Cuba hasn't forgotten Hemingway
Writer's legacy lives on in his renovated estate in HavanaBy Bob HooverPittsburgh Post-Gazette
HAVANA — Six years after he won the Nobel Prize in 1954, Ernest Hemingway's world was falling apart. The best-known writer in America, perhaps the world, was losing his mind. Depression and paranoia were overtaking him, turning his renowned terse and direct style into rambling excess. His writing, the talent that made him famous and rich, was slipping away. Biographers blame Hemingway's "heroic" lifestyle for his mental decline. Heavy drinking, drugs, a handful of concussions and neglected injuries from two plane crashes in Africa in 1953 combined to assault his 60-year-old body. Equally devastating was the political upheaval in Cuba, his longtime home where he lived in shabby baronial luxury at a 19th-century estate 10 miles east of Havana. Finca Vigia — or "Lookout Farm" — was the only house Hemingway owned outright. He bought it in 1940. From its full staff of servants to its secluded swimming pool, the finca fitted Hemingway like his favorite "guayabera," the traditional Cuban shirt. The writer and his fourth wife, Mary, sailed from Cuba on July 25, 1960, leaving behind the "silver, Venetian glassware, eight-thousand books … and Ernest's small collection of paintings, one Paul Klee, two Juan Gris, five Andre Masson, one Braque … ," along with 70 cats and at least nine dogs. Hemingway never returned. He killed himself with a double-barreled shotgun blast July 2, 1961, at his other home, in Ketchum, Idaho. The government of Cuba, however, refuses to let "Papa's" presence on the island die. After appropriating the property in 1961, it continues to promote Hemingway as a cultural icon, casting him as a mythical figure on a level just below Ernesto "Che" Guevara. "Hemingway loved the Cuban people and they loved him," said Gladys Rodriguez, who, as president of the Hemingway section of Cuba's Jose Marti Institute of International Journalism, is the official keeper of Papa's flame. Mention an incident in the writer's life and she can recite chapter and verse on the details. She lays out examples of the Hemingway-Cuba love affair: • "The Old Man and the Sea," his last novel to appear when he was still alive, is read by Cuban schoolchildren for its sympathetic central character, a Cuban fisherman. • He gave his Nobel Prize medal (though not the $35,000 cash prize) to a Cuban church. • Though no friend of the revolution, he and Fidel Castro were photographed together after Castro entered and won — legitimately — Hemingway's fishing contest in 1960. Photographs from the event are reverently displayed in a variety of places. Plus, the writer never publicly criticized the communist dictator. • Finally, Hemingway "did not live in the best part of Havana, but with the poor people outside of town," Rodriguez says, overlooking the fact that his home came with a full complement of servants. That home, now called the Ernest Hemingway Museum by the Cubans, is the center of this homage. Reopened in January after what the government says is a $1 million renovation, the one-story stucco building and grounds are a lovingly restored time capsule of a different era. Much remains to be accomplished at the estate. The museum plans to restore the pool, servants' quarters and the guesthouse. It also wants to find models of Hemingway's 1950s fleet of cars for the garage after a new building for offices and document preservation is built, sometime next year. For now, the charming house appears in excellent shape, but less than two years ago, the finca and its contents were in serious decline. Conditions were so bad that the National Trust for Historic Preservation named it one of its 11 most endangered landmarks in 2005, the only building outside North America to make the list. The roof leaked water into the interior walls, causing mold to grow throughout the house, which lacked basic climate controls like dehumidifiers. The foundation was shifting, the stucco was peeling and steps were crumbling. The property even lacked a modern security system. The museum moved the library, documents, furniture and other items, including animal heads from Hemingway's African hunting trips, into storage bins in the basement. The salvation of the finca and Hemingway's books and papers was the result of a unique and troubled partnership of Americans and Cubans, a relationship that remains clouded because the Bush administration has prohibited nearly all business transactions between the two countries since 2004. "The big problem with saving the Hemingway site is the U.S. government," U.S. Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass., said in a telephone interview. "This hassle is a relic of the Cold War and the result of the administration's domestic policies, that's all." McGovern was a key player in the 2002 deal he and Castro signed at the finca initiating a joint preservation project. A group of American specialists in restoration and document salvage schooled the Cubans in the latest techniques while the Cubans promised to give the Hemingway Library digital copies of his letters and documents. Sandra Spanier, a Penn State University English professor, is director of the letters' collection project. "It's been a very big deal in the last year, year-and-a-half, to salvage all the letters, but the house has been a major concern. Things needed to be done," she said.
