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And, yes, I DO take it personally: The end of the Castro era
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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The end of the Castro era

Fidel Castro in his early years

Fidel Castro in Argentina
in July 2006

Ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro said on Tuesday that he will not return to lead the country as president or commander-in-chief, retiring as head of state 49 years after he seized power in an armed revolution.

fidel castro has been a fixture of my mental landscape since i was eleven years old... his image was burned in to my brain during the cuban missile crisis but only became more than a two-dimensional propaganda target in the past few years...

i had the opportunity in 2004 to meet and get to know the former ambassador to cuba of a former socialist country... he is a delightful individual, intelligent and urbane, and we quickly discovered we shared the same twisted sense of humor... over dinner one evening, he regaled me with hours-long conversations he had with fidel about every conceivable subject and where castro revealed himself to be a most engaging and decent individual, fully wise in the ways of the world, and a passionate advocate of the common man... listening to his first-hand experiences, i quickly came to realize just how little i knew of fidel and how my views of him had been so effectively shaped by the bias of my own country...

love him or hate him, fidel castro has achieved something for cuba that no other country but north korea has been able to accomplish... he has kept cuba out of the grasp of the united states for nearly fifty years, and that, in itself, is quite remarkable...

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