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Alfredo Fernandez: I didn't really leave Cuba, it's impossible to leave somewhere that you've never been. After gravitating for 37 years on that strange island, I managed to touch firm ground, but only to confirm that I hadn't reached anywhere. Perhaps I will never belong anywhere. Now I'm living in Ecuador, but please, don't believe me when I say where I am, better to find me in "the Cuba of my dreams.

Time, Unstoppable, That Which Has Passed

February 7, 2013 | Print Print |

Alfredo Fernandez

Fidel Castro voting on February 3rd. Photo: TeleSur

HAVANA TIMES — The title of this post is from a song by Pablo Milanes. It’s hard to think there’s another more attuned to describe the last public appearance of Fidel Castro.

An old man, rambling, and barely able to stand was what appeared before the cameras on the National Television News. What was left in the past was that invincible commander who constantly oozed testosterone through his pores.

“Time, unstoppable, that which has passed, always leaves us an imprint,” goes a verse from that composition. This was never more true than on the February 3rd on the prime time news when they showed the former Cuban president exercising his right to vote in the recent elections.

More than the elections themselves, this most recent appearance of Fidel Castro in the public arena has been the latest news. They ended the interview with a stooped over old man who even needed help to drop his ballot in the urn, and this was followed by the telephones ringing in Cuba.

“Did you see it?”

“They did that to him out of hatred, otherwise they wouldn’t have showed him like that.”

“My God, he’s old. People can’t even understand him!

These and a number of other comments circulated from telephone to telephone last night. The more fearful individuals waited for the morning to say similar things to their neighbors face to face in the breadline, or to their co-workers on the job or riding on the bus.

Pity and nothing else is what today inspires this person who arranges it so that he’s constantly in the international public arena.

Admired and hated by many, Fidel Castro is entering the fourth age not as a veteran statesman who knew how to lead his country into unprecedented economic and social improvement, as did Mandela and Lula, but as the man who believing himself God clung to power like a castaway to a lifesaver.

He’s paying dearly. After six years since his resignation — due to sickness, of course — his countrymen barely remember him.

On Sunday afternoon, when he was leaving the polling station, people said goodbye to him like grandchildren saying goodbye to their grandfather going on vacation. And with that, for a while, freeing the family from his perennial demand for attention.

 


What's your opinion?

  • http://www.facebook.com/KianHfz Kian Hafezi

    I feel like cubans have a right to be angry at fidel, many of his actions have had unpleasant consequences on the cuban people, but i wouldn’t doubt his sincerity or the urgency of his mission, i admire many aspects of him and his fight,
    but not for one second would i hesitate to mention the negative things that he’s done , to try to justify all of his acts would make me a idiotic reactionary capitalist like the chivatones in miami

    • Bluster_Buster

      Chivatones??? You must be speaking of the CDR members who spy on their neighbors and then report them as “gusanos” so as to later expropriate their possessions….

  • Moses Patterson

    His tyrannical reign over a defenseless Cuban population for at least 48 years will not be softened, let alone forgotten, by his frail and infirm public image today. Millions of lived were ruined and families separated because of his narcissitic, ego-maniacal hold over Cuba.While his epitaph may someday list literacy and universal health care among his accomplishments it will also be stained with repudiation rallies, express detentions and police beatings. Still, I hope he lives just long enough to see a free Cuba.

    • Luis

      ‘tyrannical reign over a defenseless Cuban population’

      Manichaeism 101, learn it well people.

      ‘stained with repudiation rallies, express detentions and police beatings’

      Well, that’s great if you don’t think the world is a fairy-tale. At least this doesn’t include torture and ‘disappearances’ by the US-backed Operation Condor. Neither atomic, napalm, or drone bombings. Or genocide over the Amerindians for that matter.

      Moral of the story people: don’t throw stones when you have a glass roof. It breaks easily.

      ‘I hope he lives just long enough to see a free Cuba’

      All you did when you first came here was to issue death-wishes upon him on every single comment. It looked like you wished there was a sniper waiting for Fidel to come out. This suddenly stopped after you proved your own venom. Wonder why.

      ps: I’m just replying to you because of your last sentence, which is an insult to the memory of HT’s readers. Sorry about other things I stumbled upon in the middle. Call me a ‘Castro sycophant’ as you like, I just don’t care.

