From controversial Communist leader to introspective bestselling author?
If recent rumors are true, then former Cuban leader Fidel Castro is the master of career transitions. Not only is the ailing octogenarian alive, asserted a Cuban pro-government blogger, he’s working on a new book – with Hugo Chavez.
Blogger Yohandry Fontana first broke the news, reported by Reuters, in a somewhat cryptic post. “Fidel Castro works together with Hugo Chavez on a book that will appear soon,” Fontana wrote, responding to rumors of Castro’s death. No additional details were provided about the supposedly forthcoming book.
Castro, who turned 86 on August 13, has been seriously ill and out of the public eye for months, raising speculation that the former Cuban leader was close to death. Due to his age and ill health, Castro resigned the presidency in February 2008 and was succeeded by his brother, Raul Castro. He hasn’t been seen in public since March 28, when he visited the Vatican embassy in Havana to meet with Pope Benedict during his visit to Cuba, and was last heard from on June 19 when he wrote the last of a series of columns published in Cuban state papers, Reuters reported.
“He has occasionally fallen out of view for extended periods since then, always provoking speculation about his health, but reappeared each time saying he was working on a book or conducting research,” Reuters wrote. And indeed, Castro has worked on several books since his retirement.
This time, it seems, is no different. Except, of course, that he’s found a co-author in fellow strongman Hugo Chavez, who seems equally intent on proving to the world Castro’s health and vigor. On Castro’s 86th birthday, the Venezuelan leader tweeted (yes even Chavez tweets), “It is impressive his energy and lucidity. He is an example of will and of revolutionary perseverance for all. Long live Fidel!” (Suspiciously, however, he made no mention of the supposed book the leaders are co-writing.)
(This, of course, has prompted mischievous headlines like New York Daily’s News’s “Besties Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro to write book together.” Writes NY Daily News writer Sarah Langs, “The two communist leaders are friends who share an enmity of Western capitalism, especially as practiced by the United States. So if you’re itching to read a love letter to Goldman Sachs, this probably won’t be it.”)
What might the book entail? Blogger Fontana gave one hint: “The source that confirmed this information also said the Leader of the Revolution keeps up to date on the position of Ecuador regarding the case of (Wikileaks founder) Julian Assange, among other national and international issues that interest him.”
We’re eager to see what the Castro-Chavez dream team produces. Now that’s one author signing we’d attend.
Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.