My friend, Raul
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.