Castro Blog Tempers Anticipation of Warming Relations

By Bruce Wallace
(c) 2009, Los Angeles Times

No sooner did Cuban-American relations hit their warmest notes in half-century than former President Fidel Castro stirred from retirement to say: Not so fast.

The 82-year-old Castro tossed cold water on U.S. interpretations of his brother Raul's overture to President Barack Obama last week. His successor as Cuban president offered to discuss "everything, everything, everything" -- from human rights to political prisoners -- with his American counterpart. Obama had "misinterpreted" Raul's remarks, Fidel Castro wrote in his blog Tuesday, declaring that his brother meant only that "he was not afraid of addressing any issue.

"That shows his courage and confidence on the principles of the Revolution," the elder Castro wrote.

The intervention shows Fidel Castro's determination to ensure there is no deviation from the principles of that revolution. Forced by illness to transfer power to Raul in 2006 -- a handover ratified by the Cuban parliament in 2008 -- Fidel has been little seen in public since.

But he has been heard. Castro blogs with the frequency and energy he once devoted to his exhaustive and exhausting speeches. His Reflexions of Comrade Fidel is translated into seven languages other than Spanish, and remains a fascination for Cuba watchers trying to measure the island's political mood -- though the extent of his remaining influence is unclear.

Here, a collection of his blog musings on Obama and U.S. policy toward Cuba:

^May 25, 2008<

^On candidate Obama:

I feel no resentment towards him, for he is not responsible for the crimes perpetrated against Cuba and humanity. Were I to defend him, I would do his adversaries an enormous favor. I have therefore no reservations about criticizing him.

In his speech, Obama portrays the Cuban revolution as anti-democratic and lacking in respect for freedom and human rights. It is the exact same argument which, almost without exception, U.S. administrations have used again and again to justify their crimes against our country.

^April 3, 2009

^On Obama's performance at the G-20 Summit in London:

Undoubtedly, he is much better than (former President George W.) Bush and (Sen. John) McCain, but his thinking is not geared to the real problems of today's world. The empire is much more powerful than he or his good intentions are.

^April 6, 2009

^On the visit of members of the Congressional Black caucus to Havana:

In general, they believe that 68 percent of the American public opinion favors a change in the policy towards Cuba. One of them expressed that it was necessary to take advantage of this historical moment, when the presence of a black president in the White House coincides with a current of opinion that is in favor of the normalization of relations.

^April 8, 2009.

^On Obama's tour of Europe

Even though he was a messenger with mixed signals, his obvious good health and agile mind operating like a working machine allowed the black president to carry out his first foreign visit with unquestionable political results.

He certainly does not resemble his predecessor at all.

^April 13, 2009.

^On the administration's refusal to lift the economic blockade of the Cuba ahead of the Summit of the America, which bars Cuba for lacking democratic credentials:

Now, the only thing left is for Obama to try to persuade all of the Latin American presidents attending the conference that the blockade is harmless.

Cuba has resisted and it will continue to resist; it will never beg for alms. It will go forward holding its head up high and cooperating with the fraternal peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean; with or without Summits of the Americas; whether or not the president of the United States is Obama, a man or a woman, a black or a white citizen.

^April 14, 2009.

^On Obama's decision to lift travel restrictions to Cuba for Cuban-Americans with relatives on the island:

The decision to relax travel restrictions is indeed positive in itself, although minimal. Many others are required. ... We have no wish to offend Obama in the least, but he shall be president for one or two terms. In his wake, however, someone equal or worse than his predecessor might come. Men come and go; peoples live on.

There are other extremely serious problems such as the climate change, and the current president of the United States has decided to cooperate in that problem so vital for humankind. We have to acknowledge that.

^April 21, 2009.

^On Obama and the outcome of the summit:

We are living in a new era. Changes are unavoidable. Leaders just pass through; peoples prevail. There would be no need to wait for thousands of years to pass by; only eight years will be enough so that a new U.S. president -- who will no doubt be less intelligent, promising and admired in the world than Barack Obama -- riding in a better armored car, or on a more modern helicopter, or on a more sophisticated plane, occupies that inglorious position.

^Wallace is the Times' foreign editor.

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