Monday, September 13, 2010

Interesting Posts on Castro

As some of you may be aware, Jeff Goldberg at The Atlantic recently spent some time in Cuba and has been posting some great accounts of his time with Castro.

- First, he and Castro address Ahmadinejad and anti-semitism. Castro says unequivocally "stop slandering the Jews". Here, Castro provides some fascinating insights on the prospect of a conflict between Israel and Iran, drawing from his own experience with the Cuban Missile Crisis.

- Here, Castro claims that the "Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore" (no shit, Sherlock). There's also a funny exchange in the Havana Aquarium:

"Do you like dolphins?" Fidel asked me.

"I like dolphins a lot," I said.

Fidel called over Guillermo Garcia, the director of the aquarium (every employee of the aquarium, of course, showed up for work -- "voluntarily," I was told) and told him to sit with us.

"Goldberg," Fidel said, "ask him questions about dolphins."

"What kind of questions?" I asked.

"You're a journalist, ask good questions," he said, and then interrupted himself. "He doesn't know much about dolphins anyway," he said, pointing to Garcia. He's actually a nuclear physicist."

"You are?" I asked.

"Yes," Garcia said, somewhat apologetically.

"Why are you running the aquarium?" I asked.

"We put him here to keep him from building nuclear bombs!" Fidel said, and then cracked-up laughing.

"In Cuba, we would only use nuclear power for peaceful means," Garcia said, earnestly.

"I didn't think I was in Iran," I answered.

Fidel pointed to the small rug under the special swivel chair his bodyguards bring along for him.

"It's Persian!" he said, and laughed again. Then he said, "Goldberg, ask your questions about dolphins."


- In the most recent update, Castro has retracted his point that the Cuban model doesn't work for Cuba... sort of. All he says that Goldberg quotes him on is that the capitalist system doesn't work for the United States. He doesn't actually retract the claim that the Cuban model doesn't work for Cuba. These two points don't contradict each other. My guess is he really does think the Cuban model doesn't work for Cuba, he doesn't think capitalism works either, and he wanted to deflect domestic criticism by shifting the emphasis of the earlier point. But no change of position - superficial or substantive - seems to be in evidence here.

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