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Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2006 14:33:23 -0400
From: moderator@PORTSIDE.ORG
To: PORTSIDE@LISTS.PORTSIDE.ORG
Subject: Gabriel Garcia Marquez: The Fidel I Think I Know

http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1842879,00.html
Guardian (UK)
August 12, 2006

The Fidel I think I know

He's a man of ironclad discipline, inexhaustible
patience, colossal ideas and insatiable illusions

By Gabriel Garcia Marquez

His devotion is to the word. His power is of seduction.
He goes to seek out problems where they are. The impetus
of inspiration is very much part of his style. Books
reflect the breadth of his tastes very well. He stopped
smoking to have the moral authority to combat tobacco
addiction. He likes to prepare food recipes with a kind
of scientific fervour. He keeps himself in excellent
physical condition with various hours of gymnastics
daily and frequent swimming. Invincible patience.
Ironclad discipline. The force of his imagination
stretches him to the unforeseen.

Jose Marti is his foremost author and he has had the
talent to incorporate Marti's thinking into the sanguine
torrent of a Marxist revolution. The essence of his own
thinking could lie in the certainty that in undertaking
mass work it is fundamental to be concerned about
individuals.

That could explain his absolute confidence in direct
contact. He has a language for each occasion and a
distinct means of persuasion according to his
interlocutors. He knows how to put himself at the level
of each one, and possesses a vast and varied knowledge
that allows him to move with facility in any media. One
thing is definite: he is where he is, how he is and with
whom he is.

Fidel Castro is there to win. His attitude in the face
of defeat, even in the most minimal actions of everyday
life, would seem to obey a private logic: he does not
even admit it, and does not have a minute's peace until
he succeeds in inverting the terms and converting it
into victory.

His supreme aide is his memory and he uses it, to the
point of abuse, to sustain speeches or private
conversations with overwhelming reasoning and
arithmetical operations of an incredible rapidity. He
requires incessant information, well masticated and
digested. He breakfasts with no less than 200 pages of
news. Responses have to be exact, given that he is
capable of discovering the most minimal contradiction in
a casual phrase. He is a voracious reader. He is
prepared to read any paper that comes into his hands at
any hour.

He does not lose any occasion to inform himself. During
the Angola war he described a battle in such detail at
an official reception that it was hard work to convince
a European diplomat that Fidel Castro had not
participated in it.

His vision of Latin America in the future is the same as
that of Bolivar and  Marti­, an integrated and autonomous
community, capable of moving the destiny of the world.
The country about which he knows the most after Cuba is
the United States: of the nature of its people, their
power structures, the secondary intentions of its
governments. And this has helped him to handle the
incessant torment of the blockade.

He has never refused to answer any question, however
provocative it might be, nor has he ever lost his
patience. In terms of those who are economical with the
truth, in order not to give him any more concerns than
those that he already has: he knows it. He said to one
official who did so: "You are hiding truths from me, in
order not to worry me, but when I finally discover them
I will die from the impact of having to confront so many
truths I have not been told." But gravest are the truths
concealed to cover up deficiencies, because alongside
the enormous achievements that sustain the revolution -
the political, scientific, sporting, cultural
achievements - there is a colossal bureaucratic
incompetence, affecting daily life, and particularly
domestic happiness.

When he talks with people in the street, his
conversation regains the expressiveness and crude
frankness of genuine affection. They call him: Fidel.
They address him informally, they argue with him, they
claim him. It is then that one discovers the unusual
human being that the reflection of his own image does
not let us see. This is the Fidel Castro that I believe
I know. A man of austere habits and insatiable
illusions, with an old-fashioned formal education of
cautious words and subdued tones, and incapable of
conceiving any idea that is not colossal.

I have heard him evoking things that he could have done
in another way to gain time in life. On seeing him very
overburdened with the weight of so many distant
destinies, I asked him what it was that he most wished
to do in this world, and he immediately answered me:
"Stand on a corner."

___

Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a Nobel prize-winning
novelist. This is an edited extract of an article from
the Cuban newspaper Granma. Fidel Castro is 80 tomorrow Marquez

His devotion is to the word. His power is of seduction.
He goes to seek out problems where they are. The impetus
of inspiration is very much part of his style. Books
reflect the breadth of his tastes very well. He stopped
smoking to have the moral authority to combat tobacco
addiction. He likes to prepare food recipes with a kind
of scientific fervour. He keeps himself in excellent
physical condition with various hours of gymnastics
daily and frequent swimming. Invincible patience.
Ironclad discipline. The force of his imagination
stretches him to the unforeseen.

Jose Marti­ is his foremost author and he has had the
talent to incorporate Marti's thinking into the sanguine
torrent of a Marxist revolution. The essence of his own
thinking could lie in the certainty that in undertaking
mass work it is fundamental to be concerned about
individuals.

That could explain his absolute confidence in direct
contact. He has a language for each occasion and a
distinct means of persuasion according to his
interlocutors. He knows how to put himself at the level
of each one, and possesses a vast and varied knowledge
that allows him to move with facility in any media. One
thing is definite: he is where he is, how he is and with
whom he is.

Fidel Castro is there to win. His attitude in the face
of defeat, even in the most minimal actions of everyday
life, would seem to obey a private logic: he does not
even admit it, and does not have a minute's peace until
he succeeds in inverting the terms and converting it
into victory.

His supreme aide is his memory and he uses it, to the
point of abuse, to sustain speeches or private
conversations with overwhelming reasoning and
arithmetical operations of an incredible rapidity. He
requires incessant information, well masticated and
digested. He breakfasts with no less than 200 pages of
news. Responses have to be exact, given that he is
capable of discovering the most minimal contradiction in
a casual phrase. He is a voracious reader. He is
prepared to read any paper that comes into his hands at
any hour.

He does not lose any occasion to inform himself. During
the Angola war he described a battle in such detail at
an official reception that it was hard work to convince
a European diplomat that Fidel Castro had not
participated in it.

His vision of Latin America in the future is the same as
that of Bolivar and Marti ­, an integrated and autonomous
community, capable of moving the destiny of the world.
The country about which he knows the most after Cuba is
the United States: of the nature of its people, their
power structures, the secondary intentions of its
governments. And this has helped him to handle the
incessant torment of the blockade.

He has never refused to answer any question, however
provocative it might be, nor has he ever lost his
patience. In terms of those who are economical with the
truth, in order not to give him any more concerns than
those that he already has: he knows it. He said to one
official who did so: "You are hiding truths from me, in
order not to worry me, but when I finally discover them
I will die from the impact of having to confront so many
truths I have not been told." But gravest are the truths
concealed to cover up deficiencies, because alongside
the enormous achievements that sustain the revolution -
the political, scientific, sporting, cultural
achievements - there is a colossal bureaucratic
incompetence, affecting daily life, and particularly
domestic happiness.

When he talks with people in the street, his
conversation regains the expressiveness and crude
frankness of genuine affection. They call him: Fidel.
They address him informally, they argue with him, they
claim him. It is then that one discovers the unusual
human being that the reflection of his own image does
not let us see. This is the Fidel Castro that I believe
I know. A man of austere habits and insatiable
illusions, with an old-fashioned formal education of
cautious words and subdued tones, and incapable of
conceiving any idea that is not colossal.

I have heard him evoking things that he could have done
in another way to gain time in life. On seeing him very
overburdened with the weight of so many distant
destinies, I asked him what it was that he most wished
to do in this world, and he immediately answered me:
"Stand on a corner."

___

Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a Nobel prize-winning
novelist. This is an edited extract of an article from
the Cuban newspaper Granma. Fidel Castro is 80 tomorrow

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