Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Seeking Former Stature, Fidel Castro Strikes out - with His Pen

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Seeking Former Stature, Fidel Castro Strikes out - with His Pen

Article excerpt

Suddenly, three appeared in a row - missives signed by Fidel Castro and laced with the bombastic rhetoric that has long defined the Cuban leader's opinion of US foreign policy.

But Mr. Castro's first publicly written statements, eight months after surgery prompted him to temporarily cede power to his brother Raul Castro, analysts say, is a struggle for significance on - not a retaking of - the world stage.

"He is trying to show that he is relevant, he is alive. That he is writing, he is thinking, he hasn't disappeared from the picture," says Jaime Suchlicki, the director of the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami and author of "Cuba: From Columbus to Castro."

Lashing out at a biofuel proposal by the US and Brazil to use crops to produce ethanol, Castro penned columns in the March 29 and April 4 issues of Granma, the Communist Party daily. Claiming the plan would hurt the hungry, he titled one article, "The Internationalization of Genocide."

This week he railed against the recent US court decision allowing Luis Posada Carriles, the jailed Cuban militant wanted in Cuba for the jetliner bombing of 1976, to post bail. It is, he opined in a letter circulated by Cuba's Foreign Ministry, tantamount to setting free "a monster."

Since his illness, Cuban officials have continuously voiced public optimism that their iconic leader will someday resume leadership, while the US intelligence community has speculated that Castro was unlikely to survive. Most say reality falls somewhere in between. "He has been relegated by his illness. He has no energy, capacity, or strength to run the day-to-day operations, or work 15 hours like he used to do," says Mr. Suchlicki. "He is allowing his brother to run the country."

While Castro has always had a flair for imparting his worldview, his latest communications may signal a new role that the government is trying to carve out for him, should he recuperate enough to accept it. …

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