      • Moses Patterson

        Again, with the criticisms of the US? Even the most strident American patriots will acknowledge our stained and blotchy past. So what? What the heck does this have to do with Cuba? That the US used napalm in Vietnam makes it okay for the Castros to encourage Cubans to throw paint on the homes of the Damas en Blanco? Worse, because white Americans decimated whole populations of Native Americans 130 years ago, the Castors should be given a pass to deny freedom of speech to Cubans who disagree with their leadership today? I don’t see your train of logic here. Finally, I don’t see real political freedom for Cuba for at least a few years. At a frail 86 years of age, Fidel is not likely to be around much longer. He once said that “we did not win a revolution just to lose an election”. I hope he does live long enough to lose an election

        • Luis

          Moral of the story people: we cannot criticize the US neither its policy towards Cuba or the rest of Latin America which has caused more suffering than one may think. Not even to put things in perspective, which is my point that ‘Moses’ does understand but pretends not to. It’s almost laughable when he puts 2,000°C burnings which makes your flesh tear apart from your bones side by side with throwing paint. And not even the ‘most strident American patriots’ acknowledge this, as your alter-ego ‘Griffin’ had the guts to justify the ‘torture from the skies’ recently.

          • Griffin

            “alter-ego ‘Griffin’ had the guts to justify the ‘torture from the skies’ recently.”

            Care to back that one up, Luis? Or are you halucinating again?

          • Luis

            http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=86578

            There you go people.

            One does not simply justify the Vietnam War. Not in 2013.

          • Griffin

            I did not justify the Vietnam War. I did correct the myth about Ho Chi Mihn as a humanitarian. He was a violent & ruthless Marxist revolutionary. The Vietnam War did not begin nor end with US involvement.

            In the begining, there were several nationalist
            groups fighting against French colonialism. Ho Chi Mihn’s Vietnam Cong attacked rival groups, killing thousands of Vietnamese Nationalists so that the Marxists alone would prevail. This tactic lead tonthenprolonged and deadly war that killed millions of Vietnamese. Are you aware, more Vietnamese died in fighting after the US left that during the whole period of the American intervention in Indochina? Add to that the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese who perished in the Vietcong Re-education Camps.

            The fact is the Vietcong killed the vast majority of Vietnamese in that long horrible war. I condemn the entire war, while you ignore the larger part of the war and defend those who did the most killing.

          • Luis

            Care to back that one up, Griffin? Or are you halucinating again? No courtoise-like sources, please!

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Goodrich/100003362238330 John Goodrich

            It is accepted by the world at large that the U.S. killed between two and three million people in southeast Asia .

            Carpet bombing, napalm , Dioxin, land mines, lots of clustered defenseless peasants who are all the enemy from age two days to 95 years old. They pile up like cordwood over 15 or 20 years of that sort of stuff.

            The U.S. financed 80% of the French effort to reclaim Indo-China after WWII and 100% of the cost between 1952-54 .

            More egregiously, the U.S., NOT a signatory to the French-Vietnamese agreement that would have reunified the country , UNILATERALLY intervened, imposed a U.S. puppet government below the 17th parallel and called off f the elections because , as Eisenhower is quoted as having said, Ho Chi Minh would have won 80% of the vote .

            Your revisionary version of that era , while entertaining, is pure
            According to you, the Viet Cong killed more people than did the U.S which dropped more tonnage in bombs that were dropped in all of WWII, used napalm and phosphorus ?
            You must think that the U.S. armed forces couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn.

            I remember the body counts by which they used to keep score in that war .

            It’s why they don’t do that stuff anymore.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Goodrich/100003362238330 John Goodrich

          Is there or is there not a 50+ year war being waged against Cuba with the express purpose of making life so miserable for all of the people of Cuba that they would scrap their attempt at socialism and thereby maintain the necessary illusion that (state) socialism is a failure ?

          If the war had not succeeded in achieving a large part of its purpose, why then would that war still be pursued some 23 years after the official end of the Cold War ?

