HAVANA, Cuba (CNN) -- When President Fidel Castro, on the eve of his 75th birthday, handed a Cuban flag to the head of the Communist youth organization, it was more than a ceremonial move.
Castro was metaphorically enacting what he calls his most powerful dream -- that Cuba's younger generations take over from him once he's gone to keep his revolution alive.
Castro marks his 75th birthday Monday. His voice is no longer as fiery as it once was, and his beard is not as thick as when he and his allies overthrew Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959. But he continues to show impressive stamina, still speaking for four or five hour’s non-stop and still getting by on only a few hours of sleep.
His regime has survived the collapse of his longtime Soviet patrons and four decades of official U.S. hostility, including an attempt by American-armed Cuban exiles to overthrow him in 1961 and an economic embargo that has persisted through nine U.S. administrations.
The fact the majority of Western governments regard him as a dictator clinging on to an outdated political model is simply proof, in Castro's eyes, that everyone else is wrong. Capitalism, he insists, is on its deathbed.
"It can't last much longer," he said recently. "The conditions are being created ... otherwise the human species cannot survive."
The future has become almost an obsession as mortality becomes less of a distant possibility for the world's longest-ruling head of state.
Castro's recent -- and unprecedented -- fainting spell at a public rally was a wake-up call for friends and foes alike, forcing them to reflect on a Cuba without the man who's ruled it for 42 years.
"I was alarmed, because Cuba is not prepared for a quick change," Cuban dissident Hector Palacios said. "A quick change could be very traumatic."
Many opponents of Castro's government argue that democratic change is inevitable -- and that it should be led by Castro himself to avoid a power vacuum and the kind of social turmoil that occurred in the former Soviet republics.
Castro and his designated successor, younger brother Raul Castro, laugh off the suggestion that communism in Cuba is destined to collapse.
"Fidel is a person that is completely committed with the revolutionary struggles since he was very, very young," National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon said. "That may explain the energy, the vital energy that he's capable of developing."
Castro seems determined to use that energy to keep Cuba on its current course -- as long as he lives.
What are your thoughts? As you all may know I visited Cuba 2 months ago. Not necessarily to patronize Castro but to fly on the IL-62 and Yak 42D without spending an arm & a leg to get to Russia to fly on one. Also to see the old American cars. Not to mention, Cuba is a very exotic, controversial and cheap place to visit. It has Superfly written all over it!
This is mainly because Fidel Castro’s uncompromising integrity and refusal to be pushed around by larger more powerful nations US
One thing I want to point out and play with. If Castro allowed Nike, Gap, Levi's and other manufactures in his country to take advantage of cheap labor like China, would US policy toward Cuba be different?
Viva la revolucion!
*Let's all try to maintain our friendship with each others here in this forum un-like another international policy forum
B777-200 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (13 years 4 months 2 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 774 times:
Castro will never die! He's as healthy as an Ox! I don't see why the U.S. doesn't open economic relations with Cuba? It would help BOTH economies, and right now the U.S. economy could use a little stimulation.
Jessman From United States of America, joined Jul 2001, 1506 posts, RR: 7
Reply 5, posted (13 years 4 months 2 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 752 times:
Much of the economic pressure is used to appease the cuban-americans in especially the Miami area. They have very strong political committees and they vote, they vote loudly, so here we are.
I read somewhere that approx. 80% of US couldn't care less about cuba. I am one of them, but I would like to at least have the ability to visit Cuba without fear of being fined and/or imprissoned (sp).
Happy Birthday Fidel, may you live as long as the Queen Mother.
JetService From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 4798 posts, RR: 11
Reply 8, posted (13 years 4 months 2 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 735 times:
I'm giving the sanctions 2 more weeks before he cracks.
Actually Castro may be a good case-study for military intervention vs. economic sanctions.
Imagine how wealthy the Cuban population could be sans Castro with Americans dumping tourism money there all these years after a successful military overthrow in the 60s. I'm not talking about financing bush-league rebels either.
LH423 From Canada, joined Jul 1999, 6501 posts, RR: 54
Reply 9, posted (13 years 4 months 2 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 723 times:
The embargo is something that is long overdue to end. Castro is no longer a threat to national security. All his communist allies have reverted to capitalism for 10 years now. His economy is in shambles. He's an ageing has-been military leader who sees the world through red coloured sunglasses. He's more mentally unstable than he is a military threat.
END THE CUBAN EMBARGO NOW!
« On ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux » Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Sccutler From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 5617 posts, RR: 28
Reply 12, posted (13 years 4 months 2 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 709 times:
The embargo is failed policy, and has ironically provided what I regard as Castro's most effective tool for perpetuating such anti-US sentiment as exists (which, I am led to understand, is not too fervent among Cuban rank & file).
'Fly, I was going to challenge your assertion that Fidel has exhibited "integrity," but he has shown an apparent dedication to his people which is salutary. His problem, in my view, is that while he may love his people, he certainly does not trust them, and has thus diligently avoided any reasonable extension of personal freedoms to Cubanos.
We should ditch the embargo and compete for the respect and affection of the Cuban people; let the "market" decide- the market of free policy and public opinion. If the Peoples' Republic of China qualifies for MFN status, an embargo against Cuba is patently ludicrous.
...three miles from BRONS, clear for the ILS one five approach...