Monday, August 28, 2006

My friend, Raul

Nothing ever appears in the Cuban media by accident ... or because an editor believes it is newsworthy.

So, what are we to make of a lengthy interview with General Ulises Rosales del Toro published in today’s edition of Granma, the principal daily on the island?

The interview starts on the front page and then runs for four more pages inside. A lot of words. The type of treatment the paper normally reserves only for El Comandante en Jefe or his brother, Raul.

So, who is this man who is worthy of such treatment?

Rosales del Toro is well known to Cubans as he has been around the Castro brothers for many decades, going back to the Sierra Maestra days. He has been a trusted servant.

Currently, he is the Minister for the Sugar Industry, which is still regarded as one of the key ministerial posts in Cuba. He retains his military responsibilities as well and he is also a member of the Communist Party’s highest decision-making body, the Politburo.

But the interview is not about sugar.

In fact, it’s a 10 year old interview. That's right: 10 years old, giving a whole new meaning to the term news recycling. It was first published when Rosales del Toro was head of the Cuban armed forces’ general staff.

You have to wade through plenty of very dull copy before you get to the nub of the interview: Rosales del Toro waxing lyrical about his close friend and boss, Raul, describing the younger Castro as “an exemplary man”, a “sensitive human being” who is at ease with his troops, a man of "great military ability". A strong family man. Why, just the type of man to lead Cuba. “He is an ethical man, whom I am proud to consider my military and political mentor and teacher,” the general concludes.

That was a decade ago. We assume he still holds those views today.


Anonymous Alberto said...

What else can he possibly do? Whether he's honest or not, we don't know for sure, in the meantime he has to bow to him.

3:23 pm  
Blogger Luis M Garcia said...

What always fascinates me, as you may have guessed, Alberto, is this: why do they insist on running material that is a decade old?
Is it to remind everyone at the top (and at the bottom!) that everything they have ever said or ever done is carefully recorded?

5:16 pm  
Blogger Henry "Conductor" Gomez said...

Yeah it's totally weird. You really have interpret what they are trying to tell the Cuban people and the outside world. I once joked about the fact that they had a stroy that proclaimed the Average life expectancy in Cuba to be 80 years. This was just a few months before fidel's 80th birthday. I wondered if the editor thought to himself (this can't last much longer). And as if on cue, fidel gets sick a couple of weeks shy of his 80th birthday.

And as far Raul goes, they are trying to re-make his image. First and foremost among the proponents of Raul is Brian Latell, the former CIA analyst. At times he seems to be promoting Raul's succession. Very weird.

3:32 am  

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