Join 3,562 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


An interesting look at a post-presidency Fidel Castro.
September 9, 2010 10:56 AM   Subscribe

The Atlantic’s Jeffery Goldberg gets an opportunity to sit down with former Cuban President Fidel Castro.

Castro had read Goldberg’s article on Iran and Israel and was interested in discussing the matter further.
Part Two, in which Castro ask Goldberg if he’d like to see a dolphin show.
posted by g.i.r. (39 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Absolutely fascinating.
posted by notsnot at 11:13 AM on September 9, 2010


Indeed, a great dog and pony show.
posted by oddman at 11:19 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is a communist plot for Castro to collect that $10 he originally requested from FDR.
posted by quadog at 11:26 AM on September 9, 2010 [9 favorites]


That letter is adorable. Especially the way he hyphenates 'S-
tates.'
posted by shakespeherian at 11:32 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Before the conversation here gets too heady, and with full realization what admitting this is going to say about the way my brain works, I'd like to point out that I originally read the end of this post:

in which Castro asks Goldberg if he'd like to see a donkey show


Also , thanks, Castro, I probably wouldn't have read that article without you. I'd like to read Jeffery Goldberg after reading it too. But somehow I don't think he'd respond to my call the same way (as well he shouldn't...I'm a loyal reader of Atlantic scribes but I don't even pay for the magazine)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:34 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's a sure sign that the world has gone to shit when, at the age of 84, Fidel Castro takes a more nuanced approach to politics than the elected leaders of any of the major powers.

And that is by no means an endorsement of Fidel Castro. I eagerly await the third installment, though -- this is without a doubt one of the most interesting news items that I've read in quite some time.
posted by schmod at 11:40 AM on September 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


Everywhere I turn on my internet, it's Fidel this, Fidel that. He's like the bacon of 2010. Did you see Fidel's hilarious tweet about Justin Beiber? Was that Cory and Fidel at Comic-Con? Fidel drew the High Line in MSPaint! Ha, look at Fidel's cat on flickr, he looks like people!
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:58 AM on September 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Previously on castro.metafilter.com...
posted by John Cohen at 12:01 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Meantime, elderly Jews in Miami applaud Castro and Cubans who fled Cuba becasue of Castro tell Jewish friends: No happy New Year to you this year from me.
posted by Postroad at 12:22 PM on September 9, 2010


Previously on castro.metafilter.com...

It's been renamed lgbt.metafilter.com
posted by griphus at 12:24 PM on September 9, 2010


I know that Fidel Castro has a lot of questionable events in his past and has done some things that can be described as outrightly evil.

However, if he invited me to watch a dolphin show with him, or even to just chat over lunch, I doubt I'd turn him down.
posted by mikeh at 12:31 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, I was not expecting that segue from evil dictator to dolphin show.
posted by John Cohen at 1:00 PM on September 9, 2010


You know who else enjoys a good dolphin show?
posted by not_on_display at 1:06 PM on September 9, 2010


Wow, maybe there is yet hope for W.
posted by wierdo at 1:13 PM on September 9, 2010


I think the only way he could have begun to ingratiate himself more to young America would be if instead of using that silly phrase about the "Cuban model" or whatever governmental nonsense that is, he showed his hipness by asking how to say "Cometi un gran error" in English.

Arrested Development references en espanol!
posted by Chipmazing at 1:19 PM on September 9, 2010


". . . if he invited me to watch a dolphin show with him, or even to just chat over lunch, I doubt I'd turn him down."

I would absolutely accept, happily.Then again I'm perfectly happy to kill in front of dolphins.
posted by oddman at 2:00 PM on September 9, 2010


Castro's attempted image makeover.
posted by Substrata at 3:08 PM on September 9, 2010


Let me get this straight...

A former, near-dictator who frequently made use of an aggressive nuclear stance and at least associated/associates with anti-Semites who use hate and fear to motivate the populace. Now he urges peace, environmental care, universal acceptance regardless of religion, and nuclear disarmament. Not only does he proclaim these views at all times, he aggressively targets other world leaders who are resisting progress in these areas. Is outrage and vague remarks about killing him an appropriate/necessary response, or simply a knee-jerk one?
posted by cyphill at 4:27 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not necessary in a modal logic sense, of course, but yes necessary, generally speaking, and entirely appropriate.

