Cuba’s leader Fidel Castro greets students before delivering a speech outside Havana’s University in Havana, Cuba, Friday, Sept. 3, 2010. Castro dusted off his military fatigues for the first time since stepping down as president four years ago, a symbolic act in a Communist country where little signals often carry enormous significance.(AP Photo/Javier Galeano) (Javier Galeano – AP)
HAVANA — Cuba’s communist economic model has come in for criticism from an unlikely source: Fidel Castro.
The revolutionary leader told a visiting American journalist and a U.S.-Cuba policy expert that the island’s state-dominated system is in need of change, a rare comment on domestic affairs from a man who has taken pains to steer clear of local issues since illness forced him to step down as president four years ago.
The fact that things are not working efficiently on this cash-strapped Caribbean island is hardly news. Fidel’s brother Raul, the country’s president, has said the same thing repeatedly. But the blunt assessment by the father of Cuba’s 1959 revolution is sure to raise eyebrows.
Jeffrey Goldberg, a national correspondent for The Atlantic magazine, asked Castro if Cuba’s economic system was still worth exporting to other countries, and Castro replied: “The Cuban model doesn’t even work for us anymore,” Goldberg wrote Wednesday in a post on his Atlantic blog.
The Cuban government had no immediate comment on Goldberg’s account.
Julia Sweig, a Cuba expert at the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations who accompanied Goldberg on the trip, confirmed the Cuban leader’s comment, which he made at a private lunch last week.
She told The Associated Press she took the remark to be in line with Raul Castro’s call for gradual but widespread reform.
“It sounded consistent with the general consensus in the country now, up to and including his brother’s position,” Sweig said.
In general, she said she found the 84-year-old Castro to be “relaxed, witty, conversational and quite accessible.”
“He has a new lease on life, and he is taking advantage of it,” Sweig said.
Castro stepped down temporarily in July 2006 due to a serious illness that nearly killed him.
He resigned permanently two years later, but remains head of the Communist Party. After staying almost entirely out of the spotlight for four years, he re-emerged in July and now speaks frequently about international affairs. He has been warning for weeks of the threat of a nuclear war over Iran.
– The True Story of the Bilderberg Group (Amazon.com)
– The True Story of the Bilderberg Group (Amazon.de)
In German: Die wahre Geschichte der Bilderberger (Amazon.de)
His new book:
Fidel Castro fascinated by book on Bilderberg Club
HAVANA – Fidel Castro is showcasing a theory long popular both among the far left and far right: that the shadowy Bilderberg Group has become a kind of global government, controlling not only international politics and economics, but even culture.
The 84-year-old former Cuban president published an article Wednesday that used three of the only eight pages in the Communist Party newspaper Granma to quote — largely verbatim — from a 2006 book by Lithuanian-born writer Daniel Estulin.
Estulin’s work, “The Secrets of the Bilderberg Club,” argues that the international group largely runs the world. It has held a secretive annual forum of prominent politicians, thinkers and businessmen since it was founded in 1954 at the Bilderberg Hotel in Holland.
Castro offered no comment on the excerpts other than to describe Estulin as honest and well-informed and to call his book a “fantastic story.”
Estulin’s book, as quoted by Castro, described “sinister cliques and the Bilderberg lobbyists” manipulating the public “to install a world government that knows no borders and is not accountable to anyone but its own self.”