April 16, 2007Class Trip Not So Cuba Libre
A public school is facing a mini-crisis because students and a teacher went to Cuba for spring break. The Beacon School on West 61st Street has had a tradition of "extravagant overseas trips with complementary semester-long classes," involving places like France, South Africa, and Venezula, but a trip headed by history teacher Nathan Turner may have violated travel restrictions – the group of kids was detained by customs officials on the return!
The Post reports that Beacon School principal Ruth Lacey "initially claimed to have no knowledge of the trip but later recalled having denied approval for it." While Turner organized it on his own, information about the trip was listed on the school's website. Now the Post has the Department of Education involved, and the DOE is investigating how the school managed to pull off its earlier trips.
According to the State Department, high school students aren't allowed to visit Cuba. Though students could face up to $65,000 in fines each, one parent said, "It concerns me more that we have a blockade on Cuba that's lasted more than 40 years."
NYC students in hot water after trip to CubaApril 16, 2007, 2:42 PM EDT
NEW YORK — A spring break trip to Cuba taken by students and a teacher from a public high school in New York City has raised concerns about whether the group violated U.S. restrictions on travel to the Communist country and the possibility some could face thousands of dollars in fines.
"We are investigating," Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters on Monday.
A city Department of Education spokesman said this year's trip to Cuba was not officially sanctioned by the Beacon School, although the school's Web site featured a call for applications and a list of selected students, as well as details of previous sponsored trips to the island.
"We were told that it violated State Department travel restrictions," said department spokesman David Cantor.
He added that the education department had asked a special investigator to see if any school regulations were violated on this trip or previous ones. However, it's unclear what the education department could do if the teacher, Nate Turner, and the students acted independently, Cantor said.
The Beacon School has a history of sponsoring trips to foreign countries, including South Africa, Mexico, Spain and France. In 2004-05, according to the school Web site, students had to take a class if they wanted to go on a trip to Cuba.
In mid-October, Turner posted a release on the school's Web site advertising that applications for this year's trip were available. An essay was one of the requirements. It was unclear how many students actually went on the trip, though a school Web site posting listed about 30 students who had been selected for it.
Turner did not respond to an e-mail request seeking comment on Monday. Neither did school principal Ruth Lacey, though she told the New York Post, which first reported the story in its Monday editions, that the school had denied approval for the trip but that Turner went ahead and arranged it.
Julia Lord, whose twin sons chose not to go after being told only one could take the trip, said Turner was a terrific teacher, and that parents were informed that the trip was not officially sponsored by the school.
Her husband, Lee Kalcheim, said he felt it was ridiculous that there would be any problems with such a foray.
"Our policy toward Cuba is nonsense," Kalcheim said. "You antagonize. You just make things worse. We should have just had normal relations with them."
Traveling to Cuba has been difficult for more than 40 years because of the country's rocky relations with the United States. In 2004, the U.S. implemented special restrictions that made it even more difficult.
Molly Millerwise, spokeswoman for the U.S. Treasury Department, declined to comment on the Beacon School case.
The department hands out travel licenses for Cuba trips, and Millerwise said permission is granted to some groups, including for those seeking to engage in religious activity or humanitarian aid.
Educational licenses are granted to graduate and undergraduate students for trips that last a minimum of 10 weeks, but no such licenses are granted at the high school level, she said. People who violate sanctions can face penalties ranging from warnings to a $65,000 fine.