You paint a pretty picture. I see it differently. I see a dictator (I have no idea how you qualify him as a "near-dictator") who had no trouble destroying lives, families and a country. Who had no trouble incarcerating or forcibly emigrating all of the people he deemed undesirable. Who is now trying, in the waning days of his life, to whitewash his misdeeds and to shamelessly use the problems of the world to score political points.

But, hey you guys just go ahead and keep insisting that those of us who lived through it don't know what we're talking about.
posted by oddman at 6:51 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Um, oddman, I don't think anybody's insinuated anything about your knowledge of Cuba under Fidel. You'll note that he admits that he was wrong. While that may be rather belated at this point, at least he's attempting to use his remaining years to improve the world, rather than further worsening it.

Whether it's sincere or not really doesn't matter, nor does his being a good person or not.

It's possible that his near death caused him to rethink his life and what he wanted his legacy to be. It happens to a lot of people. It doesn't make up for all the bad they've done, to be certain. Better this than trying to get the bomb or whatever else he could be agitating for.
posted by wierdo at 7:05 PM on September 9, 2010


Ah, Americans talking about Castro and Cuba. Another thing you don't do well.
posted by wilful at 8:20 PM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Whether it's sincere or not really doesn't matter, nor does his being a good person or not."

Is this English? I don't see how you can claim that and that he's attempting to "improve the world."
posted by oddman at 9:10 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, it is English. It might even be grammatically correct. My point was pretty simple. It doesn't matter if he's motivated only by some interest in rehabilitating his image before he dies or if he has genuinely changed. His voice being added to the chorus of those trying to improve relations between religions, between states, or whatever else is still a good thing.

He's decided to do good works. His motivations aren't really important. A lot of the robber barons of the gilded age did the same thing. It didn't erase their bad deeds, but at least they later added some good ones to the mix.
posted by wierdo at 9:54 PM on September 9, 2010


When someone takes away your family's slavery-based wealth, it's really hard to forgive and forget.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 12:46 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is this English? I don't see how you can claim that and that he's attempting to "improve the world."

When someone takes actions that improve the world, it doesn't really matter what their motivations are. Perhaps they just want to get laid. Doesn't change anything. Similarly, horrible outcomes caused by 'well meaning' people are just as bad.
posted by delmoi at 4:54 AM on September 10, 2010


Consequentialism is not obviously wrong, I suppose. You're welcome to it. Although you guys are choosing to ignore the man's entire history as a despot. I hope you aren't the sort of person that claims that no one ever really changes, because that would be an awful lot of cognitive dissonance.

(The thing is, that his "good works" which "improve the world" amount to nothing more than having a handful (at most) of self-serving interviews with a reporter. Wow! Call heaven, tell them to make some room.)

Let's face it, he has said some things that you agree with, but that doesn't actually mean he's trying to improve the world.

Also, jimmy, pithy little lines like that might sound great in your head and score points with your friends over beer, but they relationship between that idea and reality is vanishingly small. And frankly betray a shocking ability to be blithe about the horrors committed at his orders. The many, many dead Cubans don't appreciate it.
posted by oddman at 5:19 AM on September 10, 2010


Ya, that's a simplification so gross that it's disgusting.
posted by rosswald at 6:24 AM on September 10, 2010


Sorry to godwinize the discussion, folks, but Hitler was a vegetarian, antitabagist and loved his dog.

Fuck this shit. Castro is a dictator and a murderer. If he wants to change the world, he should step down tomorrow, release the political prisioners and call for democractic elections in Cuba in 180 days.

Nobody gives a shit about his opinions on antisemitism and homossexuality or whatever.
posted by falameufilho at 8:25 AM on September 10, 2010


If he wants to change the world, he should step down tomorrow

He stepped down in February of 2008.

release the political prisoners

The government has freed dozens of political prisoners in the past months. More should be done, but it's a substantial start.

call for democractic elections in Cuba in 180 days

That would be Raúl Castro's call now, and there have been substantial economic reforms and government shakeups since he came to power. My hope is that this, together with the US lifting the embargo, can lead to an orderly transition to democracy in relatively short order.
posted by jedicus at 8:38 AM on September 10, 2010


falameufilho: Nobody gives a shit

Obviously, it's not the case that "nobody gives a shit," or the Atlantic and other newspapers wouldn't allowing Castro a forum in which to spout his views. Maybe you don't give a shit.

