Who he is:
Former President of Cuba
Where you’ve heard of him:
Historically, he’s a textbook communist and one of America’s favorite villains. Today, he publicly spoke for the first time in four years.
When then President of Cuba, Fidel Castro fell ill four years ago, who could have possibly imagined he would re-emerge as a repentant, pragmatic, internet junkie who most recently admitted that, perhaps, communism wasn’t the best idea for Cuba?
We certainly didn’t see it coming.
But it’s true. The 84-year-old former communist leader of Cuba recently told a visiting American journalist that his country’s state-dominated system is in serious need of change. “The Cuban model doesn’t even work for us anymore,” he told Jeffrey Goldberg, a national correspondent for The Atlantic who had asked Castro if Cuba’s economic system was worth exporting to other countries.
This isn’t the only non sequitur from Castro lately. Yesterday, he castigated Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for anti-semitism, and a week ago he took the blame for the rampant homophobia launched by his revolutionary government in the 1960s. “If anyone is responsible [for the persecution], it’s me… I’m not going to place the blame on others,” he said.
He’s also become a bit of an internet junkie, blogging regularly for the Cuban online newspaper, Granma. His blog is called “Reflections of Fidel.” (He’s also developed a bit of an obsession with Wikileaks, prompting him to make the slightly less enlightened statement that Osama Bin Laden is a U.S. agent.)
The explanation for all this activity? According to Cuba expert Julie Sweig, “He has a new lease on life, and he is taking advantage of it.”
Good for you, Fidel. We may not have seen this coming, but The Simpsons sure did.