Diario Las AmericasPublicado el 04-16-2007
Forty Six Years After the Bay of Pigs Tragedy
Forty-six years ago, an event took place that was disastrous for Cuba's liberty, for the prestige of the United States of America, and for the fate of democracy in the world, especially in the Western Hemisphere. On April 17, 1961, the Assault Brigade 2506, formed by Cuban patriots that landed in the area known as Bay of Pigs or Girón Beach, did what it had agreed upon with the U.S. government to rescue their homeland from the clutches of communism that has been entrenched there mercilessly since January 1, 1959. Unfortunately, Washington made the very serious mistake –actually, there were many mistakes—of not fulfilling what it had promised and failed to give air cover to the landing. Because of this, the Brigade was defeated.
Among the many mistakes made by the Washington government was changing at the last minute, secretly, the landing site unbeknownst to the Cubans who were going to challenge with their lives and their patriotism the Fidel Castro communist hordes. The original plan to land near a mountainous area was changed suddenly, although this does not imply that Washington had made this decision impulsively, failing to inform their Cuban allies. To this must be added what we already said that there was no air cover, which was indispensable for that military operation.
The American government not only failed the Cuban patriots, it also failed its own country. The United States has paid dearly, very dearly for this huge mistake, not only because of the thousands of millions of dollars that the tragedy of the Cuban people has cost, but also because as a result many other countries in the world have suffered what the fall of Cuba under the clutches of the Soviet Union represented. Nowadays, with no more Soviet Union, the influence of the totalitarian tyranny of Fidel Castro still has terrible effects. Without the Castro tyranny, today there would not be the type of government that is installed in Venezuela with its ramifications in Central America and other Latin American countries and its ties with the distant and menacing Iran.
DIARIO LAS AMERICAS, which forty-six years ago informed on a daily basis what was happening, deeply regrets the terrible mistake made by the John F. Kennedy Administration, and reiterates its admiration and respect for the patriots who risked their lives on the bloody sands at Bay of Pigs. Likewise, it expresses its wishes that the fatherland of José Martí soon may recover the freedom that it lost on January 1st. 1959.
Estudiantes de Nueva York en problemas tras viaje a Cuba
NUEVA YORK (AP) – Un grupo de estudiantes de una escuela secundaria neoyorquina se encuentra en problemas debido a que un viaje suyo a Cuba podría haber violado las restricciones impuestas a la isla por el gobierno estadounidense.
Un vocero del Departamento de Educación de la ciudad de Nueva York dijo que el viaje de este año a Cuba no estaba oficialmente patrocinado por el colegio Beacon, aunque el sitio de internet de la escuela cuenta con una planilla de solicitud para el viaje, así como detalles de previas excursiones a la isla patrocinadas por el colegio. Se ignora inicialmente cuántos estudiantes viajaron a Cuba.
David Cantor, vocero del departamento, dijo que "se nos informó que (las autoridades del colegio Beacon) violaron restricciones de viaje del departamento de Estado".
Los estudiantes y el maestro que los acompañó podrían enfrentar miles de dólares de multas.
Viajar a Cuba ha sido difícil para los estadounidenses durante más de 40 años debido a una serie de restricciones impuestas por las autoridades de Washington a raíz de la confrontación con el gobierno de Fidel Castro. En el 2004, el departamento de Estado estableció restricciones espaciales que dificultan aún más los viajes a Cuba.
Se ignora qué puede hacer el departamento de Educación si el profesor, Nate Turner, y los estudiantes actuaron de manera independiente, señaló Cantor.
El colegio Beacon ha patrocinado otros viajes a una serie de países en el pasado, incluidas giras por Sudáfrica, México, España y Francia.
Turner no respondió el lunes a una solicitud por correo electrónico para que formulara comentarios. Tampoco lo hizo la directora del colegio, Ruth Lacey.
Subsecretaria EEUU pide Moratinos diga por qué no se reunió disidentes Cuba
La subsecretaria de Estado adjunta de EEUU, Colleen Graffy, aseguró hoy que su país 'quiere saber por qué' Miguel Angel Moratinos no se reunió con la disidencia al régimen castrista durante su visita a Cuba, porque a España 'le interesa' que este país 'evolucione como país democrático'.