I do think it's interesting that Castro has decided to transform himself, or to pretend at transforming himself, in such a public way. Whether he's going to do anything to transform the political situation inside his own country before he dies, a political situation which is essentially unchanged, is another question.

jedicus: That would be Raúl Castro's call now

It "would be" his call? What does that even mean?

He stepped down in February of 2008.

If you think that Fidel doesn't still call the shots behind the scenes, whatever musical chairs have gone on since 2008, dream on.
posted by blucevalo at 8:46 AM on September 10, 2010


blucevalo wrote: "If you think that Fidel doesn't still call the shots behind the scenes, whatever musical chairs have gone on since 2008, dream on."

Do you have any evidence of that, or are you just presuming? I don't know. I do know there was a fairly long period where he couldn't possibly have been calling the shots, given his near death.

oddman wrote: "I hope you aren't the sort of person that claims that no one ever really changes, because that would be an awful lot of cognitive dissonance. "

I can't know whether someone changed or not. I can only go by what they say and do today. I've never said his current rhetoric excuses the actions of his past, I've only said his current rhetoric appears to be on the side of good. I'm not clairvoyant, so I don't know what's going on in his (or anyone else's but my own) head.

What I do know is that I would not, under any circumstance beyond self defense from immediate threat of deadly force, support killing him. I'm one of those spineless liberals who doesn't believe in the death penalty, though. To my mind, killing is always wrong. If you want to throw him in prison for his past crimes, be my guest.
posted by wierdo at 9:03 AM on September 10, 2010


It "would be" his call? What does that even mean?

Factually, Raúl is the President of Cuba, so it's up to him to call for democratic elections. Grammatically, I was using the conditional to soften the tone of the statement.

If you think that Fidel doesn't still call the shots behind the scenes, whatever musical chairs have gone on since 2008, dream on.

Even if that were true, what does it matter? The fact remains that the government and economic system are being reformed and political prisoners are being released. Imputing that progress to Fidel actually weakens your argument. Shoot, in the interview with Goldberg Fidel said that "The Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore."

So whether it's Raúl or Castro calling the shots, there has been progress in Cuba in both political rhetoric and practice. Should there be much, much more? Yes. But it flies in the face of the facts to say that things aren't moving in the right direction.
posted by jedicus at 9:25 AM on September 10, 2010


wierdo: Do you have any evidence of that, or are you just presuming? I don't know. I do know there was a fairly long period where he couldn't possibly have been calling the shots, given his near death.

No, I don't have any evidence, and I don't think any of those who think that he isn't calling the shots have any evidence either, other than Wikipedia links. We're all just "presuming" and speculating in pretty much anything we're saying in this thread unless we're Cuban citizens or otherwise have intimate knowledge of what's going on inside Cuba.

jedicus: But it flies in the face of the facts to say that things aren't moving in the right direction.

Who's said that things aren't "moving in the right direction"?

The government has freed dozens of political prisoners in the past months. More should be done, but it's a substantial start.

The article you linked mentions that eight people were arrested and imprisoned in August, including three University of Havana students, on charges of "public disorder."
posted by blucevalo at 9:35 AM on September 10, 2010


The article you linked mentions that eight people were arrested and imprisoned in August, including three University of Havana students, on charges of "public disorder."

It also says that Cuba has freed 32 political prisoners this year. Two dozen more were paroled for health reasons. Things aren't great but it seems like a net gain to me.
posted by jedicus at 10:15 AM on September 10, 2010


Ongoing systematic political imprisonment for "public disorder" is no net gain in my book, no matter what the numbers suggest to you.
posted by blucevalo at 11:15 AM on September 10, 2010


Also, Castro does still have official power in Cuba. He is still the head of the Communist party.
posted by oddman at 1:45 PM on September 10, 2010


I somehow misread this as "The Atlantic’s Jeffery Goldblum gets an opportunity to sit down with former Cuban President Fidel Castro."

I was, in all honesty, a little disappointed.
posted by Condroidulations! at 3:01 PM on September 10, 2010


Fidel Castro says Nicolas Sarkozy going crazy
posted by homunculus at 12:59 PM on September 15, 2010


Massive layoffs as Cuba liberalizes the hard way
posted by cyphill at 10:34 PM on September 15, 2010


« Older textsound...  |  Fisherman versus killer whale... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments