(EFE Ingles Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) By Antonio Martinez.
It seems that Fidel Castro currently writes only for foreigners and the relative handful of Cubans with Internet access, as the communist island’s official media - there are no independent outlets - have neither published nor reported on the erstwhile leader’s latest opinion columns, known as “Reflections.”
Those articles have appeared on the government-run Cubadebate Web site and Cuban officials have alerted foreign correspondents to their presence there, but they no longer appear in the Granma and Juventud Rebelde morning editions like they had over the previous two years.
Fidel’s latest musings are available on the Web pages of the two Communist Party publications.
According to diplomats and analysts consulted by Efe, Fidel Castro found - or someone found it for him - an outlet for expressing himself without disrupting the government, now led by younger brother Raul, by bringing up controversial topics.
“The latest (criticisms) of Europe were made by Fidel, not the government, and there was no need for the Cuban people to find out,” an analyst said
Cubans cannot access the Internet from their homes - the government says the U.S. economic embargo is to blame - and many Web sites are inaccessible for users on the island.
According to economist and former political prisoner Oscar Espinosa Chepe, the fact that Fidel’s articles have not been published in print versions of the main dailies could be “a sign of the differences that exist within the government.”
“Even Fidel Castro’s own point of view, that he doesn’t head any group, any faction within the (Communist) Party, indicates that that could be a problem,” said Espinosa, one of 20 among the “Group of 75” dissidents jailed in 2003 who has since been paroled on medical grounds.
“There are different opinions and apparently the group that is with Fidel is the more conservative (faction), which doesn’t want any type of change, which fears that any economic transformation could usher in changes in the political sphere.”
Since his elevation to the presidency in February, Raul Castro has liberalized the sale of consumer goods and ordered the state enterprises that dominate the Cuban economy to start paying employees based on their performance and scrap maximum limits on salaries.
In his latest column, Fidel Castro criticized U.S. presidential hopeful John McCain’s tour this week of Colombia and Mexico, Washington’s resurrection of the 4th Fleet to patrol Western Hemisphere waters and emigrants for abandoning Cuba.
Fidel, who made Raul provisional president in July 2006 after falling gravely ill and officially retired in February of this year, began writing his “Reflections” in the spring of 2007.
Initially, the dailies ran Fidel’s comments on the front page, then on the back pages and now not at all. The elder Castro, meanwhile, says it has been his decision to have the print media gradually give less and less attention to his articles.
Fidel Castro, set to turn 82 next month, has acknowledged that writing does not satisfy him and analysts say that is understandable for someone who for decades gave lengthy speeches to enthusiastic crowds.
The most frequent targets of his broadsides have been “the Empire” (the United States), President George W. Bush and McCain, but he also has railed against bio-fuels, the European Union and consumerism.
The first three columns of his that did not appear in the Cuban print media featured attacks on the European Union.
“I wish to register my scorn for the enormous hypocrisy behind this decision,” Castro wrote about the EU’s move, in which the bloc announced the lifting of mild sanctions imposed on Havana after the 2003 mass jailing of dissidents while also saying it would continue to review the island’s human rights record.
Analysts and diplomats have told Efe that Fidel’s remarks criticizing the EU angered Spanish officials, who were instrumental in the bloc’s move to lift the sanctions. EFE
(Publisher note: thanks to ABH for sending this in to us)