Sunday, July 29, 2007

In Cuba, a big, revolutionary party without its usual host

In Cuba, a big, revolutionary party without its usual host

Long-ruling dictator Fidel Castro was a no-show at a big "Revolution
Day" celebration yesterday in Camagüey, Cuba, that marked the 54th
anniversary of the guerrilla movement he led to oust the corrupt,
U.S.-backed government of general-turned-president Fulgencio Batista
back in the long-ago 1950s.

It has been exactly one year since Castro was last seen in public,
although images of the ailing, 80-year-old leader have popped up
routinely in Cuba's government-controlled media, as have numerous essays
and opinion pieces penned by the indefatigable revolutionary about his
country's future, global warming, high-paid athletes and, well, just
about everything.

The acting head of Cuba's government, Fidel's younger brother, Raúl
Castro (second from right, in uniform), waved his country's flag at
yesterday's "Revolution Day" celebration

The mood was "subdued" as some 100,000 onlookers gathered in the city in
eastern-central Cuba to commemorate Castro's revolution for the first
time without the living legend being present himself to host the party,
which kicked off at 7:30 in the morning. Instead, reports Cuba's Granma,
his younger brother, "Raúl Castro Ruz, second secretary of the Central
Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and first vice president of the
Councils of State and Ministers, presided over the event."

In the main speech of the day, Raúl Castro, who has been acting as the
head of Cuba's government since his older brother fell ill last year,
aimed his remarks at Washington and said: "These have been difficult
months, but the outcome has been diametrically opposed to the hopes of
our enemies, who dreamed that chaos would be unleashed, and [that] Cuban
socialism would end in collapse." He added, in what appeared to be an
overture to the nearby foreign power that has tried to crush Cuba with
an economic embargo that has lasted 45 years: "If the United States
authority were to finally desist from [its] arrogance and decide to
converse in a civilized manner, it would be a welcome
change....Otherwise, we are ready to continue confronting [its] policy
of hostility, even for another 50 years, if need be." (BBC)

Mexico's La Jornada notes that Cuba's interim leader told the crowd it
has been his style to make policy decisions only after closely studying
the issues that demand the government's attention, and that he has
preferred to do so without fanfare in order to avoid provoking false
expectations among the Cuban people.

Portraying Raúl Castro as something of a statesman, Granma notes that he
reminded his Camagüey audience that a presidential election will be
coming up at the end of next year in the United States, a contest that
will bring "an end to the presidency of George W. Bush [, Jr.]," and
"stressed that that will be the end of Bush's erratic and dangerous
administration, characterized by retrogressive thinking [that has]
afford[ed] no margin for rational analysis." Granma's report adds: "The
second secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba affirmed his conviction
that the problems of this world can only be solved by way of dialog."

Posted By: Edward M. Gomez (Email) | July 27 2007 at 06:14 AM

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