Castro marks 75th birthday, firmly in charge
August 13, 2001 Posted: 8:47 PM EDT (0047 GMT)
From Lucia Newman
CNN Havana Bureau
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The fact the majority of Western governments regard him as a dictator clinging on to an outdated political model is simply proof, in Castro's eyes, that everyone else is wrong.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