It was two years ago exactly. A Cuban TV anchor announced there would shortly be a message from Fidel Castro. I canceled dinner plans and waited. Then the bomb fell.
Castro’s personal secretary read a proclamation from the Commander-in-Chief announcing he had temporarily handed power to his younger brother to undergo emergency surgery.
We later learned the operation had already taken place and it was successful. We also learned that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of reservists had been confined to their barracks.
But instead of invasions or uprisings, Cubans have seen a virtually seamless transition to Raul Castro.
Fidel Castro has not appeared in public since. And every day, fewer Cubans take notice.
But he has managed to get his message out.
He’s written 140 messages while recovering from a still undisclosed illness. They were initially published in state newspapers and read on state television.
And then, last month, Castro discovered the power and reach of the Internet.
Now, he posts his writings, called “Reflections of Comrade Fidel” on the official web site www.cubadebate.cu even before they hit the newsstand.
The government’s media handlers send foreign correspondents cell phone text messages the minute they’re posted – even if it’s 2 a.m.
Castro writes about world affairs and problems in Cuba, and also gives a rare glimpse into his daily routine.
In one entry he described a lunch with Colombian poet Gabriel Garcia Marquez, insisting he stuck to his “strict diet.”
Some Cubans have dubbed him “Blogger-in-Chief.”
Analysts say Castro is trying to reach a wider audience – especially since Cubans are less and less interested in his columns. And most people on the Communist-run island don’t have access to Internet.
But while Castro may not be reaching the popular masses, he still exerts political influence. The million-dollar question is: how much?
Some Cuba observers believe Raul Castro’s attempts to reform the economy have been slowed by his brother. But it’s a balancing act.
Fidel Castro is loved by many as the “Father of the Revolution.” But his younger brother has a growing fan club of young Cubans anxious for some improvement in their daily lives. And they won’t wait forever.
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