Fidel: Still A Headliner

On December 13th, 2015
    Yes, Fidel Castro is 89-years-old and still recovering from his near-fatal intestinal illness that struck him in July of 2006. But when he takes pencil in hand, as illustrated by this photo, he still makes headlines. This weekend -- Saturday and Sunday; December 12th & 13th, 2015 -- at least five international news organizations headlined excerpts from a letter the revolutionary legend wrote this week to his friend, Venezuela's harassed President Nicolas Maduro. The worldwide media focused mostly on Fidel's prickly comment that he believes Russia and China "know the world's problems much better than the United States." This sentence also made worldwide headlines: "Therefore it's up to Russia and China, given their historical traditions and revolutionary experience, to make the greatest effort to avoid war and contribute to the peaceful development of Venezuela, Latin America, Asia, and Africa." 
       Latin America presidents, such as Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro above, often visit Fidel Castro in his home. Fidel's letter to Maduro this week was to boost his friend's morale after a National Assembly election in Venezuela powerfully reflected dissatisfaction with the 17-year socialist rule of Maduro and the late Hugo Chavez. Maduro's presidential term runs until 2019 but the super-majority in the National Assembly means he can expect impeachment proceedings to commence and his efficacious economic deals with Cuba to cease. Like other notable democratically elected presidential visits to Fidel's home -- Rousseff of Brazil, Ortega of Nicaragua, Bachelet of Chile, Kirchner of Argentina, etc. -- Maduro is in deep trouble at home and so boosts from their Cuban mentor is in order. The harassed and term-limited Kirchner last month watched her hand-picked would-be successor lose in a presidential election to an anti-Cuba, pro-U. S. capitalist. The same type movements are underway in Chile, Brazil, and...Venezuela! The leftist, or pro-Castro, sands are shifting to the right in Latin America. But with the dawning of a new year, 2016, and his 90th birthday, Fidel Castro...and his legacy...will not be minuscule in the Americas.
      This week CNN Money used the above image with this headline: "Cuba Ripe for U. S. Investments." The astute assessment highlighted the fact that Cuba has shifted from a stoic socialist economy to a Vietnam-style capitalist approach. So, coupled with the rapprochement being engineered by U. S. President Obama, CNN predicts "hundreds of U. S. companies" are eager to invest in Cuba. It cited the bloody, five-year Vietnam War in which the U. S. lost to the Communist North, which united North and South Vietnam under communist rule. After the 1975 defeat, CNN noted that the U. S. had no relations with Vietnam till 1996. After that, U. S. companies invested billions of dollars in Vietnam and President George W. Bush went to Hanoi, put on silk pajamas, and banged a big gong to herald Vietnam's economy. CNN predicted this week that the same thing could happen to Cuba, but the Batistiano-dominated U. S. Congress will certainly try to prevent it. Yet, pugnaciousness is in Cuba's DNA.   
     Meanwhile, the 89-year-old Fidel Castro is not as enthused as his 84-year-old brother, President Raul Castro, when it comes to normalizing relations with the United States. But even Fidel realizes that Cuba, to survive, must tolerate a northern neighbor that is the world's economic and military superpower. Also, Fidel realizes that his policies left Cuba vulnerable by depending too much on one supporter -- such as the Soviet Union till its collapse in 1991 and the near collapse of President Maduro's oil-rich but cash-poor government in Venezuela. But, as his headline-making letter to Maduro indicated this week, Fidel Castro is still...well, FIDEL CASTRO!!

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