toward him, for he is not responsible for the crimes perpetrated against Cuba and humanity. Were I to defend him, I would do his adversaries an enormous favor. I have therefore no reservations about criticizing him.
In his speech, Obama portrays the Cuban revolution as anti-democratic and lacking in respect for freedom and human rights. It is the exact same argument which, almost without exception, U.S. administrations have used again and again to justify their crimes against our country.
April 3, 2009
On Obama’s performance at the G-20 Summit in London:
Undoubtedly, he is much better than Bush and McCain, but his thinking is not geared to the real problems of today’s world. The empire is much more powerful than he or his good intentions are.
April 6, 2009
On the visit by members of the Congressional Black Caucus to Havana:
In general, they believe that 68% of the American public opinion favors a change in the policy toward Cuba. One of them expressed that it was necessary to take advantage of this historical moment, when the presence of a black president in the White House coincides with a current of opinion that is in favor of the normalization of relations.
April 8, 2009
On Obama’s trip to Europe
Even though he was a messenger with mixed signals, his obvious good health and agile mind operating like a working machine allowed the black president to carry out his first foreign visit with unquestionable political results.
He certainly does not resemble his predecessor at all.
April 13, 2009
On the administration’s refusal to lift the economic blockade of Cuba before the Summit of the Americas, which bars Cuba for lacking democratic credentials:
Now, the only thing left is for Obama to try to persuade all of the Latin American presidents attending the conference that the blockade is harmless.
Cuba has resisted and it will continue to resist; it will never beg for alms. It will go forward holding its head up high and cooperating with the fraternal peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean; with or without Summits of the Americas; whether or not the president of the United States is Obama, a man or a woman, a black or a white citizen.
April 14, 2009
On Obama’s decision to lift travel restrictions to Cuba for Cuban Americans with relatives on the island:
The decision to relax travel restrictions is indeed positive in itself, although minimal. Many others are required. . . . We have no wish to offend Obama in the least, but he shall be president for one or two terms. In his wake, however, someone equal or worse than his predecessor might come. Men come and go; peoples live on.
There are other extremely serious problems such as the climate change, and the current president of the United States has decided to cooperate in that problem so vital for humankind. We have to acknowledge that.
April 21, 2009
On Obama and the outcome of the Summit of the Americas:
We are living in a new era. Changes are unavoidable. Leaders just pass through; peoples prevail. There would be no need to wait for thousands of years to pass by; only eight years will be enough so that a new U.S. president -- who will no doubt be less intelligent, promising and admired in the world than Barack Obama -- riding in a better armored car, or on a more modern helicopter, or on a more sophisticated plane, occupies that inglorious position.
Wallace is The Times’ foreign editor.
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