Sunday, August 13, 2006

News from Havana

The online edition of Juventud Rebelde, the newspaper of the Union of Communist Youth, has just published four photographs of Fidel Castro. Alive. And wearing an Adidas jogging suit.

The paper suggests the photographs were taken on Sunday - the day Castro turned 80. And to prove it, the ailing dictator is shown in one of the photographs holding a copy of the front page of the previous day's edition of Granma, the main newspaper in Cuba. Except it's not the actual front page but a photocopy of the front page. And a pretty generic front page at that ...

Very peculiar.

Even more intriguing is the carefully-scripted "message" from Castro that is also published by Juventud Rebelde - the first such message in more than a week. You can read it here in Spanish.

In this carefully-scripted message, Castro is quoted as saying that he is "feeling very happy" to turn 80, mentioning the date not once but twice. He then goes on to say that "it would not be a lie" to say his health has improved and that he is now stable but that "it'd be totally incorrect to say the recovery period will be short or that I am out of danger".

And then the most curious words: Castro asks supporters to "remain optimistic" but at the same time to "also be ready to cope with any bad news".

If I was into conspiracy theories and the reading of tea leaves and crystal ball gazing and all that sort of stuff, I'd say the outlook for the man who has ruled Cuba since January 1959 is not what you'd call very optimistic.


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