By Anita Snow
The Associated Press
Posted March 30 2007
HAVANA – Fidel Castro signaled he is itching for a return to public life
after eight months of illness that has kept him out of sight, lambasting
U.S. biofuel policies in a front-page newspaper editorial Thursday.
But Castro's scathing attack in the Communist Party daily left
unanswered what role he will play in politics and government, and when
he might appear again in public.
In his article, the 80-year-old revolutionary asserted that President
Bush's support for using crops to produce ethanol for cars could deplete
corn and other food stocks in developing nations, putting the lives of 3
billion people at risk worldwide.
"There are many other issues to be dealt with," Castro added at the end
of the editorial, apparently promising more such missives.
Unlike several other written messages signed by Castro since he fell
ill, this one did not seem aimed at dispelling rumors about his health.
"This shows a more aware and lucid Castro than that suggested by the wan
pictures we've seen over the past few months," said Cuba specialist
Wayne Smith, who served as America's top diplomat in Havana from 1979 to
"My own take is that this does not presage some early return to power,"
Smith said. "Rather, it is a matter of Castro wanting to get his two
cents in about a subject he cares much about."
Castro's future role has been the source of much speculation, especially
in the last few months amid increasingly optimistic reports about his
recovery from senior Cuban officials and family members.
But it was clear from his article that Castro now wants his voice to be
heard on international issues, especially when it comes to the environment.
Written with the apocalyptic tone he has traditionally adopted in the
past to discuss the effects of U.S. policies on developing nations,
there was no reason to doubt Castro was the author.
"The sinister idea of converting food into combustible was definitively
established as the economic line of the foreign policy of the United
States," Castro wrote of Bush's discussions of biofuels with U.S.
automakers this week.
He noted that Cuba has also experimented with extracting ethanol from
sugar cane, but said there could be disastrous consequences if rich
nations imported key food crops such as corn from poor countries to help
meet energy needs.
"Apply this recipe to the countries of the Third World and you will see
how many people among the hungry masses of our planet will no longer
consume corn," the article said.
In recent weeks, Bolivian President Evo Morales and several senior Cuban
officials have indicated that Castro could soon take a more active role
in public affairs.
Morales said he expects to see Castro in public April 28 during a
meeting in Havana.