December 18, 2007

To Cling....Or Not to Cling?

Reuters reported yesterday (December 16, 2007) that Cuban Premier Fidel Castro has “hinted that he’ll not cling to power.”

That sounds a bit disingenuous to me, given that Castro has outlived most of his adversaries and has, indeed, clung to power longer than even did the eternal Francisco Franco in Spain.

Forty-four years ago this month, I was stationed at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, serving an “unaccompanied tour” (without my bride). As program manger for the Armed Forces Radio and Television Station (WGBY) at “Gitmo,” I spent more than a little time eavesdropping on Cuban television programs from the other side of the fence. They consisted mostly of B-grade syndicated programs from
the United States, particularly old cartoons.

But the Cuban airwaves were often filled with revolutionary pronouncements delivered by the fiery revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro. It was not uncommon for us to watch Fidel waxing emotional about a topic – tune out for a few hours – and then return to find him still plugging along.
We called him “Forever Fidel,” referring not to his anticipated tenure as a Cuban leader – which none of us thought would be very long – but rather to his unending stamina before the cameras.

Little could any of us have known that Fidel would still be around nearly a half century later, and still enjoying his role as a political thorn in the side of the United States government. That, despite his ascendancy to revolutionary legend, is likely to be his lasting legacy.

The promises of the revolution in Cuba never came to fruition. Somehow, with his tenacity and cunning, Fidel fortified his power base and…..well….he "clung."

And headlines say he’s “not going to cling to power"? I suspect old Fidel has fallen victim to the ravages of time and change. Age, health, and emerging political realities have loosened the iron-clad grip Fidel Castro has had on Cuba the last half century. And if he's no longer clinging -- it's a result of lost grip -- not lost desire.


If Batista could only see him now.

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