En la IV Conferencia Internacional de ABC sobre América y Europa, la alta funcionaria del Departamento de Estado norteamericano recalcó que así el secretario adjunto de Estado para Latinoamérica, Thomas Shannon, 'ha dicho públicamente' que su país quiere conocer los motivos por los que el ministro español de Exteriores no se reunió con los disidentes cubanos durante su estancia en La Habana.
'Sabemos que España tiene unas relaciones muy especiales con Cuba, y también sabemos que a España le interesa que Cuba evolucione como país democrático', continuó Graffy.
En ese sentido, insistió en que a EEUU 'le interesa mucho' trabajar con España y que 'las conversaciones estén abiertas sobre el futuro de Cuba'.
La subsecretaria de Estado adjunta de EEUU se refirió a continuación a la posición que mantienen otros países europeos con respecto a Cuba y dijo que le 'conmueve' la que defiende la República Checa 'cuya tarea autoimpuesta es tender la mano a países que están todavía bajo regímenes totalitarios'.
Aseguró que le 'impresiona el nivel de compromiso que estos países tienen para acercarse' a la disidencia cubana y argumentó que 'debido a su propia historia saben muy bien lo importante que es dar esperanza'.
Previamente intervino en las mismas jornadas el secretario de Estado de Asuntos Exteriores, Bernardino León, quien no hizo referencia a la visita de Moratinos a Cuba y que centró su intervención en desglosar los aspectos concretos de la colaboración entre España y Estados Unidos.
Aunque aseguró que a raíz de la retirada de las tropas españolas de Irak las relaciones entre ambos países 'experimentaron una pérdida de intensidad', León recalcó que 'se han normalizado plenamente' como demuestra el aumento de la cooperación en asuntos de defensa o en la lucha contra el terrorismo.
Terra Actualidad – EFE
16 de Abril09:35| Raúl Castro aprueba creación de sistema de prevención del delito en Cuba
El decreto busca "contribuir a la disminución de las conductas transgresoras de la convivencia social" y "coadyuvar a la educación y rehabilitación de los que incurran en conductas antisociales y delictivas".
La Habana.- El presidente provisional de Cuba, Raúl Castro, aprobó la creación de un sistema de prevención y atención social contra el delito, a través de un decreto publicado en la "Gaceta Oficial", informaron hoy medios cubanos.
"Se instituye el Sistema de Prevención y Atención Social en los niveles nacional, provincial, municipal y en los territorios de los consejos populares y circunscripciones", dice el decreto ley 242, firmado por Raúl Castro como primer vicepresidente de Cuba.
Entre sus diez objetivos está "propiciar la unidad de acción en la prevención del delito y demás conductas antisociales, identificando las causas y condiciones que las generan y posibilitan".
También se busca "contribuir a la disminución de las conductas transgresoras de la convivencia social" y "coadyuvar a la educación y rehabilitación de los que incurran en conductas antisociales y delictivas", explica el decreto.
El Sistema estará dirigido por una Comisión Nacional adscrita al Consejo de Ministros, e integrada por los titulares de Educación, Interior, Salud, Trabajo, Cultura, Educación Superior, Justicia y Deportes.
WHAT CUBANS CAN NOT DO2007-04-16. CUBA FACTS, Issue 31 – April 2007Cubans can not:• Travel abroad without government permission.• Change jobs without government permission.• Change residence without government permission.• Access the Internet without government permission (the Internet is closely monitored and controlled by the government. Only 1.67% of the population has access to the Internet).
