- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
Fidel Castro has never really been into the whole brevity thing. This is, after all, the man who gave the longest speech in the history of the U.N. General Assembly. But since June 11, Castro has dedicated his semi-regular newspaper column "Reflections" — normally devoted to lengthy screeds against all manner of imperialist perfidy — to mysterious paragraph length koans on a number of topics.
It began with this "reflection" on former East German Communist leader Erich Honneker, who died in 1994:
THE most revolutionary German I have known is Erich Honecker. Every human being lives in his or her era. The current one is of infinite change, in comparison with any other. I had the privilege of observing his conduct when he was paying bitterly for the debt contracted by the man who sold his soul to the devil for a few shots of vodka.
I retain for Honecker the most profound sentiment of solidarity.
His thoughts on former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping are not so fond:
HE thought of himself as a wise man and, doubtless, he was. But he made a small mistake.
"Cuba has to be punished," he said one day. Our country never even pronounced his name.
It was a totally unwarranted offense.
THE conditions have been created for the country to begin massively producing Moringa Oleífera and mulberry, which are sustainable resources [for the production of] meat, eggs, milk and silk fiber which can be woven by artisans, providing well-remunerated employment as an added benefit, regardless of age or gender.
YOGIS do things with the human body which are beyond our imagination. There they are, before our eyes, via images arriving instantaneously from vast distances, through Pasaje a lo Desconocido [Cuban TV program]
I respect all religions, although I do not share them. Human beings seek explanations for their existence, from the most ignorant to the wisest.
Science is constantly seeking to explain the laws which govern the universe. At this very moment, they see it during a period of expansion which began some 13.7 billion years ago.
The posts have provoked some bafflement among Cuba watchers:
For Miami analyst Eugenio Yañez, Castro needs to stay in the limelight. “Like a mediocre starlet of cheap and superficial shows, [he] needs to feel like he’s in the center of the spotlight, even though at his age he’s only getting boos and hisses,” Yañez wrote in an Internet column.[…]
“Evidently he does not feel coherent enough to write longer pieces,’’ said Jaime Suchlicki, head of the Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies at the University of Miami.
And Phil Peters, a Cuba expert at the Lexington Institute, joked in an Internet post that perhaps Castro “is getting in shape for Twitter,” which restricts users to 140 characters.
Many in Cuba are doubtless wondering if the 86-year-old has finally lost it completely, though something tells me he may be having a good laugh.