          The daily life for all Cubans is a struggle because of the U.S. War On The People Of Cuba yet they persist .

          The overwhelming majority of Cubans know what’s going on and are willing to let a lot of domestic problems slide to support the revolution which is still, in the se harsh times , clearly preferable to the capitalism and poverty and corruption of not-so-long-ago.

          Some totalitarians just treat their people better than others.

  • Luis

    Mandela did not ‘lead his country into unprecedented economic and social improvement’, although he and his countrymen ended the age of Apartheid regime, with help from his friend Fidel and, like him, he’s also very old, very fragile, away from the political arena. In the South African Cup the world saw him briefly in a golf car.

    Lula came a bit closer to that. But he had to make concessions – many concessions – for that. Never in the History of this country the bankers and loan sharks had made so much money. He’s still healthy tough, both physically and politically.

  • Grady R. Daugherty

    In seeking to ridicule Fidel for exhibiting the frailties of old age, this author draws attention instead to his own shallowness, his own lack of grace and civility.

    Fernandez projects into Fidel what he and all pro-capitalists feel, and have felt for over a half-century, toward the leader of the Cuban transformationary process.

    This article is a juvenile-level cheap-shop, trivial, lame and silly.

    • Julio de la Yncera

      Dear Grady, while I understand what you are saying and I believe you do have a valid point you should also try hard to place yourself in the same frame of reference as Alfredo and many other Cubans that have suffered needlessly under Castro’s rule. That for you will be hard to understand because the US never have had a ruthless and authoritarian dictators. Nothing compares to it and telling you from my own experience.

      • Grady R. Daugherty

        Julio, I respect what you say, but you seem to miss the point.

        First, this author makes himself look juvenile by poking fun of Fidel for being old.

        Second, by trying to generalize and put words in the mouths of the Cuban people, with regard to how Fidel’s appearance to vote is perceived, the author shows himself to be an unethical purveyor of falsehood.

        Third, I live in a country which rapes the world militarily, leads in the destruction of the oceans and climate, and victimizes our own people with poverty, landlordism, unemployment, debt, homelessness, worship of materialism, jingoism, racism, class arrogance . . . and the list goes on interminably.

        So, Julio, don’t think that my point of view does not matter because I have not lived in Cuba. What Cuba needs is what my own country needs, a fair and dynamic economic system not dominated by monopolies of either a state, or capitalist banks and corporations.

        • Julio de la Yncera

          Wow Grady!
          Coño,
          I guess I have been missing too long from the English side of HT to feel the warm heat of word fights :-) I thought my comments above give you credit for what you mentioned about mocking Fidel Castro for his frailties of old age. But you seem to ignore what I am writing and then side step to disregard the topic and jump to a totally different topic.

          I believe you are a reasonable person and that is why I take the time to explained one more time and to address the points you make.

          Yes, I believe is a mistake to mock Fidel for is age. I try to justify something that should not be justifiable. But also is not justifiable in any way any of the things Fidel Castro did to his own people.

          Those same things you accuse your country of doing Fidel did too to his own people. Today the Cuban people are almost as poor as the people of Haiti. Not too long ago Raul Castro informed the Cuban people that more than 25 % of them will go unemployed since the government could not afford to keep them in the payroll, With the “energy revolution” the pushed onto people appliances too expensive and of very low quality without giving then any choice in the typical dictatorial way of the “great leader”. I am sure you have seen the pictures here in HTimes about homelessness in Cuba. I can also place the links for you too see them again if you have not seen it. I can show you also articles published here of people that are handicap and that have to live from asking money to tourists. While all of this happens we know Raul Castro’s grand daughter travel to New York city with her boyfriend wearing expensive handbags while kids in Cuba also do not have shoes!

          Now you, as an honest person that really defend the oppress don’t you agree with me then that the Cuban people are very oppressed by this dictators? They have disguised themselves as saviors but they are worst than a pack of wolves.

          Exploitation occurs in Cuba at much greater pace than in any other place in the planet. Just think that the monthly salary of a Doctor does not reach 20 US dollars and I am really talking here about a surgeon.

