Thursday, August 14, 2008

That time of the year ..

Every August 13 without fail, the official Cuban media celebrates Fidel Castro’s birthday by trying to come up with ever more ridiculous ways to describe the man who ruled his 11 million subjects with an iron fist for close to half a century.

A few years ago, when Castro was still in good health and very much in charge, the official propaganda sheet of the regime, Granma, went as far as comparing the dictator to the sun – warm, radiant and unconquerable.

This year, with Castro too ill to be allowed out in public and reduced to writing silly “editorials” from his sick bed on whatever comes into his mind, the official coverage has been a little more subdued.

Still, there are some gems in the offing.

Among a raft of congratulatory telegrams and comments published by Granma, there is an “open letter” from “Cuban workers” that describes Castro variously as "wise", "sound" and "serene".

Then there is a message from “friends of Cuba” in Chile, who describe Castro as " the first soldier in the vanguard of the Battle of Ideals” and a tireless fighter “for a fairer and more free world."

But perhaps the saddest message of all was the one supposedly composed by the Cuban Olympic team in Beijing.

In a message read out by Cuba’s judo star Driulis Gonzalez, the athletes (or rather, their Communist Party minders), have described Castro as “the director of the team", "the greatest home run hitter", an "unbeatable gladiator", and an "exceptional strategist, promoter and prophet”.

Pass the bucket, I say.


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