Fidel Castro watches from sidelines as revolution unravels

April 9th, 2008 - 8:54 am ICT by admin  

By Franz Smets
Mexico City/Havana, April 9 (DPA) Communist Cuba is moving. The ailing Fidel Castro, 81, is having to watch powerlessly from the sidelines of a renovation process set to catapult Cubans into the future. The process can no longer be stopped, and the old revolutionary hero, the man who led Cuba for almost half a century, is watching with worry from his sickbed.

Cuban President Raul Castro and the other new authorities on the island insist on change. For some, it is no longer clear whether next year Cubans will be celebrating the golden anniversary of their revolution or the end of their revolution after 50 years.

Cellphones, computers and electronic home appliances remain devilish objects for Fidel Castro. Only three years ago, as he called for an “energy revolution” in order to palliate the notorious power shortage on the island, he publicly spoke for the energy-saving rice-cooking pot and even distributed some units to housewives.

“Out of the crisis with the rice pot.” Such was his suggestion at the time, to help Cubans overcome many years of severe scarcity and sacrifices.

Now that he is no longer in power, he thinks no differently. In a recent letter to a congress of Cuban intellectuals and authors, Fidel Castro made clear his displeasure about current reforms. He accused his successors led by brother Raul of having opened the door to egoism in Cuba.

They lack a deep understanding about what holds the world together, he claimed.

“Modern man is not less egoistical than Greek men in Plato’s time,” Fidel told intellectuals who once followed him with determination.

Modern man is more vulnerable than ever. CDs and DVDs, mobile phones, the internet, microwaves and digital cameras are only there to grant money and power to international companies.

“Does this kind of existence that imperialism promises make any sense at all?” Fidel Castro asked.

The former Cuban leader warned that evolution has not even prepared the human body for the effects of so many electronic waves.

However, since the new government under Raul, 76, took office less than two months ago, several things have changed in Cuba: microwaves, mobile phones and the internet are to be accessible for as many people as possible, and Cubans can now stay in luxury hotels which were until now were only for foreigners.

Historian and professor Eusebio Leal told the gathering of Cuban intellectuals that the country should get ready for a “new destiny”.

“I think we have to help build the nation of today. We are all hopeful. Why? Because the country, indeed, is assuming that what until yesterday was not convenient or prudent is now necessary,” he was quoted as saying.

“How good it is that we can have telephones!”

He even noted that he is not ashamed of his own children, who have left Cuba to try their luck abroad. Until now, all those who left Cuba were deserters, traitors and spies.

Such comments, with views never published in the media, were expressed in a congress of artists and writers, which Cuban Vice President Carlos Lage attended. Work towards moderate economic reform is expected in the coming weeks and months, particularly from him.

On the occasion, Lage for the first time left no room for doubt regarding his analysis of the country’s situation.

“We are coming from a dramatic lack of food and medicine, from desolate streets, from dark nights,” he admitted.

Following almost two decades of crisis - after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s - he can understand the impatience of Cubans, he said.

“I understand everyone’s impatience because we share it. I am encouraged by the faith of many, of the immense majority, of all,” said Lage.

The vice president’s cautious reforms were mostly scrapped by Fidel Castro in the 1990s.

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