          Tell me if our capitalism here in America gets to that level of exploitation?

          Exploitation of man by the all powerful state is the worst kind of exploitation known to man and that is what Alfredo and many Cubans experience. And that is why some how I do also understand Alfredo’s frustration that is what this article is about. About loosing one’s better years following the impossible dreams of a dictator.

          • Grady R. Daugherty

            Well, I’ve missed you, too. You are are a warm and honorable man who is simply lost in a Libertarian fantasy world regarding capitalism. Some people with whom I’ve had to slug it out in the HT comments section are not much fun to tangle with.

            I’m at a disadvantage to you in that I have to bear the discomfort of association with a form of socialism that, to use the scientific term, sucks. No matter what I argue in favor of a non-state monopoly type of socialism, you and people like you run every authoritarian Marxist leader into the conversation and link them somehow with what I’m trying to say. You of all people, Julio, should know better.

            Alfredo Fernando, of course, is frustrated as hell with the disgusting end result of the Marxian state monopoly formula for a socialist economy. But instead of lambasting the stupidity of Marxism as a bourgeois, covertly pro-capitalist ideology and program designed to subvert socialism from within, he turns his brilliance toward juvenile-level ridicule of Fidel for being very old.

            You, for your part, are ensconced in a relatively comfortable corner of Maryland, and hurl accusations of “dictator” at Fidel Castro, as though he were on the level of Batista, Hitler or Stalin, and smugly cry and moan about low-quality appliances forced on the Cuban people.

            Why don’t you cry and moan about the a-hole who blew up the airliner over Barbados who is protected by the US government, or the unjust incarceration of the Cuban Five?

            It’s okay with you and others like you, it seems, for the Obama regime regularly to slaughter families with cowardly drones, but excoriate Fidel as a horrible guy because he has tried valiantly to liberate his people, but didn’t know a fucking thing about building a real, cooperative, non-monopolist socialist republic.

            You are so blind that you liken the level of the Cuban people to that of the suffering Haitian people. Don’t make my laugh, Julio. Rather, don’t make me sick.

          • Julio de la Yncera

            Grady, I do not see you at a disadvantage if you disassociate your self from that form of “socialism”. This is what I have been telling you for a while and you need to understand. The Cuban elite is more exploitative towards his own people than any corporation could be towards any individual. I have already proved to you by showing the low salaries and that’s not all they also have invented other mechanisms like the dual currency to skim more money from poor cubans that receive help from other countries. Honestly I do see them as a mafia organization in power and that is why you should not associate in any way to them because if you do it means then you are like them. Furthermore in order to survive they are already going on the same way of China and Vietnam by installing a full blown capitalism under their control. That is immoral and dishonest to say the least.

            A Communist leading a capitalist country!

            Well Grady, I think Fidel is at a lower level than Batista. Let me remind you that when Fidel 26th of july movement attack the Moncada barracks in Santiago de Cuba he and some of his companions only stayed in jail for 3 years and then he was pardon and sent into exile. If someone have done this to him he would have executed them. So you see. He is and was more ruthless than Batista. Batista was a baby compare to him. Grady please if you are going to bring arguments like that please read on Cuban history because things are not what they have make you believe from 50 years of Castro’s propaganda.

            And yes I do place Fidel at the same level as Stalin and Hitler. If he had access to nuclear weapons he would have sent them in 1962 to the US and maybe you will not be sparring with me here neither maybe I will be. Fortunately he never had access to those weapons. The russians were smart enough to not give him access to the sent button. Read about the period to confirm what I am saying here.

            I keep giving you information that should keep giving you signals that Fidel Castro is not a good person. -He is a ruthless dictator. -He is a totalitarian. -He is responsible for the level of poverty existing in Cuba now. -He is responsible for the agricultural disaster in Cuba and so on.
            Let me tell you Cuba used to be one of the major exporters of sugar and nowadays they need to import it. I can show you a dismal list of his “accomplishments” and can proved each of them and that he is linked to every single one. The consequence of his decisions have been disastrous for the Cuban people. More than 25 percent of Cubans are every where around the world.

