JFK was probably the first American President to realize that Fidel Castro was a very difficult man to frighten; he was courage personified, added to that was a fine mind, an enormous doze of charisma and the absolute conviction that his cause was just. Kennedy knew after the Bay of Pigs invasion that he would either have to bomb the island back to the Stone Age; make some kind of deal or; create a “Mexican Stand Off” The hawks advising him knew that the bombing was not an option no matter how much they wished it was; the deal with a communist regime was likewise a non starter and, they therefore settled for the 3rd. solution. They wrongly assumed that a tiny 3rd. world country would be unable to survive the hostility and power of the worlds mightiest super power, the rest as they say is history, history created in no small part by the man who was to become one of the century’s greatest icons, a beacon of hope to millions and a hate figure to those who felt threatened by his communist revolution, Fidel Castro.
At his trial in 19 53 for the attack on the Moncada Barracks which saw him go to prison Fidel said “Condemn me. It does not matter. history will absolve me” fast forward 50 years and the new president of America Barak Obama is putting in place measures which should have been put in place by Kennedy and every other American president since, like Vietnam, the ingredient that none of us foresaw was the speed of developing communications. Vietnam was lost because the world was watching it on TV and Cuba was also in the public eye making it more and more difficult for the Americans to justify their aggression against their tiny Cuban neighbours. As Ali said to the visibly tiring Foreman in the “rumble in the jungle” “George you’re in the wrong place to get tired” So it was with successive presidents who found themselves facing the wrong man to get tired against, none of them wanted to be the one to say “uncle” for fear of being branded soft on communism, Obama’s stance is made to look all the more courageous when you consider the posturing of past incumbents.
It’s no secret that I am a huge admirer of Fidel and the Cuban revolution, their achievements in education health and housing are the stuff of legend; particularly as the USA stood over them snarling. I wonder what is going through Castro’s mind now; no one can seriously doubt that he has triumphed and so has Cuba, they have better infant mortality rates as well as better literacy and numeracy rates than their mighty neighbour; Fidel will as usual play this cleverly; this is where he wants to be heading and he will play the ageing diplomatic statesman to the manner born. He knows that the key to Cuba’s future is co-operation with America and he also knows that Obama knows that America’s position on Cuba at a time when they are dealing with China, Russia and even North Korea is becoming more and more untenable and also making America look like a foolish bully.
No USA president has ever been a match for him and Obama will be all to aware of that; he will make the right noises and make progress gradually, this will still take time and it’s only the beginning but it’s a hugely significant start. The American Senators who met Castro described a friendly, fit, healthy man whose mind was as sharp as ever despite his age, He must be overjoyed at seeing this turn of events, he is back at centre stage again and even his enemies must be wondering what they are up against. If he meets Obama the fly on the wall in Castro’s office will have the most envied position in the political world for that meeting.
If I were Fidel I would be tempted to say to Obama; “welcome Mr. President as you can see we are still standing and still maintaining our revolution, what has happened to America? It looks like Capitalism collapsed before Cuba did” he won’t of course; he is a lot smarter than me; a lot smarter than a lot of folk in fact. If only he were 20 years younger.