Fidel Castro has determined not to stand in another fixed election that has the news outlets of the world call him "Presidente" rather than dictator. He has, the papers say, "retired." I wonder whether he gets a 401k or an annuity? The man who has taken Cuba from one of the economic power houses of the Latin American world to the third poorest in the region and exiled a fifth of its pre-Castro population, leaves with the affection and respect of totalitarians and birkenstock revoltionaries everywhere. The press reports laude him as "outlasting" Presidents since Eisenhower. Our revolutionary leader left after 8 years so that his country could be free and great, which tradition was enshrined in the Constitution after it was broken. Castro made himself great and his country less. He has created and maintained a cult of personality even as brave men rot in his jails, and the dynamism of an amazing people is crushed.
I was inducted as an honorary member of the Georgetown Cuban Students organization many years ago, for reasons easy to imagine. At a memorable night of mohitos and cigars we toasted and prayed for a free Cuba. A good friend of mine, younger than I am, from that organization died last year of cancer. He did not live to see the end of El Jefe, but God willing I and the rest of us there that night will.
I had a trip to Cuba, on a journalist visa, cancelled because of other commitments a couple of years ago. One day Cuba will be free and I hope to be in Havanna then with all the boys (and the girls who are breathtaking!) reclaim Cuba for liberty. The party then will be Homeric.
But the years will never come back. In the 90's I remember a beautiful Czech girl in Prague, no more than 22, soon after the liberation of that country telling me "so much time wasted" for her country under Communism. (And the Czech Republic is one of the few countries that calls Castro's tyranny what it is). Cuba bides its times and waits. Some like my friend Marco, God rest his soul, must wait on the other side of the Jordan. Hopefully, the end is near for the Commisars in panama hats. Armando Valladeres wrote a book of his time in Castro's prisons. He entitled it "Against All Hope." It is a magnificent memoir but I think it is a bad title. For the people of Cuba, abandoned by the human rights cognescenti and the Hollywood A listers, Hope still lives, even on the Isle of the Pines.
Viva Cuba Libre!