• Send their children to a private or religious school (all schools are government run, there are no religious schools in Cuba).• Watch independent or private radio or TV stations (all TV and radio stations are owned and run by the government). Cubans illegally watch/listen to foreign broadcasts.• Read books, magazines or newspapers, unless approved/published by the government (all books, magazines and newspapers are published by the government).• Receive publications from abroad or from visitors (punishable by jail terms under Law 88).• Visit or stay in tourist hotels, restaurants, and resorts (these are off-limits to Cubans).• Seek employment with foreign companies on the island, unless approved by the government.• Run for public office unless approved by Cuba's Communist Party.• Own businesses, unless they are very small and approved by the government and pay onerous taxes.• Join an independent labor union (there is only one, government controlled labor union and no individual or collective bargaining is allowed; neither are strikes or protests).• Retain a lawyer, unless approved by the government.• Choose a physician or hospital. Both are assigned by the government.• Refuse to participate in mass rallies and demonstrations organized by the Cuban Communist Party.• Criticize the Castro regime or the Cuban Communist Party, the only party allowed in Cuba.
Cuba Facts is an ongoing series of succinct fact sheets on various topics, including, but not limited to, political structure, health, economy, education, nutrition, labor, business, foreign investment, and demographics, published and updated on a regular basis by the Cuba Transition Project staff.
The CTP can be contacted at P.O. Box 248174, Coral Gables, Florida 33124-3010, Tel: 305-284-CUBA (2822), Fax: 305-284-4875, and by email at [email protected] The CTP Website is accessible at
AGRESIÓN A LA CUBANIDAD2007-04-16.Oscar Espinosa Chepe, Economista y Periodista Independiente
La Habana, 16 de abril de 2007. La revista Vitral ha sido cerrada. Una decisión lamentable, que desde hacía meses era esperada por muchas personas, previendo que con el retiro de Monseñor José Siro González Bacallao como Obispo de Pinar del Río quedarían libres las manos de quienes desde hace muchos años deseaban que eso sucediera. Es la crónica de un cierre anunciado.
Con la desaparición de Vitral, precedida por el fin de la circulación de la revista Espacios de la Arquidiócesis de La Habana hace más de un año, queda privada la sociedad cubana de un pequeño pero constante soplo de aire fresco y puro proveniente de la provincia más occidental de Cuba.
Durante 13 años irradió luz en las tinieblas que por casi medio siglo se han impuesto en nuestro país. Si bien siempre se definió como católica, estuvo abierta al pensamiento de buena voluntad y por la reconciliación de todos los cubanos después de tantos años de fragmentaciones y odios arraigados entre hermanos.
La variedad de los asuntos tratados en los artículos de la revista fue extensa y plural. De forma abierta recogió artículos sobre economía, cultura en general, cuestiones sociales, asuntos religiosos, temas históricos, derechos humanos y, sobre todo, de cubanía. Quienes tuvimos la suerte de visitar el Centro de Formación Cívica y Religiosa de Pinar del Río y Vitral, dirigidos por el Ing. Dagoberto Valdés, pudimos apreciar un colectivo hermanado, transparente, donde la honestidad y el desinterés personal eran principios fundamentales, así como el amor más acendrado a la patria.
En los encuentros organizados por ellos tuvo acogida todo pensamiento constructivo, con gran respeto a la pluralidad. Se demostró coherencia entre la teoría y la práctica. Vitral fue un puente de unión entre todos los cubanos, los que vivimos en la isla y quienes desafortunadamente se ha marchado del país.
En todo momento se trató de lanzar mensajes de unidad y concordia a todos los residentes dentro del territorio nacional, incluidos sectores del gobierno. Se divulgó la obra muchos intelectuales y artistas sin preguntárseles sus posiciones políticas, mientras a otros olvidados injustamente se les rindió tributo, como a Celia Cruz.
En sus páginas, de forma abierta y racional, se analizó nuestra historia, en particular el mal comprendido período anterior a 1959, siempre en la búsqueda de posiciones razonables, sin convertir aquella etapa en una república angelical que nunca existió, como han hecho algunos, ni tampoco un infierno como dijera hace un tiempo un reconocido intelectual católico.
