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Dossier: Reflections by Cuban President Fidel Castro

An Introduction

31 July 2007

ONE YEAR AGO Cuban President Fidel Castro fell ill at the age of seventy nine. In line with Article 94 of the Cuban Constitution, which states "In cases of the absence, illness or death of the president of the Council of State, the first vice president assumes the president's duties," the duties of the Cuban presidency was transferred to First Vice President Raúl Castro and other high-ranking government officials. Fidel Castro formally retained the title of President of the Council of State and of Cuba. He immediately received the well wishes of many leaders from around the globe who wished him a speedy recovery.

Dr. Denzil Douglas, for one, wished the "political legend" a swift recovery on behalf of the Caribbean Community (Caricom). The prime minister of the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis added, "we of Caricom want them to know that we wish for President Fidel Castro a successful recovery, and soon. He has proven to be a great friend of the Caribbean and of all poor and developing countries struggling for a better life for their peoples." Dr Douglas warned against trying to create instability during the transition, adding that "We in Caricom sincerely hope that as President Castro ... recovers, and acting President Raúl Castro takes on the very demanding responsibilities as Head of State, that there would be no adventurism on the part of any and from whatever quarter, to create problems for the Cuban people..."

Corporate media centred in the United States - and echoing the same messages in Canada, Europe, and Australia - soon filled with a cacaphony of morbid speculations about President Castro's health and even his death. Amid its own desperate efforts to overthrow the Cuban Revolution, the U.S. government and the anti-Cuba mafia based in Miami convinced themselves that the Cuban revolution was finally going down. Their spokesmen were resolutely of the opinion that the leader of the last "one-man dictatorship" was on his deathbed, the island nation was trembling with anxiety and fear, and the time for its own "Transition Plan" - thoughtfully and revealingly named "Plan Bush" - was imminent: exactly the the very "adventurism" that Dr. Douglas had warned of.

An exchange on 2 December 2006 during the CTV's continuous live coverage of the federal

Liberal leadership convention in Montreal fully illustrates the macabre absurdities.

Anchor Lloyd Robertson interrupted the coverage for a special interview with journalist and film-maker Alexandre Trudeau from Havana. The island's capital was the site of the festivities surrounding the 50th anniversary of the celebrated Granma Landing and the anniversary of Fidel Castro's 80th birthday, which thousands of personalities so generously had previously agreed to celebrate, postponed from August 13 at President Castro's request.

Pressed by Mr Robertson as to the level of anxiety being shown by the populace of Havana as to whether or not Mr Castro would appear, a bemused Trudeau replied that, although he had only just arrived, he hadn't witnessed any. As far as everyone was concerned, President Castro was recovering, added the film-maker, the country seemed normal and the socialist nation's leadership, with Raúl Castro at the head, according to the Cuban constitution, seemed to be in good hands,

"Well," thundered the man TV Guide has labelled our "nation's most trusted news anchor", as Trudeau's image disappeared from the screen, "we have our own information that he's on his deathbed!"

What conspiratorial "information" that CTV and Mr Robertson had that their own correspondent in Havana did not have - and from whom - was of course never explained. We can only guess.

Be that as it may, the speculation and mystification escalated, despite the authoritative statements of a leading Spanish surgeon, José Luis García Sabrido, on 26 December. who had just attended the Cuban president. ("His condition is stable. He is recovering from a very serious operation," he said. "It is not planned that he will undergo another operation for the moment.") President George W Bush recently made clear the mean-spirited aim. When he was asked by an important personality about his Cuba policy, his answer was this: "I am a hard-line President and I am just waiting for Castro's demise."

In May 2007 Shunpiking Online, prompted by this deathbed disinformation, began serializing, in our Readings Section of our opening webpage, articles by Cuban President Fidel Castro being published in the Cuban press under the general title, Reflections by the Commander in Chief.

We are now bringing for our readers all the articles together in one central location. The section, entitled Dossier: Reflections by Cuban President Fidel Castro, will be updated as new Reflections are written by the Cuban leader. You just have to click on the link to the article you want to read, since a group of them are already posted on Shunpiking Online.

Our publication stands for enlightened journalism and information. Others may have their druthers but hundreds of thousands of Canadians including thousands of Nova Scotians have been to Cuba and seen the objective reality with their own eyes. As thinking Canadians and Nova Scotians, we do not and cannot accept the information blockade maintained by the mass-media corporations to isolate Cuba. We will be expanding the information on our website about Cuba so that public opinion can recognize these and other conspiratorial maneuvers of local reactionaries and the U.S. government, as well as better understand the singular Cuban reality of the Cuban people, their nation-building project and their right-to-be, free of foreign interference and intervention.

Being a great connoisseur of his people, Fidel Castro did not have any doubts about their capacity and will to succeed. "The Cuban people continued their daily routine and responded quickly to the tasks given by the authorities," Radio Havana commented in June. "Many national and international battles have been waged during these twelve months. A successful academic year, the fight against the Aedes Aegipty mosquito, the Energy Revolution, and, above all, the improvement of the national defence system, have been some of the fronts in which the Cuban people, aware of their importance, have redoubled their efforts."

This fall, general elections begin in October with the election of delegates to the municipal assemblies, followed by elections for provincial representatives and deputies to the unicameral parliament, known as the National Assembly. The process is due to finish next year, with elections to the National Assembly and to the state executive bodies: the Council of State and the Council of Ministers, both of which are currently presided over by Fidel Castro. The Cuban leader was elected to these offices in 1976, when the present institutions were adopted, and has been re-elected since for successive five-year periods.

In his statement of delegation on 31 July 2006 President Castro ended his letter with the pronouncements: "Imperialism will never be able to crush Cuba. The Battle of Ideas will continue advancing. Viva la Patria! Viva la Revolución! Viva el Socialismo! Hasta la Victoria Siempre!"

On 31 July 2007 he concluded his Reflection, "The eternal flame", with the pronouncement: "Life is meaningless without ideas. There is no greater joy than to struggle in their name."

Our readers may judge the state of his health for themselves!

The Editors of Shunpiking Online,

31 July 2007

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