            Please tell me how many goverments can claim to be responsible for a disaster like that?

            About the Cuban five, I will tell you they got a fair trial and where found guilty of the charges against them. They had their day in court and the legal system in our country is fair and just while in Cuba there is no real justice. Alan Gross is in jail for delivering internet equipment to religious groups. Think about this. The cuban government have placed someone in jail, someone that was trying to facilitate communication between the Cuban people and the world.
            Don’t you find that odd?
            Why does a government does not want their own people to communicate with the rest of the world and have access to all the knowledge and information in the Internet that you and I have access to?
            Just that small data should hint you that something is very wrong with that system of government and their leaders. Looks like their power is base on them keeping people in the dark without information and controlling everything they learn and read and see. Do you wish something like that for your self or your family?

            I think you got it wrong Grady. People in Cuba earn between 10 to 20 dollars a month.
            Can you imagined yourself surviving on that?
            You know that is almost slavery. For all intent and purpose it can be call slavery. So you are here trying to associate yourself with the slaver of the Cuban people all because he calls his system socialism? You should feel shame.

            Go to Cuba Grady talk to the people that write for Havana Times. Even go and try to live with some poor Cubans like that lady Erasmo wrote about in an article. Then come back here and we will talk.

          • Grady R. Daugherty

            Nothing I say, Julio, makes a dint in your love of capitalism, and your loathing of socialism . . . in any form. Whatever I argue you smash it with the negative results of the Marxian, state monopoly stupidity, which I have neither defended or advocated.

            Since you cannot be creative and constructive in your thinking, and can only heap monumental insults upon Fidel, I think our exchanges may be pointless.

            BTW, I got pissed off at you when the google computer translated “cono” as “pussy.” ha ha. Sorry. Cheers.

          • Julio de la Yncera

            Grady, I have already explained that the system in Cuba is not socialism. They may have called it socialism but is not socialism. I showed you before that it is an extreme form of capitalism called “state monopoly capitalism”. That explains why the level of exploitation is even at an atrocious level that it seems virtually slavery and that is why it almost looks like feudalism.

            You have set yourself to defend something I am sure you do not agree with if you see all the facts. My beef is not against your theoretical form of socialism. I gave you reasons before about why I think your theory will not work, not at a country scale.

            I am a libertarian. To me the most important thing in society is freedom. Humans, need freedom and anything that limits humans liberty is bad. A government that try to build itself without that fundamental block of freedom of its own citizens is not a legitimate government. Therefore the Cuban government is not legitimate. Because it was not freely elected by the people.

            It bothers me to think that there are people that defend people like Fidel and they do so because they have fallen under the spell of the Cuban regime propaganda or because they are ignorant of the facts. That is what I believe your case is. I have lived in both systems and I tell you that me and a majority of cubans will pick a system like ours in a blink. Listen, Nobody absolutely nobody in Cuba pick socialism as a system. They, the elite did this. It was the only way they had to justify keeping power from the people.
            This power they unjustly hold, belongs to the Cuban people. Only thru a free election in a democracy that power can be exercise. Anything else is just a show to legitimize themselves.

          • Julio de la Yncera

            A small correction to my statement above.

            I am more close to be a liberal than a libertarian. :-)

          • Grady R. Daugherty

            The irony here, with regard to what we both believe about human freedom, is that we stand on opposite sides in the world contest between monopoly capitalism and cooperative republicanism. Yet, everything you say about freedom is almost as though you copied from my playbook. That’s the irony.

            What you do not understand is that the horrific system you defend and advocate is the very antithesis of human freedom and civil democracy.

            You are not consistent in your reasoning process. You say on the one hand that Cuba is not socialist, but state monopoly capitalist, and is therefore even more exploitative than the non-state monopoly capitalism that now has much of the world in its grip; and on the other hand you say that capitalism is this wondrous system that gives freedom to human beings. Don’t you see how contradictory this is?

            One the one hand Cuba is not socialist, but has a form of capitalism; and on the other hand capitalism is superior to socialism? Go outside and shake yourself!

            Yes, Julio, you are what I’ve long said you are. You are a “Libertarian” with a large “L,” not a small “l,” as you say.