En síntesis, con el cierre de Vitral se ha lesionado no sólo a los católicos, sino también a todo el pueblo de Cuba, creyentes y no creyentes. Vitral, con su posición valiente y promotora de la reconciliación, era un símbolo de la Cuba a la que aspira la mayoría de los cubanos, con democracia y respeto de los derechos humanos; con diversidades y unidad, sobre la base de que todos somos compatriotas poseedores de un destino común.
Esos propósitos no constituyen una quimera, porque ese colectivo probó la posibilidad de lograrlo. De ahí el rechazo que engendró su ejemplo entre quienes temen la unidad de los cubanos y han promovido la división para justificar sus desmedidas ansias de poder absoluto.
Sin temor a exagerar puede afirmarse que después de casi 13 años y 78 números publicados, hasta el pasado Viernes Santo cuando se informó su cierre, Vitral significa aún más para los cubanos y para muchas personas en el extranjero. Vitral ha constituido la continuación en nuestros tiempos de El Habanero del Presbítero Félix Valera, o Patria de José Martí. Se equivocan aquellos que con el cierre de Vitral creen asesinar la idea; la simiente plantada germina con mayor fuerza.
India agrees to waive $62 million in Cuban debtDiplomatic CorrespondentDoubles number of technical scholarships for Cuban students— AFP
NEW DELHI: India has agreed to waive $62 million in Cuban commercial debt — $29 million in principal and $33 million in interest, officials in the External Affairs Ministry told this correspondent on Thursday.
Interestingly, New Delhi's decision relates to debt that the Cuban Government owes private Indian companies, and has a special significance given India's growing ties with the United States and Washington's troubled equation with Havana.
Message from Castro
The decision came as Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma. A special message from Cuban President Fidel Castro was handed over by Mr. Roque to Dr. Singh.
India also doubled the number of scholarships for Cuban students from the existing 25 under its technical cooperation programme. It will also provide 30 fellowships for Cubans at a wind energy research institute in Chennai.
Pointing out that Mr. Roque had been given full access to the Indian leadership, the officials pointed to New Delhi's interest in building an energy partnership with Cuba. Already, ONGC Videsh was working exclusively in two oil exploration blocks, and was a 30 per cent partner in six other blocks in Cuban waters.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Mr. Roque told presspersons that Cuba fully supported India's entry into the United Nations' Security Council as a permanent member.
Supporting the entry of two developing nations from Asia, Africa and Latin America, he said the new entrants, too, should have the veto power since the permanent five members were loath to give up theirs. "We don't want a second-tier membership."
Right to nuclear energy
Warning that an invasion of Iran would have "terrible consequences," Mr. Roque said Cuba supported the right of every country to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. According to him, Iran, like any other country, had the right to master the nuclear fuel cycle, including the production of nuclear fuel — a right recognised under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.
Pointing to the double standards employed by Washington, Mr. Roque stated that while the Security Council was tackling Iran on the basis of suspicion, it had not even discussed the issue of the 500 nuclear weapons possessed by Israel. "Look at the double standards," he said, underlining the fact that Cuba stood for a nuclear-free world, including the dismantling of the existing nuclear stockpiles.
To a question on Iraq, he said it was an illegal war of occupation, launched without U.N consent, and had led to the death of five hundred thousand Iraqis. No solution was possible without the withdrawal of American troops. "All this has been done for the control of oil."
On the formation of Left-leaning governments that objected to "neo-liberal policies" in Latin America, Mr. Roque said every country had the right to choose its own path according to the prevailing conditions. However, if the Cuban revolution had been overthrown, it would have, perhaps, taken longer for countries such as Bolivia, Brazil and Uruguay to bring Left-leaning governments to power.
Fidel Castro's not ready to go
Fidel Castro's scornful words lashing out at President George W. Bush and the U.S. government are classic "Fidel." "The most genuine representative of the system of terror that has been imposed upon the world by the technological, economic and political superiority of the most potent power in the world is, without question, George W. Bush," he writes in a letter published in Cuba's official newspaper, Granma.
In the letter, Castro is reacting to the decision by U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone to release his arch enemy Luis Posada Carriles on bond, blaming Bush for the release of a man he calls a "monster."
