Dallas Paper's article on Fidel
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Dear Kevin and everyone,
The following article on Fidel Castro in Cuba is from
today's Dallas Morning News. It was on their front
page and when I saw it I thought I would look it up on
their website and e-mail it to comrades.
First, the Dallas Morning News is an extremely
reactionary newspaper. The local Islamic community has
an alternative site Dallasnotnews.com which protests
against its distortions and insinuations. It is
forever investigating Arab and Muslim charities and
other businesses trying to link them to Hamas and in
so doing get them arrested and investigated. It is
quite possible that the Dallas Morning News was
responsible for starting the FBI on its investigation
of the Holy Land organization and the other little
internet company owned by some members of the same
family. The Holy Land charity was committing the
grave crime of sending support to families in occupied
Palestine without bothering to exclude the children of
guerrilla fighters from their list of recipients.
To the Zionists and the US government (which is
virtually the same thing) that is the crime of support
Meanwhile, the Dallas Morning News has its own Cuba
bureau the main job of which is to spread the
imperialist message about the island.
What is remarkable about the story below is that
although they try their very best to put a negative
spin on Fidel Castro, they really fail to do so. They
even go so far as to quote a poll taken among people
who ran away from Cuba to the USA. Obviously such
people will be hoping to build careers in America and
that will depend on their denouncing socialist Cuba.
So clearly such a poll is worthless.
Thus despite their desperate attempts not to do so,
the Dallas Morning News demonstrates that without any
overt, forced personality cult, Fidel's ideas and
influence are nevertheless pervasive.
This reminded me of the article some time back about
how the Americans supposedly are flag wavers without
being forced to be so. That also requires some
exploration because it is also to some extent true.
But, as I say, the Dallas Morning News story below
indicates that it is not only Americans who can rally
around their national symbols, and in the case of
Fidel he is a symbol not only of the existence of the
country but of its struggle for certain principles.
By the way, 13 August was Fidel's birthday as well as
In Cuba, one man truly is an island
At 77, Castro rests beyond a cult of personality and
inside hearts, minds
09:47 PM CDT on Wednesday, August 13, 2003
By TRACEY EATON / The Dallas Morning News
SANTIAGO, Cuba � Just inside the door is a
mind-numbing assortment of photos and old books,
covering the walls in dog-eared splendor.
Asterio Sarmiento, a retired military officer,
presides over the treasure trove at La Escalera
bookstore, which sells such gems as Fidel and Religion
and Fidel and the External Debt.
"These books are what Fidel Castro is all about �
ideas," Mr. Sarmiento said. "He doesn't have to name
streets after himself to win support. He does that
Indeed, not a single park, avenue, stadium or building
is named after Mr. Castro, who turns 77 on Wednesday.
An occasional roadside billboard shows Mr. Castro's
likeness, and his photo hangs in many homes and
offices, but there are no statues of the Cuban
president in public places.
Cuba is unlike prewar Iraq, where huge murals
glorified Saddam Hussein.
Nor is it like the Dominican Republic under former
dictator Rafael Trujillo, who had his country's
capital city and highest peak named after himself. And
it's certainly nothing like Turkmenistan, where
months, days of the week and even such things as
yogurt have been renamed in honor of President
Mr. Castro needs none of that. He rules supreme. And
analysts say he is easily the most powerful leader
Cuba has ever had.
The Cuban leader has played down his sweeping
authority, saying his government is led by the people.
Still, some say he's not just a head of state, he is
"Castro is at the same time the island, the men, the
cattle and the earth," French philosopher Jean-Paul
Sartre once wrote. "He is the whole island."
Mr. Castro has made clear he doesn't want a
personality cult for himself.
"The leaders of this country are human beings, not
gods," he told a crowd earlier this year.
His government does deify dead heroes. Tens of
thousands of portraits and busts of Jose Marti, a poet
and one of Cuba's founding fathers, can be found
throughout the island.