            This ideology, this Ayn Rand intellectual current dreams up a fantasy world in which unbridled “free enterprise”–mistakenly thought of as “true capitalism”–is so much better than any sort of government enterprise or meddling in the economy, that anything that does not allow the capitalist banks and corporations to do what they please is horrible socialism.

            There is just no “creative” reasoning with you. You are as much lost in a fog of fantasy as any Marxian personality cultist.

            Julio, the only way to have “free enterprise” is to have a system in which those who do the work of society own the equity on their work enterprise. (Private property, Yes; private property owned by banks, capitalists and landlords, No.) But this sort of economic democracy is not your Libertarian capitalist fantasy world; it is a socialist cooperative, state co-ownership republic.

            Why “state co-ownership”? Because only then can civil government get its revenues quarterly through partial, silent stock equity, and carry out all the many tasks assigned to it by a free people WITHOUT TAXES.

            You stand up for the capitalist banks that suck the people’s blood through their phony credit racket and cause all the misery, wars, environmental destruction and oppression of humanity, and only obsess about the Marxian stupidity of you original country.

            You can’t see your nose before your own face, because your head is buried in the dark tunnel of your own bourgeois family culture. I don’t even know why I discuss anything with you, except that you actually seem to be trying to use your brain in an honest manner.

            Give up your Libertarian blindness, Julio. Open your eyes to socialist cooperative republicanism.

          • Grady R. Daugherty

            Julio, I have just had google translate the name you called me, “Cono.” Explain and apologize, or cease addressing me.

          • Julio de la Yncera

            Coño in spanish have many different meanings in this case is similar to wow like in surprise, :-)

          • Moses Patterson

            Grady, Cubans say ‘Cono’ in the same way people in California say ‘oh my goodness’ to begin a sentence. You should visit Cuba Grady. Your highly theorectical ‘tranformationary collectivized socialist’ view of the world sounds wonderful (if not boring). However, the reality of Cuba and living under Castro totalitarianism is a completely different beast. Like other frequent commenters to HT, your support of the regime is based largely on theory and pro-Castro data. You know nothing of the futility of waiting an hour for a hot crowded bus that takes you to a job to work all day where you earn less than the cost of a TuKola soda. You have never gone to your neighborhood market and the price of cooking oil equalled one week’s salary. I could go on but the point is that if you don’t know what ‘Cono’ is, how can you defend Fidel Castro?

          • Julio de la Yncera

            Grady, Coño in Cuban spanish have various meanings I am using it in the same meaning as Wow in english as an expression of surprise.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Goodrich/100003362238330 John Goodrich

      I found myself agreeing with you after having read the article and all other comments .
      We do not all age gracefully. Some of us go out looking and sounding great at 90 and others are drooling at 65 .
      Leave the guy alone.

      He led the revolution and then the country through all these long years of unwarranted hostility from the United States and gave the great many Cubans a far better life than they would ever have under neo-liberal capitalism and a bourgeois democracy .

      For us leftists , if Fidel drools, if he pisses himself, if he becomes incoherent you should , NO you’d better treat him with the same love and respect that you would show for any beloved, elderly and failing adult in your family ……..
      because he IS family.

  • Luis

    Grady and Julio, Malcolm X once said:

    “If you’re not ready to die for it, put the word ‘freedom’ out of your vocabulary.”

    He died for it.

    I think you both should think a little about this before throwing up your ideologies and judging Fidel.

  • Friedrich Joestl

    I wonder how somebody like this best example of the worst US -American can even dare to say one word about Cuba. I´m talking about Mr. Moses. Clearly and right.After all the shit your country has caused to these poor people, because they had the dare to resist your imperialist dictatorship and dared to build up a differnt society, I dion`t know where you even take the shamelessness to even open your mouth on anything in Cuba. Hope you got the message right.

  • http://thenonlatinaafricanfromcuba.blogspot.com/ MilagrosGV

    Castro is still the man most conscious Cubans love and for good reason It matters not that you do not print my comments i understand but it is good to know that you at least will have read my thoughts You my brother should hope you live as long and with such purpose

    Peace 2 u