One of the good things about nearing sixty is the great grab-bag of references experience brings. Watching one’s heroes metamorphose into villains brings cynicism but finding a hero where a demon once stood brings hope. There have been a number of them in my time: Che, Nelson, Fidel, to mention a few.
Old Fidel is on his last legs. Who’d have thought it? He is the longest serving head of state in the world. He won’t outdo Queen Victoria but she had a head start, she was born a ruler.
I have a great deal of admiration for Fidel. Now. Once I thought he was the devil incarnate. That was back when I read Time and Newsweek.
I’d like to go to Cuba. They say it’s a people’s place. Not a paradise but a good place to go and kick back a little, hang out in a bar with friendly people. In the old days, Fidel might have joined you, invited you out to the beach house if he found you interesting.
It's not a place you go to buy stuff like Cartier, Versache or Happy Meals. You can get a good cigar, lovely organic fruit and, as the song goes, the rum is fine any time the year. You wouldn't dream of going there to work. It is more the sort of place to go to live.
I guess Fidel pulled it off. With thumb firmly pressed to his nose he faced down the might of the U.S. for nearly fifty years.
I wonder if President Ahmadineajad of Iran is an admirer of Fidel’s. Somehow I think he might be. There is a similarity in style.
Ahmadineajad is young, hip, has his own blog. He is a people's man. He still teaches a class in engineering, talks one to one with students, is highly intelligent and informed. His ambitions are not in the material world.
He speaks simply and the analysts pore over his words and interpret the meanings behind meanings until “Israel is in the wrong geographical location” becomes “Israel should be wiped off the map” and “Can the possibility of scientific achievements being utilized for military purposes be reason enough to oppose science and technology altogether?” becomes: “We’re going to develop nukes whether you like it or not”.
Have you read his letter? Cut and paste it, fix up the grammar and spacing, print it out and take it to bed tonight. It’s remarkably good reading.