10.09.08 8:27 AM ET
Fidel the Blogger
Raúl may be officially in charge. But his brother still makes more noise—posting furiously about the Wall Street meltdown, sports, and his soft spot for Obama’s kids.
As Wall Street was melting down last week, Fidel Castro was busy blogging.
The 82-year-old former leader of the Cuban Revolution hammered out a brief post gloating about the bailout blow-up. “Bush is going hoarse giving ridiculous speeches,” Castro wrote on his blog, Reflections of Comrade Fidel.
The world has not seen much of Fidel since he officially transferred power to his brother Raúl last February. But after 49 years and 55 days of delivering the longest speeches of any Latin American politician in history, the octogenarian leader has discovered a new way to spread his opinions. In the past year, he’s written more than 150 blogs posts, weighing in on topics including U.S. presidential race ( he prefers Obama), Alan Greenspan’s most recent book (he found it very useful), and his friendship with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. (“ Today is his birthday. Raul and I have sent him a painting of Che emerging from the earth.”)
Never a big fan of capitalism, the financial meltdown has triggered a flurry of self-satisfied blog entries by Castro. At least Cuba’s leaders are not “going crazy searching for solutions amidst depression, inflation, market collapse and unemployment,” he wrote in a recent post.
If Castro’s occasional public appearances with Chávez are any indication, Comrade Fidel is also dressing for his new job. The politician-turned-blogger has traded his military getup for an informal tracksuit, a more appropriate choice for someone who works at a home computer, and no longer needs to spend long hours at the podium.
On an island where Internet access is heavily monitored, Castro is Cuba’s only unrestricted blogger. He uses his new cyber perch to dispel rumors about his ailing health and share his views on everything from the conflict in Georgia to Eurocup soccer final. Since his blog is picked by every major Cuban newspaper, Fidel’s voice still manages to overshadow his younger brother Raul, even from retirement.
Sometimes, Castro seems downright apologetic for writing so much. “I don’t want to bother anyone, but I’m still alive and I still think about things,” he writes in a recent post.
Never a big fan of capitalism, the financial meltdown has triggered a flurry of self-satisfied blog entries by Castro. At least Cuba’s leaders are not “going crazy searching for solutions amidst depression, inflation, market collapse and unemployment,” he wrote in a post.
The Cuban revolutionary also noted that he found Alan Greenspan’s recent book extremely useful in helping understand the current situation, particularly "the consequences of printing bills and spending without limits."
The U.S. elections have been another frequent topic on the blog, and Comrade Fidel has been especially tough on John McCain, who he finds arrogant. “More than 2,400 years ago, Socrates wrote…. ‘I only know that I know nothing,’” Castro wrote. “Today, McCain tells his fellow countrymen: 'I only know that I know everything.'"
Castro has been easier on Obama. Though he quibbled with Obama’s foreign policy in a blog entry, he qualified his criticism by adding “I am not questioning Obama’s great intelligence, his debating skills or his work ethic. He is a talented orator and is ahead of his rivals in the electoral race.”
He also has a soft spot for Obama’s daughters, Malia and Sasha. “I feel sympathy for his wife and little girls, who accompany him and give him encouragement every Tuesday. It is indeed a touching human spectacle.”
Some Cubans, including the punk rocker Gorki Aguila, the lead singer of Porno para Ricardo, are starting to feel a little impatient with the uber-blogger. In a recent song called “The Commander”, Aguila denounces Fidel as a self-satisfied old man who “wants me to applaud him after he speaks his delirious shit.”
Aguila, who relies on the Internet to illegally distribute his songs bashing the Castro siblings and the Cuban regime, was recently arrested for “social dangerousness” and received a four year prison sentence that was later revoked.
Castro’s prolific blogging is especially frustrating to legions of young Cubans who frequently find their blogs blocked inside Cuba when they criticize the government online. (See the blog of Yoani Sánchez called Generation Y).
As rumors swirl about Castro’s failing health, some readers wonder if a ghost-blogger might be manning the controls.
While no one can be entirely sure, Gabriel García Márquez once said, “Fidel isn’t like the rest of us. He thinks he has all the time in the world. Death isn’t part of his plans.” For now, blogging definitely is.