Commentary — February 28, 2008, 7:06 pm

Archive Highlights: Fidel Castro

Reuters, “McCain Hopes Castro to ‘Meet Marx Soon,’” the New York Times, February 22, 2008:

Republican presidential front-runner John McCain suggested on Friday that he hoped retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro would die soon and said Castro’s brother will be a worse leader.

“I hope he has the opportunity to meet Karl Marx very soon,” McCain told a town-hall style meeting of about 150 people, referring to communist theoretician Marx who died on March 14, 1883.


“The Communist Evolution,” August 2004:

From a letter to President Roosevelt written by Fidel Castro in 1940. It is among a collection of letters to U.S. presidents displayed in November at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

My good friend Roosvelt.

I don’t know very English, but I know as much as write to you.

I like to hear the radio, and I am very happy,
because I heard in it, that you will be President
for a new (periodo).

I am twelve years old.

I am a boy but I think very much but I do
not think that I am writing to the President of
the United States.

If you like, give me a ten dollars bill green
American, in the letter, because never, I have
not seen a ten dollars bill green American and I
would like to have one of them.

I don’t know very English but I know very
much Spanish and I suppose you don’t know
very Spanish but you know very English because
you are American but I am not American.

Thank you very much. Good by.

Your friend,
Fidel Castro

If you want iron to make your ships I will show
to you the biggest (minas) of iron of the land.
They are in Mayari, Oriente, Cuba.

J. David Truby, “Castro’s curveball,” May 1989:

Howie Haak, who until recently worked Latin America for the Pittsburgh Pirates, is perhaps the greatest big league talent scout of all time. Now in his mid-seventies, Haak recalled Castro as “a big kid who threw a wicked bleeping curveball-nothing amateur about his pitches. He was a good prospect because he could throw and think at the same time, a rare talent in a young pitcher.”

After several days of deliberation with friends, family, and some of his professors, Castro turned down the offer to play professional baseball. The Giants’ officials were stunned.

Harper’s Index, February 2001:

Year in which Colin Powell complained, “I’m running out of villains. I’m down to Castro and Kim II Sung” : 1991

John Corry, “Castro’s Cuba: Drums, Guns, and the New Man,” April 1969:

Consequently, to the bourgeoisie Fidel can sound stupefyingly dull, and when he rose in Havana on January 2 to speak on the tenth anniversary of what is always called “the triumph of the revolution,” he was full of snappy one-liners about sugar cane, tractors, and the nitrogen content of fertilizer. One Government official said there were one million people in the Plaza of the Revolution to hear him that day, and one said there were 800,000, and some resident correspondents decided that 600,000 might be about right; no matter, it was a gigantic collection of Cubans, and they were there not because they were forced to, which is the conventional wisdom outside Cuba, but because Fidel, I think, with his onions, garlic, and one-liners, is their sign that the revolution is making it.

There is Che in one, with his famous dictum, “To create two, three, many Vietnams,”
which, when you think of it, is in consummate bad taste, and there are Fidel and Che in another, looking heroic and determined and revolutionary. What saves the murals is that they are pastels, and they are gay, and it is pleasant to see a couple of guerrilla leaders done up in pansy colors. There is a lot of this kind of thing in Cuba, wherein bongo drums or something always seem to be getting mixed in with the tommy guns, and it
makes the revolutionary zeal and revolutionary ardor easier to take.

…and the hell of it was that Fidel was absolutely serious, and the people knew it, and there they were applauding anyway. “This year we have to complete the 1969 harvest and
carry out part of the 1970 one,” he said. (Applause.) “Thus, we have to work in two harvests. Next year, the traditional year, that is, next December, and quite probably next January second, it is quite possible that we will not be able to gather here in this. Plaza since a great many of us in this country will be out in the fields cutting sugarcane.” (Applause.). “Thus, the next New Year will probably be celebrated on July first, while the next Christmas will be celebrated between the first and twenty-sixth of July.” (Applause.)

Weekly Review, December 13, 2005:

Fidel Castro said that Florida Governor Jeb Bush was fat; Bush, who at 225 pounds is between 18 and 44 pounds above the ideal weight for his height and frame, said he was flattered by the criticism. “It is not a criticism,“ clarified Castro, “rather a suggestion that he do some exercises and go on a diet, don’t you think? I’m doing this for the gentleman’s health.”

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