Posada Carriles, a former CIA operative who participated in the Bay of Pigs, has been held in the U.S. for two years on charges of entering the country illegally. He came here from Panama, where he had been jailed for possession of weapons, then pardoned by former President Mireya Moscoso.
He is wanted in both Cuba and Venezuela, where he is accused of masterminding the bombing of a Cuban airliner in 1976 that killed 73 people, but an immigration judge refused to extradite him, saying he would surely be tortured. To many of Castro's foes, Posada is considered a hero of sorts, but elsewhere he is seen as a terrorist. The CIA claims to have terminated its relationship with Carriles decades ago.
Whether he'll be allowed to run around free in the U.S. in the middle of a war on terror is yet to be seen. For now, his release has been blocked by an appellate court. But the real story here is not Posada's future, but Fidel Castro's comeback. The scathing letter on the possible release of Posada is the third document signed by Castro since he fell ill eight months ago and temporarily handed power over to his younger brother, Raul, and other high-ranking Cuban officials.
The celebrations in Miami's Little Havana began immediately after the news that Castro had undergone emergency intestinal surgery in July 2006. Cuban exiles thought it was the moment they had been waiting for, for more than 46 years. Some started packing their bags, preparing to return to their homeland.
Castro's condition and the cause of the operation were state secrets, which led to speculation that the Cuban dictator had terminal cancer or that he was already dead and that the communist government was getting ready to take control in case the masses came out to celebrate – or protest – in the streets of Havana.
The U.S. government met with Cuban exile leaders and mapped out their vision for a new and democratic Cuba. The news media prepared massive coverage of Castro's imminent demise.
He turned 80 at the hospital. He missed his own birthday celebration, as well as important national holidays and political events in which he normally would have been at the helm.
The only signs of Castro for months were pictures of him looking thin and frail in red pajamas in conversations with his friend and protege, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
More recently, he was pictured outdoors with Colombian Nobel Prize author Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
A few weeks ago, he made a phone call to Chavez during Chavez's weekly radio show. Then came the letters. The first two criticized Bush for promoting ethanol as an alternative to oil with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, then the third letter chastised Bush for the potential release of Posada Carriles.
It is widely believed now that Castro's ailment is diverticulitis. Cuban officials have been saying that Castro's health is improving. He is on top of the country's official business, they claim.
He's even gaining weight, says his foreign minister, Felipe Perez Roque. But perhaps the biggest sign that Fidel Castro is making a comeback is that good ol' anti-Yankee rhetoric in his letters, which for decades has made him a champion of anti-American forces around the world. Cuban exiles might have to hold on to their bags and wait a little longer before they can see the end of Castro's communist regime and return to their beloved homeland.
Maria Elena Salinas is the author of "I am my father's daughter: Living a life without secrets." Reach her at mariaesalinas.com.
April 16, 2006
Published: April 15, 2007 at 9:55 AMMoore to debut new 'Sicko' film
NEW YORK, April 15, 2007 (UPI) — Filmmaker Michael Moore is drawing flak for taking rescue workers from the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attacks to Cuba to be treated for their ailments.
The trip is detailed in Moore's latest documentary, "Sicko," a critique of the U.S. healthcare system that Moore wants to debut at the Cannes Film Festival next month.
February's trip to Cuba was to show the U.S. healthcare system pales in comparison with Fidel Castro's socialized medicine, the New York Post reported Sunday.
The film targets the medical care provided to people who worked on the toxic World Trade Center debris pile. But some of those approached to go on the trip claim Moore used them for his own advantage.
"He's using people that are in a bad situation and that's wrong, that's morally wrong," said Jeff Endean, from Morris County, N.J., who spent a month at Ground Zero and suffers from respiratory problems.
Moore's publicist did not return calls.
Cuba has made recent advancements in biotechnology and now exports its cancer treatments to 40 countries, the Post said.
The United States restricts travel to Cuba, but Moore was granted access for "journalistic endeavors."