Precious few people reach 90 in possession of all their mental faculties, so when this morning I learned that Fidel Castro had penned a 1,500-word letter to President Obama, I thought that reading it would give me an idea of the state of the dictator’s mind.
Probably he dictated to a secretary and then asked some of the docile people who wait on him hand and foot what they thought. Some may have suggested a comma here or a better synonym there but nobody suggested a single change of substance because they know the Comandante is never wrong about anything.
Maybe one of the boldest said to him: “As always, Comandante, you are absolutely right concerning the number of nuclear bombs that South Africa had in stock, but did Obama had something to do with that? Would it be better to delete that from your brilliant letter?”
There is not a shred of doubt in my mind that nobody, not even his beloved brother, said to him: “How can you write that ‘we are capable of producing the food and material riches we need with the efforts and intelligence of our people’ if industry collapsed, agriculture is a mess, we have half the heads of cattle and double the population that Cuba had 80 years ago, and the longer lasting food rationing in the history of the 20th and 21st centuries?”
The letter also says “The hateful, racist bourgeois custom of hiring strongmen to expel Black citizens from recreational centers was swept away by the Cuban Revolution.” But those who surround him know that their perks and privileges would disappear overnight should they remind the senile dictator that for nearly thirty years he and his minions prohibited Cubans of all races to swim at the beaches and stay at the hotels reserved for Canadian, European and Latin American tourists.
After the Comandante reached the conclusion that his letter was perfect, he sent it to the man in charge of Granma, the party newspaper. The guy probably read it, got in his car, and took it to Raúl. “Comrade, the Comandante sent this letter for publication. I find it perfect, powerful, sublime, evidence that the Father of the Revolution is as brilliant now as ever. But I would like you read it and tell me if there’s something you would rather discuss with the Comandante before publication.”
If Raúl hadn’t seen it, and possibly he hadn’t, he read it, furrowed his brow and said: “Yeah, go ahead. Change nothing. Dismissed.” And as soon as the “journalist” left, he felt very sad for the man that was his god since childhood and wondered when he’d be senile.
Fidel Castro no longer is. He was.