Argentine rebel Che Guevara is also revered, and a
huge image of his face covers five stories of the
Interior Ministry's headquarters in Havana.
Mr. Castro doesn't need that because his government is
already a commanding, all-pervading force, some say.
"Fidel's everywhere. He's in charge of everything,"
said Hayde� Rodr�guez, 70, of Santiago, who says she's
a member of the political opposition. She fought with
the rebels and supported the revolution in the 1950s
and '60s. But soon her views changed.
"The revolution took a 180-degree turn for the worst,"
she said. "There's no economic freedom. No political
freedom. No freedom of expression."
Her brother, Antonio Rodr�guez, 62, agreed.
"This isn't socialism, communism or fascism. It's an
unknown thing," he said. "And what mortifies us is
that we don't see an end to it."
No doubt, the Cuban government has tremendous sway.
And it begins exercising its influence early on,
according to "The Children of Fidel Castro," a report
by Freedom Advocacy, an Arlington, Va., rights group.
"The individual is born, grows, lives and dies under
the constant and strict control of the state," the
report said. "The regime concentrates on even the most
minute details of a child's education to establish an
enduring sense of dependency."
From childhood, there's great peer pressure to support
Mr. Castro and the Communist Party, many Cubans say.
And those who do not show their loyalty are often
shunned by their neighbors. Or they miss out on
educational or career opportunities.
Cubans usually talk about these things in hushed
tones. Sometimes, their words say one thing and their
facial expressions and body language say another.
True feelings can be elusive. And when more than a few
people start talking, discussions are often drowned
out in a cascade of rhetoric praising Mr. Castro and
condemning the United States.
Some Cubans � considered reckless by the rest � don't
care anymore. When asked about their president, they
throw up their hands. They let out a muffled sigh. Or
a growl comes from the bottom of their throat and they
say nothing more.
Mr. Castro has ruled for 44 years and remains
He has a string of titles: president, head of state,
chief of the Communist Party.
But for most Cubans, he's simply "Fidel."
He's a constant presence in state-run media, which
dutifully records his countless appearances.
His speeches are often rebroadcast on television and
radio and later many are reproduced in Granma, the
Communist Party newspaper.
So Cubans know Fidel's public life well.
His private life is taboo and nothing is said in the
media about his children or Dalia Soto del Valle, his
wife of more than 30 years.
Mr. Castro, the target of dozens of assassination
plots over the years, has said he maintains his
privacy because of security concerns.
"In this sense, I have reserved for myself a total
freedom," he said in an interview for the documentary,
Mr. Castro is unique among world leaders, said Estela
Bravo, a New York filmmaker who produced the
documentary. He has intelligence, courage, stamina and
unwavering confidence, she said.
In past elections, Mr. Castro has routinely received
97 or 98 percent of the vote.
Just how many people would vote for him if they
weren't pressured � or had other choices � is unclear.
A 1999 survey of 1,023 Cubans who had recently
emigrated to the United States revealed
dissatisfaction with the socialist government. Asked
why the economy was in bad shape, 90 percent cited
Cuban government policies as one reason; 50 percent
said "people earn very little and do not want to
work," and 50 percent said they "no longer believe in
the revolution and would rather fend for themselves."
The survey was conducted by the U.S.-financed Cuba
Transition Project at the Institute for Cuban and
Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami.
Cuban officials dispute the results. Many Cubans
worship Mr. Castro, and many, unquestionably, would
die for him.
Mr. Sarmiento said he became a believer at the age of
18 when he went into the hills to join Mr. Castro's
Now 65, he sells old books, including History Will
Absolve Me, based on the speech Mr. Castro gave before
his sentencing in 1953.
"Already, history has absolved Fidel many times," Mr.
Sarmiento said. "He eliminated political corruption in
Cuba. He fought for the unity of the people. And he
made sure that neither the Russians nor the Americans
"People trust him."